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

Hawksworth

801 W Georgia St. Vancouver, BC V6C 1P7 Canada(604) 673-7000 hawksworthrestaurant.com

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According to the concierge in the Rosewood Hotel, this is one of the top restaurants in Vancouver, and from my very limited sampling, you’ll find no argument here. And trust me, if there was an argument to be had, I’m you’re guy. But Hawksworth does just about everything right. From service with poise to a décor that feels contemporary and elegant. To one of the best eggs benedict’s (pictured) I’ve ever had, made with thick glazed ham and perfectly poached eggs sided with a wonderful roasted tomato and equally delicious potatoes. Even the fresh squeezed orange juice was a box-checker.

There is one shocker I will note, though. The chef’s recommendation was to serve the eggs cooked medium. But to be fair, everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it’s wrong. So I’m going to go ahead and give Hawksworth 4 knives, mostly because I’ve only had breakfast here, and that was only great because I zagged from the chef’s propensity to overcook his benny.

4 teeth

A Fish Called Avalon

700 Ocean Dr. Miami Beach, FL 33139 • (305) 532-1727 afishcalledavalon.com

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After hearing such swooning reviews both online and from our concierge, I was so hopeful for a less touristy seafood alternative to Joe’s Stone Crab. Well, those hopes were quickly dashed as we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the abyss. Lit up like a mini Vegas, Ocean Avenue is a hedonistic block party filled with patrons of ill repute, pumping techno music out of every orifice.

Fortunately Avalon itself is the classiest establishment on the strip, but to be fair that’s not saying a whole lot. Not that I should be picking on the setting, because truth be told that was the least of my issues. And boy do I have issues- with the snail-like service alone.

But had the food actually have been worth it I would’ve happily endured the aforementioned. Sadly, none of it was. Well, the octopus withstanding. It was actually pretty solid. Beyond that, however, I’ve had better seafood in many a land-locked state. MUCH better. And this is WITH ordering the local catch and specialty of the house, the macadamia crusted flounder with spinach risotto. It’s not bad. But “not bad” isn’t exactly what one would call effusive praise.

That said, the shrimp scampi was bad. Lacking any sort of impression on the palate. Not with garlic or spice. And while I appreciate the attempt to put a twist on the classic by adding avocado, the shrimp were as indecipherably bland as the “saffron” rice next to them. I use quotes because there was no trace of said saffron to be found anywhere. Not in taste, nor color.

Finally came the Key lime pie and yet another indigenous disappointment. Again second-rate, and I’m sorry, but when a national chain like California Pizza Kitchen bests you at a dessert for which you are supposed to have home field advantage, I think it’s time to question keeping it on your dessert menu.

If you have reservations here, cancel them. Go to Makoto in Bal Harbor, or Juvia on Lincoln. Both of them are better than A Fish Called Skip It!

2 teeth

Osteria Enoteca San Marco

Calle Frezzeria • Venezia, Veneto, IT 30124 • 041-528-5242 • osteriasanmarco.it

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The problem with most Venice restaurants is that they are SO touristy. Almost all of them. Each playing the part that they think visitors supposedly want to see when they come to town. Their menus loaded with dishes as old as the city itself, served in preparations with the same carbon dating. Even the waiters feel like career guys, so out of touch with modern day cuisine and the upping of its game that if you cut them in half and counted their rings they’d probably predate the Redwood Forest.

This grew so tiresome and frustrating for me and the wife as our expectations for great Italian were incredibly high. And each of the places we were sent by Yelp and TripAdvisor and even our Concierge all proved to be more of the same crap. That is, until we put the screws to our concierge and told him we wanted Venice’s A game. No more touristy bullshit.

He evidently got our message loud and clear, because the place he suggested was the only place I would recommend in Venice, Osteria San Marco. Located just off of San Marco Square as the name would suggest, it is a contemporary beacon of hope where we thought all was lost. From décor to service to menu it is modern and energetic and most importantly, delicious. Almost everything was great. With the highlight of the meal coming from the most unlikely of sources, an artichoke. But not just any choke. The best artichoke dish we have ever had, served in a marinated disc of layered perfection.

So skip all of the others and their fritto mistos and pedestrian pastas and blaze a trail to Osteria.

P.S. To be fair, there was one other place in Venice I would’ve recommended, but I believe it’s no longer. Al Marco (RIP). A wonderful hole in the wall, literally speaking, offering up a Di Parma sandwich the likes of which most pigs could only hope to be cured. Placed on a dreamy rustic Italian bread and served with an incredible glass of red wine. Both to be enjoyed right there in the middle of the charming Venetian alley.

4 teeth