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Trip Report - D.O.C.G., Border Grill, Julian Serrano, MoZen Bistro, Bellagio Buffet, Panevino, Jean Phillipe Patisseire

Taylor Condra | Jan 24, 201506:34 AM     7

Just back from one of my bi-annual trips to Vegas for a trade show, and was able to work out family schedules to allow my wife to tag along for a couple of days, which makes it a much more enjoyable trip.

Last trip we ate very high end all weekend, so this time we took a more casual approach. This to me is why Vegas is great, it can be whatever you want it to be. Anyway, on to the food

D.O.C.G. -- my third trip here and continue to love this place. Good service, especially the sommelier who all three times has given great recs. We basically came straight from the airport and were weary from work and travel, so ordered a pizza with sausage and broccoli rabe and a mushroom ravioli. Both were perfect. I am as big a pizza snob as you will ever meet (as my waistline attests) and these guys get as close to perfect as possible. Tender yet crispy crust, just the right balance of toppings. Yum.

Border Grill -- stopped for a late lunch while shopping, sat at the bar. Solid margaritas. I had skillet nachos with hanger steak and wife had chicken enchiladas with a green sauce that was really, really good. They were doing brunch and the plates that we saw coming out of the kitchen looked yummy.

Julian Serrano -- dinner here with several industry friends and their spouses. This was a great choice for a crowd, as none of us wanted a stuffy multi course meal. We all got a little into the vino (another good set of bottles from the sommelier) so my memory of what dishes we ordered is poor, but we had several rounds of tapas, well coordinated by the waiter, and we all ate happily.

MoZen Bistro -- Sunday brunch. Wow. Just wow. We stayed at the MO on our last trip and it may well be my favorite hotel in the world, but it was just too pricey this time around (I got a suite at Aria for less than a room at the MO). Anyway, we still had drinks at the bar a couple evenings and had this brunch as well. Seafood, especially the oysters, were all excellent. Sushi was good, salads were all good, dim sum and hot pot were excellent. I had the Hong Kong style steamed grouper as my entrée and wife had the eggs benedict. Both were as good an example of those dishes as is possible. Top it all off with free flowing mimosas and I say it is the best brunch in Vegas.

Bellagio Buffett -- I ate here for lunch after my wife left for home. By this point in the trip I just needed some simple food if you know what I mean. Salad bar was good, soups were salty as heck but good, and the roast meats (especially the poultry) were excellent, as were the roasted veggies. I passed on the seafood, Italian, and Asian offerings. I would never stand in line to eat here, but it really hit the spot.

Panevino -- this was a work dinner. My ocean freight provider is an Italian family business, and the boss only eats Italian food (no, not THAT kind of "family business" lol) so twice a year I get treated to an excellent meal as these guys have very good taste buds. Panevino was a new spot for us, it is off the strip near the airport, and has a stunning view of the strip. The meal was fantastic. They ordered a wide array of appetizers and pastas to start. Calamari was as good as any I've ever had, as was the gnocci with pesto sauce. Other selections were good if not memorable. I had the Osso Bucco for dinner, and holy cow it was amazing. It was tender and flavorful without being mushy, and was served on risotto with a rich brown gravy. Oh my it was special.

Jean Phillipe Patisseire -- had coffee and a chocolate croissant here every morning. Fantastic croissant. Coffee was average. Service was slow (it took 5-8) minutes every day and there was no line.

So there it is, thanks to all on this board for being a great reference. I always check it several times leading up to my trip to see how the landscape has changed.

As always, service across the board was excellent. I live in Nashville, the land where all the restaurant staff really wants to be a songwriter and hates their job no matter how nice the place is. Vegas gives me hope, in that you can make a decent living as a professional waiter/bartender, and it shows in the quality of the staff. My two cents.

Border Grill Mandalay Bay
Julian Serrano Tapas
Zen Kitchen
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