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Lunch Integrations & Comforting Afternoons: Las Vegas Restaurant Week 2011 – Feature – Part II

The ability of Las Vegas Restaurant Week continues with its cool intricacies and the wonderment of food off the Strip mixed with integrations of lunch on the Strip offering lighter and diversified notions of the Vegas culinary scene.

Off Paradise Road, and never intending to sell, Piero’s is a Las Vegas institution where Old School meets a sense of the future. Nestled off Convention Center Drive, there is a sense of history that innumerates the interior. Secrets are kept. People know your name. They want you to enjoy and immerse yourself in their own slice of heaven.

Resounding into the fixed-menu pretense, the first bite of freshly made ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta cheese overflows with a scintilating white sauce balancing with an accompanying mozzarella that melts in the mouth.

The Insalata Caesar, true but undeniably smooth, continues before progressing into the main course, Beal Osso Bucco over a bed of fettucine sauntered in a light tomato sauce for an exacting feeling. This is the dish of choice for renowned repeat customer Jerry Lewis, who happened to be in the house that night dining with friends.

Also of interest to film buffs, the restaurant scenes in “Casino” were shot here with Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone using the exact booth Mr. Lewis sits in. Accordingly, the guest list boasts some interesting names, most interestingly that George Clooney and Brad Pitt dined here (likely during the shooting of “Oceans 11”) as well as rock star Prince.

Balancing out the fixed menu though, the star dish was the Pollo Carciofi which was absolutely beautiful in its delivery enticing with a boneless breast of chicken surrounded with capers and artichoke hearts with a light touch of garlic and wine that made the dish simmer.

Continuing on with the functionality of lunch menus, PJ Clarke’s, nestled in The Forum Shops At Caesars Palace, balances with a notion of comfort within a structured setting.

Specifying with a tasty feeling, the crisp parmesan tater tots began the journey and disappeared with wonton abandon while a tempting tomato bisque and cucumber salad continued with a texture of lightness.

The main course revolved in a texture of salmon, fresh from Alaska, interspersed with summer greens and tomatoes while PJ’s Famous Burger, another option, revolved with a simmering sauce that balanced both its heartiness and pedigree.

Specifically of note on the non-fixed menu, the stacked reuben topped with a pickle and heirloom tomato reminded one of the old school sandwich stops in NYC piling the pastrami high with a sense of knowing.

The final course highlighted a smooth cheesecake which was made even more delicious by the adoration of fresh sliced strawberries and blackberries.

Winding to the end of the Strip, Tacos & Tequila inside Luxor stands out from its surrounding pyramid with an inventive use of abstract art in the framing of its venue. As pointed out by Chef Saul Ortiz, the aluminum structure is in fact a “deconstructed sombrero” which allows different perceptions of the space.

Interfacing with the fixed menu, the main course consists of a veritable structure of spices with a combo interrelating pork carnitas, chicken tamals and a cheese enchilada interwoven with green chiles for an exceptional finish.

The desert course sweetened with a sense of play starting with a Morenita chocolate brownie but it was the layered functionality of the chocolate quesadilla with bananas throughout that truly dazzled.

Preceding Off Strip to the Jamaican-tinged DW Bistro near Summerlin, the fixed menu enticement began with a chunky yet vivacious green curry soup mixing fresh chicken and green chiles that moderated with attention to the continuing possibilities.

The main lunch course heightened with ahi tuna served Jamaican jerk-style with couscous and lemon cucumber pesto that tasted simply divine while a jerk chicken wrap purely balanced the incumbent relaxation of an afternoon.

Balancing in with an off-fixed item, the pesto torte, a devilish blend of goat cheese and cream with roasted nuts, was undeniably luscious spread upon flatbread crackers.

The trio of deserts that enveloped the third course provided their own little slice of heaven with a red velvet cake and lemon lime pudding that enticed but it was the Jamaican Black Bottom banana cream pie that truly swirled the intention of the taste buds.

Returning to the center of the city, The Pub at Monte Carlo, situated indicatively near the MC Pool and the bridge to the Aria has all bases covered, especially with massive number of imported beers and drafts. Previously it brewed its own beer but, with the building of CityCenter, its tanks needed for fermentation were reassigned. However, if the expresso stout witnessed at lunch is any indication, they have found their balance.

In terms of their fixed-menu, the tendency of going hungry does not reign here as evidenced with the first course of The Pub’s California Cobb mixing in avacado, goat cheese, artichoke, hard cooked egg and roasted red pepper for an abolsutely stellar taste.

Following into their lunch main course, the undeniable Pub Burger stacked high with an intrinsic yet basic sauce perfectly complimented the beer-battered onion rings served with different sauces ranging from ranch to the instinctive blue cheese.

The closer course in the cheesecake dish is a dream to behold, because, though simple in presentation, it packs a powerhouse of flavor that rivals the best.

Breakfast, at times, is hardly discussed in a Restaurant Week setting, but including Serendipity 3 at Caesars Palace is a no-brainer with its interesting texture of deserts and alternative approaches to breakfast ideals.

Starting off with a Chococino bathed in French sweetdom, the main course of Fried Eggs Benedict simply thrills because of its use of multi-layered textures starting with a corn meal-surrounded poached egg atop a biscuit with gravy and hollandaise sauce providing an exceptional collision of senses that make it a must-have.

A dessert course during breakfast is also a edgy perception but with their one-two punch of a cheesecake lollipop and a “frrrozen” hot chocolate shot, the reflection of comfort at Serendipity lasts inventively.

While the casinos maintain a hold on the strip, once in a while it is an interesting break to try out the pure hotels which definitely add a separation, especially when the focus of a certain trip is purely food and not partying within the structure.

Vdara, with its condominium structure, offers magnificent views of Vegas from within CityCenter and a sleek, elegant feel balanced with fully functioned suites that boast comfortable beds, kitchens and workspaces.

Las Vegas Restaurant Week continues to expand with more and more restaurants, on Strip and off, joining into a progression that both helps and exposes the best in dining within an exceptionally fluid fixed menu option.

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