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This is not exactly a "food" post -

Called to make a reservation for 11 people at craftsteak in early October. Was told there'd be a $50 fee (to guarantee we'd all be able to sit together) and a contract with a $500 deposit. I'm pissed at the fee on prinicle, but the deposit? Is this common practice? Do I just not book enough large dinners to be aware of this? I love that restaurant, but I am really angry right now.

The contract is not unusual. There are many places (eg Minibar) where you have to sign a contract for parties of two. I don't know about Vegas but many restaurants will only seat parties that large in a private dining room, which in many cases increases the cost of the meal by at least $50.
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We and our wedding guests just spent a nice long weekend at the Mandalay Bay and I think most of us ended up eating completely within the hotel the whole time (being too busy to venture out). StripSteak was the go-to late night spot...great bar and great apps (along the same lines of those at Bourbon Steak here). The bartender's cool...somehow having recognized me from months ago and then - in a separate instance - recognizing my family from their visit months ago...for a place that turns so many, I was impressed.

I really like Burger Bar. Fantastic beer list, busy (but was always able to get a spot at the) bar (although there's been a wait to sit at tables almost everytime I've been in there) and even a memorably juicy, chicken hawaiian sandwich if you're not in the mood for beef at the Burger Bar (gasp).

Raffles was the place to be for all breakfast/brunch/lunch meals with HUGE portions that really pleased our masses. It's not the cheapest, but excellent hangover food and open 24 hours...it was really nice to have.

Our rehearsal dinner was at Lupo and they did an excellent job. Service was outstanding as were the apps. Meatballs were awesome and the pizzas were delicious. A mozza and tomato salad was really nice too.

Excellent trip and while I don't intend to stay within one hotel an entire visit the next time I go, MB worked out really well for those of us who did this time around.

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The contract is not unusual. There are many places (eg Minibar) where you have to sign a contract for parties of two. I don't know about Vegas but many restaurants will only seat parties that large in a private dining room, which in many cases increases the cost of the meal by at least $50.

Thanks for the response, MtPleasant. We're not being given a private room. We are paying solely for the privilege of sitting together in the main dining room. While I could understand both the fee and the deposit if the room was consistently packed with a wait list, that's not the case and I don't. I've been there early and late, weekday and weekend, and it is never packed. It's never empty, but it's never packed. I just don't get it.

Should I still be pissed? And if so, enough to not eat there this time around?

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It sounds like you are angry enough to take your business elsewhere, which judging by their NY outpost, is probably not a bad idea. I haven't eaten at Craft outposts in Vegas, Foxwoods, Atlanta, Dallas or LA though.

You're spot on. Any (other) steakhouse recommendations at that end of the strip?

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In eleven hours I will be on an airplane for my annual tradeshow which this year is in Vegas. As a salesman I entertain quite a bit so I have six reservations for six nights and plans for New Mexican for the seventh. Perhaps most important is that my first meal in Vegas will be lunch tomorrow at In-n-Out and my last meal-next Sunday-will also be lunch, at In-n-Out. In between dinner at Joel Robuchon (going dutch with a long time friend-we've both been to Robuchon in Paris in the '90's and will find this interesting; of course then the Franc was 11 to the dollar..), Raku (too many people have told me this is THE restaurant in Vegas at the moment; I've heard stories of live scallops still slithering on plates as they are presented-although I am not into live seafood.), Lotus of Siam (because I am addicted to it), Bartolotta (there's something about Italian seafood in the dessert), B 'n B (Jersey Boys is in the same hotel and I like Mario Batali's cooking), Alex (a return visit but this time for business and my client wants to go; interesting that it is only open Weds. through Saturday) and (JohnB you will laugh!!!!!), Garduno's. Yes, Garduno's!!!! Why? Because I like carne adovada and Carol likes guacamole made tableside. The Garduno's I've been to in Albuquerque were, indeed, mediocre, but both had excellent fresh Guac and outstanding carne adovada. Also, to be honest, after Robuchon, Alex and Bartolotta I need more than In-n-Out and LOS to balance out cost.

Still, I predict the best meal will be our last: a double double with grilled onions, fries "animal style" and a Neopolitan shake. At In-n-Out. About twelve dollars.

We will not be returning to Bouchon. On our only visit a year and a half ago I found it to be a huge disappointment, far behind either Central or Beck. Or Et Voila which is probably the best of all. Come to think of it, a dinner at Et Voila, say midweek would be absolutely wonderful!

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......and (JohnB you will laugh!!!!!), Garduno's. Yes, Garduno's!!!! Why? Because I like carne adovada and Carol likes guacamole made tableside.

If Carol likes guacamole made tableside at Garduno's, then Garduno's it is. End of discussion. There is nothing in life more important than bringing happiness to those who bring us happiness!

We won't be making our annual T'giving trip this year. Too many schedule conflicts, not to mention budget conflicts. C'est la vie.

BTW, did you consider Bar Charlie?

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Monk's sauces kick butt [shout-out to Philly].

But back on topic, thanks for including fries to the menu Michael. I'm enjoying 'em.

We just returned from Las Vegas where I had In-n-Out for lunch and Joel Robuchon for dinner on Tuesday night. Severqal of Robuchon's dishes were the best I have tasted anywhere in the past several years: Braised veal cheeks with Thai broth, vegetable couscous with broccoli and an intense, rich, delicate chestnut velouté with foie gras, smoked lardons foam. We deeply wafted the rich, broth of the veal cheeks, sucking them into our nostrils as no other food I've found in years. Layers and layers of flavor: all four of us, all sophisticated at this level almost overwhelmed at the extraordinarily complex being pulled off so well. Robuchon WAS this good in Paris in the '90's before he retired. We did a six course tasting menu $195 plus two amuse and bread and petit fours and boxed candy to bring home. Frankly, there is nothing in the D. C. area that approacvhes the rounded, smooth enduring excellence of Robuchon which was demonstrated to us last week in Vegas. This was grand dining in a manner that makes me hesitate to say what it cost-it was criminal. But it WAS worth it, remarkably enough.

Two stops at In-n-Out with our last today for lunch at the number one store in the entire company: just off the interestate in downtown Vegas. An incredible operation: 24 people behind the counter at 12:30 with approximately 250 in and immediately arround the restaurant eating or waiting for their food or to order. The store has four grills-not the usual two that most In-n-Out's have. Each grill had two people working it while four others worked a wall of banks of french fryers. One person was dedicated to making $3.19 "animal Fries" which are fresh french fries fried in vegetable oil then topped with about a half cup of long grilled onion, two slices of American cheese and a salad size packet of house made "spread." (it's labelled "Spread.") All of this is put into a toaster oven for the cheese and onions and spread melt onto the top of the onions. The result is a West Coast take of Vleminckx fresh cut french fries in Amsterdam (that I had four weeks ago) where large cones of fresh local potatoes are fried twice and then topped with mayonnaise, curry sauce and chopped onions for a glorious stand up street indulgence. Animal Fries at In-n-Out in their own way are remarkably similar but not as good.

Having said this the penang sauce at Lotus of Siam in Vegas might be orgasmic if ladelled on In-n-Out fries and then topped with chopped fresh onions and some kind of chopped meat. There's a combination there worthy of competiting with Holland's best frites!

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This is my first substantive post (i.e. trying to share information instead of asking stupid questions.) I tried to post last weekend and lost it while trying to edit. So I’m obviously a novice...

First night, we had drinks at a restaurant in the Bellagio called Fix. We both had fruity concoctions: one called a grape ade and the other a watermelon crush. Since I mostly like the umbrella type drinks, this stuff was right up my alley. Even my husband enjoyed his drink and he usually doesn’t go for the frou frou drinks. We were probably the oldest people there and the most dressed as we just arrived from Washington (not dressed the best just covering the most skin.)

Next day after a tour of the Hoover Dam (which my husband would say was fascinating and I would say was a snoozefest), we went to Joe’s Seafood, Steak and Crab in the Forum Shops. Now, I realize this isn’t exactly a foodie destination. However, as a child we would go to Miami Beach frequently to visit my grandmothers. I always wanted to try the original Joe’s Stone Crabs in South Beach (South Beach then was not the hipster paradise of today) We never ever went for a number of reasons including 1) crabs are not exactly kosher but my grandmother who lived nearby was, 2) it was considered expensive and who wants to drop a bundle or 3 ungrateful kids, and 3) we often visited Miami in the summer and the restaurant was closed. Anyways, it was a dream of mine to try those stone crabs. Yes, dream big. I had the lunch special for $29.99 which included 3 crab claws, a gi-normous portion of hash browns, cole slaw, and key lime pie. Compared to the prices on the menu, this was a very good deal. Everything was very good although I would say that stone crabs don’t compare to the Maryland blue crab with old bay (ok, I grew up in Maryland and no we did not keep kosher). My husband (from Australia) said that the stone crab tasted “cleaner” than the blue crab. Whatever that means. If he wants to taste something clean, maybe he should eat soap. Ok, just kidding but I still prefer blue crabs. The cole slaw was very tangy and the best I’ve had although I don’t usually go gaga over cole slaw. My husband also had some kind of cream of crab soup. Right after ordering he said “lets see how it compares to Ray’s”. Well, it didn’t. I thought it was tasteless. Maybe those “clean” tasting stone crabs just aren’t good in soup?

The next day we had breakfast at Bouchon in the Venetian. We loved it. For some reason, it reminded me of Baltazars in NYC. I had regular old breakfast food but everything was prepared very well. Also, at the Bouchon bakery downstairs, they have really great macaroons. The only better macaroons that I’ve had were from Laduree in Paris.

For dinner we went to Alex in the Wynn. I wanted to have dinner in a different hotel and also take part in the Taste of Wynn specials. (All restaurants at the Wynn hotels have a special reduced price menu.) To the Wynn’s credit, all of the items on the $89 Taste of Wynn 3-course menu were also on the $125 prix fix menu. The Taste of Wynn menu was not some cheaper dumbed down menu like you see on some restaurant week menus. That said ,even if you ordered the same 3 courses on the Taste of Wynn menu as you would on the $125 fixed price menu, your meal would not be the same. The $125 meal offers more goodies from the chef which makes sense. I know this because my husband had the $125 menu while I had the $89 menu (I was paying.) I had bay scallops for an appetizer, wagyu beef with amazing potato gnocchi (spelling?) and some kind of fancy smore like dessert. I enjoyed it all. My favorite part of the meal was when I tried to hook the strap of my crappy cheap purse to the chair some guy comes flying out of nowhere with a little mini sofa on which to rest my fake leather purse. He scooted it under my cheap purse before it touched the floor. I was thinking that the mini sofa would be sort of glamorous for my cats.

On our last day we had breakfast at Payard in Caesar’s Palace. It was good although I think we liked the Bouchon breakfast better.

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Which Robuchon were you at?

Joel Robuchon which was full. The sixteen course degustation menu at Robuchon is an unbelievable $385 prix fixe + wine, tax and tip. L'Atalier next door appeared to be about half full. I've been to the Paris original several times including a first visit about two weeks after it first opened in '03: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/262765

The presentation of butter (yes, butter!) is show stopping: a cart is rolled to the side of the table where a foot high, eight inch thick "tree stump" of butter is shaved with the thick curls spooned onto your plate. Then fleur de sol is sprinkled on top of this. The entire presentation took four or five minutes for the four of us.

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Thanks, I forgot they shortened the name. I thought that the one you went to was the Mansion du Joel Robuchon or something like that. The Atelier location in NY is killer.

I believe it was called Robuchon at the Mansion or something like that; IIRC, the "Mansion" in MGM parlance is the super duper part of the property where the grandest pooh bahs and other ultra rich folk and major whales are billeted. I ate there shortly after it opened, but not since---it was a great meal--I don't recall a butter cart at that time, but the bread cart was spectacular, not to mention the tea cart, and we won't even think about the cheese or dessert carts.

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I believe it was called Robuchon at the Mansion or something like that; IIRC, the "Mansion" in MGM parlance is the super duper part of the property where the grandest pooh bahs and other ultra rich folk and major whales are billeted. I ate there shortly after it opened, but not since---it was a great meal--I don't recall a butter cart at that time, but the bread cart was spectacular, not to mention the tea cart, and we won't even think about the cheese or dessert carts.

I doubt if there were any "whales" in the room-at least on this night. All 30 or so seats were full and most seemed to be "foodies." There were a couple of cameras and a number of photographs taken of people posing at tables in the room. We were offered a limo ride from the Wynn (our hotel) to the MGM free without any question of which menu we would be ordering from. Note, that they have a $95 two course option which we could have chose. We took the limo ride over and found a half dozen staff waiting to guide our way into the restaurant. It was really impressive. Considering that I drove a cab through years of college it was a real feeling of "having arrived." They really did their best to provide a knockout experience but we left feeling that the staff was "ever present rather than ever excellent." At the end of the meal, after the petit four cart, we were given a bag with a bound book about the restaurant along with more cookies to take with us.

In retrospect I believe that Robuchon's restaurant was more "even" overall in Paris in the '90's although the two courses I noted above were as good as anything he served there then. The real difference may have been the sophistication of the staff plus there were a couple of courses that just weren't on the level of these two. Honestly, experiencing this in Vegas instead of Paris probably is a demerit, too. Still, it was remarkable. Of course for this price it had to be remarkable.

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Hi,

I'm looking for a restaurant where we can have dinner after my brother's wedding. We'll be 14 people.

He and his bride-to-be appreciate more 'kitschy' than fine dining. A good diner, a place with big band or swing music, even a place known for 'home-cooked' would be great. We'll be staying at the MGM, but a restaurant a little distance away is okay. Still think no one needs to eat poorly, and I want the evening to be special for my bro.:(

Any ideas would be great!

Many thanks, Beth

P.S. Note to self, no Craftsteak!

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Hi,

I'm looking for a restaurant where we can have dinner after my brother's wedding. We'll be 14 people.

He and his bride-to-be appreciate more 'kitschy' than fine dining. A good diner, a place with big band or swing music, even a place known for 'home-cooked' would be great. We'll be staying at the MGM, but a restaurant a little distance away is okay. Still think no one needs to eat poorly, and I want the evening to be special for my bro.:(

Any ideas would be great!

Many thanks, Beth

P.S. Note to self, no Craftsteak!

Peppermill is your place. Old Las Vegas, kitschy, famous, show girl hangout (after hours), big portions, not too expensive, one-of-a-kind place. Google it for more info.

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Thank you for the suggestion. The Peppermill website was down, so it was difficult to find much information. We ended up at Casa di Amore, which was completely charming. Some of the most genuine and down-to-earth people work there. If anyone needs a restaurant with a homey sense while in Las Vegas, this place is worth a visit.

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You're spot on. Any (other) steakhouse recommendations at that end of the strip?

Too late for your dinner, but StripSteak in the Mandalay Bay might have been a good alternative. I recommend the beignets with Macallan butterscotch pudding for dessert. The sauce was not as cloying as I expected.

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Lunch at Carnevino on January 3. Went looking for riserva steak but was satisfied by the dry aged, bone-in New York strip on the menu. Good choice (along with Delmonico Steakhouse) for steak in the middle of the Strip.

Dinner at Guy Savoy on January 3. I ordered the Menu Prestige, which was well described and photographed in the eGullet thread. I enjoyed the mixture of spices used to serve the Crispy Sea Bass, Colors of Caviar, and Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup. In the bread pairing for each course, the soup was well complemented by toasted brioche and black truffle butter. Best service (led by Franck Savoy) I have ever experienced in a restaurant, warm and attentive without any obsequiousness. The wine list was presented on its own stand; a wide range of prices were represented. Five carts were used, one each for: champagnes, breads, cheeses, desserts and after dinner drinks. The teas were presented in a small wooden chest with about a dozen glass bottles to smell, and brewed in a pot made of enameled cast iron.

Dinner at Lotus of Siam on January 4. Shared Mee Krob, Nua Dad Deaw, Tom Klong Pla-Krob, Northern Larb, Sai Oua, Kang-ka-Noon, and a selection of desserts with two friends. The least remarkable were the the curry (Kang-ka-Noon) and the desserts. They were only okay, but I would reorder the other dishes without hesitation. We shared a bottle of 2007 Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Spatlese. They mentioned that availability of wine was limited as compared to their list on the web because of an impending expansion into adjoining space.

Lunch at Hash House A Go Go on January 5. Given the "theme" of the restaurant, it is a good fit for the Imperial Palace. I had the Hand-Hammered Pork Tenderloin Sandwich and Kiwi-Watermelon Lemonade.

Dinner at Twist on January 5. I had not heard of Pierre Gagnaire before reading the publicity about opening his first U.S. restaurant in Las Vegas. Found it difficult to find the restaurant in CityCenter, but my best approach (instead of walking through Monte Carlo) would have been directly from the Strip up a flight of stairs and across the driveway to the Mandarin Oriental. I ordered the tasting menu (Pierre Gagnaire's Spirit) and added an appetizer from the ala carte section. The dishes have been well described and photographed at the kevinEats blog. I particularly enjoyed the bluefin chantilly, Langoustine Five Ways, and Shellfish Royale (beet gelee!). Everyone seemed well trained for the launch. The chef de cuisine Pascal Sanchez was in the dining room greeting and thanking guests. I was offered a copy of Gagnaire's Reinventing French Cuisine to read between courses (presumably because I was a solo diner). Asked for a copy of the menu I enjoyed, and was given an original autographed by Pascal Sanchez. I appreciated the staff's humble attitude when serving this foamless version of experimental cuisine. Only distraction was the married man and his mistress at the next table arguing; they were waited on professionally. I left without the gift box everyone else was given because I was in a rush to pay and get out.

Dinner at Hugo's Cellar on January 6. The menu probably has not changed for years, which is a good thing. Women diners were greeted with a red rose. In the past, I have had an appetizer or dessert in the past, but they are optional because all dinners include a salad you specify from a table-side cart and complimentary sweets. Thus, the price of dinner ($46 for Veal Oscar) can be considered modest. Wine list had many choices under $40. A good value.

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If y'all had to choose between Fleur de Lys or Mix for one blowout meal, which one would it be?

We've already got Lotus of Siam, Bouchon, and possibly In-N-Out on the agenda. LOVED the crispy sea bass with drunken noodles and the short ribs with panang sauce from LoS, can't wait to have them again.

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Just returned from a weekend in Las Vegas, and spent some time off the strip. For my husband's birtthday dinner with friends, we were looking for something that was on the less expensive side and not a steakhouse. So I found a review for Nora's Wine Bar and Osteria, which is way, way, way, way off the strip. Located in a strip mall near 115, we arrived 30 minutes early for our 7:45 reservation, and were seated. Unfortunately, we are also ignored for the next 20 minutes before the harried server came up to us. Dinner was pleasant, and the food reminded me of Dino in some ways, but not quite as good. The wine list was a little on the pricey side, with the lowest priced bottles mostly in the $40s. Overall, though, very filling and enjoyable. Lunch the next day was at In N Out, and I was reminded that I don't really like their fries, although I find their burgers to be delicious. We did hit the the dinner buffet at the new Aria hotel and casino, which is located in a part of the strip they are calling City Center. At $30/person, I was hoping for a great buffet, and my expectations were exceeded. This was a delicious buffet.

Overall, the low point of the eating portion of our trip was a visit to Hash House A Go Go off the strip. This was on the recommendation of some of our friends, who found the place on Yelp. When we arrived at 10:45, the place was packed to the gills, and we ended up having a wait of about 45 minutes. The server came up to us, quickly took our orders, and then we waited some more for our food, probably about another 45 minutes. There was no explanation or apology for the delay. This gave us the opportunity to look at the massive quantities of food coming out of the kitchen for other customers, and we also learned that this restaurant was featured on Man Vs. Food on the Travel Channel. So, that probably took into account the massive amounts of people there, and in fact we did see one group of tourists asking their server to take a picture of them with their troughs. Really, the amount of food that comes on a plate is obscene, and they don't serve you on plates as much as on large platters. However, the food didn't taste bad, but its definitely a gimick that I would have avoided if I had known. On the plus side, we brought our leftovers on the plane home with us, and the food did sustain us for lunch and dinner, and the price wasn't too bad.

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If y'all had to choose between Fleur de Lys or Mix for one blowout meal, which one would it be?

We've already got Lotus of Siam, Bouchon, and possibly In-N-Out on the agenda. LOVED the crispy sea bass with drunken noodles and the short ribs with panang sauce from LoS, can't wait to have them again.

The two best dishes in all of Las Vegas are on the menu for $88 prix fixe at Joel Robuchon: veal breast and chestnut soup. From my post above: "Braised veal cheeks with Thai broth, vegetable couscous with broccoli and an intense, rich, delicate chestnut velouté with foie gras, smoked lardons foam. We deeply wafted the rich, broth of the veal cheeks, sucking them into our nostrils as no other food I've found in years. Layers and layers of flavor: all four of us, all sophisticated at this level almost overwhelmed at the extraordinarily complex being pulled off so well."

With the bread cart and the butter cart you'll have a very real Joel Robuchon experience that most others will be ordering the $195 six course or the $385 16 course degustation. I honestly believe the $88 is a great bargain (yes, bargain at this level for this three Michelin star restaurant. Note that it is the ONLY one in Vegas.

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I'll be in Vegas in April for a geek convention (NAB) and an old friend of mine will be there too. She wants to buy dinner and suggested Bouchon. From what I've been reading here and on other websites, it sounds like it does a fab breakfast/brunch but is not so hot to trot on dinner.

Since the Bouchon's website seems to be undergoing some maintenance, I can't dial up a menu with pricing. So can anyone suggest other places on price point with Bouchon that would be better worth our time? Joe H is making a good case for Joel Robuchon, especially with their prix fixe menu. Any other places I should consider?

I've got other nights mostly covered which will be considerably less expensive, but if anyone finds any gems in the meanwhile ($75/pp ish, sans alcohol) then please do post away.

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Overall, the low point of the eating portion of our trip was a visit to Hash House A Go Go off the strip. This was on the recommendation of some of our friends, who found the place on Yelp. When we arrived at 10:45, the place was packed to the gills, and we ended up having a wait of about 45 minutes. The server came up to us, quickly took our orders, and then we waited some more for our food, probably about another 45 minutes. There was no explanation or apology for the delay. This gave us the opportunity to look at the massive quantities of food coming out of the kitchen for other customers, and we also learned that this restaurant was featured on Man Vs. Food on the Travel Channel. So, that probably took into account the massive amounts of people there, and in fact we did see one group of tourists asking their server to take a picture of them with their troughs. Really, the amount of food that comes on a plate is obscene, and they don't serve you on plates as much as on large platters. However, the food didn't taste bad, but its definitely a gimick that I would have avoided if I had known. On the plus side, we brought our leftovers on the plane home with us, and the food did sustain us for lunch and dinner, and the price wasn't too bad.

we found dinner time relatively quiet, but the food looked loud, the heaping platters squiggled to death. the kitchen can cook carrots and green beans reasonably well and simply, although the carrots were hacked up into unevenly sized pieces. crab cakes didn't have much going for them, almost indistinguishable in texture and flavor from the potato cakes and sack-of-potato mound overpowering the center of the plate. pepper confetti provided a few hot spots; otherwise the seasoning was bland. those who ordered short towers of fried green tomatoes at the table seemed happy with them, until they were boarding airplanes a couple of hours later feeling queasy. the concept here is so over the top that i can see what lures curiosity seekers, and there may be some things that are actually worth trying (hash), but making your way through the gloppy chow, before you know it you'll be eating like a dog and may hate yourself in the morning, or afternoon. no matter how good you find the food, you are unlikely to be licking the plate. almost everything is stabbed with a large sprig of rosemary, like feathers in seussian caps. (i didn't pick this place, and if you are on the strip, and want to avoid a $30+ cab ride, there is a new outpost at the imperial palace.)

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That's a good one. Hmmm. I'd say that, while different, Chang's and Saipin's cuisines are on a rough par (I've dined at LOS 3 or 4 times--basically it's a must stop for any trip to LV, but it's been about 2 years since my last visit). They both inspire their fans, and rightly so. They both get the maximum from their basic ingredients, essentially through the brilliant use of their respective spices and their mastery of cooking techniques.

To eat a meal from each of them on the same or consecutive days would be sensational. We need to get Dave Feldman to try Chang's stuff if he hasn't already--he'd be much better able to make the comparison (Dave, a frequent poster on the Chowhound Southwest, now LV, board, is probably more responsible for LOS's fame than anyone else).

BTW I understand LOS has recently remodeled, tho I have no idea what that might mean in terms of going "upscale."

EDIT: Speaking of LV and restaurant closing in the same thread, I just learned that Charlie Trotter has closed Restaurant Charlie at the Palazzo as of COB last Thursday. I was fortunate enough to dine there during my last trip, at the chef's table overlooking the kitchen, and it was really memorable. Truly outstanding food and the best service I ever experienced, including an invitation down to the kitchen to "help" plate one of our dishes including some squeeze bottle work. Of course, the place was practically empty, and I wondered how long they could keep it going. Now we know, but it certainly wasn't because anything was lacking in the experience they offered.

Alex, in the Wynn, is open four nights for dinner-lack of demand at this price point. We've not been to Trotter's nor the new Pierre Gagnaire. Of course I wonder how condo sales are going in City Center but that's another story!

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Quick In-n-Out (pun intended) in Las Vegas this week, part business and part pleasure.

Having heard so much about In-n-Out Burger on this board and others, I decided to give it a try. I took my 27-year-old son, who is in the Air Force at Nellis AFB, and his age-group-demographic has a thing or two to say about hamburgers. He warned me that Five Guys is quite the better meal, but reading so many stellar comments on In-n-Out had me believing that his youthful palate just didn't 'get it'. I was wrong, and he was right. I would take Five Guys any day over In-n-Out. The fries at In-n-Out absolutely suck, like little sticks of cardboard, and even the "animal sauce" (labeled "spread" on the packet) couldn't save them. The burgers are dry and thin, not a whole lot unlike McDonald's. About the only compelling things about the meal were the toppings, which appeared to be fresh and flavorful. What a disappointment.

My son wanted a good steak dinner, so I obliged him. His research indicated that Circus Circus had the bet steak on the strip, so we went with high expectations. The down side is that Circus Circus is a hell hole of a resort. But I have to admit, the steak house is a nice surprise. It is a dark and mahogany man-food kind of place, with the primals on display in the aging room as you walk in the door. The cuts were generous, and the steaks were cooked to perfection. If there was one flaw, it may have been that the steaks arrived underseasoned, but fresh-ground pepper was offered and salt is on the table. The service was good, maybe a bit slow, but our server has been there all of 24 years. The sides were good enough -- I had the salad, the pilaf and the asparagus -- and unlike a lot of stuffy steak houses, the sides came with the entrees, not a la carte. Overall, a very good meal, but if this is the best of Vegas, then I can safely assert that it's not as good as Ray's the Steaks.

The next day, son and I headed out of Vegas to the Red Rock Canyon for some beautiful sight-seeing. It's where the locals go to cavort with nature, and it is absolutely spectacular. We enjoyed lunch at a western chain called Claim Jumper, and as opposed to chains as I am, this one was pretty darned good. Portions are huge, the interios is nicely done in a western-mining kind of motif, and the food is pretty good. GAR should go figure out what these people are doing, because the food at Claim Jumper is actually palatable.

After enjoying the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show called "Love" (best show I've seen in a long time, at least since Jersey Boys in November), we had a final meal at Fin, a Chinese place inside the Mirage. It received a Michelin "recommendation" but not a star. This is high-end Chinese with a bit of cross-Asian flair. My appetizer of goose livers was $28 and worth every perfect bite, and my entree of Hong Kong roasted duck was superb. Service was slow, but precise. Fin is probably not a restaurant I would seek out when I'm in town, but if I find myself at the Mirage and I'm hungry for something west of Hawaii, then I would happily return and sample the rest of the menu.

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I had 2 very good dinners at Rosemary's restaurant last month. Its about 5 miles West of the Strip so you need a car. I went online and bought 2 $50 gift certificates from COSTCO for $80. Also, Wednesday nights all the ladies get 50% off their tab. Anyway, I can highly recommend the BBQ shrimp appetizer, the wilted spinach & goat cheese salad, the halibut entree w/sauteed spinach, and the rack of lamb. Attire was generally business casual i.e. no shorts or tees. Service was excellent.

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Heading to Las Vegas in January for a conference (CES) and have not made any meal plans. My previous experiences in Las Vegas have been disappointing at best. To me, even the nice restaurants seemed to serve food that was mass produced... that is, the food did not taste like anything special and in some cases it didn't taste like much...

Having said that, I would love to know where people on dr.com would recommend for restaurants on the strip or easily accessible thereto.... thanks in advance.

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I would love to know where people on dr.com would recommend for restaurants on the strip or easily accessible thereto

On the Strip, I recommend Carnevino (Palazzo) and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (MGM Grand). I'll be trying Sage (Aria) and Comme Ça (Cosmopolitan) next week and I hope to be able to recommend them in the future :)

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Well... I didn't make it to Lotus of Siam but I did have breakfast twice at Bouchon in the Venetian. It was fabulous and not much more than a typical hotel breakfast, but oh so much better! I also had dinner one night off the strip at Firefly, a modern take on tapas. While I felt that I was at a frat bar, I had a great spinach salad and yummy sliders. I also had dinner one night at a Wynn restaurant but it was catered so I can only say it was yummy!

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Landed at 10:30 today, we were at Lagasse's Stadium by 11:30 to watch some basketball. I had a sinking feeling that it was going to suck when we talked about it on the plane, but I wasn't about to argue with the others that wanted to go. I should have argued.

I didn't expect too much, but I figured that ordering soft pretzels and nachos would have been safe. I was fine with the nachos, but the pretzels were an abomination. Way worse than anything that you could get at a crappy food cart and a watery, insipid cheese sauce went along with it. A riff on pecan pie was awful as well, just plain sucked, sucked, sucked. On top of all of that, in order to sit in the main section of the stadium, even on a completely empty day, we had to promise to cover $50 per person. Not tough, since I had seven Maker's Marks on the rocks, but it was funny that they were so adamant about charging that when they should have bowed to us for actually coming into their restaurant. Overall, I would have been way happier going to Chili's or TGIFriday's and eaten a burger. Hell, even their board was broken, had to ask the attendent what the lines were on every game.

One positive is that I won $850 during halftime playing blackjack, so I guess that made it worth it.

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Before talking about Comme Ca, let me say that the Cosmopolitan is simply awesome. The number of appealing restaurants is one thing, but to have such a cool vibe at a casino/hotel really makes it so that a guest would never want to leave. I would suggest a trip next door to Aria, which is just a bigger version of Cosmopolitan's cool, but you could spend your entire trip at the City Center and never miss anything.

Comme Ca was, in a word, wonderful. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I was sitting on the balcony, in the shade, overlooking the entire strip at 12:00 Noon on a Monday, but even more of it had to do with the great food, drink and service. Frisee salad with lardons and a poached egg was perfect, the champagne that I had with it helped cut the richness. For my entree, the skate was superb, even if the haricot verts were mildly overcooked. The vouvray that I had with it was a very good match. Dessert was interesting, some parts of it great - pistachio sponge cake and greek yogurt sorbet - but other parts of it just made the plate too busy - random raspberries and some weird jellied thing. The rose champagne that I had was splendid, especially when the waitress brought another glass of a similar rose champagne so I could compare the two. Add to that a wonderful small baquette with savory butter and you have a seriously awesome lunch.

Almost four hours later I am back in my room, my belly is full and I am a bit tipsy from all the wine. I wish that every Monday was like this.

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The Cosmopolitan is filled with great looking restaurants, Comme Ca is just one of them. Another one of them is China Poblano, but while it may look great, and the menu surely does read great, the restaurant certainly is not great, in fact, it kind of sucks.

Kudos for having very good looking servers, just teach them how to be servers next time. Our waitress was more than nice, but was clearly overwhelmed by our table of six on a night (9:00 on Monday) in which the restaurant was pretty baren. Salt Air Margaritas were left mostly empty on the table, by a bunch of drunkards no less, because the salt was overpowering. The bottle of red wine that we ordered was fine enough, but was brought to the table at least 10 degrees too warm. A short dunk in an ice bath took care of that, but delayed our drinking by 15 minutes. The space was cool and fun, music was impossibly loud though, even for Vegas.

As far as the food is concerned, it was just a bunch of wasted calories. The pork buns were the best, but that isn't saying much. Good pork flavor, but the ratio was way off as there was not nearly enough pork in any of them. The duck tongue tacos were the only other thing that was passable, but that was only because we were starving. Papas fritas with mole were not fried long enough, served cold and the mole had all of the depth of the stripper that was dancing for me an hour later. Worst of all, however, were the huitlacoche noodles. The taste was awful, the texture like glue and just one bite lingered in my mouth for hours, even after brushing my teeth and chewing gum.

Jose Andres has some great restaurants, I still consider MiniBar one of my favorite dining experiences, but he has clearly mailed it in at China Poblano.

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It's been almost a week, but I think that I would kick myself if I did not post something about my breakfast at Tableau in the Wynn last week. Sitting by the pool, in the shade, on a 70 degree morning is a pretty perfect setting, especially when some of Vegas' finest strippers are getting a tan. And, on top of that, the food was pretty great too. Puff pastry topped with duck confit, a poached egg and a wonderful tomato based sauce was a great breakfast after a night of drinking. The pastry basket was stellar as well with the blueberry muffin taking top honors. I was disappointed that I was charged $6 for a small glass of tomato juice, but the hot tea that they served me was just what I needed and they even gave me a choice of several different honies (never saw that before). Since I was dining by myself, as my friends were too hungover to get out of bed, I didn't get the chance to sample very much, but what I had was wonderful and the service was super for the setting.

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Bachelor party in Vegas...lots of great food and March Madness, going meat-free for the next few days.

Friday:

Late lunch at P.U.B. at Crystals inside CityCenter. Got there just in time to see the George Mason/Villanova finish. I know Todd English doesn't exactly have the best reputation on the boards, but the concept here was excellent. Draft beers were quite pricey but there's a fairly wide selection (enjoyed the Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA and something else I don't remember). The half-pound of pastrami may have been closer to a pound...loved the horseradish and truffled mayo that came with it. Meat could've been slightly fattier but otherwise hit the spot. Dirty chips were the star though...huge plate of kettle chips with fried chicken livers, bacon bits, scallions, and blue cheese dressing. My only complaint? Not enough chicken livers!

Dinner at Lotus of Siam. Surprisingly, my least enjoyable meal during the trip. Ordered same two dishes as always -- short ribs in panang sauce and crispy sea bass on drunken noodles. Fish was as good as always. Short ribs, on the other hand, were overcooked and not that fatty. There was also less sauce than I remembered. Other disappointment was the 1990 Donnhoff Oberhauser Felsenberg (Riesling Kabinett). It seemed quite flat, had no zing whatsoever.

Saturday:

Lunch at Otto in the Venetian. I went to the NYC location shortly after it opened in 2003 and really loved the seafood antipasti platter, unfortunately it was not available here. The roasted beets, squash, and broccoli were enjoyable enough. Rigatoni could've had a fattier pork belly ragu, though it was otherwise pretty good. Brussels sprouts with guanciale were okay. Olive oil gelato (not on the menu, have to ask for it) was as great as I remembered. Pistachio was packed with flavor as well.

Dinner at Sage in Aria. WOW. Best meal I've had in a while. Instead of getting an entree, I went for three starters + one salad. Still left stuffed. Wine markup seemed a bit much so three of us split a growler of the Chimay Cinq Cents. The foie gras custard brulee with toasted cocoa nibs and brioche has gotten "palak chaat at Rasika" levels of hype on other boards, and it did not disappoint at all. One could order this as a dessert and it would work just as well. Rich, but not overwhelmingly so. Wagyu beef tartare with caper aioli, poached egg, and crispy chocolate was also not as rich as it sounds. It was actually a refreshing first course. The Wagyu beef carpaccio at Craftsteak is still my favorite though. Heirloom beets with jamon iberico and Crescenza cheese foam, much like the foie gras custard, was a perfect balance of salty and sweet. Roasted sweetbreads with pork belly may have actually been my least favorite...probably because I was stuffed, but I can't think of anything that was actually wrong with it. Even the bread service was excellent. Top-notch service all around. Prices were actually quite reasonable (though certainly not cheap). All six of us were blown away by at least one dish. I'm definitely coming back here next year.

Sunday:

Brunch at Bouchon in the Venetian. We split the pastry basket (pain au chocolat, cranberry scone, cheese danish, sticky bun) and beignets with nutella/cherry (?) coulis. Surprisingly, the cheese danish was my favorite. Perfect amount of sweetness, and wasn't heavy at all. For the entree, I got the oeuf du jour, a hash with wild mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, broccoli rabe, and artichokes, topped with two perfectly poached eggs in hollandaise. Given how much we had eaten less than 12 hours earlier, I still enjoyed everything. Haven't had any disappointments here yet.

Other random tidbits -- Bobby Flay (with a huge line of followers) walked by our blackjack table at the Bellagio on Friday night, and Dennis Rodman passed me at the airport yesterday.

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Yeah I saw Dennis Rodman had a meet and greet advertised for 1-3 yesterday somewhere along the strip

We had a bachelor party too but our only notable dining experience was Delmonico, but I think everyone was too beat up to fully enjoy it. Still very good and I was impressed with the wine prices, I think our bottles were less than a 100% mark-up. Of course thats if I even properly recall the exact bottle we got.

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Late lunch at P.U.B. at Crystals inside CityCenter. Got there just in time to see the George Mason/Villanova finish. I know Todd English doesn't exactly have the best reputation on the boards, but the concept here was excellent. Draft beers were quite pricey but there's a fairly wide selection (enjoyed the Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA and something else I don't remember). The half-pound of pastrami may have been closer to a pound...loved the horseradish and truffled mayo that came with it. Meat could've been slightly fattier but otherwise hit the spot. Dirty chips were the star though...huge plate of kettle chips with fried chicken livers, bacon bits, scallions, and blue cheese dressing. My only complaint? Not enough chicken livers!

I also wanted to add that we had some drinks/snacks at P.U.B. at some point over the weekend and I was also pretty impressed. I agree about the dirty chips, great combination of flavors, and we also really liked the roast beef sliders that we had. Didn't really like the onion rings that we ate, too greasy, but the adult milkshake that I had helped balance that out. I agree with what you said about the concept, lots of simply incredible places to eat in Vegas, but it is nice to have something in between those places and the food court, so this really fit the bill.

So, for people scoring at home - Comme Ca and Tableau are highly recommended, the P.U.B. is solid for what it is, the Stadium at the Palazzo sucks (as you would expect), and China Poblano really, really, really sucks (which you wouldn't expect).

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I mean, the sports gambler in me certainly doesn't care what Lagasse's Stadium's food is like. As long as they don't serve the pizza our elementary school served than I'd be happy. I walked in there during crunch time before dinner at Delmonico on Saturday and was immediately in heaven. Would never cross my mind to go there if I didn't have a lot of action to bet on, but it definitely serves a purpose. To each his own though.

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I mean, the sports gambler in me certainly doesn't care what Lagasse's Stadium's food is like. As long as they don't serve the pizza our elementary school served than I'd be happy. I walked in there during crunch time before dinner at Delmonico on Saturday and was immediately in heaven. Would never cross my mind to go there if I didn't have a lot of action to bet on, but it definitely serves a purpose. To each his own though.

Five minutes from the Strip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89CbZoqs_-s&feature=related

.........couldn't resist!

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I mean, the sports gambler in me certainly doesn't care what Lagasse's Stadium's food is like. As long as they don't serve the pizza our elementary school served than I'd be happy. I walked in there during crunch time before dinner at Delmonico on Saturday and was immediately in heaven. Would never cross my mind to go there if I didn't have a lot of action to bet on, but it definitely serves a purpose. To each his own though.

Trust me, going to the Stadium to eat was only of tertiary importance to us, after gambling and watching the games, but the food was soooooo bad that it cannot be ignored.

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Does anyone have suggestions for a wine bar or two in Vegas? A little research has shown a lot of restaurants touting their wine selection, but I'm looking for a good selection of wines by the glass and a couple small plates, not a $500 bottle. So far it looks like best bets are the Wine Cellar at Rio (not all that convenient to the strip) and Double Helix at Palazzo (food by Emeril?).

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I'm going to Vegas this weekend and later this year, and have been researching food options. I came across this amazing resource- a food critic named Max Jacobson has a website called Unica World. The local dining section is pretty impressive. He ranges the gamut from small divey ethnic places to fine dining. Worth checking out before any trip there.

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My first night in Vegas last week, I ate at Jose Andrés' é , the not so secret restaurant inside Jaleo at the new Cosmopolitan Hotel. It was easier to get a seat here than minibar. You can do it by email via their website 1 month in advance of the date you want. They have 2 seatings of 8 persons each. It's pricey $250/person- all inclusive- tip, taxes, drinks, but worth it. I had a wonderful time. Your group has it's own servers and team of chefs who prep courses in front of you while you can casually talk to them, ask them questions, and marvel at each prep.

It is a 20 course meal with 5 different wines/beer. My favorite was the secreto cut of iberico pork- a piece of pork that was so fatty and wonderful. It reminded me of wagyu meets pork belly. I also loved fried artichoke stuffed with a quail egg and topped with caviar, foie gras baked in salt with chocolate and orange juice, a "Ho Ho" of apple merigue, blue cheese espuma & walnut butter, and a fried mini brioche calamari & aioli sandwich.

I put a full breakdown and pics here.

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My first night in Vegas last week, I ate at Jose Andrés' é , the not so secret restaurant inside Jaleo at the new Cosmopolitan Hotel. It was easier to get a seat here than minibar. You can do it by email via their website 1 month in advance of the date you want. They have 2 seatings of 8 persons each. It's pricey $250/person- all inclusive- tip, taxes, drinks, but worth it. I had a wonderful time. Your group has it's own servers and team of chefs who prep courses in front of you while you can casually talk to them, ask them questions, and marvel at each prep.

It is a 20 course meal with 5 different wines/beer. My favorite was the secreto cut of iberico pork- a piece of pork that was so fatty and wonderful. It reminded me of wagyu meets pork belly. I also loved fried artichoke stuffed with a quail egg and topped with caviar, foie gras baked in salt with chocolate and orange juice, a "Ho Ho" of apple merigue, blue cheese espuma & walnut butter, and a fried mini brioche calamari & aioli sandwich.

I put a full breakdown and pics here.

Wow-looks great. How were you able to eat anything after that meal, much less make it through it?! Your pics are great btw.

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How were you able to eat anything after that meal, much less make it through it?!

The next two days in Vegas, I was eating 4-5 meals each day. B)

The next morning I had a ridiculously sized breakfast of fried chicken and bacon waffles at the Hash House a Go Go .

This was followed by lunch of Hokkaido style ramen (miso ramen with butter & corn) at Monta Noodle House on Spring Mtn.

That night I had an amazing dinner at Aburiya Raku, a Japanese robata grill on Spring Mountain west of Chinatown. Pics

We started with cold apps: housemade tofu with choice of toppings including green tea salt, chile powders, plum deuced soy sauce/daikon, a slimy umami rich bowl of uni/poached egg/okra/mountain yam/mushrooms, Kobe beef liver sashimi, amberjack sashimi, and firefly squid sunomono. The robatayaki we had were tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, Kobe skirt with garlic, Kobe filet with fresh wasabi, lambchop, tsokone, Kurobata pork cheek, pig ear, and Kobe beef tendon. The chef offers a Kaiseki meal if you book far in advance that looks amazing in some blogs I've read.

The next day, I located a few places in Vegas that make malasadas, a doughnut popular in Hawaii, inspired by Portuguese missionaries. I also ate at Aloha Treasures in the California Casino downtown- known for their Hawaiian food including Loco Moco, Saimin, and Spam items. I had the Hawaiian tripe stew with a mac salad.

For my last meal in town, I went to Soyo Korean Barstaurant, a late night joint that is like an izakaya but with Korean cuisine. They had a good Korean fried chicken, the rice dumplings in spicy sauce, a dish with corn topped with mozzarella cheese, potato pancake, and grilled squid. Pics

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