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Vegas Eats: Julian Serrano at ARIA

By Chuckmonster on Friday, 26th March 2010 5:52am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 5


We've been hearing from trusted foodie friends that Julian Serrano's eponymous tapas restaurant at ARIA is some serious off the skittle shiznittle. They weren't kidding.

Tapas, for the uninitiated, is Spanish cuisine made up of an array of smaller tasting dishes served in quick succession from cold to warm. A successful tapas night consists of a series of lip smacking ooing and aaaing interspersed with discussion about where the next round of tapas dishes were going to be placed on the already jam packed table.

Our experience was similar, with one hiccup, our waiters (2) had a major case of crossed wires throughout. Menus were forgotten, orders taken by each waiter, dishes forgotten about, water bottles gone empty, missed cocktail up sell opportunities, checks not delivered, coffee omitted. The symphony of discombobulation reached its peak as we angrily waited for our check as our guys whipped each other on the ass with dish rags. Lovely.

Fortunately, the food at Julian Serrano was stupendous.

Julian Serrano Tapas at ARIA Las Vegas Restaurant Review

From the mixology menu, I ordered the Manzana Deliziosa: Hendrick's Gin (my fave!), Green Apple Puree, Lillet topped with fresh thyme sprigs on top ($14). A tart yet sweet gin smoothie with enhanced by even more herbaceous florals. Wow. Had the waiters done their job selling me another drink and/or coffee, I would've ordered the Cafe con Leche: Torres Spanish Brandy, Obsello Absinthe, Espresso, Cream. Green fairies plus espresso? Yes please.

Julian Serrano Tapas at ARIA Las Vegas Restaurant Review Gazpacho

Left: incredibly righteous crab gazpacho ($11). Right: a psych out... julienned green apples mixed with visually identical pungent manchego cheese, chives and balsamic vinaigrette ($10). Subtle and delicious.

Julian Serrano Tapas at ARIA Las Vegas Restaurant Review Chorizo

Pintxo chorizo skewers served in garlic mashed potatoes. This deserved an encore order, but I was out voted 1 to 1.

Julian Serrano Tapas at ARIA Las Vegas Restaurant Review Mussels

Left: a small pot filled with about two dozen freshly steamed mussels in a bowl-lickingly delicious shallots and brandy broth ($9, a bargain). A certifiable winner. Right: stuffed dates, almonds wrapped in apple wood bacon, breaded and served with spicy piquillo pepper. This, unexpectedly, was one of my favorite dishes of the meal. ($8)

Julian Serrano Tapas at ARIA Las Vegas Restaurant Review Tuna Raspberry Molecular

Left: a square of molecular raspberry on top of a square of sesame Tuna served on flakes of wasabi and dots of ponzu ($14). A fascinating, artistic take on molecular sushi as tapas. Right: this "seared scallop on crunchy romesco sauce" ($12) was a bit disappointing, the scallop was rubbery and cold.

Julian Serrano Tapas at ARIA Las Vegas Restaurant Review Steak

Left: a tapas take on bruschetta using one year old manchego cheese. Right:prime tenderloin with crushed walnuts and brie cheese on toasted bread ($17).

Julian Serrano Tapas at ARIA Las Vegas Restaurant Review flan

Desert came in the form of a strawberry covered flan ($8) whose taste and texture veered dangerously close to a runny omelette for my liking.

Even with service being a bit of a nightmare, our meal at Julian Serrano was fantastic. This is essential dining for tapas lovers everywhere, and worth the trip to ARIA for the intrigued. We will definitely return, specifically to dive into their trademark paellas.



Comments & Discussion:

At there the week of Christmas and was very impressed, everything was outstanding and those stuffed dates were out of this world.

Sangria wasn't too bad either :)

I concur across the board. Definitely the top place to have lunch at Aria. My only complaint was it was very noisy (w/ a hangover).

We had a similar experience in January. Good food, but questionable service and very loud. Documented the whole thing at http://www.hefedshefed.com/2010/01/julian-serrano.html

Damn, I'm intrigued as well. Just based on the dishes alone, this place definitely looks like it blows Firefly way out of the water.

Fantastic food and a great open environment. Not for those looking for a high end restaurant experience due to the fact it opens on the noisy atrium and casino adjacent.

But the food, oh the food.

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