One can try to eat every meal at Lotus of Siam, but it's a good way to alienate friends. So we ventured to several "old friends" in Las Vegas and visited a few new ones. Here are a few random comments.
We visited Rincon de Buenos Aires, one of Eric's favorites. I enjoyed my filet mignon sandwich very much (and it is indeed a bargain at $6.50). We asked for the fries with garlic and parsley and offered to pay for it (even though "regular" fries were included with our meals) but they kindly prepared a fresh platter of them for us at no cost. That said, I was disappointed in their consistency (mushy) and lack of piquancy. The sausage sandwich was fine although not up to the standard of the steak. Service couldn't have been nicer. We split one of their larger salads and it was a terrific complement to the heavier fare.
Peppermill -- I finished a whole Cobb salad, a not inconsiderable feat. But I marveled at my friend Carolyn's ability to polish off an entire fruit salad (my standing policy -- anyone who can eat an entire one, including the 3 scoops of sherbet or cottage cheese and loaf of banana bread eats free). Our waitress said she has never seen a woman do it before. Of the twenty or so folks I've offered this challenge to before, she was only the second to succeed, and the first to ever choose cottage cheese over sherbet. The fruit salad didn't look to be the best ever, especially the watermelon.
I can't recommend the Peppermill as a great restaurant, but it is a great place, and we visited the Lounge several times -- it's one of my favorite places to have a drink anywhere on the planet.
Our meal at Mon Ami Gabi was most pleasant. It doesn't feel at all like a hotel restaurant, and the service was wonderful. Our appetizers were so-so. Although assured that the tomatoes were wonderful, the onion and tomato salad was marred by tasteless tomatoes. The onion soup was terrific, and the decent mussels were marred by a soupy, creamy marniere sauce that detracted from the seafood.
Entrees were better, with a good steak au poivre and even better frites. The wine service is excellent for those who want wines by the glass, and our waitress steered us to less expensive options than we originally contemplated.
My feeling was that Mon Ami Gabi is a place that knows exactly what it wants to be. It's not trying to compete with Renoir or Picasso, but is trying to prepare solid bistro food in an upbeat and unpretentious setting.
I haven't been to a Benihani's in close to ten years. The one in the Las Vegas Hilton serves food that seems virtually indistinguishable from that meal in NYC. Nothing memorable other than the charming expressions of the kids watching the chefs pull their stunts.
Perhaps the most consistent non-Lotus meal we ate all trip was at the Original Pancake House. Although they have three other locations, we ate at the one located inside the Green Valley Ranch Hotel/Casino. Yes, this is a "chain," but based on this one meal, it is far superior to any of its competitors, such as Blueberry Hill. In fact, the best single non-Thai dish I had in Las Vegas was the German Pancakes, served with many lemon wedges, butter, and powdered sugar. Wonderful stuff. Their buttermilk pancakes were fine, too, and the omelettes beautifully prepared although a little too heavy on both the cream and cheese for my taste.
The service was sensational -- friendly and caring, and not just by our waitress. The front of the establishment was run with precision and empathy -- they know how to handle folks waiting in line.