Ume Breeze – Plum Sake with Champagne
White Sturgeon Caviar – Traditional Condiments, Choux
Foie Gras – Croissant Batons, Honeycomb, Fruit Puree, Caramelized Nuts, Balsamic
Lobster Tomato Soup
Potato Salad with rice wine vinaigrette
Iberico bacon and Potato Croissant Sandwich
Mango Sorbet, Mint Jelly
Stella – Strawberry Tiramisu
Vanilla and Black Currant Cream Puff with passion fruit and raspberry marshmallows
Asked by a man who many would say has dined better than anyone they know to join him for brunch during a one day stay in Las Vegas it was my pleasure to suggest Sweets Raku on Sunday afternoon, my third visit overall but the first time during a lunch service that sees the predominantly dessert menu expanded by a duo of sandwiches plus soup, salad, and the occasional quiche. Small, spotless, but now rendered less sterile by light Japanese music playing overhead it was just prior to noon that we arrived, and seated on the corner as soon as the restaurant unlocked the doors it would not be long before an order was crafted – a six-course meal plus supplements rolling out over the course of the next hundred minutes at a slow, but deliberate pace. Beginning first with cocktails, the light sake and bubbles pairing nicely to a both creamy foie gras with laminated pastry batons and caviar that could have used a little more crème fraiche to balance the brine, it was largely conversation about food that passed the time between courses and with a shooter of soup and crisp salad balancing light vinaigrette with creamy potatoes both pleasant enough, our ‘main courses’ each impressed – for him the salmon and ikura while I opted for fatty bacon crafted of iberico belly matched to crisp potatoes inside of a crispy, hot croissant. Transitioning from savory to sweet with mango sorbet dressed in mint jelly that unfortunately got lost in the sweetness it was onward to better things that the meal progressed and while my friend enjoyed the Mont Blanc I opted for the seasonal Stella, a star of strawberries served over an almond-soaked financier with cream melding the two into a designer ‘strawberry shortcake’ with texture and nuance to spare. Wrapping up the afternoon in puffs of choux offered with options for both cream and jam it was with little hesitation that both of us selected vanilla and black currant, the shell giving way in a crisp break to just a touch of pressure and melting on the tongue leaving me to wish they offered profiteroles by the plate.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: A bit underwhelmed by the caviar presentation but again impressed by everything else, including a croissant and cream puffs that made me think Raku should consider a bakery style counter as its next conquest, I still contest that Sweets Raku should be a destination for everyone who loves pastry and anyone looking to impress an out of town guest – a genuinely un-Vegas experience mere miles from the strip where passion and artistry matter much more than publicist noise or the name on the door.
RECOMMENDED: Definitely the dessert prix-fixe, none of the main courses or mignardises I’ve had yet less than impressive.
AVOID: Caviar is pricy at $30 for a small tin and although high quality, the accoutrements were a bit skimpy – a bit more crème fraiche and more robust sour notes would have been welcomed.
TIP: Empty when we arrived at noon but featuring a full bar by 1:00pm while a few table seats remained it is advised to arrive early as some items reportedly do sell out, the brunch running from noon to 5:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays while nighttime hours change on occasion – updates frequently offered on both their social media feeds and recently rennovated website.