There’s beginning to be more to Vegas than the strip, and at the forefront of the play paradise destination is Area 15, home to immersive distillery Lost Spirits (and soon to be expanding with Universal Studios, too.) Lost Spirits is themed around sci-fi adventure literature; it boasts a futuristically aged selection of rum and nightly performance offerings in the curio and magic spheres. It also hosts a dining event to take you through a maelstrom of a meal.
io9 was invited as press to board this intriguing voyage. Taking on the role of Captain Nemo, Chef Taylor Persh serves a 16-course meal inspired by the story of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, through her artistically moody and audacious appetite adventure, Fish or Flesh. In a dining room that feels like you’re sitting in the Nautilus, you’re lulled into a sense of safety as the rum flows in teacups and in the food to aid you in allowing yourself to trust the fantastical flavours ahead. With notes of the coast, the sea, underwater kingdoms, and an escape to land ho, the experience is an unforgettable story lived that pushes your limits of taste and rewards it. Even if you’re a newcomer to dining excursions — but are fan of the immersive experiences set in cinematic or fictional realms — this isn’t to be missed.
The butter is in the candle
Who wouldn’t follow a captain on a submarine adventure if they told them they made candles out of butter to melt on bread? Seriously though, the concept and execution was stunning (even for me, who got gluten-free) for the Brazilian cheese bread. I would love to sit and read by butter candlelight with a light snack, a book, and rum in a teacup! It’s a Victorian dream.
As soon as you sat down, each course was accompanied by (or consisted of) rum — very on theme for the aquatic adventure.
The best macaron I’ve ever had, with notes of lime and ginger and filled with rum.
Where has this been all my life?
The first challenge
Admittedly I’m a nerd, and anything I do that’s remotely adventurous has to be under the guise of some sort of story I’m participating in. Trying caviar and quail egg is up there. An egg on an egg in a Fabergé egg? Had to do it.
Potato on a half shell. Potato power.
The foie pillow combined a fluffy potato with blueberry like the fanciest Fruit Gusher I’ve ever had.
Here’s a quick glimpse of how it feels to be at Lost Spirits before and after the mind-melting meal.
Kiss the Captain
The experience becomes personal in so many ways; it’s boundary-pushing and evocative. You even get to kiss the chef, as one of the palate refreshers comes out in a wonderfully whimsical plate shaped in the form of Persh’s lips. And yes, you make out with it.
Mini Mai Tai pie
Jellyfish-like colours are presented as a pie in this elevated jell-o shot packed with the bouquet of Mai Tai flavours. At this point, I was like, “Yes I will join this underwater crew.”
Under the sea means scallops and devilfish in unexpectedly delectable presentations. Under any other circumstance I would not have had scallops or octopus putting the tentacle on a mini-harpoon of victory. What else was I supposed to do but feast on another challenge accepted?
This drink felt like drowning in a safe way, like that splash of water you accidentally take in when you’ve dived in a bit too far. And that’s the point you reach when it gets to the treacherous waters of the courses — and this drink, which tastes salty and seaweed-like. It is strong, rightfully so.
Just kidding. This is the part of the meal that’s pure fiction. So much so, it’s layered: my partner, who joined me in this experience, did a blind taste-test when he was young and was told that he was eating whale when really it was venison. Now flash-forward to this meal; he happened to leave the room for a moment when the rest of the diners were told that because whale is extremely illegal, Persh re-imagined the concept of that unattainable dream of a catch and what it could taste like. This course concept was brought to life with an exquisite A5 Kobe Wagyu… that I didn’t tell my husband was beef until after he had it, the reaction to which was priceless for everyone present.
Making land included the arrival of a tropical atmosphere to break the spellbinding lure of the sea, just like in the finale of the book. Saying “yes, chef” to the twistedly tasty inventions of Persh’s creation was a whole journey.
No more seafood!
Quail was a welcome respite as we winded down.
Spot of tea
Boozy chai and creme brûlée of victory closed things out — as well as a box of chocolates with an extra surprise to remind you that you really went through it.
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