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Report back on 3 Las Vegas dinners (long)

josephnl | Jan 18, 201411:13 AM

Several weeks ago I posted a query as to what one restaurant we should eat in at the Mandalay Bay Hotel (we were staying at the adjacent Four Seasons). Multiple CH's highly recommended RM Seafood. So, one night we ate at RM, and the other 2 dinners were at our favorite Le Cirque, and a return to Bouchon. We had one wonderful dinner, one good dinner, and one dreadful dinner!

By far, our best dinner was at Le Cirque. This terrific restaurant remains at the top of its game…food, service, and of course the beautiful dining room. We were seated at a wonderful table by the always gracious Maitre D', Ivo Angelov. Being from California, I had to start with the amazing maple glazed foie gras (there was a second foie preparation on the a la carte menu). It was incredibly delicious. For my entree, I had the butter poached lobster which was excellent. And for dessert…well, no one does soufflés better than Le Cirque. My partner had a salad starter, the Dover sole, and ended with the chocolate globe. His dinner was equally excellent. It's no secret on this board that I love Le Cirque, and for me, this is reinforced with each visit.

On a separate note, many have hinted that major change will occur this spring when rumors have it that Sirio Maccioni plans to retire. Per Mr. Angelov, the future of Le Cirque, LV is not even in question. The family corporation which owns/manages the restaurants has just renewed the lease at the Bellagio for 5 more years, and is planning to open 3 more properties in Dubai, India and London in the near future. They will close Circo at the Bellagio. So…hopefully all is OK with Le Cirque's future.

We were very disappointed with RM Seafood. It was good, but in no way special. Perhaps something has changed since they split the restaurant in 2, opening the Rx Boiler Room upstairs?? We ate downstairs at RM. The dining room is not especially attractive. It was quite noisy when we arrived, and although we had reserved well in advance, out table was not ready, and they were not especially gracious in having us wait. We decided to sit at a table in the bar which was comfortable, and we had a terrific server. All of our food was prepared well and was good. I started with the calamari which was no better than that served in any decent Italian restaurant. Likewise, my scallop entree was good…the scallops were nicely seared, and the accompanying cauliflower was good; it was a nice, but rather ordinary dish. Dessert sorbet was good, but a few scoops of sorbet on a plate with no garnish…no berries, fruit or even a cookie, seemed rather bare. My partner had a Caesar salad, and the salmon. It was good, but nothing special. I know that this is going to cause me some credibility points on CH, but we both agreed that we prefer the 2 more upscale seafood restaurants in the Darden empire, Wildfish and Eddie V's. The food and service at these restaurants is at least as good as RM, the dining rooms are more attractive (certainly at the La Jolla Eddie V's) and the cost is at least 30-35% lower than that at RM. In sum, RM is a good, but not special, seafood restaurant that imho is definitely not worth the price.

The biggest surprise and disappointment was dinner at Bouchon. Unfortunately, the Venetian was packed with revelers attending the Shot Show, a large gun convention…and Bouchon was literally overflowing and positively jammed all evening. Having eaten at the LV Bouchon several times as well as those in Beverly Hills and Yountville, we were surprised to see for the first time, a special very abbreviated menu (only 6 entrees) much like one would see on a holiday. Thus on a Thursday evening in January, the normal menu was not available!! Neither when we had made the reservation weeks before, nor when we confirmed the reservation the day before were we told about this! I had the normally terrific steak frites…it was served cold and was grissly, my partner had the always great trout…it was dreadful (you could see from a mile away that it was different). Nothing was good, although our server was very professional and understanding. We did speak with a very gracious manager who acknowledged that this was a very unusual evening and apologized. He comped us on the entire meal, including drinks and a carafe of wine and asked that we contact him to reserve a table when next in LV. We will return, but will be sure to verify that the normal menu will be available. Bouchon is a very good and normally dependable restaurant, but unfortunately the Shot Show lead to an aberration. (Why a very good restaurant would overbook a restaurant to the extent that the kitchen obviously can't handle it seems to be very unwise. The answer is obviously $$$.)

So…imho Le Cirque remains great, RM Seafoood is good, but there are way better choices in LV, and Bouchon…be sure to check that the normal menu is available before coming!

Rick Moonen's RM Seafood,
Le Cirque,
Bouchon Bakery,
RX Boiler Room
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