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Veranda at Dinner - a mixed experience, even at half off.

"Doesn't pay a dime half the time"? Now I feel like using "Really?", but that has already been spoken for in this thread (the Secret Santa prize you want, but has been claimed by another)...

If you indeed want to establish yourself as a viable critic, you need to understand that at the very heart of the process is establishing credibility. No one gets far without it. Comments like the one above hinder that process, and show a lack of awareness that can become troublesome to those that want to trust what they have read in the past.

One of the things that has made John's site useful through the years is that he has been open and up-front about when meals were comped, and when they were not. So how about this - take the time to read through his critiques first, and then try to show a ratio anywhere near "half" of those meals being comped. After finishing that research, it would then be the appropriate time to offer a commentary.

Dec 19, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Veranda at Dinner - a mixed experience, even at half off.

I had been thinking about starting a separate thread about how out of touch the Strip prices are with the general realities at the current stage of the new millennium, with those wild guesses as to what Las Vegas was going to turn into proving to be extremely misguided (the upcoming Caesar's bankruptcy proceedings are going to shed much light on this). But John Curtas is laying this out in a way that Chowhounds should be able to appreciate, beginning with part I of "Facing Reality: The Strip Has Lost Its Luster" (http://www.eatinglv.com/2014/12/facin...). Prices that were exorbitant before the bubble burst are simply nonsensical now. Of course that does make it awfully easy to find a table...

Dec 19, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Scarpetta, Julian Serrano, LOS....help me out please :)

Convenient from the airport to the Aria is Taco Tijuana, at 2554 East Tropicana. They are comparable to Tacos El Gordo in style, and pretty close in terms of quality and execution (it would be fun to do a blind taste-off someday).

Dec 17, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Scarpetta, Julian Serrano, LOS....help me out please :)

Note that if you were going to the Tacos El Gordo on the Strip, they are no more, because of a lease issue that could not be resolved (that particular branch will be re-opening at a new location in the spring, albeit not on the Strip). The El Gordo at 1724 East Charleston is still going strong. Alas, not terribly convenient if one is going from the airport to the Aria.

Dec 17, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Great Italian

If you want to kill two birds, Italian and steakhouse, with one stone, consider Andiamo, downtown at the D Resort. The food quality will be more than a good fit for what you are looking for, and for a group, the service will be better than you you are going to find at a lot of the alternatives (there is still a little bit of old-school left out there).

If sides and starters are a key to choosing a steakhouse, Cut (Venetian/Palazzo) is simply superb in that regard.

Dec 15, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Solo dining for a light eater?

If you are going to be at Art of Flavors around holiday time there are a lot of great holiday flavors, with eggnog in the case this week, a nice pink spearmint that is a great after-dinner closer, gingerbread cookie, and even a pistachio/walnut baklava. Desyree is also making Panettone again starting next week, which is an absolute treat.

Dec 12, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Looking for excellent Hawaiian and Vietnamese

Congratulations!

But first, would you settle for "good", instead of "excellent"? That would make things much easier. Not sure we have anything that would rate as excellent, but you might be happy with Aloha Specialties (downtown at the California Hotel/Casino), which has to stay on their game because of how many Islanders that stay at the Boyd properties downtown (California-Fresmon-Maiu Street Station). Some days you even have to wait in line for your plate lunch. Right across is also Lappert's, to satisfy the craving for some Macadamia Nut ice cream. Off the Strip, Island Style at 3909 West Sahara, also fits the bill, with a mix of Korean cuisine on the menu as well. The best poke I have found has been from Hawaiian Style Poke, at 3524 South Wynn, right across the street from the main Chinatown Plaza. It is not a dining destination, but does most business carry-out. Better to get there before early afternoon, since some of the best combinations sell out.

Not sure if there is a great banh mi to be found, but you can get a good one at Kinh Do (West 4300 Spring Mountain), or Dakao (5700 West Spring Mountain).

Or how about this, a chance to combine Hawaiian and Vietnamese both. District One (3400 South Jones) specializes in Vietnamese cuisine, but has been carrying an "Oxtail Loco Moco" as a special for the past couple of weeks. That takes an island standard and pushes it out over the top a bit, a combination that is quite rich, but a lot of fun to eat.

And if you want something at a different level, there is always Roy's (620 East Flamingo). Although they are under a large and growing umbrella, it is not completely a link in a "chain", with chef Quy Trinh able to showcase his own personality through a lot of the menu. There have been some nights there that did raise up to "excellent".

Dec 11, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Mission: Fried chicken, Christmas Eve

Not much atmosphere in the evening, and they do close at 8 PM, but the M&M Soul Food Cafe (3923 West Charleston) has been doing fried chicken right for a long time. But I would make sure to check ahead - they are the kind of family-run place that would be likely to close early.

While fried chicken is your tradition, does it have to be "traditional"? There are a couple of places that do Korean fried chicken that are more likely to be open late into the night on Christmas Eve. Consider Bazic Bar & Restoyaky (5115 Spring Mountain Road), or Q Bistro (3400 South Jones) in that regard.

Dec 10, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Have Le Cirque down, would appreciate other suggestions including bakeries

There is a compromise that can work at Sweets Raku - if two people are together, one gets the Prix Fixe and the other a single dessert, and they share the extras, also getting to try sample other's "main". While the extras will not appear appear large at a glance, the flavor concentrations are so wonderfully developed that they can be easily shared. This is a place for slowly lingering over each bite.

Dec 09, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Tacos El Gordo - On the Strip

Alas, a landlord/tenant dispute did not come to a resolution, and Tacos el Gordon on Las Vegas Boulevard is no more.

Dec 05, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

Dinner for 2 @ $125

A pair of sixty-somethings just might enjoy the old school ambience of a booth at The Barrymore. The "50 Under $50" wine list also makes the "or 2" option more favorable.

Dec 03, 2014
QAW in Las Vegas

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