Watching a Cirque du Solie show is instant inspiration to start doing push-ups or a guilt inducing catalyst for indulging in one too many cookies. Good thing we went to the performance after eating at Mon Ami Gabi.
On our final evening in Las Vegas we had dinner at Mon Ami Gabi and took in the “O” show at the Bellagio.
Upon arrival for our reservation, we were traipsed through the restaurant to a table adjacent to the outdoor patio, perched in perfect view of the Bellagio fountains across the street. The stars were shining, the water danced and the room was illuminated by a soft glow. And as if in Paris, a romantic aura permeated our meal.
While studying the menu we tore into a warm, crusty banquette, slathering the pieces with butter and didn’t quite know what to do with the plate of seasoned corn. Still reeling from the monstrous proportions at Hash House a Go Go, we decided to order sparingly and share.
I savored a towering cup of Onion Soup au Gratin draped with melted Gruyere cheese. A bread round and strands of onion were submerged in the chestnut broth, finished with a touch of sweet vermouth. My friend let me steal a bite of her Endive and Bosc Pear Salad which was light, finely dressed and punctuated by dots of blue cheese.
Then my other friend and I split a plate of Steak Frites Bone-In Ribeye, bearnaise sauce on the side. The steak had an ample amount of fat and was adequately cooked (good not great). Instead of ordinary french fries, the steak was surrounded by thin, flat crispy potato sticks, but having never been to France I couldn’t tell you if this was the French standard.
For dessert I wavered between the Apple Tarte Tatin and Profiteroles; I ended up greatly regretting not requesting the latter. The dark Apple Tarte Tatin was tough, gummy and left mostly untouched. Since we were heading to the late Cirque du Soile show following dinner, we had a round of mediocre cappuccinos.
The meal was satisfying and reasonably priced, a rare fine on the main strip, but the atmosphere was the magical part. If planning on a visit, be sure to inquire about sitting near the windows in full view of the strip and fountains. Get the profiteroles and worry about the push-ups later.
Mon Ami Gabi
Paris Resort & Casino
3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
If you go to Hash House a Go Go and don’t leave stuffed, it’s your own dang fault.
While in Las Vegas my brother suggested we try Hash House a Go Go and mentioned their reasonably priced, absurdly large portions. They advertise themselves as purveyors of twisted farm food, putting a spin on old standard recipes while keeping it fresh, fun and exciting. I had no idea what any of that means. Thankfully the food spoke for itself.
After calling it a night at 4 a.m., we rolled into Hash House a go go much later than planned. Isn’t that how most mornings in Vegas go? By the time we caught a shuttle, found the Imperial Palace and weaved through the casino floor to the escalator it was nearly 1 p.m.
There was an estimated wait time of one hour, so I dutifully stayed behind while my girlfriends went to shop. About forty minutes later our name was called, my friends were on their way back, but they wouldn’t seat me until our entire party was there. Just so you know.
Initially we were seated at a table but requested to switch to a booth due to a ridiculously wobbly table top. Our waitress reluctantly let us move into a booth three feet away. Then we waited.
We waited to give our drink order. We waited for our drinks. We waited even longer for our waitress to return to take our order. We waited for our food and received an incorrect dish. She asked if we wanted it instead of what we ordered, we said no. So, we waited some more for our correct dish, silverware and extra plates.
I don’t know the reason for this, but discovering bacon in the waffles momentarily rectified the slow service.
Between the three of us we had enough food to feed Kobayashi. We split Sage Fried Chicken and Waffles, a Famous Meatloaf House Hash and HH Original Farm Benedict.
Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken was the best, (in my opinion) and the tallest. Two plump chicken breasts were stacked on four waffles, held in place with a skewer and garnished with a handful of fried leeks. It was a classic combination of chicken and waffles, balancing savory, sweet and salty. Bacon pieces were baked right into the waffle batter, genius.
The Famous Meatloaf hash was a more traditional breakfast item presented in a cast iron skillet. A mix of meatloaf, potatoes, red peppers. spinach and cheese was placed next to scrambled eggs, a biscuit and fruit. The chunks of meat were a little strange, but it was moist and a nice addition. I skipped the dense, crumbly biscuit.
We waited the longest for the Original Farm Benedict which was mashed potatoes, basted eggs, bacon, spinach and tomatoes layered on an open biscuit, topped with roasted red pepper cream. It was an overwhelming, slightly bland and needed a dash of salt, but we sopped up every bit of the sauce.
It was like a tornado blew across our table because all that was left were demolished scraps.
Hash House is an ideal place, especially for groups, because you can easily save some money by splitting plates, the hours are long and everyone will find something tempting on the menu. They have locations around Las Vegas and a few beyond, so if you’re in the area it’s worth the trip to see what twisted farm food is for yourself.
On the way back to our resort from Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana we racked up a $100 taxi fare.
The explanation is a long story but I can confess that eating at Settebello is worth the hassle. A meal won’t cost nearly that much and it’s cheaper than flying to Naples. Luckily we got out of paying the cab fare.
Following my honeymoon I have forever been spoiled by the pizza in Naples, Italy and jump on the chance to try anything remotely similar. Since Settebello has overwhelmingly positive endorsements online and claims to cook up authentic Napoli-style pies, it was my number one choice for eating off the Strip. Lotus of Siam was a close second but further away.
Once one of my friends landed in Las Vegas we headed straight to dinner while waiting for the other to arrive. We stayed at a timeshare property approximately six miles south of the Strip and a ride to Henderson costs around $25. After a short drive we were dropped off on the corner of a strip mall and entered into Settebello Pizzeria.
Prior to our trip, I had thoroughly examined their slick, classy website and was expecting the restaurant to be more formal, but found a very family-friend casual atmosphere.
Having previously obsessed over the menu, I knew exactly what I wanted when we sat down. Hesitantly I agreed to split a salad and one pizza, knowing I might have to get a second because they are individually sized at around 12″ in diameter.
We shared a perfectly dressed Insalata Grande consisting of mixed greens, tomatoes, roasted mushrooms, a few artichoke heart, Kalamata olives, pine nuts and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese shaved on top. The savory earthy mushrooms complimented the crisp lettuce, salty olives and cheese. The kitchen was gracious enough to separate our salad on two plates.
It was a good start that rapidly improved with the delivery of our pizza. We ordered the Pizza Lasagna with crushed tomatoes, sausage, roasted mushrooms, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh basil. I restrained myself from folding the entire pizza in half and eating it myself. The charred crust was slightly thinner and more floppy than it’s Napoli cousins, but it was remarkably close in every other factor and equally as delicious. Read about the ingredients they use on the website.
I was seconds away from requesting another pizza when the manager offered us desserts. They generously sent a house-made Tiramisu and Dream Bomba (similar to tartufo) to round out our meal. Tiramisu is one of my absolute favorites and their version is top notch. We lingered over our sweets, biscotti and Illy cappuccinos, which was perhaps one of the best I’ve ever had. I nearly ordered another, are you sensing the pattern?
Sadly Settebello is 1,600 miles away from Jackson, Mississippi, otherwise I’m certain we would be regulars. They have taken great care to preserve the authenticity of their pizzas which is apparent in every bite. Plane, train or automobile, get to Settebello however you can.
Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana
140 South Green Valley Parkway
Henderson, NV 89012
Traversing the South to the Desert Southwest, I continued my birthday extravaganza to Las Vegas where I met two of my best girlfriends.
They appointed me to be in charge of all meals and after many hours of research on Urbanspoon, Chowhound and various websites, I complied a solid list. Since we didn’t rent a car most of them are situated on the Strip, but I had a few off the beaten path. Knowing we wanted to splurge on one nice meal, experience one buffet and then eat casually, these are the restaurants I selected:
In future posts I will be writing stories about the restaurants we ate at. And to further reveal my Type-A side, below is some of the information I learn about Las Vegas dining in the process.
Know your budget
None of us are independently wealthy or have a secret money tree, so we knew prior to our trip we wanted one really special meal. Planning was easier when I knew how our group felt and how much they wanted to spend on each meal.
Make reservations, duh
There is a large pool of famous and celebrity restaurants in Sin City. Do your research and make reservations ahead of time. Although it’s probably hard to have a bad meal in Vegas, it’s possible, especially if you can’t get in.
I used OpenTable to secure reservations which makes the process a breeze. You can select open available slots, write special requests and even alter or cancel your reservation if plans change. We underestimated our schedule throughout the day and needed to push back reservations twice. Using the OpenTable app it was easy to do so on the fly.
Although we didn’t actually get to any of the happy hours I found, it was a good option to have. Obviously it’s great to spend a little less on drinks and appetizers, but it’s also a way to visit places you might not otherwise get to eat at.
Weekend buffet at the Bellagio
We wanted to hit one buffet during our Vegas trip for the quintessential experience. I debated between the Bellagio and the Wynn, two of the best and most revered, finally selecting the weekend brunch buffet at the Bellagio. The base price is $24.95 and we opted for the champagne brunch which costs $29.95. It was worth the extra $5 because our glasses were never empty and the champagne was smooth!
Note: It’s not uncommon to find champagne buffets available during the weekend for an extra cost.
Studio B buffet at the M
Alcohol costs extra at most buffets, but a beer and wine selection is included at the Studio B buffet at the M.
Caesars Entertainment Buffet of Buffets deal
If you’re a big eater, on a budget or interested in different buffets consider purchasing the Buffet of Buffets deal. This pass includes seven buffets, unlimited visits and is valid for 24 hours (starting at the time of purchase). The VIP or express line pass does not apply and it does not include alcohol.
These are the participating locations (click the name for the website):
MGM group promotion
I couldn’t find information on the MGM website to confirm this promotion, but I’ve read they offer an all-day buffet pass at specific hotels. This pass includes VIP line status, which means jumping to the front of the line. Supposedly the pass is valid for these locations:
Four flights, eleven hours of sleep over three nights, and countless cappuccinos later, I’m back in Jackson wondering if that crazy blur of a weekend actually happened.
It’s insanely amazing how everything worked out, from getting on guest lists at clubs, eating at great restaurants and scoring fabulous seats at the Cirque Du Soleil “O” show. We even racked up a $102.90 cab fare we didn’t have to pay.
Between meals had in the South and in Vegas, I have a massive amount of content to post. I’m jumping back into reality from a month of fun and have a lot of restaurant stories to share.
Birthday month has officially come to a close.