That's good to hear!!! I might have to give that a try. Haven't been to Eataly in a while now, definitely due for a return trip.
As for Carnevino, I did enjoy it, ok some of it. As compared to the prime steaks I've had in the past, I suppose it was possibly better than some. It definitely had beautiful marbling, I'll give it that. That's about all I can say though, especially when you factor in the hefty price tag. I also think more consistent seasoning could have made all the difference in the world. One bite would be delicious, the next could be no flavor at all and the only way you'd know you were chewing meat was the texture. For a $95 ribeye, I expect a bit more. I enjoy going there for the pastas most of all, especially at lunch.
Sounds good!!! I'll make a hotel reservation right now for that week and see how it goes over the next few months. I'd certainly love to be there.
The whole thing about prime steak brought back a memory of my dinner at Carnevino. When I asked about which steaks are prime, the waiter gave me a whole spiel on how their meat isn't necessarily graded prime, but its at the same level and in many cases even better than prime. Really? That's a new one...
The staff shouldn't be falsely talking up their beef as prime if it is in fact not. The maitre d' never coming back with an answer is a bad start in my book and a big pet-peeve of mine. If I ask a question, I'd expect it answered within a reasonable time frame. Certainly by the time you sit down, order your drinks and are looking over the menu. Its not like you're asking for an explanation on the meaning of life, you asked a simple yes or no question.
Night 8: Raku
Once again, I had a friend with me so I thought seeing the difference between my solo meal and a two person Omakase menu. Truthfully, the difference between the two meals was limited which was a bit surprising/disappointing.
The biggest difference was the HUGE skewer of foie gras they gave each of us. I love foie gras, but even for me this was a bit too much. Plus, my guest wasn’t too fond of it so I had that one too. Never thought I’d complain about getting too much foie gras and yet, here I am lol…
Another difference was instead of splitting the fried fish this time between a soup and the rest fried on the bone. This time, it was just one huge fried fish. Certainly not complaining, it was light, crispy, not greasy at all, tender, everything you’d want in a fried fish. Of course, I had to show my guest some of the parts many people don’t think to eat but are the best, like the cheeks of the fish.
Since I missed out on the pig ears on Monday, I just had to have them on Wednesday. I was skeptical a bit when they placed the dish down in front of us. There were two parts. The slightly crunchy cartilage and the fatty “lobe” I guess you’d call it. I most definitely preferred the crunchy part to the fattier part, but both parts were very good. Is it one of my favorite dishes? No, but I did enjoy it and would order it again.
The rice bowl at the end was also leaps and bounds better on this night that the last. This time it had all sorts of goodies mixed in there, not just a huge load of ikura like last time. There was a real depth and complexity to the dish. Not just in flavor, but texture as well. It covered salty, sweet, tart and crunchy. It was just a fantastic final savory course to round out the menu and nice a nice scallion/dried onion component to it, which I love. But the best was yet to come.
Next up was Dessert and after the run of the mill ice cream dessert I was given on Monday, I wasn’t really expecting much. That was a huge mistake.
After clearing off the last of the now empty dinner plates, the waitress puts down these two beautiful desserts in front of us. One was a small round cheesecake, the other was a green tea crème brulee. The cheesecake was rich, but not overly so. It was amazingly light considering the amount of flavor it was packing. Even better was the crème brulee. As it should, the perfect thin crispy sugar brulee was the topping. As you busted through, that beautiful green creaminess was down there. You could definitely taste the green tea, but not in an overpowering way. It was sweet but not too sweet. Pretty much a perfect brulee which made me quite happy.
Grade: A- While everything wasn’t perfect, it was pretty darn close. A little disappointed the menu was so similar to a few nights previous. So basically, the surprise factor was no longer there.
Next up: one last lunch at Carnevino
Night 7 Dinner: Rose, Rabbit, Lie
Upon Booking this trip, there were three nights I was really looking forward to. First, was my last night in town for the Chowhound dinner with LVI and QAW at Bazaar Steak. Second, finally getting to Raku and third was trying Rose, Rabbit, Lie.
My reservation for this restaurant bounced around quite a bit, even once I arrived in town. As we all know, in Vegas, plans can change real fast. My final opportunity to dine at RRL was late on a Tuesday night and thankfully I partook.
As my guest and I approached the front of the restaurant, there was an attractive young woman dressed in a jester type costume bouncing tennis balls on the ground in a mesmerizing fashion. I stood there in awe for a good minute until my guest gave me a little nudge and brought me back to reality, sort of. I told her I had a reservation and she pointed me to a little hidden podium to the left of where we were standing.
As we were being shown to our table, a beautiful semi-private booth(because it was so empty at that time at night). The music was still playing, louder than I expected which usually might annoy me a bit, but it just fit into the whole vibe of this place perfectly. Plus, it didn’t last long. Within a half hour of arriving, the music was over.
The waiter then arrives to take our drink order. My guest asks if they can make up a drink for us with certain specifications (not too sweet, not to tart, etc..) and they hit it out of the park. The drink they invented was so good we ended up drinking quite a few of them. But forget about that, let’s get to the food…
We decided to go crazy and order all sorts of stuff, here’s the rundown: Crispy Calamari, Oysters Half Shell, Frogs legs, Bone Marrow, Crispy chicken, Rib Stroganoff, Duck Confit Pasta, Mary’s Free Range Chicken, and the Chocolate Terrarium.
Calamari: This dish has eggplant, which I’m allergic to, so we had to make sure they could make it without. Of course they could. A nice mix of all parts of the calamari, lightly battered, still crisp even with a light vinaigrette on it. I know it’s a little boring, but boring can sure be tasty at times can’t it?
Oysters: How could you go wrong when they’re nice and fresh? A nice mignonette sauce on the side but what I really loved was the horseradish sorbet. Can’t say I’ve ever had that before and it was brilliantly refreshing on the palate.
Frogs Legs: When I ordered this dish, my guest stated that she hates frogs legs. Well, let’s just say that all changed when this dish arrived. I encouraged her to try one and afterwards she wanted them all. They were plump(for frogs legs), juicy, lightly battered, perfectly crispy and seasoned just right. When a dish is so tasty it can convert someone who supposedly hates said ingredient, you know its damn good!!
Bone Marrow: Ok, this dish was a miss. It was overly complicated, a pain to eat, utterly forgettable. I took the shot because I love bone marrow but I wouldn’t order this again unless they changed the preparation which I’m sure they have by now.
Crispy Chicken: Again, how could you go wrong with battered, fried and well-seasoned anything? Like someone I used to work with would say “you could dip a shoe in there and it would taste good.” The chicken was juicy bite sized pieces. Some nice creamy buttery green(yes green) mashed potatoes on the side. A bit boring but executed perfectly.
Duck Confit Pasta: Tender morsels of duck confit in a rich creamy sauce with fresh homemade pasta. Could that possibly be bad? Well yes I guess it theoretically could, but it certainly wasn’t this time. However, the dish wasn’t without flaw. Since we ordered so many dishes, they were bringing out more than one at a time. Well, as this dish sat, it congealed quite a bit. So while the flavor was still nice, it wasn’t the most pleasant looking as time went on.
Rib Stroganoff: Ok, earlier in these reviews I complained about a 20+ dollar ravioli and how ridiculous it was. I have to admit, when this dish was placed in front of us, the same thoughts were running through my head. It was a few tiny cubes of meat, covered with little pasta blankets in a rich looking sauce underneath. That feeling completely went away upon the first bite of this heavenly dish hitting my taste buds. Months later, I still dream about this dish often. For such a small amount of food, it really packs a punch of flavor. If we hadn’t ordered so much food, we would’ve ordered another one of these.
Mary’s free range chicken: By the time we were supposed to get to this dish it was around midnight. When the waiter arrived we were wondering where it was since it seemed to be taking a while. Apparently he thought we meant the crispy chicken and not the free range. About 15 minutes later, the chicken arrives and it’s presented beautifully on a platter. The different parts were prepared differently. The preparation for me that really stood out was the breast. It was moist, tender, juicy, delicious. I’ve never had such a tender chicken breast in my entire life. Literally exploding with juices as you chewed it.
Finally for dessert was the legendary chocolate terrarium. How could we still be hungry for dessert after all that food and about 6 drinks each? We weren’t, but I was so set on trying it and had to order it. So how was it? Very, very rich. If we hadn’t had so much for dinner I could see making a dent in the thing, but we barely did. While it was certainly beautiful, the flavors were a bit muddled with cake, cookie, ice cream, marshmallow, etc… In other words, sugar, on sugar, on sugar, on sugar etc…
Overall, it was one of the best restaurant experiences I’ve ever had anywhere. The only downside, being so late, the music ended less than halfway through our meal. I can’t recommend this restaurant enough, as long as you are prepared for an expensive night. For the two of us, the damage was around $650 with tax and tip. Worth it? Absolutely…
Next up: Raku(again)
Excellent reviews guys!!! Just wish I could have been out there with you :-)
Sounds like that's going to be a fun time. Wish I could be out there to join you all.
Really wish I could be in Vegas for this. Sounds like a lot of fun!!! LVI, we still have to meet up in NYC like we talked about. Let me know what's good for you. If you need my cell number(which I think you do) you can get it from QAW. Probably text me first because I usually don't pick up if I don't recognize the number.
The only way I'd be in Vegas at this time would be if I take a job out there, which still might happen. I've actually have more(and better)offers from out there than here.
Day 7 Lunch: Canonita
For one reason or another, I always end up having one lunch here every trip. Is the food anything special? not really but they do have a lively bar that can be fun to eat at.
I sit down at the bar, there's soccer going on the TV's and you have a mix of vacationers and convention people already there. The bartenders are always friendly and if you enjoy soccer and know something about it, they'll really like you. I forget which game was on, but they were really getting into it.
I started with the chips, salsa like usual. I also ordered the guacamole figuring I could use it for my chips and for my tacos(more on this later). The queso fundito with chorizo and jalapeno, and the Tres tacos(picked pork, beef and fish) for the main.
First the salsa and guac arrive. The guacamole was pretty bland and boring, so in other words, nothing has changed since last time. However the chipotle salsa was actually really good this time. Had a wonderful heat to it. Not overbearing but built to more of it you ate.
The queso fundito was next to arrive still sizzling in a nice hot dish. Some nice warm tortillas on the side. The dish had plenty of chorizo and jalapeno which is nice, but all the chorizo made the whole dish kinda greasy. With all the jalapeno it looked to have in it, the spice level was still quite tame, a disappointment to say the least. I didn't eat too much of it since I knew the tacos were still to come.
The tacos arrive and they looked really nice. First I try the pork. Some bits of the pork seem way overcooked, some are very tasty. The overcooked bits dragged the whole thing down. Really could have been great.
Grade: C/C- While the food was nothing special, I did enjoy the atmosphere and the people. I wanted a nice big filling lunch because I knew I wouldn't be eating again until my 11pm reservation. Wasn't happy about a few of the hiccups here though and that's why the grade is what it is.
Up next: My unbelievable night at Rose.Rabbit.Lie.
Day 6 Dinner: Raku
This is it...The night I had been waiting over a year for. I was so excited all day waiting for this meal. Usually when you hype yourself up for something this much, you're setting up for disappointment. However, that was most definitely not the case with Raku.
I arrived about 15 minutes early for my reservation, as usual. The cab ride wasn't as long or expensive as everyone had made it out to be. Maybe because it was late night on a Monday the ride was easier.
Upon entry, I received a loud traditional welcome from the whole staff which was nice. I checked in at the podium and was seated at the left end of the sushi bar. At first I had thought they put me in a really bad spot, but it turned out to be a great seat for a couple reasons. One, being at the end of the bar left me much more room for plates and glasses. Second, the waitresses could come up right next to me and talk, pour me some beer, drop off my next course.
I don't remember every dish I had that night(time and beer lol), but I do remember quite a few. I'll go through the ones that really stuck out.
One that really stands out might surprise you. Its something I have heard people on here complain about, but to me it was perfection. The dish? a simple skewer of grape tomatoes. To me, this is what its all about. Something so simple transformed into something I still dream about on a weekly basis. The sweet/tart of the tomato, the perfect char from the grill, and the little pop of salt to bring it all together. I never thought something like tomatoes would be such a stand out, but it really was...
There was a half fried fish and the other half was used in a soup later in the meal. The fish had a light tempura type batter, crispy and wonderful except for one thing, lots of small bones. I mean LOTS of small sharp bones!!! Had to be careful, especially in the beginning.
White meat chicken skewer. Nothing too special here but the meat was nice and tender.
The sashimi plate was super fresh and wonderful. I remember it had yellowtail, artic char(i think), and one more. All of the pieces were cut and presented beautifully. Each type of fish had its own garnish to eat with the pieces.
The homemade Tofu. oh....my....god!!!! This is yet another dish I have been dreaming about since my trip. The tofu was so creamy and you could tell just how fresh it was. The garnishes on the side really bring out the natural flavors because the tofu is pretty bland on its own. I really like the little spoon they give you to cut it with. Was fun to use.
Enoki mushroom wrapped in bacon. I'm a mushroom freak, so this dish is right up my alley. The main complaint? I wish the bacon was crispier. The enokis, like the tofu, by themselves are pretty tasteless, but the salt in the bacon does bring it together.
Pork Cheek skewer...Another winner. Unbelievably tender and still moist on the inside. Not as fatty as I would have expected.
There was a steak dish, but it wasn't all that memorable. Not to say that it was bad, because it most definitely wasn't.
The rice dish at the end was basically a bowl of rice with a huge amount of ikura and some scallion/chive. Tasty but the amount of ikura seemed like overkill, way too much. Don't get me wrong though, I ate it all.
I know there are a few dishes I forgot, but right about here they asked if I wanted anything else before dessert. Why not? I wanted to order the pig ear but they didn't have it. It was at this point I made a reservation to come back again Wednesday night. I wanted to try that pig ear so badly. Instead, I ordered a dark meat chicken skewer and beef tendon.
The dark meat skewer is just what you'd expect. The meat was really moist and juicy. But as you'd also expect, its a bit boring. Not something I'd bother to order again with so many other more interesting options on the menu.
Dessert was just a little scoop of green tea ice cream. Nothing really stands out about it, but I did enjoy it as a closer to a fantastic meal. I think they took pity on me because they saw how full I was. The desserts on Wednesday were much different, but I'll get to that later...
Grade: A Everything I expected and then some...Very rarely do I find a restaurant to be as good or better than people claim, this one actually was.
Next up: Canonita in the Venetian
I'll be writing my review of RRL in the next few days from my experience this past October. All I'll say right now is, DEFINITELY go!!! :-)
Day 6 Lunch: CarneVino....again
After the previous nights lack of pasta, I had to make up for it immediately. I also wanted to see if I could wipe some of those bad memories away from the night before.
Upon walking in I was greeted by Guido, one of the bartenders. He remembers me from previous visits and tells me I could take any seat I like. What the heck, I sat at the same table as the night before. Order my regular iced tea and a water and I'm good to go. I ask to make sure they have pasta available and after talking with the kitchen, Guido assures me that I could have any pastas I want on the menu. Excellent.
I ordered the Orecchiette with sweet sausage and broccoli rabe to start and I believe it was pappardelle with wild boar ragu to follow. Ok notice I said one to start and one to follow.
Wouldn't you know it? they brought both at the same time. That's a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I'm a table for one, why would I want both dishes at the exact same time? I really, really hate that. Especially when I specifically ordered them to come separately.
The dishes themselves were fantastic. You could tell the pasta was homemade and cooked just right. Sometimes Orecchiette can have a horrible texture because of the shape and differing thickness. Can make it very difficult to cook. The garlic was just there in the background, not overpowering. The sausage was tender and flavorful. The rabe had that great bitterness which really brings all the flavors of this dish together. The sauce was light and just slightly oily, not soaked in oil like it can be.
The other dish isn't as memorable, but I do know I liked it. Much heavier than the previous dish, but in no way heavy. Love these rustic ragu types of dishes, especially when paired with perfectly cooked fresh pasta.
Overall grade: B+ Once again, should be higher if not for the stupidity of bringing me both dishes at once when I specifically ordered them not to. Big pet peeve and the grade has to suffer because of it...
Next up: Raku
Thanks for the welcome Dave!!!
At this point, Just about the only thing I'd go there for are the fries and oysters. They definitely do those right, but so do many other places. For a non-Venetian guest, Is it really worth going to an out of the way part of the Venetian just for good fries and oysters? I'm leaning towards no.
Day 5 Dinner: CarneVino late night
So once again, I was supposed to dine with the same guest as the night before. Once again, she was a bit late. Women, what can you do? lol. Being late on a Sunday, yet again choices were limited. We decided on Carnevino.
We arrived at 10:55 and were told only the Taverna menu was still available and had to sit in the bar area. No problem, since they do have a nice bar area for sitting. Then we peruse the menu. At that time, there were no pastas on the Taverna menu. Like I had done at lunch, I asked the waiter if any were available. At lunch it was never a problem, anything I wanted, but for some reason at this time of night it was a problem. Couldn't make a single pasta dish for us. Not a good start.
We started with the fried calamari...The portion was about what you'd expect in a Vegas restaurant like this. Certainly not generous, but not rip off small. Had a good mix of all parts of the squid, lightly breaded, lightly fried, lightly salted and not greasy at all.
The mains arrive and they look wonderful. My guest ordered the Veggie sandwich and I had the pastrami sandwich. She was raving about hers so I'm guessing it was good. Mine was also very good except for one thing, the mustard they already slathered all over it. Its the kind of mustard if you get a little too much in a bite the steam shoots from your ears like in the old cartoons. All that's missing is the steam whistle sound in the background. The pastrami was salty, peppery, juicy, warm. The roll was crusty on the outside and pillow soft on the inside.
So there we are, the two of us had finished eating and were sitting enjoying our drinks having a nice conversation. I had just payed the bill and the clock strikes midnight, literally. Obviously for them it means closing time because all the sudden the music gets blasting, rock concert loud. To the point where I couldn't even hear the her sitting two feet across from me. Obviously we left, but I wasn't too thrilled about leaving like that.
Grade: C/C+ good food but not being able to make a single pasta dish and the way we left with the music blasting drags the whole experience down at least one full grade.
Next up: I have to remember where I went for lunch day 6. Pretty sure I went back to Carnevino for some pasta to try to make up for the night before's disappointment.
Day 5: Bouchon
I woke up the next morning, still a bit tired and worn out from the festivities from the night before but very hungry. After having the Jim Morrison the previous morning at the Brooklyn Bowl, I was dying for the chicken and waffles at Bouchon. It was one of the few dishes where it didn't seem you could go wrong, boy was I wrong...
Upon walking through the Venetian lobby on my way to Bouchon I spotted this older woman and a gentleman she was with looking like lost puppies having no idea where to go. Knowing the Venetian as well as I do, I offer to help. They introduce themselves and I to them. Turns out they were going to Bouchon, perfect. As we're walking, she and I are talking about a few different topics and he's snapping pics like a madman with his camera. She said it was his first time in Vegas. Noob lol
The food arrives and it looks fantastic. As always, I start with a few fries which as usual are very good. The waffle? tender, flavorful and just enough bacon to not be overbearing. The chicken? Here is where we have a HUGE problem. The chicken was so overdone in some places it had the consistency of shoe leather and didn't taste much better. The edible, non leathery part of the chicken didn't taste like much either. Bland as bland can be. The sauce gave it some flavor, but you shouldn't just taste sauce.
So as we're eating and enjoying the company, I was telling her about the concert the night before and Crosby's embarrassing performance. She mentioned her husband is a friend of his and she was surprised they didn't know CSN were playing. Slowly all the stories she told me earlier started to click together. Turns out, Her husband is Nils Lofgren, the guitarist for Bruce Springsteen. He was playing a show that night at the Hard Rock which is why they were in town. She asked if I was interested in going, but I already had plans for the night.
In the end, as celebration of my b-day the day before, she bought brunch, which was beyond generous of her!!!! Always great to meet genuinely nice people, which they really were. All I had to do was show them around a little which was my pleasure to do anyway.
Grade: Food: D+ I have had it with these disappointing Bouchon food experiences, not sure I'll be back. Company: A+ even with the ridiculously disappointing food, was a great time.
Next up: CarneVino late night menu
Sorry this has taken so long everyone. Was working like crazy the past few months but no more(long story)and looking for my next challenge in the culinary world, maybe even in Vegas :-)
Back to the reviews...
Day 4 Dinner: Yonaka/Kaizen
As mentioned in the day 4 brunch review, this was my b-day but since its Vegas, plans never quite go as you expect.
The night started with the Crosby, Stills and Nash concert. First of all, the show was over 3 hours long. When I'm in Vegas, I don't really need to be in a theater for three plus hours on a Saturday night. However, if the show was amazing, I'd have no problem putting up with it, but the show wasn't amazing.
After getting out after 11pm the restaurant pickings were pretty slim without reservations. I was meeting a friend for dinner and wanted to go somewhere I know she'd enjoy. Yonaka came to mind after all the positive things I had read about it. I called them and verified they are open until 2am, I was assured they were.
Finally met up with my friend in front of Harrah's at about midnight. We talked and drove around a while since we thought there was plenty of time.
My dining companion really wanted Sushi and said she knew of a place open until 4am. I believe the place was call Kaizen. Not really much to say about it. The fish was fresh, the rolls were ok(nothing special), the sushi pieces were nice sized, but not too big where you can't get it in your mouth, the music was good. For 2/3am sushi, its hard to complain. The company far out-shined the sushi.
Next up: Bouchon Brunch
Sounds good, I'm usually off on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Btw, I meant the price to size ratio of the raviolo :-)
Sounds like you and I had a very similar dinner experience at Carnevino. From the meat(bland without the oil and finishing salt) to the Raviolo (ridiculous size).
Definitely worth giving it a shot. But keep in mind, because it was so empty, they had the time to give my dishes their full attention. Meaning, this could have been an aberration. On the other hand, it could be business as usual. Not sure since I have no previous visit to compare with.
Day 4 Brunch: Brooklyn Bowl
Once again, I was technically supposed to attend the auto auctions this morning/afternoon, but it was my birthday so I decided to just do my own thing. Took a walk around the strip for about an hour and ended up strolling the Linq when I saw Brooklyn Bowl. I had been there for a concert on my last trip but never had the chance to try the restaurant.
I jumped on my cell and took a gander at the brunch menu. Looked pretty good so I made my way upstairs. The place was empty except for one table of people. This normally would have scared me a bit, but it was pretty dead everywhere the week I was there.
Having already seen the menu, I ordered real fast. Decided on the roasted adobo corn and the Jim Morrison with dark meat chicken. The adobo corn arrived in about 5 minutes and looked great. Three small pieces of corn, roasted nicely on the outside but not burnt. The only problem was a lack of cheese. Just had a small sprinkle on top.
As soon as I bit in, I was happy. But first, you squeeze a little lime on top, then take a bite. You can taste the cheese, the wonderful roasted corn, the small hint of heat and smokey from the Chiptole butter. I tried one bite without the lime and it just wasn't the same. Needs that extra zip of the lime to bring out the best flavor of the combo.
About ten minutes after finishing the corn the main dish arrives. First of all, this thing has quite possibly the biggest pancake I've ever seen in my life. Its about 10" wide and about an inch thick. The chicken on top, two legs and two thighs, were a dark golden brown and smelling of pepper and spices. First I tried the pancake. It was moist, not as dense as it looked and not overly sweet. The chicken was crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. The pepper gave the chicken a nice kick. I decided to pour the syrup over the whole thing and sat there, chatting with the bartender and slowly eating this huge plate of food. Ended up doing better than I thought possible when I saw it, ate a little more than half of it.
Really enjoyed this meal and was the start of a pretty memorable birthday.
Next: The Yonaka meal that didn't happen and a few other notes until more good stuff on day 5...
Night 3 Dinner: Yusho
This was the night I was supposed to go to Giada. For a month before this night I would look at the menu online and try to convince myself there was something there I just had to taste. At about 4pm that day a conclusion sprang forth...If I had to convince myself this much about the meal and still wasn't sure at the last minute, its not worth doing, at least in my mind.
I saw Bill Cosby which ended pretty early so I knew there were lots of options for dinner. Since it was Friday night some restaurants had no reservations. Finally at about 10:45, I decided to go back to one of my favorites from my last trip, Yusho.
First thing I did was call up the Sherpa guide who helped me with the 50 mile hike through the Monte Carlo casino on my last trip. After the long walk, I was starving, but had to start with a drink. My plan was to try all of their cocktails I didn't try on my last trip. I started with the Paloma which was very tasty and STRONG. As usual I went with the Omekase. It was only $75 instead of the $100 on my last trip. I think it was the late night menu, probably why it was cheaper.
What followed was dish after dish or some great food, in some ways even better than my last trip, a few ways just as good and a couple not quite as good. I'll give a few highlights since every course was two different dishes, so a total of 13 tasting plates since the Steak course was by itself. Here's the one downer about this meal and thinking back to my meals last time it was the same thing. If you don't like dishes with tangy overtones, you will not like this restaurant. It wasn't until this meal, about course 5 where I realized how many dishes had that same tangy-ness/sourness.
My favorites: The octopus in a tangy/spicy miso dressing. On the other dish served with the octopus were three crab/corn fritters. On top was picked(tangy)fennel. Loved both of these. The new steak preparation was miles better than the nori wrapped steak from my last trip. Thankfully, the sauce on the steak was not tangy. One thing I really liked about the steak dish were the grilled scallions. Another standout were the cold Soba noodles. They were fresh and perfectly cooked. The cold sauce/broth had some sourness to it like most of the dishes but the overwhelming flavor was wasabi which I enjoyed.
The downers: The pickled veggies that I loved on my last trip just weren't as good, or maybe I was just suffering taste bud fatigue from yet another tangy/sour dish. This time they served it in the middle of the meal, last time it was served in the beginning. One of the drinks I really wanted to try was sold out. On a Friday night when it doesn't look very busy, really?
The desserts were miles better than my last trip. The passion fruit mochi was incredible. Of course, I was pretty drunk at this point of the meal, which is why so many details are a bit hazy. However, this isn't hazy one bit, When I took a bite of this mochi, it was like an explosion of passion fruit in my mouth. If I wasn't stuffed, I would have ordered a few more of them. The other dessert was one of their soft serve ice creams. Nothing too memorable about it other than how refreshing it was at the end of such a large meal.
After the meal the chef came over and chatted for a few minutes which is always cool. He actually remembered me from my last trip in April which is why he came over to talk.
This is a tough one to grade. So many parts I enjoyed but certainly a few detractors.
Next up: Brooklyn Bowl brunch
Day 3 Lunch: Public House
It was supposed to be day 2 of the auto auctions for me, but after seeing all the cars the day before, figured I didn't need to go again. After walking around the strip for about an hour, I decided to go over to the Venetian, as usual.
Wasn't quite sure what I wanted, but after walking by Public House and seeing it wasn't very busy, I decided to eat at the bar. Even though they have an extensive beer menu, I opted for my usual iced tea since it was going to be a long day/night.
After looking over the menu for about 5 minutes and not being too hungry, I went with a couple apps, the Bone Marrow and The Fois Gras slider.
I've had the bone marrow here before and have enjoyed it in the past, for some reason just seemed boring this time. The caramelized onions didn't have the nice deep flavor to them and the bone itself just didn't seem cooked as well as it should have been. The marrow didn't slide off the bone as easy as usual. I think they need to switch up their preparation a little, or maybe I'm just bored with the same dish every time I dine there.
Then the slider arrived. Since it is fois gras, the portion was pretty small. However the flavor was excellent, much better than I was expecting after the pedestrian bone marrow. Despite the small size, it was quite satisfying. The microgreens, the juicy peach, the creamy fois, the soft warm roll, beautiful combo.
Next up: Yusho
Yes, there was a side of sprouts. We passed it around the table but I think everyone was stuffed by then.
I completely forgot about the baby corn. I loved the way they smelled and tasted of popcorn, but otherwise, nothing really stood out. Didn't even know that was a dish the restaurant is known for.
Wow, yes. Way too high for a tomato salad. That kind of pricing seems to be running rampant in Vegas at the moment, especially on the strip. Twenty plus dollar hamburgers, appetizer sized pastas in the mid-twenty dollar range, soups over ten dollars.
Sounds good about April, definitely let me know.
Day 2 Dinner: Carnevino
After the afternoon at the auto auctions(lot of A's in that sentence), I just wanted a relaxing night. Decided not to go to a show, though looking back now, I probably should have. Just ended up having a late dinner.
Arrived at Carnevino approximately 10pm and was advised they've serving the entire menu in the bar area as well as the dining room. Sounds good to me, I'll go with the bar area, much more comfy as a solo diner.
I order a beer, don't remember the name, but it was one of the lighter hoppy beers they offer by the bottle. Quite good, I ended up having a few of them.
The waiter arrives and starts running down the specials. All I hear is Ribeye for one and I stopped him right there. Probably should have asked the cost because it was a bit shocking to later see the bill with a $95 steak on there. On the side I went with the guanciale and marscapone mashed pots and the sauteed wild mushrooms. To start I went with the ricotta and egg raviolo.
First the bread arrives with two ramekins. One with butter, the other with lardo. I never even touched the butter, the lardo was so damn good.
Soon after, the Raviolo arrives. I thought they were playing a joke on me. This thing was tiny!!! For $21, should have been two of them. Was it tasty? Hell yes it was, the yolk mixing in with the brown butter, the soft ricotta inside, the pasta was nicely cooked.
So I finish that in about 4 bites, might have even been three. They whisk the plate away and the preparations for the main course begin all around me. Napkins, plates, knives, I was getting excited.
The steak arrives and its beautiful. They begin to carve the steak and its perfectly rare, just like I wanted. Beautifully marbled, could see the juices glistening in the meat as they carved it.
So its time for the eating to begin, I can't wait. First I try the potatoes and they're rich, creamy and good. The mushrooms not as good. Tasted like they were loaded with balsamic, which isn't terrible, but completely unnecessary. Why drown out the natural flavor of these amazing mushrooms? Let their own flavors shine through.
Now to the steak. The moment I've been waiting for and...and...and...it didn't blow me away, or even close to it. A very good steak? Absolutely, but for $95 I don't want a very good steak, I want it to knock my socks off with how good it is. Let me also say this, without the olive oil and sprinkle of finishing salt, the steak would have had zero flavor. I tried a couple pieces the didn't get hit with the drizzle and nothing, bland city.
Grade: B-/C+ Everything was good to very good, but the most important piece, the steak, wasn't what it should have been. So the grade has to suffer.
Next: Public House(Venetian)
Excellent report!!! Not sure I'll have too much to add once I come to that point in my reviews. The only things I don't see in your review are the tomato salad and the Brussels sprouts, but I think the sprouts were only in front of QAW and myself.
Your review and the comments from QAW are right on about the uni/morcilla. Very muddy flavor together. However, when I had that uni piece by itself, it was so flavorful. Like an explosion of the ocean in my mouth, which was completely lost in the first bite with the sausage.
As for meeting up again, absolutely! We'll have to set something up. Either in NYC or it looks like I'll be going back to Vegas for the first week or two of April, but nothing is set yet, just have a hotel reservation.
Hey uhockey, sorry we didn't get to meet up this trip. Saturday was my b-day, so the night before, that day and that night was kind of crazy. Whole trip was kind of crazy actually...
That's possible about the food quality dipping because they're too busy on another project. Also could be they weren't ready for such a busy lunch so everything was rushed and not quite right.
Day 2 Lunch: Border Grill
I was attending the Barrett/Jackson auctions that day at the Mandalay. Around 1pm, after walking around a few hours checking out all the cool cars, I was starving. Took a(not so)quick walk through parts of the Mandalay and didn't really like my options. The only appealing menu to me at the time was Border Grill.
I sat at the bar, so there was no wait for a table. It was pretty busy because of all the foot traffic from the auctions. I quickly looked over the menu and placed my order. The Guacamole, Queso Fundito, the Carnitas tacos and an iced tea.
First up were the queso and the guac. The guac could have been really good if it had even a modicum of heat, but it didn't. The queso was average. Needed more chorizo flavor and more roasted peppers. Or forget the peppers and just add lots more chorizo(some roasted jalapeno could work here if they really want to have the roasted peppers). On the other hand, the chips were nice and thick and held up well to both the queso and the guacamole.
The tacos looked great upon arrival. Beans and rice on the side, both were quite flavorful. The tacos, weren't as good as I wanted them to be. The meat was a bit dry which stood out even with all the other flavors going on in there. When I asked for some jalapeno or something to spice my tacos up a bit, I was brought a Jalapeno, cut into half inch thick pieces in a ramekin. Little thick, no? but I used it anyway, and it did help. Of course used the tomatillo salsa too, every drop of it.
The iced tea was damn good and the bartender kept it topped off nicely, so that's a plus in their column.
Oh, I'll be talking about Bouchon, that'll be day 5 brunch. I have a pretty interesting story about that brunch. The story isn't about the food, more about who I met there/had eaten with, but of course the food will be covered too.
Yes the Spago is amazing, in fact I went back there for lunch a couple more times, one of the time I just had to get it again, but that'll be covered later as well lol...
Also a tip, since the pastas are no longer on the lunch/lounge menu at Carnevino, make sure you ask if they're available before you order. At lunch they've always said yes, at least so far, but you never know how much longer. The only time they said no was the one time I was there after 11pm
Definitely enjoyed seeing you again as well. Next time I come out, we'll have to do it again. Also great meeting LVI, his brothers and friends. Was a fun night!!! Maybe we can all figure out a time early next year to get together like that again.
Feel free to chime in whenever you'd like, I'm sure I'll forget some details about that night. Certainly won't forget the paltry beer choices though. What was up with that?
As for B&B, "Love/Hate" definitely sums it up, however I've always loved it in the past. Even when a couple dishes weren't quite up to par, the rest were good enough to make up for the shortfall. Not this time, which is why I was so disappointed. I actually felt ripped off and it wasn't expected at all
Day 1: Dinner (B&B)
Let me preface this review with a disclaimer...I have been coming to Vegas for years. Some of you out there have read my reviews and some of you even know me personally. B&B has always been one of my favorite Vegas restaurants. Every trip I made sure to go there at least once and order one of the tasting menus.
Started off the night seeing two shows at Harrahs. Million Dollar Quartet and Rita Rudner back to back. Rita Rudner made me part of her act, I got to meet her after the show, was having a great night.
I arrived at B&B approximately 10:40. While walking over there I tried to book the 10:45 reservation on opentable, but it was too late. After explaining the situation at the podium, the manager seated me, of course first asking my name, zip code and all that jazz. Even made a kind remark about how many times I've been a customer there.
After being seated at the table I was greeted by someone who wasn't my waiter, and asked if I'd like a drink. I asked if they had a certain beer I liked from the last trip. I had forgotten the name but described the taste in detail. He tells me they don't have it anymore, bummer. I then look at the menu, then see and point to the same beer I was describing but had forgotten the name, and he brings it right to me. Hmmmmmmmm
Finally my real waitress arrives, a tall attractive blonde named Brittany. I decide to go with the Toscana tasting menu. I know they've had the same menu for months now, so I figured its enough time to work out the kinks.
As usual, the same chickpea crostini is given to start, and as usual, it was bland and boring.
Then the tasting menu begins...
Course one, B&B Lonza with nectarines and Wild Rocket...Upon serving the course, I'm told the chef recommends I make it into a little sandwich and eat it. The only bread I have is a crusty one inch thick piece of bread they give you on the side. If the chef thinks it should be eaten as a sandwich, why not serve it that way? The lonza was pretty bland and all of the ingredients were unwieldy to handle as was the bread to use as a sandwich base. At times I felt like an idiot trying to wrestle with the ingredients to stay in the bread so I could eat them together. The nectarines were cut way too thick, just a mess of a dish.
Course two, Pappa al Pomodoro with tomatoes and Olive oil...Imagine eating a bowl of stewed tomatoes with a few one inch cubes of bread(soaked with the tomato juices and strong tasting olive oil). Boring and just not good.
Course three, Pici con Rigatino, Tuscan herbs and Pecorino...This dish was actually pretty good. Basically, its a bowl of pasta that tastes like an herb roasted chicken. That's the dish. The pasta was nicely cooked but there were no other textures, just the al dente pasta. Again, boring but at least it was tasty.
Course four, Pork shoulder"Sott'olio" with peach mostarda and fennel...Before I was served this dish, Brittany told me how they slow cook the pork in olive oil then pan sear the pieces so its crispy on the outside and perfectly tender on the inside. sounded amazing. When they put the dish in front of me, I thought it was a joke. There were these three little brown lumps on the plate with shaved fennel and the mostarda. I thought to myself, so what? it still might be delicious. Well, it wasn't. The whole thing was completely incinerated. The inside was dry and stringy, the outside was dry and hard. The fennel and mostarda was the only thing making it edible. This dish actually made me both mad and embarrassed for the person who cooked it. The worst part was that I was the poor schnook who had to eat it.
Course five, Housemade Ricotta with Fett'unta and honey glazed figs... The ricotta was light, creamy and it helped me get the burnt taste out of my mouth from the pork. The figs were tasty. Good but not great
Course six, Tiramisu with Espresso Gelato...This was very good, if you like coffee. I'm not a coffee fan, so I just gave a taste of it all. If you like espresso, you'd probably love the gelato. The tiramisu itself was light, wasn't overpowering in coffee flavor, which I liked, and a little boozy.
Overall grade: D/D- was not happy walking out that night, at all. If not for the waitress who was great and the pretty good desserts, this would be a solid D-/F.
Next Up: Border Grill