Best high-end restaurant on the westside? It might be a toss up between Marche Bacchus and Vintner Grill. Thanks to some much needed vacation time between Christmas and New Years I had the pleasure of dining here for lunch on a weekday.

The place is hidden in an office park and doesn’t look like much from the outside. But, as soon as you step in you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the some posh, elegant, urban metropolis. With its white couches and ceiling there’s a airiness about the place despite little natural lighting. Black and green accents throughout the comfy interior add a modern touch. Of course you’ll be reminded that you’re still in Vegas when you see the video poker machines along the bar.

Lunch was excellent. There’s a good selection of wines by the glass and the strawberry caipirinha shouldn’t be missed. I’m a sucker for carbs and the bread basket they brought out didn’t stand a chance. Among the selection was a brioche, pretzel bread, cranberry bread, and one with jalapeños. They were accompanied by an olive tapenade.

Following the bread basket was a cheese and meat platter ($25) with prosciutto, salami, a house-made camembert, goat gouda, Saint Andre triple creme cow’s milk cheese. The triple creme was the standout among the cheeses. The salami had an almost jerky-like texture which I didn’t care for. Their selection is an interesting mix of familiar and not so familiar items, some of which are house-made and seasonal. Your best bet is to tell the waiter your preferences and let him choose for you.

Their appetizers, flatbreads and some entrees are available as half orders, which is convenient if you want to try many things. We tried a half order of the pan seared crab cake ($8) with tarragon cream, roasted peppers and mache. The plating with the single crab cake sitting atop the cream sauce was beautiful and the flavors were equally as good. If you don’t expect a Maryland style crab cake with jumbo lump meat (which this is not) you may be impressed.

My wife had a half order of the spicy chicken sausage flatbread ($7) with romesco sauce, leek confit, marjoram and truffled ricotta. A half order came as 4 slices. The crust was more chewy than crispy, but still tasty and generously topped with quality ingredients.

My dish was amazing — the braised lamb bolognese ($11) with black pepper tagliatelli, truffled ricotta and fresh grated nutmeg. It wasn’t the most visually appealing dish to look at, but it didn’t last long enough for me to take a second look. Wonderful flavors with tender and savory chunks of lamb and fresh pasta. The dish is reason enough for a return visit.

Service was solid but a little stiff — probably because they’re used to serving dudes in suits most lunch shifts. No matter, I’d be glad to come back for dinner or have some small bites out on their patio when the weather warms up.

4.5 Stars

— Updated below: September 4, 2012 —

For Fall Restaurant Week 2012, this was stop number two. It was an early dinner for our group of ten. There was no problem getting a reservation a few days before and the service throughout the night was on point.

To start, the wife and I had some sort of pea agnolotti. I don’t remember the details. It was rather bland, sitting in a thin, watery sauce and the greens dominated the flavor. The kitchen was nice enough to split the dish for the two of us without us asking.

First up for from the Restaurant Week menu ($50.12) was the ahi tuna carpaccio. I always expect small portions during restaurant week, but this was pretty large. It was a whole plate of thinly sliced, delicate tuna with a preserved lemon aioli and capers.  Absolutely delicious.

I was all set to order the halibut for my entree but switched to the NY strip after our waiter went on about how amazing it was. Bad choice. The seasoning and flavor of the steak was bold and peppery but the meat itself was tough. Not prime grade beef at all. The accompanying potatoes and arugula and port reduction made up for it. Still, if I could go back, I’d order the halibut.

They had three tempting options for dessert but I went with the carrot cake. The presentation was beautiful and the icing was perfectly balanced and the flavor of the cake was excellent. My only complaint was that it was a touch too dense for my liking. Still, it was a very tasty end to the meal.

It was my second time at Vintner Grill and I’m still a fan even though a couple of the dishes were less than stellar. For an off the strip restaurant, it remains one of the better options in town.

4 Stars

10100 W Charleston Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89135
(702) 214-5590

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