THE PERIGRINATIONS OF A PARIAH
DAY ELEVEN: TEARING A STRIP
( AGAIN FORGIVE THE CRAPPY PICTURES FROM MY DISPOSABLE OF WHICH I HAVE NOW, ER, DISPOSED )
The horrible steak from Craftsteak sat heavy in our stomachs this morning and with me getting over a cold and Mark in the midst of a brutal one, the sight of two middle aged men coughing, wheezing and belching was not one I would wish on anybody.
However, by 9am, we were showered, dosed up to the eyeballs on medication and ready to head out and face the strip.
I had walked a bit of it the day before, but was ready to head further down past the Caesar’s Palace and beyond. The weather was in the high 90’s ( although the weather man seemed almost in tears when he explained that it was going to “plummet” – his words not mine- to the low 90’s over the holiday weekend. What ever will they do poor loves?) so we dipped in an out of the air conditioned Casinos as we walked.
A lot of the old casinos have closed. Boardwalk is in the process of being ripped down. The Algiers is long gone and a number of the others looked like they are on their last spin of the wheel. In their place are the staggering new hotel resorts such as The Wynn and the slightly older Venetian and Bellagio. While a vast amount of money has been spent on these hotels, their casinos and in enticing the great and the good of the restaurant world to come here, they are still pretty kitch and tacky ( I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing ) As I said about someone once. The people who built these have the best taste that new money can buy. It reminded me of watching MTV Cribs. Lots of money has been spent and you know that all the best consultants have been, er, consulted. But, there is not one ounce of good taste. There is an old saying “ like a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire” That’s sums it up. Still. I loved every moment of it.
We stopped for a perfectly fine lunch at a small café in The Wyn and then, after a route march down past Circus Circus and The Sahara, we caught a cab for the short hop to the Liberace Museum.
Worryingly for my parents, I have always had a soft spot for Liberace and re-read his autobiography any number of times, so to be able to visit this place was a bit of a dream come true. Staffed almost entirely by blue rinsed ladies it costs $12.50 to tour the museum which houses both his extraordinary collection of cars and pianos and also costume collections that would make Elton John look like he bought his clothes at M&S. Great fun. We were the only people under 70 in the whole place.
Fortunately, they had a shuttle back to The Strip. It was leaving in a hurry so I was unable to buy the candelabra with flashing electric candles that I thought HP would enjoy as a souvenir of my visit.
We were both pretty knackered by now, so hurried back to the hotel, changed and went and spent an agreeable few hours by the large pool. Very nice indeed and even nice to realise that even though I feel hugely flabby having been unable to train for a week or so, I still have a long way to go before I reach the flabdom of some of the people washed up like minkie’s by the pool. Oh, and in case you were wondering, a teeny weeny string bikini is so not a good look for a 250lb woman. A sight that will haunt me to the end of my days.
By 6pm, we were ready to head out again for our evening meal and headed first to Mandalay Bay for a cocktail.
A thoroughly dispiriting experienced. We stopped in the bar of Fleur De Lys an outpost of a popular San Francisco restaurant. The staff were vile and should probably be in the “picking wings of flies” industry rather than the service industry. The martini was disgusting and it cost a whacking $45 for a couple of drinks. Ho hum.
But, thankfully dinner was better. Much better.
I have a new chum, met via food board, called Evelyn. I have yet to meet her. But, when I said I was coming to Las Vegas, she insisted that I should try Rosemary’s and was kind enough to make a reservation.
It is off The Strip. A long way off The Strip. The cab driver took us so far that I suspected that he had a couple of shovels in the boot of his car and was going to bury us out in the desert after making us perform unspeakable acts. But no. He was just taking us to a strip mall some 8 miles from The strip.
Despite its unlikely location, I am delighted to say that Rosemary’s is easily in the top ten meals I have had in the US and I don’t say that lightly. The food is superb ( the chefs originate from NOLA and came up here to help run Emeril’s first Las Vegas restaurant ), the service spectacular and they have a great wine list.
It helped no doubt, that Evelyn made the reservation as it was very obvious that they all adored her there. She had been kind enough to arrange a glass of Gruet Rose ( from New Mexico – who knew?) for us to sip on while looking at the menu which was unexpectedly delicious.
Once we had chosen, two amuse courses followed. A scallop ceviche and Carolina cheesy grits with a wild mushroom ragout. I only took one bite of the former before, being distracted by the waiter asking about wine, I turned to find it had been whisked away by an overly attentive bus boy. Bugger. The latter though was the stuff of dreams. A big bowl of that would set a man up to fight wars.
For our starters, Mark went for one of the daily specials. Goat cheese gnocchi with more wild mushroom ragout. He declared it the best gnocchi he had ever eaten ( and trust me he looks like he eats an awful lot of gnocchi ) I tried it and was hard pressed to argue with him.
My starter was their signature Texas BBQ Shrimp with a Maytag blue Cheese slaw. This was good, very good in fact, but not a patch on Mark’s dish which is up there with some of the best dishes I have tried in the US.
For our main courses, Mark was persuaded by the waiter to try striped bass with andouille sausage, rock shrimp and fingerling potatoes in a creole sauce. Another spot on dish with crispy skin, firm flesh cooked just to point and a terrific sauce.
My choice was a grilled pork chop with Hoppin’ John ( a mix of rice, blackeyed peas and smoked bacon – every bit as delicious as it sounds ) and a Creole mustard sauce. The pork chop came medium as I like it and the Hoppin’ John was breathtakingly good if rather filling. I found the reduction a little fierce, but in the midst of such able cooking, that is a small minus point.
With this, we chose a Russian River Siduri Pinot 2004. Very enjoyable but probably a year or so off being its best and quite pricey for what it was at $85.
We split a couple of desserts which were, in truth, the weakest part of the meal, though not bad at all. Chocolate molten cake and a Lemon Icebox Pie. Both came with a raspberry sorbet which seemed a little lazy compared to what had gone before. But, hey. They comped us a glass of Lindemans Framboise to have with it. All a bit sweet for me but Mark necked his like it was going out of business soon.
Service throughout was exceptional. The front of house could not have been more charming and our waiter was well versed and just the right side of familiar. A hard balance to keep.
The bill for two came to $220 including tip. Not cheap ( particularly when you have to add $50 for a round trip cab fare ) but for cooking of this capability, I have no problems at all
For all the pale reflections of great restaurants from other parts of the world that open in Las Vegas, I would certainly argue that any food obsessed person going to Las Vegas and not eating at Rosemary’s has not eaten in Las Vegas at all.
Afterwards we headed down to Freemont St to see some of the older casinos from “pre-strip” days. All a bit grim and I was not the slightest tempted by a sign offering up a 9lb ( yep, that’s NINE POUND ) burger. Honestly