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TOP OF THE WORLD

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Stratosphere Hotel & Casino

2000 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89104

702-380-7711

website

$50-$100

Daily 11am-3:30pm

Sun-Thu 4:30-10pm

Fri-Sat 4:30-10:30pm

Continental

A-

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

Fantastic food with even more fantastic views.

Where is it?

Atop The Stratosphere tower on the North Strip.

What kind of food is served?

Continental with both steakhouse and gourmet stylings.

What is the atmosphere like?

Classic and elegant inside; unbeatable views out the big windows.

How is the service?

Fine dining fantastic.

What are the prices like?

Certainly not cheap but not any more expensive than other good restaurants in town.

What else do I need to know?

If you are afraid of heights you can get a table a little further away from the windows.

What's the bottom line?

An excellent restaurant all the way around (and around and around).

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FULL REVIEW

As far as dining with a view it has always been pretty hard to beat Top of the World at The Stratosphere. Located on the 106th floor of the tower, more than 800 feet up, the restaurant revolves slowly offering panoramic views of Las Vegas through its floor-to-ceiling windows. It is breathtaking, romantic, and, at times, gasp-inducing, especially when your table gets underneath the platform for SkyJump and suddenly people are flying by the window outside.

During previous visits to the restaurant I was overwhelmed by the views but decidedly under-whelmed by the food, suggesting that you eat somewhere else and go see the panoramic vistas from the observation for a lot less money.

New chefs, a new menu, and new prices have changed all of that and now Top of the World is a full package with great views and great food.

It's not easy to categorize the selections here. It's more than just steakhouse fare although they do have lots of beef and seafood. They call it "gourmet" and it certainly has some of those trappings with fine ingredients and delightful presentation but I think that slaps an intimidating label on what is, for the most part, very accessible food. So let's just call it "continental" and be done with it.

Before we get into details about the offerings, note the menu is seasonal and changes often so best to go online and see what's being served when you visit.

They do like to twist things up even on the traditional selections. Appetizers like the jumbo lump crab cake come with a green papaya salad and pink grapefruit while the shrimp cocktail has a Mexican spin with horseradish and Yucatan-style ceviche. Other interesting starters include a roasted pork belly with chimichurri and a delicious grilled Portobello mushroom served with mozzarella and roasted red peppers.

Soups and salads include traditional lobster bisque with brandy and, among others, a baby frisee with roasted beets. The latter is dressed in a simple vinaigrette that allowed the melody of flavors to shine.

Steaks and seafood make up the bulk of the main courses with filets, rib eyes, and New Yorks available to be dressed up with various sauces and sides (for an extra fee of course) and fish courses having an International flair with items like Scottish salmon, Mediterranean sea bass, and Mexican prawns with New England scallops.

See, told you it was continental.

I sampled the filet, which was perfectly balanced in a red wine mushroom sauce, and the sea bass done in lemon, olive oil, tomato, and capers. Both were fantastic but I would actually recommend looking hard at the inventive entree section of the menu, which includes items like an Iowa pork tenderloin with apple and cranberry chutney, free range chicken with three-cheese fondue, and a Colorado rack of lamb with Moroccan couscous and house made harissa. The lamb was the surprise winner of the main courses we sampled, excellent on its own but then sent over the top with elegant Mediterranean grace notes.

We were in a rush so we didn't get to dive into the dessert menu as deeply as I'd like but I did sample the over-the-top (in a good way) berry sorbet, which comes dressed with all sorts of fresh fruit in a colorful explosion of sweet and tart.

In the old days it was virtually impossible to do a full meal here for under $100 per person and today you can spend that easily if you aren't careful. But with most of the shareable starters hovering around $15 and most of the main courses within a few bucks either way of $50 you can absolutely do it for less. If that's still a little too rich for your blood, note they are open for lunch and a variety of sandwiches and burgers all for under $20 and lunch-sized versions of their main courses all of which are under $30.

Phenomenal, classic fine-dining style service from a very attentive staff sealed the deal for me. If you have the time and the budget, take a wine pairing touring with the sommelier, who kept wowing us with his knowledge and expertise.

While nothing can beat the views, the food now is at least a worthwhile competitor.

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