Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Flight of Vegetarian Menus: Vegas, Day 1

My 7th trip to Vegas and one with a purpose. The vegetarian menus of 3 great French restaurants in Vegas. Like the great veggie palaces of Paris I dined in last year, Vegas should be non- stop vegetable pleasure. Plus I can get some great tapas ideas from Julian Serrano and Jaleo for upcoming Iberian adventure. Flowing from that, a new sangria bar had just opened, promising 9 kinds of sangria. I wanted to try them all, and learn from the most promising. And you could buy them by flights! 3 small sangrias a night, I could do that.
My flight finally took off, more than an hour late. I began re-reading The Dispossessed, one of my favourite novels by my late favourite author, Ursula K Le Guin. I had thought to be in Vegas by 4 but it was well after 5 when I arrived. Reservation at Rivea in the Delano at 7. Hoped to be there earlier but was only able to make it in time. Rivea has taken over the old Mix restaurant, though kept Alain Ducasse's name and hopefully credibility. One of the best meals of my life was at Ducasse's Le Jules Verne at the Real Eiffel Tower last summer. The single best morsel of food that has ever entered my mouth was the 3rd prawn from the classic Ducasse menu at Mix, my first meal on my first trip to Vegas 7 years ago, almost to the day. I have been warned that Rivea food is a great distance from that. Indeed, it proves to be but it isn't bad at all. I had come for the John Dory, and reluctantly agreed to an appy because I was very hungry and not planning to go to Zuma til later. Appy turned out to be better than the main, just like my initial Mix meal. The John Dory wasn't bad at all. Just in concept, better than I get in most places in Vancouver.

 I was dragooned into the gnocchi as appy and I love gnocchi, but not in to filling up on non-protein. A small collection of starchies, with some wafer grills of Parmesan splendour. The grills made the dish. One of the supposed basil fragments on one of the gnocchi tasted of cannabis instead of basil. I know it's now legal here, but with gnocchi? Odd. But the Parmesan so overwhelmed the rest of the dish that even when Ducasse's John Dory, plus baby octopus and other things comes, with a credible cocktail, I'm quite happy with it. It does not strike out.

 I leave contentedly, but hurriedly. I am off to Sangria land, specifically the bar Alexxa, by cab, fearing it would be full if I dallied at the Delano. Although there were people at the tables in the outside terrace, at the long bar, I was all alone. I requested my first flight of mini-sangrias. The Bubbly, dubbed their most popular, earned every drop of its popularity. I'm a big fan of peaches and raspberries, but peaches, strawberries and sparkling wine properly balanced? This is skilled mixology. 
Had menu plans for the new Japanese restaurant Zuma in my favourite building in Vegas, the Cosmopolitan. The menu features considerably higher prices than listed on the website, and warnings from reviews. Nonetheless, I just had a John Dory and want to see what they do with a similar fish. It takes a while to get to me, but it is delicious. While waiting, I order a lychee cocktail because I'd been recommended a lychee cocktail at tomorrow's Le Cirque (which i never end up having). It has no flavour. A sweetness lingers in my mouth like a bad cold, but flavour never enters my palate. The fish is served skin side up.

 An affront to my eyes and taste buds. Skin should only exist in a distant past tense. But once the useful protein was revealed, the fish was better than the John Dory at Rivea. Not much done with it, a la Robota style fish but I am impressed. I'm not $29 impressed but it's not a bad piece of fish. Fully sated, I walk back to the Excalibur and fall asleep.


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