Splurge Solo Dining in Las Vegas
I've read several threads on dining solo and many more on restaurants in Las Vegas. I will be visiting (decompressing - going to spa regularly - pool even more regularly) the first week in May. I'd like to dine out at a fabulous place every night - Sunday through Friday. I went to Aureole on a previous short trip. I prefer fish, pasta, spanish/mexican over steak. I prefer to avoid French dining with pre fixe menus. Can you please opine on my plans thus far? I could really use help Wednesday, and I could could pass on Mesa. THANK YOU!!!
Sunday (arrival, low-key, staying at Caesar's): Guy Savoy Bubble Bar
Monday: (spa all day) : NOBU
Tuesday: Daniel Boulad (a must - he's on my Life List)
Wednesday: Uncertain. Alize? Mix? Rosemary's? Enoteca? Was interested in Bartolotta, but read that uncomfortable for Solo's?
Thursday: Mesa Grill
Friday: (spa half day) L'Atelier
Saturday - leave
I just wanted to thank you for your detailed reviews of all your dining experiences. Really helpful to read and interesting (not to mention hunger inducing!). I'll be dining solo at L'Atelier and Okada this month so am very excited, especially after reading about what you ate.
Hi, All! First, a big thanks for all your replies to this post and all the information you've posted throughout this Board. The information has been invaluable in helping me plan my big pre-50th Birthday Bash!
A few notes before I post my reviews: 1) I couldn't get to Guy Savoy's. Learned they are closed on Mon and Tues, they had a buyout on Wednesday. Next time... 2) As ClimberDoc pointed out, this is casino land, with associated smoke in the older establishments (not so much in the newer ones). Still, took me a little by surprise, being from Minnesota, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, all the children are above average, and smoking is banned. 3) I lifted a fellow poster's review of L'Atelier as it was so thorough, and added just a few comments. 4) I chose to disclose prices excluding tips, as I was a waitress during my college days and tend to tip obscenely.
Stacked ratings: Food: 1) L'Atelier 2) Restaurant Charlie 3/4 (tie) Bouchon, Okada 5) Daniel Boulad 6) Mesa Service: 1) Restaurant Charlie 2) Okada 3) l'Atelier 4) Daniel Boulad 5) Bouchon (Mesa - N/A - ate at Bar). Getting To/From: 1) Bouchard 2)Okada 3) Daniel Boulad 4) Restaurant Charlie 5/6 (tie) Mesa, L'Atelier.
Sunday: Restaurant Charlie
1) Hamachi with Kumquat, Pickled Pork Belly and Cucumber (Special). This dish simply titillated my mouth.
2) Marinated New Zealand Tai Snapper with Santa Barbara Sea Urchin and Hijiki- Great
3) Hand Harvested Sea Scallops with Parsley Emulsion and Yogurt - Fantastic.
4) Merlot Braised Radishes: Great side dish, just didn't work the best with entree.
5) Dark Chocolate and Banana Bread Pudding with Plaintains and Rice Sorbet. Again, Fantastic.
Service was outstanding. At most places, people know various roles, and will step in when needed, albeit ackwardly. Here, transitions were seamless. Very impressive. When I mentioned B-day, Maitre gifted me with autographed Charlie Trotter Cookbook. Then offered me tour of kitchen. Then brought me up to Kitchen Table, as Susan was also celebrating her 50th - very gregarious, and husband from Wisconsin, they insisted I join them and opened new magnum of veuve la grand dame for a couple of toasts. Sigh. This was simply perfect. The kitchens. Nice table of people. Great Champagne to end a fabulous meal. Total w/out tip: $225. Included sazerac cocktail ($24) and Open Wine pairing (very nicely done) ($75).
1) Okada roll: Fabulous! Maine lobster, sweet shrimp, avocado, asparagus served with a wasabi mayonnaise. Additional lobster meat added to plate - tail shell added to plate as garnish.
2) Hamachi with tomato salsa. Forgettable.
3) Kobe Beef Carpaccio with chives,quail egg and pickled vegetables. Very nice.
4) Robato Grilled Alaskan King Crab with grilled shimeji, maitake mushrooms and yuzu sauce. This was sublime. Slight grilled flavor, hint of lemon in sauce. Loved tis dish.
Service was smooth, unhurried. Started with a Sake Tini, which, with a slice of cucumber, was dry and refreshing. I was seated next to sliding door overlooking waterfall. Door was closed due to winds, but still beautiful view. They took several minutes educating me on Sakes - loved it! After my Sake education, I chose a Taiten Shiragiku (white chrysanthemum) which was dry but soft - paired wonderfully with all dishes except the Kobe. Total w/out tip: $220.
Tuesday: Mesa Grill
1) Ceviche Trio ($22): Shrimp in spicy - very! - jalapeno cure; scallops in mild pisalla cure, octopus and lobster in a tomato chipotle cure. Wonderful!
2) Red and Black Filet ($44) . I needed a meat fix! Large portion, nicely spiced, unevenly cooked (ordered medium rare, half medium rare, half medium, some bits cooked a little more than that - which I couldn't eat anyway because serving so large - 12 oz.) served with mushroom ancho chile sauce and roasted onion marmelade. Spices nice, grilling OK.
3) Side Dish of Roasted Tomatoes with spicy cornmeal breadcrumbs and I believe melted white cheddar cheese. ($8) Very very rich, should be shared, even though just two halved tomatoes. but I loved this dish!
I ate at bar, so will not comment on service, which was just fine. I sampled two tequila anejos (Chinaco, Partida), then finished with the remarkable Don Julio 1942. Cost w/out tip: $135
Wednesday: Daniel Boulad
1) Maine Lobster Salad with Rhubarb and chili touille. Rhubarb was nice touch, large portion lobster, could easily be shared. Really liked this dish.
2) Pan Roasted Loup De Mer with Artichoke Mousse and tomato olive mousse. OK. Fish cooked perfectly. Mousse very good. Tomato salsa did not work for me. Perhaps if roasted...
3) Cheese Plate: Excellent. Perfect temperature, nice grapes, spiced walnuts, currants, honeycomb .
Service fine. Light show was kitshy but fun - very 60'ies. Thought it strange to have salt and pepper shakers on table - don't see this in nice restaurants. Also, suppose it was nice, but twice they asked if I'd like a magazine (Wynn mag). Guess some would appreciate, but certainly not my style to read during a nice meal. ??? Total cost, w/out tip, with two glasses wine and dessert wine: $165
1) Vesper cocktail. Olives. Smoked Beef Carpaccio with tomato confit and Horseradish Cream. Nice selection of olives, slightly warmed with a sprig of rosemary and a sliver of lemon. Beef had very light smoke flavor, went well with horseradish cream.
2) Beet Salad (Special) - This dish was one of favorites of the trip. White asparagus curls set on petite red beet quarters set on eggplant confit with rocket and a lemon vinaigrette. Nine small mounds. Perfect.
3) Prime Rib Short Ribs (Special) - Surprised to find such heavy dish on menu in May, but I couldn't resist. Braised for 72 hours. Beyond tender. Sauce was a silky smooth buttery deeply beef flavored jewel. Served with Forest Mushrooms,Fava Beans and Potato Gnocci. Chose half bottle of Vosne-Romanee - by itself not a great wine, but for me has always tended to lift the food and the wine when paired with food. Sublime course.
4) Cheese Plate. Very forgettable. Sad for a French Bistro.
Service: I asked for dry dry cocktail recommendation - he recommended a glass of Chardonnay???? Lucky Sommelier rescued him - after I suffered through his demonstrated inexperience with wines. And I'm not a wine snob, but he just had no clue what to pair with each dish, other than to point out they had bottles by the half glass. He contributed little to meal . Food server did not explain dishes - just set them down. Bread removed before short rib course - ??? Serious trianing needed for these particular chaps. Price w/out tip: $210
1) Amuse Bouce of Le Citron (Lemon gelee topped with fennel cream) - Served on porous slate with small piece of warmed vanilla that added nice scent to dish. Simple yet refined
2) Le Thon Rouge (Big eye tuna with tomato infused olive oil) - Served with a spicy avocado mousse. Excellent.
3) Le Homard (Maine lobster in a gelee of vegetable topped with chilled leek soup) - My favorite dish of the trip! I almost cried, it was so beautiful. Nice serving of lobster on the bottom. The soup was lovely, layed on the gelee. This was absolutely fabulous. I wanted to lick the bowl!
4) L'Asperge Verte (Capuccino of green asparagus with parmesan) - Again, a lick the bowl dish. Topped with thin parmasan shards. Perfect.
5) La Sole (Dover sole filet with zucchini and mushrooms) - The brown butter sauce was simple yet rich - very nice.
6) L'Oeuf (Fried egg with sweet onion cream and smoked salmon roe) - This did not work for me. Creative. Lovely. Perfectly cooked egg. But all together, did not balance well for me.
7) La Caille (Quail stuffed with foie gras and served with truffle mashed potatoes) - The entire dish divine. I especially loved the truffle mashed potatoes.
8) Le the Glace Vanille (Lemongrass Mousse, vanilla tea flavored sorbet, and crunchy caramel tuile) - As it was presented, they told me it had ginger. Unfortunately, I amd fiercely allergic to ginder (my only allergy!) They replaced it with a pineapple pina colada that had "pop rocks" layed throughout the mousse. Very fun.
9) La Mangue (Hazelnut cremeux, fresh mango and coffee caramel streusel) - An excellent ending to a fabulous meal.
The service was highest quality. I was in front of Chef, so could see all aspects of kitchen. This was particular important when Joel Himself walked through the kitchen, chatted with each person, and glanced over to smile and nod at a few diners, me included! He was in town for Food and Wine Fest, so didn't stay, but it was so cool having a fabulous meal supplemented by a Chef sighting! As ClimberDoc mentioned in another post, some may not like the stool dining. I loved it, as I had one of the two best seats, sat between and Australian named Robert and a Parisian name Marc, who has been to L'Atelier in Paris and New York. I called chef over, told him he was here to compare, they had quite a lively conversation, mostly in English, that was fun to hear. I left when Parisian was starting course five, asked him what he thought, he said "No offense, but I believe I am in Paris." :) Total bill, three very very nice glasses of wine, totaled $245 (tasting menu $135).
Now I'm done. Back in Minneapolis. Broke, but VERY VERY HAPPY!!!!!!
This is a model Chowhound thread. You asked specific questions in your original post, you interacted with the folks giving you suggestions and then, most importantly, you repaid us with this detailed, lovingly rendered report. Thank you.
Any theories on what was up with the Daniel Boulud magazine "incident?" Do you think they were worried you'd be bored or feel uncomfortable dining alone?
re: Dave Feldman
Thank you for the kind words, Dave!
Regarding your question, I really had no idea what was up with the magazine inquiries. This has never happened to me at any restaurant. I don't believe I looked uncomfortable, and I was keeping busy with a very thorough review of wine list and jotting notes in a small notebook, so I can only guess they were looking to be nice.
Thanks for all the information on Las Vegas dining, fellow Chowhounds! Although I was focused on nice dinners, I picked up many good tips for breakfasts, too. Payard's will probably be a morning standard!
I am off tomorrow - will post a review sometime later in May. Here's my final selection for my BIG 50th CELEBRATION!!!
Sunday: Restaurant Charlie
Tuesday: Daniel Boulad
Wednesday: Guy Savoy Bubble Bar
Stand-by's will be SeaBlue, Bartolotta and Ming Lei.
I urge you to skip Boulud. I took my mom a few weeks ago and the food was very disappointing. For instance, my mother had the cheese platter -- the petit French platter -- and the cheeses were quite pathetic. None of them were strong, and the so-called bleu cheese was very bland. I wound up ordering an extra serving of Rogue Valleu Bleu so that she could have a strong bleu cheese. We also sent back a torte that was supposedly made with fois gras and game meats, but was completely dry and nearly inedible. The desserts were also disappointing. The only good dish was the burger, but since you don't seem that big on beef, it's probably not a big attraction.
Thanks for helping me folks. I'm almost settled on my big splurge. Pretty close to the original - a couple of adjustments. I can't wait!!!
Sunday: just sit and chill at Guy Savoy Bubble Bar
Tuesday: Just got canelled at Charlie Trotter's - they have a buyout. Think I'll do mexican or italian - Dos Caminas or Raos??
Wednesday: Daniel Boulad
For someone who says that they prefer to avoid French dining with prix fixe menus, you certainly are hitting it up. Guy Savoy, Daniel Boulud, Bouchon, and L'Atelier are all French with Guy Savoy and L'Atelier both being heavy on the prix fixe menus. You can go a la carte with all of these places but just wanted to point out the heavy French options.
Tuesday - if you want Italian, don't go to Raos. Try Fiamma at the MGM. Much better food and service. For Mexican - I'd nix the Strip and head to Bonito Michoacan on Decatur and Spring Mountain.
Thanks! You're right - I initally wasn't real hip on lots of French dining. However, my sister - a chef in San Francisco - reminded me - as did you - that ala carte is always an option. I don't think your recommendation on Mexican will work - will not have a car - but appreciate it anyway..
Thanks for the tips! Will surely do Bouchon. After reading several posts, also thinking about Okada instead of Nobu. Anyone been to Michael Mina's lately? Also, dying for a review of Charlie Trotter's new place! Thanks, all. Your suggestions have been so enticing I think I will even have company - friend from minneapolis - join me for a few of my days!
my guess is trotter's will open at the end of this month ( at the earliest ) - what was your take on aureole ?
you can eat at the bar at mesa grill, craftsteak ( might be worth a try ) , table 10 ( emeril's new place in palazzo ) bradley ogden, bouchon ( definitely worth a try breakfast, lunch or dinner ) , okada / nobu/ koi / social house/ tao ...take your pick ...if you are focusing on the hot dishes, i give the nod to nobu, sushi - a slight nod to okada, cool / hip ( yet decent food ) i favor social house over tao. alize ??? why not hit the orginal ...andre's in downtown ....how many restaurants have a city street named after the chef / owner...vegas baby !! i can promise you one thing ...i'm at trotter's within a week of it's opening !! rosemary's is very comfortable at the bar...a couple other local spots to consider - vitner grill ( not too far from rosemary's ) , todd's unique, ichiza ( japanese small plates ...tasty !! ) firefly ( tapas ) ...how about nob hill ( did you read the lengthy, interesting reviews of longislandchef ?? he dined alone at all the places he tried )
happy eating !
aureole - was super - my sister and i went on a Tuesday at 10:00 - we dined ala carte - they brought us samples of EVERYTHING! Felt like we had a 16-course dining experience. Too long ago - four years - to remember all the specifics - but we definitely left happy!
I did read the NobHill review by longislandchef. A possibility...
When we were at Boulud (in the Wynn), the gentleman at the table next to us was dining alone and he looked like he was very much enjoying himself (tableside seating for Lake of Dreams) and it seemed like he was getting outstanding service, just as we were. You'll want reservations.
I know you said you're looking for a fabulous evening meal but if you end up waking up early one morning, Bouchon for breakfast on a weekday would be terrific for one, at least at the time we were there which was about 7:30am. There were lots of table for ones enjoying their breakfasts and newspapers.
Mesa is kind of a hustling, bustling kind of place. They have a bar, but I don't recall seeing people eating at it. It might be a bit hectic for one, but since you're staying at Caesar's it would be such a convenient stop for you. It seems like more of a people watching kind of place to me.
I don't know if I've helped at all. Here's my post about my recent visit to Las Vegas--we ate at all three of the places I talked about above. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/489870
Have fun! It sounds like a wonderful, relaxing vacation.
re: The Dairy Queen
Totally agree with TDQ on Boulud's and Bouchon for breakfast..
Friend went alone to Rosemary's for Christmas dinner and she was uncomfortable..maybe because of the holiday..food is really good.
I have heard great things about Alize but have not been..
Okada for sushi at the Wynn is very good.
Have a great time in Vegas!
re: The Dairy Queen