Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dining in Las Vegas

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For those who don't know me, I'm the one in the hot pink. That lovely lady next to me? That's my mom. My wonderful, funny, loving, fiercely loyal mom. With whom I spent Thanksgiving week this year in Las Vegas. We both needed a break; we hadn't had any time alone together to regroup in the 14 months since my dad passed away. And with my husband and kids fully occupied with my in-laws in northern California, it was the perfect time for Mom and me to slip away. Lazy mornings, a spa day, the movies, shopping, three shows (Cher, Barry Manilow, and Jersey Boys), and lots of really nice meals.

Mommy: Thanks for a wonderful vacation, the best part of which was your company. For the rest of you, I know what you really want to see - the culinary highlights.

At the luxurious Joel Robuchon, a caviar-and-crab amuse bouche, served in a caviar tin; artistic bread, possibly the best part of the meal; veal cheeks in a Thai broth; duck breast with foie gras; lovely desserts; and me, taking pictures of the lovely desserts:


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The next day, lunch at RM Seafood, including creamy trout salad with roasted beets; iceberg salad with blue cheese and buttermilk dressing; lobster rolls with just the right amount of mayonnaise (accompanied by an outstanding chipotle jicama slaw); and a visit from chef Rick Moonen himself, with the inscription he wrote in the book my mom bought me:


 
 
 
 
 

For our Thanksgiving dinner at Carnevino, no turkey. Instead, bone-in ribeye for two, aged to perfection; roasted butternut squash with fregola sarde (like Israeli couscous) and pecorino cheese; and hard choices from the dessert menu (we settled on pomegranate sorbet, pear sorbet, and chocolate malt ice cream):

 
 
 

The following evening at Daniel Boulud Brasserie, creamy artichoke soup with foie gras "croutons"; turbot en croute; scallops Sicilian-style, with raisins, capers and cauliflower:

 
 
 

For our final dinner at Bradley Ogden, Caesar salad; the justly famous Bradley Ogden burger, which we split as a less-than-traditional intermezzo; wild mushroom risotto, which, to be honest, was watery and underseasoned, making me wonder if the chef had to stretch the pot or maybe failed to saute the mushrooms enough before adding them to the rice; and a very nice butterscotch pudding:

 
 
 
 

And there were two breakfasts at Thomas Keller's Bouchon, with the best virgin Mary I've ever tasted; assorted pastries; raspberry beignets; spinach quiche; and smoked salmon terrine:

 
 
 
 
 
 

All in all, a really good week of dining. Now if we could only make Las Vegas a nonsmoking town - I'd be back every year. But I get the sense that's out of reach....

14 comments:

Laura said...

All. That. Food. I'd be dead. What a great way to spend Thanksgiving with your mom :)

Erika said...

Truthfully, I wasn't feeling so great by the end of this trip. We only ate one, or sometimes two, meals per day, one of which was small. Even so, you're right - it was a lot of food.

MayazMum said...

OMG Erika. I was drooling by the end of your blog post. What a great trip. Every year, I take my Mum and I on a spa trip down to Newport Beach - although we live only a block away from each other, I still enjoy the spa trip a lot. Have a great weekend.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Wow, what a post! I think I'm dizzy from the stunning array of deliciousness! Honestly, the best thing about Vegas is the ability to dine in a myriad of great restaurants in such close proximity. Not to mention that its a whole lot easier to score a table there than in NYC.

What a great way to spend the holiday and so, so nice that you and your mom had a girlie weekend together. Love that!

JRP said...

Your description of your culinary conquest of Vegas was amazing. Sounds like you and your wonderful, loving, funny (you sure you went with your biological mother?), fiercely loyal mother had an amazing time. I just feel sorry for your black sheep brother, who was stuck with leftover cold turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving. Too bad. I would have loved to see you two throwing room keys and dollar bills at Barry Manilow.

Erika said...

Perhaps next year my black sheep brother will bring his family out west to share leftover turkey with his loved ones? You may let him know that I make a mean leftover turkey sandwich.

Barry Manilow was surprisingly - um - sensual for an old, doped-up pop star who, as far as I know, bats for the other team. There was a woman near us who was just about taking her clothes off. For BARRY MANILOW. Ah, Vegas.

Jules Sorotsky said...

The picture with you & you mom is great...you should have it framed, you both look so happy & content! OMG what great food you had! We have eaten at Bouchon for dinner and it was fabulous too. Vegas has great restaurants and add in the shows, shopping and spa treatments (and drinks for my sister & me), what a fun destination!!

cshine said...

Thanks for this -- I hit Vegas once a year with a group of overly bored lawyers. We go again in May and I'll make sure to make reservations in advance. The turbot recipe is interesting -- white flaky fish is so boring generally.

Susan said...

What a wonderful series of dining experiences...I live here in Vegas and I have only been to two of the restaurants you talk about (Bouchon & Bradley Ogden). Didn't see what you thought of BO's bread basket which I thought was the best I had ever seen and was filled with various small bread choices.

The dining scene here is so diverse with so many choices and geographically small so it's easy to get from one to another. Next time you come, I've got some suggestions 'off-strip' for some amazing eateries.

Erika said...

Susan, thank you for stopping by and writing that lovely comment! I look forward to your off-the-strip recommendations for my next trip. As for the BO bread basket, honestly I don't remember it. That meal wasn't the best of the trip - they were about to shut down and change up the menu, and I think they were running on empty. The bread at Joel Robuchon, now that was something to talk about.

Nancy Siler said...

Erica,
Thanks for some great dining ideas for next week when I'm in Vegas for The World Finals of Pro Bull Riding.

Nancy Siler
Wilton

Erika said...

Nancy - the World Finals of Pro Bull Riding? Is cake decorating involved?

Nancy Siler said...

Yes we go to Pro Bull Riding World Finals every year for the past 5-6 years. I'm not a huge fan of Vegas so every year we look for something different to do since we've seen most of the shows. We had nature year (rafting rivers and canyons), suburban non chain restaurant search year, outlet shopping year, spa year, and this is is fine dining year. Grew up in Houston, Texas so used to go to rodeos every Friday night with the neighbors behind us. Has absolutely nothing to do with my job at Wilton!!! Love your descriptions and links. Our Culinary Specialist in the Wilton Test Kitchen is using your guide for a long weekend she's planning with friends. Gretchen Homan who was at Camp Blogaway in May loves your ideas also. Gretchen and I both plan to be at Camp Blogaway next year.

Erika said...

You will have a spectacular time! There are lots of other good options too. I hear people really like Picasso and Craftsteak. If you're going to do a buffet, I like the one at Paris, but that may be because I'm a sucker for French food in any form. Also, I like this roundup from Epicurious:

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/diningtravel/restaurants/lasvegas

Have a great time, and see you at Camp Blogaway!

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