Jardin

3131 Las Vegas Blvd S Las Vegas, NV 89109(702) 770-3463 • http://wynnlasvegas.com/Dining/CasualDining/Jardin

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Don’t listen to the concierge if they should point you in this direction. And don’t let the French name fool you either because this place serves up more crap in Vegas than the dice tables. Starting with the “jardin,” which overlooks le swimming pool with a meek smattering of bushes between you and the rowdy, corpulent, inebriated sunbathers.

The service is god-awful as well, royally screwing up the recommendations, almost as bad as the concierge who recommended this restaurant in the first place. But shit recos aside, our server was also painfully slow. How slow? The place was maybe 20% full and we didn’t order a single cooked appetizer yet after two hours we had to bail on dessert because we ran out of time.

Of the abysmal recos, let’s start with the cocktails. The first was a painfully tart attempt at a vodka and citrus based thing that made me wince harder than those Bitter Beer Face commercials from 15+ years ago (damn I’m old). And the second drink was the polar opposite, sickeningly sweet blueberry sangria. I’m not entirely sure which was worse, but somebody needs to slap the mixologist who concocted these abominations and wake them up to the values of nuance.

The only positive thing I can say about the meal was that the Beau Soleil oysters were quite fresh and very good, served with a tasty mignonette.

But chasing the oysters was a kale salad drowning in dressing followed by a short rib entrée that was dryer than the surrounding dessert, accompanied by corn two ways, which managed to suck both ways.

I’d rather lose $200 at the tables than eat here again.

1 tooth

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Beauty & Essex

3708 S Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89109 • (702) 737-0707 • beautyandessexlv.com

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Okay, so it’s not the real deal and merely a fabricated replica of the one in New York, but it is Vegas, which means pretty much everything is a fabricated replica of something else with the exception of sand. So put aside any delusions of authenticity and you will very likely find yourself as pleased as punch (let’s make that rum punch, after all, it is Vegas).

Located in the chic Cosmopolitan Hotel on the third floor (as opposed to Essex St. in Manhattan), you will find a pawnshop by the same name, which doubles as a speakeasy entrance through a nondescript turquoise door to the left of the counter. Upon entering you will find yourself swept into a time vortex landing you smack dab in the roaring twenties, complete with a brocade decor and twin, blond, 6-foot bombshell- flappers who cavort around the restaurant and bar along with a parade of burlesque hotties.

Surprisingly, this isn’t to distract you form the food, because almost everything was excellent. That said, it might be distracting to the servers, because I found the service to be a bit sloppy.

The excellent menu of which I speak is made up of shareable small plates, along with a decent list of cocktails and wine. And while most everything was good, there were a few dishes I would steer around such as the lobster roll, which was the only bad thing of the night, served on a warm bun, but filled with canned or even fake lobster meat. Not cool.

The other two dishes I would skip are not what I would call bad, but they don’t exactly pass mustard for me either. For example much better yellowtail sashimi in ponzu sauce with chili peppers can be found at Blue Ribbon Sushi in the very same hotel or at Sushi Roku down the strip. And the French Onion Soup Dumplings are nowhere near as good as the ones at Stanton Social in NYC, nor are they comparable to some of the other stars of the night.

But enough of the Debbie Downers and on to the stars, like both tartars- the steak and the tomato tartars are so good I don’t know which one I liked better and obviously very different from one another so it’s kind of hard to even compare them even though they are both “tartars.” They are also served differently, the steak is done more like a tartine and the tomato more like an hors d’oeuvres. Both, however, are worth doubling down on.

The bone marrow is also superb and only bested by one other dish for me, the Spicy Lamb Bolognese. Made with penne and some serious Italian game this pasta just might’ve been the best thing of the night- no, the best thing I had all week in Vegas. Not too shabby for twin, amazon, blond, bombshell, flappers. Can you tell they left an impression?

4 teeth

CUT

The Palazzo • 3325 Las Vegas Blvd S. Las Vegas, NV 89109(702) 607-6300palazzo.com/dining.html

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Wolfy, ya still got it! I’ve been to several of Puck’s restaurants over the years, from Chinois to Spago, and this is my favorite. Chinois being a close second. That said, in terms of décor CUT wins by a landslide. Very sleek and modern, almost like dining in Elysium.

And speaking of idyllic, the service was great too, granted that tends to be the theme in Las Vegas, I’m guessing a tenet of their tourism based culture.

But most remarkable of all was the food, especially for such a cheesy town located in a godforsaken desert with no natural resources. I don’t know how they even pull it off. I mean screw Copperfield, this is the real magic show. A rib eye so marbled it almost looked like wagyu and tasted as good or better than any steakhouse rib eye I’ve ever had. In fact the only place I can think that tops it is The French Laundry.

Other dishes were equally impressive from sides to pasta. So if you’re not a carnivore fret not, Wolfy has you covered. And not with some mediocre afterthought to placate you. Every dish appears to be treated like a main event and it shows. All in all, the best meal I’ve had in Sin City.

5 teeth

Aureole

Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino • 3950 S Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89119(702) 632-7401charliepalmer.com

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About 10 years ago the wife and I ate at the original in New York and while it was good, I still recall that it didn’t live up to the hype. Well, 2000 miles away and 3650 days later, it still doesn’t.

Sure, it has its moments- well, two really. The first being the wine. No, not the gigantic 40 foot wine tower in the center of the restaurant, complete with wine angels soaring into the sky on ropes to fetch your bottle- because in Vegas, why simply just step into a wine cellar to fetch it? But that’s not what I was getting at. We were an extremely large party and the Cabernet they served us was excellent. So kudos for not giving us the crap stuff, which so often happens at large functions.

The other major win was the French Onion Soup. Made with foie gras, truffles and gruyere. I mean, if a restaurant can’t stick the landing with that line up, it might as well close its doors. You want this. Trust me.

The filet mignon with bleu cheese, however was just okay. Slightly over medium rare and a bit salty. Yet, somehow still better than the salmon entrée, which, while cooked perfectly was very lacking in wow.

To finish, Aureole really let things slide on the molten chocolate cake which was far from molten. Basically just chocolate cake. They should hop a flight to LA and eat at Sushi Roku to learn how it’s done.

The other dessert, however, was pretty good for what it was, a piña colada brulee. Which is a nice way of saying pudding. Made with pineapple and shaved, dried coconut. A solid good, but apart from bread pudding, I’m not the biggest pudding guy. Apologies to Bill Cosby.

3 teeth

Blue Ribbon Sushi

The Cosmopolitan Hotel • 3708 Las Vegas Blvd S. Las Vegas, NV 89109 • (702) 698-7000 · blueribbonrestaurants.com
 
Blue Ribbon Izakaya

The fact that it’s located in the Cosmopolitan Hotel is definitely a plus. It’s the most tastefully done Casino in Vegas. Granted the competition isn’t exactly what one would call steep, but it does make your journey both to and from the restaurant much more seamless by comparison to something like Aureole, where you are in a beautiful setting inside the restaurant, but then the moment you set foot outside, you feel like you just stepped into the middle of a pissing match between Walt Disney and Donald Trump.

So, now that I’ve drifted way off topic and evoked a bodily fluid, I’m sure most of you are no longer reading this. But for those who still are, Blue Ribbon is awesome! Better than the one in New York on a number of metrics. The first being décor. I know, shocking that Vegas could outdo anywhere on aesthetics, much less New York, but it outdone it was.

And the outdoing kept doing from start to finish. The first thing being the open-faced Wagyu sliders. Perfectly cooked and a great way to offset your Vegas drinking bender. Another solid starter was the duck potsicker app. Also nice and substantive compared to the sushi side of the equation.

And last but not least, the grilled octopus started, which was also good, but definitely the weakest of the three.

Then came the main event. The Blue Ribbon as they called it. No, not the Blue Ribbon maki, which is lobster and caviar, the Blue Ribbon chef’s tasting- aka plank of awesome. Apparently inventive naming things isn’t their strong suit, but let me tell you, most of what was on that platter was. Covered with inventive maki, artfully brined sushi pieces and blissfully fresh (yes, in a dessert) sashimi.

Even the service was better than the Blue Ribbon Sushi in New York, which got me thinking, maybe they should move the Vegas one to New York and the New York one to Vegas. Thoughts?

4 teeth

 

Gordon Ramsay BurGR

Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort & Casino • 3667 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109 • (702) 785-5555 • planethollywoodresort.com/restaurants/ramsay.html#.VDXahSRATv4
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I was actually headed to The Earl of Sandwich, but one look at it had me second guessing the rave reviews on Yelp. So, as a nearby back up, I decided to give Gordon another chance. I say “another” because after his abysmal performance at his fine dining establishment in the London Hotel, LA, I was very skeptical of the adulation for this burger joint. But, many a time I have found that chefs tend to struggle more with fine dining than they do with casual grub.

Well, once again that proved to be the case. BurGR was better than I expected, but that’s only because I was expecting it to be shit. And at first, it was. I sincerely find it baffling that people rave about the parmesan truffle fries. What is wrong with people’s tongues? Not only are these fries not rave worthy, they are an anomaly in tragedy, somehow managing to be both overcooked and undercooked at the same time. Adding insult to injury, they also came about 15 minutes before my burger, which meant I either filled up on fries or waited until they got cold, making them even worse than they already were.

On the plus side, the aioli they serve with the fries makes them somewhat tolerable. But on yet another downside, the house-made ketchup that also comes with the fries goes miserably with them. That said, both went very well on the burger.

The burger I went with was the equally touted Farm Burger which boasts duck breast bacon, sharp English cheddar, a fried egg and a cholesterol test. Now, it’s nowhere near amazing, needing the condiments from the fries to make it truly worth the gut-busting conclusion, but with that dressing, it went down quite nicely with a pint of Blue Moon.

Oh, and a tip for those who complain about the long lines, go at an off hour like I did and you will have your pick of nearly 30 open tables with zero wait.

Service was friendly, decor is very well done and the prices are nowhere near as outrageous as the claims. I mean, c’mon people, this is Vegas. They’re charging $35 for a friggin’ bottle of sunscreen for Christ sake!

So the knife count, adjusted for halfs would be more like 2.5, but since I’m feeling generous today, I’ll go with the over as opposed to the under (that’s Vegas lingo).

3 teeth