Monday, March 22, 2010

Vegas: The Shorter the Skirt, The Worse The Food

Spent a week in Vegas earlier this month. In classic stick-in-the-mud form, I spent that time shuttling between a Root Cause Analysis course in the Flamingo conference center and my hotel room in the Westin, catching up on work and attending 5AM conference calls.



I did manage to do a little wide eyed tourist browsing (particularly impressed with the attention to detail at Paris), and a little fancy-dancy eating. Between Ceasar's, Paris, and the Bellagio, here's the major rule I discovered:

The showier the waitress, the more blase the food.

Shortest skirt was at Yellow Tail, the sushi place at the Bellagio. Even before the outrageous price per piece ($60 for 12-piece chef's selection), this was some of the sloppiest, most tasteless sushi I've eaten.

Next up, Le Burger Brasserie, featuring Le Waffle Fries. This was a not-bad tourist burger positively shellacked with a French sheen. $19 gets you a burger. For a side of the afore mentioned extra-french french fries, another $4.

On the third night, I made it over to Ceasar's, and found Mesa Grill. My waitress was a perfectly normal person, wearing actual pants. And it was - by far - the best meal I had on the trip. It's a beautiful space (as they all are), but unlike the other two, the minute you walk in, it's clear that it's run as a restaurant. Service was impeccable and crisp. I had a glass of California Syrah that was to die for (custom label for Mesa).



The best thing I ate here, and the best thing I ate on the trip, was a Gala Apple Salad. Primarily this is perfectly crisp chilled cubes of apple, with a few leaves of baby spinach, candied pecans and blue cheese in a chili-orange vinaigrette. Strange combination, beautifully executed. I could have had three of these, skipped the entree, and been a very happy guy.




Slightly less impressive, but still tasty was the Pork Tenderloin. Portioned for two, maybe three large people, this was delicately cooked tenderloin in a mild mole sauce. On the side, which was the best thing on the plate, was a sweet potato tamale. The mole was a bit on the bland side, though beautifully presented, but the tamale was heavenly.

All that being said, Vegas was truly a ball. Just walking down the strip is an education of what the human race can build given the raw ambition, unconstrained by anything. Eating mediocre there is still a good time. But through all the overscaled hugeness of the place, the food there is a subtle reminder that good food is made one plate at a time, by people who know what they're doing, regardless of the glitz around them.

6 comments:

Susan said...

What a fun blog! Thanks for your Vegas experience...

Eli Castro said...

Thanks Susan! Grubbus has suffered from some neglect over the last 6 months, but I'm totally jazzed about getting it rolling again.

Jodi said...

Awesome post, Eli! Also, how tasteless is the name Yellow Tail for a sushi restaurant in Las Vegas. Can I assume all of the waitresses were Asian. I swear, Vegas was created by frat boys, for frat boys.

Have you seen this recipe from Bobby Flay for a salad that sounds very similar to the one you loved at Mesa Grill?

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