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Trip Report: Four Fantastic Dinners!

Your restraint, with the bread, is commendable. I likely would have taken a photo of a plate of crumbs...

Nov 22, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

SLS: "Social Sunday" for locals

Sunday November 23, will be Katsuya.

Nov 21, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

The Veranda, for dinner

Time for a bump, since a couple of new pastas have hit the menu that require exploring, but also to alert Chowhounds to an interesting offer that the Four Seasons has posted this week. First the latest sampling, Tagliolini Ai Gamberi (House Made Saffron Tagliolini, Prawn, Sea Beans), which had a superb freshness and balance, with a hint of a sea breeze coming from the plate. It was along the line of previous trips - rustic, yet refined, and that carried over to a finish of a polenta cake with rosemary gelato. It represented a prime quality that represents some of the best of Italian desserts - the ability to blend savory flavors with just enough sweetness to bring them together. It paired brilliantly to a grappa.

Now the offer - make a reservation on "Black Friday" (November 28), between 9 AM to 6 PM, for any December evening except the 25th or 31st, and receive 50% off of your food order. Limited to parties of 8 or less. That is a rather nice deal, and may pre-set a return for the other of the new Primi's - Risotto All' Anatra (Beet and Duck Risotto, Pink Prosecco, Pomegranate, Fontina Cheese). The number on the promo is 702-632-5237.

Nov 20, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Sampling Ethnic Las Vegas TR

Bravo!

Nov 19, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

The Veranda, for dinner

This is where Las Vegas reviews can be awkward, because in truth, by Strip standards, it may well be a bargain, especially for the level of service attached. But for visitors that are unaccustomed to what we routinely have to deal with here, it can be a different matter.

Nov 17, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Seeking great casual food around Vegas

I would keep Viva on the list, especially with two young children. One of life's little adventures had me going in and out of Venezuela for several years, and eating arepas on the streets was a staple of those times. While there is usually a disappointment with food items away from their country of origin, Felix's (a native Venezuelan) are actually better than anything I had in Caracas or Maracaibo. Part of that is being able to use better ingredients, but also his concession to doing business in this country is to stuff them about 25-30% fuller. And beyond the arepas, their wood-fired chicken and ribs can also be great for the kinds.

Streetcar should be pushed off to a side category for now - after a strong opening, follow-up visits have shown a real lack of quality control, and they are now telling customers that they are going to be moving, and because of that have not been keeping all items in stock. Not sure they are worth a risk right now. As for Goodwich, the products are terrific, but as a heads-up it will mean having your children eating inside of a rental car.

Nov 17, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas
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The Veranda, for dinner

Certainly not a bargain, but by Las Vegas Strip standards, consider the prices "moderate" - those three items were $55, which puts Veranda a slight tick lower than the B&B range, perhaps the best comparison in terms of the kind of dishes on the menu (while noting that the Veranda portions were about a fork-and-a-half or so larger than B&B). There are not many Strip properties where the prices are genuinely "fair", but for that creativity, and the quality of ingredients and execution, this was close.

Nov 17, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Seeking great casual food around Vegas

If you have 5 and 6 year olds with you, make a plan on your Viva Las Arepas day to hit up Art of Flavors next door for some gelato. Closed on Mondays, if that helps you to make your schedule.

Since burgers are on the list of likes, Little City Grille (http://www.littlecitygrille.com) is a gem in Boulder City on your way to or from Hoover Dam. A classic old vibe that is not found often in Las Vegas, and there is a lot of care that goes into both the service and the food.

Nov 17, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

would be most appriciative of a few tastiest off-strip food suggestions - bonus points for Asian

Unfortunately, Mandalay Bay is a rather long, and not terribly interesting, walk to anything of note off-Strip, especially on a windy day where the high is not expected to reach 60. If lunch/brunch is a priority there are two options on the property - Veranda and Border Grill - that are going to be as good or better than the majority of places that you could walk to.

Nov 16, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

SLS: "Social Sunday" for locals

Sunday, November 16, will be Ku Noodle.

Nov 13, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

The Veranda, for dinner

There was some recent discussion of the Veranda (Four Seasons) as a dinner option in another thread, but after last night’s experience perhaps it is better to start a new one. A place that has earned its reputation for breakfast/brunch over the years has been serving some of the most interesting Italian cuisine in Las Vegas since Antonio Minichiello took over the kitchen. Yet much of that cooking remains far off of the radar screens.

The menu is filled with “signature” dishes across the board. The latest visit (apologies for the photos being a little dark, but more on that in a moment) started with a Beet Carpaccio, with ricotta, citrus rainbow carrots, candied hazelnuts and a passion fruit vinaigrette. For the entrée Tortelloni Zucca e Manzo, stuffed with braised short rib, and topped with pumpkin, smoked brown butter, winter truffle and sage. And to finish, an apple tartlet with fresh figs and dulce de leche ice cream, which I was fortunately able to pair with the very last of their in-house apple brandy.

Both the creativity and the execution were spot-on throughout. Call it “refined rustic” – earthy flavors brought together with balance, and the service the usual Four Seasons standard. Alas, then comes the “but”…

In that other recent thread there was mention from LVI of how antiseptic the room is in the evening, and it really is a hindrance, on nights when it is not warm enough to sit outside. The restaurant was designed for breakfast/lunch, with the glass and high ceilings creating a bright environment for those times. At dinner it feels open and cavernous, lacking in any kind of intimacy. Not sure how they will work around it, but despite that the Veranda deserves to be on the short-list of anyone looking for genuine Italian options in Las Vegas.

Nov 13, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Did anyone try SLS buffet today? I walked in and walked right out

And now comes some more disheartening news. No more lunch at Ku Noodle, and three other restaurants - Cleo (closed Sundays and Mondays), Katsuya (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and 800 Degrees Pizza (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays), are being reduced to five days per week.

Nov 11, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Did anyone try SLS buffet today? I walked in and walked right out

There is some nice spin in that piece, referring to the "slow" season, but slow does not begin until after Thanksgiving weekend. The fact that they would not even hold on that long makes a bit of a statement.

Unfortunately, as someone that really wants the place to succeed (Bazaar Meat is within walking distance, so the thought of stumbling home inebriated without having to worry about car keys is a lovely motivation), there is a massive challenge ahead. The last three weeknight visits, including one with LVI and Long Island Chef, and another with someone at a high-level position at a prominent Strip restaurant, brought the same troubling count - more table games closed than open, and more pit employees than there were players each time. And these were based on genuine counts, not quick estimates. Except for the weekend crowd they can bring in from their own data-bases, the property just has not been able to gain traction with the rest of the marketplace.

Nov 10, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Did anyone try SLS buffet today? I walked in and walked right out

And now the buffet is no more - not even on weekends. For the Las Vegas Chowhound Board 2014 awards, the opening post of this thread is nominated for first prize.

Nov 10, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

SLS: "Social Sunday" for locals

Sunday November 9 will be Umami Burger. A pair of visits there have been a mixed bag, but it does provide the opportunity for someone to try a Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger for a reasonable price, which actually sounds tempting on a cool evening (signature beef patty with garlic aioli, tempura Kabocha squash, spiced Mascarpone, and a coffee glaze), perhaps paired with a Gulden Draak.

Nov 07, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Recently renovated, and probably the most refined brunch in Las Vegas - Veranda at The Four Seasons

Verandah is an extremely under-rated place for dinner, with Antonio Minichiello doing some of the best pastas of anyone in Las Vegas. For some reason they just do not hit the radar screens, perhaps because most would not even be aware of the Italian flair to the menu. There is a seasonal pasta that has just hit that menu (Tortelloni Zucca e Manzo - Homemade Tortollini, Braised Short Rib, Pumpkin, Smoked Brown Butter, Sage, Winter Truffle) which begs for a visit on some cool November evening.

Nov 05, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar - New at Red Rock, and for now perhaps the most interesting dining in Summerlin

In truth, for me it has also been almost strictly a Las Vegas phenomenon. This has been discussed in some old threads but I can not recall a recent one, so we can bring up the caveat - for the most part service in our fair city continues to be underwhelming. There is a reason for that - the number of high-end restaurants is far beyond the capacity of the population base to staff.

Restaurants can recruit from far and wide for those that want to cook in one of these kitchens, and those with multiple properties (Lagasse, Batali, Mina, etc.) can easily move chefs around. But it is a different story when it comes to service personnel, and locals have to be relied on. It is a tough base to choose from, and even the higher tier places are sometimes forced to rely on a dancer/comedian/singer/musician etc. that will work service to pay bills while waiting for their "career break". It means a lot of turnover in the staffing, and since the customer faces also change here more often than just about any other city (especially on the strip), there are times when a host, hostess or server will use the Open Table hints for a heads up. If you want to have some fun with a little sociology experiment, you could take about 20-30 minutes and do a "hostess stand crawl" at the "Venelazzo", and check the average age working those spots. Then come back a year later and do the same thing, and see how many are still there. It is much different than places like New York or San Francisco, where careers can be made at the front of the house.

The most recent experience was actually kind of humorous, when a fellow Chowhound from out of town and I were doing a "specials board tour" of the Cosmopolitan restaurants before deciding where we were going to dine. We saw Scott Conant inside of Scarpetta, and used that as a heads-up, believing that the kitchen and staff would be on their toes. So a quick step round the corner, a few taps into the Open Table app, and about 20 minutes later it was "Good Evening Mr. ...., and welcome to Scarpetta. I see that this is your first time with us (which is a question one answers on Open Table when making a reservation) and that you are an Open Table VIP, so we have a great table for the two of you." And it was a nice table, right along the windows with a terrific view. It is the sort of thing that happens here, with an inexperienced crew trying to to do what they hope is the right thing, but would be less likely to occur elsewhere.

Nov 03, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar - New at Red Rock, and for now perhaps the most interesting dining in Summerlin

A +1 to Open Table - for those not using it, there is almost no reason not to. It is convenient, including an app when making quick decisions on the go, and for those that are budget conscious, Las Vegas brings a pretty good supply of "1,000 Point Tables", which means a $10 dining credit (there are currently 38, including places like Alize, Bazaar Meat, B&B, Charlie Palmer Steak and Michael's). And once you get to the VIP level, there will be better treatment, which does not hurt in a city where the bartenders and servers change so often that faces will not always be remembered.

Nov 03, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

SLS: "Social Sunday" for locals

This will be fascinating to see, and of course mandates a first-hand experience. Unfortunately, the only other caveat is "dine-in" only. Which prevents - "We'll start with the Iberico and some abalone, then the whole roast suckling pig, and while you're at it, how about packing up a quart of tartare to go..."

Oct 31, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

SLS: "Social Sunday" for locals

E-mail and twitter feed (@SLSLasVegas).

Oct 29, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

SLS: "Social Sunday" for locals

It will be interesting to see if they do it. For places like 800 Degrees, Umami Burger, Griddle Cafe the promo makes a lot of sense - it gets locals in the door that just might come back. But for Bazaar Meat it is a whole different matter - even a party of two can easily spend $500-600 "retail", which can lead to some substantial discounts. I would most look forward to having the opportunity. The question is whether only the person paying the check needs a Nevada ID, or if they go through each member of a party.

That steak that we had for $90 per pound? Just imagine how much of that we would have gone through at $45...

Oct 29, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

SLS: "Social Sunday" for locals

This was brought up in another thread, but perhaps better to highlight it here. Each Sunday the SLS will be offering a 50% discount for locals at a chosen restaurant on the property. The fine print requires a Nevada ID, and is limited to parties of six or less.

This week (November 2nd) the featured restaurant is 800 Degrees pizza, with the promotion good from 11 AM on. They are not in the Settebello/Due Forni class, but this also means a Margherita for less than $4, which is pretty good bang for the buck.

Now let's see if Bazaar Meat ever gets included as an option...

Oct 29, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

ISO Steak House Recs

The comment was a reaction to the notion that a steakhouse selling "Prime" to their customers is marking up beef that we can all buy ourselves. Of course that is the case, but on that particular aspect "BBL" is not any different. The disclaimer they use is - "BBL beef is often beyond regular USDA prime standards for marbling and flavor and is hormone and antibiotic free." It is agreed whole-heartedly that there are precious few that can match the aging processes and facilities that Carnevino has in play. But "BBL" is not used as the label for that process; it is used as the label for the beef itself, before aging. Beef which indeed we can buy. Yes, some of this is semantics, but it does help to bring some clarity.

As for whether some of it is beef that has not yet been graded, I am not sure if there is an available route to that answer.

Oct 29, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

ISO Steak House Recs

Not for this all to be reduced to a battle of semantics, but in fairness, we can all buy "BBL" beef as well, just without the label. They are not growing it themselves on private farms, but Perry Lang is purchasing from some of the same sources that sell "Prime" beef to others. What is served at Canevino ends up with the "BBL" label not by meeting a particular set of verifiable standards, but rather for the fact that they themselves choose to give that label where they see fit. As such, it can help to explain the consistency issues that have been written about on this board through the years.

I like Carnevino. What they do well they sometimes do ridiculously well. But I want to love Carnevino, and can't, because what they do wrong they do wrong far too often for a place of that stature.

Oct 28, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Hidden in plain sight - Rincon de Buenos Aires proves that Spring Mountain isn't just Ramen and Raku

That sandwich almost has to be a stand-alone. By itself as a lunch, with a little pastry afterwards, it can lead to an afternoon siesta. Which many would take in Buenos Aires anyway...

Oct 21, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Hidden in plain sight - Rincon de Buenos Aires proves that Spring Mountain isn't just Ramen and Raku

This is one of those gems that has probably not hit this board for at least a half dozen years; sometimes we just take places like this for granted. But they are on the radar screen a couple of times each year, an excellent lunch stop before re-stocking the home Yerba Mate stash (they have a terrific selection, at ridiculously low prices), and also anytime one wants the proper background when the Argentinian national team has a big game. You can put the "Lomo Completo" on any short list of the best sandwiches in Las Vegas.

Oct 20, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

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

The best reviews here make one pause halfway through, to fix a snack. But the truly great ones are those that make one pause halfway through, and mix a cocktail. Kudos!

Oct 20, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Caesars restaurants

Now that the calendar has passed mid-October and the weather is cooling, thoughts annually turn to Spago - not sure that anyone on the Strip does "autumn" any better than Eric Klein.

Oct 18, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Any legit Pastrami sandwiches?

There is much discussion about Carnevino in recent threads about the higher-end of their spectrum, but let me submit their pastrami, from the "Taverna" menu, as something worthy of a try. But now the issue - it is not necessarily traditional, and will not come on rye (perhaps you can ask for that on request). If the focus is on the meat itself, then put them on your short list.

Oct 15, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Lotus of Siam: Still wonderful but...

It is unlikely that we are going to beat Lotus to the punch in terms of their own wine list. That is why letting them design the evening can be fun - perhaps make a couple of specific requests from the menu, but let Saipin create a sequence of dishes with the accompanying pairings that also allows the kitchen to have some fun.

But there is also the flip side to that - if there are a couple of beers (ciders also play well to this cuisine), or wines, that someone wants to bring, we could also throw those as a challenge to Saipin, and see what she comes up with. She might enjoy creating a series of courses, as long as the beverages were made available in advance. Either way, it would be hard to go wrong, so we have plenty of time to get this nailed down.

Oct 14, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas