Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Vegas Ate: Sunday and Monday

Feb 10 Sunday

By booking early, I was lucky enough to get a noon flight from Vancouver to Vegas. Appeared overcast out the plane window and the shuttle to the Luxor had a few drops on the windshield, but they did not prepare me for the evening's soaking. Yelp reviews warned against the long wait to check in and were not inaccurate, though Luxor had sent me an email earlier telling me I had pre-checked in. This did not keep me from waiting in line. More detail on how to avoid said line would have been appreciated. I got into my room, which seemed pleasant, and changed into another shirt. Did the appropriate unpacking. Decided to find out how to get to the Strip from Luxor. It was more complicated than I expected. A considerable outside walk took me to the Excalibur, my previous home base, and connected by a bridge to New York, New York, a good place to start one's venture into the Strip. I leave the hotel by the back and the rain has commenced, but I have brought an umbrella. I make it to the Park MGM without serious wetness. Then a long indoor walk to their tram to the Bellagio and my welcomed meal at Le Cirque. The Park was the Monte Carlo when I was last here, and Eataly tempts as I discover it on my way to the distant tram. It's surprisingly cold outside, though I am warmly dressed. Wind is no friend.
Le Cirque is a great place to start, and a great place to finish one's culinary explorations in Vegas. You don't have to worry if it will be good or not. Your only concern is to how good it will be. I'm cold, so request a cup of chamomile. It warms me up. For an amuse bouche, I get a tiny tartlette of duck in a duck-friendly collection of pretend plants. It is not the best duck I've ever eaten, but not bad. Next, a veloute of artichokes, poured over an egg. Well, the veloute was a good idea in itself. Egg should have remained in its shell.
Veloute sounds like velvet, and that's what the dish should resemble. Thickly luxurious. Make those vegetables sing! Chickens, remain unborn for a bit. My tea cup is refilled. I'm happy dining and tea-ing at the same time, no booze needed. Next, lobster risotto. OK, I'm not really capable of eating rice, but in tiny quantities, this can work. It is a Le Cirque-quality dish, and suitably tiny. But diminutude was just warming up. I requested a glass of wine for the langoustine.

Roasted Brittany Langoustine
caviar lemon, buerre blanc
Supplement additional

I assumed it would be a big langoustine, and a small glass of wine. The opposite occurred. The langoustine was the size of my thumb. It would have worked better in a restaurant in Lilliput. The glass of wine loomed over the rest of the meal. It was a very good langoustine, Was it worth a supplement of $40 plus an equal amount for said glass of once-grapes? Of course not. Nothing is worth $80 for a few grams of protein and some grapey confluence. But I'm still in my appetizer phase. Next up, the Meat. The best piece of chicken I've ever had in a restaurant.

Roasted Organid Jidori Chicken
wild mushrooms, asparagus, foie gras sauce
That's what the online menu says. A typo I assume, but maybe Le Cirque has a new kind of chicken, the organid. Maybe it plays the organ.

It's bigger than a thumb. It has asparagus and mushrooms, which fight over whether to compliment or subtract (the asparagus) from my enjoyment of the dead bird. The meal itself is the winner. Some peary ice creamy thing follows.
I have always left Le Cirque happy.

Had a reservation at L'Atelier for their version of langoustines later. Had some time and had to go through the new Park MGM Hotel on my way to the MGM Grand. Heard wondrous things about the NoMad bar, both the hamburger and the cocktails. One of NYC's top bars can certainly do wondrous things for my cocktail-loving palate. OK, gimme your yuzu drink. It's called Nod to Nothing and it consists of gin, lemon, green tea, apricot liqueur, yuzu, sage. It was largely ice. There was enough of that going on outside. The drink wasn't bad and I thank it for getting me into yuzu, an old friend from many years in Japan. Would later go on to some amazing yuzu cocktails elsewhere. Still, it was a tiny cocktail. Mostly ice.
Then out into the snow. It's not a long walk from the Park MGM to the New York, New York which has a bridge over to the MGM Grand. While walking over said bridge, people around me were yelling about the snow. OK. I came down here from Vancouver to get away from that weather.
I had a great cocktail with the langoustine fritters at L'Atelier before. I requested it. It was so far off their menu, they had no recollection of ever having it. When I mentioned yuzu, they brought out an actual yuzu fruit and grated it over my drink. It was considerably bigger than the drink at NoMad. I'm not sure I'd say better, but it wasn't bad and its vastness impressed me. It's hard to say which langoustine was better. At L'Atelier, there were two, which is twice as much as Le Cirque offered. As always, they bring me the foamy fois amuse and the little bowl of Robuchon's potato-flavoured butter. It took a long time to finish the cocktail. My servers began calling me by name as soon as I sat down and went on throughout the small meal and large drink. Did they remember me from my frequent appearances at L'Atelier or just from the reservation? It was pleasant. I was there not just to compare shellfish but to pay my respects to the founder of the feast, the late Joel Robuchon. May his potatoes keep on clogging arteries forever. 

Back across the bridge to the NYNY and then on its other bridge to Excalibur. Then through its tunnel to the Luxor. I had read terrible reviews of the hotel, and it did take a LONG time to check in, but aside from that, it's quite nice. My room is great. On the 3rd floor so close to the main floor and therefore, to the Excalibur and the Mandalay Bay, making it very convenient. 

Audio: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/autobkiography/Vegas+Ate%2C+Sunday.mp3


Bought a 3-day Deuce pass for $20. The Deuce doesn't stop at the Venetian, for 2 years in a row now but, though cold and windy, I take Wynn's bridge to the Palazzo, a hotel I don't know. Saw its conservatory's pig decoration for Chinese New Years. Not as impressive as the Bellagio's amazing display, but not bad.

 Then through the acres of slot machines to the elevator up to Bouchon. Of course, they no longer feature exquisite soup, but I can count on their Quiche Florentine. It doesn't disappoint. Always makes you feel good to walk through the Venetian. Then the Deuce to Flamingo. I must have just missed the Flamingo bus because I wait half an hour for another. Then a considerable ride to Pizzeria Monzu, which I had read great things about. Special dough from Sicily. Interesting appetizers. Swordfish! At night, you can only get a whole pie, but for lunch they promise one big slice. Actually it's two, plus a salad. My server raves about a fennel salad so I go with that as it seems to be part of the lunch set. Small amount of money (I'm drinking tap water. It's considerably better than the tea at Bouchon, which used to have great tea, long ago). I order mushrooms and peppers on the pizza, but they are few and their moisture is missed. The 2 slices are actually more than I can eat, and they aren't very good to begin with. Same with the salad. They give me a serious saw of a knife expecting my difficulty cutting it. But it's not worth the effort.

 Another long, cold wait and then back to my hotel. Will try ride sharing for the first time to get me to Partage for dinner.
Had no idea Lyft rides come so quickly. Drivers only stick around for 5 minutes. I barely make it from my room out to the front of the Luxor where the rides are. Thankfully they have my picture and I'm easy to spot. No more having to worry about having the right amount of money for the ride. Everyone who doesn't live in Vancouver knows about this already. And it's much cheaper than a cab.
I'm at Partage before it opens. When it finally does, not surprisingly, I'm the only person there. I had studied both food and drink menus on line, but discover the passion fruit cocktail on their online menu isn't on the day's cocktail menu. They agree to make it for me. I ordered 3 small dishes: crab, lobster and scallop.


Cooked in citrus & herbs salt crust dough, sunchoke puree, candied Chinese artichokes, crispy ginger



Raviolini stuffed with mascarpone, Candied lemon zest & Ginger paste lobster bisque puffed rice


French rouille sauce, fennel & Ricard jelly, Imperial ossetra caviar

They are sensational. So is my passion fruit off-menu cocktail.

Passion rosemary

Gin, Aperol, lime juice, grapefruit juice, passion fruit, rosemary

I have a craving for bananas, so order the banana cocktail. It's terrible. I complain. They replace it with a drink on their real menu called The Tropical. It is astonishing. It's a very thick drink, and I'm not fond of thick drinks unless they're tomato juice or gazpacho. A splendid blend of tropical fruit and it's a sizable libation. I'm not that full, so make the mistake of ordering the Nigerian prawn. When is a shrimp not a shrimp? I should have anticipated its vastness by the menu which tells me it's for 2 people. It comes in a pleasant sauce and the salad is great, but there's just too much.

SHRIMP U2 (for 1 or 2 persons)

Grilled & flambée with VSOP cognac, celeriac remoulade, tangerine segments, couscous & shrimp coral

My tropical cocktail is also very filling.

Tropical temptation

Rum, orgeat syrup, pineapple & mango juice, lime juice, passion fruit, angostura bitter


Orange pineapple and mango juice, coconut foam

I find myself once more sawing my meal, just as I was doing at lunch, for no greater reward.
Excessive lumber-jacking aside, I'm vastly impressed with the meal and 2 of the 3 cocktails. Maybe I'll come back to Partage again? For now, it's off to Sparrow and Wolf. 6 blocks away but its neither snowing nor raining and I'm dressed warmly enough. Also hoping the walk would give me an appetite for Sparrow's maitake dish.


Turkish Hummus, Cascabel Chili

They tell me they just took it off the menu two days before. I complain that I had walked to this restaurant from its competitor, Partage and flown down here from Canada specifically to eat it. I was depressed at the closure of Bar Masa in the Aria, whose maitake and truffles was one of my favourite things to eat. Could Sparrow and Wolf work similar magic with its maitakes? The bartender told me it was the best thing on the menu and that made it worse. Thankfully, the woman who seemed to be in charge informed me that the chef still has the ingredients and can make me one. I'm elated. My sore feet suddenly feel much less sore. I start talking with the bartender about what drinks she recommends. I tell her of the exquisite cocktails I've just consumed at Partage. She recommends Tea Thyme:
Tea Thyme
  • Jameson Black, Lemon, Earl Grey Ginger Syrup, Thyme Tincture
Should have remembered that Jameson is a whiskey. I have no love for whiskeys. The drink reflects my long standing prejudice against that spirit. The other ingredients are wonderful but the whiskey poisons them. I tell her of the yuzu cocktail I had the previous night at NoMad Bar and she says she'll make me one. She does. It's amazing. It greatly adds to my enjoyment of the maitake dish. The dish uses mushrooms as chips. Unfortunately, the hummus suffocates their excellence. The yuzu drink mitigates the maitake's suffering. It appears to be on the menu, as she makes it for many guests, but Alannah tells me she's added a few things. It's Plymouth Gin, Aperol, yuzu juice, lavender bitters, scrappies, smidgen of syrup, muddled mint, egg white. It flashes me back to the first time I had yuzu in 1971. I feel I'm suddenly sitting under a yuzu tree. She insists the male bartender Terry is the real drink wizard and he proves it by following her yuzu spectacular with his drink made from St. Germain liqueur, macha, yuzu juice, egg white and I can't read my handwriting, along with what appears to be a Chinese character on top. Quite pretty, and effective in canceling the hummus onslaught. Suddenly, my phone locks. How am I to summon a Lyft? Have I been hacked through Sparrow's wi fi? Thankfully one of the servers knows how to fix it and as soon as it works, I summon my ride. Outside waiting for my Lyft, I am accosted, although not that malevolently by a group of young men. One of them insists I interact with him, which I do as briefly as possible before the Lyft arrives. My first Lyft was there too quickly, this one, not quickly enough. I think the provocative one was the most intoxicated of the group, and his friends were very good about distracting him. Maybe I should have stayed inside Sparrow until the Lyft was actually waiting for me outside, although I found myself frequently confused by exactly where I was to be picked up. Should be able to follow them on my phone in real time, which more use of the app would no doubt facilitate. Perhaps one day it will come to Vancouver. 

audio: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/autobkiography/Vegas+Ate%2C+Monday.mp3 


Post a Comment

<< Home