MacauEats: Cafe Esplanada at Wynn Macau
For most of my Macau trip I ordered room service. While you might say "you idiot, why didn't you go hit the restaurants!" I'll have to defend myself by saying that sometimes the restaurant experiences in Macau could be extremely stressful. More often than not, waiters don't speak English and wouldn't understand certain requests I would have due to dietary restrictions and allergies. Since I spent a large chunk of time hoofing in and out all manner of Macanese casinos, I couldn't really make reservations or plan exactly where I would be at a given time of day. Therefore, room service. The great thing about room service in a lot of the Macau joints is that they deliver stuff that is made in the hotels restaurants. Hotel Lisboa will deliver meals from Joel Robuchon's joint downstairs. Awesome.
I did manage to make time to visit Cafe Esplanada at Wynn Macau though. I've always loved Terrace Point Cafe at Wynn Las Vegas, most notably their endless cups of delicious coffee and truly magical pancakes. Cafe Esplanada isn't exactly Terrace Point, but it serves somewhat of the same purpose and looks a helluva lot like it too.
When I arrived, the hostess led me to a two person table in the corner facing the pool and gave me their weighty menu. She explained to me that they were currently serving 'high tea'. I'm more inclined to think they were serving 'afternoon tea' an elegant mid afternoon meal featuring tea, scones, miniature sandwiches, cakes and other pastries. High tea is a traditional supper meal, basically what we call 'dinner'. Since the clock had just bellowed two p.m., this ain't no high tea, unless someone is high from smoking some of that Thai tea they get around here sometimes.
Shortly after getting the menu, my waitress came by and asked me in very confusing English what I would like to drink. "Coffee" I replied heartily, and she whooshed away. I began to peruse the menu, slightly shocked at the diversity of fare included within. Western, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian and Thai dishes plus a handful of other European favorites. This must be one talented chef staff to be able to produce such an array of quality food. Since I had recently awoken (up late writing yo!) I really wanted some pancakes, but they were nowhere in sight on this menu... something on the menu did catch my eye though.
The Elaine Wynn Salad
There's no way in hell I'm not going to order this thing. Instantly I began to think of the Waldorf salad, named after the legendary Waldorf hotel, and the Caesar salad, named after the legendary hotel in Las Vegas, I mean Tijuana (seriously!), and the Nicoise Salade from Nice, France, or the Watergate salad... a sludgy variation on ambrosia salad. What ever could this be made of? I sure hope the main ingredient isn't Elaine Wynn herself, that would be... uh... cannibalism!
With the Elaine Wynn Salad confidently checked off, I searched for an entree, the Italian in me decided to optimistically take a shot at the Fettucini and Large Prawns. The waitress came by with my coffee (more on that in a sec) and took my order. "Elaine Wynn Salad" I said, confirming my order by pointing at the item in the menu, "Fettucini and Large Prawns" again pointing. She nodded in agreement and snapped up the large pink leatherbound menu from my hands. She began to zip away only to wheel around and say to me "Fettasnee?" "Fettucini!" I replied with as much Italian mustard as I could uh... muster up. I repeated it again just to drive the point home, possibly loud enough for 1/2 the restaurant to hear. She repeated it back to me, giggled and took my order to the kitchen.
The waitress swung by quickly and dropped off a basket of breads. A croissant shaped roll thingy and some flat breads with toasted sesame seeds on it. The croissant roll was crispy, yet chewy, somewhat like German pretzel bread. The flat breads were dry, crunchy and seemed to lack a touch of salt that one might have expected. I noshed on both in between sips of my coffee.
Mmmm cofffeeee. Nothing makes me happier than a hot cup of great coffee. The previous night in the Wynn Macau casino, I had a stellarly disappointing cup of drip from the casino Starbucks. $36 Hong Kong dollars of bitter, burnt and blechy bean juice that aggravated my desire for a great cup more than satisfied it. This steamy frothy cup of freshly squeezed joe was what I've been looking for since I landed on this Portuguese Plymouth Rock five days ago. The joe was musty, nutty, deep and rich with a frothy foamy top that only comes when it is made cup by cup. On the saucer with the joe was a deliciously sweet sugar cookie that, when dipped, was moist, crispy and insanely satisfying. Here's your Barista ovah here. Mmmm mmm good. I had a hard time savoring its rich goodness while waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting to eat Elaine Wynn and her salad. I waited so long that the hostess came and apologized for how long it was taking. They even brought me another cup of this freshly squeezed java. Eventually, and let me state for the record that it was quite a long time, the Elaine Wynn Salad was delivered by a different waiter who apologized for how long it took to get it ready. I began to day dream what happened in the kitchen...
*DING DING* "Order up... Elaine Wynn Salad" (cue evil music: BAM BAM BAAAAAAAAAAM!) All of the sudden time stopped in the kitchen, the help were purely terrified that Elaine Wynn herself was out in Cafe Esplanada ordering 'her salad.' Chef's began running around like wild pigs, slicing and dicing avocados, baking tomatoes, roasting fresh croutons, shaving Parmesan cheese oh so delicately, concocting the vinaigrette dressing with utmost care... all of them worrying that Elaine, and more likely, The Steve, may come storming into the kitchen with a typhoon sized fury about the quality of Mrs. Wynn's signature salad.
When I came to, I was faced with a large glass chalice, elevated off the table by a six inch stem, that held this holiest of all salads. At least holy for here. Mixed greens, avocado, baked cherry tomato, parmesian, croutons, in a fruity vinaigrette dressing. I recall the menu saying something about peaches or pears, but it kind of escapes me now whether they were in the salad or not. I dug my fork into Elaine Wynn, hoisted her dripping foliage up to my pouting rictus and slid the succulent flavors of Mrs. Wynn inside of me. Alright enough with the low grade food porn. It actually tasted great and was very much worth the wait. I gobbled the rest down pretty quickly and nearly got up, paid the bill and split because, like a Snickers, I was completely satisfied.
My entree arrived - Fettucini With Large Prawns in tomato sauce. The marinara was lifeless, watery and lacked garlic, basil, peppers, onions, the works. It was a bore. The prawns were a little chewy, not the snapping mouth melters that they should be and the fettucini was quite a bit more al dente than I prefer. It was reasonably good, but not nearly as hot shit as Elaine Wynn's deliciousness.
After I finished, I charged the meal to my room and headed over to Cafe Esplanada's pastry display to check out what they have. I recognized one of the Portuguese Egg Tarts as similar to the one I had ordered with room service the previous day... if that is any indication of the quality, i'll bet the rest of their offerings are great. I'm sure if Mrs. Mo was here, she'd order about 3 of each and squirrel them back to our room for later. I've noticed that almost all the hotels here have a pastry shop in them. I wonder if its a custom in Asian hotels to have pastry and fruit stands (as Lisboa and Venetian do). On the way out I congratulated the Barista for making a great cup of coffee, she giggled and said thank you.
All in all Cafe Esplanada was an enjoyable experience, mostly because of Elaine Wynn and her tasty salad. I wonder if Steve Wynn works in the kitchen here tossing Elaine's salad. *rimshot* You've been a great crowd but now I've gotta go check out the pool at this po-dunk hotel.