Drove up to Vegas last Friday to visit my boyfriend, who is TDY up at Nellis for a while playing bad guy for the fighter students up there. He just got promoted to major, so I knew he's be buying the bar at the O club that evening, and I'd be on my own for happy hour/dinner. I thought I'd try a tapas joint and all the buzz here points to Cafe BaBaReeba, but he mentioned this place he's noticed near the hotel, Firefly, so I went there.
I thought I'd try the sangria -- menu says it marinates three days before being served -- and Alex, one of the bartenders, recommended the white. It was nice, but too sweet to drink all afternoon. I ordered the manchego mac & cheese to start, and a moment later they gave me a free plate of samplers -- a bacon-wrapped date, albondigas (sherry meatball w/ cream and herb sauce), and a piece of tortilla (cheese & potato quiche). Lovely; and all were tasty. The mac & cheese was like a cloud, so fluffy, but perfectly sharp from the manchego and scented with thyme. The portion was sized to split for two sides. I switched to vinho verde, because I like the shocked, fizzy Portugese wines, and it went surprisingly well with the pinchos tierra y mar that came next -- skewered bites of grilled filet mignon and shrimp with salsa verde.
The waiters were all scamps (I was seated next to their station at the bar) and everyone treated me well, despite taking up valuable real estate on a Friday night, and the food was memorably good. I'm quite surprised I haven't heard more about this place here.
The next day we buzzed Rosemary's, forgetting they don't do lunch on the weekends, and wound up at Lindo Michoacan. Good lord -- that's good food. They say they don't cook with lard, but the bean dip that came out with the chips and salsa belied that, as I couldn't stop eating it. My guy had the carnitas done with Coca-Cola, and the meat was so tender it would barely stay on a fork. I had the pescado estilo San Juan, orange roughy simmered in olive oil, olives, almonds, and peppers. Buttery and completely delectable -- one of the best fish dishes I've had in recent memory. Lunch came with flour tortillas that had been rolled three minutes before, pressed two minutes ago, grilled, and came piping hot and perfectly pliable to the table in an instant. They were thicker than Carolina's, but still translucent and chewy and barely charred, with all the doughy tactile childhood appeal of playing with your food. But when food tastes this good, you don't play long -- you eat.
I've lived in NM 7 years and AZ for 12, and didn't expect great Mexican in Las Vegas, but I loved this place.
That night we went to Lotus of Siam; had the nam kao tod, the spicy shrimp salad, and one of the night's specials -- fried sea bass with chile-garlic sauce, topped with crispy basil; we were going to go for the catfish, but there were only two of us, and this sounded more reasonable. Ordered eveything at a 4. Started with the flight of rieslings but switched to a dry rielsing for the meal; my guy did the same but switched to Singha. Enough has been said about this place that I won't bore everyone; suffice it to say, the sea bass was another of the top fish dishes I've had in recent memory. Which, in case you're curious, includes the Valentine's omakase at Sea Saw (holding the current top honors for seafood is chef Nobu's whitefish carpaccio in garlic oil with uzu and scallions) and a night at T Cook's. We skipped the dessert, because we had a date with a gelato shop before catching the late show of O.
The next morning we had brunch reservations at Commander's Palace but the gluttony of the day before did us in. I wanted simple food; I wanted to save that bread pudding souffle for when I could really enjoy it. We went to the Peppermill for breakfast because it's so Vegas. He had the french toast collage; which is four pieces of french toast, two slices bacon, two sausages, and what they say is three eggs but the dish they brought out looked like five. Seriously; enough food for three people. I had the fruit & granola parfait, which comes out in a giant mai tai glass, and was a nice light counterpoint to the other dish, and plenty tasty. We shared; it was nice.
Next time we'll hit the other Chowhound standards. It was niced to buck the trend of the big names that are all I seem to see here lately, and actually find some amazing food off the beaten path. I had worried there would be nothing chow-ish about Vegas anymore; I needn't have worried.