Lets get these reviews started...
Well, I'm back...Had an unbelievable trip. As usual, I didn't get to some of the places I had planned but did get in a nice amount of excellent meals.
Day 1 Sunday Brunch (Bouchon): I arrived at my hotel at about 11:30. Well its not my hotel, I don't own it, but you know what I mean. After paying an early check-in fee(what a scam) I had to decide between brunch and a concert at the Brooklyn Bowl. I had been up since about 5 am EST so I was starving. I bypassed the concert and walked on over to the Venetian and Bouchon.
The place was PACKED, kind of surprising for an Easter Sunday. Thankfully as a single diner, I could walk right over to the bar and grab a seat. Otherwise it was a 45 minute wait.
I sit down at the bar, order an iced tea and peruse the menu. I pretty much knew before I even sat down that I had to go for the Chicken and Waffles. Plus a side of fries. Yes, I'm a glutton lol.
The iced tea had a nice flavor, didn't need any sugar, which is rare for me. Before to long, the meal arrived. The Chicken and Waffles were even better than I remember. The chicken was so juicy, it literally squirted about six inches into the air when I cut into the breast. The fries where nice and crispy, loved dipping them into the chasseur sauce. The waffles were nicely flecked with bacon, but not overwhelmingly so.
The perfect way to kick off this vacation. I was so happy sitting at the bar enjoying this dish. The food was wonderful, the service was wonderful, great start...
Grade: A+ (only for this day and for brunch, you'll find out why as these reviews unfold)
to be continued...
Night 1: Noodle Asia
Yep, I made this mistake again. Why do I keep doing this to myself? I went to a concert at the Brooklyn Bowl(beautiful venue by the way)and had planned go to the restaurant there after the concert. I couldn't make a reservation because I didn't know what time it would end, but figured I'd still be able to get a table.
What the hell was I thinking? hundreds of drunk/stoned people walking past the restaurant all at once, I had no chance for a table. So I decided to walk around a little. As usual, ended up at the Venetian for a few drinks. Next thing I know its about 2am and I'm starved.
The pickings are pretty slim, especially without taking a cab ride somewhere, so it was between Noodle Asia and Grand Lux. I should've picked Grand Lux...
I walk in and sit at the bar, I'm one of the only people in the place, but everyone working there is acting like they're incredibly busy. I usually ordered the same thing so I decided to change it up. I ordered Pot Stickers and the XO spicy noodles. And an iced tea, of course.
The pot stickers arrive and they're huge. At first I thought this might be a good thing, until I tried one. First of all, the dough was so thick that I thought I must have just had a weird one. I cut into a second, same. A third, the same. So basically, they're dough balls with a little bit of meat in them. Oh, and they're also totally bland. Even a dousing of soy sauce barely helped.
Then the noodles arrived. At first they looked pretty good but then I tasted them. No flavor at all and no heat. Plus, the noodles were all broken as if they were completely overcooked even before stir frying them. I tried adding some soy sauce, still bland. It was as if their food was impervious to flavor. I know it wasn't me because I could taste the icea tea just fine. It was the only thing that actually tasted like something.
Bottom line, don't even bother with this place. I'll never make the mistake again.
Day 2 Lunch(Bouchon):
I had such a great time at brunch that I decided to run over to Bouchon for lunch. This time, the place was pretty much empty. I sat at the bar just like the day before and to my luck, the same waiter was there. I thought that was a good sign.
I decided to start with the Foie Gras terrine since I've always wanted to try it and for some reason never did. They brought me the little jar and a little plate of toast points. Immediately upon dipping my knife into the terrine there was a problem, I could barely get it out of the jar. Finally after a while it started yielding, but then would almost break the toast point when trying to spread it.. The taste? It was....good. I know that's such a blah description but that's all it really was. The texture was silky, when it would finally melt in my mouth. It seems like something that with a little tweaking could or should be mind blowing, but it just isn't there. One thing I did like, the waiter brought me a fresh plate of toast points when he saw mine running low.
For the main course I had the Merguez Sandwich. Why did I order this? It sounded interesting. I loved the pickled onions, the piquillo peppers, the aioli. I even liked the dill flavored roll. But the sausage, the sausage, the sausage...It was cooked through, but lukewarm to cold. It also didn't seem to have much flavor to it at all. The condiments completely out-shined the "star" of the dish, disappointing. The fries that came with the sandwich were the best part of this meal, by far.
Overall grade: Tough one here, but extremely disappointing meal... C-/C
I like both that you obsess about where to eat before the trip, carefully weigh the options, and then veer off-course based on whims or wanting to return to a place you loved. To me, this is an essential part of a real vacation -- calling audibles, following your instincts, even if it means not being able to complete your to-do list. Sorry in this case it was a disappointment.
re: Dave Feldman
To me, thats half the fun of the a trip like this. You just have to take the bad with the good, and there's always a bit of both. As you'll see from this trip, I'm not afraid to go to the same place multiple times. Ended up at Bouchon three times and at Yusho three times. My next review tonight, day 2 dinner, will be the first trip to Yusho, and I almost didn't go!!! Some places I didn't go for a schedule reason, others just wasn't in the mood.
Presented in the FWIW Dept., I will say that I too am somewhat -- well, one might say "obsessed" with pre-planning meals¹ and the like when traveling, and yet am never so rigid that we can't take the proverbial "left turn" at the last minute . . .
That said, I have to say that I've been more disappointed with Bouchon than *any* other "celebrity chef" restaurant in Vegas. Admittedly, I have not been to all of them, and can count the number of true disappointments (i.e.: "why go back?") on one hand, but Bouchon . . . hmmmmm.
Perhaps it's because I live in the SF Bay Area and go to Bouchon in Yountville several times a year (Napa Valley is an hour away), but something has happened to the Vegas Bouchon. When it first opened, I was very impressed and thought it might even be better than the original. Subsequent visits, however, have been very disappointing to say the least, and we've crossed it off our list of restaurants to go to when in Vegas. There are too many options which are altogether better.
¹ We have to go to Vegas twice this Fall, and I've just started looking at places -- old favorites and new options -- for dinner. OK, even I'll admit that's crazy, but not necessarily when one needs to figure out how far in advance to make reservations for places like é (or Tickets in Barcelona).
Night 2: Yusho...and the dinner that almost wasn't.
After having that large, yet unsatisfactory lunch at Bouchon, there was no way I would be hungry for a 6pm dinner. I cancelled it and since I was seeing Penn and Teller at 9pm, figured my chance of a good meal that night would be slim to none.
The show ended around 10:40 and took a cab back to home base before going back out. I'm in my room, its a little after 11pm and begin to search opentable. As I scrolled down, a whole lot of nothing. Until I get to the end, and there's Yusho. Talk about luck!!!
I make an 11:45pm reservation, jump in a cab and I'm on my way. The restaurant is on the far end of the casino, near the blue man theater. Arrived about 11:20 and greeted by one of the managers who seats me at the "bar"
As soon as I hear they offer an omekaze menu, I knew that was the only choice. I also ordered a gin and tonic they make with a flavorful syrup. Strong but damn good, and I'm usually a beer guy.
Here's where things get a bit interesting. As I'm drinking my gin and tonic the waitress walks over and starts asking me what I like in a sake. I named a few characteristics and she precedes to recommend a sake. As she's pointing it out, I see her kind of covering up the prices of the bottles. Little did she know I already looked at the prices and that particular one stood out because the bottle costed $2400!!! What am I? an idiot? I mean come on now. I told her I'll stick to the G&T.
Then the food started coming, one course after another. Started with the Housemade Pickles. Carrots, lotus root, baby cucumbers, all pickled with a beautiful bright sour flavor and the more of them you eat, the more a little heat comes out.
Some highlights: The foie gras. I loved how they composed one bite onto a spoon and left the rest for you to mix and match as you wanted.
Logan Poser Ramen. Another sour-y flavored dish, perfect noodles, cucumber, a nice crispy piece of lightly breaded pork on top.
Tempura veg. Wasn't greasy at all, beautifully crispy and thin coating.
Chicken drummies. Came on a dish with 2 "drummies", and two "wings". This night, I loved the drummies, the wings did absolutely nothing for me. The grilled scallion under the "wings" were damn good too.
Blood Sausage on top of a potato cake. This was the part of the meal where it started to become a bit overwhelming, but I loved the taste of the sausage. I believe it also had some pickled onion on top.
Misses: Beef wrapped in nori. The beef was perfectly medium rare, but the thing had zero flavor. Which I was actually a bit happy about since it was finally the last savory course.
The desserts. Both of them...The espresso ice cream itself was pretty good, but the homemade poprocks just didn't work. I don't even remember what the little crispy things sticking out the sides were.
The homemade doughnuts with purple potato puree. Not only was this crazy heavy for a dessert, it just wasn't very good, at all.
Overall grade: B+/B
Monday night, 11:30pm and I could still get a meal like this? You have to love it.
However, when it comes to Yusho, and this trip, the best was still yet to come.
Wow that is interesting, the complete opposite from my experience. It almost seemed like maybe they forgot to season mine since there was literally zero taste. Not even a hint of an attempt to season it.
As for the desserts, like I said I thought the soft serve itself wasn't bad, but keep in mind that I never, ever drink coffee. Love the smell but not really a fan of the taste.
Had no idea they serve the same ones in Chicago. Truthfully though, I'm not sure I even need a dessert after so many savory courses.
The second meal there was truly amazing, I'll get to that review soon. The Chef really went all out for my dining companion and I that night. A few of the courses were spectacular.
Day 3: Went to the baseball game at Cashman Field. Tried real hard to find something, anything chow-ish there, but nothing. Couldn't even find fresh roasted peanuts. Was a good game though, 51's won the game 21-9. But the first inning took 45 minutes. The whole game about 4 hours. Didn't even have time for a good lunch when I got back so I had to wait until dinner...
Night 3: Saw Elton John at Caesars(great Show) and was planning to go someplace there for dinner, but just couldn't find anything I was in the mood for. Ended up back at the Venetian, for a change, and after a few laps around restaurant row I decided on B&B and the Pasta tasting menu.
They sit me at a two top in the dining room near the back wall but facing the hallway, which I kinda liked for people watching. However as soon as I sit down, a "lady of the night" walks by and starts staring me down. I kinda look down and away but for about five minutes she stands there and stares. As you can imagine, it was real comfortable(not really)as I'm sitting down for dinner.
I was very happy they had the same beer as last year that I really liked called Friska, so I started off with one of those.
Then the food started to arrive.
First was the complimentary crostini with the chickpeas. Its the same one they've been giving for years and truthfully a bit boring, didn't help that it needed a bit of salt.
Then the pastas started to arrive...
Course one: Tagliatelle with asparagus and luigi guffanti butter. A nice start. The butter sauce was light, the asparagus was shaved thin and cooked by the hot pasta when mixed.
Course two: Goat Cheese Tortelloni with dried orange and wild fennel pollen. The sauce for this was actually the same luigi guffanti butter sauce as the first dish, but the addition of the pollen and orange completely change the flavor. Plus, the orange notes in the beer I was drinking went perfectly with this dish.
Course three: Alberto's Pyramids with san marzano "passato"...The waitress started telling me a whole story about how Alberto invented this dish and so on, but I could swear it used to be called Jose's Pyramids. So what gives? The dish is the same as it used to be, but I did like the sauce better this time. Had a much better, fresher tomato taste to it.
Course four: Beef Cheek Ravioli with black truffle and crushed duck liver. This dish was preceded by another story about how this was the dish that made Mario famous. Spectacular dish but was lukewarm by the time it arrived.
Course five: Black Spaghetti with n'duja and Sicilian pesto. Do you think I got another story before this dish? If you said yes, you were right!!! About how n'duja has the highest spice to pork ratio in the world and so on...The dish was amazing but yes it was very spicy. The waitress said she's never seen anyone eat the dish as fast as I did lol.
Course six: Handrolled Pasta Sfoglia with sage pastry cream. The story for this dish was about how it was an amazing 1000 layers of pastry. Well, maybe they should stop at 500 because this damn thing was as hard as a rock. I could barely cut it without almost flying off the plate. The pastry cream was nice though.
Course seven: Chocolate Budino with warm chocolate. Basically a small chocolate souffle with a rich chocolate sauce they pour into and on top of. How could you go wrong? I was stuffed at this point but still ate most of this.
One thing I didn't like about the night. The "Mario worship" the waitress at times displayed, it was a bit much.
Overall grade: B+/B
Funny part of the night: the waiter who waited on me last year recognized me. In the middle of dinner he walks by, looks at me, thinks for a second and then turns and smiles and says "I remember you from last year".
More random thoughts the FWIW Dept. . . . .
B&B is one of the other disappointments (Bartalotta, the final one), especially after Babbo in NYC. Now to be fair to B&B, this was not long after it first opened, and perhaps the kitchen and wait staff weren't yet "in sync," I don't know, but it was a disappointing meal. Indeed, it was -- to me -- what has always (traditionally) been wrong with Vegas "celebrity" restaurants: they phoned it in.
Clearly this has changed over, say, the last 10 years or so, but I think you know what I mean . . .
Day 4: Lunch at LOS
Today was the day I was meeting one of LV board regulars QAW at LOS for lunch. When I get into the cab and tell the driver where I'm going he looks at me and says "man, that's a real bad part of town". When leaving the cab he hands me a card from the cab company and says "don't walk around this neighborhood, call for a cab" That's an interesting start to this particular adventure.
Turns out, we both arrived at the same time, literally walking in the door at the same time, which was pretty funny. It was wonderful having someone there who is so knowledgeable about the restaurant, the cuisine and the menu.
Did I say menu? because this thing is a book. Page after page of dishes, my head was spinning. Once again, this is where having a pro with me was a huge help. We started with the Nam Kao Tod, which is the dish everyone talks about. Rightfully so, this dish was so full of flavor and boy was it spicy, but a good spicy. My motto is, if you aren't sweating, it isn't spicy enough. Loved the way all of the flavors play off each other but don't overpower one another. which became the theme of the day.
From there we went with three main dishes. Khao Soi, Kang-Ka-Noon and the crispy prawns. First the Khao Soi(curry with noodles and beef), just a fabulous dish. The creamy curry, the perfectly cooked noodles, the tender beef. I've never been a big fan of curry, until I tried this one.
The Kang-Ka-Noon(jackfruit curry) was the only dish I picked because it sounded really interesting. The jackfruit really did taste like an artichoke, but it soaked up all of the wonderful flavor from the sauce it was sitting in. Usually this wouldn't be my kind of dish, but I loved it.
Now to the shrimp. What can I say about these babies? The shells were the best part and I don't mean that in a bad way because the shrimp themselves were crispy, tasty, not the least bit greasy. But those shells, just extraordinary. Like salty, crunchy candy.
Once again, would like to thank QAW for meeting me for lunch, hopefully we can again when I'm back next time(which is looking like late sept/early oct).
Will also have to meet up with Uhockey next trip. Sorry we didn't get the chance this trip...
Next up will be: DB Brasserie
Sorry this is taking so long, been working like crazy lately.
Night 4 Dinner-DB Brasserie: I was supposed to go to Sinatra after a show at the Mandalay, but since I had Italian the night before at B&B, I just wasn't in the mood. At lunch with QAW I had mentioned walking past DB Brasserie and the menu seemed interesting. I texted him wondering if he has any info and apparently I was going to be one of the first to eat there, from this site at least.
Made my reservation on opentable and arrived to a 95% empty restaurant. That would usually scare me a bit, but It was late and the place is new, so it wasn't surprising.
I knew going in that I had to try the escargot. When reading over the menu a couple of days earlier, that was the dish to really catch my eye. For the main I decided on the Poulet Croustillant.
First the Escargot. I had never imagined a pairing of escargot with hazelnuts, chicken "oysters" and spatzle, however it all worked in perfect harmony. The escargot were perfectly tender. Not sure I've ever had them so tender and I've been eating escargot since I was about 5 years old. The hazelnuts brought out a further nuttiness in the snails and the spatzle were a nice bit of texture along with the nuts. The Chicken oysters were a nice tender bit of chicken but it really didn't need to be on the dish.
The chicken was good, but the underside was WAY too crispy, almost to the point of burnt, but thankfully didn't have the burnt taste. The sauce Diable was delicious. The first flavors you get is sour and fine herbs but the more you eat, the more the heat comes out. The Lyonnaise potatoes were too undercooked to really be able to enjoy.
Day 5 Lunch: Bouchon
I decided to give it one last try for lunch and turned out to be a huge mistake. Once again sat at the bar, in fact the same seat I had been at my previous visits this week. I decided to start with the salmon rillettes and the Croque Madame for the main.
I had no idea what the salmon rillettes were, had I known, I probably wouldn't have ordered it. They brought it to me in a little jar like the foie gras terrine. The waiter cut off the fat on top and left me to "enjoy". First of all, it looks like a little jar of expensive cat food, kind of smelled like one too. The taste was ok, but there was really nothing to it.
Now to the Croque, WOW what a disappointment. The thing had literally no flavor and the mornay sauce was bland as well. I barely ate any of it. Not even a nice runny egg yolk could help it. There seemed to be very little ham on the sandwich, for $19 it should be pretty loaded but it wasn't.
It was at this point where I realized that for me, its Brunch or nothing when it comes to Bouchon. Two straight trips, the only thing I've enjoyed was the chicken and waffles. I should try it for dinner one more time since its been years, but never for lunch again.
Grade: F/D- on this visit, even the service was awful. It took 10 minutes to get someones attention to bring me something for dipping my fries into. The two managers who were talking to a wine salesman halfway down the bar made like they couldn't even see me. The bartender/waiter was way on the other side of the bar doing who knows what.
Day 5 Dinner:
I was supposed to dine at Gordon Ramsay Steak this night. I had the last reservation of the night(10:15) my dining companion was running a little late, so I walked over to the desk and asked if it was OK if we go in about 5 or 10 minutes late because she was parking her car. They told me this wasn't possible since the kitchen was going to close. Again, I'm talking about 5, maybe 10 minutes, shouldn't be that big of a deal. The place did look busy so they must be taking orders. I had to cancel the reservation standing right there in front of them, I've never had to do that before, felt a little weird.
Oh well, where should we go? Why not Yusho? She agreed, we jumped into her car and off to the Monte Carlo.
After the twenty mile hike through the casino(just kidding, its only ten miles) we arrive. When the hostess grabs the menus, I tell her right off that we'll be going for the omekase. They offer us a seat inside or outside, we picked outside and I'm so happy we did. It was a perfect night and even though we were overlooking the strip, it felt so peaceful. We order a couple drinks and we're on our way. The waitress walks over and says the Chef remembers me from the other night so be ready for something special and she wasn't kidding.
We started off with the same pickles as last time, but this time accompanied by a salad with beets and deep fried tofu. Loved the tofu, at first it looked like it might be burnt, but it wasn't, crispy and light. I'm usually not a big fan of beets, but these were sweet, earthy with just that little bit of crunch for texture.
From there it was a blur of dish after dish, plus a few drinks. Some of the highlights:
The fried rice with dashi broth on the side. The rice was good and spicy, the earthy dashi broth would wash away the spice beautifully. My guest didn't like the dashi at all, but loved the rice.
Hamachi Kama: This was brought out on a big platter. It was accompanied by little pieces of nori, a type of slaw and a little dish of peanut sauce which was also slathered all over the fish. They encouraged us to make little tacos of of it. Let me tell you, this dish was so simple and genius the way all the flavors came together. You took a fork and raked the fish off the bones, put it in the nori, add some slaw and a little sauce, how could you go wrong?
When they placed this dish in front of us, the waitress announced this was our last savory dish of the night. When we're just about finished and completely stuffed, the waitress comes back and says that she's so sorry and there's actually one more savory dish. We look at her with incredulity, but she wasn't kidding.
Monster Ramen: The Chef comes out with the waitress and puts down the largest bowl of Ramen I have ever seen. On the side of this huge bowl, was the same pork(but bigger) as I had with the Logan Poser Ramen the last time, but this time there were grilled shrimp and maitake mushroom there too. The waitress then tells us that the Chef had wanted to do this dish for a long time. I felt so bad that we could barely eat any because it was so damn good. The noodles were perfectly cooked, the broth was similar to the Logan Poser Ramen but seemed a bit spicier. Both of us felt like we could explode and there was still dessert to come. Thankfully they took pity on us and only gave us the soft serve.
There was only one word to describe this meal, WOW!!! Walking out of there, I felt so happy and satisfied(yes ok, and a little drunk).
The staff, the kitchen, the whole place really hit this night out of the park.
Day 6 Lunch: Carnevino
I really wanted to get here during this trip, finally on Friday afternoon I saw my chance. Upon arrival, I was quickly seated at a table near the bar overlooking the casino. Not sure what was going on at the table next to me when I sat down, but the couple didn't seem to be getting along at all. Thankfully they left just a few minutes later.
The waiter/bartender arrived to take my order and filled me in on the specials. The first app he described was a spicy octopus preparation. Sold!!!
For the main I knew I wanted a burger. Going in I knew I should have it topped with cheddar and not the Gorgonzola. I just knew it would be too overwhelming. Of course, as I'm ordering the burger, the waiter starts talking about how wonderful and special the Gorgonzola they use is, so I give in and go with his recommendation.
Immediately afterwards I knew it was going to be a mistake, but I just went with it.
The octopus app arrives and it looks beautiful(I'll post a pic right after this) The octopus was so tender you could cut it with a butter knife. There were very thin slices of what seemed to be marinated octopus underneath and the sauce around was tangy, spicy, and just the right amount of seasoning to help bring out the flavor of the octopus but not overwhelm. The micro green salad on top was a nice palate cleanser between bites. Loved this dish and certainly among the best octopus preparations I've ever had.
Now to the burger. Unfortunately I forgot to take a pic of this, but it was a great looking burger. I had an order of the "Tuscan fries" on the side, but these are not the typical fries, they're basically roasted potatoes. The fries were a bit unevenly cooked, so one bite would be delicious and the next could be that weird under cooked potato flavor.
The burger itself was cooked rare, just like I wanted. But upon my first bite, I knew the Gorgonzola was in fact a mistake. The flavor of nothing but Gorgonzola washed over my palate just like I was afraid of. After a few more bites, I just couldn't take anymore of it. Just a shame because I was so happy about the burger being so perfectly rare. Can't blame the restaurant for the cheese disappointment though, this one's on me.
Day 6 Dinner
I had planned on going for a good dinner this night, but after the big lunch at Carnevino, I just wasn't very hungry until late night. I didn't want to go far, so the options were limited at 2:30am.
For about a second, I thought about going back to Noodle Asia, but instantly slapped myself back to reality. Ended up at Grand Lux Cafe and sat a the bar. My order was the same as almost every time I go there for a very late night meal. The buffalo chicken rolls and a BLT with well done fries.
The place was basically empty. A couple tables filled and a couple others at the bar. The buffalo rolls took over a half an hour to arrive. The sandwich arrived about twenty minutes after that. So yes, I was there for well over an hour. The bartender was very nice, and they had ESPN on so it wasn't that bad, but just WAY too long considering what I ordered and the time of night/morning...
The food? Average as always, except for the fries. They managed to be both overcooked and soggy at the same time. The sandwich was good, they didn't skimp on the bacon. But the damn bread always manages to scratch the roof of my mouth as I bite down on it. The buffalo rolls were ok, a bit greasy though. Perhaps the oil wasn't quite to temp when they put them in.
Day 7 Lunch: Public House
I woke up without an idea where I wanted to go for lunch. I walked around the strip a while and ended up at the Venetian(shocker, I know)...
I hadn't been to Public House since the year before, so I walked by and took a look at the menu. Looked pretty good and decided to give it a go. They offered me a table or the bar. I decided on the bar. I went with my usual iced tea and ordered the bone marrow and the french dip sandwich.
Well, this is where the waiting game began. In fact, the marrow was taking so long, the Chef sent me a cheese plate as an apology. A very nice gesture, but since I was hungry, I started eating the cheese and it killed my appetite for the rest of the meal.
Finally the marrow arrived. Two nice sized halves of bone nicely roasted and browned. Scoop some out onto some bread, some of the bacon marmalade, how can you go wrong? Like Anthony Bourdain says, its "the butter of the Gods"...I ate about half of it, looking back I wish I had eaten more, but probably saying that because I'm hungry right now.
Then the French Dip sandwich is placed in front of me, and it's huge. Starting to feel pretty full since I wasn't all that starving to begin with. Upon the first bite, the meat was completely overcooked. To the point of being dry. In a way I was kind of happy since I wouldn't have to force myself to eat much more of it. But of course, it was also disappointing. The fries were nice and crispy though, so I figured out how to make some room for a bunch of them.
This was yet another meal where I thought I'd be in and out in about 45 minutes and ended up taking well over an hour in a mostly empty restaurant. However, the bartender was an extremely attractive woman, so chatting with her certainly helped the time pass. I guess it wasn't ALL bad lol.
I love your reviews and love the way you laid this out. Genius. Thanks! Question for you… I am looking for a place to celebrate with 10-ish people (no more than 10, might be less)… Not all of them daring so a LOS or the like would not be the best. Of all the places you've been, not just detailed here, where would you go? I had an amazing meal at Sinatra (at the bar) recently and love Prime, which I am leaning towards, but I don't know many of the places that have started in the last couple of years.
re: Tom P
I know you asked the LIChef, but want to add my $.02 as I used to LOVE Prime (still like very much). My guess is if you like Prime you will love SW. I continue to tout the place as I believe if you are going to spend the $ that steakhouses in Vegas are commanding, you might as well go to a simply beautiful setting (very Vegas-esque) and where the food is consistently excellent (David Walzog is a legit chef who is on the line). And they have a decent variety of non-steak items to choose from also. There are a host of newer places that I sure others will mention but if you are leaning towards Prime, do something new like SW (or CUT, or Carnevino…).
re: Tom P
I appreciate the kind words Tom!!! Truthfully, I've never been to a Vegas restaurant with more than one or two people, but I'll try to help. First a word of warning, Some restaurants are wonderful with two to four or even six people, but completely fall apart when you get larger parties of eight to ten or more. Sometimes its the waitstaff, other times its the kitchen.
I see that LVI responded with some great info. Where would I go? I'm thinking so much right now that I feel like I'm pondering the fate of the universe lol.
Since you do love Prime, like LVI recommended SW would be a GREAT choice. Loved my dinner there a few years ago. On the other hand, the one time I was at CUT everything was amazing, except the steak which was so salty I could barely eat it(not kidding, it was that bad). Because of that, I have a hard time telling someone to go there before I give it one more try, which I might.
I've only been to Carnevino for lunch so far, but I'll be going back in Sept for either lunch or dinner. Especially since I already spend so much time in the Venetian.
The more I think about it, I'd probably go with either SW, Carnevino, or Prime(again).
Others bouncing around in my head right now:
Delmonico: I've never been here for dinner either, but did have a wonderful lunch there last year. Amazing service, but not the most lively of restaurants.
Stripsteak: Have had a pretty good dinner here in the past, but wouldn't be near the top of the list. Thought about going back this past trip, in fact the night I ended up at DB Brasserie, I thought about going here, but just wan't feeling it.
CraftSteak: Had a couple nice meals here in the past. Could be a comfortable place for a group, but the restaurant just didn't seem to have any personality, very boring. Food was good but tiny portions of sides and I was alone, with another person, the sides would be gone in a millisecond. Couldn't even imagine how many you'd have to order to satisfy a group of ten.
Day 7 Dinner: Yusho
Once again, I had just finished a show, it was late night and I was hungry. Even though it was Saturday night, there weren't many reservations available around midnight. According to Opentable on my cell phone, there were only about 10 restaurants with available reservations and Yusho was by far the best option.
So once again I took the long hike through the Monte Carlo. Upon arrival, I was greeted by one of the managers whom I had been speaking with on my first night. I sat at the bar and was waited on by the same waitress as the first night. In fact, I was in the same seat. Was almost like Deja Vu. Thankfully this time there were no recommendations of $2400 bottles of sake. But I did try out a few of the different cocktails they make. They're very tasty and very strong, so beware!!!
Once again I went with the Omekase. The real highlight for me on this night were the mushrooms.
First was the roasted maitake with a light vinaigrette. the light char from the roasting, the earthy taste of the mushroom and the brightness of the vinegar. To me, this kind of dish is heaven. So simple, so much flavor, so satisfying.
Second was the Matsutake mushrooms with the steak course. The steak itself was overcooked and forgettable, but the thick slabs of Matsutake were the star. Perfectly cooked, nothing but salt and pepper on them. I left half of the steak on the plate, but tried to eat all the mushroom. I was unsuccessful, left one slab behind.
Some of the other dishes this night were the same as the other nights, such as the Logan Poser Ramen, The Pickles, The chicken wing/drumette combo.
It was a very good meal, but it wasn't great. Not sure if I was a little burnt out of the place? was it because I had so many of the same dishes? or was it because it was late Saturday night? Not sure...
Day 8: Great Vegas Festival Of Beer
I bought a VIP ticket for this festival way in advance based on the promises made about what advantages a VIP ticket gets. One of them is the food by La Comida(more on this in a bit) It also was supposed to allow early admission one hour before the other ticket levels. When I showed up, there was only one line, there goes that advantage. They also give me this tiny tasting glass and tell me that if it breaks I'll have to buy a new one for $10. Wonderful so far.
Then you enter the festival and because they let everyone in at the same time, the popular breweries lines were huge right from the start. I decide to go to the "Brewers Lounge" and check out some of the exclusive beers we get to taste as VIPs. There were a few little tables set up in the bar area where they were pouring a few good beers, but they ran out of certain ones very quickly. Also, there were people smoking cigars all over the place, to the point of not being able to get away from the smell of them. I can deal with it to a point, but when its non stop for hours, I get a bit annoyed.
Now to the food. For the VIPs, there was a buffet of Mexican "delicacies" available. But I use the term "delicacies" very lightly. I tried a stewed pork dish, had no flavor. Tried two types of tacos, had no flavor. Tried the tamales, loved the texture of the masa, but nothing could give it any real flavor. It was such a shame because everything looked good and I was excited to try them, until the first bite. I was hungry though and since I was drinking I needed to eat some.
Obviously, this was a buffet and doesn't really reflect what they might be capable on a daily basis. Just completely disappointed about the experience as a whole. While I did get to taste some good beers, meet some interesting people. One guy gave me a taste of some homemade moonshine which was pretty cool. However, I paid double for the VIP ticket and in the end, it just wasn't worth it. I could have paid half as much and paid for snacks at the food trucks they had, some sounded pretty damn good.
Grade: Food I tried: F
Festival as a whole: D+/C-
re: Dave Feldman
yes, unfortunately true about events but I figured to give it a try. And yes, It is a generous grade. The reason? I really did have some fun there, met all sorts of nice people and tasted some really good beer. If I didn't buy a VIP ticket and just the regular for less than half the price, it would've been a much more enjoyable experience. Feeling as if you were ripped off before you even walk in is never good.