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Las Vegas on a Plate

Reporting from the restaurant front lines of my fall trip to Las Vegas. Here are the highs and lows of a week (mostly) well spent.


November 23, 2011

Bartolotta restaurant, in the Wynn hotel.

Bartolotta restaurant, in the Wynn hotel.

Reporting from the restaurant front lines of my fall trip to Las Vegas. Here are the highs and lows of a week (mostly) well spent.

Lotus of Siam – Some years ago, Gourmet magazine crowned this unpretentious resto – located in a mall about a mile from The Strip – the best Thai restaurant in the U.S. Food was vibrantly spiced and carefully prepared and I’d return in a heartbeat. Loved the rice crisps tossed with bits of sausage, mint leaves, peanuts and onion, in a bracing vinaigrette, and the chargrilled whole catfish. Make sure to reserve a table or show up before 6:30 p.m., because the place fills up fast.

Bartolotta – Nestled in the tony Wynn hotel, Bartolotta is straight-ahead rustic Italian based on first-rate ingredients. Thus, a deeply satisfying salad of arugula, porcini mushrooms, and parmigiano reggiano; grilled scampi (taken live from a tank in the kitchen); and deliciously rustic pastas (Bolognese-sauced, say, or in a delicate lobster and shrimp construction).

Bouchon Bistro – Thomas Keller’s Vegas outpost, in the Venetian, is pure Paris, and could have been airlifted right out of the Left Bank. Three breakfasts, three successes: sourdough waffles; creamy, feather-light spinach quiche (but what’s this soggy crust? Tsk tsk); and, the best of a strong trio, custardy French toast layered with sautéed apples. Deft, professional service.

Bar Masa – Sister restaurant of New York’s much-lauded Masa and Bar Masa, the Vegas outpost is a soaring, airy space in the Aria hotel. But the sushi and sashimi disappoint, and are rescued by the hot dishes (custard-textured black cod; soft mini-tacos willed with shredded peking Duck, foie gras and pineapple hoisin sauce).

Joel Robuchon – French superchef Joel Robuchon now commands a global empire of 20 restaurants; is he stretching himself too thin? This might explain the unevenness of the tasting menu I sampled in his jewel box of a restaurant in the MGM Grand. To be sure, there were highlights (warm gorgonzola custard topped with poached pear; superb dessert and bread carts; Iranian oscetra caviar on perfect chopped salmon tartare). But too man dishes lacked flair, and luxury, and several were shockingly amateurish. At these prices, we expect better.

I (Heart) Burgers – Well, actually we didn’t (heart) these burgers, at least, the dry, crumbly turkey burger topped with (bland) bread stuffing and cranberry sauce, in a lackluster approximation of Thanksgiving dinner between a bun. Shame that this gobbler died in vain.



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1 Comment » for Las Vegas on a Plate
  1. Phil Silvers says:

    Don Douloff is the undisputed master of restaurant reviews and hospitality reporting.

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