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My plan was to sneak into the Wynn, check out a few of the restaurants (at least the one's I'm interested in), and report on them before any other media outlet. Well that lasted about 2 minutes, because no sooner had I requested a table for one at Boulud Brasserie on the third day it was opened than one of the managers nailed me with a 'hi Mr. Curtas, nice to see you.' The same thing happened at the SW Steakhouse, when I discovered that half the staff of Circo was now working there.

Next came Bartolotta's, the ....uh....how do I say this? VERY decorated Italian seafood emporium. I did manage to cop one anonymous meal before yet another manager, this one formerly from Sea Blue, spotted me nosing an overpriced vino bianco, at the bar.

So despite my best efforts, I've hardly been given the typical tourist treatment at any of these swanky joints. Nevertheless I have managed two meals at each, and rather than spring a full-fledged review on any of them, I thought you might like some of my preliminary notes so you'll know what to expect if you wander into Son of Bellagio.

Well first of all you can expect to pay...a lot. And unlike what a certain F&B Director/Consultant stated on State Of Nevada in March, there is nothing small or cozy about any of these venues. These big three (and Alex) are about as much like an intimate dining salon as the Wynn is to a Red Roof Inn. Regardless of size, reservations are just about impossible to get for peak dinner hours. Almost from the get-go, even if you call several days in advance, you'll get the: 'we have a table available at 6 or 9:30' routine.

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The good news is that Boulud and Bartolotta are open for lunch. That doesn't mean you'll get away cheaply, however. Two lunches for two at Bartolotta will set you back three big bills (and that's if you each just have a glass....that's right, a glass, of wine). The orata at Bartolotta was as freshly made, and impeccably -if simply-prepared--and as jaw-droppingly priced, as any one pound fish I've ever devoured. Boulud goes slightly easier on the wallet, and does French classics like duck confit, and pizzaladierre to perfection. But I would expect nothing less from Le Grand Daniel. SW (an awkward and needlessly cumbersome moniker---wouldn't Steve's Steakhouse be much more to the point?). Anyway, Steve's is a steakhouse full of surprises. Taking a tip from Laurent Tourondel's all-the-rage-in-steaks BLT Steak back in New York, it infuses the tired steakhouse genre with some real Gallic flair. Chef Eric Klein's bacon bread, tarte flambé, and choucroute garni are so good, I could swear I was back in Alsace. This kid will be one to watch.

....and this kid is John Curtas

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