We go to Las Vegas 3 to 4 times a year and food is definitely MY thing over gambling and shopping. This trip we went to Il Mulino, Tao, Commander's Palace (this is a staple reservation when we go), Paris Buffet, and (swallow hard) House of Blue's. It is difficult in Vegas because of advance reservations and being in the mood for the cuisine of the restaurant in which you have reservations. Because of frequent airline delays as of late, we didn't make reservations for our first night. We went to House of Blue's on bad assumptions. Suffice it to say, McDonald's would have been better. I'm serious. Jambalya was so dry and overcooked, I took 3 bites and left the rest. My husband had salmon that was dry and tasteless. Enough said.
We decided to try Il Mulino Friday evening. I was nervous having read some very harsh and critical reviews. We were wowed. We had several drinks before arriving, so only ordered a glass of wine each. We could have stopped with the complimentary breads and eggplant appetizer alone. We both found them unusual and very tasty. We ordered langostino's in garlic butter sauce for an appetizer off the specials menu. Superb. We also both ordered meals from the specials menu. My husband had the North Atlantic salmon with mushrooms and I had the langostini ravioli. His salmon was at least 1 1/2 inches thick, perfectly prepared, with the most exquisite flavor. The portion size could have fed a family of six. My ravioli was very good, though the filling was a bit flavorless or under seasoned. I would order pasta or ravioli there again. We had absolutely no room for dessert. Our meal with tip was under $200. Service was great and the atmosphere was both relaxing and romantic. This was our favorite experience of this trip and is one of our top five fav's in Vegas.
We went to our standby, Commander's Palace, on Saturday night. (Tao offered midnight reservations only that night!) We had a 1/2 bottle of wine with this meal. We started with the crab cakes and a ceviche special. We happen to love their crab cakes just the way they are - they are unique, but they are pure, delicious crab with yummy sauces to accompany. The ceviche special (served with plantain chips) was disappointing. The only flavor present was of the shrimp, which was chewey. Make no mistake, we ate it all though! I was very hungry and took our waiter's advice and had the mixed grill (venison, elk, pork) special. Each was prepared perfectly with a wonderful smoky flavor. (The barbeque stew is still my favorite entree!) My husband had the creole crusted steak. Commander's Palace is known for it's seafood and creole delights - unfortunately, we were hungry for meat that evening! Both entrees were great. Bananas foster for dessert. Ordinary, but delicious. The bill was again right around $200. Commander's Palace is always worth any price to us.
We did get 6:00 reservations at Tao for Sunday evening. I wasn't thrilled with the timing, but that was all that was available. By the time we left at 8:30, the restaurant was packed and humming. Because we did have reservations (I believe), the hostess changed her mind as we walked to our initial table. She reseated us at a "better" table beside giant Bhudda himself. He is a sight to see. However, the wood tables and chairs (uncomfortable) are very close together and the noise level intense. Though it is tough to get a reservation, the atmosphere doesn't live up to what I was expecting. Noisy, dark, and close do not add up to a comfortable, relaxing, romantic dining experience. The place has taken off with its "night club" and that may be what they do better. We enjoyed a bottle of inexpensively priced wine this evening. There is an open sushi bar area and a fairly sushi extensive menu so we started off with a sashimi sampler and squab (lettuce) wraps. The sampler was Las Vegas priced. Additionally, it was room temperature and had that somewhat "old" fish taste to it. It was served with three small dishes of "sauces". The server couldn't tell us what the sauces were. He called the waiter over. He told us what the three were, but not which was which. They all tasted merely of soy, with one having a flavor of ginger. The squab wraps were not as good as plain old PF Chang's lettuce wraps. Both the hostess and our waiter said the sea bass entree were one of their favorites. Unfortunately, I was hungry for chicken :(
I ordered the kung pao chicken with a side of jasmine rice. It was good; simply ordinary kung pao. (What could I have expected though?) My husband had the kobe beef strips that he needed to "cook" in the ginger broth. The waiter really hyped this up. It was 5 thin slices of raw kobe beef (perhaps 3-4 oz total?) that he wrapped around a metal skewer and cooked. He was paying for the kobe beef and uniqueness. He said it was simply "OK". Probably worth the experience, but not the price. He had the molten chocolate cake for dessert. It was delicious, but then again, how can you go wrong or wow with this? The meal was in the $200 range. I was not impressed with the service. Our waiter was fairly aloof and disinterested once a table of 3 young women was seated in his section. I wouldn't go back to Tao mainly because the quality of food was only fair to good with a high price tag.
We are not buffet eaters, but I recently heard that the Paris Buffet was quite good. We thought we would try it Monday for lunch before our flight home. We enjoyed the made to order fruit crepes. Nothing else wowed me....maybe because it was all wilty, long sitting, sad looking food despite the full seating area. They try hard to simulate France, but in the end, it feels like you're eating in a cafeteria. (That's a typical buffet though.)