Las Vegas trip May 29th thru June 1st
Day 2. I need to borrow a phrase from GroovinGourmet’s report about Rosemary’s: we had yet another kickbutt lunch. Last time we visited Rosemary’s a year ago we had very good food & very slow service. This time we had very good food & very good service.
We had a noon reservation for lunch, and we were running ahead of schedule, so we called at 11:00am & asked if we could move the reservation up to 11:30. They were very accommodating. We ordered the prix fixe lunch menu using the coupon discount ($20 per person); it’s hard to beat that deal.
Two types of rolls were offered at the start of lunch: a savory potato roll brushed with what tasted like sweet butter, & a white chocolate/pecan sweet roll brushed with what tasted like honey. Both were good, the white chocolate/pecan roll was best.
For appetizers we ordered the tomato soup & the beef & blue cheese carpaccio. The soup was creamy & very tomatoey, a good start to the meal. It was accompanied by two sticks of basil & parmesan reggiano cheese that worked well as croutons.
The carpaccio was super thin (you had to use your fork to scrape it from the plate rather than spear it), & it was delicious when eaten with the arugula & granny smith apple salad with a wonderful sweet dressing. I ordered this appetizer despite the fact that I don’t like blue cheese. I’ve noticed that sometimes blue cheese, when paired with other foods, produces a combination of flavors that work well together (for example, I’ve had some tasty blue cheese-stuffed olives before, & I once had a wonderful steak served with a blue cheese sauce). For that matter, I normally don’t like arugula, either, because it’s too bitter for my tastes. But here, the bitter arugula, combined with the sweet of the apple & dressing, combined with the tang of the blue cheese (even though it was a tad strong), & combined with the cool beefiness of the carpaccio, all the flavors worked well together.
Entrees were the mahi mahi & the creole-seasoned shrimp. The mahi mahi was pan-seared & served on a bed of julienned vegetables, with segments of orange & grapefruit, & a passion fruit vinaigrette. The mahi mahi was cooked perfectly: no fishy smell or taste, firm texture but not overcooked. The taste & texture of the fish combined with the vegetables was clean & bright. Eating this entrée I discovered that I really like fish & citrus together, & I plan to experiment with those two flavors in my own kitchen.
The creole shrimp were plump & sweet with a good amount of smokiness/char to them. The cheesy grits were incredibly smooth. My wife doesn’t normally like grits but thought these were very good, almost like eating smooth mashed potato. This was accompanied by an andouille red bean sauce. This sauce was also smoky & rich, with a nice but not overbearing earthy taste—probably from the beans. She said that the three tastes & textures (shrimp, grits, & sauce) worked very well together; she would definitely order this again. I tasted my wife’s entrée & I thought that it seemed a bit too salty & smoky for my taste, but I suspect that’s because my palate was adjusted to the clean & bright fish & salad I had just finished. Normally I like smoky, rich flavors, so I’ll probably order the creole shrimp next time & see if I can handle a whole plate of it. (I suspect I will handle it just fine.)
Desserts were the crème brulee & a root beer float. The crème brulee was very creamy with flecks of vanilla bean in it. The root beer float was good, but I couldn’t really tell the difference between it & a root beer float I’d get at the corner ice cream shop. The ice cream was probably a gourmet variety, perhaps made in-house, but when mixed with the root beer it dissolved (as it’s supposed to) into an indistinguishable vanilla creaminess.
Our server was very attentive and helpful in explaining several of the dishes. Even though we were using the $20 coupon, our service was as though we were spending $200 a person! Highly recommended.
8125 W. Sahara Ave. (at S. Cimarron Rd.)
Las Vegas, NV 89117
For dinner headed over to the Ellis Island Restaurant at the Ellis Island Casino. This is the place famous for the “open secret” $4.95 steak dinner served 24/7. We waited about a half-hour to be seated, which I understand is not uncommon. No matter, as we used the time to play the $5 minimum blackjack tables and won more than enough to pay for dinner! I ordered the steak; my wife ordered a 5-piece fried shrimp dinner ($8.95 iirc). Five bucks is an incredible deal for the amount of food you get with the steak special—heck, nine bucks for the shrimp dinner is a pretty good deal, too.
Some of the food you get with these two dinners is throw-away quality: dinner rolls were just plain bad, French fries & mashed potatoes & gravy were very industrial-food-service-average, green beans were mostly flavorless. The dinner salads were better than average: chopped-up iceberg lettuce, but large in size & with a good variety of other vegetables on them, & the ranch dressing tasted like real ranch dressing (not that industrially produced artificial mayonnaise stuff some places serve). The meats were very good—especially for the price we paid. My steak was a perfectly-cooked medium rare that I ordered, & it was better than the couple chain-restaurant steaks I’ve paid twice as much for. The shrimp were huge (as big as a small elephant, according to my wife) & very good quality: plump, sweet, not fishy, coated in a crispy & not-too-thick batter. I had read about the quality of the steak, so I wasn’t too surprised at that, but we were surprised at the quality of the shrimp.
This is not food you want to eat every day: old-school coffee shop atmosphere, & way too much food to eat (unless you’re really hungry). But every once in a while it’s enjoyable to eat very good meat for less than a $20 bill. And our server was very friendly & pretty darned quick, too.
Ellis Island Restaurant
(in the Ellis Island Casino & Brewery)
4178 Koval Ln.
Las Vegas, NV 89109