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Las Vegas Trip Report

PekoePeony | Apr 2, 2008 11:40 PM

I just got back from the second of two trips in the last three months to Vegas. I visited the first three restaurants with my fiance during a weekend getaway, where we had plenty of time and wanted to try more interesting restaurants. The latter four restaurants were visited as part my bachelorette party with seven girlfriends :)

B & B RISTORANTE
===============

I had visited Babbo a few years before and while I didn't love it, I thought it deserved another chance. Since I don't get out to NYC much these days, I figured I'd check out this Babbo-clone and order lighter dishes (my main complaint at Babbo was that all the dishes felt so heavy after a while -- perhaps I've been living in California too long where it's all about light California cuisine).

Standouts: lobster spaghettini, mint tea. Although the lobster dish wasn't perfect, it was incredibly tasty and enjoyable. I'm not sure what Babbo does with the mint tea, but it was really delicious and I'd order it any day.

Good but not great: Red oak leaf salad, squash gratin.

So-so: Branzino, orecchiette with sasuage.

While I enjoyed this meal a bit better than my Babbo foray, it didn't wow me enough to rush back anytime soon. With three quartinos and a dessert, our total before tip was $210 for two.

ROSEMARY'S
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Since we went during a Monday at lunch, we were able to use an online coupon for a three-course meal for $23. Sadly they were out of the carpaccio (one of the main reasons I went) but we ended up trying:

Great: Yuzu Margarita (cocktail)

Good: Arugula Salad, BBQ Shrimp appetizer, Kabob main course, Shrimp grits

Disappointing: Bloody Mary of Love (cocktail), Lemon Ice Box Pie

Overall the food was very solid and an excellent value. However nothing really wowed us or made us want to come rushing back. It's a good neighborhood restaurant but not worth going out of your way for.

L'ATELIER DE JOEL ROBUCHON
=========================

We tried the 9-course (including amuse) "Discovery Menu" and despite the $135/person price tag, I thought it was worth every single penny. Each course was prepared with such precision and finesse, you can really see and taste the care that went into preparing it. We really enjoyed sitting at the counter and chatting with our server -- it made the experience so much more personal and fun. That said, I would never order a la carte -- the individually priced dishes were exorbitantly expensive for such tiny portions (though some looked fantastic when I saw them being served to other patrons), but in the tasting menu the pricing was much more in line.

Outstanding: foie gras parfait with parmesan foam (amuse bouche), truffled mashed potatoes

Really great but not quite outstanding: Langoustine carpaccio with poppy seed dressing, butter poached baby oysters, egg cocotte with mushroom cream, slightly smoked salmon

Good: Capuchino of green asparagus with black truffle, free range quail, venison medallion, fresh mango & caramel streusel

So-so: Pear sorbet with wine gelee and ginger bread, mint tea

Disappointing: Nothing!

I always thought I would never spend $350+ at the Joel Robuchon restaurant next door, but after this experience I'm certain to visit it soon!

AGO
====

This was the first meal of our bachelorette party weekend, and somehow one of my ladies was able to finagle a comped dinner for us :) The restaurant just opened at the Hard Rock Hotel and apparently is an outpost of a Los Angeles place which I've never heard of, but apparently others have since we spotted Ian Zellering of 90210 fame at another table while dining. The cocktails are FABULOUS at Ago, and the appetizers were quite good too. Most of us ordered fish or seafood entrees which were just okay (my breadcrumb-covered branzino was nothing special), but those who ordered pasta were very pleased with their selections.

MON AMI GABI
============

This was my second visit to MAG, and our lunch was still a very enjoyable and reasonably-priced experience. The outside was full but we had a lovely table in the sunroom which had lots of beautiful natural light. I tried the bloody mary bar, which looked great but the quality of the condiments (pearl onions, celery, carrots, asparagus) could be improved. My steak sandwich was good but the fries were a bit of a disappointment -- although they looked very thin and tasty, they were sadly not as crispy as they should be and lacked flavor.

Overall our group really enjoyed our lunch at MAG and several even wanted to go again.

STRIPSTEAK
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We were staying at Mandalay Bay and to save time, wanted to have dinner at a restaurant there. I didn't want to try Aureole, Red Square, or Mix, which I've visited before, so StripSteak seemed to be the best bet.

While the food and atmosphere were quite good, the prices were a bit off-putting. First it's almost impossible to find a bottle of wine for under $100. Second it's hard to order a steak less expensive than $50.

Duck fat fries three ways were offered compliments of the chef, and everyone really enjoyed them. They were significantly better than the fries at MAG earlier in the day. Then we ordered many appetizers and sides to share, including foie gras sliders (good), spinach souffle (so-so), roasted mushrooms (good), ahi tartare (so-so), and a few other items. My main was an 8-oz american wagyu ribeye cap ($64) -- the server described it as being the end piece of the ribeye, so not as tender as the ribeye eye (another option) but more flavorful. Ribeye is my favorite cut of meat but I've never tried the cap, so I went for that and was quite happy. Overall everyone enjoyed the meal but felt the pain when the bill came.

BOUCHON
=========

Bouchon doesn't take lunch reservations so we showed up at noon on a Sunday feeling unsure we'd get a table, but were seated right away. Surprisingly the restaurant was never packed, but that may be due to its out-of-the-way location in the Venetian.

I've had dinner at the original Bouchon in Napa Valley and left distinctly disappointed. Brunch at the LV Bouchon was a bit better, but I wouldn't be rushing back anytime soon.

We started out with beignets, which were really more like somewhat dry donuts. However they were served with an outstanding pineapple jam which made the dish. I ordered the "Chicken Waffles", which was about half a perfectly roasted chicken served alongside chive-and-bacon waffles. Two sauces -- a hearty hunters sauce with bacon & berries, and a traditional sweet syrup -- were served alongside the waffles. While the chicken and waffles were all good, it was difficult for me to get excited over them.

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