Viva Las Vegas!

What can you say about Las Vegas? A non-stop city of chaos and cocktails, where short skirts and sleazy guys abound…that being said, you are certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to food, with a plethora of French and Italian options, along with a host of American choices. I was there as part of a bachelorette party for my oldest friend, so I had the pleasure of not eating alone (as so often happens when travelling these days), but with a gaggle of fabulous ladies. Most of us were staying at the Venetian, a beautiful, glamorous hotel, replete with elaborately painted ceilings and gilded everything. I would have to say that if I were to return to Vegas, it would be to try more of the food. There are some famous restaurants in town which likely serve some divinely good fare. We hit quite a few excellent restaurants, with nary a culinary misstep to be seen.

Grand Lux Café, The Venetian

Our first night in town we dined at the Grand Lux Café in the Venetian, and at first glance, one of my friends commented how its interior really looked like a Cheesecake Factory. Lo and behold, it was designed by the founder of the Cheesecake Factory (and they serve their cheesecakes there). It was a massive menu, which made it somewhat difficult to decide on what to eat. The ladies suggested that given my light-coloured dress I might not go with the lasagna (as I am somewhat renowned for spilling food on myself). Growing up, fettuccine alfredo was always my go-to option when eating out, though it had been quite awhile since  I’d eaten it at a restaurant (after sampling so many different versions of it in my youth, I determined that it was often hard to get just right). But, I decided to try it once again. The Grand Lux did an excellent job, as it was flavourful, rich and creamy, and, not surprisingly, way too much. I only managed about half of the pasta, but I sort of expect that these days when ordering pasta dishes in the states. Massive portion sizes!

Bouchon Bistro, The Venetian

Our nice dinner-out before our designated night of dancing and tormenting the bachelorette was at the Bouchon Bistro at the

Venetian. I was pleased with the choice for several reasons: 1) it was in our hotel, which meant we wouldn’t have to totter very far in

our heels, and 2) French food! It was a classy restaurant–surprisingly restrained for Vegas in its interiors. Service was pleasant and relatively attentive. In the interest of being economical, I forewent an appetizer (that foie gras starter was sure tempting, but at $49, a little steep). Bread was interestingly served simply wrapped in cloth on the table without a plate. My friend and I shared a carafe of pinot grigio and both decided on truite amandine (trout with almonds and green beans in a beurre noisette, or “hazelnut butter”). The fish was excellent and beautifully butterflied–it was delicate and flavourful. The green beans were also a nice touch (my friend liked them so much, she finished off mine!) It was a bit challenging for me to really take in the restaurant, as I was a bit distracted by my over-the-top fake eyelashes and the fact that we had to be at a nightclub by a certain time. Nonetheless, it seemed a pleasant restaurant with solid food options.

Lupo by Wolfgang Puck, Mandalay Bay

To the supreme excitement of our bachelorette, our Saturday night was to be taken up by the Glee concert at Mandalay Bay. Before we could get to that, dinner was to be had at an Italian restaurant, Lupo by Wolfgang Puck. We were seated in a back room area, away from the bustle of the restaurant. Bread was brought out (again wrapped in cloth and placed on the table without a plate). There were several tasty-looking choices on the menu, so my friend and I decided to share two dishes: 1) one of the day’s specials, wild

mushroom ravioli in a truffle oil, and 2) pizza with potatoes, ham and gorgonzola. Both dishes were delicious, but the ravioli was simply superb. Such awonderful earthy flavour. Yum!  Service was very good, and they even brought out a complimentary tiramisu for our bachelorette. And my bill was surprisingly reasonable (likely because I didn’t drink). All in all, an excellent restaurant.

Trevi, Caesar’s Palace

I had booked a later flight than many of the other girls so I could spend a little more time exploring. The Forum Shops atCaesar’s Palace is, true to Vegas form, an ornate mall, with towering statues and painted ceilings. I had originally gone in with the intention of grabbing a bite of lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, but I happened to pass by Trevi, with an extremely appealing daily special. I was seated inside the restaurant (their “outdoor” patio was right next to a massive, but rather noisy, fountain). I couldn’t resist trying their risotto special: mascarpone and fig risotto with  grilled pork tenderloin medallions. And boy, did I make the right choice! Sinfully delicious–the creaminess of the mascarpone against the sweetness of the figs. I’d never had figs before, but they were definitely paired beautifully with the pork and risotto. So very good, but so much that I couldn’t finish all of it (the amount of risotto provided was about as much as David makes for both of us).

Stratta, Wynn Las Vegas

What was supposed to be a 3-night trip to Las Vegas became 5-nights (thanks to some unfortunate Chicago weather and oversold flights). However, this just gave me a bit more opportunity to try out some Vegas fare. I was now staying at the Luxor at the opposite end of the strip; however, I spotted some tasty options at the Stratta at Wynn. So I hopped on the bus and headed back up the strip. It was nine o’clock when I got there, and the restaurant was in full swing. I was told I wouldn’t get a table until 10. However, after wandering around for a half hour, returning and loitering near the front, I was seated at 9:30. I always feel a little odd sitting in a restaurant (particularly an upscale one) by myself. I realize that after a multitude of solo trips around the world I should be used to it. But it still does feel a little bit lonely when surrounded by parties of gaily-laughing folk. So, to take the edge off, a bit of bubbly! I tried a glass of prosecco, Italian sparkling wine, which was surprisingly tasty. For my meal, I decided on mascarpone risotto, this time with crispy chicken, wild mushrooms and shaved parmigiano. It was suitably delicious–the wild mushrooms an earthy counterpart to the almost sweetness of the mascarpone. The portion size was just about right, and I was almost able to finish it. Service was competent, though I did have to ask for my bread basket. I think tables of one tend to be overlooked a little bit more than boisterous parties. But all in all, a very pleasant meal, and I left feeling warm (from the bubbly) and full (from my tasty risotto).

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