Okay, so it wasn’t really a lightning trip since we were there for a long weekend, but it felt quick! For me, Las Vegas is all about the pretty hotels (pictures!) and FOOD. I wanted to make this a quick post, but I realized that some of the restaurants we visited deserved reviews. So instead of a quick post, you’re going to get a super long post, complete with mini restaurant reviews!
The reason for our trip–Cousin N graduated! 😀
People watching at Planet Hollywood before dinner.
Clockwise from left to right: Seaweed Medley salad; Dragon Roll; Salmon Carpaccio with black truffles and citrus sauce; Miso Bronzed Black Cod; Seared Ahi Tuna with fingerling potatoes, Asian pesto and toy box tomatoes; Steamed Chilean Seabass with ginger, ichimi and shiitake mushrooms
Koi was an interesting experience. It was kind of reminiscent of Morimoto Napa in ingredient list and dish offerings, but the flavor combinations and plating were less clean and simple. The food was really good, and the flavors were wonderful. I just felt like they were a little less distinctive than Morimoto’s. With Koi, you taste the combined, overall flavor of a dish as if it were one melody. With Morimoto, I felt like you could taste each individual ingredient, but it all played together in harmony. Does that make sense? The Miso Bronzed Black Cod was my dish, ordered specifically because I wanted to compare it to Morimoto’s Sake Braised Black Cod. They were very similar and both delicious, but Morimoto’s gets the slight edge in texture. I will say that I’m not normally a fan of salmon or seaweed salad, and I loved both of those dishes from Koi. I couldn’t stop eating them. Atmosphere wise, Koi seems to be kind of trendy–sort of loud with a young professionals type crowd. A couple tables over, there was a very drunk bachelor party eating dinner, though for the most part, they weren’t disruptive.
For brunch the next day we headed over to the Venetian. Every time I visit the Venetian, I want to try Zeffirino, but no one else ever wants to have pasta. It’s that restaurant on a corner with the board showing all the pasta specials with people sitting “outside”. Well, it turns out that the people sitting outside are actually patrons of the cafe next door, and Zeffirino is upstairs overlooking the Canal.
In a zigzag, starting from the top left: Zeffirino’s bread basket, the silverware and pretty china, Caprese salad, our view overlooking the Canal, eggplant parmesan, lobster risotto, dessert trio, coffee in pretty cups, and us at our awesome table.
For the most part, the food was pretty good. We came in for brunch and were able to avail of a prix fixe menu that was a decent deal. The downside to the prix fixe is that you’re limited in what you can choose from. Case in point, that Caprese salad is actually mine. Yes, I ordered a salad with raw tomatoes as a main ingredient because none of the other first courses interested me. Surprisingly enough, I actually liked it! I couldn’t taste the tomatoes (though I did only eat one) at all since the flavors of the olives, olive oil and roasted peppers overwhelmed them. I know that that would be a bad thing in many people’s eyes, but for me, it worked. 😛
The eggplant parmesan had great texture. There was no breading, and the eggplant was soft and creamy. Some bites I couldn’t tell where the eggplant ended and the cheese began. I didn’t eat the hub’s risotto (idontlikelobster), but he said it was really good. Dessert was a definite disappointment, though. There were three small bite-sized dessert thingies…and I didn’t finish any of them. They weren’t very flavorful, and I don’t remember the texture being that great either. :-/
The atmosphere at Zeffirino was pretty quiet, and I could see it being a nice romantic restaurant, especially if you can get a table overlooking the Canal. As we walked in, the maitre d’ told us that he had a table that we would love, and he wasn’t lying. Not only could we hear the gondolier’s serenading their patrons (and us), but we could also look down and see them floating by. The service was wonderful, too.
After lunch we headed over to City Center to check out Aria hotel and the Crystals shopping. We’ve been to Crystals before, but not everything was open yet. This time, we were able to really browse around.
When they say Crystals, they mean crystals. The casino was draped with them all over!
Love, love, love this front window of old sewing machines at All Saints.
How gorgeous and genius is this wall of Louis signatures? I think the hubs got tired of me commenting on how clever it is.
View of Vdara outside Aria.
After walking around and browsing the shops, we wandered around trying to find something to eat. There are a few different restaurants in Crystals and Aria, but after much debate, we ended up at Todd English PUB.
In a zigzag from the top left: Welsh Rarebit; quotes on the placemats; complimentary popcorn; us in front of the Todd English brick wall that you can’t see because we’re awesome at self portraits; the Todd English sign in paper form; Holsteins (not Todd English, but I stuck it in there); Crispy Duck Legs with rye bread, picked carrots, and truffle mayo; the beer board; Bison Burger with TE hot sauce, maytag bleu cheese, shaved carrots, celery and sweet potato fries.
If you can’t tell, this isn’t a fancy place, but it’s not a typical pub (if I even know what that is). For me, when I envision a PUB, I don’t picture something so clean and modern. The food offerings were also a bit different than what I’d expect in a pub. When they say Carvery, Grill, Raw Bar, they mean it. The majority of the food there falls neatly into one of those categories. The Carvery offers the usual carvery fare such as brisket, prime rib and corned beef. It also has a few interesting gems like salmon, duck legs and lamb. The Grill menu consisted mostly of different burgers but also included chicken parm sliders and lobster rolls. The Raw Bar offered the typical oysters, clams, crab and shrimp cocktail. Unfortunately, we didn’t sample anything from the raw bar (something about raw oysters in the desert doesn’t sound right to me). The food we did have, though, was pretty good. The popcorn was a fun touch, but it didn’t taste freshly made. The Welsh Rarebit I really enjoyed. Yes, it’s like fondue that you dip with your hands instead of a stick, but it was yummy. The beer list looks pretty extensive, if you’re into that, but I can’t comment on any of their offerings. I didn’t try the hub’s Bison Burger, but he liked it. It came with a ridiculous amount of fries. We couldn’t finish them! I had the Crispy Duck, and while it was definitely good, what made it memorable was the truffle mayo. Oh my, the truffle mayo…so rich, and the perfect compliment to the gamey duck and tangy carrots.
The atmosphere was somewhere between a restaurant and a sports bar. There were multiple flat screens around the place showing various sports games, and while the crowd wasn’t rowdy, there were the usual cheers and “OOOHHH!!”s going on.
Overall, we enjoyed TE PUB, but other than that mayo, nothing really warranted a return visit.
As for that little Holsteins coaster I stuck in there, Holsteins was another place we wanted to try because they had the craziest shakes on their menu (most of them have alcohol listed, but you can just ask for it without the booze). We ended up just stopping by after TE and ordering a shake to go. Our pick? A Compost Shake–cookies, pretzels, kettle chips and butterscotch blended with vanilla ice cream. I know it sounds crazy, but it was GOOD. I love desserts with a hint of salt, and this hit all the right notes. I would totally go back…and order another Compost Shake. They do offer more “normal” shakes like vanilla and strawberry as well as more fun combos such as s’mores and lemon meringue. They also have a full menu of burgers and such if you want to go for a full meal.
Take a quick breather because we’re not done with the food yet. The next day Cousin N brought us over to Cugino’s Italian Deli for brunch. Oh hello, yumminess! This place is family owned and run, and if I had one close by, I’d be there every week!
Clockwise from top left: Fried Ravioli, Cugino’s Special Sandwich (prociutto, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, balsamic vinegar), Garlic Knots, and Eggplant Parmigiana.
Yes, I do realize that I had Eggplant Parm two days in a row, but I couldn’t help it. Whenever I see it on a menu it sounds so good that I have a hard time convincing myself to order something else. The great thing, though, is that the two dishes were pretty different from each other. Cugino’s eggplant was sliced super thin and lightly breaded. Each bite was like breaded silk. Everything at Cugino’s was simple, but delicious. This place isn’t fancy, but it’s definitely worth a trip if you like Italian food.
After brunch, we made a quick trip over to Gold and Silver Pawn Shop. You know, that pawn shop. The hubs loves the show, and even if you don’t come at a time when you can see the pawn stars in person (like we did last time), it’s still fun to browse around and see all the merchandise that they deal for on the show.
I was so excited to see this security guard working today! I’ve always thought his tattoos were cool.
From there we made a quick stop for some frozen custard. If you’ve never had frozen custard before but you like ice cream, you should definitely give it a try! It’s thicker and creamier than ice cream. Good stuff! See more of Luv-It HERE and HERE.
Whew! That was a lot for one post. I was tempted to skip writing about this trip altogether, but my favorite thing about blogging is being able to scroll back through my life and relive fun times and awesome food.
PS. I used a few collages in this post in order to save space. I like how I can organize the shots together like that, but parts of the shot do get cut off. Like? No like?
Also, I only had my point and shoot for this trip, so all photos were taken with my Canon SD800IS.