In early fall last year, Sensi—nestled at the base of the Bellagio’s Spa Tower—closed to little fanfare. Rather than eradicating the space, a remodel opened up the restaurant’s façade to passersby with a lounge expansion while keeping its quartet of showcase kitchens intact, affording some great sightseeing inside and out. But the most important aspect of the overhaul was letting the former executive chef remake the menu. The result is the remarkable new Harvest by Roy Ellamar.
Ellamar had been at the helm of Sensi since 2011, but because of its deeply set location you’d be excused if you didn’t taste that food, never making it past the murderer’s row of other Bellagio restaurants. With this reopening, though, you have little excuse for missing out on a farm-to-table concept that highlights local purveyors—yes, we have those—while letting the chef shine.
You could go to Harvest for the charred Brussels sprouts alone, simply a revelation. If you don’t like Brussels, you will after you try this version, blistered and laden with maple syrup and bourbon soy sauces. In fact, consider skipping to the vegetarian entrees for the beginning of your meal to find the farro porridge. Strewn with umami, the dish combines the ancient grain prepared to an almost soupy consistency with wild mushrooms, black truffle and a slow-cooked egg in a gooey, earthy combination.
Don’t order too much, because the snack wagon awaits, a roving small-plates cart serving various treats in a dim sum-like format. On a recent visit, Ellamar, a native of Hawaii, concocted a killer ahi tuna poke rife with shoyu and savory Wagyu kalbi beef skewers, each for $7.
Entrée-wise, it’s tough to pass on either of the rotisserie options. The slow-roasted porchetta is accompanied by a sharp rosemary-parsley-garlic sauce cutting its welcomed fattiness, while the roasted half chicken is crispy with hints of smoke. Get the potato gratin with mustard seed to balance out your meal.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the creative cocktails, where Harvest provides a twist on the classics. If you like blue cheese, the Martini—with a smoke- and blue cheese-infused Tito’s base and blue cheese olives skewered onto a rosemary stem—is the way to go. Even more dramatic is the Manhattan with brown butter-infused Buffalo Trace. It’s the thing dreams are made of, finished with chocolate bitters, espresso syrup and a chocolate-dipped Maraschino cherry. In the wrong hands it could be cloying; here, it’s sublime.
The great poet LL Cool J once exclaimed, “Don’t call it a comeback/I’ve been here for years!” One could imagine Ellamar saying the same thing about his momentous return at Harvest.
Harvest by Roy Ellamar Bellagio, 702-693-8865. Daily, 5-10 p.m.