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Restaurants & Bars Southwest

Vegas report

mikey | | Jan 12, 2007 03:43 PM

Just back from a long weekend in Las Vegas where I researched a bunch of dining choices. Must say, I was pleased with some and disappointed in others. Lunch at Olives was shockingly good. I just figured this would be a glorified TGI Fridays but I was in second heaven with the cuban sandwich and the beef carpaccio. The service was efficient and cordial and thankfully, no dramatic synchronized placements or "hello my name is Tim and I am going to be your server today". Right up my alley. Excellent salad too.
I am a lunch person and I did find that rather difficult in Las Vegas considering all of the tremendous choices for dinner. I posted a query on this site and did get some excellent responses. I missed Mon Ami Gabi for lunch and opted instead for the Country Club at the Wynn. Wow! The interiors are stunning and the large windows overlooking the golf course offer spectacular views. We had a brunch menu with standard eggs benedict but also super sandwiches and burgers. The fries were sublime and the bloddy mary's just perfect. The soup was perfectly excellent. What a find. I was surprised that the Country Club has hardly ever been mentioned on this site but perhaps it is too "hotel resortish". I am not sure.
The other lunch spot was the Mesa Grill which was extraordinarily good. Hip interiors, top notch wait staff and fabulous Southwestern inspired brunch food. Just fantastic. It is right in smack in the middle of the casino at Caesar's Palace but oh well, that is Vegas.
Dinner at Delmonicos was a total disappointment. I was invited so I cannot complain too much as the bill I am sure was not easy on the eyes. I guess I was expecting the romance of the one in New Orleans where I live but was disheartened by how lackluster the restaurant is. The fish course was cold and bland, the steak also rather insipid and tough, and the banana pie was straight from a diner. We were served, however, a truly sensational course of scallops inside a pumpkin shell which was absolutely mouth watering. Ironically, as I disparage the experience that evening, that course was so good, it makes me change my mind. In addition, the service was excellent.
Bouchon was also hit and miss for me. Hoping to taste a Thomas Keller restaurant for the first time, I was hardly blown away. The style is tile floored brasserie and nothing special. It is loud and echo filled and the service consisted of that awful fawning with long descriptions of the food that interrupt your conversations. Then, of course, you feel obligated to listen and make "oohs and ahs" comments. Fish was bland and the fois gras too rich but once again, I tasted some of the best braised pork imaginable. Crispy on the outside and moist and rich inside. Incredible! Nothing was bad so I cannot complain about anything really awful. I guess it was like hearing about the greatest movie and then while seeing it, wondering what the big deal is.
My best meal the whole weekend was at a place called the Social House. Asian food is rather uninspired in Louisiana so it is a HUGE treat for me to fill my mouth with one taste sensation after another. I dined with 5 other friends and everyone was moaning with pleasure after each course of small plates. I could have poured a pitcher of the coconut soup down my thoat it was that good. The lobster rolls were superb, the prawns filled with flavor, and the ribs sticky and filled with seasoning. It is also fun. Tables were packed with young and happy people just enjoying themselves and although the tables were close together and the place was packed, I felt like we were left in complete privacy. Considering the hustle and bustle, the service was unparalled. A multitude of good looking servers were at the table at the first hint of need from the guest. The food came out fast, the drinks appeared out of nowhere, and everyone seemed eager to please without hanging out and pontificating about the glory of the food. It spoke for itself.
Finally, nothing could compare to this fluffy, fresh brioche with dulce de leche filling and steaming caffe latte at a pastry place in the Bellagio., I think it is called Phillipe or something like that. WOW! I normally find pastry stores to have beautiful looking confections with mediocre taste but this is a big exception. I wonder if other people have been shocked by the quality and taste of the sweets at this place. The chocolate fountain is pure kitsch and the gawking tourists are annoying but that did not take away from the pure pleasure of the breads. I wish I could have one now.
Thanks to all for your recommendations. Also, tried Stripsteak which was very good and FIX which had fabulous food as well.

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