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Restaurants & Bars

Southwest

24 hours in Vegas (Alex, Bouchon, TheHotel)

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Restaurants & Bars

24 hours in Vegas (Alex, Bouchon, TheHotel)

Desert Doc | Jun 5, 2005 11:59 PM

Fellow Chow-hounds...first time post. Sorry about the length.

Just spent Friday evening and Saturday morning with my wife in Vegas and had the opportunity to have dinner at Alex and breakfast at Bouchon. Thought I would contribute a review as I utilize this board for making restaurant choices all the time and wanted to give something back.

Dinner at Alex. The restaurant is tucked away in the corner near Wing Lei. It doesn't have views of the lake or any noise from the casino. You enter across a bridge over water into the entryway/bar. Very pleasant maitre'd and greeters. You then travel down a grand staircase to the main seating area. No famous artwork on the walls at Chef Stratta's new restaurant...the focus here is only on the food. We decided on the tasting menu (which didn't include the Durade or the short ribs, oh well). The amuse bouche was a nice introduction to the "riviera" cuisine. We changed out the first course of the tasting menu as a carpaccio of shrimp was a little too "fear factor". The waiter, a great guy who travelled with the chef from Renoir at the Mirage, didn't even flinch with the request. The meal progressed with a scallop dish over asparagus, a truffle boullion with foie gras ravioli, citrus glazed butterfish, beef in a bordelaise sauce with parmagiano custard and then two deserts, a shot glass with a swirl of marinated strawberries with creme fraiche and a chocolate/caramel desert with espresso gelato. This was all followed by a selection of petit fours and chocolates. The portions were appropriately sized for a tasting menu, but my wife ran out of steam before the chocolate which is unusual. The food was plated well, the courses arrived at a nice pace, and the tastes were unique. Altogether an amazing experience. My only critique would be that the wine list was a little top heavy without enough bottles for less than $100 and a rather short list of half-bottles. If you are into bordeau, they had verticals on all of the first growths as well as other top vineyards. They also had a great selection of rare california wines (screaming eagle, etc.) Chef Stratta came out to talk with some of the diners and spent some time speaking to my wife and I. He told us that he's been in the kitchen almost every night since the hotel opened. The effort shows through and his dedication carries over to his staff. They reminded me a lot of the staff at the French Laundry, where everyone was so proud to be working for Thomas Keller. Needless to say, my wife and I are looking forward to our next meal at Alex.

The next morning after we had recovered we headed over to Bouchon for breakfast. It is also a little difficult to find as it is located in the new Venezia tower. They don't take reservations for breakfast so I was concerned about the wait. However, when we arrived at 10am, we waited less than 5 mintues for a table out on the patio with a nice view of the pool and trees. My wife had the croque madame (basically an eggs benedict) and I had the french toast. The food was definitely a step above usual hotel fare however it is not as special as a trip to the French Laundry. The size of the restaurant as well as the casual atmosphere prohibit a true gourmet experience. Don't get me wrong, we had a nice breakfast...but it wasn't the best breakfast ever.

Two short sentences about TheHotel at the Mandalay Bay. Beautiful rooms with an adequate staff. Beautifal spa with a lousy gym.

Thanks again to all the hounds for providing recommendations. If you get a chance, and are willing to spend the money, check out Alex. They have definitely hit their stride since opening. If you go to Bouchon, try to enjoy it for what it is...a casual restaurant with good food and not Per Se or FL.

-Desert Doc (my wife is the Dessert Doc)
Phoenix, AZ

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