potato + bear eat their way through vegas. again.

haven't felt like blogging lately. not exactly sure why, but it's most likely because i've been rather grumps lately and didn't feel like subjecting you all to it. or coming off as a whiny brat. poor, poor bear, i know--he has to see me every day even if you all don't.

anyway, we had a really nice and needed getaway last weekend thanks to some of my mom's timeshare credits expiring soon. she reserved a week for our family at the wyndham grand desert, which isn't too far from the strip. too bad for potato bro as he is in connecticut for some nerdy conference and mom/her dude came for the weekend but had to return on sunday night for work. the bear and i stayed saturday-wednesday, which was GRRREAT! vegas on weekdays = way less madness. the wyndham's rooms were fine and new-ish, the pools seemingly crowded (we never actually used any), and the location fine even if you don't have a car (yay cheap jetblue tix!) thanks to their shuttle and a shortcut through the back of MGM the bear and i found. let's just say MGM's pools aren't too hard to get into and that the crowd, at least on weekdays, made my thighs feel a little less fat.

as usual, we slept, we drank, and we ate. this time we gambled a tiny bit and broke even...whew. no fun activities like the gun store or shows or anything. again, i only took photos of food. we didn't totally plan the food until we got there, and we kept it slightly more budget than during our anniversary trip last summer since funds are tighter now.

first night in [saturday], potato mom + her man sang the praises of mon ami gabi from their last trip to vegas. however, potato mom wanted to try something different. we suggested bouchon (hee hee hee honh honh honh!) as it's not that much more pricey for dinner but [we suspected] better.

love their menus

our awesome busser.
who thought he'd make a better photo than the interior.
and did a fun coffee trick that i didn't catch on film. dangit.


upside-down plate i didn't bother rotating.

cute 500 mL of vino.
etched logo.
eee! mini wine!
oh, and it was some cabernet blend that was alright.

mini tabasco!!!
it was in our waiter's apron pocket.

monsieur bear's croque madame.
rich, classic, delicious.

my veal cheek on top of heirloom tomatoes and gnocchi.
so tender. so delicious.
the gnocchi was pan-fried er something, too. num.
it was a first course special, but i had it along with the following.

soup a l'oignon.
just as good as last time. yum.

dessert for all of us to share.
background: seasonal blueberry tart + vanilla ice cream
foreground: beignets + chocolate ice cream
all very yum.

[photo-free sunday]
potato mom earned a dining voucher good toward mostly meh restaurants, but for some reason, she LOVES paris (vegas) and everything about it, not just mon ami gabi. we headed for le village buffet's champagne brunch--the voucher went toward an early birthday brunch for me there. no photos (except this one), but the food was good as far as buffets go. the bear's favorites were the steak and mushrooms at the grill station. i ate a raspberry macaron from the dessert bar first thing. blech. gummy, over-colored, under-flavored. everything else was fine, and we stuffed ourselves silly. i liked my blueberry crepe from the made-to-order stand quite a bit. too bad a renegade blueberry hopped onto the ONE part of my skirt that wasn't covered by my napkin. even after washing the dress right away in our room, there is still a stain. sighz.

dinner was at ginseng korean bbq II since the parents always start craving korean food while away from home. for outside of LA, the food was fine albeit on the pricey side. the four of us shared an order of fried dumplings (guhn mandoo) and a haemul jungol--moderately spicy seafood "casserole" (more like a soup with LOTS of stuff in it--seafood, veggies, udon noodles) that is just so soothing. one order fed the four of us plus there were leftovers.

burger bar! ashley recommended it to me last year, but we weren't able to fit it in. there was a 45 minute wait at 1 PM, so we sat at the bar instead. and no, i didn't try the $60 be-truffled, be-foie gras-ed burger. oh, and just FYI for other burger builders, all burgers come with some lettuce, a tomato, and some raw red onions on the plate. we wished we had known.

mirror mirror beer for me.
guinness for the bear.
i really wanted to try the beer floats but refrained.

the bear's burger:
ciabatta bun
angus beef
pepper jack cheese
jalapeno bacon
grilled onions
fat fries

my burger:
ciabatta bun
angus beef
monterey jack cheese
oyster mushrooms
jalapeno bacon
sweet potato fries (SO good! best i've had, i think)

each burger came in just under $17 with all the fixins. i was full for the rest of the day. tater metabolism is slowing way down. :( :( :(

neither the bear nor i had ever been to hard rock, so we walked down the [very] long block or two from our resort to hard rock. fun theme, interesting displays, decent music, loud, trying hard to be hip, younger-ish more hollywood crowd, trendy-ish (trying), small casino and resort compared to strip hotels, kind of isolated, overrated, had some good concerts coming up. summary: kind of cool, but definitely overhyped. if you're staying on the strip, forget it unless you have tickets to a concert there (the roots this coming weekend!!!) or can afford to eat at nobu. or really want to do the rehab thing (pool parties with cover and attitude aren't our thing).

the plan was to eat the off-menu surf and turf special at mr. lucky's. we weren't feelin' it, and we saw a sign for pho hoa across the street. we made a dash for it, as we felt like something lighter and less...well, gringo. too bad it's been shut down. you can't even figure out where it once was. FAIL.

back to mr. lucky's for not-so-lucky us. they had an "asian noodle bar" menu, so we thought we could make do with that. $13.50 for [gringo-ized] wonton mein??? not so much. why do i keep saying "gringo?" who knows? i was too full to eat real food. the bear didn't feel like surf and turf. luckily, mr. lucky's diner-esque menu is quite diverse.

my bowl of [spilled] chicken noodle soup.
the soup was good.
noodles al dente.
greasy spoon and crackers from spillage...not so good.

the bear's country-fried steak.
he said it was fine.
you can see what he felt about hard rock and mr. lucky's
by the time we got our food.
AGES after we ordered.
we weren't even hungry, and it was and felt like eons.
service was totally inattentive too.

the tale of the cluster**** that was lunch at mon ami gabi. vasey and her hubs were also in town, passing through on their road trip to the grand canyon and zion national park...whee! the bear and i had planned on eating at mon ami gabi after my mom's high praises and hearing good things from other trusted sources. vasey and hubs agreed to join us. these are the only two photos i got:

no, not trying to be artsy.
just a cluster of a photo.
like our experience.

my frangria.
frenchie version of sangria made using beaujolais nouveau.

so what went wrong? service was just aiite--cheery but way forced (at first, more to come later). food was OK. the much-lauded steak frites that vase's hubs ordered didn't look that great as it was over-smothered in the peppercorn sauce. things were just...off. food was totally sufficient but not that great, alright prices for what you get, and a nice crowd-pleasing-sized selection.

while i was thinking all this, i got "shot" in the back. a waitress dropped a bottle of wine a few feet from our table. instead of shattering and spilling wine all over the floor, the bottle bounced and threw a fountain of red wine up in the air...and onto the back of my white dress. and all over a man sitting at an adjacent table. said waitress totally freaked out with valley girl accent and all (OOOOOMIIIIIGOSH. i can't be-LEEV that just happened. like omigosh! why did it do that?).

after cleaning up the spill to prevent other patrons from slipping, they brought me some club soda and a clean napkin. luckily, vasey had a tide-to-go pen (a new one that doesn't smell like chemical ass, like mine does). the bear spot-treated my dress pretty well using both. soon after, the manager came out with his card so i could send him my dry cleaning bill for reimbursement and a promise of doing something nice for us before we left. like, whatevs, it was an accident, it happens...and quite often when i'm around. and we said as much, graciously and good-naturedly.

we were rewarded for being chill. half our bill was comped. whee! vase's hubs thanked me for taking one for the team and promised they'd get spilled on next time we go out together. when we got back to our room, i washed the dress (which is not meant to be dry cleaned), and it was as good as new. i did consider sending him the bill for another dress, but i think the $4 or whatever i'd get is not worth the trouble of copying receipts and snail mailing it all. plus i rarely dry clean anything--i lack the patience and am too cheap.

now onto the highlight of the trip--enoteca san marco.

dining under perpetually blue skies.

totally touristy? check. it's in the middle of the faux san marco square in the venetian. it's a batali & bastianich restaurant. it's eye-talian. but it's also delicious. ok, maybe a bit on the salty side, but a nice bottle of red wine helped that. it's also more appealing than the other two san marco square eateries, at least from the outside as i've never tried either (wolfgang puck's postrio and the il fornaio group's canaletto). it's very casual, warm, and comfy. it helped that the bear and i were both in the mood for pasta, too. oh, and it's moderately-priced as batali and bastianich restaurants go.

bread + breadsticks

too bad the bread was burned.

and too bad even the pre-packaged breadstick
was also burned.

salumi dried sausage.
such depth of flavors in such thin slices.
peppery, citrus, salty, fatty, yum.

fried fritelli de prosciutto proscuitto balls.
they have lots of other balls (risotto, gnocco fritto) on the menu.
giggle. giggle. hee. hee.

mario-esque food, so we tried joe's wine.
really good, considering it was one of the cheapest bottles.
at $35.
very easy to drink. very.
yeah, the wine there is on the overpriced side.
but it's vegas. and a sit-down restaurant.

yep, biblioteca, i mean, enoteca-like interior.
we sat "outside."

my gemelli
with house sausage and broccoli rabe.
our fave of the night,
since we swapped plates multiple times.
we kept fighting over this one.
so simple.
so flavorful.
LOVED the texture of the gemelli.

the bear's bucatini all’amatriciana
with tomato, cured pork, onion.
love bucatini
(like spaghetti but with a hole through the center, like a straw)
although it's hard to slurp up the noodles thanks to the hole.
snicker. hee hee.
on the salty side, but the tomato sauce
and WINE

loved the well-designed, educational menus.
the bear had one all about salumi.

baby spoons arrived
even before the dessert menu did.
they knew
we wouldn't be able to resist
the house-made (fresh! every day!)
gelati and sorbetti.

we went for the three scoops of gelati and sorbetti, $9 regardless of whether you chose 1, 2, or 3 flavors for the three scoops.
clockwise from 12 o' clock:
vanilla bean gelato--very mild and sophisticated for vanilla
ricotta gelato--slightly tart, very smooth
strawberry sorbetto--only THE BEST SORBET WE HAVE EVER HAD
better than the sweetest, ripest, fresh strawberries you've ever had.
how do you improve upon the fresh, unadulterated fruit itself?!?
no idea, but they did.
f the gelato stand in the middle of san marco square.
come here and get some to go instead.
so packed with strawberry flavor.
perfect amount of sweet and tart.
so smooth but with the seeds intact
to further reinforce its freshness.
the bear hates dessert.
the bear loves a good strawberry better than any dessert.
the bear LOVED this dessert.
now we understand why you would get three scoops
all of the same flavor.

i regret we didn't try
the special
seasonal plum sorbetto.
i bet it would have been

sorry joel robuchon, daniel boulud, and michael mina (others on our top picks for our last supper...in vegas...this time) you'll have to wait 'til our next visit.

we had planned on eating at earl of sandwich on our way out, but we woke up too late. typical. we ate at the in-house snack stand/cafe whose food thankfully tasted a lot better than it smelled when we passed by daily. then i had 100 calories worth of animal crackers on the plane ride back. yum.

[vegas pretties and randoms] no, i didn't lug the dSLR along.

i just hear the word "parapluie" in my head
when i see these umbrella-ella-ella-ellla-eh-eh-ehs.

faux ironwork holding up faux sky.
ah, vegas.

i need some real income again so i can really enjoy this city. or i need to learn how to paint fluffy cloud-studded blue skies on ceilings so i'm always guaranteed a job at the casinos.


  1. I'm so jealous of your yummy meals! I want gelato now. I can't believe you didn't take your DSLR with you :-P It's really not THAT heavy.

  2. Ditto re the DSLR! ;)

    So you couldn't pass up Bouchon! I am eating Bouchon macarons as I type this -- we swung by and picked some up at the bakery after we had lunch at Jean-Georges today.

    Hee hee hee honh honh honh!

  3. Yeah, so glad you liked Burger Bar! We're going to try and hit up Bouchon while we're there (leaving tomorrow). I didn't know B+B had another Italian place besides Carnevino, good to know. OK, thanks to you I'm not taking Big Boy?AKA the D40 :)
    BTW... that hee hee hee in a heavy French accent is like my favorite sound ever. Cracks me the eff up.

  4. I need to do a better job of finding out the good restaurants to eat at in Vegas. We normally just gorge on the buffets. :-/

  5. I don't think I've ever drooled over a set of balls before. Until now!

  6. We're fan of Mon Ami Gabi as we've always had good meals there, but big fat booo to being drenched in red wine. :(

    Le Burger Brassiere in Paris is good, too. Burger Bar is often too far of a jaunt for us when we stay at Venetian.

    I've thought Hard Rock has been overrated for YEARS. Not my cup of tea.

  7. I was in Vegas about a month ago and MH annd I ate at Enoteca as well. MH had the gemelli dish you had and raved about how simple and delicious it was. I tried to recreate the recipe with no success. Boo.


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