A New Strip Restaurant Delights with French Riviera Flavors
It’s always tomato girl summer at LPM, where guests can create their own tomato appetizer.
The first thing you notice when sitting down for a meal at LPM Restaurant & Bar is a lemon, a pair of tomatoes, and a bottle of olive oil at the center of the table. They aren't just decorations. Guests are encouraged to pick up a small serrated knife, slice up the tomatoes in whatever shape or size they like, add a squeeze of lemon, and drizzle some olive oil on top to kick off the dining experience with hand grinders of sea salt and black pepper on standby. The do-it-yourself appetizer is an immediate representation of what LPM is all about: bright, simple, flavors driven by fresh ingredients, interactive hospitality, and an integrated art influence.
"You come to LPM to feel at home and that's something we do in the south of France," CEO Nicolas Budzynski explains. "There are tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables on the table, and you prepare a salad for everybody to enjoy."
LPM opens for dinner service at the Cosmopolitan this week, taking over the space formerly home to Milos Estaitorio, which moved to the Venetian more than two years ago. But make no mistake, the Las Vegas Strip resort didn't just exchange one Mediterranean restaurant for another. While Milos is built on a foundation of Greek heritage, LPM is inspired by the cuisine and culture of the French Riviera.
That's not to say there isn't some overlap. LPM shares its predecessor's appreciation for fresh seafood, composed of simple, elegant preparations that let individual ingredients shine, but LPM is eager to shape the character of its menu with subtle, inventive touches.
Prawns, for example, are blanched for a few minutes with the shells on, then peeled, sliced, and served with olive oil, lemon juice, rock salt, ground pepper, and basil. A quick broil locks in the temperature without going overboard. "That's what makes them warm," Budzynski says. "This is not a hot dish; this is a warm dish, and it's supposed to be like that."
Whole branzino is nothing new in Las Vegas, but LPM enhances the recipe in its own way with olive oil, honey, red chili, and garlic for an intriguing mix of flavors. The fish is grilled to a crispy skin and then finished in the oven, keeping the meat tender and juicy for a satisfying blend of textures.
All food items are prepared à la minute, which means each recipe is brought to the table as soon as it's ready. LPM is a communal experience with dishes passed around the table to share, whether a delicate yellowtail carpaccio with avocado and citrus juices or soft gnocchi with a traditional potato filling and light tomato sauce.
LPM borrows elements of both French and Italian cuisine but mostly avoids the heavy creams and butter sometimes associated with both. A notable exception is the escargot, served inside the shell, which is the restaurant's best-selling dish at all locations.
The lamb chops already rank among the best in Las Vegas, grilled with ample meat on the bone and a perfect, robust red center. It's almost like slicing into a steak. The chops are marinated in black olive paste and served on a bed of shallots with dried cherry tomatoes and a spoonful of aubergine caviar, which to avoid confusion here in the States, is actually an eggplant puree that has nothing to do with fish eggs.
LPM isn't shy about aggressively positioning itself as a cocktail destination. The drink menu—and the overall spirit of the restaurant—is inspired by French artist and playwright Jean Cocteau, retracing his life from birth (beginning with the 1889 Americano, featuring Suze, a bitter aperitif balanced by pineapple and vanilla) to party host (a visit to Room 22, a shareable absinthe fountain with seasonal ingredients served exclusively at the bar) and a friendship with Pablo Picasso (reflected in a herbaceous clarified gimlet named after the Spanish artist with tarragon, mint, and orange).
Yet the signature Tomatini is bound to be the restaurant's most discussed cocktail, crafted with Ketel One vodka, fresh muddled tomatoes, white balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. A touch of simple syrup (adjusted in volume based on the type of seasonal tomato used) adds a hint of sweetness to counter the acidity of the mix. The drink is shaken, strained, and topped with a cherry tomato garnish and fresh ground pepper.
That said, wines are still very much a priority with a prominent cellar display in view of the dining room and eight sommeliers expected to be on duty by the time LPM introduces a lunch menu in February. The restaurant is focusing on French and Italian varietals but will integrate American options to meet demand. A centralized wine station has dozens of bottles on standby, poured at the table into handmade thin-stem glasses. Ask about the selection of rosé, which the restaurant team believes is an overlooked category in the US.
Whether it's cocktails or wine glasses, LPM is making a point to have prices that begin at $15 or $16, well under what most fine dining restaurants offer on the Strip these days.
The kitchen is led by Executive Chef Ravikanth Avaduta, who was brought in from LPM in Dubai. The concept is further represented on a global level with locations in London, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Riyadh, Limassol, and Doha. LPM debuted in the United States with a Miami restaurant in 2017, but the Las Vegas version is designed as a more full-throated announcement of the brand's arrival in the United States. It's the largest at 11,500 square feet and the first to have a bar-area lounge and private dining room, which leads to an expansive outdoor patio overlooking the Strip.
The restaurant is bright and open, matching the light and easy characteristics of the food. A long sit-down counter carried over from the Milos layout is now an interactive prep area for seafood and salads. Original art pieces and hand-painted accents decorate the walls, almost like a gallery, while built-in furnishings and antique fixtures add a cozy home-like feel. Brass accents, pastel colors, and pops of red are reminiscent of the Belle Époque era in Paris and wouldn't look out of place in a Moulin Rouge stage production.
A nice bonus: A small shelf that pulls out from every chair is ideal for safe-keeping a purse or other small items. "It's about 20-percent more for the cost of the chair," Budzynski says. "But we feel it's so well appreciated."
In case you're wondering about the name, LPM evolved from a now-expired relationship with a Nice restaurant named La Petite Maison, with the brand long moving beyond the association with an image and identity of its own. "We're constantly challenging the team," Budzynski adds. "What can we do that's different? What can we do that's new?"
LPM is clearly bringing something new to the table in Las Vegas and already feels at home between two other global dining concepts (STK and Zuma) on the third floor of the Cosmopolitan. The restaurant opens in time to capitalize on F1 madness–and possibly at the starting line of becoming a welcome long-term culinary presence on the Strip.