I spent a week in Vegas with family and was able to eat at a variety of places, including a couple of newer restaurants I had yet to try. To keep my post from being interminable, I have split the trip into two posts.
COMMANDERS PALACE As always, Commanders was wonderful, with terrific food, as well as excellent service from every member of the staff. For those who have not been, Commanders serves dark, rich gumbo that is almost black (the way Cajun gumbo should be, rather than the tan colored or tomatoey version many restaurants serve) and the best crab cakes you will ever have. The crab cakes are about 95% pure gulf blue crab, no breading, just crabmeat and some vegetables that are cooked in a round biscuit mold to give the crab cake shape. A friend and I did the tasting menu. The staff was happy to let me do a couple of substitutions: the crab cakes are never on the tasting menu, but twice now they have let me do a crab cake in place of one course, and I also chose to get the gumbo of the day rather than the soup that was on the tasting menu. No fuss, no extra charge, just happy to please. Without going into too much more detail, let me just say every course was excellent, and if you live in Vegas or are going to be there soon, get over to Commanders now and try a special they currently are featuring: Crawfish Pot Pie. This is just unbeatable, a rich creamy stew of crawfish, fava beans and vegetables under a wonderful puff pastry. Yum.
THECafe This is the café/coffee shop for THEHotel at Mandalay Bay. It has excellent food, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is creative, with a nice selection of choices and very tasty. We did breakfast here mostly, but I had a Lobster Cobb Salad for lunch one day that was excellent and a Steak Sandwich with Brie was great as well. Well worth a try if you are even at THEHotel.
FLEUR DE LYS This was new for me, its Hubert Kellers restaurant in Mandalay Bay. We had a wonderful meal here, a modern take on French Cuisine. The restaurant is very attractive, with lots of flowers and walls lined with stone. The service was polite and attentive and the food was excellent. You have a choice of 3, 4 or 5 courses. We did three. You will have to forgive me, this is the one place I did not take notes immediately after, and it was the first meal, and we ate so much all week I have spaced on what everyone had. Suffice to say, though, even with a couple of picky diners, everyone was very pleased with the food, the service and the ambience.
RAFFLES CAFÉ This is the main coffee shop for Mandalay Bay. The weird thing about Vegas is that many of the good restaurants are not open for lunch. So we tried Raffles, just to be quick, even though I had been before and did not like it (it was timely and convenient, with no wait.) I was pleasantly surprised. It appears the people who run THECafe at THEHotel have taken over. The menu is much better than it used to be and the three salads we had were fresh, inventive and terrific. I also ordered an Avocado and Brie Bruscetta that was just wonderful. I would go back to try other items.
GRAND LUX CAFÉ I intended for us all to eat at Bouchon for lunch. But when we arrived, I was surprised to find it was not open at lunch another great place closed at lunch! I know I should have checked but I just assumed Anyway, again out of necessity, we went to the Grand Lux Café. Yes it is a chain and no it was not amazing, but it was good. Much better than I expected. It will easily do in a pinch.
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