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Las Vegas Part 3: Bouchon @ the Venetian

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The Skinny:  Our last night at the Ventetian for our company retreat was spent at Bouchon.  We were all given a budget of $70 per person that would be used for dinner.  This would be my second time at the Thomas Keller restaurant chain, so I knew what to expect.

Since one of my co-worker and I wanted some Seafood, we decided to combine our budget and get the Grand Plateau Seafood platter ($110); and share the Poulet Roti ($29.50) with some Mac & Cheese.  The Grand Plateau comes with 1 whole Lobster, 16 Oysters, 8 Shrimp, 8 Clams, 9 Mussels, seasonal Crab, and a special selection.  The Poulet Roti itself is a roasted Chicken with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Caramelized Figs, Pickled Ramps and Chicken Jus.

The High:  The Grand Paleau was a gluttenous dream come true.  It was fresh, clean, and an evil tower of Shellfish with Cocktail, Vinegar, and Horsradish sauces on the side.  The petite Lobster I shared was sweet and the Oysters were briny like the sea.  I didn’t really care for the Mussels and Clams though.

I wish I could remember what the Poulet Roti and the sauce it came with, tasted like, but for once in Las Vegas, the Chicken wasn’t dry at all.  I also barely remember what the Mac & Cheese was like, but it was cheesy and gooey and had a nice crust on top.

I guess Two Much Food and Gin & Tonics numbs out the pallet….and memory.

The Low:  I was about to say, I got nothing and that everything was solid, but then I realized… we didn’t get any “seasonal crab” or that “special selection.”  I think we got jibbed, but I have to admit, we didn’t really need the extra Crustaceans.

Would you come back again?  Sure, why not!

More Info:   Bouchon Bistro  | 3355 South Las Vegas  | Boulevard, Las Vegas – (702) 414-6200

– MJ

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DineLA presents: Jiraffe

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The Skinny: Located in Santa Monica right by the 3rd St. Promenade and Wokcano, the unassuming (and a tad hard to find restaurant) is run by head chef LA’s own Raphael Lunetta. I had their DineLA Menu during Restaurant Week.

The High: Maine Jumbo Sea Scallop with Fergola Sarda, Farmer’s Market Sunchokes, Chanterelles, Rocco Parmesan Cheese, Pinot Noir Sauce. I was a bit scared at first because I’ve had one too many overcooked scallops in the past, but these scallops were on point. There’s nothing better than starting off a meal with light, savory and perfectly cooked scallops. The sauce was packed with flavor and a bit of a kick that complemented the variety of other additions to the appetizer like the sunchokes and chanterelles very well. It was a whole lot of fun in your mouth as well with the different texture combinations of the scallops, sunchokes, chanterelles, and fergola sarda.

Filet of Beef with Roasted Salsify and White Asparagus Puree, Red Flame Grapes, Salad of Julienne Celery Root with Creme Fraiche-Whole Grain Mustard, Madiera-Beef Jus. I personally liked this over the John Dory. This was my boyfriend’s dish, but we ended up switching midway into dinner. I loved the grapes with this dish. It blended perfectly with the madiera and really added a sweetness to the beef. Everything about this dish was just very delicate and simple, but still deep in flavor. You can tell Lunetta really puts a lot of love and time into his sauces.

The desserts. Carmelized Banana Cream Pie and Chocolate Halsey with Caramel Mousse. I love banana cream pie and Jiraffe did an EXCELLENT job with theirs. It wasn’t too much banana where I’d feel like Donkey Kong, but it wasn’t too much cream where I’d feel like I’m eating Beard Papa’s. A perfect combination of both AND the crust was flaky – exquisite. The Chocolate Halsey was also delicious especially if you’re a dark chocolate fan. The mousse was great and it had a good balance of both chocolate and caramel.

The Low: Roulade of Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Crispy Potato Wrapped Big Eye Ahi Tuna with Confit of Baby Leeks, Plum Wine-Szechuan Pepper Sauce – For an appetizer with a name as long as the Mississippi River, I expected a lot more (and was disappointed). I LOVE foie gras and this dish just really did not deliver. First off, I couldn’t taste the foie gras at all because it was surrounded by way too much warm raw tuna. There is nothing worse than getting the temp off with raw fish. The only saving grace for this was again, the sauce, but I didn’t appreciate the peppers as much because I still remember how overpowering it was 3 weeks later. If I wanted a mediocre tuna roll with a sprinkle of foie gras, I could’ve went to Wokcano next door.

Would you come back again? 50/50. I don’t think I’d come back for the DineLA menu. It really didn’t live up to the hype. I’ve heard it compared to Melisse before, but the food wasn’t really to die for. I’d recommend it to out of towners who are looking for good restaurants in the area. And, I’d definitely suggest it to anyone who’d be interested in buying me dinner, but not sure if I’d pay for this myself.

More Info:  JIRAFFE Restaurant | 502 Santa Monica Boulevard |Santa Monica, CA 90401-2410 | (310) 917-6671 | Credit Card Friendly | Average Entree Costs $25

– Barbarella


The MGM Grand Food Crawl – Part 1

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The Skinny: I have been blessed to try 9 restaurants on the MGM Grand property seeing what they have to offer for good eats.  This is part 1 of that dine around with 4 restaurants on the board.  First stop:  Joel Robuchon.  This is the one restaurant I’ve been told is a MUST try once in your lifetime. That’s absolutely a restaurant I want my rich husband to take me too. lol   Second stop:  Shibuya, one of my favorites Japanese Restaurants on the strip. Extensive sake selection!  Third stop:  Fiamma.  This is a trendy Italian restaurant equipped with a fireplace in the middle of their lounge.  Fiamma is designed to be seen, so if you want to be noticed, this would probably be the best place to go.  Final stop for the evening:  Diegos. Great place for you and the girls or even you and the guys to go hang out and grab a margarita before going out.  See the high for more details of all these restaurants

The High:

Joel Robuchon: The minute you walk into that restaurant is amazing, with the amazing chandeliers & purple velvet upholstry, down to the beautiful table settings.  For a lot of people I’m sure they’ll feel misplaced, this IS a high end Forbes 5 star restaurant so yes it’s an intimate, elegant atmosphere.  Joel Robuchon is definitely for a more of a sophisticated palate. They came over to the table to show us their bread cart and explained which seemed like a hundred different types of bread, but really it was like maybe 10 or so?  Then he came over with the awesome butter display, I don’t know what they do but the bread + butter was amazing.  I could’ve just ate that all night alone. Then came the “lobster ravioli”  Small bite in the middle of a dinner plate.  It was delicious.  I didn’t see it on their online menu to give you a description.  That mini experience makes me want to go back for the full Joel Robuchon experience…..even if it’s for $400 per person.  Remember:  It’s a once in a lifetime experience.

Shibuya: Inspired by Tokyo’s Shibuya district, this is a the ultimate Japanese dining experience.  Aside from the sushi bar, and regular dining tables they have 3 teppanyaki tables in the back of the restaurant.  They also have an extensive Sake list.  I tried the KANI SALAD (King, Snow and River Crab, Pickeled Cucumber, Seaweed, Lotus Chips).  This dish is definitely unique as it is served on top of a fish bowl….yes! with a live beta fish swimming around while you’re eating the goods placed in a cone shaped bowl on top.  I also tried the AUSTRALIAN KOBE BEEF TATAKI (Lemon Tamari Soy, Garlic Chips, Red Onion, Tarragon Oil) I LOVE beef tataki if it’s made right.  This was good, I’ve definitely had better, but still great nonetheless.  The sake I had to accompany all these good eats was the Junmai Ginjo.  When I first took a whiff of it it had a fruity smell to it, and when I took a taste it, it was one of the best easy to drink sakes I’ve ever tasted.  Definitely recommend having this with your dinner.

Fiamma: Traditional Italian recipes in a trendy fine dining atmosphere.  This is my kind of place.  I had tried their food at this event I went to called Wet Your Appetite during Restaurant Week and it was my favorite.  I had the GNOCCHI ALL’ARAGOSTA (Soft Potato Dumplings With Maine Lobster Mushroom and Black Truffle) This is everyone’s favorite out of the whole night, but then again you can get me to fall in love with anything that has black truffle.  The gnocchi was just the right texture, some restaurants make it too chewy or too mushy.  Fiamma did it just right.  We also had a vegetarian dish that had a spinach stuffing in these little handkerchief pastas w/ marinara sauce.  I liked this dish too, but the gnocchi get the trophy for the evening.  The restaurant has a very “sexy” feel to it.  The restaurant is pretty open and faces the restaurant row so everyone that walks by sees you.  You definitely don’t want to look broke eating in that restaurant.  The lounge area is pretty nice too, has a nice big fireplace right in the middle of the lounge.  If you’re tired of the nightclubs in Las Vegas, this would be a cool place to hang out, people watch and have a few drinks.

Diegos: Your traditional mexican recipes with a twist.  The table side guacamole is THE BEST!! I LOVE Guac and I’m very particular about my guac.  By far Diego is the best.  All fresh ingredients prepared table side.  Diegos has 125 different 100% agave tequila lables…..need I say more?  If tequila is your friend, this is the place to be.  They have this unique waterfall slide right in the middle of the restaurant.  It’s definitely a fun non traditional atmosphere.

The Low: Shibuya: The last dish I tried was YELLOWTAIL SASHIMI (Shichimi Pepper, Garlic Ginger, Yuzu Juice). This wasn’t the most memorable dish that’s why I put it as a low.  It really isn’t too much of a low because it was still good, it’s just not something I’d order at a hotel Japanese restaurant.  I like to try something I can’t get anywhere else.  Give me something different, something unique…..like the fish bowl Kani 🙂

Would you come back again? I loved all 4 restaurants and only having a taste of each restaurant, I absolutely want to go back and try the full experience.

More Info: Joel-Robuchon-French-Restaurant // Shibuya-Japanese-Restaurant //  Fiamma-Italian-Restaurant-Bar //  Diego-Mexican-Restaurant// Diego’s has a happy hour! Available at Bar & Lounge Area Only: Sunday through Thursday 4:00 P.M. – 5:30 P.M.  They also have Latin nights Friday & Saturdays.

– Sniper Tam *Pew Pew Pew*