It's always exciting to try a new restaurant, especially when it's from a chef that I've known and respected for quite some time.
I first met Chef Roy Ellamar at the Saveur Food Blog Awards ceremony in New York. I had traveled to the Big Apple to celebrate winning Saveur's Best Food Blog Award in the Restaurant and Dining category. It was a whirlwind experience of meeting well-known bloggers, celebrating such an unexpected win, and chowing down on delicious bites prepared by Chef Ellamar and his staff.
A few months ago (Christmas Eve, 2015, to be exact), The Bellagio unveiled its newest restaurant: Harvest by Roy Ellamar. They had poured over $800 million into a stunning renovation of the old Sensi space. Better yet, they gave Chef Ellamar free reign to make this his restaurant.
Harvest is a restaurant firmly guided by farm-to-table principles with an eclectic mix of food that reflects influences from all around the world. Chef Ellamar is very dedicated to sourcing sustainable and seasonal ingredients, relying on relationships that he has formed with various farms throughout his years both at Sensi and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon.
Chef Ellamar injects many aspects of his unique background into the menu, everything from his Hawaiian roots (hello ahi poke!) and Asian culinary bent to his command of classic French techniques.
The menu consists mostly of small plates, divided up by category: Garden (salads, grilled or roasted vegetables); Ocean (raw bar and cooked seafood); Ranch (anything focused on meat); Boards (a variety of charcuterie and flatbread); Grilled (classic cuts of steak); Stone Oven (oven-cooked meat dishes); Rotisserie (porchetta and chicken); Vegetarian/Vegan (various rotating options); and Sides (potato, beans, kale, and the like).
Definitely try one of their cocktails! We tried the Bellagio Harvest Beets Cocktail ($17), which was fantastic! I typically don't order cocktails because I almost always find them too sweet for my tastes. This cocktail, however, hit the perfect balance of just a touch of sweetness and just enough tartness to balance it out. It even came with a tiny dried beet cone filled with goat cheese. All in all, it was really, really good.
The bread is elegant, a mix of a cheesy cracker-like flatbread and Italian breadsticks. I loved the light-as-air flatbread, which had a nice, savory, Parmesan flavor.
We ordered a bottle of 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Pere de Famille from Betz Family Winery ($138).
One really, really fun aspect of the restaurant is the Snack Wagon. Similar to the Asian dim sum concept, servers walk around pushing a cart filled with small bites. Snack Wagon "delights" are $8 each and are great for curbing your appetite when you first sit down and begin perusing the menu.
I was immediately drawn to this beautiful plate of ahi poke.
"Yes please. We'll have all of them. One of each kind."
I guess we were hungry!
Hawaiian Ahi Poke (source: Kona, Hawaii) came tossed with red chili, cilantro, and yuzu. Chef Ellamar is from Hawaii, so I was not surprised at all that he included this classic Hawaiian dish on his menu. Bryan and I became nostalgic as we ate this: it totally brought us back to our phenomenal trip to Hawaii and the excellent poke we enjoyed there. It's quite good here, and Chef Ellamar uses the real-deal Ahi tuna straight from Kona, the same place where we enjoyed so many poke bowls.
Kalbi Filet Mignon (source: Painted Hills, Oregon) came served in skewer form. The marinade was classic kalbi, and the meat was unusually tender. The flavors were excellent. The skewer is served cold, which is fine, though you might be disappointment if you were expecting something warm.
Spicy Steak Tartare (source: Painted Hills, Oregon) came topped with mustard seeds, oyster aioli, and toast. It had a bit of a kick, was slightly tart, and was overall quite creamy due to the mayonnaise.
The Eggplant Caviar (source: Life's a Choke, California) was one of my favorites. The creamy dip made from eggplant, tahini, and garlic blended together was phenomenally flavorful. The caponata was delicious and I just loved the light, crispy flatbread, which reminded me of Indian pappadam.
We were extremely impressed with the Charcuterie B0ard, which comes with foie gras torchon, housemade pâté de campagne, head cheese, rillette, and Broadbent ham. The pâté de campagne, or "country terrine", was excellent and reminded me of a recent one I had enjoyed at Daniel Boulud's restaurant in Boston. The pork rillette was also very flavorful. All in all, it was on par in quality with charcuterie boards that I've had at high end French restaurants.
Next was a small plate of Ahi Tuna with Green Tea Ponzu ($17). The fish was very, very soft and overall the dish was solid. "I liked the jalapeño on it" said Bryan.
The Charred Brussels Sprouts ($13 - source: Rutiz Farm, California) came highly recommended and they did not disappoint! Tossed in a mixture of maple syrup, mustard seeds, bourbon, and soy sauce, the Brussels sprouts had a lovely crispy edge and an intense yet balanced flavor from the sweet maple glaze and the savory umami.
Another excellent dish from the Vegetarian section of the menu was the Farro Porridge ($22), which consisted of farro cooked with foraged wild mushrooms, a slow cooked farm egg, and black truffle. Since it had not been too long since white truffle season, white truffles were still on the menu, and Chef Ellamar generously gave us white truffles on this dish instead of black truffles.
It was awesome.
We had the choice to top our 6 oz Hangar Steak ($38 - source: Angus Painted Hills, grass fed and finished) with white Alba truffles (additional $60), which Bryan really wanted to do (heh, I guess he was feeling nostalgic for the white truffles ever since we left Alba!). The steak was very good, just the right size, and pretty amazingly decadent with the white truffles.
The Braised and Grilled Pork Cheek ($14 - Source: Becker Lane, IA) were marinated in a way that reminded me of Korean bulgogi. The rich, savory, and super soft, pork cheeks were nicely balanced by the roasted apple puree, apple kimchi, and Brussels sprouts "chips". All in all, it was a very good dish and a nice way to end the meal.
But first, we mustn't forget the Dessert Wagon! Similar to the Snack Wagon, there are other servers who walk around pushing a cart full of sweets. You get three different items for $8.
If you don't feel like getting a full dessert, this is a great option.
I believe this was some sort of yuzu cream filled dessert, but I honestly can't remember!
And yes, we also ordered a proper dessert (!).
Sticky Toffee Pudding (with maple bacon!) ($12) is one of the most popular desserts on the menu, and it's not hard to see why.
The toffee "pudding" (it's more like a dense cake), is doused with a maple bacon caramel sauce and is wonderfully decadent, crazy rich, and not for the faint hearted! It's quite good (the crispy bacon adds a nicely, salty counterpoint), but it's super dense and heavy. Share with several people if possible!
We really enjoyed our first meal at Harvest by Roy Ellamar. Considering that it had only been about two weeks since the restaurant opened, we were extremely impressed with how well the kitchen was executing everything for such a busy crowd (all those CES conference goers!).
Chef Roy Ellamar is very talented and he has created a great menu with influences from all over. My personal favorites include the Brussels sprouts, farro porridge, the charcuterie, and the eggplant caviar from the Snack Cart. Bryan really enjoyed the steak, but honestly, everything was good.
I think it's great that Chef Ellamar is really prioritizing sustainability and putting the farm-to-table concept front and center on the Strip (a place where steakhouses, burger joints, and buffets reign). He sources excellent ingredients, and it shows in the food.
Prices can add up, and they start high (typical "Strip prices"). Most small plates run between $15-$20 each, and larger dishes go even higher (our small 6 oz Hangar steak was $38). Add on some snacks and desserts, side dishes, plus a cocktail and some wine, you can easily spend well over $100 per person.
Still, it's a great place for groups to visit to sample many different types of dishes. If I came back to Vegas, I would definitely return.
Harvest by Roy Ellamar
Spa Towers, Bellagio
3600 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Disclaimer: I did not pay for this meal. All opinions are my own.