Aquanox Review at the Venetian
- DrBruin Aug 18, 2009 10:39 AM
So, my wife and I were in Vegas to celebrate our 1 year anniversary.
We were impressed by the number of celebrity chef owned eateries in Las Vegas.
Leaving Mandalay Bay and headed to the Venetian to watch the Blue Man Group, we were torn whether to dine at Mix, Fleur de Lys (because we love Top Chef and ran into Chef Keller at his restaurant and he was uber-friendly), or to get in somewhere at the Venetian. Since we spent too much time in the lazy river, we decided to call a taxi and cab it over to the Venetian.
We looked at all the choices of celeb owned restaurants and because my wife loves fish, we decided on the fish restaurant called Aquaknox.
They were emppppppttttyyyyy.... but it was 7:30pm on a Sunday. So was B and B, Delmonico's, etc.
We were promptly sat down after being given a 10 dollar off per person coupon. We decided on their prefix meal for 60pp.
The decor was nice (except for the silk orchids in the bathrooms... kinda cheap looking if you ask me).
They started you off with some crunchy peppered breadsticks and an ounce or two of a smoked salmon mousse to dip the sticks in. The dip was very smooth and smokey. The breadsticks had a hint of pepper without being overpowering.
The service was attentive.
My wife ordered the salad appetizer. Mixed greens with a champagne vinagrette. She enjoyed it. I ordered the crab cakes with citrus aioli. They were outstanding! While on the small size (about the size of a large scallop), they did serve 2 of them. The outside had a nice crust, and the inside was pretty much just jumbo lump crab meat, without too much binder. It tasted of fresh crab.
Now, onto the entrees. My wife ordered the King Salmon and I ordered the petite filet. Her King Salmon was served medium-medium rare. I had to reassure her this was safe to eat. I tasted it. It was a beautiful piece of salmon.
Now, onto the filet.... which was a major disappointment. While you may say, "why order steak in a fish restaurant?" I would counter that any upscale fish restaurant should know how to cook a steak if they put it on the menu. The 8 ounce filet was poorly butchered and poorly cooked. I asked my waiter for medium rare, and it came out medium to medium well. I pointed this out to him when he came by to ask "how are things" and he said
"would you like me to get the manager or have your steak brought back to have it cooked more?" I thought to myself... what a total phony. He doesn't know cooking temperatures (and, he was obvious full of it... later in the evening, he said he worked at top steakhouses...and, I am thinking maybe it was cleaning dishes or busing tables). To top it off, this was obvious an end piece of filet, and they didn't even remove the SILVER SKIN!!
I didn't want to ruin the flow of dinner so I initially forgave the overcooked steak (since parts of it were still edible) but when I came across this inedible connective tissue, I called over the waiter. They fired up a new piece right away. They apologized but didn't offer anything else. The new steak was cooked medium rare but it was still an end piece. I do not think this was a fine dining piece of steak. This seemed like the quality you would get at a national steak chain (like outback or black angus). The one tasty highlight was the wine reduction the steak was served with.
The sides that the steak was served with also were problematic. The first round, florentine mashed potatoes and halved baby carrots were well done. The second round, the mashed potatoes were still tasty, and but the carrot was pretty much raw.
Now, onto dessert. It took them a while to bring out the desserts,which seemed like they were premade and only should've taken a few minutes. My wife ordered the chocolate mousse, which was a rectangle of chocolate mouse and a large gumball sized scoop of vanilla icecream on it. It was tasty. I ordered the creme brulee with fresh berries. It was a respectable version of it.
Overall, it was a pleasant dining experience. Would I go back there? Well, with all the other upscale choices within walking distance, probably not. The only thing I would go back for is maybe a trip to the bar and ask if I could just order the crab cake apps.
I have had far more success ordering fish at a steak restaurant than the converse. I will say that the Aquanox bar is a terrific place to have a drink and watch the parade going back and forth between the Venetian and Palazzo. Although I have not ordered food there, I am sure that you can.
Sorry you had bad luck with the steak. We had a group dinner there in April and those in our group who had the filet raved about it. Maybe your cuts were just from a bad piece of meat. I didn't get to try the steak, since everyone at our table had fish, which we really enjoyed. I think it was the John Dory with Lobster Succotash - good stuff, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Those who had the large scallops also raved about them - I got to try my wife's and it was quite good. For someone who's never been, I'd definitely recommend this place for seafood. That said, the original reviewer is certainly correct that there are lots of other great choices for high end dining in the area.