Pierre Gagnaire is bringing a French Twist to Las Vegas

The Vegas Strip is no Rue Balzac, but come December, a Pierre Gagnaire restaurant will open on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire will be the Paris chef's first restaurant in the U.S., and it will be located on the 23rd floor of the coming Mandarin Oriental -- part of the first phase of openings at the $8.5-billion CityCenter.

Gagnaire, who also has restaurants in London, Dubai and throughout Asia, follows other Michelin three-star chefs from the City of Light to Sin City: Joel Robuchon (Joel Robuchon and l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand); Guy Savoy (Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace); and Alain Ducasse (Mix at the Hotel at Mandalay Bay). Gagnaire's original Paris restaurant is in the Hotel Balzac in the 8th arrondissement.

Gagnaire's Las Vegas foray comes as restaurants struggle in an economy that has hit once-high-flying high rollers. But also slated to open in the CityCenter are restaurants from Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina, Masayoshi Takayama and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

The idea of Twist "is to respect the unique sense of place of Las Vegas whilst creating our own story," Gagnaire says. "Where my concepts are different at my restaurants across the globe, my philosophy to cooking is the same: quality, pleasure and my own twist -- which is my signature."

Gagnaire is known for a style that could be called "high technique meets high whimsy." He has collaborated with French scientist Hervé This on dishes such as Saint-Jacques "Faraday," an emulsion of scallops, orange oil and smoked tea.

Heading the kitchen in Las Vegas will be chef de cuisine Pascal Sanchez, who previously oversaw Gagnaire's Sketch in London.

The 74-seat Las Vegas restaurant was designed by Adam Tihany, with a glass staircase, suspended wine loft and more than 300 gold globes that float across the ceiling and illuminate the dining room. (Tihany also has designed restaurants such as Daniel and Per Se in New York.)

Also to open in the Mandarin Oriental: MOzen Bistro, a kitchen "theater" with a sushi bar, noodle bar and rotisserie; Tea Lounge, serving high tea; and Amore Patisserie, stocked with fresh pastries, chocolates and gelato.


Betty Hallock

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