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Restaurant Review: Botero at Wynn Encore Las Vegas

Okay, let's face it! Certain things are to be expected when you think of a Las Vegas steakhouse, and good steak is almost the least of them. If you are like me, you are expecting a very sultry, sexy, lounge-type atmosphere with incredible décor and the kind of ambiance that whispers anything — yes, anything — can happen.

You expect to be guided to your table by hostesses that are slightly too friendly and attractive for comfort. And since you've been eating at high-end steakhouses for more years than you care to remember, you are secretly hoping something will happen that will make the evening memorable enough to tell your friends back home.

Welcome to Botero, the new steakhouse at the Wynn Encore resort in Las Vegas. Created by nightlife impresario Victor Drai (I loved his restaurant in Beverly Hills) and Executive Chef Mark LoRusso, this is arguably one of the sexiest restaurants in Las Vegas with a vibrant, upscale crowd that looks as if they live and eat well. In fact, the crowd actually looks like the models in the advertisements you see in the other restaurants, pools, and lounges on the hotel's promotional channel.

Botero, however, goes beyond looks. This is Las Vegas, baby!

"Excuse me," I tell the helpful waiter who comes to my table to deliver my glass of Au Bon Climat Central Coast Chardonnay. "We have to be at the Le Rêve show by nine, and my friend is on his way," I explain, looking at his empty seat. "Can I order for us both now?" The waiter smiles and makes note of our theater time in his little book. He reassures me this happens all the time and that the theater is only a five-minute walk down the hall.

So far, so good. I order "Steak Your Way" for my friend, which is prepared in three possible styles - traditional, pepper steak, and chimichurri. Like the Goldilocks fairy tale, this steak is also available in three possible sizes: 12-ounce filets, 18-ounce dry-aged New York strips, and 20-ounce bone-in rib eyes.

Happily, my friend soon arrives and we dig into the restaurant's signature seafood tower. Virtually ever restaurant has one, though each is a bit different; and at the Wynn, every seafood tower I've had is spectacular. King crab legs, the largest and freshest shrimp I've ever seen, and the usual oysters and mussels adorn this large tower, which is structured on a more horizontal level so guests have a better view of King Neptune's bounty.

One of the joys of ordering food at the Wynn Resort is that the wine by the glass selection is large enough to present many pairing opportunities. Botero offers three sparkling wines (two of them high-end champagne from France, the others a Cava from Spain) along with five white wines.

With the seafood tower, my favorite pairing was the delicious Riesling from the Mosel, a 2006 Monchhof 'Urziger Wurtzgarten' Kabinett. Slightly off dry, with flavors of honey and fragrant white flowers, it was a perfect pairing with the lobster. I also really enjoyed another treasure, the 2006 Vincentt Giradin Vielle Vigne Chardonnay from Rully in the Burgundy region of France. These two wines should win awards in terms of the lengths the Wynn Encore wine buyer goes to just to find unusual and delicious wines.

With our other starters of Ahi tuna tartar and sesame crusted tuna medallions, we enjoyed trying the red wines, as tuna is considered the "cow of the sea." We start with the lightest red, the 2006 Foxen Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley in California. Dry and delicious, the wine has just enough fresh berry sweetness to contrast nicely with the Ahi tuna tartar. The seared tuna medallions, served with a crunchy oriental Napa cabbage salad, is a better match with both the 2004 Juan Rojo Tempranillo from Toro, Spain, and the 2005 Vinifera Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley.

Entrees arrive with more than enough time for the theater. I eye my European Loup De Mere (Mediterranean Sea Bass) hungrily. It is served whole, albeit with the bones removed, and stuffed with artichoke and fennel. My friend's steak looks delicious, and I take a bite - and sneak yet another bite when he dips into his jacket to pull out his Blackberry and check email messages. (Thank heaven for Blackberries!)

Throughout our meal, our waiter had been most attentive and is to be applauded for excellent service and seeing that we got to the theater on time. Next time I would allow enough time to experience the desserts created by pastry chef Patrick Florendo, for I have heard from other guests they are not to be missed. (Try the PB and J doughnuts with Concord grape jelly and tell me about it).

Le Rev was wonderful and quite an experience. Yet when I think back to that night, it was the Botero experience — the incredible atmosphere, the fun buzzing crowd, and the delicious cuisine — that I remember the most.

Botero Wynn Encore Resort 3131 Las Vegas Blvd S Las Vegas, NV 89109 (702) 770-7000

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