Might as well get the worst over with first, Bradley Ogden’s new spot Hops and Harvest in Tivoli Village out by Summerlin. I was so looking forward to his new restaurant after years of enjoying his old place at Caesar’s.
The burger there was one of the best I’ve ever had, and for once I was ahead of a trend- I’ve been ordering burgers at steak houses forever, because that used to be the only place you could get a high quality hamburger. I loved everything at the CP location- the food, wine list, service and ambience.
Every trip for the last several years, I’ve sat at the bar and had that sublime prix fixe burger and a bottle of wine- sometimes on more than one night.
John Curtis, one of the trio of authors of the annual “Eating Las Vegas” (a wonderful guide if you go to Vegas with any regularity) had just written a review of H&H and called it ‘the best food suburban Las Vegas has ever seen”. I usually find their reviews to be spot on.
In any case, H&H is a much more casual space and everything about it is was just awful. Our server was manically cheerful, and the food sucked. As in, I can’t remember the last time I had such a bad meal.
The complimentary blue corn muffins (which I had to ask for and wouldn’t have known about except from the review) tasted like sawdust. We started with the Maytag Bleu cheese soufflés and they had no flavor. Followed with a Bibb lettuce salad that was so over-salted it was inedible.
By this point, not only was I starving- but I figured at least the burger would redeem this meal. The server messed up our order and only brought out one burger, so in the meantime dropped of a passable pork belly app, took back the one burger and came back with 2 freshly cooked burgers. Wow, again so freakishly over-salted that we both could only take a couple of bites.
We asked the server for iced teas (we’d finished our bottle of wine and needed something to get the salt-lick taste out of our mouths) and she said that the tea “didn’t come out so well today”, but she would bring them. She was right, it was really weak. Excuse me, but it is 105 degrees out and 9 pm and no one could make a fresh batch of tea at some point during the evening?
Obviously, we skipped dessert so I don’t know if the butterscotch pudding and Snickerdoodle cookies survived the transition.
I asked when we first arrived if Bryan (Bradley’s son) was cooking that night and the hostess told me he was on vacation. I realize this spot has only been open 6 weeks or so, but seasoning food is pretty basic stuff- as is making tea.
The 2 separate incidents of the clatter of trays of breaking dishes in an hour and a half, hostess over-sharing, server not asking why we weren’t eating our food, etc. are all things one could expect in a new spot. But food this wretched is just unforgiveable by 2 chefs like the Ogdens.
At least we were able to drive out there, because if I had spent the money on a cab I would have been pissed. Instead, just disappointed and $150 poorer.
Highlights of this trip, and I’ll be brief since most of these are commented on quite a bit:
1) Raku, just as wonderful as I expected and lived up to the hype. We had picked out several things and asked for advice and the server suggested a few more items. Perfect amount of food. I can’t eat sushi, but there was not one thing that wasn’t perfection.
I had 2 different kinds of asparagus, mushrooms, the filet, scallop, chicken wrapped in skin, the killer tofu, a sorbet like dessert and I’m forgetting some things I know. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks and look forward to adding Raku to my rotation.
2) Le Atelier de Joel, really enjoyable evening. We sat at the bar and ending up sharing some of the plates with the couple next to us who were friends with Joel and getting the royal treatment.
It was my first time trying Iberico ham. When I asked the waiter if it was like prosciutto, he said yes except on steroids and he was right. Out of everything I ordered, the only thing that did not knock me out was the cheese course. It was only $14 (maybe per person), so no big deal.
Also, we had been drinking Schramsberg earlier in the evening and decided to continue with that and they were out. It was only $70, a steal (on their wine list) and we ended up with something else that was $250. Send someone to BevMo guys. Will be back.
3) Olives, lunch and had a fabulous flatbread with prosciutto and 2 perfectly fried eggs. Salad was just simple greens with a great dressing (can’t remember, rec by server) and the presentation was lovely.
Olives doesn’t seem to get much attention on this board, but this is my third lunch visit in the last couple of years and I’ve always been more than happy. Last time I had a Caesar “Napoleon” salad with frico layers that was heaven.
4) Piero’s, old-school Italian that was packed with locals, around the corner from The Wynn. Piero’s reminded me of the kind of places that my parents took me when I was a kid. Dark, waiters in dinner jackets, table-side presentations.
Another hot day, so had a simple app of prosciutto and melon and their “Garbage Salad”, which was mainly shrimp and avocado, perfectly dressed. I liked this place a lot, but would need to try some of their pastas and mains before I would give a solid rec.
Going back in a couple weeks, so hopefully it won’t be like entering the gates of hell weather-wise this time.
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