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Vegas trip report: Monta, Aureole, Fleur, Wicked Spoon

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Hubby & I, plus two friends, swung by Vegas for 3 days this past weekend. DH & I go at least a couple times per year, and it's always fun trying new places.

MONTA NOODLE HOUSE: Based on recommendations from his board we visited Monta in Chinatown for a late lunch. The chashu was the star, being very tender and melt-in-your-mouth, but they were tiny slices so if you visit, definitely order extra chashu. I did not like flavor of the noodles, and thought the other items & components were fine but nothing special. My take is that if you're from an area which has good ramen already, Monta is skippable.

AUREOLE: For dinner we tried the Parallel Tasting Menu at Aureole. We've dined at Aureole many years beforehand and thought it was solid value for the money, and it's always fun to browse through their extensive wine list though I wish they had more reasonably-priced bottles (very little was under $100). Half the dishes on the menu were good (the sea bass with truffles was awesome!) but the other half were very meh, plus the plates overall looked a little sloppy.

MESA GRILL: One of our friends wanted Mexican so brunch that day was at Mesa Grill (ok not very Mexican, but SW-inspired), where we've dined a couple times before. The wait was quite long -- 40 minutes at 1pm -- but I always find the food (and the complimentary bread basket!) very satisfying, and the drinks are delicious. The shrimp tamales didn't seem as amazing as previous times but it was still solid.

FLEUR: We ordered a bunch of plates to share. Favorites were the onion soup shooters and garlic fries, but many of the other dishes were rather boring. I ordered their cocktail tasting flight and thought the Sumo was fantastic -- it sounded nasty on the menu but was awesome in real life. In the future I probably would only go here again for snacks/drinks.

MANDALAY BAY SPORTS BOOK SNACK BAR: The next day were the big AFC/NFC playoff games, which we spent at the Mandalay Bay sports book. For a food counter attached to a sports book, the food was decent but nothing to go out of your way for. The sports book itself wasn't great to see the game if you were in an inopportune location (as we were) since there was only one big screen.

WICKED SPOON BUFFET: Dinner the last day was at the Wicked Spoon buffet in the Cosmopolitan. There was no line to pay at 8.15pm but for some reason the waitresses who seat people were very slow / inefficient. The buffet itself had a lot of interesting dishes that I've not seen anywhere else, and the overall quality of what they had was good. Standouts were the smashed truffle potatoes, beet salad, and roast pork. On the downside, they had very few "expensive" items: only 4 types of sushi rolls (with very little fish in each), the snow crab legs were rather anemic, and only 2-3 shrimp were in each portion of cocktail shrimp. Although having the items in individual serving dishes were cute (and probably more hygenic), I personally was not a fan as it meant I got larger portions than desired and had to make more trips as the containers took up so much space. That said, I'd revisit the Wicked Spoon again since their comfort food was really good.

Revisiting in three weeks for Guy Savoy, Julian Serrano, Milos, and likely Sage (had to cancel e' since they changed to a special & more costly Valentine's menu)!

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  1. PP,

    Thanks for this...I was maybe getting a little to hyped on the restos at the Cosmo. Nice fair reviews.
    I head out tomorrow for and am excited about Sage and Charlie Palmers, and Tacos El Gordo.

    Operation Gastro-Vegas is ready to launch.

    Chiao