Monday, July 2, 2007

Best of Vegas

This past weekend we sampled some of the best restaurants that Las Vegas has to offer. We started at Mario Batali’s B&B Ristorante on Friday night and then went to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill for brunch on Saturday. After we had recuperated from brunch, we went to dinner at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. The trip ended with a visit to Bouchon for breakfast on Sunday morning. Needless to say, we consumed quite a bit of butter. And not just any old butter – butter imported from Normandy, italian triple cream butter and vanilla bean butter.

I didn’t take any pictures, and my recollection of the dishes may not be exactly correct, but here were some of our favorites in various categories:

Best amuse bouche – Cucumber gelee with yogurt, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. This was a shot glass filled partway with cucumber gelee and topped with a layer of yogurt, a touch of balsamic vinegar, and a tiny sprig of mint. It tasted like the best tzatziki you’ve ever had, and was a very refreshing way to start the meal.

Best bread basket – Assorted baked goods, Mesa Grill. Instead of your standard bread and butter, we received a basket of blueberry coffee cake, chile cheese biscuits, raisin nut biscuits and blue corn muffins – all were excellent.

Best pasta dish – Jose’s pyramids of braised beef shoulder, B&B Ristorante. According to our waiter, Mario feels that since making handmade pasta can be a tedious task, the person responsible for the pasta at each of his restaurants has a dish on the menu named after them. In this case, apparently Jose was the one to assemble our beef pyramids. The pyramids were about the size of a standard ravioli, but a single square of pasta was wrapped around the filling, making a triangular pyramid shape. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the beef had a silky texture. It was served with a brightly flavored tomato sauce.

Best overall dish – Lamb trio, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. This dish consisted of mini lamb chops, a lamb kebab on a spring of rosemary, and lamb shoulder confit. Everything was perfectly prepared, the lamb was very tender, and the confit was unique and delicious.

Best dessert – Framboise, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. When the dish arrived at the table, it looked like a white chocolate orb on a bed of raspberry sauce with fresh raspberries. Once the waiter poured more hot raspberry sauce over the top, the orb melted to reveal a center of yuzu ice cream. Not only was the presentation unique, but the flavors were amazing – you’d think that a dessert that contained white chocolate and ice cream would automatically be very sweet, but the yuzu ice cream was refreshing and tempered the sweetness of the white chocolate.

Best celebrity sighting – Who better than to see at Mesa Grill than Bobby Flay himself?

Overall, we enjoyed all four of the restaurants, and I’d highly recommend any of them on your next trip to Vegas. But of course, no one’s perfect. The worst dish of the trip goes to…

Goose liver ravioli with brown butter and balsamic, B&B Ristorante. When I saw this listed on the pasta tasting menu that we ordered, I immediately assumed the goose liver would be reminiscent of foie gras. I was very wrong. One bite is all it took for me to realize that I would be happy to never eat goose liver again in my entire life. And generally I am not a picky eater. I don’t really blame the restaurant; I don't think I'd like goose liver under any circumstances. My husband felt the same way.

After our weekend of excess, we filled up the grocery cart yesterday with fruit, vegetables and lean protein. We will be eating lighter this week to make up for the massive amounts of calories we consumed, but it was definitely worth it!


Katherine said...

My mouth is watering... vanilla bean butter? That sounds so good. All three butters sound amazing! I am so jealous! I love how you visited all those fabulous restaurants and came back with a "best of..." What is yuzu ice cream? I don't even know, but I am totally intrigued. I love Bobby Flay! That's awesome that you got to see him and eat at his restaurant.

Sara said...

Yuzu is a japanese citrus fruit - it's described as having a flavor that's a cross between a grapefruit and an orange. The ice cream was citrusy with floral undertones. I actually bought yuzu once, but apparently mine were old because they were all seeds and no juice. Which was disappointing, because they were expensive.

It was definitely surreal to see Bobby Flay walk by our table. Before he came out into the dining area, I recognized the back of his head in the kitchen!