Fine dining at the Ark of Las Vegas ' Lutece and Tsunami Asian Grill

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Fine dining at the Ark of Las Vegas ' Lutece and Tsunami Asian Grill

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How Salt Cod Conquered The World

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In Los Angeles it seems all waiters in fine restaurants are awaiting their big break as actors; in Las Vegas it seems that all the waiters and captains have advanced college degrees ' and that is what is making the Strip one of the hottest dining areas in the world.

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It is so refreshing to not only dine in style, but also to carry on philosophical discussions with the captain of our table ' so is the case with our wonderful experience at Lut', inside the Venetian Resort and Casino, the only restaurant in the hotel facing the Strip and overlooking the Grand Canal. Our captain, Jason, is a pleasurable and congenial young man, recently married, working on his PhD in Philosophy and Ancient Civilizations, so naturally the gamut of the conversation ranges from the recent Aristotle scroll high tech computer deciphering to wine from ancient Rome.

We start the evening with Evian water but Lut' (loo - tess) offers Pellegrino sparkling water as well, which we follow with a modestly priced bottle of Brouilly Beaujolais Cru, Chateau de la Chaize, '02 (or at $11 a glass), made from pure Gamay grapes. According to Jason, it is one of the few red grapes that should be slightly chilled, like most white wines.

Lut' is one of two Ark restaurants in the Venetian Resort, and it has one of the best wine selections in Las Vegas, in a town with some of the best cellars in the world. The extensive wine menu includes crisp white blends, unusual Syrahs (even a petit Syrahs), extensive champagnes, prestige Cuvees, Meritage/Proprietary varietals, and even rare finds like Saint Estephe and Saint Julien and Saint Emilion and Puiseeguin Saint Emilion. The most expensive bottle in their line-up is probably the Chateau Mouton Rothschild '82 at $2400 a bottle.

Our celebrity chef of the evening, Andre Becker, recommends, as does Jason, the five course tasting menu that begins with an appetizer of Scottish Smoked Salmon on Baby Frisee Salad, and Citrus Cr' Fraiche Vinaigrette ($16); the freshest I have had since I left the Celtic isles.

Next up is the first course in the five course presentation: Aussie Tuna (Ahi Tuna 'Mille Feuille') plated sashimi fashion with 1/8 inch Granny Smith slice separations, with a garnish of Argan Oil ($17). Another choice could have been Fois Gras with Smooth Lentil Cream Sauce, (seared Fois Gras and Green Lentils 'Du Puy Puree" ' $19).

The second course of the evening: Classic Lobster Bisque ($14), with the chef adding Lobster Oil with a garnish of fresh cayenne pepper and a Roulade infusion of scallops. Another choice could have been the Chilled Bell Pepper and Tomato Soup with Crab Cocktail ($12), or a more expensive choice, the Russian Beluga Caviar 'AAA' at market price.

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The third course: Star Anise Crested Sea Scallops ' two scallops at about an ounce each saut' in butter and garlic with herbs placed on a cloud of celery root puree with lemongrass and orange reduction ($31). Another outstanding choice could have been Dover Sole Meuni' (Veal Demi-Glace Saut' Bok Choy, and Lemon Confit ' $40).

The fourth course is the entr'of Saut' Beef Tenderloin (Rossini Style) ' four ounces of tenderloin cooked to temperature ' Chef Andre recommends medium rare, with a ' medallion of fois gras and a drizzle of black truffle and merlot, coming with a side of Potato Croquettes, making their arrival in a cute, small personal cast iron pot with little handles, keeping the spud pinky fingers bursting hot ($38).

Other finely designed Lut' entr' include:

Farm Raised Chicken (Cocotte Style ' $29)
Roasted Muscovy Duck (Peking-Style ' $29)
Pepper-Crusted Rib Eye ($36)
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Grilled Colorado Rack of Lamb ($39)
Pan-Roasted Squab ($31)
Milk Fed Veal Chop ($41), or:
Braised Beef Short Rib ($30).

The final fine dining endeavor is the Verona Chocolate Mousse Cake with hardened shell. No woman alive can deny this delicacy ' nor any man!

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Originally out of New York City, Lut' opened four years ago (2001) at the Venetian Resort (the New York venue is closed), and designed and blueprinted for two stories (but now Vivid Night Club is upstairs). The fashionable (A metallic faux teakwood swirls across the main room.), contemporary restaurant ' no 90 degree angles anywhere ' has seen a series of celebrity chefs, including David Faye and Gustav, the principal Lut' owner, and now Andre Becker.

Lut', which is the ancient name of Paris, France, is an intimate cubbyhole of a restaurant, with only 18 tables in the main room where we watched from a small alcove the glorious sun setting across the Strip; there are also 16 tables in the private salon and 16 patio tables that are perfect with the right night temperatures.

Lut' is open

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Kriss Hammond, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Read Jetsetters Magazine at

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Kriss Hammond, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Join the Travel Writers Network in the logo at