HOLLYWOOD HOTEL & CASINO TAKES CONTROL OF THE "ELEMENTS"
2005 ZAGAT SURVEY RATES - "EXTRAORDINARY"
Aladdin Resort & Casino is the future home of Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino. Under the deal, the Aladdin Resort & Casino will continue to operate as the Aladdin for a period of time. During that time, the property will make a gradual transition into Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino, with major renovations to the existing property. Plans call for a true Hollywood grand opening celebration in late 2006 or early 2007.
On my last short visit to Las Vegas, I visited the property to check out the atmosphere of the property in this period of change. It was a very comfortable and relaxing stay. I visited the new poker room, relaxed at the Elemis Spa, and visited my favorite restaurant in Las Vegas.
With the new Starwood Management Team in place, the Aladdin/Planet Hollywood Resort will continue to feature the award-winning dining room, Elements, and I am pleased to report that it is going through the transition very well.
Inspired by nature's elements - Fire, Water and Land, this fine dining room transcends the ordinary, inspiring luxury in every dining experience. Recognized by Zagat Survey in 2005 with a rating of "Extraordinary” - their top honor. They add:
“Elements is a sophisticated jewel, where attractively plated steaks so tender you don't need a knife and delicious seafood are supplemented by a 600-bottle wine list overseen by gracious service."
Awarded Wine Spectator magazine's prestigious "Award of Excellence," Elements features an innovative menu of prime steaks, fresh seafood and wood-fire grill selections, paired with an extensive wine list and impeccable service standard.
Choosing the best from land and sea, Element's Chef Michael Harris carefully designed a menu that offers a variety of Epicurean delights, from Grilled Whole Maine Lobster to Herb Crusted Colorado Lamb Chops. For a rich and earthy experience, there is Wood-Grilled Filet Mignon, accompanied by Roasted Organic Carrots and Onions, Parsnip Root Puree and Bordelaise Sauce. And from the sea, the menu offers such outstanding dishes as Peppered Rare Ahi Tuna, served with Puree of Sweet Squash, Baby Green Beans and a Sauternes Butter Sauce.
I was fortunate to sample a little of everything. Being from Texas, I am partial to open fire grilling with Apple wood and Mesquite wood. It is healthy way to cook, and one of the reasons I end up at Elements three to four times a year. My favorite seafood entrée was the Mixed Grill of Crab Stuffed Maine Lobster, with Roasted Sea Scallops and Wood Grilled Jumbo Prawns. My favorite beef entrée was the Apple Wood Grilled Bone-In New York Steak, Pepper Crusted with Garlic Herb Butter. My favorite entrée is the Herb Crusted Lamb. It is the best lamb I have ever tasted anywhere. I was pleased to know that Chef Harris was from Texas too, training in Dallas and working for the Glazer Group in New York City. The Elements menu is in good hands.
Great care is taken to ensure the utmost in food quality and freshness. And Elements goes to every extreme to ensure an exceptional dining experience by preparing its own 28-day aged meats, hand cut in their own butcher shop. Harris assures that only the freshest seafood is served, flown in fresh daily.
Fostering the marriage of wine and food, an extensive selection of award-winning wines from around the world are offered as a compliment Harris' exceptional menu. Guests are afforded a unique opportunity to experience wine offerings by the glass, the flight or the bottle.
Before dining, I had a chance to visit with Rick Holliday, Vice President of Food and Beverage. Holliday has had extensive experience in all aspects of resort management including the grand opening of Steve Wynn’s luxury resort Beau Rivage in Mississippi. He was employed by the new management group to transition the property from old to new. I asked him about the difficulty he had in hiring personnel for such a high-end property in the south – shortage of qualified personnel and all. He informed me that his philosophy was to hire personality, then train the skill.
“When people come to a resort casino, especially if they are from out of town, they are looking for a special experience,” said Holliday. “We are in a people pleasing business. If they are not happy, they are not coming back. If we give them a special experience, we will always be on their mind.”
Elements is full of personality, and Holliday has in place a group of individual that make you feel right at home. Cody Kennedy, the Food and Beverage Manager has selected a wide range of wines, over 600 bottles to choose from.
I was treated to two very special bottles of wine that night by Sommelier Denise Martin, who welcomed me to this very special experience. I was first served a 1997 White Burgundy from Darnat Clos. Richemont Monopole. Never having tasted a white burgundy before, it was a treat. Darnat is renowned for its excellent, classically styled Meursault.
The second wine was served with dinner. Denise exclaimed it was the grand opening of this Pomerol Chateau Certan De-May 1990. Unlike, Paul Giamatti’s character in “Sideways,” I love Merlot, so I was delighted with this blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. Denise informed me that the Pomerol region of France has quite a wine making history and that current owners of the property are Mme. Bareau-Bader and her son. I was so impressed by this wine, the minute I got back to my room, I Googled it to learn more. Then I ordered four bottles over the internet for family and friends.
Dinner was served by my favorite waiter in Las Vegas, Ricky Bashist. Talk about hiring personality. Fortunately, for the new management Ricky came with the property and knows the menu like the back of his hand. He will brighten up any setting or mood.
. I finished the
night with a Raspberry Mousse with a couple of bites from a Chocolate
and Raspberry soufflé.
If I could make one suggestion for the new management, it would be to block off the sound of the casino below. With such a peaceful relaxing environment as Elements, the sound can be distracting sometimes.
As I close, I reflect on my conversation with Rick Holliday. The new group has created something unique in fine dining. What he said is true. The food, wine, and special experience still linger in my mind, and I long for my next visit.
Could it be that Elements is a microcosm of something great to come with the new Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino? I certainly think so, looking forward to another special experience in the near future.