Sunday, 18 September 2011

Eating my way around the Fabulous Las Vegas to tackle this. I've decided to do a foodie one for now, as I said I took lots of photos of what I ate. I think a recommendation/review style is best if you happen to be heading to the states read on! I am actually going to start with the caveat that I did not eat any of my favourite American fast food being (in order)

1) taco bell
2) Arby's
3) Wendy's

We did however go to Denny's (no photo here so I'll make it brief. If you want breakfast any time of day go here. I had the bacon avocado, cheese and egg burrito it was dee-lish. One other thing..the portions are enormous. So much food must be wasted! When Americans come to the UK they must think OK is this my amuse bouche?! This dish came with sort of mash browns...that's my new word for mashed up hash browns and I kind of like it! I washed it down with a chocolate milkshake (such a child) and with this there was the tin container with some more in it. It was very thick so I didn't manage to drink it all - so much so I asked for a cup to take it away. In England you may frown upon this but in the states honestly 90% of the time people take some form of doggy bag when they leave. As I was decanting the shake into the cup I wasn't expecting the splash from the huge scoop of ice cream that fell in! Huh that's why it was so thick.

Recommended for: all day breakfast, casual dining, quick meal
Price: £

One of the highlights of the entire trip was Tao. Tao is an Asian-fusion restaurant that also has a nightclub. The original one in New York and it is this one that to this day is my favourite restaurant in the world.

We had booked in here as it was labour day weekend there were lots of big acts on in the clubs, Tao having LMFAO. Now I only thought I knew one of their songs...everyday I'm shuffling...but it turns out on the night I practically knew them all.

We went to the restaurant 2 days in advance to book. The only times they had available for 2 diners...5.30pm or 11.45pm. 11.45 it was, we'd have a power nap before going out...and have a big lunch. As it turns out we went to the Bellagio all you can eat buffet brunch that day...but more on that later.

When we arrived around 11.30 we were glad we'd booked as the queue for the club was absolutely enormous. The deal was to eat here and get queue jump, guaranteeing entry to the club costing $40 each for entry. We were instructed to wait at the bar for our table, happy to do this as the atmosphere was fantastic and the bar was buzzing. My all time favourite cocktail also comes from here- the Tao-tini. A mix of absolut mandarin, stoli raspberry, cranberry and some orange/lime, plus some jiggery pokery as I have never been able to recreate this at home regardless of knowing all the ingredients.

Once we were seated the restaurant was also buzzing. I was so glad they only had this time available as if we could have come whenever we probably would have been really sensible and British and booked a table for 8pm and the place would have been dead. Usually when I visit the New York equivalent its lunch time, and they have a special excellent value lunch set menu, so this was my first time going a la carte. It was very exciting.

We opted for sharable starters, chicken dumplings and duck spring rolls. The duck spring rolls came with an out of this world spicy Chinese mustard, it was honestly unbelievable and complimented the duck fantastically. The chicken dumplings were also excellent, meaty and light...I mopped up a fair bit of the mustard with these too. This was a good starter size as I was looking forward to my main. The waiter had recommended one of their specialities, the filet of sea bass with vegetable stir fry. My companion opted for the seared salmon on a bed of yaki soba. We had also ordered a portion of rice to share.

Once the sea bass arrived I was thrilled with my choice it was enormous. It was also the meatiest yet flakiest consistency you've ever tasted. It was marinated beautifully with soy and the vegetables were also delicious. The rice was nice but pretty unnecessary as usual there was loads of food. The salmon was also very good, but not as good as the bass.

Once the meal was over I was in a very tranquil food coma. As well as another Tao-tini I had opted for an espresso martini to ensure I would keep going for a few hours. It was good, but not as good as the old favourite.

To finish the meal we were far to stuffed for desert, however we were treated to our fortunes...I definitely preferred mine. We were also stamped with a line pass to ensure our entry into the club, an incredibly pleasant surprise when we got to the front of the queue the aforementioned $40 was not asked for. Free entry, got to love that. The dinner was however the priciest of the week, but so worth it.

If you are ever in New York or Las Vegas I highly recommend you try this place out. The venue itself is impressive with the huge Buddha holding court over the restaurant and placed within a moat of koi carp.

Recommended for: special occasion, fantastic food and cocktails
Price £££

As I've already mentioned the Bellagio brunch I'll go here next. Having looked online before we went we'd seen the price was $28 for the champagne brunch...bargain so we thought. When we arrived however there were special holiday weekend prices. Bumped up by $10 it was still good value. Since there were 8 of us service was generally expected upfront, totalling $48 each for brunch...our waiter was getting a hefty tip. Unfortunately he obviously knew this, the service was appalling. We had to ask a number of times for champagne and he practically snapped at us for asking saying basically he'll do it at his own pace (bearing in mind the only service he had to do for his 18% was drinks since it was a buffet).

Once we got it it was very nice, some of the other champagne we'd been drinking was more like Asti. It was then off to the buffet. Now I've done a Vegas buffet before and know the selection and variety of food is huge, I therefore previously decided I was going to do it sensibly with small portions of different 'courses' so I'd do breakfast, fish, pasta, desert etc and not end up like some people with curry, pancakes and cheesecake on their plate.

First off I went for eggs benedict, a bit of bacon and sausage. The sausage wasn't great and as ever in the states it was streaky bacon. The eggs benedict however were delicious.

Next up I was going for a fish course, I'd already spied the alaskan crab claws, yum. This along with a bucket load of shrimp and sushi. The shrimp was actually quite disappointing since it looked so plump and juicy it was actually fairly bland. Perhaps it needed a bit of chili sauce. The crab claws weren't as meaty as some I've had before so really I should have taken a few more to make it worthwhile, but I don't think I was going to go hungry.

After two fairly modest choices I was feeling smug compared to people who had piled their plates and had maybe not got to experience the variety that was on offer.

Next I went for an Italian course, pasta and pizza, both were very nice but I was beginning to feel full. It was on this round of the buffet that I noticed there was also a hand rolling sushi area with spicy tuna rolls, damn I was jealous - I already had my fish course, those would have to be forgone as I was ready for desert. I opted for a fairly modest cookie, cheesecake and also a sugar free cheesecake (some people had gone for half a dozen deserts) I also decided to experiment the taste of the sugar free compared to full fat so went for the full fat first, and then tried the sugar free. It actually tasted really nice so I decided to eat this first - rationalising if I got full and couldnt finish everything at least I'd been sort of 'good'. When I finished this and went back to the full fat this is when I noticed the delicious taste of sugar, this one was miles better, glad I'd saved the best for last.

The sugar free is on the right
I couldn't however get that spicy tuna hand roll out of my head...I needed one not caring that I had already had my desert, I was on holiday and I wanted it. I'm so glad I did it was delicious. I think the girl made mine extra special as some people were queuing up asking for loads of things so she was quite rushed, me however with my solitary roll I could tell she was pleased. And how pleased am I with the decision to get one it was probably the nicest thing I ate all morning. Beautiful.

Now with all the food going on I haven't forgotten about the service black hole we were in. Our waiter was doing everything he could to avoid our gaze while carefully tending to all the tables for two around who hadn't already forked their tip over to him. One time after observing him attentively topping up everyone else's champagne we asked for a top up, he grudgingly trundles over and tops us up literally half an inch and goes to walk off. it was at this stage we all tried to read his name tag so we could complain about him. it does really ruin the fun.

We didn't let it spoil ours though, absolutely full we left champagne in hand to the casino...

Recommended for: the ultimate Vegas brunch buffet
Price: ££ (as it was a holiday weekend)

Ok I'm turning this into a two parter...

Price guide: £ = cheap and cheerful, ££ = reasonable holiday treat, £££ = one off beautiful blowout
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