I frequently visit Vegas on business and often eat solo, I have found that most places receive solo diners well and often times pay additional attention to them. I have had some great conversations with chefs and waitstaff simply because I was eating alone. I do always bring a book but I am very chatty.
Last February I had breakfast there before going hiking in Zion National Park in Utah and I went in essentially sweats and and a sweater and was fine. So don't worry about the dress code. They are not gonna kick you out!
This is where I went today. In a word, perfect. The food was great, the waitstaff made you feel like you mattered and the menu choices were limited but interesting. Just loved it. They even worked very hard to accommodate my sensitivity to onions. They worked very hard at making sure that I knew about everything that was in a dish and were willing to make substitutions as necessary. Very impressive.
Yes I tried that too. Like I said, I tried LOS 4 times. Each time with a different waitperson and different strategy. I took recommendations and made my own choices and it didn't matter. I eat Thai food a lot, it is amongst my favorite, and I am lucky to have a fair number of Thai places close by to where I live. After 4 times I think that I am being fair in panning Lotus of Siam. Four times is enough to get a pretty good feel for any place.
I was in the mood for Indian and taking everyone's recommendation I tried Origins.
When I got there the place was empty. The decor was nice, sedated lighting, not over staged.
We were greeted by what later turned out to be the busgirl. She was nice enough but didn't know much about the menu.
As a matter of fact, the first thing she gave both of us was a drink menu. We had to ask for the regular menu.
We had wanted to try the tasting menu but no one, including the waitress was able to adequately explain it to us. There was no list on what was included in the menu and we were first told that we could pick each course off the regular menu then told that we could only pick the entree. Since we couldn't get a straight answer we skipped it.
Instead we ordered Samosas and the Punjabi gram flour dumplings in silky yogurt sauce.
The samosas were really good and presented in an interesting manner. Both the tamarind and mint sauces were perfect. A little spicy but totally made the dish. As a matter of fact, I kept them for the entree.
The dumplings....or rather dumpling, as there was one, had a nice flavor but was floating in a sea of sauce without anything to mop it up with. The dimpling itself was meltingly tender and lovely. The sauce was too understated, but my companion liked it well enough.
For an entree he ordered the chicken with mushrooms and prunes and I ordered the duck...cause it is highly likely that if duck appears on the menu, I will order it.
Presentation was again beautiful...but...for the chicken at least, very bland. It was chicken breast in a pale creamy sauce with rice. So white on white, a little green would have been welcome. The duck was presented beautifully with a crispy thigh, atop a roasty and perfect rectangle of decadent butter poached potato.
The duck was crisped to the point of being defated, with the meat still tender. Right on the mark. The butter poached potato had a fantastic, rich butter flavor and was perfectly cooked. The kumquat marmalade was a perfect accompanyment and I love love loved the way it was presented in an individual jam jar. It could have used a little more sour, but I did that myself by adding a bit of the tamarind.
The chicken was a tight (tightest I have ever seen) roll of flattened breast stuffed with a good selection of tasty mushrooms. I did not taste the prunes. The chicken was a bit dry in places and while the sauce was pleasant, it needed something else. A little kick of something. Again, something I fixed by adding a bit of tamarind sauce.
The portions were nice but not too filling. My companion and I even had room for dessert,
We ordered a sampler consisting of the carrot pudding which should have been rolled in cigars but was not, the beet pudding, and the mango kulfi.
My companion took an instant disliking to both the carrot and the beet puddings, finding them unpleasant. I on the other hand, enjoyed the carrot pudding, but agreed on the beets. The beet (which I am normally a fan of) were oddly grainy, like they had let the sugar crystallize. It was horrible. The carrots, while unusual, and with a slight vegetal edge, did not suffer from the same problem as the beets and while unusual were not unpleasant.
The kulfi was perfect. Creamy and dense with the slow melting characteristic that is common to really good kulfi. It had a light but noticeable mango flavor and it was not too sweet.
Over all the food was a little hit or miss, the dishes that were good were spot on good. The dishes that weren't were still not bad.
The service however was awful. Our waitress talked to us twice and then vanished. Her assistant, the bus girl was very attentive though. But she didn't know much and presented with questions did a deer in headlights look. When I complained about the beets she just ran off with the tray and did not offer to make substitutions. We were ignored for most of the ordering process, our questions were not adequately answered and for the most part we had to flag down people when we wanted something.
Would I go again? Probably not. Though I think I am going to develop that kumquat recipe and add tamarind to it. That was yummy.
I am looking for moderately priced off-strip restaurants for dinner.
My expenses cap off at $55 so I would like to keep it around there.
Places I have tried:
Raku - love it to death
I am pretty much up for anything.
I want to avoid Casino because I am allergic to smoke.
I am here Monday-Thursday.
Thank you for your suggestions.
I third the Raku recommendation. It is just about my favorite spot to eat. Don't miss their home made tofu. Also if pork belly is on the menu, do give it a try as it is about the most luscious thing that I have EVER put into my mouth. Velvety doesn't even begin to describe it.
Firefly is pretty good. I also recommend RE Tapas. Very original.
The only place I MUST eat in Vegas is Raku.
It is Japanes pub food but so good it hurts.
I have never been disappointed by that place.
Another places I absolutely adore is Rosemary's. Great ambiance, way off strip, very good food. Another no fail place.
Lotus of Siam on the other hand is a whole different story. While I have heard good things about it, every time I have tried it (4 times), I have been very disappointed. Service has been horrible and the food did not meet expectation. It wasn't bad, but the Thai place down the street from my house is better. As is the one several blocks away and the one across town. You get the idea. I didn't find it particularly special. It didn't help that the last time I was there the food took forever to arrive and when it did it was luke warm. A friend who lives in Vegas tells me of similar experiences with Lotus of Siam.
I was at Artem a few months ago and was hugely disappointed. I was told it was an excellent restaurant but when we got there the food was awful.
I did get the story on what happened though. Artem was the original owner and had indeed created a wonderful and authentic kitchen. The inside of the place is amazing. Looks just like a traditional Russian wooden hut. Loved it.
Anyway, Artem, who was in his early 30's died of a massive heart attack while swimming laps. His father became owner of the restaurant and renamed if to Artem in his son's honor. But he did not have the heart to run it. So he sold it off to an interest group.
I met them when I was there. They were business people rather than restaurateurs. They had eliminated most of the interesting dishes on the menu and had replaced them with items that could be bought as mass produced. Food was disappointingly greasy. Flavors were off.
I would recommend skipping it.