July 9, 2010

"Sensi" at the Bellagio

NEW REVIEW: We can't seem to stop eating at this place! To spread the blog-traffic-wealth around, I have posted the latest review of Sensi at the sister blog: The Valley Vegan Go check it out, leave a comment here and there, and let's get this place recognized by the greater vegan community as a premiere vegan destination in Vegas. I think they deserve it, and I am more than happy to shout their praises from the mountaintops!



I wanted to thank you again for your wonderful article featuring Sensi! Since that time we have had several requests for the now famed “vegan risotto” and this week we officially made it a menu item. I thought I would let you know how much we appreciate your kind words and take your input seriously. Many vegetarian and vegan guests have another wonderful option thanks to you and I believe in giving credit where it is due. I hope the next time you are in town you will come and enjoy the dish so we may be sure we are making it as well as you remember.

We sincerely appreciate your patronage.

Jason Reiplinger

General Manager


It has been months since I moved from Vegas to LA, but the simple fact is that while my parents still live in Las Vegas, I will continue to visit Las Vegas on a regular basis. Therefore, I will maintain this blog for those times I eat an extraordinary meal in Vegas!! And this week... this was a visit to remember!!

Friand and I spent a wonderful week at The Bellagio. We went into this visit with expectations of eating elsewhere, but once we settled into the hyper-decadent fantasy world that is the Bellagio, we found ourselves loathe to leave. So we checked out the dining options the best way we knew how: walking through the casino and reading the posted menus. We were not thrilled with the options (Noodles, Jasmine, Le Cirque, Yellowtail, Olives) .... I know, I know! Most people would DIE for these places, but we just felt kind of "meh".

Being the chocolate fiend that I am, I told Friand that I wanted to show him (*cough*me*cough*) the

chocolate fountain at Jean-Phillipe. We stood at the chocolate fountain devising plans for breaking into the glass & lying under the pouring chocolate... marveled at the pastries and gorgeous chocolate creations in the cases. We left Jean-Phillipe & wondered what was beyond the bend in the hall. Any shopping? Any more restaurants? We have all the time in the world, let's go find out!!

And what did we find? This stone and water and glass creation that is Sensi. We were instantly drawn in by the design of the place, read the menu posted at the door & decided on the spot we would go in. There was one vegetarian item on the menu (Vegetable Pad Thai) but this place looked so fancy that I wasn't going to be afraid to ask for something special or off menu. This was a place I *knew* would deliver!

But... it was only 4:30pm. The restaurant didn't open until 5! So we left our name at the front desk & took a seat at the bar for appetizers & martinis. Again, only one vegetarian item on the bar menu, but that was fine with me! Vegetable Samosas! I wasn't entirely certain about the condiments it would come with, but I quickly learned (or rather was reminded) that "Raita" is a yogurt based sauce. The three samosas were accompanied by a mango chutney, raita, and a tomato puree that was out of this world! Friand took one for the team by eating the samosa that sat in the raita. The potato samosas were everything I love about Indian food: a balance of opposing forces: spicy/sweet, crunchy/soft, hot/cooling. They were little pillows from heaven!

At 5pm, we were seated in the dining room. One of the most breathtaking features of Sensi is the glassed in kitchen at the center of the dining room. Sleek & metallic, clean & functional, this kitchen is filled with staff that never looks hurried or hectic, who wipe up the counters at every opportunity, and who interact with each other in what appears friendly banter. I often joke that food tastes better when it's made with love, and this is true. Everyone in the kitchen zoo appears to enjoy their job and put their energy into creating artwork, and it is clear as day in the food that makes its way to the table.

Our server, Michael, took our order, and I informed him that I was vegan and of course asked if the Pad Thai was truly vegan. He said no, but that the chef would modify the dish to be sure that it was absolutely vegan for me. Of course I appreciated this assurance by Michael that my meal would be vegan. When my pad thai arrived it was a beautiful version of pad thai! Crushed peanuts, barely cooked mung bean sprouts, carrots, golden tofu, and a delicate and wonderfully salty sauce that hooked me at first bite. Being the bottomless pit that I surprisingly am, I ate every last bite of this dish. I thanked Michael profusely for his help, and we left the restaurant swearing that we would return the following evening.

This became our routine this week: drinks at 4:00 at the bar, dinner at 5:00 in the dining room. And of course everyone got to know us! One of the bartenders is from Ithaca, NY (where I went to Ithaca College) so we had a fun little conversation about our home towns in Western NY, made us wonderfully dry gin martinis and again served me samosas, this time, without the raita. Again, we moved to the dining room...

Michael was our server yet again and was pleasant in his welcoming of us back. This time, though, he was confident in telling me he would speak to the chef about making me something other than pad thai if I wanted. Of course I *wanted*! I am not at all afraid of allowing a chef to do what they do best: create food art. If the chef is willing & creative enough to take the time to make me something off menu, I will ALWAYS be open to trying it! Michael returned to tell me that the chef would modify an already existing scallop dish to be vegan. Yes please!!!

What arrived was a gorgeous representation of this chef's abilities: perfectly stir fried tofu & vegetables (shiitake mushrooms, snow peas, green & white asparagus, lemon grass, green onio

n, tofu, jasmine rice) in a sweet & salty sauce that did not intrude on the natural flavors of the veggies. But tonight... we were ready for dessert!! I ordered the sorbet. You're given the choice of 3 flavors, so I paired the raspberry, blood orange and coconut. I should have just ordered 3 scoops of coconut -- it was the creamiest, most insane coconut sorbet I've ever had. In fact, it was so creamy, it may as well have been coconut milk ice cream!! It was almost as if someone was asked to make a dessert to explain to a blind person what coconut was and this is what appeared.... I could write an epic poem about this coconut sorbet... that's how good it was.

Thursday evening, our third visit to Sensi, began the same as always: at the bar with martinis and samosas. This time, we barely had to order, our bartender knew what we wanted as soon as we walked in the door. Of course, we were happy to sit there & suck down food & drinks! At 5pm, our cue to eat, we were greeted by Michael who showed us to a seat next to the glassed in kitchen. We were then informed that the chef had our entire meal planned for us! Friand was at least given the chance to order his main course, but otherwise we were given appetizers predetermined by the chef!

For my appetizer, I was sent a delicious asian noodle salad presented in an iced water

droplet. Sounds cool, doesn't it?! It was!! Cold noodles with a light sesame and soy coating, tofu, lemon grass and green onion, in a size that only angered my hunger. I love love love when an appetizer truly excites my stomach for the rest of the meal rather than filling me up. A perfect portion to be sure.

But my meal.... oh my meal.... This was love in a dish. Completely off menu, I was presented with risotto - chanterelle mushrooms, more lemon grass, fava beans, English peas, saffron, and the mack daddy of all mushrooms: morrel.

Three words: oh.my.god.

This may be the best risotto I have ever had in my life. Hear that? IN-MY-LIFE!!! I tried very very hard to not suck this risotto in as fast as I could. I had to learn to savor each bite, it was difficult, but I found a way to do it.

After our main courses were finished, the waiter asked if we were going to have dessert - because the chef, again, had something in mind for us.

Well bring it on, I say!! And out came two fantastic desserts! I'm not sure if what Friand was served was on the menu, but he was given a beautiful presentation of fresh tapioca, a mango lassi "shooter" and a scoop of that unreal coconut sorbet. And me? Fresh berries, with a strawberry reduction sauce, and the chef's choice of lemon & mango sorbets. And don't forget the edible flowers!! I'm not a girl who just likes to receive flowers, I like to EAT the flowers!!! nom nom nom

If you have been to the Bellagio and not discovered Sensi yet, it is a must eat place! Understated & elegant, the food is beautifully presented, but comes with such craft & skill anyone can appreciate the talent behind that glass cage!

Sensi gets 5 Sprouts, but really, it should be in a category of its own!

Thank you to everyone who made our 3 trips to Sensi memorable! We will (I repeat: WILL) return to Sensi on our next visit to Vegas. And you will (I repeat: WILL) go there when on The Strip!

Suggested by calling 866.259.7111 or 702.693.7223

Within the Via Bellagio shopping promenade.

  • Executive Chef:
    Martin Heierling
  • Cuisine:
    Simply prepared Italian, Asian, Grilled and Seafood classic


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this! We are heading to the Bellagio for our anniversary and were concerned we would not be able to find many Vegan options at their restaurants. Sensi will be our first stop! Thanks!

The Valley Vegan said...

Excellent! Make sure you tell them you read about the restaurant on my blog!! I had emailed the manager the link & he was very kind to respond to me within 24 hours. :)

Enjoy your meal! (And just remember to call ahead)

yola said...

Thanks for the helpful reviews. I've eaten at Sensi twice and agree that the food is delicious and atmosphere is gorgeous. Their house-made ginger ale is insane!

The only thing keeping me from going back is the foie gras on the menu. If they ever remove it, I look forward to returning there and trying the risotto...it looks amazing!

Lisa S. said...

Thanks for commenting, Yola! Great to hear from you.

I agree - I do have difficulty sometimes with restaurant menus containing items that I morally/ethically don't agree with. It's a decision I have to make on a case by case basis since my fiance is not vegan & we try not to limit or deny each other. It's a fine line...

But I'm glad you've been there & i had NO IDEA about the ginger ale! Think I can have a gin & ginger ale??

Keep in touch!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! My Vegan Wife and I have been trying to decide where to stay and eat in Vegas. This probably seals the deal!

Lisa S. said...

I'm so glad to hear that! We go to other restaurants begrudgingly after Sensi!!

cameraphonevegan.com said...

ooh! i will be traveling to vegas in november and definitely appreciate your thorough review! thanks!

Lisa F. said...

They are exceptionally open & knowledgeable to vegans - so don't be shy! Enjoy your meal, and if they make you something amazing (off menu!) please report back!

Enjoy your trip!

Kristin said...

I recently went to Vegas and I enjoyed one of the best meals I've had, ever, at the Bellagio restaurant SENSI!! Chef Royden put together a fabulous 5-course special vegan menu for me, including the famous mushroom risotto, a to-die for smoked white bean soup that I will be trying to re-create, and an inventive banana-coconut ice cream dessert beautifully served in an ice bowl! I also tried their special homemade ginger ale in a martini that was *so* good! It's a really special treat for me to be able to find a restaurant gem like SENSI where the Chef understands what it means to be vegan, and has the creativity to design dishes that embrace the essence of the vegetables, nuts and grains with special chef secrets, so that vegan foodies like me can have more than just a house salad when we go out for dinner. Thank you so much Royden and Jason!!

I highly recommend SENSI to vegans and no-vegans alike!!

The Valley Vegan said...

YAY Kristin!! I'm so glad you had a great experience! We're headed back to Vegas next month & can't wait to go back. I still am dreaming about the faux scallops they served me last time - with the spectacular coconut sauce. Mmm... Vegan Tasting Menu I had last time was fantastic!!!

Thanks for the update!

Isabella said...

I realize it's been some time since you wrote this up but I wanted to thank you for the write up. I'm not vegan - just someone with a ton of food allergies that include dairy. I've been looking at the vegan options to see if there are alternatives at restaurants I can eat. (Although, given my allergies, even the vegan foods aren't always friendly). I've been debating about staying at the Vdara (where there is a small kitchen in the room) or the Bellagio for a while. This post just tilted the Bellagio in my favor. :-) The mushroom risotto sounds like something I must try.

james ketty said...

Its very informative and i am sure it will help many other people like the way it helps me. Thanks for the information.

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