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Las Vegas Restaurant Extravaganza Trip REVIEWS!!

Ok everyone I'm back from my Las Vegas Restaurant Extravaganza trip and will post the reviews as I post them on my blog http://thesoloreviewer.blogspot.com/ which provides pics of the the restaurants as well as other reviews from the trip. I will post them in the order in which I dined. Now this wasn't my original line up but after some crazy nights and customer service issues these are the restaurants I ended up at!

DAY 1: Lunch at Mesa Grill and dinner at Le Cirque!
DAY 2: Breakfast at Bouchon Bistron, Dinner at Tableau
DAY 3: Breakfast at Tableau, Lunch at Enoteca San Marco, Dinner at Alize (MY FAVORITE
)DAY 4: Breakfast at Bouchon Bistro, Lunch at Border Grill, Dinner at B&B
DAY 5: Breakfast at Bouchon Bistro, Lunch at the Country Club, Dinner at Bouchon

Side adventures to Bouchon Bakery and Jean Jean Phillippe!

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    Ok so anyone who read my last review of Bobby Flays Mesa Grill knows how much I loved and raved about it and that one lunch made my respect for Mr. Flay go up a lot. Now my feelings have changed. With there recent Michelin Star lose, I see no future regain of that star unless things greatly approve.

    I was seated within 5 minutes of arrival for my lunch in which they seemed to have a pretty packed house. Now when I go to a restaurant I expect to have my bread basket within 5-10 minutes once seated. I was seated for about 10 minutes when I placed my order and 5 minutes later they brought the bread. But enough about that. Of course the oh soooooooooooo good corn bread muffin was in there which is still to this day my favorite corn bread I've had and being southern I get around :)! It was tempting for me to order my favorite dish, Tiger Shrimp Tamale, but I wanted to try something new. I went with the Yucatan Chicken Tacos with grilled Onions and Peanut-Smoked Chile Barbeque sauce. Once they arrived I was kinda put off that you basically have to make the tacos yourself. Now I'm far from lazy but when I go somewhere to eat I don't want to have to put together my own food because well, I'm there to relax and put my trust in the Chefs. But aside from that the flavors were very bold and went together perfect. The Peanut-Smoked Chile Barbeque sauce had a very nice smokey taste with a good kick which is EXACTLY the kinda flavor I like. The chicken was very fatty which I wouldn't expect from a EX Michelin star restaurant but I guess thats where the EX comes into play. Overall the dish was good but I have had MUCH better from my local mexican restaurant down the street which is pretty sad.

    Overall this lunch was nothing like my first. The service was very decent besides the bread arrival. While I was left excited and couldn't wait to get back the first time, this time around I find myself only going back if someone else was paying.

    3 Replies
    1. re: cgervais45

      Mesa Grill is *highly* overrated.

      You may have had a nice experience the first time you were there, and really - good for you, but on the whole they are extremely inconsistent and leaning toward the mediocre/lousy end of the spectrum.

      This, along with Delmonico, is another restaurant where I just can't fathom how they get such good reviews a lot of times. I have my theories on the general public and how they put "celebrity" chefs on a pedestal no matter what the food/service is like but I see raving reviews here as well; where people supposedly know what they're talking about.

      1. re: azbirdiemaker

        Mesa has become my "go-to" spot for when I need to entertain non-foodie type people (i.e. my family). In those instances, I tend to overlook their deficiencies. I'm not sure I'd go as far as "mediocre/lousy" but otherwise I'd agree with you. I've had some real nice, creative dishes there and then I've had dishes that were anything but.

        1. re: climberdoc

          Yeah I would agree. I love there Tamale and the Chicken Hash and are still some of my most memorable dishes I've had but I think they need to step it up. While it has that "I got to eat at Bobby Flays Restaurant" factor they need to keep a good reputation so people keep coming back.

    2. LE CIRQUE REVIEW! http://thesoloreviewer.blogspot.com/

      Le Cirque is just a overall perfect place to dine. As soon as you walk in you know your in for a great experience. It has a warm, dark, and playful room and I was seated at a perfect little table with a great view of the Bellagio Fountain Show as I requested! As soon as I sat down the manager came and introduced himself. Everyone had smiles on there faces and was ready to jump for the smallest request.

      As soon as I sat down the bread basket arrived. Bread was nice and warm. It featured many different types such as raisin, wheat, pretzel and white. While most places give 2-3 different types this basket must have had 5 different types all in which were very good! I was then presented with a amuse! It was a Oyster topped with Caviar! This was by far the best Oyster I've had. It was as fresh as they come and the Caviar added a nice smooth salty flavor that was just amazing!

      First Course: was there famous Lobster Salad. The lobster was dressed with Black Truffle Dressing topped with some greens all wrapped up in a dill pickle. The lobster tasted very fresh and paired well with the dressing and the dill pickle just added the perfect amount of saltiness to it. Overall a great start and a tasteful dish!

      Next up was the Foie Gras. Aw the sinful taste of Foie Gras. Some states have already banned it but Las Vegas will most likely always be the place to find Foie Gras and in MANY forms. Le Cirque's version was just awesome in every way. It reminded me much of the dish I had at Craftsteak. Sauteed Foie Gras with White Peach, Blackberries and Micro Greens. While Foie Gras itself is very rich no matter how the Chef prepares it, the White Peach and and Blackberries added a very nice lightness to the dish which I like when it comes to Foie Gras. Overall one of the best Foie Gras I've had.

      Course #3! OK so I'm a full blooded Risotto LOVER! Aw my favorite dish of the meal. It had LOTS of lobster which was cooked to perfection along with very fresh tasting peas. While risotto can be a hit or miss for me this risotto was the best I've had besides the one at Gordan Ramsay's at the London in NY. Everything was perfect. It was rich of course but not to rich which is why risotto is a hit or miss for me because most make the dish WAY to rich and cheesy. It was just perfect!

      Course #4: The Halibut. This was my first time having this fish and after trying it, it will not be my last. It was cooked to perfection! It featured Halibut, Pesto Emulsion, Calamari Popsicle, Borlotti Beans & Tomato. It a had beautiful green color, the Pesto Emulsion, and this was definitely the best fish dish I've ever had. The Halibut melted in your mouth and all the flavors paired perfect with each other. This restaurant knows how to cook seafood and I think its there Strong point!

      Course #5: The restaurant is known for there Rabbit. So of course I had to order there signature entree and I've never had Rabbit before so I figured what the hey! The dish is called "Blanquette" de Lapin in which they call Rabbit Symphony: Ravioli, Roasted Loin, Braised Leg with Crispy Spaƫtzles, Riesling Sauce! The Rabbit itself was good but a little dry, it reminded me a lot of pork but with the texture of chicken, the Ravioli was good but also felt it to be a little dry as well. No flavors really popped and it was my least favorite dish but still a good dish and it was something new to me which is why I ordered it.

      Palate Cleanser: To be honest I lost my notes somewhere during the trip so I'm not sure what the heck it was but all I know it was VERY VERY good, refreshing and light which was perfect before desert! It featured Coconut Sorbet with some kind of peach infusion.

      DESERT: Chocolate Souffle! Perfect in every way. Loved it. It was rich and I was only able to eat three bites but it was good! First bite I felt like I was floating on a chocolate cloud with ice cream just slowing pouring over me!!!!
      And the end of the meal they present you with fabulous plate of petite fours, which I had them wrap to go because I was so full, and a nice little Le Cirque box which had some delectable chocolates in them and was a nice little souvenir!

      Overall this was a AWESOME meal and loved every moment of it. The service doesn't get any better and was made to feel very comfortable as a solo diner. The manager came by throughout the meal to make sure everything was to my liking! This place doesn't get enough credit and is in the same price range as many of the "Celebrity Chefs" restaurants which is why I think many people choose to dine at other restaurants just to say they dined there. Every guest was made to feel important and they have a very talented Chef in there kitchen and a staff who cares about each and ever customer. This is a place I think people defently should consider when making there dining reservations as you will be treated like Kings and Queens for the night.

      10 Replies
      1. re: cgervais45

        After your review and uhockey's, I really need to get to Le Cirque. Did you do a tasting menu or order separate dishes?

        1. re: climberdoc

          Tasting Menu!!!! But come HUNGRY because I was SOOOOOOOO full!

        2. re: cgervais45

          What is a calamari popsicle?

          I'm a little surprised by the plaudits for Le Cirque in LV. I''ve never been a fan of the NYC original.

          1. re: Dave Feldman

            While I will say its worthy of a Michelin Star, One is all its worth. While the food was good, service top notch, a restaurant needs to make resonable sized portions when doing a tasting menu which was the ONLY negative I found but for my its a BIG negative. I hate leaving a restaurant barely able to walk out.

            1. re: cgervais45

              You didn't answer my first question. What in the heck is a calamari popsicle?

              1. re: cgervais45

                As you've never been to a 2-star restaurant or 3, how can you make such a statement?

                IMO, their portions were no larger than Alex's and aside from the 2 desserts (obviously not given to everyone) and the service was on par, the only difference was the opulence of the setting and the rarity of the ingredients. Similarly, I thought Le Cirque certainly topped the 2-star Spago in Bevereley Hills.

                1. re: uhockey

                  Dave Feldman: Never recall anything shaped like a popsicle but do recall calamari. Fancy words they use I guess.

                  uhockey: I'm simply stating that when I went to Alize I found the portions to be right on as compared to Le Cirques and Tableau who are just to large for a tasting menu. If I do recall you didn't do the tasting menu at Alex rather they just gave you a extra dish because you were a VIP. I've heard Alex's pre-fix, as most restaurants are, the portions are much larger than tasting menu portions. Yes I have been to Jean George (3 stars) and GR at the London (2 Stars) and know what a portion should be like in a tasting menu. While I'm the last to complain about MORE food, I like more tastings of smaller portions. I like what I like. As stated the service was Top Class. Never been to Spago but hopefully I will after my next NY trip. Per Se here I come BABYYYYYYYY! Lol I'm getting to excited for something that so long aways.

              2. re: Dave Feldman

                Le Cirque LV is much better than Le Cirque NYC (I live in NYC). Food is much better and no attitude problems from the staff in LV. After I read uhockey's review, I plan to return to Le Cirque LV (as well as Alex).

            2. BOUCHON BISTRO REVIEWS http://thesoloreviewer.blogspot.com/

              So I was staying at the Venetian this trip and what does Venetian have....Bouchon Bistro. Now everyone in the restaurant business knows about the Last Meal question. Now Bouchon Bistro may not be my last meal it would be the perfect start for my last day on earth. To me Thomas Keller is one of the culinary gods which is the reason I ate breakfast three times, Dinner once, and snacked at Bouchon Bakery twice. Everyone has that one place where they just feel relaxed and comfortable and they feel like no matter what time it is or whats going on in there life they can feel free at that moment in time. For me its here at Bouchon Bistro. I don't know if its dining outside on there peaceful patio hearing the sounds of the fountain or there impeccable service I receive every time I dine or the food that may not have that WOW factor but makes comfort food taste AMAZING! Or maybe its there coffee that a doctor could classify as crack because its so good. Whatever it is it will keep me coming back and leaving with a smile!

              BREAKFAST #1: I ordered the Boudin Blanc which is white sausage with scrambled eggs and there Almond Brioche. To be honest I don't know the difference between white sausage and regular sausage but all I know is the taste difference. It was so juicy and melt in you mouth good that cut like butter. I'm not a big sausage lover but once I put a piece of that big, juicy, and so good sausage in my mouth (Get your mine out of the gutter) it was like love at first site with my mouth and that sausage! Of course the eggs were cooked to perfection!!! The Almond Brioche was sweet and savory and loved every bite of it!!!

              BREAKFAST #2: I ordered the Oeuf Au Gratin which is Baked Eggs, Mornay Sauce, Bacon Lardons, tomato confit, petit champignon, and pomme salpicon. In short, this is Thomas Kellers version of Eggs Benedict. The Mornay Sauce is much like Bearnaise Sauce which to me overpowered the dish WAY to much. It was a OK dish, my least favorite of my breakfast choices here, the Mornay Sauce just killed the other ingredients in the dish making it the only ingredient to really stand out.

              BREAKFAST #3: Aw this was my favorite! The Sourdough Waffles! It consists of 4 perfect little Sourdough Waffles topped with Fresh Bananas, Toasted Walnuts with Maple Syrup and Tahitian Vanilla Bean Butter on the side. Wow how can something so simple be so good. There Vanilla Bean Butter adds a nice touch from the ordinary butter which I think makes it stand a lone from the rest of the Waffles out there. There maple syrup is oh so good and the toasted walnuts add a nice earthy taste to it along with the bananas. I have a hard time deciding between the French Toast or the Waffles for my favorite dish!

              Dinner (Snack): Decided to have a small snack here before catching a flight back to Atlanta, GA and ended ordering a couple glasses of wine, to help with the long flight home :), and the Beignets de Brandade de Morue which is Cod Brandade with Tomato Confit and fried Sage. To me it tasted like a Rolls Royce version of Hush Puppies. Being that it was fried I found it to be a very light dish which I don't find to often with deep fried foods. The Tomatoes and Sage, EAT THE SAGE, goes perfect with the cod. For some reason people put the sage off to the side but they don't put it on the dish for nothing. Overall a good dish!

              1. Dinner at Tableau http://thesoloreviewer.blogspot.com/

                I dined at Tableau twice during my recent trip to Las Vegas, once for breakfast and once for dinner, and to be honest I don't know why I decided to go here for dinner but I was glad I did. Tableau doesn't often get talked about past breakfast which is why I was intrigued to dine here for dinner. Upon arrival I was seated in there main dining room which is a very small and intimate dining room. The windows were wide open and the nice nightly breeze was coming in. Once seated the bread came. This was much different from the ordinary bread basket. It featured a nice dinner roll in a small little pot. Its your ordinary dinner roll but reminded much of the ones we use to have at dinner growing up!

                I went with the tasting menu but had to stop half way because just like Le Cirque the portions are way to big which would be the only downfall in this restaurant even though some may like the large portions I'm a little guy and can only hold so much before I have to throw in the flag. The amuse was fried Cod, much like Bouchon Bistros Beignets de Brandade de Morue, over a bed of balsamic seasoned spinach. I found it to be much better than Bouchons version. It was full of Cod which was the ingredient that stood out the most because had a nice light texture that I found to be a nice little starter and the balsamic added a nice rich dark complex of sweetness to it!

                The first dish was the dish everyone was talking about. The Dungeness Crab Ravioli which featured a lemon emulsion flavor. WOW this dish was FULL of fresh and perfectly cooked Crab with a Delicious burst of lemon flavor. I loved the dish and I can see why everyone talks about it.

                Next up was the Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with glazed black mission figs, upland cress salad and red currant gastric. Now the foie gras was on top of a piece of toast that at first I found to be unnecessary but I put a little foie gras and fig on top just to try it out and It was perfect! I love figs and these were sublime. It doesn't get any better than Hudson Valley foie gras either! The red currant added a nice sweet jelly type taste to the figs. Overall a great dish with flavors that paired very well with each other.

                Next was the Grilled Free Range Duck Breast with sweet potato-pecan hash, stewed stone fruits, and wild flower honey just. This was my first time having duck. It was cooked medium and had a good texture without being to gamy. I LOVE sweet potato's and found the hash to be absolutely delish! The stone fruits and honey just added just amount of sweetness to the duck and the flavors all popped out and you could taste each and everyone of them in every bite! But as you can tell this is no tasting menu sized portion which left me to stop here. The portions are large for a tasting menu.

                Of course I couldn't leave without desert. I was presented with a desert trio. A blueberry shortbread sandwich that was to die for. So light and creamy!! My mouth melts when I think about it. A strawberry milkshake. Tasted like one of my protein shakes I drink which I do not like. Last but not least peach cobbler that was slightly warm with the ice cream slowly melting on top and tasted FABULOUS!

                Overall this was a great meal. I was seated next to a group of rich older foodies that I overheard talking how this is one of there favorite restaurants! I would agree. If they made there tasting menu portions much smaller I think this place could get a Michelin Star in the future because the Chef is very talented and the service was top class! They give the ladies a little stool for there purse which I'm sure all the ladies out there would appreciate. The tasting menu features some of the best ingredients and is a bargain compared to some other places at the Wynn. This is a place I would return to in a heartbeat!

                1. BREAKFAST AT TABLEAU! http://thesoloreviewer.blogspot.com/

                  Decided to take a break from my favorite, Bouchon Bistro, for breakfast and went to Tableau after hearing such nice reviews about there breakfast. I was seated on the patio on a nice fall morning. Went with the Mango Ricotta Pancakes with Honey Lime Butter. They were very moist and fluffy and tasted fabulous with the mango. I didn't taste to much of the lime in the butter which I was kinda looking forward to but they were still good. I also ordered a side of there croissants which were warm and flaky and the jelly they give you is Oh So Good! There coffee is good, especially the little shot of creamer they give you, but not as good as Bouchons! I will definitely be back for breakfast and dinner as I've had two great meals here!

                  1. LUNCH AT Enoteca San Marco http://thesoloreviewer.blogspot.com/

                    This was my first of two Mario Batali's restaurants I went to. Went for lunch and sat at the bar. I went with the Bavette Cacio e Pepe with black pepper and pecorino. It was simple yet so good. Out of all the pasta dishes I had of Mr. Batali, this was by far my favorite. The pasta was slightly and I mean slightly undercooked but I still loved the dish. Simple yet nice and well balanced flavors! Service was good. I asked for a good pasta recommendation from my server and he was spot on. Great place for a people watching lunch and will definitely be back!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cgervais45

                      I enjoyed my pizza quite a bit at Enoteca San Marco. Good crisp crust with nice charred spots on the bottom and very tasty prosciutto. I also had a nice Caprese salad.

                      I thought about ordering a pasta dish (particularly one with the house made sausage), but I was disappointed that none of the pastas are house made. I'm curious to return some time and taste some of the home made sausage.

                    2. REVIEW OF ALIZE! MY FAVORITE! http://thesoloreviewer.blogspot.com/

                      Out of all the restaurants I have dined at in Las Vegas, or anywhere for that matter, nothing comes close to the dinner I had at Alize! Located at the Top of the Palms Casino, it brings a classy restaurant to a extremely trendy casino. As soon as I stepped into the private elevator to when I left, the experience was nothing but top class and a meal I will remember for a long time. I e-mailed the restaurant prior to making my reservation to ask if I could have a few items incorporated into the tasting menu and let the Chef choose the rest. They replied the next day and were more than happy to make my requests! I was seated in at a decent table but saw a little table in the corner that look much more comfortable and they were more than happy to move me there! The view is breathtaking! No bad seats in the house! If any couple is looking for a romantic dinner or a guy to pop the question this is the place to do so. Dark and spacious room with a sort of classic look to with large windows surrounding the entire room so every single person has a view of the Strip!

                      Once I was seated my server Ricardo Hernandez, PLEASE request this server as he gave me the best service throughout the night and the best I have ever received from a restaurant, presented me with my first dish, which was a request, Jumbo Lump Crab with Potato Gnocchi, Smoked Paprika, Mushrooms and Lemon Chive Butter Sauce presented perfectly on a bed of rocks still in the crab shell! OMG words can't even describe how good this dish was. A gift from God is what it was. So melt in your mouth good! Everything just blended so well together and had a silky, rich and smooth taste on the palate! Just try it and you will see what I mean!!

                      Next request was the Phyllo Wrapped Anjou Pear with Roquefort Cheese, Spicy Pecans and Pomegranate Vinaigrette. The pear had a nice crispy outside and a sweet taste inside! Pecans added a little spice and the cheese adding a richness to the dish that I loved! Overall a great dish!

                      I had requested there duck dish but after overlooking there tasting menu of the night I saw it featured there signature Dover Sole dish and I couldn't resist! It consists of Important Dover Sole Sauteed Veronique with Winter Vegetables and Truffle Potato Puree! WOW! Much like the texture of Halibut, this unique and delicate white fish has a mild but yet sweet taste and was a honor to consume such a well respected fish in the culinary world that was prepared just perfectly. The potato puree was the best I've had and the vegetables fresh and cooked perfect as well! Its worth every penny!

                      Last and final dish before desert was the Rib Eye with Parmesan and Sweet Potato Gratin, Honey Glazed Turnips, Nebrodini Bianco Mushrooms and Horseradish Beef Jus. Steak was cooked perfectly with the juice still flowing out. The Parmesan and Sweet Potato Gratin was sweet and rich and I loved every bite of it. Simple, beautiful, and tasteful dish!

                      The palate cleanser was a refreshing peach sorbet that was the best sorbet I've had and cleansed my palate perfectly.

                      Last and not least the desert trio!!! First was the Carrot Cake with Ginger Brulee which was my favorite! Secound was the Hazelnut Marquis and Chocolate Custard! Third was the Pineapple Fritter with Macadamia Caramel Ice Cream. All were of Oh So Good and rich but portion sizes were perfect making it able for me to eat all three!

                      I asked the Wine Sommelier, who was a nice fellow named Alain Visinoni , to do a wine pairing throughout my meal and he was spot on letting me try some very great and rare wines that I am now in search of for my own collection! At the end of the meal the Chef came out and introduced himself and I told him congrats on keeping the Michelin Star for 2009 and thanked him for the best meal of my life and he graciously said thank you and invited to dine at Andres downtown before they closed but unfortunately will not make it back to do so but I can't wait to see the adventure that awaits me when I try the one at The Monte Carlo in the feature. Everything about my meal here was perfect. Ricardo was AWSOME, Alain was AWSOME, Food was AWSOME, and the view is AWSOME. The portions were sized perfectly unlike the other restaurants I dined at and was able to enjoy the meal more this way. I was made to feel like the only guest in the room! At the end they present me with a plate of Petite Fours and a mini menu featuring the custom tasting menu along with the wine pairings I had and I left feeling like a King!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: cgervais45

                        Thanks for the great review of Alize. That restaurant is not often discussed on C'hound but I susperct that may change based on your rave. BTW, do you recall the price of this feast?

                        1. re: John Lowrey

                          $105.00 for 5 course or $125.00 for 7 course which includes Foie Gras and a cheese course. Wine pairing was only $55.00 which I found to be a bargain!

                        2. re: cgervais45

                          It was very nice to see a review of Alize. I had a wonderful meal there a few years ago. Sometimes I get so caught up in wanting to try all the new, hot reataurants(or even just those I haven't been to yet) in Vegas I forget about some of the best one's in town. Thanks for reminding me. I am going Alize back on my itinerary for my next trip.

                          1. re: foodgimp

                            Thats the very reason I wanted to dine there. I saw it gets very little attention on this board but every review I read of the place seemed like everyone enjoyed it. Out of all the restaurants I dined at in Las Vegas it was the best!

                        3. LUNCH AT BORDER GRILL http://thesoloreviewer.blogspot.com/

                          While I don't know who the "Too Hot Tamales" are, I do love Mexican food. I came for a early lunch hoping to snag a nice patio seat but quickly realized IBM and the Rodeo was in town and the restaurant was packed. I was forced to sit at the bar which doesn't bother me to much. I ordered one of there signature margaritas and the guacamole. Now as for the margarita, it sucked. Tasted like sugar water and defiantly not worth the hefty price tag they put on those "Signature" margaritas. One thing I hate the most is when bars feel the cup with ice to the very top so you get little drink. But anyways, onto the guacamole. Very fresh tasting and tasted like your normal guacamole. Nothing special nothing bad but a overall good dish!

                          I went with there Border Classics dish which consists of two green corn tamales, two plantain empanadas, and two chicken panuchos. The green corn tamales weren't bad but not good. Where do they get the green from? It was basically cream corn inside and very little of it. The two plantains were good. Filled with smashed black beans and poblano peppers with cotija cheese on top. Had a nice kick to it which I like. Not to much cheese which a lot of mexican restaurants seem to do. Next were the chicken panuchos which were my favorite. Loaded with citrus roasted chicken, guacamole, and pickled onions all on top of a black bean stuffed tortillas. Now I was a little confused because the tortillas were just plain fried tortillas. Where the heck are the black beans? Maybe a fairy came a long and took my green and my black beans. Hmmm. But they were still good. The chicken cooked perfect with a nice citrus tasted that was really good and not over powering.

                          Service was as good as you can get at a bar. Overall this place is nothing special and I think food network needs to keep some of there Chefs on TV and not in the kitchen.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: cgervais45

                            Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (the Two Hot Tamales) were well-respected chefs and restaurant owners in Los Angeles long before the Food Network even existed. I don't even think their show has been on for quite a long time, but when it was, it was pretty good because you could actually learn something, as opposed to much of the "personality"-driven drivel that the Food Network fills its hours with these days.

                            1. re: Debbie W

                              While I LOVE mexican food I just found nothing out of the ordinary from my mexican restaurant down the street. I heard the one in Santa Monica is pretty decent though. I just like to see Chefs put a lot of care in there restaurants. While I know its "All about the money" these days, I would care more about having a good reputation.

                              1. re: cgervais45

                                The Border Grill in Santa Monica is just ok. It's really, really loud. They also own a restaurant in downtown L.A. called Ciudad which I think is better. We have had several enjoyable pre-theater meals there. It's not great but it's a good option.

                                Anyway, back to Vegas...we have had two lunches at Border Grill at Mandalay Bay, and both were acceptable. Border Grill is somewhat more upscale (and more expensive) than the typical Mexican restaurant down MY street. There are lots of less expensive Mexican places off the Strip, and some are very good. There's at least one recent thread on this board on that subject. Actually since you love Mexican food, perhaps you might consider renting a car in Vegas, if only for a day, in order to check out some of the local Vegas taquerias and Mexican grocery stores.

                                1. re: Debbie W

                                  Yes next trip to Las Vegas, whenever that might be, I want to rent a car to at least to eat at LOS and check out Red Rock and to take in the locals version of Las Vegas!

                                  1. re: Debbie W

                                    I found the Border Grill in Santa Monica to be one of my worst dining experiences in ages. Poor service, 'okay' food, and loud as hell.

                                  2. re: cgervais45

                                    I agree - the Santa Monica version is just okay, but when it first opened about 21 years ago, it was really different from anything Tex-Mex, Mex, or Cal-Mex at the time. It's more a scene than a restaurant, although the two hot tamales didn't/don't intend it to be so.

                                    My husband had a squash ravioli (yawn) dish at Ciudad a few years ago that was so unbelieveably delish that I tried to lick the plate, and I don't even like squash ravioli.

                              2. B&B RISTORANTE Review http://thesoloreviewer.blogspot.com/

                                B&B gave me the best possible customer service one can ask for all the way to the end. I contacted the restaurant about doing a custom pasta tasting because there were certain pastas I wanted to try and my wish was there command and even offered to do a custom wine pairing for it as well, which I didn't take advantage of. While I didn't really like the ambiance of the restaurant, just felt like I was eating in a mall for some reason...idk weird feeling, but I did love the food. The amuse was Bruscetta w/chickpeas & olives which was alright but nothing that impressed me. The first pasta dish was the Sweet Potato "Lune" with Sage and Amaretti. As said before I'm a huge sweet potato fan so of course I loved this dish. It has a strong sweet potato taste filling inside a small flat ravioli and a sweet amaretti cream sauce that almost made the dish to sweet but I still loved it!

                                Pasta dish two was the Lamb's Brain "Francobolli" with Lemon and Sage! Call me Hannibal but this dish is what I was looking forward to the most during my trip. It was surprisingly very good. Tasted slightly like ground beef with a much smoother texture. It was filled in small raviolis covered in a lemon sauce that added a nice lightness to the dish that was simply delish and had me almost licking my plate! I am now a Lamb's Brain lover and which is why I like Mario Batali because he isn't afraid to try something crazy like this.

                                Pasta dish three was the there pasta of the evening which to be honest I don't remember because I didn't like it so I will skip that one and go straight to the last pasta dish which was the Pici with Lamb Ragu. Tasted and looks just like spaghetti but with a little kick which I liked and had little bits of lamb that tasted much like sausage. Great dish!

                                For my deserts I went with the sorbet of the evening which was coconut and a special pumpkin torte that they had. The sorbet was very refreshing after having all those rich dishes and had a light sweetness to it that made it feel like I was eating a nice refreshing piece of fruit over some sugar enriched sorbet. The pumpkin torte on the other had was WAY to rich and had to stop after two bites. Tasted just like pumpkin pie but found it to be much more richer.

                                Overall I loved this place. Even though I didn't like the ambiance, the food made up for it. I love Italian food and I think Mario Batali's strong points are in his pasta's. While I've seen many bad reviews of this place, most of the people who had something negative to say was geared towards his entrees or Secondi's he calls them. When I go to a Italian restaurant I go for one thing and one thing only, PASTA! I experienced no over saltiness at all but did experience pasta that was flavored just beautifully. Service was top class through the whole meal. I can't wait to return and to try his restaurant in NY!

                                1. REVIEW OF JEAN PHILIPPE PATISSERIE http://thesoloreviewer.blogspot.com/

                                  Ignore the whole casino and mall type environment while walking to this place through the Bellagio and when your in front of it close your eyes and pretend your a kid again. Now open them. A candy store is for losers, this is place is a candy store on crack. I felt like I was walking into Willie Wonka's factory when I came to this place and felt so overwhelmed. Chocolate, Cheesecake, Fruit Tarts oh my!! After checking out all the wonderful treats, I went with my favorite desert. Cheesecake! Now this was no ordinary cheesecake. I felt like it could have been in a art gallery because it was so beautiful. After the first bite I was in heaven. Literally the best cheesecake I've ever had and probably the most calories I've had but it was worth every bite. So rich and creamy with the raspberries almost making it seem healthy, HA HA who am I kidding, and every bite just leaves you rushing your fork back to it. Amazing! Willie Wonka has nothing on Jean Philippe!

                                  1. REVIEW OF BOUCHON BAKERY! http://thesoloreviewer.blogspot.com/

                                    A trip to Las Vegas isn't complete without several trips to Bouchon Bakery. I stayed at the Venetian Hotel and Casino for one major reason. Thomas freaking Keller! Whether I was dining at Bouchon Bistro or snacking on treats from Bouchon Bakery, I followed Keller like a fly on a horse's butt! First trip consisted of one of there famous macaroons which I didn't see what the fuss was. I got the Vanilla flavor but maybe they only taste good when they first bring them down because mine was a little on the stale side. While the vanilla cream inside was good the stale outside just ruined it.

                                    Second trip was a little more successful. I ended with the famous Thomas Keller's version of a Nutter Butter and a freshly baked Chocolate Donut with a custard filling. The Nutter Butter was good, much better than the cookie, with a peanut butter cookie on the outside and delicious peanut butter on the inside making it a perfect little treat! Move over Dunkin Donuts because I run on Thomas Keller's Donuts. Perfectly shaped donut with a wonderful custard feeling with chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles on top. MMMMMM Donut was the only thing that kept popping in my head while eating it! If I had a Bouchon Bakery near me I would problem be the size of a whale.

                                    Third trip was my favorite. I got the Carrot Cake Cookie. It tasted so fresh and moist and looks just like that big cookie in the movie "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" that the ants were eating on. Hopefully ya'll know what I'm talking about. Just like the ants I couldn't get enough. It had that nice little spice that carrot cake has with a wonderful cream inside that reminded me of the cream in those oatmeal cookies I got growing up in my school lunches. Just a perfect cookie!

                                    Last and final trip, a tear slowly ran down my eyes while I made my final purchase, was Red Velvet Cupcake with a Citrus Frosting. While cheesecake is my favorite desert, red velvet is my second and this cupcake is the reason why. I got it as soon as they came down from baking, it was perfectly moist with a wonderfully rich cream cheese feeling inside a nice citrus frosting on top with a cute little smiley face made of chocolate chips reminding me it was Halloween. It was very rich but very good!

                                    All I can say is thank you Thomas Keller for being the genius you are and making my trip oh so sweet!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: cgervais45

                                      Wonderful posts! I'll definitely be going to the Bouchon bakery. :)