Anyone who knows Steve Wynn, the personality, knows that beyond being a perfectionist when finishing a project, that same drive continues as his properties operate and are broken in. Public spaces are fine tunes, stores are changed to better perform, the casinos are reorganized for better flow and use.
But most importantly, Wynn stays on top of his food and beverage outlets making sure that they are suiting the crowds and most importantly staying busy and profitable, with the oddball exception to the rule being such disappointments as the loss of Alex, what was likely the finest restaurant in Las Vegas at the time of its closing.
As such, and with the other myriad of additions and changes going on across Wynn and Encore, there are at current an abnormally large amount of changes that have happened changing essentially a large swath of the dining landscape across the properties. Of course some of these were simple switchovers. In that department, the Buffet, already a favorite, has been renovated and revamped, with new station layouts and decor. Also gone is Sugar and Ice, and although this may have been done a long time ago, it’s disappearance was a surprise to me and again limits Wynn and Encore’s quick dining options to the Drugstore Cafe and Zoozacrackers.
More surprisingly though is the departure of Paul Bartolotta from his namesake restaurant, a fixture since the opening of Wynn. His place has been taken by Mark LoRusso, formerly of Botero at Encore, and the space renamed Costa di Mare, the only other changes being to the menu and to the signage. The focus is still on fresh seafood, much like Bartolotta before, but whether or not the quality remains is yet to be seen. I hope there’s not a great change here as I still consider Bartolotta to have been the finest seafood meal I have ever had to date.
And with LoRusso leaving Botero, the restaurant gains not only a new head chef but has been made over entirely. Gone is the dark tile and works by namesake Botero, replaced with bright airy spaces and a casual menu over the former fine dining vibe. The new restaurant, named Jardin, is helmed by Joseph Zanelli who comes via Honey Salt, another local favorite in the Las Vegas area.
This is an interesting shift for the space formerly served as a food outlet basically in service of XS, but it’s proximity to the pool during the day should make for an interesting personality shift in both use and food choices. But it’s inclusion as a second casual dining choice at Encore is a bit surprising considering the popularity of Society Cafe since the resort’s opening
Until you realize that Society is gone. Not just closed, but boarded up, sealed, not mentioned save for a sign directing you to try Jardin. Not only is Society gone, but the next door and often empty Southside Bar is as well. I’m not quite sure what exactly is going on here, but I’m left to wonder if with the addition of the adjacent Encore Player’s Club whether or not this space may become a more permanent version of that space, which at the moment feels a bit hap hazard as an addition to the casino floor. Either way, Society will be missed for its solid performance at Encore.
One thing is for certain, at Wynn, save for a few restaurants it would seem that nothing is safe anymore from change. Let’s just hope the refresh is for the good and not a repeat of the disasters that were Lakeside (first year) and the abhorrent Andrea’s.