By definition, the word ‘aureole’ means ‘the outermost region of the sun’s atmosphere; visible as a white halo during a solar eclipse, and an indication of radiant light drawn around the head of a saint’. By realistic standards, Aureole’s name is extremely appropriate considering that this fine dining establishment headed by renowned celebrity Chef Charlie Palmer has become a virtual ‘halo’ crowning the Mandalay Bay shopping plaza in Las Vegas. Between the sky high glass encased wine tower with its own harnessed ‘Wine Angel Stewards” hoisted up the vertical space of fine vintages inside the restaurant’s glass-enclosed spectacle, to the ‘Swan Court’ where patrons are enchanted by live graceful feathered creatures swimming slowly past floor-to-ceiling windows along a serene waterfall-laden pond in the middle of Sin City, to an exquisite culinary menu meticulously detailed and prepared by Chef Charlie Palmer himself in an inviting space exuding modern sophistication in every sense of the word, Aureole restaurant is by far a sure winner among the vast array of culinary possibilities along Las Vegas Boulevard.
Chef Charlie Palmer crafted his first vision of Aureole in the bustling and energetic city of Manhattan, New York. Since its opening in 1988 on the Upper East Side, it was later moved to the first floor of the Bank of America building on popular 42nd Street, which is host to an array of theaters, the United Nations building, the Chrysler Building, the Grand Central Terminal, and the ever popular Times Square. In 1999, Chef Charlie Palmer extended his vision to the Vegas ‘strip’, building a second Aureole inside the Mandalay Bay shopping plaza. Since that time, the establishment has had nothing but raving reviews, astonishing accolades, and massive positive acceptance from the critical eye of the public gracing its existence. From accepting the Wine Spectator’s Grand Award every year as well as the Four Diamond Award each year since it’s initial opening, Aureole has additionally been graced with the coveted Michelin Star in 2008 and 2009, a Mobil Travel Guide Four Star rating in 2009, and numerous other accolades in the culinary industry that have been well-deserved and graciously accepted.
The interior of this lavish dining venue emanates class in every sense of the word. Renowned international restaurant architect, Adam Tihany exceeded the expectations of many after his imaginative design concepts brilliantly exploded into the space that is now Aureole. A sky bridge that leads from the main entrance wraps around the largest wine tower in the world and down to an alluring suede-walled lounge where your visual journey is just beginning. In the mood for a cocktail from the skilled mixologist at the bar or a recommendation from the Sommelier before being seated for dinner? That’s as easy as seating yourself at the intimate dimly-lit wine bar as you watch harnessed wine angels being uplifted toward the heavens to retrieve your selected vintage from a menu of over 10,000 exclusive bottles of fine wines. Additionally, there are several tantalizing chilled signature pre-dinner conglomerations available in which to indulge.
Aureole’s Four-Story Climate-Control Center-Of-Attention Wine Tower
Executive Chef Vincent Poussel seamlessly delivers the culinary delights meticulously crafted by Chef Charlie Palmer’s signature style in a timely fashion to well-dressed patrons awaiting the meal of a lifetime. And the meal of a lifetime is indeed what you will receive at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole restaurant in exciting Sin City.
Once seated in a dining room with towering ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Swan Court (more on that in a moment), we began with a selection of Champagne chosen from a computerized wine menu. We also appreciated more Champagne with our meal as well as a white wine pairing with our entrees suggested by the restaurant’s Sommelier. A variety of fresh-baked bread was offered to us before our appetizers arrived. Below, a baked pretzel bread, a melt-in-your-mouth tender rosemary herb roll, and a slice of crusty French bread.
Preserved Lemon Ravioli
I selected the preserved Lemon Ravioli ($18) as my starter to our meal. Crafted with tender succulent chunks of Maine lobster, crispy baby artichokes, and sweet caramelized prunes, this appetizer was tastefully executed and delightful in flavor and texture. The delicately tinted foam atop this presentation was also a lovely attribute.
Yellow Fin Tuna Poke
My husband relished in the Yellow Fin Tuna Poke ($18). Pronounced (po-kay) in proper Hawaiian language, this island favorite is a raw salad of flavorsome cubed ahi (yellow fin tuna) sashimi marinated with sea salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, seaweed and chopped chili pepper. Besides the subtle heat of the chili pepper within this starter, my husband appreciated the visual arrangement and freshness of flavor from this offering. The eye-catching vibrant emerald hue from the seaweed salad beneath the poke was crowned with a sushi rice cracker and an accompaniment of avocado mouse was dotted alongside as a simple, yet flavorsome garnish.
Executive Chef Vincent Poussel sent the above Diver Scallop tasting out to our table in appreciation of our dining at the restaurant. This delightfully handsome dish was a flavor-packed surprise with its soft-as-butter perfectly seared Diver Sea Scallop ornamented with sea beans, pickled turnips, purple potato and cashew soy butter. (Thank you, Chef Vincent!)
Now allow me to transform your thoughts to a slight pause between these divine courses at Aureole. Let’s step outside and fascinate ourselves with a question. A question which entertains the senses of visual perception beyond the fine dining spectacles inside. (I promise we’ll come back!) Let’s contemplate live swans in all their grace floating along a serene pond complete with a gentle waterfall and flowing fountains with calming colored lighting glowing from beneath the water, and appropriate foliage making one think twice if they are indeed in Vegas…in the middle of the desert. As the contemplation continues, four elegant female swans in all their glory slowly approach from around a bend in the pond. At first, they appear as four bright white slowly-moving dots along the water’s surface. Then, before you know it, they are before you. Speaking in their own unique angelic language, seeking your gentle attention, and hoping for a crumb you may have taken from your table’s bread plate.
Below, meet the ladies of the Swan Court at Aureole…
After some pleading from my husband to return inside for the remainder of our dinner, I bid the feathery ladies in the pond goodnight, crumbled a final slice of bread for them, and placed the pieces of expertly-baked dough along the water’s edge and returned to my seat just in time as our entrees arrived…
Wild Striped Bass
The Wild Striped Bass ($38), which was my dinner entree choice, was incredibly pleasing to the palate. Between the foundation of creamy bulgar wheat, crunchy candied pecans, tangerine segments and Brussel leaves, the delicately-textured fish was carefully seasoned and mild in taste. I was ecstatic with delight over the dynamic presentation, dazzling mixture of flavors, and phenomenal aroma of the ingredients as this dish sat before me.
Niman Ranch Double Pork Chop
My husband is a meat eater. Our readers can pretty much gather that about him due to all of the steaks he enjoys when we’re dining together. However, on occasion, he is also entertained by a fabulous pork chop. This Niman Ranch Double Pork Chop ($38) was an all-natural culinary gem. The potato salardaise (potatoes cooked in duck fat), collard greens with bacon bits, and roasted apples blended nicely with the the mild flavor of the pork and the saltiness of the bacon bits and rich enhancement from the salardaise. Just a beauty of a dish!
This stunning Dessert Sampler ($12) arrived after my husband and I finished every bite of culinary genius on our plates from dinner. (I’m not quite sure how we did that either!) But, somehow we managed to find a bit more room for the beautiful colorful desserts that were presented to us. This display of heavenly treats included a carrot cake filling rolled inside slices of fresh sweet carrot, an ale-battered apple fritter (tarragon anglaise, fresh apple slaw, and maple ice cream), an Alpaco molten chocolate cake (orange caramel, Cacao tea cookie, Earl Grey ice cream), and Cafe Au Lait Creme Brulee (Kahlua cream, almond fennel biscotti). Every tasteful (and sinful) flavor one can think of came packed into this sample plate of sweet and savory goodness. The Trio of Sorbets came out with the Dessert Sampler and featured flavors such as wild strawberry, island mango, and southern peach served in a triangular dish crowned with a pineapple crisp. What more could we ask for?
Trio of Sorbets
Aureole in Las Vegas not only met our expectations, but it exceeded them. The culinary talents of Chef Vincent and his kitchen staff proved noteworthy, the management and serving staff were knowledgeable and gracious, and the overall ambiance of the restaurant was pleasantly surprising and satisfactory. We especially would like to thank Restaurant Captain, Malek Sadri for his seamless and well-managed supervision of the overall flow of service and for his flawless attention to our dining needs. His professional demeanor and sincere devotion to his patrons was indeed impressive. We truly look forward to seeing him again soon. My husband and I enjoyed ourselves and look forward to returning in the near future to indulge in everything Aureole has to offer.
- ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Modern, upscale, inviting, and comforting with something to entertain the eye at every turn from the live swans to the wine angels to the steel-and-glass climate-controlled wine tower to the breathtaking culinary presentations that arrive at your table.
- FOOD / DRINK: Fresh, seasonal favorites with a classic European spin that you will not likely soon forget.
- LOCATION: Aureole is located inside the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino at 3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South in Las Vegas, NV 89119.
- HOURS: Aureole is available daily for dinner from 5:30 PM to 10:30 PM. The wine lounge is available daily from 5:30 PM until midnight, while Happy Hour exists from 5:30 PM until 7 PM in the lounge area.
- SERVICE / STAFF: Accommodating, friendly, professional, poised, informed and show that they really care about patrons having a memorable experience.
- PRICE / VALUE: Excellent value for the level of quality provided in cuisine, ambiance and service.
- CORKAGE FEE: Outside alcohol is not permitted inside the establishment, however, there is an ample selection of fine vintages and other tantalizing liquid libations available from skilled mixologists in the Aurele lounge.
- CONTACT INFO: Phone: (702) 632-7200, Website: www.charliepalmer.com
- PARKING: The location of Aureole inside the Mandalay Bay shopping plaza was in very close proximity to our hotel at the Four Seasons, which we walked from for our dinner reservation. If you are driving to the restaurant, we would recommend taking advantage of the hotel valet at Mandalay Bay, then walking from the hotel lobby to the restaurant.
- TOTAL BILL: Our final bill was over $220, however for the excellently poised service, special attention from the staff and management, spellbinding decor and ambiance, and exceptional cuisine, we feel it was well worth the splurge, and an extremely fair price for what was rendered. We will most definitely be returning again very soon.