Trip Report (long), June 9-12
This report is a bit limited in scope, as the goal of the trip was for my wife and I to completely unplug for a couple of days. As such, we stayed very close to hotel and did not venture out the way we have in previous trips.
As an aside, for 7 years I have traveled to Vegas twice a year for a week long tradeshow, and we rent a house so we have some creature comforts. I need to thank this board for pointing us to some fantastic off strip meals thru the years. Some of those spots have become "can't miss" places every trip like LOS and Raku, and we still mourn the loss of others like Rosemary's.
Anyway, we skipped our usual routine this time so we could maximize relaxation time. On to the food......
Arrived Sunday morning, checked in at the hotel (Mandarin Oriental, wow) and went to brunch in the hotel at MOzen Bistro. It was spectacular. Now, when you give me access to free flowing yellow label Veuve Clicquot it might make me enjoy a plate of sawdust, but the food was really good. Oysters and crab claws were perfect. The sushi was very well executed, though I thought the variety of rolls could have been better. Dim Sum and noodles were tasty, as were all of the cold salads I tried.
I also liked the novel approach of buffet style appetizers with an entree from the kitchen. Wife had the scallops in a light tomato broth with asparagus, artichokes, olives, and tomatos. I had the Hong Kong style steamed grouper. They were both excellent.
Sunday night we still were not terribly hungry so we stayed in the hotel and went to the Mandarin Bar for drinks and snacks. The room and the view were beautiful and the band was suprisingly good. Drinks were excellent, food was unremarkable but at that point we really did not care.
Monday we sat by the pool all day. As we were too lazy to go anywhere we had lunch at the Pool Grille. Wife had a nice salad with lots of fresh vegetables and I had the burger. Man, the burger was perfect. Fresh ground beef, good cheddar cheese, and a brioche bun. Fries were thin cut and well seasoned.
Monday night we finally decided to leave the hotel so we walked over to The Cosmopolitan becuase we knew they had several spots that we would enjoy. We settled on D.O.C.G.
Wife had the market salad with friut and goat cheese, and I had the bibb caesar. Both were nicely done, and doing caesar with a wedge of bibb lettuce was an interesting take.
We both had pasta, wife had the Cavatelli with sausage and porcini muchrooms and I had the Pici with braised duck sauce and black truffles. WOW. Both were superb but the Pici with duck was one of best pasta dishes I have ever had, both the execution of the dish and the combination of flavors. Bottle of 2008 Etude Pinot Noir was nice foil to both dishes
Tuesday lunch we went to Wolfgang Puck's pizza/Italian spot in the Crystals shopping center. Wife had Linguine with clams and I had the Italian meat pizza.
Both were good, the bartender was excellent, and I came away appreciating the level of energy, skill, and drive it must take to run an empire that large and still put out good food. I've eaten at dozens of restaurants thru the years with his name on them and NEVER had a bad experience. While I know there are other choices (and now that I back home part of me wishes we were not too lazy to go to LOS for lunch, I appreciate a mega-chef that while only in that spot for a couple of days a year is able to set up a management structure that keeps the quality consistent.
Tuesday night was the big splurge of the trip, Le Cirque.
There are not words to appropriately describe our experience. Start to finish one of the best meals of my life. The service was truly impeccable. We had a corner table and I was able to "watch the show" and appreciate the flawless execution at every other table. It was affirming to see that Professional waiters DO still exist in this world. Those guys were pros, they weren't broke songwriters or hipster jerks, they were professional waiters -- a dying breed.
We had the Degustation Menu, and frankly there was too much food for me to possibly recall and repost on. I just know that every dish we had was PERFECTLY prepared and seasoned, classic French high end food.
We had the premium wine paring as well. Again, I decided by the second course to stop my obssessive note taking about food and wine and simply enjoy the moment. It is a memory I will cherish for a long time.
Through the years I have come to really love Las Vegas. Simply put, you can have whatever experience you desire. This time it was all about relaxation. As an aside I cannot recommend the Mandarin Oriental highly enough. An island of calm and luxury, but with a 5 minute walk you are right in middle of the action.
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this report. Sometimes it's impossible for Chowhounds to turn off the Chowdar for a while and relax. Sometimes it's just better to be stay where you are, or try what's nearby, rather than eking out the last millimeter of deliciousness at the expense of your sanity. And even then, you made a cool discovery (the hamburger at the Pool Grille).
Thanks so much for the tip at D.O.C.G. Pici is my favorite pasta, and I've never seen it in Las Vegas.
re: Dave Feldman
Thanks Dave, both for the commmet and the tips you have provided all of us thru the years.
And for what it is worth, it was a rare treat to be so unscheduled. As you note, the nature of a Chowhound is to uncover the best and most unique food of a particular city.
My wife told me as we planned this trip that we both needed to relax and not plan out every moment/morsel of the trip. Note to self, listen to wife........
Thanks so much, great report! I always stay at theHotel at Mandalay Bay but you are tempting me away. And I cannot wait to try a few of these places. I was there last weekend and did end up at the little pizza place on the 3rd floor of The Cosmopolitan that everyone is raving about. It was well worth the long wait, even at 2 in the AM, next time you are back at The Mandarin.
I know you previously mentioned that you had a customized tasting menu last time you dined at Le Cirque. Do you mind sharing the details of that menu (dishes, cost)? I will be heading to Vegas in August and am considering requesting a customized tasting of some of the classic dishes so I would be interested in hearing about your experience.
What I find the best about this report is what I have been saying for many years about Las Vegas.....At whatever level you can afford, and at whatever level you can experience/enjoy....this is one city (actually, more of a town) that can offer excellence at every level.
As long as you set and follow your expectations, Las Vegas can provide you with an experience like no other city in the world.