Tag Archives: Las Vegas reviews

Restaurant Review: Mon Ami Gabi, Las Vegas, Nevada

Mon Ami Gabi is a classic French bistro located at the Paris Resort and Casino on the Vegas strip. “Mon ami” means “my friend” in French and “Gabi” refers to owner and chef Gabino Sotelino. The bistro specializes in standard French fare such as crepes and quiches, and the dinner menu features classics such as onion soup au gratin, country style pâté, escargots, trout amandine and, of course, steak frites.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Vegas: Part One – The Great, this is one of my favorite restaurants ever, and a must visit whenever we go to Vegas. I love to sit outside and watch the people walk by, year round. When it’s cold there are heaters to keep you warm. This place is always busy, which is not surprising given the quality of the food and the wonderful atmosphere.

On this last visit to Mon Ami Gabi, Brad and I were told it would be almost a two-hour wait for a table outside, and 45 minutes to sit inside. Since it was already 8:30 p.m., we opted for inside. The wait turned out to be right under 30 minutes, and we amused ourselves playing some of the slots in beeper range.

Once we were seated, we were immediately served a crusty, warm french baguette that was served in a bag and came with soft butter and a tasty carrot salad. I’m not exactly sure what was in the salad in addition to grated carrots, lemon juice, olive oil and herbs, but it was so good! I will try and replicate this at home.

Brad ordered a Grey Goose martini with bleu cheese-stuffed olives ($10.95) and I ordered a glass of 2009 Remy Pannier Sauvignon Blanc ($9.00). Brad liked his martini and thought the olives were quite good. My wine was refreshing – dry with hints of fruit and a crisp finish. We decided to forego the appetizers, but I can heartily recommend the escargots de Bourgogne from a previous visit.

I ordered the steak frites “classique” with maitre d’hotel butter ($23.95). The hangar steak was cooked perfectly (medium-rare), tender and perfectly seasoned. The frites were awesome as well.

Brad got the filet mignon au poivre with crème fraiche ($31.95). Again, perfectly cooked and seasoned, and a favorite dish of his.

Brad ordered a bottle of 2005 Chateau Maurac Haut Medoc ($65.00). This wine is 55% Merlot and 45% Sauvignon Cabernet. Deep ruby in color, we could detect some wood and berry flavors. Somewhat tannin-y, but was a nice pair for our steaks. Wine was pricey compared to what you can get it for in a store, but I guess that’s just typical restaurant markup.

The service at Mon Ami Gabi was great as usual. I keep telling myself on my next visit I will try something different. We’ll see. I’ll probably just have to go twice to make that goal!

Ratings

  • Price: medium   Not bad for Vegas. Great value, great food, great atmosphere!
  • Service: 4.75      Consistently good on numerous visits.
  • Food:   4.75        Awesome overall.
  • Recommend:     Absolutely. A must stop in Vegas!
  • Kid friendly:      I guess, but Vegas is no place for kids. Don’t even get me started.

1= hater, 2=poor, 3=adequate, 4=above average, 5=superb

Viva, Las Vegas!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Restaurant Review: Mesa Grill, Las Vegas, Nevada

I love Bobby Flay – from his “show-downs” and other shows on Food Network TV to his cookbooks and products, he has it going on. As I mentioned in my Vegas blog: “The Great”  whenever we’re in Vegas, we always go to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill for lunch. I love this place, especially the margaritas and the Mesa burger. Since I wasn’t eating meat on this last visit, I branched out and got something different meal-wise – smoked shrimp tacos – Wow! But I did stay with my tried-and-true delicious cactus pear margarita – always a treat!

This was the first time Dan and Wanda (Brad’s parents) tried Mesa Grill, and I think they’ll be back. It’s a cool, eye-catching yet inviting space right next to the sports book in Caesar’s Palace.

We started with a round of drinks – Dan had a beer  (some sort of microbrew ale) and the rest of us had the cactus pear margaritas  ($13.00 ea.) These are made with Corazon de Agave Blanco tequilla, cactus pear syrup and fresh lime juice. Refreshing, and not too sweet. You just don’t find these margaritas elsewhere. They are awesome and one of the reasons I insist on coming back to Mesa Grill each visit to Vegas. Check out my upcoming blog on marvelous margaritas – this one makes the cut!

After we ordered our meals, our server (who was attentive, knowledgeable and funny) brought us a fresh basket of assorted bread. I tried the jalepeno cheddar bread- yum. Just enough heat, and the texture was great. Wanda loved the corn muffins.

Wanda had the Cremini Mushroom Quesadilla ($14.00), which she raved about. It was made with Fontina and ricotta cheeses, and came with a fried egg on top. If I’m in veggie world next Vegas visit, I will probably get this.

Brad and Dan had the Mesa burgers. Brad knew what to expect, and it is the one thing on the menu that’s hard to resist. Dan had a look of surprise when his burger arrived – he couldn’t believe how big it was! At $16.00 for a burger (served with double cheddar cheese, grilled Vidalia onions and fries on the side) it’s actually a good deal considering all of the food you get. They both loved their burgers, and I was jealous, but it turned out that I shouldn’t have been.

I ordered the Smoked Shrimp Tacos Plus Salsas ($22.00). These rocked! The shrimp were perfectly grilled and the accompanying salsas and guacamole were fresh, tasty and perfect. I was served six spicy shrimp and two flour tortillas, plus plenty of sides, and by the time I was through I was quite the happy camper. A bit pricey for lunch, but ooooh, ooooh, so good!

Other mainstays on the menu that I can recommend from previous trips to Mesa Grill include the Cornmeal Crusted Chile Relleno and the Pork Tenderloin Sandwich. All great. I’m ready to go back now!

Ratings

  • Price:   4.5 - Pricey, especially for lunch, but worth it!
  • Service: 4.75   – Consistently good on numerous visits.
  • Food:   4.75      Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum.
  • Recommend:   Yes, I will keep coming back for more!
  • Kid friendly:   I guess, but Vegas is no place for kids. Don’t get me started.

1= hater, 2=poor, 3=adequate, 4=above average, 5=superb

Viva, Las Vegas!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Vegas – the Great, the Good and the Ugly: Part Three – The Ugly

In Part One of  “Vegas – the Great, the Good and the Ugly,”  I  wrote about the “The Great” – things/places I will definitely revisit next trip. Part Two - The Good – focused on things I liked and may try again if time permits. This third and final part -The Ugly – is about things I will try and avoid at all costs on my next visit.

The Pub at Monte Carlo.  We have been to this place before, and generally our orders were taken in a reasonable amount of time, even during football season when the place is packed. This time was a completely different. We waited more than 15 minutes before we gave up, and the place really wasn’t all that busy. There was absolutely no acknowledgement from bartenders that they would be right with us, or the other handful of customers right next to us. Just stares, like none of us were there. I usually like coming to this place, but doubt I’ll be back. There are just too many other places with better service.

 

No comp drinks at the poker machines at the Wynn. Are you kidding me? I put $100.00 in a video poker machine, play $5.00 per hand, and you still charge me for my mimosa? Thanks, but no thanks – I’ll take my money and business elsewhere. Wynn management might want to revisit customer service 101.

 

1-800-Girls idiots. These are the incredibly annoying men and women on the strip hawking escort services. I asked one of the guys trying to push his advertisements on me if they had any boys, but he just ignored me. Whatev. Go away, and keep those damn flyers out of my face!

 

Cigars/cigarettes.  This town needs more non-smoking areas in the casinos. Enough said.

Kids who are bored. Actually I blame the parents on this one. Leave your kids at home (like we did) or else find something for them to do. Leaving them on the edge of the casino while you play slots is just plain wrong. Seriously. Columnist John Deiner of the Washington Post obviously agrees: check out his blog posting at: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/travellog/2007/09/what_happens_in_vegas_your_kid.html

 

Video poker/slots. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. My money sure did this time, and I have no one to blame but myself. That’s why they call it gambling. Better luck next time. And there will be back a next time, I’m sure! And hopefully I can move this category up to “Great”!

This ends my three-part series on Vegas for this trip. If you visit, you can’t go wrong with the places/things I listed in the Great or the Good, but try and stay away from the Ugly!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Vegas – the Great, the Good and the Ugly: Part Two – The Good

 

In Part One of Vegas – The Great, the Good and the Ugly, I wrote about some of my favorite things/places that I tend to visit on every trip. This second part of the series - The Good – looks at places I will certainly consider revisiting (especially the Book and Stage) on my next trip.

The Book and Stage. This became one of our favorite places to play video poker. Located in the Cosmopolitan, it is a combination of a sports book, bar and music venue that features up-and-coming, mostly indie acts. We saw a great rocksy-blues band on one of our visits. The Book and Stage has a wide variety of beers (including two of my favorites, Rogue Dead Guy and Fat Tire) and a decent Sauvignon blanc, which I can’t remember the label but I liked it, especially since it was free as long as I played poker. The service was always attentive and friendly. If I had won any money here, I’d move the Book and Stage up to “the great” category. But, unfortunately, winning was not in the cards (or the machines) for me on this trip.

The Range Steakhouse. Located at Harrahs, we went there to help Brad’s father, Dan, and stepmother, Wanda, celebrate their anniversary. I’m not sure that I would have tried this place if not for them (I’m partial to Emeril’s Delmonico Steakhouse, where I had the best steak I’ve ever had about five or six years ago), but I’m glad I did. The view was great – our table overlooked the Strip - and the service was spot-on. Chas, our server, was funny and attentive. Brad had an 18 oz. boneless N.Y. Steak Delmonico style ($44.00). Dan had a 20 oz. frilled bone-in ribeye with herb compound butter (also $44.00). In a surprise move, Wanda ordered the roasted free-range chicken ($33.00). I would have bet she would get the steak since that’s what she raved about, but once again would have lost. I had King crab legs. Normally $45.00 a pound, The Range has an option to add a half pound  to a meal for $22.00. Thanks, Chas, for suggesting this – it was just the right amount of food for me. Brad chose a 2006 Tresor Ferrari Carano (92 points from Wine Spectator) which was a delicious blend of five  Bordeaux varietals. Dan and Wanda were treated to an anniversary dessert that was artfully presented and tasted great, too.

Everything was good, and I would go back.

Café Bellagio. We met Dan and Wanda here for brunch – it is one of the places they frequent whenever they stay at the Bellagio. I had the southwestern omelet without the chicken. It was okay, nothing to get excited about.The accompanying hash browns and grilled tomato were very good. The mimosas were good (it’s hard to mess up a mimosa unless you use way-too-cheap bubbly), but small and pricey at $12.00 a pop. Dan and Wanda had the Applewood Smoked Bacon omelets – they looked much better than mine. Brad had the pesto pasta special that came with cheese-filled tortellinis, which he said was good. Café Bellagio is open 24 hours and is located right off of Bellagio’s gorgeous conservatory and botanical gardens.

 I would consider it again, especially if I stayed at the Bellagio.

D.O.C.G. Enoteca. We ate here our first night in Vegas. By the time we got checked in at the Bellagio, it was after 8 p.m. Located next-door at the Cosmopolitan, we were able to get a table right away. We ordered a bowl of warm herbed olives ($6.00) to share as an appetizer – yummy! We also shared a margherita pizza, which had a thin crust and was topped with fresh tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella for $14.00. I would get this again. I had a glass of 2009 Sant’Elena Sauvignon blanc which was delightful at $14.00 (pricey but a good pour.) Service was good and I would go back, especially for lunch.

This ends Part Two of Vegas: The Great, The Good And The Ugly. Enjoy these places as well as the ones listed in Part One. And stay tuned for Part Three: The Ugly (luckily, it is short!)

Eat, drink and be merry!

Vegas – The Great, The Good And The Ugly: Part One – The Great!

It’s known as Sin City as well as the Wedding Capital of the world (kinda contradictory, you think?) Famous for “What happens here stays here” (my money sure as hell did!) Viva, Las Vegas!

We just got back from spending four nights and three days in Vegas, after a three-plus year hiatus. Much has changed, such as the addition of some new cool places like the Cosmopolitan, City Center with Aria and the Palazzo, to name just a few. And much is still the same, which, for the most part, is a good thing. Here are some of our highlights, and instead of categorizing them into the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (after the 1966 spaghetti western classic with Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Clef) I’m going to label these “The Great” – things/places I will definitely revisit next trip ( many of which I’ve already visited a number of times); “The Good” – things I may try again if time permits; and “The Ugly” – things  I hope to avoid at all costs.

Part One: The Great

Mon Ami Gabi. This is absolutely one of my favorite restaurants in the world, and mainly for the steak frites, which are marvelous. I gladly jumped off my vegetarian (fish-etarian) bandwagon, which is something I had planned to do as soon as we booked the trip. Mon Ami Gabi  is located at the Paris Hotel and Casino (one of my absolute favorite places to stay) and is always packed. Unfortunately, we did not sit outside this time because it would have been almost a two-hour wait, and it was already 8:30 p.m. Click here for a review of this wonderful restaurant. Ooh la la!

Mesa Grill. This is another one of my favorite restaurants in Vegas. Located at Caesar’s Palace, I have eaten there a number of times. I love the margaritas and the Flay burgers (aptly name after owner Bobby Flay) are top notch. This time I had the shrimp tacos, which were awesome. As was the cactus pear margarita, as always. I’ll be posting a full review of Mesa Grill soon.

Spago. This is a great spot for lunch and people watching. It is one of Wolfgang Puck’s establishments and is located in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace. We always try and sit on the patio to watch the crowds walk by. and to see the “sky” of the Forum Shops changing from morning to afternoon to night. I love the bloody Mary’s at Spago – not sure what’s in the mix since it is homemade, but they are great! Years ago I had one of the best quiches I’ve ever eaten, but alas it was not on the menu this time. The Greek Pizza I had this time was very good, and Brad loved his chicken meatball open-faced sub. Service is consistently excellent.

(Wasted Away Again at) Margaritaville. Love this place (at any location) for its burgers and loaded nachos, but particularly for the margaritas, and of course the Jimmy Buffet tunes in the background. We stopped here a couple of times so I could rest my legs (whatever) – didn’t eat on this trip, just imbibed. The Perfect Margaritas (that’s what they’re called) are, well perfect. I also tried the Pink Cadillac Margarita, which consisted of Margaritavilla Last Mango Tequila, Cointreau, special margarita mix and a splash of cranberry, served on the rociks. Yum!

Auerole: We saw this restaurant featured on the Travel Channel years ago, and have eaten at it a few times, all good. Located in Mandalay Bay, its claim to fame is the 4-story wine tower enclosed in glass. Wine “angels” are mechanically hoisted to reach the bottles at the top. You order from the extensive wine list on an electronic tablet. I had the seared Ahi tuna this time, which was cooked to perfection. Brad had the pork tenderloin and said it was great. The food came out so quickly that we decided not to order a bottle of wine and each had just a glass instead, with our sights on after-dinner cocktails at Red Square (see below).

Red Square. The top of this bar is covered with ice, which keeps the vodka nice and cool. Also located in Mandalay Bay, it is a great place to try different types of vodkas – you can get flights or go the traditional route and just get martinis. It features more than 200 frozen vodkas and infusions, martinis and Russian-inspired cocktails.

Bellagio: We had a view of the fountain from our room, which was great, and enjoyed some of the “shows” relaxing with some wine (Brad had the foresight to bring some better bottles from home so we wouldn’t be gouged by the area prices.) Loved the conservatory and botanical gardens as well as the glass ceiling in the lobby called Fiori di Como by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. Usually we’re in Vegas around New Year’s, so it was nice to see the fresh spring flowers (although the poinsettias and Christmas trees are pretty spectacular.) The pool area is great, and I loved the mango margaritas, even though they were pricey ($15 and some odd cents before tip.)

Nine Fine Irishmen. Located in New York, New York, this is a great Irish pub. The Guinness is good and so is the Jameson’s (which we received liberal pours by our friendly bartender.) If the downstairs bar is too crowded, there is another bar upstairs. A must stop every trip – Guinness is good for you!

Fake Elvises and other street characters. Okay, this really have nothing to do with food, unless I talk about Elvis’ heavy days, but let’s not go there. Part of Vegas’ charm is to see these people decked out and just walking around (okay, some are working for tips.) But it wouldn’t be the crazy same without them! Viva, Las Vegas!

That’s about it for Part One: The Great. Please stay tuned for Part Two: The Good, and Part Three: The Ugly.

Eat, drink and be merry!