An Old Sage Teaches Vegas Diners a New Trick

Investigate one of several new chefs to come to Las Vegas at Sage at Aria at CityCenter. Chicago-based chef Shawn McClain brings his mix of simple, clean flavors and seasonal ingredients, not to mention his James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef Midwest in 2006.

His specialties range from artisanal meats and seasonal produce to sustainable seafood. While the menu is distinctively American, hints of Mediterranean show up as well. The ingredients here come fresh from California and the Pacific coast, so look for the menu to change as produce comes in season.

For the uninitiated, this may be the most approachable of Aria’s new restaurants. Try McClain’s signature dishes such as the roasted scallops with braised oxtail and wild mushrooms, foie gras custard brulé topped with crusted caramelized citrus and cocoa nibs or the charred baby octopus caponata (pictured above).

McClain chose a collection of organic, biodynamic wines from small start-up vineyards in California to round out his list. Also at the bar, look for American classic libations recreated with a contemporary edge through natural ingredients and limited-production boutique liquors. Fresh fruit purees, boutique liquors and homemade bitters find their ways into the libations.

McClain shot into the culinary limelight with his first restaurant, Spring, in Chicago. With a seafood-inspired menu, Spring earned a James Beard Foundation Best New Restaurant nomination in 2001. He followed that up with vegetable-focused Green Zebra, followed a year later by Custom House, a modern interpretation of the classic steakhouse. Sage represents McClain’s first venture outside of Chicago.

Sage serves dinner only from 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For reservations, call 1-877-230-2742.