I’ve been dragging my feet on my recap of é by José Andrés, but four months later is better than never right? Eight other trips, a job change, and 100s of meals later…here’s a throwback to December 2017!
é in Las Vegas was probably the most intimate dining experience I’ve had. You share a chef’s table with eight total diners in a private room tucked inside Jaleo at the Cosmopolitan. We shared our seating with five guys at a bachelor party and a solo diner. For a bachelor party, our dinner mates were ironically quiet!
When we arrived, we were initially seated at a high top in Jaleo with our fellow diners. They presented the first course at this time – edible branches made from liquified kalamata olives, presented like a centerpiece. My husband took the liberty to also order a plate of the best jamon – jamón ibérico de bellota fermín and some pan de cristal con tomate. Excessive I know, but I indulged in it as well!
After we finished our snack, we were led inside the é private dining room. The first thing I noticed was the interesting decor – one chef said it was like a snapshot inside Chef José Andrés mind. Note the creepy doll and some heels going up a ladder!
Upon seating, we were given a hot towel in the mold of José’s hand. We kicked off the meal with some wine by the glass and watched the 22 course performance unfold over the next two hours. The first few dishes consisted of creative small bites resembling nature – a dew drop, a rose, and a smooth river stone.
Next came some larger, but still appetizer-sized dishes. The “wonder bread” was actually made from an airy meringue.
The Uni dish was one of my favorites, as I love anything uni. Though the thick, crunchy base was a tad overwhelming to the delicate uni.
The Asparragos Escabeche course was one of the more intricate and memorable ones. It was also one of my favorite tasting dishes! I loved the bright flavors and texture contrast.
The next crab dish was another highlight for me – the simple crab meat was enhanced with a rich vial of crab broth and some crunchy bread crumbs for contrast.
The next two courses were more substantial mains, though still quite small in portion. The fish over a bed of chicken course was pretty to look at but uncomfortably salty for my taste.
The wagyu beef cheek course was my favorite of the savory dishes. The gnocchi had a surprising texture that reminded me of popping boba! The chanterelles were so delightful, and the beef cheek was nicely tender.
Next came the progression of desserts, starting off with an “empanada” made from cotton candy. We asked what they did with the extra cotton candy, and a chef actually brought out a large bowl for us to share.
Next came three beautifully plated desserts, all of which my sweet tooth loved – great presentation, layers of flavor, and texture contrast. The modern take on Intxaursaltsa (walnut, raspberry, hazelnut) was especially enjoyable.
But wait there’s more! We ended the meal with a few courses of mignardises.
Overall, I thought the chef’s table at é was a good experience but quite robotic with no real standout dishes. Perhaps the presentation was so intricate that the chefs had to focus on plating at the cost of diner interaction. It was missing the level of engagement that we experienced at the modern chef’s counter at The Bazaar by José Andrés in LA. My favorite chef’s table service to date was at Playground 2.0 in Orange County – a winning combination of exceptional approachability, enthusiasm, and education.
After our 22 bite-sized dishes, we weren’t hungry, but we were craving something more hearty, like the paella from Jaleo. We put ourselves in the server’s hands, and she surprised us with the Paella Mixta on the house. As we sat at the Jaleo bar and dug into the paella, this hit the spot unlike anything else from é. As intricate and fun as é was to watch, it was missing soul, which the paella had. Sometimes simpler is better.