Restaurants & Bars 4

Trip Report - Julian Serrano, Delmonico, LOS, Beijing Noodles, Bartolotta, Milos, Le Cirque, China Poblano

rcurtism | Dec 30, 201112:51 PM

Julian Serrano - this was just a quick, light post-arrival lunch including the Pata Negra ham (glad I tried it but not sure it's worth the splurge), creamy chicken croquetas, and excellent stuffed piquillo peppers. Nice wine program including a number of good Spanish whites in the $40-$50 range and (my favorite match with tapas) La Gitana Manzanilla sherry in 500ml bottles. Everything was very well prepared - would definitely return for a more extensive visit.

Delmonico - we like to try a different steakhouse on each visit, and this time it was Delmonico's turn. We're wine people, so the $25 corkage was the major draw here, but the food was also quite solid (tableside caesar, bone-in ribeyes, potato gratin and wild mushrooms). Not quite up to the standard of Carnevino on our last visit - I just wish we could get Carnevino's food with Delmonico's corkage policy.

LOS - we went for some greatest hits here - Tom Yum Kung, sea bass with drunken noodles, and khao soi short ribs. Everything was excellent - one of the better meals we've had here. The place was hopping when we arrived around 2:00 pm, with 20 to 40 minute waits depending on party size. It could be my imagination but it seemed like the wine list prices were even more reasonable than on previous visits.

Beijing Noodle #9 - the highlights here were the wild decor (you'll just have to see it for yourself) and the hand-pulled noodles with tomato and egg, an unlikely sounding but absolutely delicious dish. They were out of soup dumplings, so we didn't get a chance to sample them, and the other dim sum items we tried (shrimp and chive dumplings, Beijing beef pancakes) were just OK. Worth a visit if you're already at Caesar's but probably not a destination stop.

Bartolotta - this is always a highlight for us, and this meal was no exception. For antipasti we had some amazing steamed clams (my wife's favorite dish of the evening) and some sardines that were well prepared but much smaller than what we typically see in the market, so the meat to bone ratio was a little less than ideal. Pastas were both amazing (spaghetti with briny bottarga and a fresh pasta with eggplant and scorpion fish). We finished with a whole orata served with their wonderful cruda sauce and standard zucchini and potato sides. This is not a perfect restaurant - the service can be a bit gruff, the wine list is awfully limited for a restaurant with this level of ambition (I think we've ordered the same bottle on all three of our visits), and the unfriendly corkage fee ($50) doesn't encourage BYO. For us all of those shortcomings are more than offset by what comes out of the kitchen. There just aren't many places anywhere in the US that turn out this kind of food.

Estiatorio Milos - everything you may have heard about the $20 lunch special here is true. My wife had the meze sampler, I paid a $10 supplement for the octopus, we both had the lavraki for a main course, and it was all terrific, even the walnut cake and yogurt parfait desserts. Several good under $50 selections on the wine list (we had a William Fevre Champs Royaux Chablis that matched perfectly with the food). An amazing value.

Le Cirque - this was never on our radar screen on previous visits, but we were familiar with the new chef's cooking from Veritas in NYC so decided to give it a try. First courses of langoustine with caviar and my wife's lobster main course were spectacular - my main course was merely very good, with perfectly cooked venison loin and a classically silky, rich sauce but some accompaniments that didn't make a lot of sense to me. The one real problem with this meal was the sommelier (Frederick) - he was loud, gruff, and completely lacking in polish. He topped off my glass without refilling my wife's glass on more than one occasion, and had a tendency to pour fast and hard and splash the wine around in a way that was completely out of touch with the setting and the rest of the service. I might have thought this was directed at us since we brought our own wine, but I noticed similar behavior at other tables - his by the glass pours for a neighboring table were wildly inconsistent, and we overheard him telling another table that Chateau Petrus is "the most expensive wine in the world" (far from the truth). In case I sound like a prima donna I have to say that I have never had the slightest complaint about a sommelier before, but this guy really compromised the atmosphere of this (otherwise fine) meal.

China Poblano - I suppose you could say that $100+ for six tacos, two orders of dim sum, and four beers is kind of ridiculous, but we both really liked this place. The tacos were very carefully executed (and we both loved watching them make the corn tortillas at the front of the restaurant), and the dim sum was NYC Chinatown quality, especially the traditional shu mai. The value may not be the best, but the fun quotient sure makes up for it. I would love to come back and explore more of the menu.

Bottom line - Vegas is pretty good for dining these days.

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