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Mar 10, 2013 04:10 PM

Trip report March 2013

As I routinely use Chow to research my trips (have planned trips around u-hockey's and others reviews lol), I wanted to provide feedback on our trip. My husband and I love to travel and as older parents do so frequently with our 10, 9 and 3 yo.

We arrived to LV and checked into our hotel and headed to Lotus of Siam for lunch as first timers. At 1115 am we were fourth in line. We wanted to try a bit of everything and ordered Nam Kao Tod (amazing), Spicy Chicken Wings x2 (my picky 9 yo eater polished off the second order on his own), Seafood Pad Ped, Pad Thai, Crispy Duck with drunken noodles (amazing but tepid), Khao Soi Short Rib (amazing flavor but tepid with one short rib so dried out I could not cut it let alone eat it - OK though as we had SO much more food than we needed), and Mango Sticky Rice which was yummy (and I don't like sweets) but took 30 plus minutes after dinner. My observations were that our server did not provide any assistance in either food or wine choices which I had expected from reviewing previous CHOW posts. His wine recommendation was "try this as people seem to like it"... He also tried to steer us to the buffet until I whipped out my CHOW list. We like spicy and asked for 7/10 with the exception of Pad Thai and Chicken wings which we asked for 4. Maybe the kids worried him but everything came out about a 4/5 at most. As overall great as it was, may try Chada Thai next time....

Veranda at the Four Seasons - split mushroom/sausage risotto and 4 cheese pizza among the 5 of us. Risotto good, noone would have more than one bite of pizza. Watermelon granita cocktail and Barrel aged Negroni and Service great! Breakfasts good with really nice service.

Charlie Palmer Steak - Husband hungry after Terry Fader show.... Sat at the bar. Nice bartenders and he thought the sliders and butterscotch creme brulee hit the spot.

Country Club at the Wynn for lunch - upscale and pricey. Nothing to complain about.... Service very good and food well executed (club sandwich, seafood cobb, hot dogs for the kids).... I would try somewhere else next visit.

e Jose Andres - this was our "date night" and it was amazing. We have had 2 near attempts at Alinea over the years (although we have done Aviary several times) so this was a new adventure into molecular for us. The Truffle Cotton Candy, Lobster with Citrus Jasmine, Torta Pascualete with Cotton Candy and Pan Con Chocolate courses were sublime. Foie Gras and Iberico pork with Squid (Squid was amazing - pork that I had was tough and my husband felt his was underdone) were good but did not reach the level of the rest of the small plates IMO. Whole experience (we did the regular drink tasting ) was well worth the price.

Border Grill - Grabbed a lunch here on the way to a 1 pm matinee show. Can honestly say I am horrified that these chefs would put their name on this one.... Chips heavy and greasy with burnt french frie butts interspersed. Salsas of which there were 3 were good. Food - Chicken quesadilla, bean burrito, fish tacos inedible... I have no problem paying 14$ for a drink but when it is advertised as reposado tequila, grand marnier and hand squeezed lime and when you get a sickly sweet drink tasting of commercial mix and nothing else - bad form. Plus service terrible- we didn't get drinks for 20 minutes as we watched our waiter flirting with the barmaid. F---- Shame on everyone involved.

My final review involves Sage - We have loved Shawn McClain since his early Chicago days. The evening started out poorly. When we checked in at 530 pm we got HUGE attitude at the door (We don't take children under 5 and we don't have a children's menu, and we don't have highchairs). I nicely said that I was well aware of that and that is why if they checked our 3 month old reservation they would note we had requested a banquette (works well to put the 3 yo in between us and in this case he slept the whole dinner) out of the traffic flow. They then seated us in a completely empty restaurant next to the only other table - 2 gentlemen clearly trying to have an intimate evening. Big pet peeve of mine... Our waiter arrived on the scene and proceeded to tell us we could NOT have the tasting menu as that would involve everyone and that clearly would not work. Really? We do them quite frequently and have never been told that before. Only after we ordered a 300$ bottle of wine, and he realized my 10 yo was ordering sweetbreads for an app., did he come back and attempt to be gracious. As my daughter says, BFF by the time we left... I do get it that they would have no way of knowing that our kids are well behaved and accustomed to fine dining (if all else fails -the ipads I bring along work miracles). However, I did take vicarious pleasure in the parade of drunken parties being seated later in the evening -boisterous, interestingly dressed, and carrying in adult "sippy cups". That being said the food met all expectation and more. Foie Gras Brulee was proclaimed by my husband as the best he has ever had and he orders it pretty regularly when we fine dine. Fennel Crab Ravioli and Scallops were incredible and Green Garlic Soup, Sweetbreads, and NY strip my kids split were all excellent. Grilled octopus salad was among my top 5 favorite presentations I have had of octupus. My husband and kids shared dessert and all were equally divided amongst themselves which one was favorite. I don't think you could go wrong with any - grapefruit semifreddo, pineapple mousse, arancini dolce.

Viva Las Vegas!

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  1. Excellent report! Glad you called out Sage on that unacceptable experience.

    1. I think it was unlucky to have service issues (of varying degrees) at Sage, Lotus, and Border Grill. Disappointing, but you prevailed.

      1. I'll also say that I sometimes get attitude at the hostess stand at Sage even though I'm an adult and usually traveling solo! I've learned to bypass them and sit at the bar with the friendly bartenders. But not an option that's available to you with your family. Glad the food was good but I'm sorry that the poor service tainted the experience.

        7 Replies
        1. re: drkaufman528

          Sorry to hear that there is an attitude problem at Sage since I'm dining there solo next week. I did have an excellent dinner at Sage last year with excellent service.

          1. re: ellenost

            Ellenost, I usually do too. And the bartenders/waiters have been great when I'm dining solo. I've just experienced issues with the initial encounter with the hostesses.

            1. re: drkaufman528

              Yes the FOH is weak/odd at Sage. Initial greeting was friendly, yet she thought I'd accept a table in the bar area. That's okay if I hadn't made a reservation, but I made my reservation 3 months ago! She was okay when I told her that I wished to be seated in the main dining room. I was seated at a nice table in the main room.

              1. re: ellenost

                How was the food? I saw the last half of an Iron Chef America where Shawn McClain beat Marc Forgione by a wide margin.

                1. re: Dave Feldman

                  I saw the same Iron Chef episode. Food at Sage was very good. I was still too full from lunch from Hubert Keller's Burger Bar, so I ordered the $89 tasting menu: foie gras brûlée; carmelized scallops with oxtail and mushrooms; waygu sirloin; and grapefruit semifreddo. Service from the waitstaff was excellent. Felt bad that (other than the foie gras) I managed to eat only 1/2 of each dish. Their wine list had very strange pricing for the German Rieslings (bottles that normally cost $100 were priced at $270(?); made Per Se's prices look almost reasonable). Learned my lesson: no more lunches.

                  1. re: ellenost

                    Thanks for the report. I have the same problem in Las Vegas. I start eating two "real" meals a day but as the week (or longer) rolls on, I'm down to one, and sometimes even that is a struggle. I wasn't knocked out by my only meal at Sage, but I'm sure I'll be back eventually.

                    I noticed how expensive the Rieslings were, too. I ended up with wine by the glass, as my party couldn't agree on what we wanted anyway.

          2. re: drkaufman528

            Glad that it is just not me, but I have found many weaknesses with the FOH/Host/Hostess personnel in LV. Even when all else is perfect, that station seems to be a very weak point, at least in my experience, and is the start of the evening.

            We see similar in Phoenix, and I feel that more restauranteurs need to consider their Host/Hostess positions more - they are, after all, the first (maybe after the valet) impression, that a patron has.


          3. Confused.

            "We don't take children under 5 and we don't have a children's menu, and we don't have highchairs."

            You say you were aware of all this. How? Did they tell you your child was unwelcome when you made the reservation? I do not see it mentioned on their site. Would seem like an odd thing to proactively tell a potential diner.

            Did you tell them you were bringing a 3 year old? Otherwise, if you KNEW no children under five, why'd you bring him/choose Sage?

            8 Replies
            1. re: thegforceny

              Sorry for the confusion... I called the reservation number (1-877-230-2742) after perusing Aria's and Sage's website. I had a question about the Early Evening Menu as it wasn't pulling up on line. I spoke with a very nice, friendly woman who told me she would email it to me and did i want anything else. I then asked about a children's menu and she told me there was not one available. She mentioned if we were dining with children I should be aware they did not have any high-chairs available at Sage. On the online pictures, the banquettes are visible which as I noted are perfect for our family and what we always request. Noone mentioned nor was it posted that children under 5 are not welcome. THAT I was told by the hostess when we checked in for our reservation at 530 pm along with the "no children's menu and no highchairs" which I already knew. I hope that clarifies things.

              1. re: shoprdoc

                Thanks. They did try to coax you away from coming with a small child, it sounds like. That said, once there, they should have kept their mouth shut and welcomed you. I thought you blatantly KNEW he wasn't welcome but came anyhow.

                Thank you for the clarification.

                1. re: thegforceny

                  I didn't feel they tried to coax me away from coming when talking to the reservationist - she couldn't have been nicer and more helpful. In terms of our decision to take our family to Sage, my littlest doesn't need a high chair. The older two usually order off the adult menu. They are well behaved (certainly way more so than some of the other patrons I observed). I can only contrast the experience to one several weeks earlier at Adour (Ducasse affiliated) at the St. Regis in DC. The staff could not have been more welcoming if they rolled out the red carpet. The somellier came over and poured Navarro grape juice into wine glasses for the 2 older kids. Several staff members stopped to talk to us and ask our 3 yo what he was playing on the ipad. They brought out special amuse bouches for the kids. Fabulous experience... Don't think they have high-chairs either.....

                  1. re: shoprdoc

                    Also wanted to emphasize once we got past the initial attitude the service and food at Sage was excellent.... I am reporting our experience and hope it is helpful for others.

                2. re: shoprdoc

                  So let's talk about getting info about pre-fixe/pre-theater/early evening menus. I just got back from a Vegas a couple days ago and the only info I got about pre-theater menus came from CH and not from any menus. Should we just assume that every restaraunt has a pre-theater/happy hour menu? The one place I was was looking forward to a pre-show menu and planned my day around turned out not to have said menu (DOCG).

                  1. re: BuffaloWing

                    I am not sure about this one... I did notice when planning meals/shows that there were some links on the properties main website or the restaurants individual website for menu options or theater/menu combination options. When in doubt, it seems reasonable to call. The Aria's reservation line was extremely helpful, friendly, and willing to research and email any information they did not have at their fingertips.

                    1. re: shoprdoc

                      Aria website info re: restaurants is awesome! Has everything you could possibly want to know. Wish I had seen it before my visit. Moves Aria up to the top of my list just based on website!

                      1. re: BuffaloWing

                        Like many websites, the menus are not totally up to date. I was looking at the menus for Sage, and the Chef's Tasting menu didn't list rabbit on the website, but it was on the menu last night at the restaurant.

              2. Just did Veranda for breakfast, and while it was not quite up to Seasons at the Four Seasons, SF, it was VERY good, and a lovely venue.

                We were also impressed by that property, and will probably stay there on all upcoming visits, if possible. Their bar was also quite good for a pre-dinner glass (or two) of wine.

                Thank you,