Welcome to One Year In, a feature in which Eater Vegas sits down for a chat with the chefs and owners of restaurants celebrating their one-year anniversary.
Joseph Elevado and Roy Saunders at Andrea's [Photo: Edison Graff/Stardust Fallout Media]
Andrea's made its debut at Encore Las Vegas over New Year's Eve weekend a year ago, bringing with it a nightclub experience and Asian fare. A wall of private booths with "shimmer screen" doors and abstract floral pendant artwork courtesy of Todd Avery-Lenahan make up the décor here, replete with an oversized piece of artwork behind the bar that features Steve Wynn's wife and restaurant namesake Andrea Hissom's eyes, photographed by Denise Truscello, that change colors. The restaurant even has a music chef, Steve Angello of Swedish House Mafia, while the menu comes at the hands of Joseph Elevado, bringing celebrities in on a routine basis. Here, Elevado and general manager Roy Saunders talk about how far Andrea's has come along in the past year.
How did Andrea's initially come together?
Roy Saunders: Because of the space's location next to Encore Beach Club and Surrender Nightclub, we wanted to give customers a hip experience and cater to the Wynn's considerable nightlife crowd attending Surrender and XS Nightclubs. The restaurant has morphed however into a destination restaurant because of its outstanding food, service and atmosphere.
Were you given any direction from the Wynn in terms of the food?
Joseph Elevado: When the Wynn contacted me to join the Andrea's team, they said they wanted an Asian menu that would be easily sharable and fun for our guests. So this was right up my alley given my history with Social House and Nobu.
What changes did you have to make to the space in order for Andrea's to open at Encore?
RS: The 6,200-square-foot space, formerly occupied by Switch, was fully re-designed and divided into several areas: a spacious lounge, a step-up dining area and six intimate private dining booths. Interior designer Todd-Avery Lenahan has said that the concept was always to "pay tribute to the allure of modern women." The space was thus totally transformed to be modern, feminine and chic, swathed in luxury finishes, chairs inspired by sling-back heels, and an elegant palette of cream, cognac and pearl. We've subsequently won two design awards: the Eater Awards' "Stone Cold Stunner" and "Best Interior Design, Restaurant" at the Best of Silver State Restaurants & Lounges Awards.
What have you learned over the past year?
JE: I've learned that Andrea's has really blossomed into a restaurant that people are taking seriously and not just a place to pre-game before the club, although we are a great place to do that. That's the beauty of it all: we offer a serious place to dine for foodies and also a place to really turn it up for the weekend.
RS: Andrea's has firmly positioned itself as a destination restaurant with guests complimenting the food, beverage, service and stunning beauty of our contemporary venue. Seating is very comfortable and the energy level is high, but not overpowering.
What was the initial menu testing process like?
JE: When I was selected to be the executive chef it was really close to crunch time. Fortunately, everyone involved in the process was very happy with the items I presented to them. From there the menu was relatively easy to create because I was in my element.
What dishes are most popular here?
JE: Our tuna with crispy rice and hamachi sashimi with pickled cherry peppers do very well from our table shares section of the menu. From our specialty rolls section, the spicy tuna with shrimp tempura roll as well as the special cucumber roll are very popular. The steamed sea bass, miso cod, and the New York strip steak are also our number one seller.
How are the ramen burgers going over?
JE: The ramen burgers are a curiosity to people and I think that they sell well because of it.
Have the guests at Encore and Wynn embraced the restaurant?
RS: Yes. The majority of our reservations are Encore and Wynn guests, with the number of repeat guests on the rise.
Six months in, what changed?
RS: Our guests are really empowering the staff as we now guide our guests through the ordering process and highlight chef Joe's specialties: A-5 Wagyu, our signature shellfish on ice and New York steak with wasabi demi-glace.
Does it seem like it's been a year?
JE: You know what, the year went by really fast and it's hard to believe that a year ago we were knee deep in the opening. I do have to say it was one of the smoothest openings I've ever experienced.
What's the must-order dish of the moment?
RS: Rainbow roll, New York steak with wasabi demi-glace, black miso cod.
What's in store for the future?
JE: I am really starting to play around with Filipino-inspired dishes and I look forward to introducing them to our diners.
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