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first trip to vegas, a few questions.

Nice views from Mix atop Mandalay. I like to go early enough to watch the Strip lights come up as the sun goes down. Added bonus: no cover if you go early.

Jun 22, 2013
Sabine12 in Las Vegas

Dinner for July 4th in Vegas?

Another vote for Julian Serrano, although as a DC gal, I have a real fondness for Jose Andres, and I know he opened an outpost of Jaleo at The Cosmopolitan. While I haven't been to the Vegas location, it's always a good time and a good meal in DC.

I've eaten at several Mastro's, and maybe it was just an off night, but I went to the Vegas outpost last year and was sorely disappointed. Service was below par, there was live music that was obtrusively loud, and the food was just not up to my previous meals at other locations. YMMV.

Jun 22, 2013
Sabine12 in Las Vegas

Looking for good, quiet & moderately priced

I'd second a few of the recommendations here, specifically La Tavola, Floataway Cafe, Empire State South, The Optimist, and to a lesser extent, Ecco. I'd also add Kyma to the list of options.

A couple of folks have mentioned The Spence and No. 246. Just to be clear: neither are quiet, by any stretch of the imagination. If you do decide you're up for a "livelier" decibel level, I'd absolutely recommend No. 246 over The Spence. We felt The Spence was okay at best...the meal was very uneven from course to course. Add to that the fact that we were packed in like sardines (our party of four felt guilty that we were basically sitting in on the obvious date at the table next to ours), and that our server was inattentive and aloof, not to mention the food was better at No. 246 by a mile, and it's no contest for me.

Mar 26, 2013
Sabine12 in Atlanta

The Spence or Abattoir?

The Spence failed to impress us on a number of fronts. Weak service. Very loud dining room. Incredibly cramped quarters (the couple next to us was on a date and I felt embarrassed that we were so close that neither us nor they could enjoy a private conversation). And, perhaps worst of all, the food was very hit or miss. I actually sent my dessert back...something I don't think I've ever done in all my many years of eating dessert. I wanted to love it. And I just really, really didn't.

Jan 27, 2013
Sabine12 in Atlanta

Craft Cocktails or Mixology Cocktails

Hands down the best mixology/craft cocktails I've had in Vegas are at Fusion at Palazzo. I appreciate the sublime sophistication of the cocktails I've had at Sage and at Vesper, but I have to say, Wendy Hodges & Greg Black at Fusion are not only masterful but they're one heck of a lot of fun. I think their cocktails are..."bigger" in flavor and a broader spectrum of tastes than what I've had at Vesper and Sage.

The downside -- and I freely acknowledge it's a big one -- is that the bar is just a kiosk on the casino floor. So, no ambience, and lots of traffic and just generally lousy that way. But the drinks more than make up for it. There's one other note I'd mention: I found the drink prices at Chandelier & Vesper to be pretty steep if you're planning on spending much time there. Drinks at Sage were part of my dinner tab, so I don't really remember the damage there. But, Fusion is actually one of those annoying video poker/video blackjack kiosk bars. Again, from an ambience perspective, not great. But that means that as long as you're playing -- to the tune of $1 a hand -- you're drinking for free. So you get handcrafted, fresh, fantastic cocktails, terrific bartenders and you're not breaking the bank.

Nov 01, 2011
Sabine12 in Las Vegas

Lunch at Todd English's P.U.B.

I ate there last month -- a last lunch before heading to the airport. I had the chicken parm sliders and a side of mac & cheese. It was an exercise in extremes -- I could have eaten my body weight in the mac & cheese, but the sliders were an extraordinary failure. The breading on the chicken was soggy, and the shredded iceberg lettuce on them fared even worse. I found them to be flavorless and overall just...well, soggy. But my lunchmate enjoyed his shepherd's pie & there was that mac & cheese...so I'd give it another go. But I'd definitely avoid those chicken parm sliders....

Oct 17, 2010
Sabine12 in Las Vegas

N9NE Steakhouse

The food is really good, but another reason I'd recommend N9NE is I think it's a higher ROI than many of the other steak places in Vegas. Overall, I think it's priced more reasonably than most of the other steak places and I've found the food to be just as -- or in some cases -- better than the more highbrow spots. The only real drawback for me is that it IS a scene...as in see-and-be-seen scene. So it gets loud and conversation is all but impossible.

Aug 09, 2010
Sabine12 in Las Vegas

Best Bloody Marie

I'm a big fan of the Spicy Mary at Cafe Deluxe in the Venetian. Lives up to its name with a great savory/spicy flavor that goes well beyond just the horseradish-y spice too many places rely on. I always ask for extra asparagus spears, too...starts my day off just right.

Aug 09, 2010
Sabine12 in Las Vegas

If one HAD to pick a buffet in Vegas...

We're just back from a week in Vegas. Working on a full report, but I had to chime in here to say that we headed out to the M Resort one evening specifically to check out the buffet.

The M is waaay off the Strip to the south. They run a shuttle from the Fashion Show Mall to make it easier to get from A to B. It was a bit of a haul, but worth every minute of the trip.

The buffet was $23.95 (you can get a discount if you sign up for a rewards/players card at the resort) and included all-you-can-drink beer, wine and hard cider.

The facility is beautiful and very nicely appoinnted. The selection was tremendous, with everything from prime rib to rotisserie chicken to enchiladas to Thai curries to hummus to wood-fired pizzas. The food wasn't five-star, but it was much better than what you'll find on many LV buffets. Lots of good flavors, and everything was fresh. The surprising highlight? Sushi! Who knew?! The sushi was fantastically fresh and very high grade, and we got more than our money's worth just on sushi alone!

The dessert selections were extensive, but I thought they were of varying success. A fudgy brownie-esque cake was fantastic...the chocolate pie was just odd.

We had fun, had some pretty good food with some nice surprises, and thought that, from an ROI perspective, iit was a home run.

Sep 17, 2009
Sabine12 in Las Vegas

Wine bars in Las Vegas? Suggestions

I missed out on seeing this before your night out, but glad you had a good time. I just returned from a week in Vegas (working on my food report), and I would have to give a big thumbs up to The Hostile Grape (hate the name) at the new M Resort. The M is quite a ways off the Strip, but the resort does run a shuttle from the Fashion Show Mall out to the resort and back, so that makes it easier to visit.

The bar was very nice, and they have a very helpful staff who will consult with you and make recommendations. There is a full-service bar, but the real fun is the self-serve Enomatic machines around the bar. So you just purchase a plastic card, load it up with money, and then check out all the selections, swiping to purchase a pour of the ones you want to try. It's a great, fun way to try a lot of great wines - you can buy a "tasting" pour of many of the wines for only $2 - with less risk and investment.

As an aside, we always enjoy Enoteca San Marco, but on this trip I was a little disappointed with the by-the-glass selections...not as much variety as we've seen from them in the past.

At any rate, I'm glad to hear you had a great night out - maybe give The Hostile Grape a try on your next go 'round. We really enjoyed it and plan to go back on our next trip.

Sep 17, 2009
Sabine12 in Las Vegas

Art & Soul - Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner Experiences

Went for RW lunch and enjoyed it very much, although I do understand the comments about the decor. I liked the decor, but it did seem a bit disjointed with the menu and the feeling of the food. Didn't ruin my experience by any means, but it was...odd. At any rate, gave us fodder for chat during lunch. Speaking of which...

All four of us did RW menu. There was warm bread to start, and I was very excited to dig in. Art is famous for his magical hoecakes, so I was hoping to have some killer bread. Sadly, it was just okay. Not bad at all, but just...bread.

Of the four of us, three had the grilled shrimp on succotash starter, and all three of us would have licked the plate if we thought we could have gotten away with it. The portion was great - three sizable shrimp with enough char to give nice flavor, but not so much as to be tough/overdone. The skewer was on a bed of succotash that was great - very sweet, but still tasted fresh. The fourth in our group had chili to start. It was very meaty with a nice heat that wasn't obvious at first. I tried it, liked it okayfine, but I think chili is one of those very personal things and although it was tasty, I was glad to have the shrimp instead.

For entrees, three of us had the fried chicken with buttermilk mashed potatoes and sausage gravy. The chicken was really good - nice, light coating with just enough crunch to satisfy. Three pieces - a leg, a boneless thigh and a very large breast. All were juicy, but with my filling starter, I packed up one piece to go. The gravy was nice and creamy, and the sausage flavor wasn't overpowering, letting the potatoes still shine through. Our fourth had catfish, I believe. With sweet potatoes. She liked it okayfine, but didn't seem as enthusiastic as we were about the chicken. She also noted - and I agreed - that the sweet potatoes were a bit overdone - kind of soggy and oversauced.

We didn't find the dessert options to be that appealing, and we all ended up settling on the chocolate cheesecake. We were pleasantly surprised when it arrived - not so much a cheesecake as more of a mousse, with just enough tang to keep it from being cloying. And not grossly oversized. Just right.

We all thought the meal was very good - not amazing - and that the quality and portion size made it a steal for the $20 RW price.

Sep 03, 2009
Sabine12 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Summer '09 Restaurant Week - plans and reviews

AAARGH! That's a nice list, and I'm SO disappointed that VOLT joined late. That's really disappointing for me. We went there for Winter RW and it was AMAZING. The menu for Summer RW looks fantastic and when RW was announced they were the first spot I looked for, but no luck. So we settled, and I'm completely bummed.
Enjoy your evening at VOLT - and if they are offering the course-by-course wine pairing, we highly recommend it.

Aug 12, 2009
Sabine12 in Washington DC & Baltimore

DC Restaurant Week--August 2009. Dates?

VOLT participated in the last DC restaurant week (despite the fact they're in Frederick), and it broke my heart to see they aren't on the list this time 'round. Best RW meal I've ever had and definitely one of my favorite meals in the DC area in recent memory.

Jul 29, 2009
Sabine12 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Italian place to carbo load before Marathon

I need to confirm this, but on my way out of town last night I did a double-take because it appeared that Anna Maria's has closed. My jaw dropped open, but rush hour traffic didn't afford me the luxury to confirm. Although, honestly, I ate there about six months ago and was overwhelmingly underwhelmed.

Jul 18, 2009
Sabine12 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Cafe Mileto Going Downhill?

Well, I have to say that we ate here for the first time about three weeks ago and we felt our food was darn near inedible. And we're not the kind of folks who often say that kind of thing.

We'd heard many good things about the place, and were finally in the neighborhood recently so we decided to try it out.

I had spinach with garlic to start. I'm a huge garlic fan - HUGE. But the dish was oily with an overwhelming taste of garlic. The spinach was overcooked to the point of dark and wilted. There really wasn't much taste left in the spinach at all, leaving only the garlic and lots of oil for the palate. Not good.

For dinner, I ordered the Rigatoni Bolognese but they were out of rigatoni so linguini was substituted. Not a huge deal to me, but I did find the pasta to be very overcooked. The dish was bland and milky. It was sort of like having warm milk on pasta. Really. There just wasn't any flavor to it at all. My fiance had Rigatoni Salsicce (again, no rigatoni; they substituted ziti, I think). His pronouncement was that the dish tasted "weird" - not exactly precise, but telling. He said it just tasted like there was something in it that shouldn't be, and he also noted it was very heavy on the garlic. Believe me when I tell you he doesn't usually leave food on his plate, but he barely ate 1/4 of this before he told me just had no desire whatsoever to eat one more bite of it. I had pretty much reached the same conclusion with my meal as well.

In the positive column: the portions were generous. But, unfortunately, a whole big plate full of something you don't want to eat isn't really a big plus.

We left a bit shellshocked - and hungry. We had heard so many raves about Cafe Mileto, and were so excited to try it. Maybe it was an off night. Or maybe there are some issues.

Jun 12, 2009
Sabine12 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Volt

We tried out this place during the last restaurant week - one of three restaurants we tried out during the week, actually. Hands down, this is the one we felt gave us the most bang for our buck. We loved everything about this place, from the building to the sweet little take-home treats to the work of a local artist gracing the walls (they feature a different local artist each month). The ambience and the service and, yes, the food were fantastic. We're taking out of town guests there this weekend.

They did things with beets that were un-be-liev-able. And the steak? Melt in your mouth, perfectly cooked and exqiusite flavor. There was a goat cheese ravioli appetizer that was fantastic, too. And a tuna tartare starter got "oohs" all around the table. The only "eh" of the evening was the roasted chicken. A touch dry and pretty bland.

Not sure if it's a standard offering, but, during restaurant week they offered a wine pairing with a different glass for each course, based on what you ordered and a consultation with the sommelier to find out what you like - it was very reasonably priced, and I discovered a couple of terrific new labels.

Volt definitely feels like a special occasion place, and every aspect of our visit just reinforced that - and that includes the bar where the service was engaging and informative, and the drinks were unusual and tasty.

It's pricey, no question. But I really felt that you could taste the quality and freshness of the local ingredients, and the helpful staff was terrific. Due to the size of the dining room, I'd strongly recommend a reservation - you'll find them on Open Table. Cheers!

May 20, 2009
Sabine12 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Feeling lazy and uninspired -- need idea/theme for simple cocktail party

I love the 50s idea...especially the martinis! I noticed someone suggested fondue...I've had several of those and they're great fun and since I have two authentic fondue sets circa the late 50s, you might be able to combine the two ideas.

I often rely on a Spanish "theme" with marinated olives, some nice cheeses, salami and, of course, ham. Good rustic breads. If I decide to branch that out into more of a Mediterrean thing, I might add some hummus (homemade or slightly doctored from the grocery), maybe add some naan or fresh pitas, some frozen spanakopita. To make my life easier (I'm not so lucky as to have a former bartender in the house!), I also try and do a limited bar that complements the menu and usually do a "signature" cocktail for the evening. For the Spanish theme, I mix up a couple of pitchers of sangria - one red and one white - using killer recipes I pried out of the owner of my favorite local tapas place and those always seem to be a hit.
I'd love to hear how it goes and to see the menu you put together when it's all over. Have fun!

Dec 04, 2008
Sabine12 in Home Cooking

Visiting DC -- Need a week's worth of recommendations

I'd third the suggestion of Corduroy and second the notion that Zola isn't that impressive. The place itself is nice...maybe grab drinks at Zola and enjoy the ambience a bit, then head across the street to Zaytinya for dinner.

Definitely try and get in at Komi...well worth it.

Sep 24, 2008
Sabine12 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Morgantown, WV

I'd echo many of the suggestions of others here, but I still felt compelled to reply to the OP.

I think your "steer clear of this town...for food or anything else" comment was unnecessary. There is a lot of charm in Morgantown - and, as others have mentioned and I can confirm - some pretty good food, too -- if you take some time to find it.

Spending a few days in a small, rural town that, admittedly, requires some effort on the part of a Hound, and then making such a sweeping generalization not only about the food, but about the town itself, is lazy. And your snipe about the "optimistically named 'Wharf District' only echoes that - with only a few questions of local folks, you would have quickly learned why the District is named such.

In my opinion, Hounds are folks who do a little more digging, and a little less judging.

Feb 16, 2008
Sabine12 in Mid-Atlantic