Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Restaurant Week in Las Vegas

I flew back to Vegas just in time for Restaurant Week. It was a great opportunity to try some new places. Dinners for $30 or $50, and lunches for $20. The proceeds went to Three Square, an organization that helps end hunger in Southern Nevada.

, Mandalay Bay
Charlie Palmer's Las Vegas establishment. I've been curious about this place since it first opened. Raves and raves were written about the chef, the food, and the design of the place. Everything was nice, BUT I wasn't impressed. Nothing was original or unique. My family has eaten in a number of fine dining establishments in San Francisco and Manhattan. Many restaurants did not stand out among the competition despite their gushing reviews in part thanks to their PR staff. Michael Mina's places are like that, Fifth Floor, Gary Danko, and now Aureole. I was not Wow'd. Also, you're left with this heavy, food coma feeling at the end of the meal. It's not at all pleasant because that means the food was too rich and unhealthy.
The Front Entrance

The Wine Tower
You enter on the main floor and either take the elevator down or take the staircase that wraps around the wine tower.

The restaurant has a few seating areas. This was ours with a nice view of the Swan Court.

Electronic Wine Menu

Personalized Plates

Amuse Bouche
The moment we sat down we were greeted with a trio of bites.

Croque Monsieur
Aka, Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Homemade Potato Chip with Avocado, Cocktail Sauce and Shrimp

Lamb Skewer

Wine Pairing
Riesling, Schloss Saarstein, Kabinett, Saar, Germany, 2007
I love Rieslings. This was a nice start to the meal and paired nicely with the amuse bouche.

Mencia, Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo, Spain, 2007
This was my first time trying a Mencia wine. This varietal is some northwestern Spain. It pairs well poultry.

First Course
The first course of the Restaurant Week menu allowed a choice of a small plate. I chose the Chorizo. Delicious! The sausage had a bold, intense chorizo taste. It was nicely contrasted by the cold garbanzo and frisee salad.

Second Course
Roasted Organic Chicken with Caramelized Shallot Risotto in a Chervil Sauce. The chicken was perfectly cooked as it retained a lot of moisture and was tender to cut and bite.

Third Course - Dessert!
Warm Banana Butterscotch Bundt Cake with Caramel Sauce. This was heavy and too rich. I could barely get through a third of it. After a rich meal, I don't like having a rich dessert. I wish the menu was planned accordingly.

More Dessert
My brother's Dessert Sampler (from left to right) - Blueberry and Peach Clafoutis, Citrus Cheesecake, Chocolate Mocha Cake, and a Nutella Creme Brulee

RM Seafood, Mandalay Bay
Rick Moonen's restaurant in Las Vegas. Rick Moonen should have made it to the finals in Top Chef Masters. He's a brilliant chef with a throughout cooking technique. RM Seafood has excellent bowls of Clam Chowder and Corn Chowder, too.


Corn Muffins
So light, crumbly, and buttery. This was a great basket of corn muffins!

Great texture, but a bit on the salty side for me.

Wine Pairing
Riesling, Monchhof, Estate, QbA, Mosel, Germany, 2007 & Sauvignon Blanc, Mahi, Marlborough, 2007
The Mosel region in Germany produces some great dry Rieslings. The Marlborough region produces some of the tastiest Sauvignon Blancs. This wine pairs so well with seafood.

Rhode Island Style Calamari
With Pickled Cherry Peppers, Garlic, and Parsley. Nicely spiced and well fried.

Fish N' Chips
With seasoned steak fries. The fries were tasty, and the fish was fresh. However, I found the batter to be a bit too thick.

On to the Restaurant Week Menu:
First Course
Iceberg BLT with Bacon, Sweet 100’s, and Buttermilk Ranch Dressing. A nice salad to start the meal.

Second Course
RM Cioppino with Mussels, Clams, Prawns, Seasonal Fish, Calamarata Pasta. A delicious take on cioppino. I only wished that there was more tomato broth.

Third Course - Dessert!
Blueberry Cobbler with Vanilla Yogurt Sorbet, Mint Julep Syrup. The cobbler was more like a blueberry muffin, which I like. It was generous with blueberries. The yogurt sorbet was tart and refreshing.

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