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Dining in Las Vegas: Part 2

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It's really sad because Chef Stratta was a real Vegas chef. He was cooking in that town before the city blossomed into a major restaurant town. He was making his mark before most any of the famous chefs from out of town came in. While I didn't dine at Alex, it was a pleasure to meet him back in May and cook "with" him at the Uncork'd event.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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Sad to report that Alex at Wynn is closing next week. Such a terrible loss.

Wow. I know restaurants in Vegas do come and go, but this one is really great. I will miss it.

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Sad to report that Alex at Wynn is closing next week. Such a terrible loss.

Wow. I know restaurants in Vegas do come and go, but this one is really great. I will miss it.

The other restaurant he is in charge of Strata is still going to be open. I wonder if there will some integration of the Alex

dishes in to the menu?


edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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Sad to report that Alex at Wynn is closing next week. Such a terrible loss.

Wow. I know restaurants in Vegas do come and go, but this one is really great. I will miss it.

The other restaurant he is in charge of Strata is still going to be open. I wonder if there will some integration of the Alex

dishes in to the menu?

Dunno. Stratta is pretty different. Much more casual. And Italian.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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One of the more painful aspects of the closing of Alex is the fact that the property has announced that the space will be used for "banquets and special events." How terribly sad. That wonderful grand staircase that descends into the Belle Epoque dining room. The gracious services, the cheese cart, the little bag of confections and cookies, all the details and personality of a great restaurant reduced to a banquet hall. It's almost like plucking the Queen Mary out of Atlantic service and parking it at a pier in Long Beach. A shell of her once regal standing.

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Hey Hey,

I've been charged with finding a suitable venue for my Mother-in-law's 70th birthday party.

I have a couple ideas, but I'm betting Jeff, David and many others know just the right place.

Mom is Taiwanese, and I'm looking for a Chinese restaurant that:

1) Has round tables with lazy-susans on top, with dinner served family style. When I was in Taiwan, every restaurant operated like this -- we chose a menu, paid by the head, and several courses were dropped on the lazy susan throughout the evening.

2) I would really prefer Taiwanese cuisine. It isn't a deal-breaker if it's Mandarin or Cantonese, though.

3) Family friendly. Our party is seven adults and one infant. Preferably with a private dining room so if the baby cries, we won't be upsetting other diners.

4) Not too upscale (nobody is going to want to dress up). But not some all-you-can-eat joint either. I'm a brewmaster of modest means, I can't afford an eight-course, seven-top at Jasmine. Roy's, sure, but not Jasmine.


Edited by ScoopKW (log)

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Hmmmm... I am guessing there are places in China town that can deliver on that, but I am not familiar with those places beyond what has been reported here in the eGullet forums. The closest thing I can think of (and it's not really close 'cause it's not really Taiwanese) is Ping Pang Pong


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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In the old era of Vegas (before all of the world celebrity chefs flocked in to this city), Alessandro Stratta was considered as one of the best chefs in fine dining at his Renoir, tucked in the Mirage. Noticed his great talent, Steve Wynn, a genius entrepreneur in hotel business, brought him in and provided grand restaurant named after the chef nickname - Alex

Food (and wine) - 92/100

I opted for the 4-course prix-fixe because they have dishes with my fav. ingredients such as scallop, lobster and lamb – so it was naturally an easy pick. Unfortunately, it’s not as good as I thought – don’t get me wrong, it’s still decent but not wow or really delicious. The poached lobster is nice, but its side dishes are too flavorful and complex (too many things throw together and they do not integrate each other well). The lamb was slightly too dry (but still rather tasty), then there were the lamb’s offal, morels (not too bad, given it’s already May), and pea puree – intensive flavor altogether that I think more suitable for winter season, not end of spring 2009, I know it’s been a while. The cooking is serious and precise, sometimes I think they’re trying too hard – missed some simplicity, just let the main ingredient shines.

The restaurant is quite generous … before that, there were canapé consisting of ahi tuna tartar, red bell pepper bisque, smoked salmon and wild mushrooms as far as I could remember. The amuse is probably my favorite for the whole meal – fluke carpaccio with caviar and fresh cream, refreshing and simple. The bread collection is good; there were black olives, fennel & anise, walnut raisin and grain & honey. The dessert sounds perfect for Spring: roasted pineapple with coconut ice cream. Somehow, the pineapple is very sweet (maybe caramelized, lacked in freshness and some natural sour taste), then come the sweet banana cake, the ice cream is also sweet – not bad, just a bit too much. Instead of ready to unwind at the end, I became full and had some intense flavor in my throat.

This is a low 2 ½* star food for me – despite many positive reviews, Alex is not yet ready to get the third one anytime soon.

Service (and ambiance) - 92/100

The most memorable part (and possibly the best thing) of my meal at Alex is its dining room. Unlike Robuchon mansion, it’s very spacious here. The décor is grand with mahogany woods everywhere. By the window table is romantic and gives overall view of the restaurant, while I enjoyed my sofa seating. The service is professional, but not personalized. Many of the staffs are quite old surprisingly; all dressed in suit, a bit rigid at times – somewhat robotic, but never late to refill your water or whenever you need something.

Again, the overall rating is the same as the food above. By the way, the tasting menu offered more luxurious ingredients such as abalone, giant clam, foie gras etc – sound appetizing, but I doubt how good they’re going to be. Just read the news that Alex is closed … what a pity! I intended to give this place another chance, at the very least I’ve been here once

Pictures - alex '09

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We were in Vegas to see Rammstein last weekend, ate at Nobu on Fri night, outstanding dinner! Awesome educated and attentive service, fantastic playful food - a lot of it with instructions to put a bit of this on top and then that and roll it up etc. We could not decide on Fri night what to choose and went with their option of a chef's selection, which was a great idea. All but one dish were top class high quality and so tasty! The only looser of the bunch was the sous vide beef tenderloin, which was actually a bit overcooked and as bland as that cut is. Was on a bed of mashed sweet potato with a blue cheese crusting on top which was very good, but considering that this dish alone cost $48.- not worth the money. I make better steaks at home (by far I might say) and never would Sous Vide a tenderloin to begin with.

The place is very pretty, but also very loud, more like a sports bar than fine dining. Probably because of it's location (Hard Rock Hotel) we were surrounded by tables full of former frat boys trying to outcool and outyell each other, competing for the loudest monkey laugh.

But we did not let that distract us from the amazing food, we loved it so much, we went back the next day for a sushi only dinner.

Definitely one of my most favorite restaurants, despite the noise. LOL, we spent more on those two dinners than on the two nights at the hotel plus concert tickets, and it's NOT a cheap hotel....

The gorgeous pools with the gorgeous people make up for it though.

We also had brunch at Bouchon on the strip, which was very good, but nothing spectacular. Short menu, I had the boudin blanc, good quality in a nice setting, but just that, good food in a good restaurant.

For lunch on Sunday we sat on the patio of the Pink Tacco in the HRH, had a nice view of a bridge in the pool area with all the pretty girls and guys parading around, I could spend a day there. Food was pretty good there, hand made taccos with tasty filling, though the rice tasted somewhat odd and the beans were nothing spectacular, but all in all good quality mexican food in a big place, basically exactly as you'd expect.

Rumors are that Rammstein might come back next year, that would definitely be a good excuse to come back! In the mean time I'll have to search out one of the other 20+ Nobu restaurants, it was THAT good!


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Folks...

I'll be heading to Vegas in September.

Looking for dinner recommendations for 3 evenings; one of which must be at the Wynn complex. I'm looking for recent recommendations, so the Nobu one above sounds tempting.

Anything anyone else can recommend?

Thanks!

Todd in Chicago

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Some people feel that Wynn has (sadly) dumbed down their dining program to focus on the night club crowd. Alex has closed. Jet Tila is leaving. Daniel Bolud's place closed to become another steak heavy place. My meal at Sinatra last year was a bit disappointing. But I did have a nice dinner at Wazuzu back in June of this year. Do you want a steak joint?

For another meal, I would suggest scoping out the places in Cosmopolitan. Blue Ribbon was just OK. I liked D.O.C.G Encoteca a lot. And Holsteins was a decent burger place.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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Jeff...

Sorry for the delay, thank you for your posting. We made some decisions and have our 3 reservations set:

Nobu

Wing Lei

Roubouchon

I'm sure these will be great and we'll have a blast no matter where we go!

Cheers...

Todd in Chicago

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Dined at Nero's at Caesar's when I was in Vegas a few weeks back. I'd avoid it, the service was snotty and failed to bring my wine until I was half way through my starter, foie gras was undercooked and the French onion soup is something I'm sure was taken from another table, (I saw it go back as a wrong order from the next table, five minutes later I placed my order), and then it was on my table less than 1 minute after I ordered it and the bread could not have been soggier, and it was like it had been microwaved.

The steak tartare was good, the other two were very forgettable. I didn't feel like a main, so I ended up ordering two entrees, then a third afterwards. I can't help but feel the shit service stemmed from that.

In terms of casual dining, I can't recommend Margaritaville any higher. The burgers in particular, are great, second only to Rockpool Bar and Grill Sydney in my experience.


James.

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Jeff...

Sorry for the delay, thank you for your posting. We made some decisions and have our 3 reservations set:

Nobu

Wing Lei

Roubouchon

I'm sure these will be great and we'll have a blast no matter where we go!

Cheers...

Todd in Chicago

I think you've made good choices. Chef Richard Chen left Wing Lei a few years back, but I hear it is still good, especially the Peking Duck Tasting Menu if it's on offer.

Robuchon should not disappoint from the service to the food to the wine. A memorable place indeed.

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Dined at Nero's at Caesar's when I was in Vegas a few weeks back. I'd avoid it, the service was snotty and failed to bring my wine until I was half way through my starter, foie gras was undercooked and the French onion soup is something I'm sure was taken from another table, (I saw it go back as a wrong order from the next table, five minutes later I placed my order), and then it was on my table less than 1 minute after I ordered it and the bread could not have been soggier, and it was like it had been microwaved.

The steak tartare was good, the other two were very forgettable. I didn't feel like a main, so I ended up ordering two entrees, then a third afterwards. I can't help but feel the shit service stemmed from that.

In terms of casual dining, I can't recommend Margaritaville any higher. The burgers in particular, are great, second only to Rockpool Bar and Grill Sydney in my experience.

Up until last year Nero's was a forgotten place that actually did a good job. Unfortunately, a few months back they announced it would close and would reopen as a "steakhouse," which it already is. I suppose it will have some celebrity Chef name over the door. My guess is that they've pretty much given up, as your experiences tells us, until they shutter the place, redecorate and then reopen. Very sad.

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Damn, I'd have saved my cash if I'd known that. Thanks for the info though.

The frozen margaritas across the road made up for it though, well, almost. The blackjack tables made up for the rest.


James.

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Rumors have been swirling for months and now it's confirmed, Bradley Ogden restaurant in Caesar's Palace is closing. And one of the worst-kept secrets in the Las Vegas culinary world is finally, painfully, revealed-where will Gordon Ramsay land in Vegas? In the former Ogden space in a concept unsurprisingly called a "Gastropub."

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Last month, Chef Michel Richard opened a Las Vegas outpost of his Washington, D.C., restaurant "Central." Central is a new-entry into the 24-hour "Coffee Shop" and Celebrity Chefs genres in Las Vegas. Billed as a "New American Bistro," (I'm always intrigued by this mention of "new" American cuisine given the fact the country was founded in 1776). One can order dishes like the Lobster Burger or the “La Quercia” Prosciutto Plate at 3am. That lobster on a bun will set you back $34.00 bucks, a high price for what has typically been known as coffee and toast cuisine. Only time will tell if the demographic that flocks to the over-priced rooms at Caesar's will make Central profitable. The reputation of Chef Richard no doubt gives the place an advantage, albeit with a Chef who will probably only visit the kitchen a few times a year.

I haven't tried Central yet, but I hope to get there when I make a quick trip to Las Vegas in early November. Has anyone out there dined at Central Las Vegas? Here's a link to their website and menus.

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So, will Caesar's guests be up for a $32 lobster sandwich after a night of watching Elton John, and then carousing? I tend to think so.

The 24 hour concept is a good one for restaurants here. After 11 p.m., a guest's choices for dining drop off a cliff. There's room service, where $32 for a sandwich is a bargain; there's going off strip past midnight for fast food; and there's the 24-hour diner (which is one of my favorite kitchens to work in, q.v. my casino thread). Every resort has some place like that on property. Caesar's is the first to up-scale theirs. If it works, we'll be seeing a LOT more of this. Maybe I'll get to work in one. That'd be cool.

I've found a LOT of guests gravitate to the 24hr joint. Particularly the poker players. And Central looks like they're gunning for that particular market with their menu.

And unlike other 24-hour restaurants, the celebrity chef factor and Beard award might convince more people to go there for lunch or dinner, when other "casino diners" are dead quiet. (Hard for a $12 burger at the diner to compete with the buffet's prices.)


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I'm taking the family to Vegas for about a week and need some help with food choices, it's overwhelming there is so much to choose from. The family on the Vegas portion of the trip (we are spending the week before in Arizona) will consist of my husband and I, our 3 children (ages 15,14, and 11) and my in-laws...So we need so family friendly places. Except for 3 nights at the Venetian, we will be based in Henderson.

Some specific things I'm looking for:

A nice restaurant for my husband and I for one night, preferably something in the Venetian/Palazzo. My husband doesn't really care for French style or courses so I was thinking Cut or Tao, though leaning more towards Cut.

A lunch buffet, I'm not really a buffet person but my mother-in-law is insisting on it...

A good Hawaiian style place, a strange request but I noticed there are quite a few of them and the whole family loves Hawaiian plate style lunches and poke. Some place in the Henderson area would be nice.

Good ice cream/frozen yogurt also preferably in the Henderson area.

We are planning a trip out to Red Rock Canyon/Bonnie Springs is there anyhting in the area good for lunch?

I could also use a good burger at some point on this trip....

Some place that have pretty much been decided are:

Cheescake Factory (Henderson) my kids and in-laws love this place....

Top of the World (Stratosphere) for lunch after my daughter an I ride the rides

Hash House a Go Go for breakfast one day, just cause it sounds good and I like large portions when with a group this size

Grimaldi' Pizza it's close to where we are staying and I'll need a pizza fix before returning to Japan


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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In terms of the Venetian, you cannot go wrong with Delmonicos for a nice dinner for two. Bouchon is there as well, I think. Wynn Las Vegas has the best buffet in town. I don't think I can help with the rest of it.

We are just in the middle of planning our restaurants for Vegas, when we'll be there for 6 days over New Year's Eve.


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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The VPN pizzeria Settebello near Cheesecake Factory in the District in Henderson is my favorite in Las Vegas.

There really aren't any dining options in Red Rock Canyon. Pack a picnic, or use that as your excuse for your Buffet Day, at Red Rock Casino on West Charleston. If it were me, the buffet of choice would be Sterling Brunch on Sunday, at Bally's -- but it's $85 per person.

Pity your husband doesn't go for French food -- Bouchon is one of the better values in Las Vegas. And right there at the Venetian, as is Batali's B&B, which is also quite good.

Frozen stuff, can't help you -- I have extreme sensitivity to cold food.

Hawaiian barbecues often find themselves on the Wednesday health code violation report. Even an "A" rating cannot be trusted because restaurants can fix whatever gave them a B or C, and pay to be reexamined.

Good burgers can be had at Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay or Holstein's at Cosmopolitan.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Kris,

In Venetian/Palazzo, Cut is very good. If you want Italian, check out Valentino. I don't really enjoy buffets much, but when I went to the Wynn buffet a few years ago, it was good. You may want to consider the Wicked Spoon buffet at Cosmopolitan. It's the newest one in town, and has a non-traditional way of serving up the food.

I don't get off strip too much, so it's hard for me to suggest places. But I have heard great things about Settabello. There is a hash house on the strip now. You gotta go into the IP, though.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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Kris,

In Venetian/Palazzo, Cut is very good. If you want Italian, check out Valentino. I don't really enjoy buffets much, but when I went to the Wynn buffet a few years ago, it was good. You may want to consider the Wicked Spoon buffet at Cosmopolitan. It's the newest one in town, and has a non-traditional way of serving up the food.

I don't get off strip too much, so it's hard for me to suggest places. But I have heard great things about Settabello. There is a hash house on the strip now. You gotta go into the IP, though.

Note -- the "newest" is usually the best. But only for a few months after the property opens. Then management starts screaming at F&B to reduce food costs at the buffet and turn a profit.

I was at IP recently, and Hash House is selling Fried Chicken and Waffles for something on the order of $25 a portion. (Can't remember exactly. I just remember thinking, "You've got to be #@&$! kidding me.")


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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