Rosemary's, Lotus of Siam - Off-Strip Adventures!
I just got back from a few days in Vegas to celebrate my wife's birthday, she got Bette Midler tickets through a connnection and we're always up for a getaway.
We had made reservations at Rosemary's, which is now one of our favorites. We used to love Commander's Palace, and I think that Rosemary's is a great contender to replace it in our hearts.
We were hungry when we got in, so wound up at Mesa Grill. I liked it overall, especially the sauces. My wife had the chicken tacos, and I had the lunch prix fixe which got us a duck pancake (tasty, good sauce), a buffalo burger (delicious burger, good cheese, tasty fries, unripe tomato) and dessert, which they said was supposed to be some sort of coconut profiterole but turned out to be pretty bad. The ice cream in the profiteroles was really good, but the dough tasted like it was from a freezer section of a grocery store. My wife loved the peanut sauce that came with her tacos though the portion was pretty skimpy. Not bad though.
Dinner at Rosemary's was amazing - we had high hopes and they were totally fulfilled. The service there is top notch, super attentive and friendly. We both had the $55 price fix, and we had bought some restaurant.com gift certificates to help ease the price a bit. My wife had the corn soup, pork chop with hoppin' john, and their carrot cake dessert with blueberry sorbet. I tasted her dishes and loved them, though the hoppin' john was just so-so. The pork chop was really tasty, and that dessert was delicious, a different version of a carrot cake, lighter and with a solid layer of cream cheese filling. The blueberry sorbet went really well with it too.
I had the BBQ shrimp with blue cheese slaw, which I liked though I'm not a big fan of shrimp - they were possibly the weak part of the dish, though the BBQ sauce and the tangy slaw was really tasty. I then had the bone-in ribeye served with their own steak sauce, fried onions and grits. This dish was a realy winner, a very generous steak with a delicious sauce, spicy fried onion strings and creamy grits. Everything married nicely on the plate. My dessert was the coconut bread pudding - our waiter told us they used their white chocolate rolls to make the pudding. It was entirely the best bread pudding I've ever had, with a unique texture and flavor, topped with chocolate sauce and coconut gelato. It was like injecting the world's best Almond Joy bar into a vein.
When we were talking with the staff at Rosemary's, we told them we liked to dine off strip, and they told us they recommended Lotus of Siam, which we were definitely looking to do. They told us at Rosemary's they thought LoS was the best restaurant in town, which is saying something! They even wrote down some of their favorite dishes there.
We just had coffee the next day, and got to LoS around noon. We were told a couple of times to skip the buffet, and we did. Though it's just a bit skechy compared to some of the opulent Strip restaurants, I now see why LoS gets all the write-up and compliments. It's just that good! We ordered several different dishes including the beef jerky and Nam Krao Tod appetizers, a crispy catfish salad, and a couple of other things. We especially loved the spicy, vibrant flavors of the crispy rice and catfish salad. We got them at a spice level of 7, which was good and spicy, but not too uncomfortable. Dessert was the coconut ice cream and sticky rice. At first I didn't get it, but once I combined the ice cream (actually a sorbet) and rice, I realized it was designed to be eaten together. It was enthralling! We both thoroughly enjoyed the LoS experience and can't wait to go back with more people and try more stuff. I want to get a whole fried catfish next time.
That lunch lasted us through the show, but afterwards we were both hungry, and not liking our on-strip options. We decided to drive again and wound up at Sonic on Sahara. I had never had Sonic before, and I liked it a lot. Much better than usual fast food. The root beer float, tater tots and burger on toast were nearly as good, I thought, as our Mesa Grill lunch, and about 1/5 the price.
The next morning we decided to check out First Food & Drink for breakfast. We had a bit of difficulty finding it since it's kind of both in the Palazzo and in the Venetian, but we had a very good breakfast there. We ordered a bag of donuts, which were fresh cinnamon sugar mini donuts, about 12 of them, served warm in a mini fryer basket, which was fun. My wife had a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, which was served on a poppy seed roll with tater tots. I had their brisket hash, which was tasty, with big chunks of lean brisket, roasted potatoes, peppers and onions. I think it lived up to its menu, which is not easy for a newer place. I'll definitely come back to First, at least to try out their pretzels.
All in all a very nice stay in Vegas - I'm coming back soon to get more Lotus!
The coconut milk sorbet and sticky rice dessert does go very well when eaten together, but it goes to a whole nother level when they have the mangoes to go with it. I've eaten there dozens of times, and am partisan, but it is the best dessert I've ever had, and the times that they didn't have ripened mangoes just weren't complete.