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Oct 7, 2008 02:28 PM

Vegas Help: An Exercise in Gastronomic Delights ...

As an avid foodie and daily frequenter of CH's Los Angeles board, I knew that for my wife's and mine first culinary trip to LV, the Southwest board would be an excellent resource to aid in our meal planning.

Boy is that an understatement! I have read through 20+ pages of threads, seeking to learn the culinary Ins & Outs of your wonderful city -- and I certainly have learned and absorbed quite a bit about a great many of your fine dining (not limited to "fine-dining") restaurants.

But I still find myself seeking that little bit extra in terms of opinions and assistance ... so here I am.

As a surprise birthday trip for my wife, I will be taking her to Vegas for a long weekend that also coincides with the Thanksgiving holiday. We will leave LA on Wednesday - whether by air or car remains to be seen - and return on Sunday.

That gives us 12, and possibly even 13 opportunities to indulge ourselves in the culinary delights Vegas has to offer ... but it also presents a bit of a dillema, so here is where I ask for your help.

And I thought it might be a bit of good fun if we made it a sort of gastronomic exercise ...

So, here 'tis: What dining itinerary would YOU plan for Vegas if you KNEW you would never return?

(I know full well I will, but for the sake of fun, if you'll indulge me let's pretend)

There will be a dinner on Wednesday; all 3 meals on Thursday (THANKSGIVING!), Friday, and Saturday; and definitely breakfast and lunch on Sunday, with an outside chance for dinner (so make sure your dinner rec here would be your 5th choice).

I might choose the concensus, I might opt to go with the single poster's itinerary that looks best, or I might take a combination of everyone's ideas. I WILL be eternally grateful!

Remember, this is what YOU would do. If you'd care to, I will give you someparameters and you could outline what you would recommend for us. Kind of like what uhockey wrote in his post.

If you prefer the latter, here are some tidbits to help:

We've dined and travelled all over the world ... from Michelin 3 rosettes to complete holes-in-the-wall. We live in LA, and thus would prefer recommendations for places/cuisines we cannot get in LA (I'm looking directly at you Cut/Spago, as well as Sushi/Japanese). We are comfortable with anything from Grand Tasting menus to a la carte, and we are interested in the good, cheap eats as well as haute cuisine. Also, we enjoy seafood, but on a limited basis ... I find that I am VERY picky about it. Lastly, pricing is not a concern, nor is it mandatory that an establishment be on the Strip (I'm looking at you Lotus of Siam!)

Hope that helps you, and thanks in advance for helping me! I will definitely post back full reports (with pics) on this thread once we return to LA.

Let the "games" begin!

p.s. - I would also love any recs on where to stay ... was thinking a suite at the Wynn or the Bellagio, but am completely open to any and all suggestions.

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    Bouchon, Alex, Le Cirque are musts.
    Skip Sensi and Craftsteak.
    Be sure to grab a dessert at Jean Philippe and pastrys at Bouchon Bakery.

    12 Replies
    1. re: uhockey

      U, you and I seem to be individuals of similar tastes, based on your thread. I obviously had a pretty good idea of where you stood based on your blog and posts in it.

      I'd been roughly thinking breakfast at Payard, Bouchon, Tableau, and ???; lunch at 4 of Lotus, Enoteca, DB Brasserie, Mesa Grill, Burger Bar; and dinner at 4 (or 5) of B&B, Le Cirque, Picasso, Alex, Craftsteak, N9NE, Joel at Mansion, Attelier, MiX, Guy Savoy, Andres, Alize, Charlie Palmer Steak, SW Steak, and probably a few others I forgot.

      You can see dillema.

      1. re: a213b

        Your fourth breakfast should be Verandah at the Four Seasons.

        Four lunches of the ones you list: Lotus, Mesa, Enoteca, Burger Bar

        Four to five dinners: if money truly is no object: Guy Savoy and Alex for sure. Next tier: Le Cirque, Picasso, Joel Robuchon at the Mansion, Mix (apparently, according to Uhockey). Of the steakhouses you list, I would probably choose Craftsteak but I also like N9NE very much. They are very different from each other, in that N9NE is very sceney and Craftsteak isn't. In fact we are going to N9NE again on 10/19. If you've been to Craft in Century City then you should know that Craftsteak is the same format with a more limited menu.

        1. re: Debbie W

          Debbie, I respect your opinion, so do you REALLY think Alex is a Tier above the 3-starred JR at the Mansion? I'll admit that Alex was amongst my fave meals of all time (right behind Gramercy Tavern, actually) and the food was certainly more unique.....just curious.

          Agreed on lunches, though I've not been to Lotus......I just can't deal with Thai, no matter how bland. Burger Bar, Mesa, Table 10, and Delmonico all are solid lunches.

          If you're a sports guy, don't miss checking out the new (former 40/40 club) Sportsbook at the Palazzo.....unbelievable.

          1. re: uhockey

            IMO, Alex is definitely a tier above Joel Robuchon. I posted in December that I had dinner first at Alex, and the next night at Joel Robuchon, as while Joel Robuchon isn't bad, it couldn't hold a candle to Alex. If I had reversed the order of the dinners, I probably would have liked Joel Robuchon, but after Alex, it would have been forgotten.

            1. re: uhockey

              Uhockey, to be honest, I have never eaten at Alex, Guy Savoy or JR at the Mansion. I have eaten at all five of the lunch places that the OP is choosing from, with repeated lunch and dinner visits to all except Enoteca where I've only had lunch once. I do have close friends who are incredibly knowledgeable and sophisticated diners (and hounds) and they have dined twice at Alex and loved it both times and I heard about it in detail. I was basing my opinion that Alex and Guy Savoy are tier 1 on the almost universal extremely high praises for both over time, whereas I recall reading some less than stellar reviews of JR at the Mansion on various occasions. We are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in Vegas next weekend and I actually chose Bar Charlie over Alex for the anniversary night itself. I hope I don't regret that choice but the menus just seems so interesting, I like the more casual style, and also who knows how long they will make a go of it, whereas Alex seems esconsed for the long run.

              1. re: Debbie W

                I don't think you will be disappointed Debbie. I just came back from Vegas and a quite mind blowing meal at Bar Charlie. 4 hours of nigh on perfection really.

                I'm going to put up a review here soon enough, but its taking a while to write as its going to be long. Before this meal Picasso was my favourite Vegas splurge, not any longer, Bar Charlie was miles ahead.


              2. re: uhockey

                uhockey - thai is bland ?!?! partner, you need to hit lotus and tell them to wow you ! granted, if you are just eating pad thai when you hit a thai place, well, then i understand your perspective. but based on your reviews, i doubt you limit yourself to the generic. I can assure you that if you hit Lotus, and put your faith in the staff, you will find that thai food is amazing. simple, fresh ingredients, yet complex flavors - thai cuisine envelopes spicy, sweet, savory better than any asian cuisine that i knw of.

                happy eating !

                1. re: kjs

                  kjs, this is EXACTLY why I am hitting LoS.

                  LA has some ridiculously amazing (and cheap!) Thai restaurants, but I have just heard too many good things about LoS to skip it.

                  Mmmmmm ... I am already salivating at the thought.

                  1. re: a213b

                    i am a fan of LOS no doubt about it but my knock, i've visited Thailand several times and the amazing meals i had at "locals only" places at ridiculously low prices set the bar very high / too high !

                  2. re: kjs

                    A future visit, perhaps......its just like Wing Lei for me, I guess.......I'm sure its good, but I'm a bit of a nerd for French/Mediterranean, Italian, Seafood, and Japanese. :-)

                    Next visit will be hard to skip a return to Alex, but I do believe Savoy and Picasso will be next on the list.

                    1. re: kjs

                      I think that uhockey means that he can't tolerate heat, not that he thinks it's bland.

                      I just spent nearly three months in L.A. and had a chance to eat t some of L.A.'s best, including two of my faves, Jitlada and Sapp. There are particular dishes that are standouts (e.g.., the mussels at Jitlada, the boat noodles at Sapp) but I still haven't seen a restaurant in L.A. that has the consistency and breadth of Lotus.

                      I want to assure you that LOS can create dishes without any heat at all. Over the years, I've ordered everything from a one to a ten, and actually asked for a zero a couple of times, for friends who requested no heat at all. I can't say that it is nearly as good, but it's still worth trying. And some of the dishes can be eaten without heat -- the barbecued beef sans sauce, the barbecued whole catfish are two good examples.

                      1. re: Dave Feldman

                        My buddy that I go to the Kings game with does love Thai.....I definitely should've thought of this one over Sensi (blech!)

            2. Breakfast at Tableau was fabulous. The kobe beef short ribs and eggs (we had ours prepared basted vs. the scrambled as described on menu) were amazing. Two perfectly crisp potato cakes top with shredded braised kobe beef, eggs, and bernaise sauce -- absolutely perfect way to start the day. The watermelon juice tasted like the freshest, sweetest watermelon you've ever had in a glass. Bread pastry basket okay, but i preferred the pastries at Bouchon -- the scone at Tableau was a little dry....

              we also enjoyed tableau for dinner: the crab ravioli, foie gras, scallops and corn pudding, oysters with champagne sauce, duck with honey jus and sweet potato/pecan hash, apple sorbet rolled in nuts with caramel sauce, and chocolate souffle werre all standouts as some of the best food we've ever tried.

              And for a little more casual in the Wynn, we enjoyed Stratta for pizza, bread w/ pesto dipping sauce and lobster fra diavlio

              1. I think you got the restaurants down packed. You can't go wrong with any you listed. I would suggest Fleur de lys for a nice romantic one on one dinner if you reserved a private cabana! As far as Hotels...Well it doesn't get any better than the Wynn but check out Venetians Venezia Suites. Very quite, security, freakin BEAUTIFULL and expecially for a special trip like yours and Bouchon is like a couple steps away!

                1. The original comment has been removed
                  1. One other point -- you may encounter some special menus and even closings around Thanksgiving. It can't hurt to check in advance, especially on Thanksgiving.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Dave Feldman

                      Dave, excellent point, and one I need to make sure I investigate carefully ... especially as I am NOT a fan of Thanksgiving food. Turkey does not do a thing for me; I always felt somewhat guilty about that until I just read Andrew Knowlton's similar thoughts in the
                      most recent Bon Appetit.

                      Whew! It's nice to know there are other foodies out there who just don't take to turkey, despite trying it in many forms.

                      1. re: a213b

                        You're not alone. I don't really like turkey too much either (though I like most of the other components of Thanksgiving dinner). Plus, my birthday falls on Thanksgiving some years and when I was a child many of my birthday parties were Thanksgiving dinners. Talk about getting ripped off! I'm sure you will have no problem finding Vegas restaurants with non-turkey Thanksgiving options.