Ocean's 11 is easily my favorite movie of all time. In the film Daniel Ocean tracks down his ex-wife at a restaurant in the Bellagio, where he smoothly orders a "whiskey and a whiskey." While my wife forbid me long ago from ordering drinks in this fashion, I knew she wouldn't object to my wanting to recreate the scene by dining at the famed Picasso.
There are far more reasons to dine at Picasso beyond its appearance in one awesome movie. The restaurant proudly owns two Michelin stars, and is a Five Diamond award winner for, ironically enough, 11 years running. In addition, the dining room offers perhaps the best view of the famed Bellagio fountains, and then there's the $100 million worth of Picassos on the walls. For all these reasons, dining at Picasso had been on my list for quite some time.
|Picasso's Wine "Cellar"|
This meal almost didn't happen.
When I logged on to the Bellagio site to make our reservations, I noticed a message which caused a pit to open in my stomach. "Picasso will be closed from December 7th to December 21st." We were due to return home on the 23rd, leaving our final night in Vegas as the only option to visit Picasso. This would have been perfect, were it not for the non-refundable/non-transferable/non-cancelable tickets to Love which I'd already purchased. Since our show and Picasso were both at MGM Resorts, I called their customer service to see about the possibility of changing our tickets. The agent could have easily given me the standard "no changes" and sent me on my way, but after I begged, pleaded, and offered my future first-born child, she could tell I really wanted to dine at Picasso. She went the extra mile, changing our tickets to a later show, and making my wish to dine at Picasso a reality.
With our show now at 9:30pm, we had plenty of time to fully enjoy Picasso without feeling rushed. We arrived a few minutes early for our 6pm reservation, and were immediately seated at a beautiful table in the center of the dining room. As I surveyed my surroundings, a small grin came to my face. If first impressions were any indication of what lay ahead, we were in for quite an evening.
|The Spectacular View From Our Table|
The dining room at Picasso was without a doubt the most beautiful of any restaurant I've dined to date. Obviously, the most prominent reason why were the numerous Picassos which surrounded us on all sides, any of which would be at home in the museums of Paris or Picasso's own in Barcelona. In addition, the view of the Bellagio fountains offered a perspective not found elsewhere. The tranquility of Picasso was a stark contrast to viewing the show from Las Vegas Boulevard, and you could almost feel the power on display with the finale of each show.
|A Few of the Many Picassos|
I wanted to say "Wow."
There are three different tasting menus from which to choose at Picasso: Degustation, Pre-Fixe, and Vegetarian. We both chose the Pre-Fixe menu, and of course opted for the accompanying wine pairing. Shortly after placing our order the amuse bouche arrived, and the combination of smoked salmon, osetra caviar, quail egg, and a dab of savory bisque amused far more than just my taste buds.
|The Amuse Bouche|
Following an amazing introduction, we had high expectations for the plates which lay ahead, but the heart of the meal proved to be, well...just OK. Over the years I've come to expect that at restaurants like Picasso there is at least one moment - oftentimes more - where you take a bite, melt a little inside, and simply say..."wow." This happened with the amuse bouche, but sadly, it was the only time.
|Ruby Red Shrimp|
This isn't to say that our meal was bad, because that was far from the case. The plates were fantastically presented, and we enjoyed every dish we ordered, there just wasn't that "wow factor" that you'd expect at a restaurant rated in the top 50 in the United States. The lone exception was my wife's dessert, which would have make Picasso himself proud. She described it as a "dessert version of the peanut butter and jelly." Considering I've never had a PB&J, I'll just have to take her word on why that is awesome...
|The Wife's Dessert|
A moment of inspiration.
While our server lacked any perceivable personality, I was thoroughly impressed by the restaurant's sommelier. There was a passion to his description of every wine he poured that I couldn't help but admire. That passion has actually inspired me to resolve to learn more about wine in 2012, so that on my next visit I would understand more than 20% of what he was describing.
|Photos of Picasso in the Entry|
After dinner, my wife and I stepped onto the private terrace outside Picasso and reenacted the final scene of my favorite movie. As we watched the Bellagio's fountains, I couldn't help but reflect on our experience at Picasso. If I were a professional foodie expecting a meal worthy of two Michelin stars, then I might have been a bit disappointed. The atmosphere alone, however, was more than worth the cost of admission, and we would likely return if for no other reason than to enjoy another meal in their spectacular dining room.
|Sadly, We Hadn't Just Stolen $163,156,759.|
Beyond the food, however, there were little things which impacted my view of Picasso. Things like not folding my wife's napkin when she went to the restroom, or the wine pairing not including a serving with dessert. When my wife asked if she could order one course off the Vegetarian menu, as she's done at other similar restaurants, our server had to "check with the chef." He also forgot both of our orders on one dish, and had to reconfirm with us. Yes, these are all little things, but often it is the little things which you remember the most...both good and bad.
Overall, it is most definitely the good which I will remember from our experience at Picasso. Our evening was no doubt a memorable one, and I'm glad that I was finally able to walk in the footsteps of Daniel Ocean.
Enjoy Your Stay