When Wolfgang Puck’s Spago closed in January 2018, it marked the end of an era. Puck’s restaurant inside the Forum Shops at Caesars—credited with ushering in a new tide of fine dining in Las Vegas—has since reopened at the Bellagio, but whatever replaced the legendary spot would have very large shoes to fill.
Sam King, president and CEO of King’s Seafood Company, was up to the challenge, bringing in SoCal favorite Water Grill. The seafood spot opened in July, and not a hint of the old space remains.
King’s company casts a wide net within the restaurant industry. Though it operates higher-end restaurants like Water Grill and 555 East, it also owns and runs the populist King’s Fish House (which has a location at the District in Green Valley Ranch.) The more upscale Water Grill—established in LA in 1989—has an abundant seafood selection, and with its dark interiors and marine-inspired decor, it fits in nicely among the Forum Shop’s fine dining options.
Water Grill’s chilled seafood platters deliver good value for the Strip—$49 serves two, $90 serves four and $168 serves seven. The most modest option, the Grand, arrives with an assortment of oysters, clams, scallops and mussels, wild jumbo white shrimp, wild Dungeness crab, lobster and Channel Islands red sea urchin.
The menu should satiate a variety of palates, with dishes like the wild Spanish octopus ($21). Served Mediterranean style, it’s grilled tender and paired with a rich and savory tomato sauce and garnished with crumbled feta cheese and Niçoise olives. There’s also tempura-fried halibut cheek salad ($28), a New England lobster roll ($29) served cold (traditional) or warm (Connecticut style) and a 20-ounce Prime split-bone cowboy ribeye ($63). But the star might be the wild Ross Sea Chilean sea bass ($47). The thick portion of white fish absorbs its weight in sage-infused brown butter, rendering each velvety bite richer than the one before. And if that weren’t decadent enough, it’s paired with a heavenly butternut squash and Parmesan gnocchi. This isn’t your average sea bass, but then again, this isn’t your average fish house.
Water Grill Forum Shops at Caesars, 702-832-4777. Sunday-Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight.