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Dining in Las Vegas: Part 1

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I will be in Las Vegas next weekend for a bachelor party and would like to plan a dinner at a Brazlian rodizio/churrascaria.

I was relatively unimpressed with Samba at the Mirage when I went a number of years ago. I am skeptical about rumjungle at Mandalay Bay. I see that there's a new place --- Pampas --- at Planet Hollywood that looks like it might be the best option.

Can anyone chime in with their experience at Pampas? Should I reconsider Samba or rumjungle? Should I nix the idea altogether and go for a more traditional steakhouse. (I'd rather not go the steakhouse route, unless there are really no good choices for rodizio.)

Thanks.


Edited by epg13 (log)

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I will be in Las Vegas next weekend for a bachelor party and would like to plan a dinner at a Brazlian rodizio/churrascaria.

I was relatively unimpressed with Samba at the Mirage when I went a number of years ago.  I am skeptical about rumjungle at Mandalay Bay.  I see that there's a new place --- Pampas --- at Planet Hollywood that looks like it might be the best option.

Can anyone chime in with their experience at Pampas?  Should I reconsider Samba or rumjungle?  Should I nix the idea altogether and go for a more traditional steakhouse.  (I'd rather not go the steakhouse route, unless there are really no good choices for rodizio.)

Thanks.

I stayed at The Mirage for a week in May. Every evening I walked by Samba and not once was the place full. That told me that either the food or service, or both, weren't very good. All of the other restaurants at The Mirage were packed every night, so maybe the novelty of the Brazilian steakhouse is waning.

I haven't been to Pampas, so I'm not qualified to give it a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, but in general, I'd avoid these type of Brazilian steakhouses in Las Vegas. There are so many high-end, wonderful steakhouses in Las Vegas that focus solely on the food rather than how the waiters parade spikes of meat around the dining room, that I would probably just go to a traditional steakhouse.

My two favorites are Craftsteak at the MGM and CUT at The Palazzo. The starters at CUT are more innovative than what you might find at other steakhouses-I especially liked the Bone Marrow Flan with Parsley Salad at CUT when I was there. The wine service is exceptional. The beef at CUT is exceptional-I had the dry-aged, Nebraska beef. At the time I was there in May they also had Iowa beef and both Wagyu and Kobe on the menu. The only complaint I had was that the chef used a heavy hand with the salt-shaker. Beautiful meat doesn't need a heavy dose of salt, so next time I dine at CUT I'll ask the kitchen to serve me a "nude" steak-no salt please.

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I haven't been to Pampas, so I'm not qualified to give it a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, but in general, I'd avoid these type of Brazilian steakhouses in Las Vegas.  There are so many high-end, wonderful steakhouses in Las Vegas that focus solely on the food rather than how the waiters parade spikes of meat around the dining room, that I would probably just go to a traditional steakhouse.

David:

Thank you for the advice. I truly respect your opinioin. Given that this is a bachelor party, though, I'm looking for a "fun" meal more than a great dining experience. I don't expect the food at Pampas to be as good as I would get at Craftsteak (where I've eaten) or Cut (where I have not yet been).

Having been to Samba once (albeit 3-4 years ago), I can confirm that the food is subpar, and I am very skeptical about rumjungle (and am not sure it's a true churrascaria as opposed to just a Brazilian-themed restaurant). However, the Pampas website and some of the on-line reviews give me some hope that it's a step up from those and perhaps close to my excellent experiences at Churrascaria Plataforma in New York. If it's anything close to that, I'll be very happy.

Moreover, I have access to top-end steakhouses where I live now. So I think the churrascaria route would be more festive.

With that being said, has anyone tried Pampas yet? If it's bad, I'll take a pass. But if it's even average, I'll probably go ahead.

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I will be in Las Vegas next weekend for a bachelor party and would like to plan a dinner at a Brazlian rodizio/churrascaria.

I was relatively unimpressed with Samba at the Mirage when I went a number of years ago.  I am skeptical about rumjungle at Mandalay Bay.  I see that there's a new place --- Pampas --- at Planet Hollywood that looks like it might be the best option.

Can anyone chime in with their experience at Pampas?  Should I reconsider Samba or rumjungle?  Should I nix the idea altogether and go for a more traditional steakhouse.  (I'd rather not go the steakhouse route, unless there are really no good choices for rodizio.)

Thanks.

Ever considered something Southern? I was thinking of Louis's Fish Camp at the Town Center, south of Mandalay Bay. They have live music on the weekends (country, bluegrass ...). That place might suit a bachelor party.

Did you want more of a scene/restaurant, with table service, a la Pure or the Light Group? More upscale?

Or I might have to refer you to this website.

BTW Is the bachelor party for you? If so, congrats epg13!!


Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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looks like Texas De Brazil is opening a location in Las Vegas soemtime this year. But I can't find a date.

I haven't been to Samba, but I have cruised by it while in the Mirage and have seen pics from meals there (taken by friends that did go). Didn't appeal to me, either. Just didn't even look to be up to the same level as a Texas de Brazil or a Fogo de Chao. Also, I'm really burned out in the whole Churascaria thing, anyway. I mean, I like meat and I can pack it away at those places, but in Vegas, there are way too many choices for more interesting food and atmosphere.

Can I assume you want to stay in one of the big casinos on the strip? Does it HAVE to be a "meat palace"?


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

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Has anyone heard the rumor/news about Thomas Keller opening another restaurant at The Venetian? What I heard was that he was going to open his Burgers and Bottles concept there, taking over the space that used to be Lutece (and then was briefly a Chinese place). It's away from restaurant row, right on the casino, across from the sports book.

I'm going to dig around for more info on this.


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

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jsmeeker, I saw a similar report about Burgers and Half-Bottles on John Curtas' web site.

True-Keller is doing an upscale burger joint in the Lutece space at The Venetian-at least that's what has been disclosed.

The "gourmet burger" trend is really taking hold in Las Vegas.

I just got back yesterday from a trip to Las Vegas where I attended the press party for Laurent Tourondel's BLT Burger at The Mirage. The party was fun-the liquor and waitresses most impressive-the burgers not as good as the burgers I grill at home. (I'll do a separate post on my adventure).

I'm not sure when they'll be opening the Keller burger place at The Venetian. When I walked by two days ago I just saw the place boarded up. That's typical when the casinos are changing out restaurants-they tend to not show much to the public until the place is ready.

On another note-you may want to check out one of John's latest posts at EatingLV.com

John has an interesting post about a squabble between Mandalay Bay and Alain Ducasse-The missing Executive Chef at Mix who apparently will be permanently missing Las Vegas.

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Thanks. I heard the rumor on a Las Vegas podcast and google search led me to the entry at John Curtas' website. I've read stuff from him before. Good information there. (I saw the bit about Ducasse and Mix and the Mandalay Bay people)

BLT Burger opened a day or two after I left Las Vegas back in early July. I've been hearing many good things about it since it opened. I am planning on being back in Las Vegas in mid-December, and will be staying at The Mirage. So, I'll check out BLT Burger. I assume Burgers and Half Bottles won't be open by then. But maybe it will be when I go in Summer 2009? I hope so.


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

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How is Stratta at the Wynn? I believe it had a previous name under a different chef, and is now run by Alex Stratta (of two star "Alex", also in the Wynn)


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

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How is Stratta at the Wynn?  I believe it had a previous name under a different chef, and is now run by Alex Stratta (of two star "Alex", also in the Wynn)

I hear it is good, not great. The space was formerly the home of "Corsa Cucina." Managment apparently wasn't happy with the place, so they made the change to "Stratta."

Basically they kept the Italian theme and asked Chef Stratta to lend his name and advice to the menu. I think he's actively involved, but certainly not in the kitchen every night. His primary focus is at Restaurant Alex.

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How is Stratta at the Wynn?  I believe it had a previous name under a different chef, and is now run by Alex Stratta (of two star "Alex", also in the Wynn)

I hear it is good, not great. The space was formerly the home of "Corsa Cucina." Managment apparently wasn't happy with the place, so they made the change to "Stratta."

Basically they kept the Italian theme and asked Chef Stratta to lend his name and advice to the menu. I think he's actively involved, but certainly not in the kitchen every night. His primary focus is at Restaurant Alex.

Understood.. But is seems like a decent choice for Italian. I am staying at The Mirage this time, but like spending some time over at The Wynn when I am in Las Vegas.


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

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How is Stratta at the Wynn?  I believe it had a previous name under a different chef, and is now run by Alex Stratta (of two star "Alex", also in the Wynn)

I hear it is good, not great. The space was formerly the home of "Corsa Cucina." Managment apparently wasn't happy with the place, so they made the change to "Stratta."

Basically they kept the Italian theme and asked Chef Stratta to lend his name and advice to the menu. I think he's actively involved, but certainly not in the kitchen every night. His primary focus is at Restaurant Alex.

Understood.. But is seems like a decent choice for Italian. I am staying at The Mirage this time, but like spending some time over at The Wynn when I am in Las Vegas.

I'm sure you won't be disappointed even if you're not wowed. Valentino at The Venetian is another fine choice for Italian. You'll have a great trip I'm sure.

The coming months should be interesting in Las Vegas as the restaurants at Encore start opening in late December of '08 and some of the restaurants at MGM City Center start to open later in '09.

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when does Encore open? I'll be in Las Vegas in December just after NFR. Who is on tap to be in Encore? Will there be as many places there as there are in Wynn proper?


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

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when does Encore open? I'll be in Las Vegas in December just after NFR. Who is on tap to be in Encore? Will there be as many places there as there are in Wynn proper?

The Encore website mentions a December 2008 opening. I was informed that the building of Encore is behind schedule.

Theo Schoenegger (formerly of Patina) will open his own restaurant at Encore.

jsmeeker, you're not going to NFR? There are a lot of bargains during the two weeks before Christmas. We'll see if things work out.


Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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when does Encore open? I'll be in Las Vegas in December just after NFR. Who is on tap to be in Encore? Will there be as many places there as there are in Wynn proper?

I was in Las Vegas two weeks ago and from what I gathered, the opening of Encore has tentatively been scheduled for the week of December 22. That's tentative.

They recently plopped Steve Wynn on the top of Encore and a helicopter buzzed up there to do a promo spot for the opening. Mr. Wynn did a similar rooftop commercial before Wynn opened.

Tableau at Wynn is currently undergoing major changes and is scheduled to be the new home of An American Place by Chef Larry Forgione. The opening is tentatively scheduled for late December.

The former Chef at Tableau, Mark LoRusso, is moving over to Encore to open a steakhouse-"Botero Steak."

Encore has announced these additional restaurants-"Theo's" (Italian) by Chef Theo Schoenegger, "Switch" (not sure what type of cuisine they'll 'switch' around) by Chef Mark Poidevan of Le Cirque at Bellagio and some sort of Asian/Fusion nightclubby type of place.

Of course, this is all "tentative" in Las Vegas speak and one doesn't really know what will debut for sure until it happens.

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I'll be in Las Vegas in early December for a CME course. I'll be by myself and welcome dining companions from the 1st through the 3rd. PM me if interested and available. At this point I'm not sure which restaurants I'll hit other than RM.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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when does Encore open? I'll be in Las Vegas in December just after NFR. Who is on tap to be in Encore? Will there be as many places there as there are in Wynn proper?

Tableau at Wynn is currently undergoing major changes and is scheduled to be the new home of An American Place by Chef Larry Forgione. The opening is tentatively scheduled for late December.

The former Chef at Tableau, Mark LoRusso, is moving over to Encore to open a steakhouse-"Botero Steak."

Interesting news about Tableau. I always heard good things about it. I actually went over there for breakfast in June. Should have sat inside instead of out, though.. Still, I thought it was a really nice place. I wonder if what replaces it will be opened for three meals a day like Tableau is.

You know, as much as I LIKE a nice steak, It's hard for me to get jazzed up for a steak joint these days. I feel like I've seen it all and that there is not much "new" in steak houses.


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

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How is Stratta at the Wynn?  I believe it had a previous name under a different chef, and is now run by Alex Stratta (of two star "Alex", also in the Wynn)

I hear it is good, not great. The space was formerly the home of "Corsa Cucina." Managment apparently wasn't happy with the place, so they made the change to "Stratta."

Basically they kept the Italian theme and asked Chef Stratta to lend his name and advice to the menu. I think he's actively involved, but certainly not in the kitchen every night. His primary focus is at Restaurant Alex.

Understood.. But is seems like a decent choice for Italian. I am staying at The Mirage this time, but like spending some time over at The Wynn when I am in Las Vegas.

I'm sure you won't be disappointed even if you're not wowed. Valentino at The Venetian is another fine choice for Italian. You'll have a great trip I'm sure.

The coming months should be interesting in Las Vegas as the restaurants at Encore start opening in late December of '08 and some of the restaurants at MGM City Center start to open later in '09.

I will echo the recommendation of Valentino's. I went there about a year ago and had the tasting menu with my parents. Its been so long that I can't remember what we had but its my favorite Italian place in Vegas though I am sure there are others I really need to try.

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In August I had the pleasure of dining at RM Seafood, an often-overlooked restaurant hidden between the Mandalay Bay Hotel and the shops at Mandalay Place.

Mandalay Bay is at the far Southern edge of the strip, directly across from McCarran Airport. By virtue of its location, the exceptional restaurants at Mandalay Bay-including RM Seafood and Aureole-don’t get as much notice as some of the restaurants found in the heart of the Strip further North at Bellagio, Caesar’s, The Venetian and The Wynn.

A few years ago, Chef Rick Moonen made what in Las Vegas gambling parlance would be called a “killer bet.” He staked the reputation he had built as one of the finest Chef’s in New York City to move westward to Las Vegas to open RM Seafood. It’s proven to be a bet that’s paid huge dividends at the table.

Chef Moonen is what some would call a “Celebrity Chef.” He’s appeared on television cooking programs and on Oprah. In fact, Oprah selected his new cookbook, “Fish Without a Doubt,” as the “premier pick for her new ‘Cookbook of the Month’ Club.

Yet Chef Moonen differs from other “Celebrity Chefs” who put their names over the doors of restaurants in Las Vegas. We call them the “Missing Chefs” because they rarely are found in the kitchens of their namesake Las Vegas restaurants. Chef Moonen lives in Las Vegas and is in the kitchen every single night-a symbol of his commitment to the city and to the quality of his restaurant.

Chef Moonen is one of the industry’s leading advocates of sustainable seafood. In his own words-

“We believe in the importance of buying and serving seafood that comes from abundant wild populations which are under sound management.”

“All the fish on our menu are caught or farmed in a way that is not harmful to the ocean environment and to other ocean creatures.”

“We also support local fishing communities and take responsibility for our role in preserving a lasting and diverse supply of seafood.”

The concept of sustainable seafood is not a novelty lost on Chef Moonen. It’s a philosophy that he and his staff live every day. It’s the right thing to do for the environment and to insure a stable supply of seafood for future generations.

The movement to perpetuate sustainable seafood is not lost on the customer at RM Seafood. Taste Chef Moonen’s buttery, salty, seared dayboat scallops harvested by hand off the coast of Maine and you realize that scallops raised artificially and soaked in chemicals do not taste the way Mother Nature intended.

RM Seafood is actually two restaurants-a casual café and oyster bar downstairs that serves fresh, simply grilled and fried seafood along with an extensive menu of micro-brews-and the formal “upstairs” dining room.

The décor of the dining room is simple and sleek with walls, tables and service stations crafted of natural hardwoods and plenty of glass and chrome trimming-a space that some say reminds them of what a dining room on a gracious ocean liner of the 1930’s would have looked like.

The service at RM Seafood is exceptional without being over-the-top, (a delicate balance between being overly fawning to the customer or being downright snooty and offish-the extremes of service that one encounters at some of the expensive dining rooms in Las Vegas).

We told the Sommelier that we weren’t in the mood for different wines with each course-we preferred a wine that would see us through the evening. (That’s a tall order for a Sommelier-to select one wine that will accentuate a wide variety flavors in multiple dishes). He settled on serving us a "Nicolas Joly Chenin Blanc."

I’m far from being called a knowledgeable wine connoisseur, but my research tells me that Mr. Joly is an advocate of “biodynamic viticulture”-recognizing that wine is made not in the barrels that rest in the cellar but in the soil in which the vines grow. Organics and even astrology play a part in the growing of the grapes. That’s the easy explanation.

The result of this unique winemaking process delivered a bottle to our table that had the richness and depth to pair with delicate seafood, (Oyster), firm-fleshed, oily fish (Cobia), hefty beef (Short-Rib) and even dessert (Chocolate). Truly a versatile wine.

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Our challenge to the staff in terms of the food was to craft a unique tasting menu with nary a restriction other than to be creative and show us their “best” dishes with no advance notice. The kitchen delivered on our challenge by serving twelve fabulous courses.

Now you’ll have to excuse me because I wasn’t able to capture the beauty of our dishes through quality photographs. I’m sure you understand-sometimes when we dine we tend to become rapt with the wine and the conversation-forsaking the quality of the visual record of our dining experience.

We began with an amuse of a fresh “Penn Cove Oyster” harvested from the waters of Puget Sound that border Seattle.

The oyster, no bigger than a thimble, had the scent of the ocean and was garnished with Osetra Caviar-a perfectly light taste of the sea to introduce the seafood courses that would follow.

Another amuse, an appetizer course really, was next, “Tuna with Honeydew and Mint.”

The tuna was presented as a timbale of raw cubes of fish topped with tiny balls of sweet melon and then garnished with a few shavings of green and red onion. The tuna was swimming on top of a light honeydew-mint water.

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Next came “Grilled Goat Cheese on Brioche Toast with Tomato Soup.”

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We agreed that as kids we all loved the grilled cheese sandwiches that Mom served with a steaming bowl of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. But Chef Moonen’s dish wasn’t Kraft American Cheese served between slices of Wonder Bread-and it certainly wasn’t a bowl of overly salted, concentrated tomato soup ala 1960.

The tangy, gooey goat cheese melted between slices of thick, buttered brioche. The cover of ubiquitous foam on the top of the soup, (a technique that makes far too many appearances in Las Vegas restaurants), was merely a veil for the depth of tomato flavor that lay beneath the cloud of foam.

“Spicy Hamachi with Grapefruit and Avocado with Yuzu” dressing followed the tomato and cheese sandwich.

I was apprehensive that the strong flavors of pepper, (spicy), acid, (grapefruit and yuzu), and creamy texture (avocado), would overpower the delicate flavor of the Hamachi. But a deft hand in the kitchen doesn’t push the spice or acid too far, so the hint of grapefruit, yuzu, pepper and the soft texture of the avocado in the dish perfectly accented the Hamachi.

The next dish was the stunner of the evening, “Dayboat Scallop with a Spicy Carrot Salad.”

Simple menu descriptions often don’t reveal the depth and beauty of a dish.

Dayboat scallops seemingly appear on all seafood menus today. But the key to the success of a dayboat scallop dish doesn’t simply come from the natural beauty of the product-it must also be cooked properly.

Chef Moonen used a technique on the scallops that I’d never seen. He sears the scallops in butter and olive oil in a scorching cast iron skillet, basting them with the pan juices as they cook. Chef Moonen then slices the meat of the scallop like a thick sirloin beefsteak and fans the slices across the plate. Each delicious bite carries a taste of caramelized outer crust and medium-rare, buttery flesh.

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The next dish was my least favorite of the evening, “Cobia with Piquillo Pepper Chutney, Sake Lees Gazpacho, Steamed Bok Choy and Sticky Rice.”

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The Cobia came from waters off the coast of Ecuador. The flesh had a firm texture, but I found it overly oily and likened the taste to muddy catfish. The vegetable accompaniments were more flavorful than the fish.

The Cobia was followed by a "Filet of Atlantic Halibut served with Foie Gras and Corn Flan” and garnished with a Corn Foam.

Foie Gras, used as a luxury indulgence in most restaurants, has found a way to become as common as salmon or steak in Las Vegas. And how wonderful it was that Chef Moonen paired the silky texture and decadence of foie gras with the firm meat of the halibut and the sweetness of the corn.

Our party thought that dinner was coming to the final act, but then the waiter came to the table holding a tray of steak knives. Good Lord. After so many wondrous courses of seafood we were moving on to beef-not just one, but two dishes of prime grade American!

The first beef dish was a “Niman Ranch Strip, served with seared Foie Gras, Buttermilk Mashed Potato and Cabernet Reduction.”

I don’t have a photo to share, but put away any thoughts of the dish composed of a slab of steak and a mound of mashed potatoes.

As he did with the unique presentation of the Dayboat Scallop, Chef Moonen presented the steak and potatoes in a manner that surprises the diner with new tastes and textures.

The steak was cut into thick slices and presented over seared foie gras. (Remember, we were in Las Vegas where decadence is normal). The buttermilk potatoes had been rolled into small nuggets and then deep-fried, revealing a crispy coating holding a creamy potato filling.

The second beef dish was a “Smoked Short Rib, Marble Potatoes, Stuffed Zuchinni Blossom, Ruby Port Sauce and Taleggio Gratinee.”

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As with the previous dishes, the unique cooking techniques used elevated the flavors and success of the short rib.

Chef Moonen starts with a bedrock size short rib on the bone. He smokes it, (over hickory is what I remember he told us), and then braises the short ribs for 8 hours. But the process doesn’t end there. The short rib is pulled off the bone, chilled, and then grilled just before presentation.

The result is an incredibly tender, smoky piece of beef with a charred crust. You literally taste three cooking techniques with each delicious bite.

Unfortunately, the Taleggio Gratinee was not a success. What was intended to be an upscale mac n’ cheese came to the table cold, the cheese congealed.

Dishes intended to be served piping hot straight from the stove, the cheese gooey and melting, are a tricky business in the restaurant trade. The distance from the hot stove to the dining room is far greater than the few steps from my stove to the table-I can get the rice to the table hot-it’s harder for a restaurant to do the same.

I’ve recently had Risotto, Polenta and this particular Taleggio Gratinee at three top restaurants in Las Vegas and each was a cold, sticky mess. The main elements of the dishes were still good, but murky side dishes can bring a great dish down a notch.

At this point in the evening, dessert was still one course away. We apparently needed to enjoy more foie gras!

The meat plates were removed and we were served “Hudson Valley Seared Foie Gras with Roasted Peaches.” The peaches were grown at Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood, California.

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Forget the rumblings you might have heard from customers not being able to taste a ripe peach in a restaurant in Las Vegas. Dine on a Frog Hollow peach and the complaints fade away.

In order for a peach to reach Las Vegas and still be somewhat firm, it’s picked weeks before it naturally ripens on the tree. The result is that the natural growth cycle of the peach is stunted at the point it’s picked and the sugars don’t have a chance to develop and concentrate the flavor of the fruit.

Chef Moonen specifies that the peaches stay on the trees at Frog Hollow until they reach the peak of their sugar content and natural flavor-firm and juicy. Then they’re picked and shipped a few hundred miles South to RM Seafood.

We were, as they say, in “heaven.” I can’t remember the sauce, nor do I remember the garnishes. I remember the peaches were simply sliced and carefully placed on top of sliced, seared foie gras.

The first dessert was “Fresh Fruit with Blackberry Coulis.”

We were served a bowl with a small mound of fresh berries in the center with little caps of crispy meringues dotting the rim of fruit. The waiter poured a chilled blackberry coulis, (a blackberry soup really), around the fruits and meringues. Each taste was a contrast of flavors and textures.

The second dessert was a “Molten Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Ice Cream and Poached Bing Cherries.”

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A swirl of the cherry poaching liquid circled the cake and the ice cream was garnished with a tuille of nougat and shaved almonds.

Overlooking RM Seafood would be a tragic mistake when you visit Las Vegas.

The Michelin Guide committed an obvious oversight three weeks ago when they failed to award even one star to RM Seafood. It’s worthy of much more. But the lack of a Michelin star by no means places any doubt upon the quality of the food at RM Seafood or Chef Moonen’s standing among great American Chefs.

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Thanks for the outstanding report, David. As I mentioned uptopic, this is the one restaurant in Las Vegas that I had definitely planned on dining at next month. You did nothing to dissuade me. :biggrin:

The one thing I would say, is that Chef Moonen does not not to specify that the peaches at Frog Hollow stay on the trees to ripen as that is what they routinely do. The peaches at Frog Hollow are not inexpensive, but the quality definitely shows.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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The one thing I would say, is that Chef Moonen does not not to specify that the peaches at Frog Hollow stay on the trees to ripen as that is what they routinely do. The peaches at Frog Hollow are not inexpensive, but the quality definitely shows.

Thanks-an important clarification. We have delicious peaches in the Northwest, but the Frog Hollow peaches were the absolutely best I've ever tasted-juicy, sweet and with so much peach flavor. I don't know what a Chef pays for them, but I would gladly pay big bucks just to have one of these juicy beauties in my kitchen. They were amazing.

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I've appreciated all the information on this thread. Ms. Alex and I will be in Las Vegas toward the end of December, staying three nights at The Venetian. This is my first visit, although Ms. A has been there a couple of times for conferences (so she says :wink: ). I've done a bunch of restaurant research (of course), but would like some independent opinions.

Here are our parameters:

1) We won't have a car, would rather not take a cab, but wouldn't mind taking the bus.

2) A propos of #1, one dinner is committed to Rosemary's Restaurant.

3) As wonderful as they might be, high-end places are out. Including tax, tip, and wine, ~$150-175 for the two of us is our preferred ceiling.

4) We get a $50/day food coupon from the Venetian that's good only that day at their restaurants (and Palazzo's, too, I think). We were thinking of using it for a late breakfast/early lunch at Bouchon, but are open to other uses.

We were considering Louis's Las Vegas (Ms. A ate there and liked it), but I hesitated after learning his Fish Camp closed. A very recent poster on Yelp said that Louis's itself had closed, but I'm still getting an open-sounding recording when I call. Does anyone know about this?

Has anyone been to Himalayan Cuisine? We're giving serious thought to this place. The menu is very intriguing and recent reviews on Yelp have been positive.

At The Venetian, both Enoteca San Marco and The Grill at Valentino sound appealing.

Any thoughts about these and others?


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I've appreciated all the information on this thread. Ms. Alex and I will be in Las Vegas toward the end of December, staying three nights at The Venetian. This is my first visit, although Ms. A has been there a couple of times for conferences (so she says :wink: ). I've done a bunch of restaurant research (of course), but would like some independent opinions.

Here are our parameters:

1) We won't have a car, would rather not take a cab, but wouldn't mind taking the bus.

2) A propos of #1, one dinner is committed to Rosemary's Restaurant.

3) As wonderful as they might be, high-end places are out. Including tax, tip, and wine, ~$150-175 for the two of us is our preferred ceiling.

4) We get a $50/day food coupon from the Venetian that's good only that day at their restaurants (and Palazzo's, too, I think). We were thinking of using it for a late breakfast/early lunch at Bouchon, but are open to other uses.

We were considering Louis's Las Vegas (Ms. A ate there and liked it), but I hesitated after learning his Fish Camp closed. A very recent poster on Yelp said that Louis's itself had closed, but I'm still getting an open-sounding recording when I call. Does anyone know about this?

Has anyone been to Himalayan Cuisine? We're giving serious thought to this place. The menu is very intriguing and recent reviews on Yelp have been positive.

At The Venetian, both Enoteca San Marco and The Grill at Valentino sound appealing.

Any thoughts about these and others?

Unfortunately, following on the news that he had closed Fish Camp, Chef Osteen has closed Louis's Las Vegas, (as first reported at ELV.com). The restaurant became the victim of the horrible economy-but a few other factors sealed its fate.

Louis's was located at the Town Square shopping center on the South end of the strip. The shopping center is still opening up, slowly, so the newness of the place didn't get word out to the strip for the tourists to come on down and shop and dine there. With so many wonderful restaurants in the hotels on the Strip, I think visitors tended to dine closer to home instead of driving or taking a taxi down to Louis's.

A restaurant not associated with one of the big hotels has a rough go of it in Las Vegas and the business from the locals is vital. Unfortunately, I don't think Louis's or Fish Camp ever got the numbers of local/repeat business necessary to see them through rough times.

Prices are down at many of the nice restaurants in Las Vegas right now, so I don't think you'll have problems finding something good in your price range-especially if you have a $50 credit to use each day at The Venetian. Just go on the web or tour the hotels when you get in town and you'll see posted menus and prices outside the restaurants.

The grill/cafe at Valentino is good, and Boulud at the Wynn has a pre-theater menu that offers choices of three courses for a reasonable price.

And another tip on cabs, the prices have come down recently. While cabs are still of course the most expensive means of transportation, they're the quickest and most convenient. In May I was paying an average of $20 for a one-way fare, including tip, from the airport to Treasure Island on the Strip. In October, I paid $12 for the ride including tip. So like the economy in general, cab rides and restaurant prices in Las Vegas have come down. That exludes the prices at the high-end restaurants like Guy Savoy, Robuchon, Restaurant Charlie and Alex-which continue to be terribly expensive.

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