"It's not much but it's ours"

Thursday, May 25, 2006



More wheezing and spluttering marked the beginning of our last day in Las Vegas. I headed out to CVS to pick up some more drugs while Mark managed to drag his flu ridden carcass out of bed and be ready for us to head off for our morning stroll.

There was a showing of Ansell Adams work at the Fine Art Gallery of Bellagio and, after all the kitch and tack, a bit of culture seemed just the job. So, after a preposterously large Cobb salad at Café Bellagio, we paid the $15 a pop and spent a good hour or so gazing on the stunning work of one of the great photographers of the Twentieth Century.

Now, you have to work hard to make AA’s work uninspiring. But, whoever curated this managed it. Poorly hung and lit and with an inconsequential audio commentary, the works shone despite the efforts of Bellagio, not because of them. Never mind, a harmless way to pass some time.

After a few hours by the pool, I was ready to go and meet my new latest best chum, Evelyn while Mark was headed back to the airport. I had the better deal. Fighting your way through security or supper with chums at Alex at The Wynn?

I have to confess that I did not know a lot about this restaurant. But, Evelyn declared it the best in Las Vegas and who am I to argue.

I met up with her and her hugely charming partner, Chris at Parasole Down, a splendid outside bar at The Wynn. A perfect place for a pre dinner glass of wine before heading to Alex.

It is a lovely room if over the top which is the nature of all things Vegas. The service was immediate and exemplary throughout the meal. They obviously knew Evelyn well.

While perusing the menu, a glass of Rose Champagne kept us topped up.

The beauty of this menu is that you can mix and match as you please. There is a tasting menu for $155. A Wine flight determined tasting menu for $345 and a three course set menu for $120. We went for the last of those options

To begin, Evelyn and I had Frogs Legs Meuniere with herb Anglotti and tomato confit with artichokes. I was less thrilled with this than I imagined from the description. The Florida frogs legs were a little chewy as was the Anglotti. The artichokes did not add anything as far as I could see.

Chris chose a dish of kumamoto Oysters which I did not try because of my allergy. I think he rather liked them given the expressions he was making.

Much better was an extra dish we ordered for the table of Ricotta Gnocchi with a green garlic custard and crayfish. A stellar dish that was one of the highlights of the trip.

I was allowed to offer up a suggestion for the wine to go with our first course and we had a Rias BaiXas Senorans which I thought worked splendidly. I hope the others did. They made the right noises and no one vomited, so I trust it was OK.

For main courses, we all chose the same dish, Roasted Squab with Foie Gras and spiced Pineapple and Rhubarb. A very, very good dish indeed. The squab was cooked to my preference, a little pinker than medium. The foie had just a little crunch before the melting insides hit the mouth and the spiced fruit cut through the fattiness of it all wonderfully. A well thought out and executed dish.

With some help, we chose a Loire Cab Franc ( can’t recall the maker ) which I enjoyed a great deal. Full on leatheriness.

A small inconsequential palate cleanser followed which involved tapioca which is seldom, if ever, a good thing.

Then we shared a cheese course. Much description of the individual cheeses came from our server. He could have saved time and just said “bleh” I am never sure what it is, but cheese courses at high end restaurants in the US are, without exception, poor. This was better than many ( for shame Per Se, for shame ) and it come with some excellent accompaniments ( particularly a lavender jelly ) but the main event was poor, dry and ill kept.

Desserts were very good. My Banana Chocolate Malt with Macadamia nut brittle was as good a dessert as I have had this year. I cannot recall what Evelyn and Chris had, but they looked equally good.

They comped us a glass of Moscat from Greece with our desserts which I rather liked.

After some very acceptable petits, it was time for the bill. In an entirely unexpected but hugely appreciated act of generosity, Evelyn insisted on paying. A truly lovely act from a very nice person and what a way to end my trip.

Evelyn made me promise that, when she and Chris are next in London I will take them to St John. Not a fair exchange in my opinion, but more than happy to oblige.

So now, after a few hours sleep, I am at Las Vegas airport and ready to head home. It’s been an interesting trip with a nice mix of business and pleasure. There have been two exceptional meals ( Rosemary’s and Alex – thanks to Evelyn for both ) a few perfectly decent meals ( Georgia Brown’s ) and a whole lot of blah. Just like being at home really.

As an amusing postscript, I just heard an announcement over the tannoy which went.

“A passenger has left his false teeth and hearing aid in the restrooms by Gate D23. If you can hear me please come and get them from the gate. If you can’t enjoy your mashed bananas”

Home here I come
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