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The Mirage: Recent Casual Dining Notes

ChinoWayne Jun 7, 2010 04:09 PM

Rooms could be had this past week for $33 (excluding "resort fees") at the Mirage, but there was no break on food prices.

BLT Burger
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In the corridor leading to the southeast hotel entrance, where the tigers were formerly displayed is a branch of BLT Burger (Bistro Laurent Tourondel Burger) one single rectangular room, with huge photo murals of the desert on the back walls, and an open kitchen in the center of the room, on a raised dais with a huge conical metallic looking "vent" with it's own strategic lighting system. Service was friendly and acceptable.

The menu ( http://www.mirage.com/files/BLT_menu.pdf ) is primarily burgers, with fries or onion rings available as extras, a selection of beers (on draft or in bottles) and elaborate looking milk shakes. The Mrs. and I opted for the BLT burger (all of their beef burgers are advertised as "7 ounces of100% Certified Black Angus beef burgers are a combination of sirloin, short rib, chuck and brisket cut and are served on a soft bun with tomato, red onion, iceburg lettuce, and pickles) which comes with double smoked bacon and BLT sauce. The Mrs. had cheddar cheese added and had her burger hockey puck-icized, and I opted for American cheese, cooked medium.

The burgers were quite tasty, I have had better, but more often, I have hard far worse. The condiments were not overpowering and complimented the burgers. I have no idea what was in the "BLT sauce", as the burger was minimally sauced. We split an order of underwhelming (thin, soft not crunch batter) onion rings, the Mrs. had coffee and I had a couple of pints of beer.

The "shakes" looked to be very thick, but whether they really qualified as shakes or just churned “ice cream drink” will have to be determined during a future visit, we were seated right in front of the milk shake service area and there were no mixers or blenders purring away, just these stainless steel extrusion machines in the back wall, looking like something that would be churning out soft serve ice cream.

To recap, the burgers were above average, but $54 for two burgers, one order of average rings, one coffee and two beers just did not sit right in my gut, but I had to factor in the venue, in a major strip hotel.

Carnegie Deli
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The Carnegie Deli outpost was the same as when we last visited. It is situated directly adjacent to slot machines on two sides, and across the aisle from the California Pizza Kitchen, but you become oblivious to those distractions as soon as you get within sniffing distance of the deli, the air becomes perfumed with the enticing aroma of steamed pastrami. I wonder if Mirage management is aware of what Carnegie Deli is up to, there is nary a whiff of aroma emanating from any other dining venue under their roof, patrons of none of the other restaurants on the property are succumbing any way approaching those receiving the Siren call of the smells from the Carnegie.

After perusing the menu ( http://www.mirage.com/files/carnegie_... ) the Mrs. opted for “Irving’s Joy (the menu is replete with cutesy names for the dishes bordering on the obnoxiousness) which consisted exactly of a scoop of chicken salad and a scoop of tuna salad on a piece of iceberg lettuce with a tomato slice (The whole scoop arrangement reminiscent of something the high school cafeteria lady would be dishing up.) If this represents the joy in Irving’s life, Irving needs to get out more. Nothing remarkable here.

I ordered a chopped liver appetizer plate and a pastrami on rye. The chopped liver came via the famous Carnegie scoop delivery mechanism, plopped on a piece of iceberg lettuce with one slice of yellow onion and about three small slices of tomato, and a slice of rye bread. It was, however, very good chopped liver, very finely ground, dense, moist and flavorful, the accompanying slice of rye bread was cut in half and used as a vehicle to construct a pastrami and chopped liver half sandwich from some of the excess pastrami sandwich. The pastrami sandwich was unadorned except for some of the spicy brown mustard available in a squeeze bottle on the table, the pastrami lightly spiced and smoked, tender and barely moist, with an almost sweet, very satisfying, almost primal taste.

Unlike my past visits to Carnegie Deli (both Las Vegas and Manhattan) I did not opt for the “Woody Allen”, as appealing to my baser instincts that it is, I was really good about not over indulging myself on this trip, and just observed with hidden amusement as a fellow at an adjacent table was shocked when his Woody Allen arrived at his table. I don’t think the poor fellow was able to eat more than one half of a half of the sandwich, and he ended up shaming all self respecting deli mavens by doggy bagging most of his sandwich. (For the uninitiated, a Woody Allen is precisely a whole pastrami sandwich built on top of a corned beef sandwich, but with one set of bread slices missing. I am attaching a photo of a Woody Allen that I courageously devoured in one sitting at the Las Vegas Carnegie Deli a couple of years ago below.

)

As is their custom, we did receive a small dish of half sour and full sour pickles, gratis of the Carnegie. I wish they would have offered a side of coleslaw or potato salad with their sandwiches, though, so it would be a complete meal. I had a Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Tonic with my sandwich, which is de rigueur of any knowledgeable deli habitué. We split a slice of seven layer cake (a yellow cake with chocolate icing), seemed a bit stale, and I regretted not opting for a slice of cheesecake.

The total tab for all of the above and a cup of coffee came to $60, and compared to the BLT Burger experience, a much better value proposition when you consider that a burger can be obtained on almost any street corner, while legendary delis are few and far between in the deli deprived regions other than New York and L.A.

Paradise Café
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The former Mirage “coffee shop” has been replaced by an outpost of B.B. King’s Blues Club, now the only twenty-four hour breakfast venue (other than your hotel room) at the Mirage is the Carnegie Deli. So despite having just risen from our bed of inequity at 2:00 on afternoon, we opted for lunch at Paradise Café instead of breakfast elsewhere. The menu (http://www.mirage.com/files/paradise_... ) is much more limiting than that of the former coffee shop, although I’m certain the food came from the same place.

The Mrs. had a club sandwich accompanied by potato salad, and the ever present coffee (gotta keep the caffeine up in order to last through marathon slot machine sessions). I had the “B.L.A.S.T. Salad”, Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Shrimp and Tomato, which consisted of chopped Romaine with bacon bits, about a boatload of bay shrimp, four avocado slices, a tablespoon of chopped tomato all tossed in Ranch Dressing. The salad was satisfying due to the extreme emptiness in my stomach at the time, but if you have ever eaten bay shrimp, ultimately frustrating, microscopic shrimp shaped morsels that have little taste other than water do not a shrimp salad make.

No water or bread (other than that binding the club sandwich) were offered, the potato salad that came with the sandwich was good though, made with red potatoes, mayo and a touch of mustard. Service was pleasant from a pleasant (likely) college student, ambiance, out doors amidst plenty of greenery adjacent to the resort pool, and all those pale bodies baking in the sun, was also pleasant. At $15 and $14 dollars respectively, the sandwich and salad were a bit pricey, but I guess all that ambiance is supposed to be worth something.

B.B.King’s Blues Club
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Breakfast (Noon-ish) on check-out day was in B.B. King’s Blues Club, where the front bar was manned and ready for action, the two inside bars were gearing up, the bandstand was pristine and the gift shop was open for business. The “club” occupies a single room that was carved out of the former coffee shop space, and is quite comfortable and intimate, likely making for a good place to get a good drink and listen to some music. Our breakfasts, coming from the same former coffee shop kitchen were meh. The Mrs. opted for the “Memphis Skillet” which was some kind of scrambled egg and meat conglomeration that came with a cup of cheese grits that had the taste and consistency of curing concrete.

I opted for a fully loaded, custom omelet, which came with a side of orange dyed cottage potatoes that were tasteless and a diminutive, tough biscuit with some kind of “honey spread” that tasted like a petroleum product. I don’t recall the exact prices, but as expected a poor value proposition.

We also had sandwiches one evening and breakfast one morning from Room Service, breakfast was serviceable, the evening service took almost an hour to reach our room and the sandwiches (a burger and a corned beef, pastrami turkey stack on (unexpectedly grilled, square sandwich loaf rye bread, fer Christ sake) only satisfied the need for bulk in our digestive tracts, but without any sense of real enjoyment. Room service prices, together with the mandatory (not to be confused with tip) service charge reflecting the cost of maintaining a twenty-four hour kitchen, that delivers vertically. Instead of buying ten ounce bottles of ginger ale from Room Service at $4 a pop, I could have saved a few dollars by reaching in to the mini- bar at only $3 a pop. Of course had I planned on doing any drinking, there would have been at least 750ml of booze and a six pack or two of mixers in my luggage, to accompany the hotel room snack food component we always bring. (Two great places to bring your own booze, hotel rooms and Amtrak sleeping compartments.

)

The former Coconutz gelateria that was on the premises was replaced with some kind of self serve frozen yogurt shop, which we ignored. We did come across a Coconutz kiosk at “St. Mark’s Square” in the Venetian shopping arcade (http://www.venetian.com/Pages.aspx?id... ) across the street. The Mrs. had a cup of blue berry sorbet and I had a cup of cappuccino gelato, the sorbet did taste of fresh berries and the gelato of coffee and cream and both were very satisfying, despite the fact that I had to have money wired in from my offshore bank account to cover the $8 cost of four ping pong ball sized scoops of ice cream and sorbet.

There is still plenty of good food to be had in Las Vegas, in the more high end dining venues, and the Mirage buffet “Cravings” and others’ still have good food at good value if you are up to a buffet line, and of course some of the “local” restaurants in Las Vegas have well deserved reputations, you just have to go off the beaten path a bit.

A Word On Accessibility
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The Mirage does offer “Accessible” and “Fully Accessible” rooms (http://www.mirage.com/hotel/accessibl... ) at no additional cost to guests, which is appreciated. All dining venues we visited were wheelchair accessible (sometimes the ramps are a bit hidden), the only accessibility problem I had was when I first attempted to drive the War Wagon Wheelchair through the resort’s front doors. The automatic, “accessible” door, (and only a single door, not a set of double doors, will open) when it cants open, is not at a true 90 degree angle, and if you are driving s large chair, it is very easy to snag on the door. While I almost ripped the door off its hinge after trying to back out after snagging, it did confirm to me that the War Wagon is built like a tank. An alternative route in and out of the hotel for wheelchair users is the southeast entrance that leads to Céasar’s Palace, the double doors, while not automatic, do open there.

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Carnegie Deli
3400 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

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  1. ChinoWayne RE: ChinoWayne Jun 7, 2010 04:15 PM

    Here is the promised photo of a Woody Allen.

     
    1 Reply
    1. re: ChinoWayne
      Servorg RE: ChinoWayne Jun 7, 2010 06:00 PM

      No wonder they call it a Woody Allen. I'd have some "performance angst" when they put that monster down on the table in front of me too... ;-D>

      Thanks for the Mirage update. $33 rooms and $54 burgers. Balance in life is important.

    2. CynD RE: ChinoWayne Jun 7, 2010 07:56 PM

      A friend and I were at the Mirage two weeks ago, and opted to go across the street to the Venetian for our meals. Bouchon for breakfast/brunch each day sounds like it was a better meal for about the same money you spent at the Mirage.

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      Bouchon
      3355 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

      4 Replies
      1. re: CynD
        ChinoWayne RE: CynD Jun 8, 2010 08:10 PM

        As one would surmise from my post above, other than getting my deli fix, the casual eats at the Mirage just don't cut it any more. I did check out the Bouchon brunch menu, and that did not thrill either. The Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian's menu looks kind of interesting (comprehensive) and prices are reasonable, but would that just be dining in a Vegas version of Cheesecake Factory?

        Part of my dilemma is that it is a bit difficult getting past our home base casino with the Mrs. on these trips, but we can alway through another MGM-Mirage property in to our rotation (their Players Club card is good at all venues).

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        Bouchon
        3355 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

        The Cheesecake Factory
        3500 Las Vegas Blvd S Ste M03, Las Vegas, NV 89109

        Grand Lux Cafe
        3355 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

        1. re: ChinoWayne
          atdleft RE: ChinoWayne Jun 11, 2010 08:11 AM

          "The Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian's menu looks kind of interesting (comprehensive) and prices are reasonable, but would that just be dining in a Vegas version of Cheesecake Factory?"

          Yes, because Grand Lux IS a Cheesecake Factory. Not that Cheesecake Factory is inherently bad, but I personally don't bother with it on The Strip when I can get it either by my house in Henderson or when visiting the family in Orange County.

          "but we can alway through another MGM-Mirage property in to our rotation"

          Do you get offers for Mandalay Bay? If so, try putting M-Bay into your rotation. Some of my favorite Strip restaurants are there: Mix and Aureole for fine dining, and Border Grill, Burger Bar, and Red White & Blue for casual fare.

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          Border Grill
          3950 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas, NV 89119

          Cheesecake Factory
          160 S Green Valley Pkwy, Henderson, NV 89012

          Grand Lux Cafe
          3355 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

          1. re: atdleft
            ChinoWayne RE: atdleft Jun 11, 2010 08:38 AM

            Yes, I've been checking out the Mandalay Bay web site, that is also the location of RM Seafood, which I'd like to try after seeing Rick Moonen's performance on "Top Chef Masters".

            In terms of Grand Lux Cafe, I know, the Venetian's web site lists "Cheesecake Factory" as the chef, right up there along side Batali, Keller, Puck, et al. I found that comical.

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            RM Seafood
            3930 Las Vegas Blvd S 134-200A, Las Vegas, NV

            Grand Lux Cafe
            3355 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

            1. re: ChinoWayne
              Servorg RE: ChinoWayne Jun 11, 2010 08:46 AM

              Would that be Chuckie "Cheesecake Factory" Cheezy, the famous chef from the Child's Culinary Institute of Pizza and Chicken Nuggets by any chance? ;-D>

      2. d
        Dave Feldman RE: ChinoWayne Jun 8, 2010 11:16 PM

        It's been too long since you've filed a Las Vegas report, CW --I was excited when I saw a new trip report.

        Do you know if the Carnegie pastrami is flown in from New York?

        8 Replies
        1. re: Dave Feldman
          ChinoWayne RE: Dave Feldman Jun 9, 2010 10:46 AM

          I don't know, Dave, I assume (which has its own dangers) so, which makes me at least feel like it is the real deal. Since I live in what I formerly termed "the dining wilderness of the Inland Empire", and we don't have any great desire to deal with the traffic and parking in L.A., I cherish any opportunity to obtain real deli.

          1. re: Dave Feldman
            shamu613 RE: Dave Feldman Jun 9, 2010 12:51 PM

            The last time I checked, The Las Vegas Valley wasn't a hotbed of cattle raising activity. I'll go all in and guess that those briskets are coming from somewhere other than the Mirage's back lot.

            1. re: shamu613
              d
              Dave Feldman RE: shamu613 Jun 9, 2010 02:37 PM

              Yep, but you can pickle and steam in Las Vegas, honest. Very few delis in New York or Los Angeles, for example, make their own pastrami. The Carnegie is one of the few in NYC.

              1. re: Dave Feldman
                q
                QAW RE: Dave Feldman Jun 9, 2010 03:08 PM

                Off of the original topic a bit, but Carnevino makes their own in-house pastrami, and added it to the menu about a year ago. Have not had a chance to try it yet - can anyone out there offer a review?

            2. re: Dave Feldman
              ellen4441 RE: Dave Feldman Jun 9, 2010 08:47 PM

              Yes, flown in from NY....
              I asked the guy behind the counter when I did a Carnegie, Vegas, "inspection" , back in Feb. 2010 ....

              1. re: ellen4441
                d
                Dave Feldman RE: ellen4441 Jun 10, 2010 07:46 PM

                Thanks mucho for the info, Ellen. I know that this doesn't necessarily mean the quality remains as high. I know there were complaints about how some of the Barney Greengrass deli traveled from NYC to L.A.

                1. re: Dave Feldman
                  ellen4441 RE: Dave Feldman Jun 10, 2010 09:11 PM

                  I'm with you on this one, DAVE!
                  Food quality almost always seems to get "lost in translation" !

                  the taste and texture get a little lost during the 2700 mile journey!

                  1. re: Dave Feldman
                    ellen4441 RE: Dave Feldman Jun 10, 2010 09:13 PM

                    p.s. Like you said , not NECESSARILY, though..
                    pps... the counter man at the Vegas Carnegie Deli was'nt real eager to release that info, but I politely pressed him a little for it .....

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                    Carnegie Deli
                    3400 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

              2. atdleft RE: ChinoWayne Jun 11, 2010 09:43 AM

                Well, I've always liked Carnegie... But then again I usually go for something on the breakfast menu (like the challah french toast or latkes). I also like Onda for its straightforward Italian fare.

                But yes, most everything else at Mirage is mediocre at best. That's why I usually don't do a lot of eating there.

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                Onda
                3400 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

                1 Reply
                1. re: atdleft
                  ellen4441 RE: atdleft Jun 11, 2010 07:37 PM

                  RE: Carnegie in Vegas...
                  ooooh , I love challah french toast....can never go wrong with challah french toast, huh?!?

                  And don't get me wrong, Chowhounders, cuz if I lived out in Vegas, (or was visiting there from a midwest pastrami deprived area), I WOULD order that pastrami at the Vegas Carnegie .....
                  BUT, since I'm only a 2 hour bus ride away from NYC, and the REAL Carnegie, I would rather hold off till I can get to the original NYC location !!

                  Cuz, at least at the NYC location, the pastrami only has to travel from their commissary
                  (near the Meadowlands) across the Hudson River to the Carnegie deli ....

                2. v
                  velvetdc1 RE: ChinoWayne Jan 19, 2011 10:39 AM

                  I wanted to quickly add my two cents on Carnegie Deli at Mirage: Best Grilled Cheese Ever. Cheddar on whole wheat with onions... so melty, so crisp, so delicious. It was great at 5 AM and great again at lunch the next day.

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