B & B at the Venetian is Babbo
We went to the 1 month old B & B at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas to find the exact same menu as Babbo. We were thrilled and had a great meal.
We were able to order all our Babbo favorites without giving up our first born for a reservation:
.... Grilled Octopus with “Borlotti Marinati” and Spicy Limoncello Vinaigrette (ooohhh), Warm Lamb’s Tongue Vinaigrette with Chanterelles and a 3-Minute Egg (aaahhhh), Roasted Beet Tartare with Chianti Vinegar and Ricotta Salata (yummmm).
.......We topped it off with:
..........Beef Cheek Ravioli with Crushed Squab Liver and Black Truffles (everyone's recommendation, it was tasty but too rich for me....should of had the Sweet Potato “Lune” with Sage and Amaretti ), and my favorite of all time, Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage
........The Semifreddo for desert was just so-so
There was a caviot however:
The service was friendly and I'd say pretty good......... although we had to flag people down and sometimes wait to order. We also had too many things delivered at once but that did not bother us too much.
The restaurant was relatively busy (Wed. night) but the sheer amount of staff running around in the somewhat tight quarters was DIZZYING! It was just WAY too active and we were constantly hearing the waiters' discussions amongst themselves.....some of which we should not have been privy to.
They might have been speaking up because the music was so darn loud. Now, I'm in my 40's, love to rock and love the music from my high school era. I even like my music loud but the choices for this evening just seemed way inapprorpiate for the setting. Plus, I can only wonder what the couples to my left and right (who were of different age groups, some older, some younger) thought of Lynyrd Skynyrd & Marshall Tucker blasting during dinner. When we asked the waiter, he said, "It's Mario's Ipod" We don't have any control.
I will go back but I guess I'll ask what the playlist for the evening will be.
My comments from a visit there this past weekend ->
First, it is a small space for a "celeb chef" restaurant in Vegas, really tucked away into a corner of the Venetian. Perhaps to make up for it, or maybe to duplicate the feel of Babbo in NY, the tables are practically piled on top of each other. It makes for a noisy, bustling feel to the place (much more so than the music, which I hardly found intrusive at all notwithstanding others' complaints - what's wrong with a little Franz Ferdinand with your dinner?)
I went with the "all parts" menu, starting with the tripe parmigiana, then the lamb's brain "francobolli", and closing with the sweetbreads. One of our servers was quite excited by my order, saying these were some of his favorite things and almost nobody ever orders them. I asked if it was hard to keep items like lamb's brain on the menu, and he said they stay because Batali just does whatever he wants anyway. I like the attitude. Mrs. F stayed considerably tamer, starting with a beet salad and then the mint love letters w/ lamb sausage.
The tripe stew was unctuous and good, with a quite spicy tomato sauce and a dusting of parmesan cheese over the top - a very nice rendition but not the best I've had. The beet salad was, for lack of a better adjective, very "beet-y". Three different kinds of beets, each fabricated a different way (one thin like a carpaccio, another in little batons, etc.), some beet greens, and some ricotta salata. Not a "knock-your-socks-off" dish.
The pastas were very nice. For those who fear lamb's brain, don't. The pasta filling was actually quite mild, with just a hint of "other-ness" to let you know it was, well, something different. But if someone had said it was pureed cauliflower or parsnip, you might never even notice. The preparation was mild, light and delicious, with fresh sage and lemon zest. The mint love letters were also nice, with some mint tucked into the minced lamb sausage filling to give a burst of fresh flavor with every bite.
The sweetbreads were a nice preparation, crispy and light and accompanied by sweet and sour onions, bits of duck ham, and a very bright membrillo vinegar.
For dessert, Mrs. F had a chocolate bread pudding w/ a cinnamon gelato (very tasty), while I got a cheese plate. Regretfully I can't remember any of the cheeses other than a pecorino sardo (several of which I didn't recognize on the menu), as they were all quite nice.
The wine list has a particularly impressive list of choices of Piemonte reds in a fairly reasonably (at least relatively so) range of prices. The sommelier was great too. I told him I was looking for a Piemonte red with some bottle age on it in a price range under $150, he first steered me to a 1993 Barolo but cautioned that after about an hour it would start breaking down, so he switched gears and instead went to a '95 Marchese de Gresy Barbaresco which was drinking very nicely - and both were significantly under the "ceiling" I gave him.
The restaurant staff I thought were just fantastic. Super-friendly, knowledgeable, excited about the food. Certainly the sense you get is that even though Batali is not on site very often, this is still a very individualistic place that clearly bears his mark. It's true of the food (very strongly seasoned and bold), the menu (going to keep on serving lamb's brain ravioli even if only one of every 500 customers orders it), the music (our server told us it's loud and it's rock-n-roll because that's what Mario likes when he visits), and so on. One further note on the music - one of our servers told us that it tends to be a little more mellow earlier in the evening and when it's less crowded (indeed, our evening started with Jack Johnson at a pretty low volume). As it gets more crowded and noisier, the music gets cranked up. Given the space they have it is never going to be an elegant, understated dining experience. As our server pointed out, "I can't get in to clear your table without sticking my butt into the next table over - at least the music will distract a little bit".
Particularly because the temptation would seem to be to dumb it down and appeal to a broader audience, especially in LV, I fully respect the approach that's been taken with this place. We had a great meal and a great time.
I'm from NYC, visited Vegas for Thanksgiving and really appreciated B&B. First of all there was none of the jumping through Babbo's hoops to get a reservation. B&B was one of the few busy restaurants I saw the entire week. Granted, it is tucked away in a far corner of the Venetian, but I saw that as a plus since this was the last night of our trip and the clanging of the slot machines was wearing thin. Service was very pleasant and helpful without being intrusive. The tables were quite close together but in NY this is standard. It gave us a chance to chat with our fellow diners on either side and ogle their food. This is something I enjoy so YMMV. The food was rich and hearty without making you so full you passed out in your seat. They played David Bowie at a comfortable level and my husband and I enjoyed watching the various servers wind in and out of the tables with relative ease. Yes, there were a lot of servers bringing you different things but the main server who greeted us in the beginning of the meal always seemed to appear just as I had a question or we needed more wine. Highlights of the meal were the beef cheek ravioli and the hazeulnut dessert. It was a delightful meal and an excellent end to our Vegas adventure. I look forward to expericing Babbo in my own backyard.
I'm curious about reservations also., We weren't planning a Las Vegas trip before the Jimmy Buffet concert in October but I'm thinking I"d like to get up there and try Babbo and it might be easier to get a reservation during July than wait until things get busy again in the Fall...
I know what you mean. The ony time we can go to Babbo in NY is the night we arrive from the west coast and don't mind beginning to eat at 11pm (when our bodies think it's 8pm).
We had no problems with reservations....we were even able to switch nights without much of a problem. But.....we went mid-week and the restaurant is barely 1 month old. I can't make any assumptions for the future. We always book our dinner reservations for Vegas at the same time we book our hotel. Even if we make duplicates for an evening (we always call to cancel when our plans solidify).
It appeared they were using an opentable computer system but I do not see them listed on the consumer end yet.
And re: music..maybe my opinion would have been different if we had come on the Bowie night........I guess I'm just not a southern rock fan. We also had the same experience with the bread.
Funny, wifey and I were there a few nights ago and it was David Bowie all night. I didn't think the music was obtrusively loud the night we were there. There was so much noise from all the people it wasn't that noticeable to me.
We noticed the same thing about the tight table spacing and the zillions of staff running around. It's a fairly small place. Service was good the night we were there.
Wife and I had the marinated anchovies (good, but no way was it worth the price), parmasian tripe (I thought it was good, wife didn't), and the beef cheek ravioli (just right for splitting an order). Wife had squab with beet risotto and I had the whole branzino with fennel and oregano jam. She enjoyed the squab and loved the risotto. I thought the branzino was quite good although it took the waiter forever to debone it and he missed a few too.
Bread was notable for tasting horribly burnt. It was a rustic Italian bread which I know was supposed to have a well done crust, but it just tasted burnt and not in a good way at all.
I can't remember what we had for dessert other than it had freeze dried strawberries on it and other than that, wasn't memorable. Capuccino was excellent though.
Next time I think we'd like to try the pasta tasting menu. We were somewhat pressed for time as we were heading up to the Wynn to see Spamalot (mostly amusing).
While in Vegas staying at the Venetian, we went to some excellent restaurants. Bouchon was our favorite followed by David Burke. We were very excited about taking our friends to B & B the last night we were there, but were tremendously disappointed.I can't help but wonder if some of the positive postings were from friends of the owner because it is hard to believe anyone could enjoy this place. On the other hand we thought Enoteca was very good for the price points.
When seated at B & B we immediately noticed that this would not be a relaxing evening. The music was so loud that we could not hear each other without screaming across the table. The bread had a burnt taste and we were not offered butter or olive oil to go along with it. Also I thought it unusual that we were never offered a second piece of bread. The waiter was pleasant, but everything he said was very rehearsed almost like a robot. He suggested we order three courses, yet when questioning him he said we could share a pasta. This indicated to me that the pasta dish would be of a generous proportion. Not so. Our guests pasta was so small that I laughed in disbelief. My pasta was very good but very expensive for such a small dish. Our friends got the pasta and lobster as a main course which was listed as a 1 pound lobster on the menu. This could not have been more than a 1/2 pound lobster if that. They had to send it back because it was so spicy that they could not eat it. Everything was very heavily spiced and too salty. By the time our friends got their meal, we were done with ours. Both the waiter and the manager asked us how we liked our meal. When telling them our honest opinion they each said that they hear quite often the same complaint about the heavily spiced and salty dishes. They apologized but in a way which was very insincere. By the end of this meal we were so eager to get out of there that we asked for the check without having dessert and ended up going to eat Gelato in an area of the hotel where we could actually hear each other speak. Mario, you really missed with this restaurant. We would never go back and do not recommend it to anyone. On the other hand we went to Enotica two days in a row for lunch as the pizza and antipasta was wonderful!!
My husband and I were caught off-guard at B&B with Mario's musical picks- but we LOVED it!
For us; eating wonderful, memorable food -while- hearing The Ramones and The Cure being played actually added to the enjoyment of the meal. Can't say i've ever been lucky enough to have music that good get played in a "high-end" resto before, but I could definately get used to it!
No complaints on my end, I enjoyed it emmensely.