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Just back from Vegas

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My DH and I are just back from our annual trek to Vegas. We are not gamblers (just a few quarters in a slot machine) and rarely go to the shows. Our favorite things about Vegas are the people-watching, a few things that happen in Vegas and stay in Vegas and, of course, the food!

We arrived Friday morning, checked into The Hotel and headed to the Bellagio for our annual lunch at Olives. We decided to brave the heat and sit outside by the fountains. We enjoy Olives for the atmosphere, the wines by the glass and the food. I had one of the flatbreads and my DH had Roasted Salmon on Ginger Carrot Risotto. The salmon was cooked perfectly but the highlight was the risotto. We will definely be putting our juicer to work soon.

Dinner that night was at Wing Lei at the Wynn. I had planned on having the Peking Duck Tasting Menu but the Signature Tasting Menu just looked too good. We both had the tasting menu with the wine pairings. I neglected to make notes on each of the courses so I will comment on some of them that I do remember. The first course was a fish tartar. The taste and presentation were both outstanding. It was topped with tempura green beans that were light and crunchy. Another course was a sea scallop over egg custard. This was my least favorite course. It was just a little too bland. It was served with a sake which was fun to try, but I'm still not a big fan of sake. Another course was a braised pork belly but I cannot remember how it was prepared. The main course was Wok Fried Lobster Tail with Dried Scallop Fried Rice. The lobster tail was well prepared but the highlight was the fried rice. The flavor was wonderful and the texture was silky. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at Wing Lei. The service was friendly and smooth and we enjoyed our table at a banquette which allowed us to sit side by side with a view of the small garden. My only criticism is that the portions for all of the courses were too generous. I was pretty much stuffed by the time the lobster came out. The wine pours were also very generous for a tasting menu. I'm glad that we weren't driving!

Lunch on Saturday was at Enoteca San Marco at the Venetian. We had enjoyed a lunch at the bar there last year and were hoping for a repeat performance. One of the best parts about our lunch last year was the friendly and knowledgeable waiter behind the bar who steered us toward certain antipasti and wine selections. Would this year be as much fun? We showed up around one and sat at the bar with no wait. While we were waiting on our waitress to bring us water we spied the same guy from last year. We struck up a conversation and found out that he is now a manager and no longer works behind the bar. He offered to take care of us again and we gave him the go ahead. We started off with a plate of 5 cheeses with accompaniments: thyme infused honey, marinated cherries and apricots with mustard. He also brought out a plate proscuitto and mortadello. I had a glass of verdicchio and DH has a glass of amarone. Next we had a salad topped with house cured sardines that was very tasty. If you go to Enoteca San Marco I recommend sitting at the bar, striking up a conversation with the wait staff and letting them feed you.

Dinner that night was at Craftsteak. We have dined there twice before and have always enjoyed it. I chose to eat there this year to take advantage of their Summer Special: appetizers, entrees with sides and desserts for $60pp. We chose to add the wine pairings for another $30pp. I won't go into details about the food as this is available on their web site except to say that it was a lot of food. Overall, the food was good for the price, especially the chicken and scallops. If I had it to do over again, I would order off the regular menu as we have in the past to get exactly what I want. I know from past experience that the kitchen is capable of truly memorable food and I feel like I missed out on that to save a buck - you get what you pay for!

We went to Sensi on Sunday for lunch. I had read a lot about it on CH and wanted to try it. The room is very interesting and our waiter was knowledgable and friendly. The selection of wines by the glass was interesting. The fresh naan that they bring to the table is sinful. We could watch the guy making it from our table. I had the lunch special brought out in a bento box: Rock Shrimp Risotto, Tempura Squash Blossoms, Watercress Salad and Thai Chicken Curry. DH had a beef and shrimp dish that he said was good. Overall a good choice for lunch and we would return.

For dinner that night I chose the Swan Court at Aureole. We had eaten at Aureole years ago but had been reluctant to return after reading so-so reviews over the years. I was not fond of the cavernous space in the main restaurant and was looking for a more intimate room for our anniversary dinner so I decided to give Swan Court a try. Who was right about Aureole - Climberdoc or Bill Hunt? Well, sorry Bill, but I am going to have to give this one to Climberdoc. The room was intimate and the waitstaff was efficient and very friendly. We were served a trio of amuses while we were looking at the menu. We decided to go with the tasting menu with wine pairings. It was seven courses with seven wines. The portion sizes, both wine and food, were perfect. We finished the meal satisfied but not stuffed. The pace was leisurely and relaxed. It was fun to be able to walk outside between courses and our waiter gave us rolls to feed the swan. The standouts of the meal were the Spring Pea Ravioli with Morels, the Asiam Spiced Pork Belly and the Duo of Beef Tenderloin and Flat Iron. Was this the best food I have ever tasted? No, but the combination of well prepared food, thoughtful wine pairings, relaxing ambience and friendly service was the highlight of our Vegas trip. We would definitely return.

We flew home Monday morning after having spent another wonderful weekend in Vegas. I look forward to our next visit and, especially, the planning of our next meals!

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  1. Thanks for the comprehensive report, sushaskin. We will be in Las Vegas in a couple of months and have made notes of your favorites.

    1. May I ask what your favorite things to order at Craftsteak are since you mentioned you'd order what you know you love there next time??? And how was the flatbread pizza at Olives.... It's on my list and I'm hankering to try the fig and proscuitto flatbread!!

      5 Replies
      1. re: SUNTAB

        SUNTAB: In the past I have ordered the filet mignon at Craftsteak. The sirloin that was served with the Summer Special, while flavorful, was a little tough for my taste. I also love their sorbets for dessert. I had the Alla Napoletana flatbread this time. I have had the fig and prosciutto before. Both were very good.

        1. re: sushaskin

          Thanks for the input!!! While one of the Kobe tastings sounds appealing, i'm sure it will be way too much food for us.... I was wondering about ordering just one entree to split and a couple apps/salads/or sides--- We're not huge portion eaters.... Have you had any of the Kobe there, and if so, what's the best to order. I've heard some negatives feedback that the 'American" kobe isn't worth the $$$$$$$$....

          1. re: SUNTAB

            You can definitely split an entree at Craftsteak. We always split a steak. Just pick an appetizer/salad or two that you like, one or two sides, and a steak. The food there is served family style.

            1. re: Debbie W

              Thanks Debbie!! what are your favorite steaks there?? Is the Kobe worth the expense???

              1. re: SUNTAB

                Oh, I don't remember. I'm sure we haven't had the Kobe. Probably a ribeye or New York, those tend to be our favorites. I had the Wagyu at CUT in Beverly Hills and just found it too rich so when we went to CUT in Vegas we shared one of the 35-day steaks, again probably a New York. However we do like the Kobe tartare at Craftsteak, it's truly delicious if you don't mind having meat before your meat.

      2. I adore Aureole in NYC, and enjoyed it very much when I was in LV in December. We also visited with the swans, even though it was a bit cold outside. Food and service were excellent. I find the Swan Court lovely.

        1. I bet that was Josef that served you at Enoteca. He made an impression on me, as well. After a few questions, he steered me into selections that were perfect for my meal.