Restaurants & Bars

Vegas report: Bouchon, Craftsteak, Jaleo, Scarpetta, a few others

baderin | Feb 28, 201207:22 PM     3

Just got back from our trip and wanted to write this down while it's still fresh.

We arrived late - after midnight - so we headed over to the secret pizza place at the Cosmo. After about a 20 minute wait I got mine with tomato, onion and mushroom and my husband got onions and sausage. The pizza was fantastic! It probably helped that we were starving but it was really really good and at about $6 a slice totally reasonable.

The next morning I fulfilled a Vegas bucket-list item and went to Bouchon for the chicken and waffles. It was really very good, but I felt a bit weird eating roast chicken at 10am. I actually preferred my husband's French toast - layers of brioche and apples and cinnamon. We also started with some raspberry filled beignets that were outstanding, but actually my favourite part of the meal was the bread with butter and apricot jam - the butter was wonderful, which sounds weird to say, but is the truth. We also had a Bellini and a French 77 champagne cocktail. Overall a wonderful way to start the trip.

That was so much food that it got us through most of the day. In the late afternoon we stopped at Todd English's P.U.B. and split duck buns and chicken pot stickers, both of which I loved and which was the perfect snack to tide us over. That night we had dinner at Craftsteak for the third time, because it's my husband's favourite. I had the short rib and he had the hangar steak, both of which were outstanding, although the short rib was the star (but the steak was deliciously seasoned and had a nice sear). As sides we had the potato purée, which was incredible - smooth and buttery - and the kale with white beans and bacon which was not good - quite bitter and a bit tough and stringy. We finished the meal with orange and mint and strawberry passion fruit sorbets, which were tart and the perfect way to finish.

The second day we had breakfast at Jean Philippe - a ham and cheese croissant for him, an almond croissant for me. Both pretty good but neither blew my mind. For lunch we went to China Poblano and shared the cochinita pibil, carnitas, and fried fish tacos as well as some chips and salsa. In Toronto we have very few good Mexican options so I'm no professional but the tacos were great, in my opinion, and the chips and salsa were a very good sized order for the price and the salsa was excellent. We dropped by American Fish for Happy Hour and had truffled mac and cheese, crab truffles And barbequed chicken - the chicken was the weak link, the other two were great. For dinner we went to Jaleo which was good, but I think the weak point of the trip, although part of the fault might have been in ordering. First off I was a little annoyed that they didn't serve sangria by the glass, only the half litre and litre - doesn't make sense to me. We ordered the pan con Tomate with Serrano ham, which I loved; the patates bravas which was pretty good but basically potato chips with sauces, which was not what I was expecting; the Chistorra envuelta en patata frita which was good but didn't blow me away, the pork sausage stew which was very good, and the asparagus - basically everything was very good but nothing was amazing. Except actually the flan, which I really loved. If you're a tea person don't order the jasmine - served at boiling temp and oversteeped so it was undrinkably bitter.

For our last day we went back to Bouchon for breakfast. This time we had the standard cinnamon beignets which were also very good but not as good as the raspberry, although a MUCH larger order - 3 large beignets as opposed to 2 smallish. I had the sourdough waffles which were served with bananas and pecans and perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and my husband has Les Oeufs - 2 eggs, a huge serving of amazing bacon, and 2 potato croquettes which were completely delicious, basically deep fried mashed potato with bacon and chive. I was disappointed that we weren't offered bread this time although we were given butter and jam for no apparent purpose. For lunch we went back to the pizza place. For dinner, Scarpetta. We were given a table overlooking the fountains, which I was thrilled about, although it seems like a substantial design oversight that there is a wide metal beam running across the window at eye level so we had to either bend down or stretch up to see. My husband started with the yellowtail app which he said was very good, then moved on to the shortrib agnolotti which was very tasty, the breadcrumbs provided a really nice crunchy textural contrast. I skipped an app (although helped myself substantially to the very varied bread bowl) and started with the straight spaghetti on the advice of our waiter - he was so right, this was probably the best thing I ate all week. Creamy and tomato-y, quite a thick spaghetti with a bit of a bite to it, I fully loved it and had to stop myself from licking the bowl. Next we split the black cod (in an attempt to not go home feeling sick from food), which was delicate and buttery and almost melted in the mouth. We finished with the coconut panda cotta, which was good, although the panna cotta was overwhelmed by the "guava soup" and you lost a lot of the delicate taste.

Overall, I may never eat again and I probably am 5 pounds heavier and hundreds of dollars poorer, but I loved pretty much everything I put in my mouth and would for sure recommend all the restaurants we went to, with the caveat for Jaleo that I think there are better things on the menu than we ate.

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