Some quick and not so quick riffs on Jaleo, Jean George Steakhouse, and Todd English's Olives and Pub
Jaleo was really amazing food wise. Really just right up my alley, although my disclaimer is that I have yet to eat Tapas in Spain, Spanish Tapas maybe one of my top three types of cuisine. Veal Cheeks were heavenly, the best dish I may have had in all of 2011.Anchovies on bread were pure perfection as was the squid stew that was as silky as a Kumamoto oyster. Chorizo wrapped in fried potato was really just a Spanish Pig in a Blanket, but hey, whats wrong with a Pig in a Blanket? Service was ok, place was very slammed and they actually had a a glass of affordable wine on the menu - $7 a glass for a decent red wine. I really can't wait to go back. And an incredible value for Las Vegas standards.
Jean Georges was perfect atmosphere wise, edgy modern interior and very removed from the rest of the Aria - a huge plus to me when spending top dollar on a meal. One of the great steakhouse let downs in Las Vegas for me was when dining at Michael Mina's Stripsteak, a gentlemen in cargo shorts and flip flops saddled up to the table next to us and the fact that the rest of his crew could gawk at us because the restaurant was so exposed to the rest of Mandalay Bay. Highlights of the meal were the Creamed Spinach; a luxurious sauce as you would expect but in place of that same old mushy green spinach texture, there was a terrific chew - almost redolent of a seaweed salad or gomae. I don't care for filet but this was my favorite steak, maybe because my NY strip was cooked more rare rather than the requested medium rare and subsequently was a tad tough, but still a good steak. As others have said, Craftsteak(been too) and CUT(not been too) have better steaks but Jean Georges were still quite good. The sauces; a soy butter and a bernaise were excellent and accelerated the steak to a new level. Service was very good. Mixed drinks tasty but on the small side. Truffled mashed potatoes lived up to expectations. Comped dessert for my wife's birthday was a nice touch. Considering I did not want to shell out for A5 kobe or steaks aged 2/3rds of a year(Im looking at you Carnevino), Jean George was a pleasant experience and I would return but the steaks were not that "whoa, how is this possible" level.
Todd English's PUB was a necessary mid afternoon lunch that started off poorly because of a necessary mid afternoon shift change that left us high, dry and hungry for 15 long minutes. A refreshed new server lightened the mood I tried Todd English's Pastrami. Being a Los Angeleno, I always have and always will tout Langer's Pastrami, a gift from the Gods and the true rival of Katz or any other NYC delicatessen. This pastrami was melt in your mouth perfection. Possibly more so than Langer's, however the rye bread was closer to Supermarket wheat. If they could address the bread situation they could really have something, until then Id say this is really a $16 half pound of meat with cardboard on the side. One thing that irked me about PUB was the prices of the beers. $9 for a pint of Stella? Ridiculous.
Olives has been touted on a burger website as the best burger in the US. This was simply not the case. It was an average restaurant burger priced in the high teens. The burger comes with white cheddar, butter lettuce, tomato and red onion in a balsamic vinegar glaze. The onions were a failure, sour, lacking in any meaningful caramelization, and had to be removed. The meat itself arrived over cooked(requested medium rare, came out medium well) but was surprisingly not dry but not great either. Butter lettuce and tomato were good, I find poor tomatoes all the time and these were tasty. The fried were an abomination. They were thick potato wedges, covered in Parmesan shavings, and were utterly foul. Im a frites kind of guy but potato wedges? Really? Takes me back to my youth eating awful burger and fries at Hardees. This burger was standard restaurant grade with a $16 price tag. Totally forgettable.
All in all a great trip. And when you think about all the options one has in Las Vegas without having to hop in a car, it's really mind boggling.
Todd English's Olives
3600 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
Thank you for posting your reviews. I read with great interest your comments on Jaleo. I will be there in one week, and am looking forward to the tapas menu. I know there's a huge amount of buzz on the Board about e, but I'm just not sure that's "up my alley," borrowing the phrase from you.
love Craftsteak myself, but I'm more of a regular at Joes Stone Crab... their menu is soooo delectable(even though they dropped my fav seafood marinara), and the steaks are always cooked to perfection(the most important thing to me). OMG and isn't their steak seasoning devine? I even use it on my fish.