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Long weekend in Vegas review

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  • jbh11 Oct 8, 2008 02:43 PM
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Just got back from Las Vegas with my wife, 18 month old daughter and our parents. The entourage dictated some of the restaurant choices, but still allowed some flexibility.

RED ROCK STATION: Went for Saturday brunch with an even larger family contingent. Pretty standard buffet food. Obviously, this isn't the Wynn. On the other hand, at $7 per person, quite a good value for some decent buffet food. Covered all of the basics with eggs, breakfast meats, cold fishes, etc.

FIREFLY: A return visit for us. As we were headed to a show, this seemed to be a good choice for a faster paced meal. Ordered around a dozen tapas plates most of which were quite good. Salads with feta & dried cherries were quite tasty and a fairly good value. Blood orange mojitos were also extremely good and if we didn't have other plans for the evening, we probably would have enjoyed several more. Only disappointments were Firefly fish sticks which were somewhat tough and very fishy and the crispy duck rolls which had a rather dry filling. The boquerones and croquetas were both very enjoyable.

PANANG: A little off the beaten path beyond "Chinatown". This was also a return visit. Quite an extensive menu This helps to satisfy our hankering for a return visit to Singapore. The satay is very well seasoned with a properly spiced peanut sauce. Some of the better satay we've had, rivaling the better options in Singapore. Entrees were OK, our noodle dish was a little underspiced despite being labelled as spicy. After supplementing it with the remnants of the chili sauce from someone's Hainanese chicken, it was more to our liking. One set of parents had a very good bbq pork and noodle dish. Mrs. jbh11 prohibited me from ordering the beef rendang (which had been very enjoyable in the past), saying it was unfair to go to a Malaysian restaurant and only ordering satay and rendang.

LE CIRQUE: For the anniversary dinner, we left the little one in the hands of her grandparents (who managed to take her to her first casino). We had been casting around for where we wanted to go. Over the last half a dozen visits to the Wynn, we have had intentions of going to Alex or Bartoletta, but somehow never managed to get truly excited, although we know we should based on everything we've heard and read. Uhockey's review of Le Cirque sealed the deal for us, though. Overall, an exquisite meal and a decent value for prix fixe under $100. Amuse was a slice of sausage over a polenta cake with a side of tapenade spiked with plum. The fruitiness in the tapenade added an interesting dimension and one that I want to play with at home now. My wife had sweetbreads slightly altered with a corn dressing in lieu of mushrooms which she dislikes. They were prepared perfectly and had a nice blend of sweet from licorice and prune and savory. My foie gras saute with peach and blackberries was outstanding. Nicely prepared foie, one of the better foie dishes I've ever had. Entrees were phenomenal. My wife opted for the beef tenderloin with foie and sweet onion. She proclaimed it the best steak she has ever had. Based on the tastes she shared with me, I would agree. My duck, with hazelnuts, figs, apricot and blackcurrant sauce was equalling outstanding. It was accompanied by a small ramekin of duck confit with a sweet potato topping. The confit was excellent, rivaling the confit at Bouchon. Main duck was cooked perfectly with a nice crispy skin slice on top of each piece. One of the most delightful dishes of duck I've ever had. Deserts were also quite good, my wife had a chocolate hazelnut bombe, with the chocolate shell melted by a tableside pouring of hot chocolate over it. My strawberry soup with coconut ice cream was good, but not a knockout. Our final delivery of the little red box with truffles is waiting for us to consume. Petit fours were good, but not overly memorable. Service was efficient, if a tad casual. Sommelier was pleasant, knowledgeable and engaging in helping us hone in on the nuances between several options. As a little test, I had noted on the on-line reservation form that we were celebrating our anniversary. No mention of this in any fashion during our dinner.

TABLEAU: Our absolute favorite breakfast in Las Vegas, which we find vastly superior to Bouchon. Setting is gorgeous, whether in the dining room or on the deck overlooking pools. The coffee is the best restaurant coffee I've ever had and has been consistently good over the at least 8 - 10 breakfasts we've had there. Their outstanding service means the cup is never empty and I usually leave having consumed way more coffee than I normally would! My usual choice is the scrambled eggs, braised kobe short ribs and potatoes. It's incredibly flavorful, somewhat decadent and one of the things I start salivating over shortly after I buy my plane tickets to go out there. While my wife usually opts for their sublime pancakes, she went with the french toast filled with spiced apples and currants. Another excellent choice. Toast was had an interesting slightly toasted exterior. I can't say enough good things about breakfast here.

DANIEL BOULUD: Again, a repeat visit for us. We took the "chowier" set of parents here before a show. When we made reservations (completely unnecessary for an early dinner), we did the anniversary test again when asked if we were celebrating anything special. Based on the excellent service we've had in the past, my wife and I were speculating about how it would be recognized. We both lost, as nothing was said again. We advised our server that we needed to leave on 90 minutes since we had show reservations. Certainly shouldn't be a problem. All others opted for prix fixe menu (one of the best values in the city) and had Caesar Salads and pate. The pate is one of my favorites and I begged a few pieces, as I opted for the vitello tonnato with ahi tuni and fried sweetbreads. The appetizer was OK, sweetbreads were overcooked and tough and not a whole lot of flavor with the sauce. Regretted not getting the pate. Entree's were skate, steak frites and duck confit. (Couldn't go a whole day without duck!). The steaks were given to the wrong diners, as my father in law and wife discovered when her ordered medium rare seemed a little overcooked and his medium seemed a little undercooked. Along the way, the original server had been redeployed and this waiter apparently didn't have the notes. The duck confit, on bone, was perfectly tender and was accompanied by a little ball of spiced confit in a light wrapper. The spiced confit was very good. Desert orders were taken. We were getting perilously close to our needed departure time. Service had been slow with unusually long gaps between items, in a dining room that was maybe half full by 7 pm on a Monday. We advised our waiter that we were short on time. Finally, at 3 minutes to seven, we decided to leave without desert. The rest of the family left and I went to speak with a manager. She disappeared for an inordinately long period of time, especially given my complaint that we were all running short on time and my dining party had already left. An acceptable adjustment was made to our bill, but the lapse in service overall ruined what should have been an enjoyable dinner. My wife and I are quietly picky about service -- in that we truly appreciate good service in places like French Laundry and Gordon Ramsay, but don't outwardly make a fuss when there is a lapse, even when it is egregious (just file away for future reference). Overall, though, this certainly wasn't Michelin one star caliber service.

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  1. Glad I'm giving Le Cirque some cred 'round here. :-)

    I'm all about the French Toast next time 'round at Tableau