40th Birthday Dinner
Several of us are celebrating the big 40 this summer and will be getting together for a long weekend in Las Vegas with friends and family. We are looking at several places for a dinner for about 16 people in honor of the birthday boys one night. The contenders are:
2. Michael Mina;
3. Lawry's The Prime Rib;
4. RM Seafood;
5. Terzetto at the M Resort;
6. Il Mulino and
7. Sage at Aria
Expense is not the big issue, but we would like to get good value. Each seems to have its own merits and we have checked the menus as well as the other postings on this board so they all look like solid choices. That said, I have a few specific questions:
1. Has anyone tried the Restaurant.com deal at RM? Would it work for a group?
2. Has anyone been to Terzetto? I have seen very few reviews here or at other travel sites.
3. Our group doesn't get together that often, so we would like it if everyone could hear everyone else at the table. We have been to several places where you can barely hear the person next to you. Are any of these places obnoxiously loud?
Finally, does any one of these stand out above the others?
Thanks for your help.
Michael Mina Restaurant
3600 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109
3930 Las Vegas Blvd S 134-200A, Las Vegas, NV
On the list above, I'd recommend Sage above any of the others. These restaurants are very dissimilar from each other ; some, like CraftSteak, are in large Strip casinos, while Terzetto at the M is a ways off the strip (albeit still in a casino) and Lawry's is a stand alone restaurant.
I've been to most of these places; none would be too noisy or a scene. I think Sage is the best of these options in terms of food and atmosphere, and CityCenter is an entertaining destination.
I will post a set of reviews to the places we went sometime soon. For the Birthday Dinner, we ended up at Smith & Wollensky on the strip. Here are a couple of questions that I wish I had asked in addition to the ones I did ask when I started out on the group dinner search:
1. Do you require that groups of our size (20) order from a Group Menu?
2. Do you have a minimum amount for Food and Beverage?
3. What is your administrative fee, mandatory gratuity and are there any similar charges (room fees etc.)?
4. Does the minimum for Food and Beverage include the 20% gratuity or is it on top of it (this starts adding up when your tip is going to be in the neighborhood of $500). The issue becomes if we spend $2,500 and the Tip is $500, are we at the $3,000 minimum? Or do we need to order another $500 of wine and and up at $3,600?
5. If we are seated in the dining room, will it be at one or more tables? If we want to be seated at one table, do we need to rent a private dining room?
As we worked through our selected restaurants (which included some on the list above and some not on the list above), we discovered that many requested that we either order from a group menu (that averaged about $100/person) or guaranty a minimum food and beverage charge of anywhere from $3,000 up. Please don't take this as a negative about any of these restaurants (again, our process also included some not on the list above). We didn't believe any of them treated us unfairly, they just had pricepoints for groups that we were not able to meet either because the pricepoint was going to be too high for our guests' expectations, or because we didn't have enough guests to make it worthwhile for any of the restaurants we contacted to open up a private room.
For example, if we went off of one restaurant's required group plan, we would have been paying $200/person ($110 Group Menu (lowest available)+ 2 hour Group Alcohol Plan+Tax (8.1%)+20% Gratuity + estimated $7/bottle water charges, plus $125 administrative fee). Although we are certain this would be an outstanding meal, asking each couple to pay $400 for dinner was not our expectation. Alternatively, if we ordered a less costly menu (where, say the costs came to $100 per person, either in the form of a group menu or ala carte from the restaurant's standard menu), we were going to need to order $1,000 worth of alcohol to get to a minimum, assuming you are ordering $15 cocktails, that is 3+ per person. If we had another 10 or so in our group, we would have been able to accommodate one of the minimums, but with 20, a $3,000 minimum before gratuity and tax added up to everyone spending at least $150 on food and alcohol (before tax and tip), which was going to be tough unless we hit the wine list hard.
In the end we called around and found Smith & Wollensky. I have dined at several of their other locations and found that their food was very good. They didn't require a group menu (which allowed our guests to order as much or as little as they wanted) or require a minimum food and beverage charge.
In the end, our average guest ordered an appetizer or salad (@$15) plus an entree (@$55) and shared a side (@$10). Everyone was so full, no one ordered dessert. We were at about $80 per person (give or take a shared side). Even with the drinks/wine we ordered, we wouldn't have come close to a $3,000 minimum.
At S&W, there was a minor 3% administrative fee, but S&W required only 18% gratuity (compared with 20%) which more or less covered the admin fee.
We were seated in a semi-private dining area (there was another party on the other side of the room) and had everyone at one table, which may have not been possible in some of the other locations.
As a preview to my reviews, dinner was very good, excellent reviews on the Lobster Bisque, Filet, Truffled Mac and Cheese. Service was also excellent and very appropriately timed for the size of our party. I am not sure why some of the world doesn't understand that it takes a kitchen longer to put out entrees for a table of 20 than a 4-top. It took a few minutes longer than it would have taken to serve a table of 4 or even 12, but when our food arrived, it was at the right temperature (hot steak, cold salad, not warm steak, warm salad), with the correct sides etc.
So ClareW, my advice is to not only check the reviews and websites of your selected restaurants, but also check their policies and see what is appropriate for your group.
Smith & Wollensky
3767 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Clevelander, This is such a valuable post. We get asked about where to throw parties of approximately this size all the time; I'm sending your post to "my favorites" not only to share your experience with S&W, but to pinpoint some of the pitfalls of private rooms and dealing with catering. Much appreciated, and looking forward to your trip report.
re: Dave Feldman
Thanks for the compliment.
Here is the first installment of the Trip Report: Todd English PUB, Bouchon and Wynn Buffet.
Our flight arrived later in the evening. Other members of our party had gone to Todd English's P.U.B. in the City Center Crystals Mall and we caught up to them. Their late night menu was available until 1:30 AM. The options included burgers, sliders, chicken parmesan sliders, fries (thick, skinny) pretzels, corndogs etc. All in all a Most Wanted of tasty bar foods. More importantly, the menu included a very nice beer list. Our group sampled the fare pretty liberally. Highlights were the pretzels (ccompanied by three tasty mustards for dipping), Chicken Parmesan sliders, they were tasty and went well with an order of skinny fries. Others at the table recommended the Superman Burger.
Bouchon. Breakfast on the first day was at Bouchon. They were ready to handle our party of 12 within a few minutes. As recommended frequently on this Board, their breakfast was excellent. The Beignet du jour was on the top of our wish list, and was amazing. Freshly made, cinnamon sugar style, served with nutella and homemade jam, the Beignet did not disappoint. The Egg Gratin, served that day with beef shortrib pieces, was delicious with great egg and cheese flavor. The accompanying potatoes were also amazing. Others in our party gave high marks to the quiche and croque madame (served with the best pommes frites in the city). Coffee and OJ all around rounded out the breakfast which, with tip, came to around 35/person. Service was attentive throughout the meal. Some of the group returned the next day to try the ham and eggs platter and gave it an enthusiastic two thumbs up.
Wynn Buffet. Our group was planning to only try one buffet for the trip and Wynn was the choice. Including tip, the cost was about 45/person. Our group of 8 required about 5-8 minutes for the staff to arrange seating at 8PM. The shellfish section included the usual shrimp cocktail, sawed crab legs, smoked salmon and an assortment of relatively boring sushi (Cal. Roll, Veg. Roll, Tempura Shrimp Roll). All of the seafood items were about what you would expect, average flavor. All of the necessary condiments were present and the cocktail sauce included a healthy dose of horseradish. Among the entrees I sampled, the Beef Short Ribs. T-bone lamb chop and Ossu bucco were the highlights (each rating a 8 of 10), the prime rib and roast turkey, sliced as requested, were 7's. There was also a chicken curry and some chinese dumplings that were a 7 on flavor. A coconut scallop ceviche and two pasta dishes (stuffed rigatoni, ravioli) were solid choices (6 of 10). The salad bar offered nice variety, with several prepared salads providing nice alternatives. Pear salad and thai beef received good reviews. Veal Scallopini was the biggest disappointment on my plate and finishing a close second in disappointing were most of the pre-made chilled desserts I sampled. (generally in the 3-4 out of 10 range). Stick with the freshly made, but undersized crepes (although I would have to say that the Paris buffet's are better), and the bananas foster and bread pudding (these rated about 6 of 10). Service was average at best and required some effort to flag down by the time we wanted some coffee with dessert.
Next up: Aria Pool Cafe, Smith and Wollensky, Jean Phillipe Patisserie, In-N-Out Burger and Olives.
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109
2900 W Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV
Something I liked about craftsteak (we were there for the second time last week) is the family style manner of serving - all the dishes were served on large platters in the centre of the table. They also have a tasting menu that works on the same idea - a number of apps, mains, sides and desserts all served family style and everybody gets to try a little of each. I was just there last week and it is a nice atmosphere - not very loud, but also not hush enough that you would feel uncomfortable having an enthusiastic catch-up conversation with a large group.