These days, Wolfgang Puck is virtually a household name. You see casual sandwich shops inside malls with his name on it, takeaways inside airport terminals, frozen pizzas, and even a line of cookware.
Some may argue that this well-known chef personality has diluted his name by slapping it onto so many different products.Who was Wolfgang Puck. originally?
Wolfgang Puck initially became famous through his well known and uber popular restaurant Spago in Beverly Hills, which drew lots of stars from the area. Through Spago, Puck really pioneered “California Cuisine” – popularizing dishes such as funky designer pizzas and eclectic pasta dishes. The restaurant has won numerous awards, including the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Service Award and of course, two Michelin stars (one of only three restaurants in LA to have this honor – there are no three star Michelin restaurants in LA).
In 1992, Spago opened up a second location in Las Vegas inside Caeasar’s Palace after the smashing success of the original one. Puck was really the first elebrity chef to come to Vegas. He seriously started a trend. Nowadays, every major casino houses numerous celebrity chef restaurants.
This second Spago has two parts: a fancier sit-down section (in the back) and a “Spago Café” (in the front) that serves more casual and reasonably priced fare.
Having already tried the “fancier” Spago a few years ago with Bryan’s parents, we decided to stop by Spago Café for lunch before we headed out to CES.
The Spago Cafe is in the outer section of the Spago space. You can sit “outside” and face the forum shops (this is what we did). Bread came almost immediately, which is a huge plus when you’re hungry! The generously filled bread basket was brimming with several different kinds of bread. I loved the flatbread, although in general I liked all of them.
Hearts of Baby Romaine Lettuce “Caesar”
Creamy Garlic Caesar Dressing, Lavosh-Herb Crouton and White Anchovies
Bryan started with the Caesar Salad, which he thought was only so-so. It was nice that it had anchovies in it. Unfortunately, the dressing and cheese were only average.
Hand Cut Fettuccine
Wild Oregon Mushrooms, English Peas, Arugula, Glazed Shallots and Parmesan-Reggiano
Bryan was super thrilled to see hand cut fettuccine on the menu, so it didn’t take him too long to decide what to order. He was very pleased with the texture of the pasta as well as the flavors of the wild mushroom sauce.This was definitely a solid choice.
Spago Classic Chopped Vegetable Salad
Diced Vegetables: Carrots, Celery, Corn, Green Beans, Red Onion, Radicchio, Cherry Tomato and Provolone Cheese
I opted for the “Spago Classic” chopped salad because I was starting to feel the toll of all our crazy dining in Las Vegas. My stomach needed a break. To be honest, I thought the salad was only OK. Granted, it had a reasonably nice assortment of fresh ingredients. However, at the end of the day, the flavors did not wow me. I found myself muttering, “I think like the salads at The Cheesecake Factory better.”
ANYWAY, the “not-bad-but-not-amazing” dishes coupled with the “higher-than-average-hello-you’re-in-Vegas” prices left me leaving a bit dissatisfied. Perhaps I let price get to me too much. Bryan, who is much more immune to prices and spending in general, is able to be more objective about food quality sometimes because he doesn’t let price bother him as much. Of course, Bryan liked his dish a lot better than I liked mine, so that could explain why he had a much more positive experience than I did.
In any event, Spago Café is not bad, though don’t expect anything close to the quality of what you’d find in Spago proper. Instead, see it as a casual Italian café that serves pretty good food at slightly higher prices than you might expect outside of Vegas.
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