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Carnevino: If only the food had the same attitude as the staff

Size was actually fine. $ price was insane. Our fault I suppose as I have read similar gripes before. Place has ripped me off 1 time too many.

We should try and hookup NYC for a dinner. It is white truffle season after all...

about 6 hours ago
LVI in Las Vegas

Carnevino: If only the food had the same attitude as the staff

Let me begin by saying that I had my doubts about Carnevino wowing me from the outset. I will always go to a restaurant to taste the food, pure and simple. No matter how good or bad a reputation, the food is what matters. But my doubts stem from my previous visits. And all three made me come away scratching my head. But this time I was convinced it had turned around. This time I was going to be different...

It was Sunday October 5th and this was our last meal in Vegas for our group. We decided to sit at the bar to watch the football game in a more relaxed setting. The bartender was great, accommodating and an interesting guy. Not only that they had a seasonal Dogfish Head that was spectacular (wish I could remember the name). Right away I asked about the availability of the Riserva Steak (although many have stated that you can call in advance to check on availability, I was explicitly told in more than one phone call that the restaurant does not know until that day. Very odd given what I have read here) and was delighted to find out they had it available, albeit in NY Strip and not Ribeye.

After inquiring about the Riserva, the sommelier stopped by inform us that a nice aged Barolo works beautifully with the Riserva steak. And I have no doubt it is one of those marriages like Foie and Sauternes or Thai and Reisling...wink). However, we were all happy drinking our beer and cocktails so we thanked her and said we were going to stick with what we were drinking. Well, as my 13 year old daughter would say...humft! She was not going to take no for and answer. So she proceeded to tell us of her education, awards, people she knew and the wines that she had consumed. Surely we were so impressed we were going to spend $600 for a $100 bottle of wine, right? No thank you. And she kept trying. It was almost comical. Finally we said she could try as hard as she wanted to sell us wine, we were not in the mood. She acted as if we just dumped her for the senior prom for a prettier girl. Whipped around and said something to the bartender and left.

Phew, now we could look at the menu and really get down to what we came for. Here what we ordered:

Grilled Octopus

Steamed Clams

Stracciatella

Prosciutto di Parma 'Riserva' (there's that Riserva thing again!)

Love Letters

Garganelli Bolognese

Tagliatelle

Orecchiette

(5) Ricotta and Egg Raviolo

Mascarpone & Guanciale Mashed Potatoes

Broccoli Rabe

1.5" Riserva

Ribeye for 2

I will not give you a play by play for each dish. Pastas were ok to great (Garganelli was great, Egg Ravioli was good but a complete RIP OFF at $25 per, and all the others were good. All the pastas were cooked perfectly though...PERFECT). The Mascarpone & Guanciale Mashed Potatoes were so meh I didn't get it. Luke warm, a tad gummy and honestly lacking the flavor I expected. The Ribeye was massive and well cooked. If it were not for the salt and olive oil I'm not sure there would have been much flavor. I can't remember how long they said it was aged (90 days I think) but it lacked that pronounced funk that is synonymous with Dry Aged Steak. And maybe it was because we did taste it next to the Riserva. Now this steak was very good. BUT...for a steak that was aged 240+ days and priced accordingly the funk was nothing special nor different from, say a Lugars or Wolfgangs steak. And here's the other rub; the two steaks were almost identical in color and texture. I was expecting it to be completely different and the only thing that distinguished it from the Ribeye was the moderate funk.

I will not say the meal was a failure because it was not. It was fine. But for the accolades that some bestow on Carnevino, I expected a whole lot more. As for the inevitable comparisons between Bazaar Meats and Carvevino...Bazaar Meats is new and has tremendous potential in terms of dishes just missing their mark. Carnevino just plan misses the mark for me which is the only consistent thing it has going for it in my opinion.

about 7 hours ago
LVI in Las Vegas

TR: Robuchon, LOS, MO Tea, Giada, and more (LONG)

Easier to open a 90!

I don't smoke but felt the need to smoke a cigarette after reading this! Butterfli311, your post made me smile when you said "...and many would probably find that laughable..." as I am always thinking and saying the same! $800 is a lifetime of memories and for those obsessed with food (hand raised) will forever remember every morsel from experiences like yours.

1 day ago
LVI in Las Vegas

Emeril's New Orleans Fishhouse... What to have?

Any of the soups, Octopus, and Redfish. I'm a sucker for Emeril and many may disagree but I've always had a good meal here. Not a destination type place but if you end up here, it is solid.

1 day ago
LVI in Las Vegas

China Mama needs more love on this board

Looking forward to review

Oct 19, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Vegas with boring old farts...

+1

Oct 19, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

China Mama needs more love on this board

Where is my editor when I need her/him! Four is correct. As far as with just two of you, not sure. Many of the dishes are large, like the beef rolls or pork stuffed pocket bread. And we always go for lunch. With Chada and District 1 in the same complex I can't imagine going to CM for dinner. Again, zero atmosphere.

Oct 18, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Hakkasan - Better than it needs to be, not as great as it COULD be.

Our most recent trip was great (review on another thread) and cheap. All dishes were really tasty, although the Dan Dan were not as great as in the past (was more a spaghetti and heavy handed with the peanut butter I think). For the price I highly recommend. Authenticity, I really can't speak to as I lack the knowledge. But boy is it good with a frosty cold BYOB Tsingtao!

Oct 16, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Any legit Pastrami sandwiches?

Agree on Carnegie but still a far cry from the original and what others would call an authentic experience.

And I understand you are looking for sandwich recommendations but if the mood strikes, the Veranda (recently just dropped the "h" off of Verandah) serves a MEAN corned beef and pastrami has for breakfast. Quickly supplanting the Huevos as my favorite breakfast there.

Oct 16, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Vegas with boring old farts...

Absolutely agree! And while it has been my experience many times in the past, including the sommelier in your trove has resulted in getting the fee waived, this has not been so much the case in recent years. Off strip privately owned establishments seem much more amenable while strip casino restaurants seem to have lost that personal touch and are squeezing every last $ out of patrons. And I understand that as the locally run establishment is looking to forge more of a personal relationship as most of their clientele are local while the casinos have constant turn over and therefore do not care. At least IMHO.

Oct 16, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Lotus of Siam: Still wonderful but...

Interestingly enough, one of our party had decided to drink Sake on our last dinner and I remember thinking at the time that while I had never had Sake with Thai food it did have the characteristics that lends it's self to some Thai dishes. While it was not all my focal point the limited amount seemed to marry well, although no where near as well as the Dönnhoff Reisling the rest of us were having.

Oct 16, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Vegas with boring old farts...

A special bottle of wine is great to drink, no doubt. But there are times that wine elevates the flavor profile of certain foods and visa versa.

Oct 15, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Vegas with boring old farts...

Skip Rao's (even the original isn't really a culinary destination), Il Mulino is good (very expensive) as long as you have not been to the original 100 years ago, while Joe's is surprisingly decent for a "chain" and this time of year is best as stone crabs will be fresh.

I have never been but I just had a friend come back this past weekend and he said Portifino was excellent.

Oct 15, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Hakkasan - Better than it needs to be, not as great as it COULD be.

Zero atmosphere. If you don't have a car, an expensive cab ride. My guess, not "authentic" and there are dishes that are meh ( xiao long bao for example). HOWEVER, I very rarely miss the opportunity to eat here given I always rent a car, there are some seriously tasty dishes and above all, very reasonable.

Oct 15, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Mr. Mamas, a solid breakfast spot

If April pans out, you will have to join me (plus the three monsters and their hot mom ;-) ).

Oct 14, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Vegas with boring old farts...

We talk about it all the time, it's all subjective. But I will say that you take the attitude and $ only (sans Lugers card) policy at Lugers out of the equation and Lugers has a MUCH better reputation than Carnevino, hands down (use YELP and Zagat as a reference). I loved the funk of the Carnevino steak but was very underwhelmed with it at the same time. Was expecting much more for 240+ days and a months salary!

Oct 14, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Mr. Mamas, a solid breakfast spot

Oh my that Baby Stacks menu looks INSANE!

Oct 14, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Vegas with boring old farts...

Not fair. I preferred the steak at Bazaar to the non-Riserva at Carnevino. But it was miles more expensive but comparable to Riserva. I thought the Riserva was VERY good but not dramatically different from a well aged steak from, say a Lugers or Wolfgangs and they are a fraction of the price, even at NYC prices. I will have a complete review of Carnevino up soon. $, service (sommelier needs to get off her high horse and like my kids, know what "NO" means) and inconsistency plagued our dinner.

Oct 14, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Vegas with boring old farts...

LOL! Can't make this shi* up.

Oct 14, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Lotus of Siam: Still wonderful but...

I can only do between April 11-18, kids break. As far as the BYO I have brought before and they are fairly accommodating. But I would hesitate to bring any white unless rare or special as their list is rockin in that dept. Beer is another story and would defer to a pro like QAW.

Oct 14, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Vegas with boring old farts...

I just returned from almost the same crowd a week ago. In terms of BYOB, it is best to call the restaurant directly and ask to speak with the manager or sommelier directly. Many places do allow you to bring a special bottle or two, even if it is not "policy". My experience with BYOB in the past has been relatively good. However, I have noticed that the strip/casino restaurants are much less willing these days than they were, say 3-5 years ago. And when they do allow the fee is egregious, in the neighborhood of $75-$100 in some cases.

In terms of food, it really depends on what you are willing to spend and how far you are willing to travel. Our group (all late 40s into late 50s) just ate at Bazaar Meats, Lotus of Siam, Jaleo and Carnevino. Bazaar and Carnevino are the two that are most similar and everybody was unanimous saying that we would all go to Bazaar Meats again and none of us saw the point in returning to Carnevino. That's not a ringing endorsement for BM by no means but rather we felt the potential for greater things was apparent (if anybody in your group is a steak tartare fan you MUST order that if you go) while for many of us Carnevino just fails to impress all the while making you feel as if they have done you a favor by allowing you to dine there. Carnevino does have more in terms of selection and some of their pastas are delicious. But when you are charging $28-$35 for a small serving of pasta it should blow your mind and make you say "that was one of the greatest bites I have ever experienced" which it did not even come close to doing.

Oct 14, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Lotus of Siam: Still wonderful but...

Damn, love the idea. Are you local? I am hoping to be in Vegas in April and then not until Sept/Oct of next year. I would LOVE to be involved in a dinner of this magnitude. And I am sure there are others that would feel the same.

And I can't agree with you more about the subjectivity of food. No doubt!

Oct 13, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Mr. Mamas, a solid breakfast spot

Looking for something different our group decided to give Mr. Mamas a try on our latest trip. It is about a 5 minute drive from our Hotel, west out Russell, a right on Decatur and it's right there. Nothing impressive when you walk in other than one of the nicest hosts owners I have met. We were seated immediately (we got lucky apparently as normally it is a very crowded restaurant at that time) and we perused the menu. "Chicken fried steak with sausage gravey, three eggs and choice of potato". ARE YOU KIDDING ME! There were many other items to choose from but this jumped out at me. Before our order came out the owner brought out one of their cinnamon buns as a very nice gesture to make one of us feel better about an incident he over heard us talking about. This cinnamon bun was delightful. Soft, warm, gooey and delicious. One of the best I have ever had. Out came our breakfasts and the heart attack on a plate was placed in front of me. Exactly like I envisioned. I took one bite and was in heaven. Freshly prepared (they used all fresh ingredients) and perfect tempature, the golden crust of the steak and one of the best sausage gravies I have ever had (mine notwithstanding) proved perfect vehicles for each other. It was absolutely delicious. The home fries that accompanied it were fine (the waitress recommended over the hash browns, which in the end were far better we all decided). My friend had the breakfast burrito with a fresh pico on the side while my brother had pancakes. Both were excellent though I preferred the burrito (admittedly I am not a fan of pancakes unless I am in the mood). The coffee was good but nothing special.

This may become a regular breakfast destination for my trips to Las Vegas. Easy to get to, incredibly nice staff, excellent service, very affordable (the cost of three breakfasts were the same as 1 at my favorite Veranda) and above all very good quality will keep me coming back (like we did two days later).

Oct 13, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Lotus of Siam: Still wonderful but...

Some valid points overshadowed by "...a decent but not stellar list of German Wines that sort of pair with Thai food but I beg to find much of such in Thailand..." Does the fact that a stellar Reisling does not come from and is not widely available in Thailand have anything to do with natural pairing? Thai and Reislings/Gewürztraminers are about as good as Foie Gras and Sauternes.

As far as the quality is concerned, I will just say LoS is still my favorite restaurant in Vegas (bang for buck) but as I have said, taste is subjective.

Oct 10, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Lotus of Siam: Still wonderful but...

I have read other reports citing the same concerns. Not so much here and I really didn't pat particular attention to them. But I think smaller portions are here to stay. I'll just have to go with you next time!

Oct 09, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Bazaar Meats, potential but has a way to go.

We had sprouts?

The tomato salad was very fresh, flavorful and refreshing. But the $15 price tag was just nonsense. C'mon now!

Forgot the baby corn too. I guess if I would have had this without al the hype I would have liked them a bit more. But the reviews here and other blogs regarding the baby corn just had the bar raised way to high. They were fine and that's about it.

I'll hit you up in an email regarding April (I'm 50/50 at moment).

Oct 09, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Lotus of Siam: Still wonderful but...

As always our meal was wonderful. Every dish we had has been reviewed and reviewed ad nauseam on this board so I will spare you all the details. And the service was, as always proud and exemplary. But there have been rumblings here and other boards about portion sizes and how they have shrunk. This trip really made me do a double take. Every dish...literally EVERY DISH that we ordered was dramatically smaller than in the past. And my last trip was in June! There is no doubt that food prices have gone up and therefore it would only be logical for LoS to either hike prices (which I would prefer cause I am such a fatty) or cut back on the portion size. But the size of the portions are, in some cases, about half of what they used to be and in some cases more expensive. The Northern Larb (for the record, I like the other Larb MUCH better. Many have pushed the northern here but for my taste buds gimme the regular) and the Panang Duck are considerably smaller. The quality is still there, 100% but quantity is almost half for some of the dishes.

The price/quality ratio still FAR outweighs any place on the strip...BY FAR. But this trip did give me a bit of a pause.

Oct 08, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

China Mama needs more love on this board

I apologize straight away for yet another post about China Mama. But seriously people, this place is a complete gem. Granted its a couple miles off the strip up Spring Mountain with zero atmosphere but for the price, this place can't be touched. Is it perfect? Not a chance. But for the price I put it up against anything similar. For of us had the following:

2 Spicy Wontons
1 Scallion Pancake
1 Dan Dan Noodles
1 Beef Roll
1 Stuffed Pork Pocket
1 Pot Sticker

Total bill was something like $43. Go to the new Ku Noodle in SLS and it's easily $143 (that maybe a bit of an exaggeration but early reports seem to have Ku stratospherically priced. Sorry to pick on SLS...)

Oct 08, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Bazaar Meats, potential but has a way to go.

Eloquent as always QAW. One thing I agree/differ on is the tariff. But we are coming at things from a completely different angles. As a local I would find it hard to swallow these prices on a daily basis. Living in CT and working in NYC, even I find them offensive. But as I have posted many times before, as a tourist I have budgeted the funds for this trip and that, while distorted as it may be, makes it easier to accept. What I can't get over and accept is the lack of consistency and quality that many of these places charge. If BM were to stay at this quality level I would be hard pressed to ever go again. Out of pure respect for Mike, I returned to Carnevino and sadly I have to say that unless I am looking for a specific pasta I will never go there again (report coming shortly). And the same is true for B&B. And trust me, this is not specific to Batali restaurants. Many Strip establishments suffer the same maladies.

I really can't say this enough, but dining with you and Lee was a genuine pleasure and I truly hope we get to do it again either in March/April if I am lucky enough to come or next year in September. And if you are in this neck of the woods please let us know. We could do some real damage here in NYC.

Oct 08, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas

Bazaar Meats, potential but has a way to go.

Bazaar Meats is a very good restaurant. It has some flaws that are in no ways fatal unlike the SLS itself which is another story... The space is huge, but not uncomfortably so. And the way the different cooking areas are laid out it is quite interesting. I also loved the "display" refrigeration cases containing the various meats, fish, and poultry. There are tables, booths and other pockets throughout the restaurant. We were seated at a beautiful large marble table surrounded by wine cabinets (I think more decoration than function). A really beautiful space.

My dining companions were my two brothers, a close friend, my fraternity brother and the distinguished QAW and LIC. It truly was a pleasure to break break with the two of you and share stories. I certainly hope we can arrange more dinners like this in the future, whether it is here in NYC area or back in Vegas. Sound the whistle and I'll be there.

We started with several appetizers that included the large chicherrón accompanied with a Greek yogurt sauce (hint of curry?) that was pretty tasty. The little cotton candy foie gras were quite delicious and very well presented. I could eat 100 of those little suckas. Then there was the Iberico Bellota that is just simply stunning ( as is the price but I will get to that below). This was followed by the single best tartare I have ever had...anywhere. Simply stunning. To me, this was the best dish of the evening. The flavors were absolutely perfect, not overly salted, as some tend to be. But I will admit there were two very odd occurrences with this dish. Literally. First were the Parker House rolls that accompanied it. They looked great in their cast iron pan...until you realized that they were not freshly baked, cold and quite hard, like the pan they served in. Sure they could have been fresh but my guess is not. But even worse was the plate that was put in front of us. The plate was hot...not plate warmer warm. Hot as if it were directly out of the dishwasher or an oven. Compound this with the fact that the plates that were put in front of us to eat the steak off of were cold...not room temperature cold but as if they came from the freezer. Seriously. But these are minor adjustments that will be very easily rectified over time.

The uni atop blood sausage was as clunky a dish as I have had in a while. Bad? Not at all but these two ingredients went together like an '82 Latour and a fiery Larb. Together fighting each other but separately delicious. Very odd. Next was the simply grilled sausage. Perfectly balanced spice and just the right amount of fat to keep it moist, not dry. Very nice.

For our steak we chose the 3lb Washugyu Ranch wagyu. It was as close to,perfectly cooked as a steak gets. Not rubbed with anything to mask the beautiful flavor and just the right amount of salt and pepper. Was it perfect? No. However it was excellent. But like the Iberico Bellota I have my reservations about the price. At $90 a pound it should have taken my clothes off and escorted me to my room and lit a cigarette for me. Which brings me back to the Iberico Bellota. The same portion size at Jaleo is $35 and here it is $70 (they claim it is 2-3x the portion of Jaleo but I call B.S.). Finally we had the Robuchon Potatoes which have been described as ethereal and decadent. On this night they were over worked resulting in a fairly gummy butter drenched mash. Not bad but the execution needs work.

I am sure I have omitted something (purposely the unremarkable desserts) and I will let QAW comment on the lack of beer on the menu (even though they did carry my favorite Dogfish Head 90). Overall I will say that with time this could easily become the best steak restaurant in Las Vegas. It's not there yet, even though they charge as if they were (not as bad as the attitude infused overly hyped Carnevino, more on that in its own review). If the SLS survives and this end of the strip thrives (which I really hope it does) I will gladly return. But it's on a short leash, especially because of the tariff. And since I wrote this in two sittings please excuse the choppy sequence.

Oct 07, 2014
LVI in Las Vegas