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Aureole is big. I mean really big. As in three hundred and forty seats and 9,150 square feet big. With a forty-two foot high ceiling and the world's largest wine vault/refrigerator spanning that entire height and holding nine thousand bottles of wine, which is more than even a big guy like chef/owner Charlie Palmer can drink in his (so far) big and successful lifetime. Palmer is the biggest (or one of the) biggest chefs in New York City which pretty much makes him one of the best and biggest chef's in the world; and besides that he’s a pretty big guy (6'5" is my guess), with a handshake so big I felt like a little kid shaking hands with a grownup the first time I met him.

This place is so large that even getting in isn’t easy, which would seem to be a contradiction, until you confront the three-story entryway with one hostess guarding the top of the stairs and elevators approve then pass you to a short bridge leading to a wind-around-very-wide staircase that circles or squares the world’s largest wine cooler as you descend to the bottom level where you’ll be seated within sight of the dominating (42 foot high) wine display. Thus, proving that the enormity of this space can take one’s breath away as well as inspire over-long sentences.

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Thankfully, the menu is short. Palmer’s bandwagon has always been one of local ingredients, pure flavors and intriguing combinations; served up in large portions and visually so striking that you’d swear there was an architect in the kitchen right along with the chef. Although he and executive chefs Joe and Megan Romano have toned it down a bit, you will still find some of the world’s most sophisticated food here with prices to match. As for the vaunted wine tower, yes it is a gimmick but in the true Vegas tradition, it’s a gimmick that works. If $200.00 seems a bit stiff for a dining duet, I suggest dressing to the nines, grabbing a couch by the bar, and nibbling on some first class bar food while watching the wine stewards soar. There are worse ways to spend an evening.

This is John Curtas

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Thursday, May 16, 2002
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