Picture the scene. You’re at Tomorrowland, the sprawling EDM festival in Belgium that attracts approximately 400,000 visitors over two weekends in July.
Decorated with vast sculptures and surrealist set designs, Tomorrowland has gone stratospheric in little more than a decade; today it is “the most important festival for electronic music” according to regular headliner Steve Aoki.
In a packed tent near the main stage, hundreds of people are going mad as DJ Sander Van Doorn does his thing on the decks – so far, so typical of a Tomorrowland Friday afternoon.
A little more unusual are the waiters moving through the crowd, their trays bearing plates of food that quickly disappear. (Raving is hungry work.)
Behind the DJ booth itself is a large, open-plan kitchen where the aforementioned plates are prepared by none other than Masaharu Morimoto, the celebrated Iron Chef and owner of several Morimoto restaurants across America – the latest of which recently opened in Las Vegas.
It is Vegas – where else – that has created this remarkable combination of music and fine dining, ‘bites’ and ‘beats’. Each B-EAT session saw a celebrated chef serve up a four-course meal while an equally celebrated DJ played an hour-long set for the crowd. No chairs or tables: this was very much food in a rave as opposed to a restaurant with a DJ.
It’s a great concept, helped immeasurably by the talent utilised in both the booth and the kitchen
It’s a great concept, helped immeasurably by the talent utilised in both the booth and the kitchen. The Friday sessions kicked off Lee Bennett of The Mirage cooking Italian dishes while Yves V played classic after classic in a barnstorming set.
Happily the food held its own: a special mention for the ridiculously creamy burrata (three plates: judge me) and the ‘main course’ of crab ravioli, perfect festival fuel. There was even prosecco to wash it all down. (People dancing around waving prosecco glasses only added to the glorious surreality.)
Tomorrowland and Vegas make an obvious match: both are adult Disneylands that boast striking architecture and a love of a good time. But while Vegas may be the only place on Earth that can rival Tomorrowland for the quantity and quality of its DJs, the city is also a hotbed of fine dining – with no fewer than 15 Michelin-starred restaurants on and around the Strip. (Including the three-star Joël Robuchon.)
Like DJs, chefs are superstars in Vegas, with the likes of Gordon Ramsay vying for billboard space with Calvin Harris. This is a city that takes food as seriously as it takes partying, and does neither by halves. Indeed you could have a deliriously decadent weekend in Vegas spent entirely at the restaurant table.
While you have a whole year to wait until the next Tomorrowland, Vegas is Vegas all year round
When we visited Vegas last year the culinary scene was a major and unexpected highlight. You can read the full article here but a few relevant excerpts below.
“Libertine Social is a recently opened gastropub concealed within the bowels of Mandalay Bay at the southernmost point of the Strip. I say ‘gastropub’ – you won’t find many similar joints round Clapham Junction. The interior is part-bachelor pad, part-members’ club, with a garish array of pictures and ornaments covering cavernous black walls. James Beard Award-winning chef Shawn McClain has created a remarkable menu, highlights including black truffle pizza (as deliciously decadent as it sounds), roasted Petaluma chicken, or anything off the grill.
“Speaking of grills – we can’t remain pals if you don’t pay a visit to Triple George Grill. Situated down town, it’s a perfect dinner venue before a big night. (Or indeed a little night.) Both menu and decor are less elaborate than the Libertine, but the cuisine more than holds its own. Special shout-out to the seafood: if it lived in salt water, order it.
“Breakfast, you say? Well you should certainly experience the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, a legendary blowout with more than 100 dishes to choose from. For a more traditional affair, head to the Artist Brunch at Bouchon by Thomas Keller at The Venetian. The food is delightful – Keller was named ‘America’s Best Chef’ by Time magazine – and service matches the cuisine: a fresh mimosa seems to materialise the moment your glass is emptied. Try and secure a courtyard seat on a sunny lunchtime; you’ll want to stay there the rest of your trip.”
While you have a whole year to wait until the next Tomorrowland, Vegas is Vegas all year round! Book a trip and pack trousers with extra give around the waist – you'll need 'em.
For more information on visiting Las Vegas, see visitlasvegas.com