Vegas Report - LoS, Mesa Grill, Postrio, Enoteca San Marco
I just returned from eating my way through Las Vegas. Here is a quick report. I was traveling with three others, including one vegetarian and one non-red meat eater, so that influenced our dinner choices. The fourth member of our party is a trained chef.
First night dinner: Lotus of Siam.
I was the only person who had been to LoS, but on my first visit, I went alone. This was my first opportunity to really try a lot of things on the menu. My friends wanted to sample a lot of dishes, so we ordered more food than we needed. From memory, we had: crispy rice and sausage appetizer, tom kah kai soup, beef satay, Nam-Prik-Hed (a spicy mushroom dip served with vegetables for dipping), yellow curry with tofu, crispy duck with basil and curry sauce, chicken with mint and chili, and a shared mango and sticky rice. Everything was great, but the standouts were the crispy rice and sausage and the mushroom dip. The dip was one of the spiciest dishes I have ever tried, but had amazing flavor. It did not taste like mushrooms (as my mushroom-hating friend attested), but had lime, chili, and cilantro. The total for the four of us was about $80 before tip. (We did not drink anything, as we had stopped before dinner at Quark's Bar at the Hilton to share a few "Warp Core Breaches.")
Second day lunch/brunch: Mesa Grill
We happened to be at Caesars, so I suggested trying Mesa Grill. I happen to hate Bobby Flay on TV, so I thought I would have trouble divorcing the TV ego from the restaurant. I actually expected to dislike the restaurant and think it over-rated. Wow, was I wrong.
It was a Saturday, so only brunch was available. I was disappointed because I wanted to try the "real" menu, but it turned out to be a happy accident.
We began with the goat cheese queso fundido with blue corn tortillas. This was good, but not exceptional. The goat cheese was extremely powerful and I would have liked something to cut the tang. There were some peppers on top that did a little of that, but it was a bit overpowering. Nonetheless, we finished the entire dish and even scraped the cheese off the sides.
We were next served a basket of muffins. I tried a small jalapeno popover, which was tasty, and cornbread, which was too dry. Nobody raved about any of the breads.
Then we received our orders. I had the spicy chicken and sweet potato hash with poached eggs on top and a spicy hollandaise sauce. This was one of the best egg dishes I had ever eaten. The hash had a bit of a kick, which was tempered by the sweetness of the potatoes, and the eggs were perfectly cooked. It was fantastic. Vegetarian friend had the chilaquiles, which were sweet and smokey. The presentation was fabulous, with a layer of blue corn tortilla, some type of greens (probably spinach), and then the eggs, cheese and sauce. Another outstanding dish. This was served with great homestyle potatoes. However, because my friend had never tried grits, we asked if they would bring a small dish for her to taste. They brought us a full serving which, between the four of us, we devoured. I normally don't like grits, but these were full of flavor and absolutely decadent. My other meat-eating friend (the chef) had the NY strip, which was perfectly cooked and incredibly well seasoned. I rarely order steaks in restaurants because I make a very good steak myself, but I would order this steak again in a heartbeat. The chef thought it was one of the best steaks he had ever tried. My fourth friend had a salad, which he enjoyed, but he admitted that he was disappointed that he did not order something more adventurous. As I left the restaurant, I had to admit that I may hate Bobby Flay the TV personality, but he does know how to cook. I think brunch with drinks (a few margaritas) and, including the $44 steak, was about $120 before tip.
Second night dinner: Postrio
I posted several times before I went seeking advice about a fancy dinner in Vegas. Our first choice had been Alex at the Wynn, but it was closed this week. Our second choice was Guy Savoy, but it also was closed. Bad timing. After perusing a few menus to ensure that we had some good vegetarian options, we chose Postrio. There are surprisingly few posts about the restaurant, and I was a bit nervous about the choice. However, the lure of a vegetarian tasting entree won the day.
The restaurant really did a wonderful job accommodating our dining proclivities. Having informed them in advance that we had a vegetarian, the chef sent out a complimentary vegetarian dish to start the meal. I can't really call it an amuse, because we received two items that were quite large. One of the items was a small cup of hot tomato soup served with a deconstructed caprese -- a skewer with a ball of mozzarella, a cherry tomato, and drizzled balsamic and basil foam. The soup was as good as tomato soup can get and the skewer was fresh and flavorful. The second dish was a small cup of cold melon soup with accompaniments that I cannot recall (I believe they were small balls of sorbet). The soup was very fresh and had a strong melon flavor that I loved. My friends were less enamored of the melon soup, but everyone loved the tomato.
For appetizers, we had the tuna crudo (very fresh and excellent), scallops served thinly sliced, almost ceviche style, grilled calamari stuffed with shrimp and chorizo over a bed of greens and chorizo (the smokiness from the calamari and chorizo combined wonderfully with the vinaigrette for the greens), and a baby artichoke salad. All were delicious.
For an entree, I decided to have the appetizer of pork belly served over apricots. I had never eaten pork belly before, but had wanted to try it since it is becoming rather ubiquitous on menus. The pork was perfectly cooked. The meat had wonderful flavor, with the pork flavor and fat blending extremely well with the apricot.
I also ordered a side dish of a sweet corn risotto that normally comes with a butter-poached lobster. It was fabulous, sweet and creamy, and actually went very well with the pork belly.
Vegetarian friend had the special vegetarian entree of the evening, a quartet of tomato preparations. One of those items was the previously mentioned tomato soup, but she had no hesitation of having it again. The other preparations included a gazpacho sorbet with diced cucumber and avocado sauce. When the flavors of each part melded, it was wonderful.
My other friends ordered a duck breast with fig sauce and a lamb loin. Both were perfectly cooked and extremely tasty. The fig sauce on the duck was a little sweet, and those of us who tasted the dish agreed that the duck was better without the fig. We had a similar reaction to the lamb, which also had a sweet sauce. We thought it worked better without the sauce, when the incredible spices on the crust came through. The lamb also came with some chickpea fritters, which were okay, but nothing particularly special.
For dessert, we shared a trio of ice creams (pistachio, espresso, and creme fraiche), a pistachio-chocolate sundae (a chocolate, pistachio ice cream, layers of pistachio wafers, and a sauce made from port cherries), and a chocolate-caramel tart. I am not a pistachio fan, so the sundae did not rock my world, but the cherries were fabulous and everyone else loved it. The creme fraiche ice cream was great and the tart was decadent (though I thought it would have benefitted from not being served with a raspberry sauce).
We also had a bottle of sparkling water and two half-bottles of wine. The regular sommelier was off for the night, but our waiter told us he had training. Because of the variety of items, we relied on his choice. I did not recall the wines, but they worked extremely well with everyone's dishes.
I did not catch the price before tip, but the total for the four of us, including tip (which was probably , was $420.
Third day lunch: Enoteca San Marco
I had wanted to try B&B, but by this time, it was just me and my vegetarian friend, who did not want another big meal. So we went to the Mario Batali pizzeria (more or less) at the Venetian. We did not have a reservation, but there was no wait. We shared a tricolore salad, which was crisp and fresh, and refreshing after the heavy meals the night before.
For entrees, we both had pizzas. Mine came with prosciuto, goat cheese, and carmelized onions and my friend had the quattro formaggio, which emphasizes a different cheese in each quadrant. The toppings were fabulous, but the crust was a bit tasteless. My biggest gripe was that I asked if they would make my pizza with the prosciuto on only half of the pizza so that I could share it with my vegetarian friend, but I was told that was impossible. I cannot understand why that would be the case when the quattro formagio puts different cheese in different parts of the pizza. My friend thought that maybe the pizzas were made in advance of cooking, but that struck me as very odd. Lunch for the two of us (with sodas) was about $40.
All in all, there were no real disappointments (as I have had on past trips). I definitely intend to return to Mesa Grill and LoS, and would gladly recommend Postrio.