Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR — GRoss

GRsign

Okay, not completely gross, more like bland. And definitely not worth the price.  Let me tell you what to expect from your burger:  nothing.  If you expect nothing, you will be pleased with what arrives alone on a huge white plate.  Choose your toppings wisely since any flavor you find from your first bite of the burger is because of the toppings, not the beef.  I’ve ordered the Hell’s Kitchen Burger replete with cheese, roasted jalapeño peppers, avocado and an oven roasted tomato; the Earth Burger where meat is replaced by a grilled portobello mushroom topped with fontina cheese, arugula, and a roasted tomato; and his version of an American hot dog.

Hell's Kitchen Burgr on the right, Earth Burgr on the left: a lot of bun, not a lot a meat.

Hell’s Kitchen Burgr on the right, Earth Burgr on the left: a lot of bun, not a lot a meat.

Whereas the burgers were served with a shiny bun warmed on a greasy grill, the Fresh Roasted Chili Dawg was brilliant!  Gordon Ramsay tops his dawg with roasted fresno pepper and jalapeños, cheddar cheese, avocados, red onion and chipotle ketchup. Apparently the Standard Dawg (mustard, ketchup, pickle and onion) is, according to two best friends visiting from Canada, delicious as well.

Since Gordon Ramsay does not include sides with your burger or dawg, you must purchase these separately.  BurGR’s Just Fries will cost you $7 extra at lunch and $1 more for dinner (on a side note, could someone please explain to me why it costs

Best bite in the joint.

Best bite in the joint.

more to serve the same food with the same staff and overhead after five as it does before?).  Since opening, BurGR has altered their fries from fat and greasy to slim and delectable – I was fortunate

enough to share a neighbor’s truffle fries on my last visit and found them much improved.  The onion rings, however, are as grease laden as the first time I tried them — avoid.

Also avoid the desserts – all of them.  On my first visit, which included onion rings so greasy I got sick and a waitress who presented the check and then added a cup of coffee after I gave her my credit card, I accepted a Shake # 5 “chocolate hazelnut pudding + coffee shake + praline cookie” on the house.  The shake, made from Häagen-Dazs ice cream and house made pudding and cookie, was über thick and sickeningly sweet.  On my second visit, I tried Gordon Ramsay’s signature dessert, the Sticky Toffee Pudding; this variation is presented as two push-up pops and do little to pop the palate. Instead, the deconstructed sticky toffee

Too sweet, too layered, too bad.

Too sweet, too layered, too bad.

pudding provides layers of individual sweetness with no sensation of the tasty layers of deliciousness the dessert usually holds.

There is one good bit about the restaurant — the dining counter reminiscent of true American diners.  When I say good, I mean only in terms of what you bring to it.  I ordered the Roasted Jalapeño Poppers and proceeded to share them with those around me.  This opened up conversation and we began, as days of old, sharing our food (which is why I know that the fries have changed for the better and that the onion rings have not). Additionally, the charm of the counter comes from fellow diners, not from the staff working the grill or the foul mouthed expediter; not even from the jacketed, sullen general manager asked how we were or even make eye contact.

counter

View from the counter – burgers waiting for pick-up.

If you want a good burger and fries served with a smile, avoid Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR.  Instead, the walkway between the Luxor and Mandalay Bay holds Burger Bar — a local joint that allows you to build your own burger, mixing delicious beef (or turkey or portobello) with too many fixings to list. And if you like beer, they pour a local Sin City Brew.  Happy eating.

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Contemporary Cantina Laredo – A Must Taste

The place for delicious Mexican food.

The place for delicious Mexican food.

Have you ever taken a bite of something so delicious you wanted to stand up and announce to the entire restaurant that they should order what you have just tasted?  I had such a bite at Cantina Laredo a last week — the Chilean Sea Bass with rice and asparagus  —  and just to be certain it wasn’t a fluke, I had another bite and another until my portion was gone. And

Flakey Chilean Sea Bass - indescribably delicious.

Flakey Chilean Sea Bass – indescribably delicious.

the last bite was as gratifying and flavorful as the first.

But I should begin my experience with the appetizer —  chips and the Top Shelf Guacamole made table side.  Our waiter, Jose, went over every ingredient, asked us how hot we liked our guacamole, and then proceeded to entertain us with the artistry of making a fresh and

Jose plying his craft.

Jose plying his craft.

delicious beginning to our meal. Not only were the avocados flavorful and the heat spot-on, but the chips were crisp and salted to perfection – and they were just as crisp the next day.

Not only is Jose excellent at making guacamole, he is also excellent at suggesting cocktails.  He recommended the Cinco Rita, a blend of five tequilas;  normally I avoid tequila, but this blend is smooth and, though potent, doesn’t taste of alcohol.  A must try if you indulge in libations.

Another libation, non-alcoholic, is the Ahi Tuna Tacos.  Though the menu describes the appetizer as “Mini-crispy tacos with sushi cut ahi tuna, chipotle aioli, jicama slaw and guacamole” all for $8.95, it does not convey the artistry of the plate.  And, since I knew I couldn’t do justice to the order that looked like it should be framed in the Chicago Art Institute, I took a picture.  Now, the first time we ordered, during the start of dinner service,

Scrumptious and beautiful.

Scrumptious and beautiful.

it was perfection; the second time we ordered, during lunch, the tacos were laying on the guacamole instead of standing, and the filling was wetter than before so the bite wan’t as crispy, but the flavor remained.

Avoid the Mexican Apple Pie unless you want a mouthful of butter.  Instead, try the Mango Tres Leches for dessert — the moist vanilla cake blanketed in a mango cream sauce is a combination of just enough sweetness to indulge the sweetest tooth and please those that prefer a subtler sweet.

Divine dessert - just sweet enough.

Divine dessert – just sweet enough.

The dining space is split between indoor and out.  Both are beautiful and inviting.  What adds to the atmosphere is the professionalism and personality of the wait staff.  When making our virgin visit on a Thursday night Happy Hour, we didn’t realize the outdoor tables weren’t connected to the bar and so the bill came with full price for everything.  I asked how the system worked for next time and explained that one of the drinks that was charged wasn’t what was ordered (though still good and still consumed). Our server listened and when she returned, she had adjusted the bill to take care of the drink and one of our appetizers so it would be more in line with the Happy Hour special.  In taking that extra step, she guaranteed my return even during happy hour when the place fills with a sea of business suits and after work chatter.

I can’t vouch for every Cantina Laredo franchise, but I can say with certainty that this one will make your dining experience a pleasure while pleasing your palate.  Happy eating!


Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill: Divine Dining in a Grand Location

The interior from the casino floor.

The interior from the casino floor.

I have been dining at Wolfgang Puck’s Bar&Grill intermittently for nine years.  My four most resent experiences have occurred in the last four months.  What I can say is that this fixture tucked behind the MGM Grand’s main gaming floor and across from the KÀ theatre, is one of the most consistently delicious restaurants in Las Vegas.  Nine years ago, when I first tasted cuisine from this kitchen, I was wowed.  Its contemporary ambiance, stellar service, and delectable dishes, still wow — a consistency hard to find on the ever altering Vegas Strip.

In December I took a couple of Wolfgang Puck rookies to his Bar & Grill, a restaurant I had not visited in over three years, but was confident the meal would be delicious.  One of them is a hamburger aficionado and so he ordered the Grilled Prime Burger with Vermont cheddar and smoked onion marmalade. I followed suit and what arrived was, he declared, the best burger he had ever tasted. After tasting what was put out at Gordon Ramsay’s BURGR, I agree (but that’s for another review).  Wolfgang Puck’s burger delivers layers of flavor; from the

After . . . the first taste.  Layers of perfection.

Crab Cakes after the first tastes.

flavor of the beef to the smokiness of the cheddar to the savoriness of the bun, the meal was so good that he ordered it again when we stopped in January before the Lady Gaga concert. Even the fries – shoestring and seasoned – were perfect crisp bites of potato that did not even need the garnish of ketchup.

Our appetizer, the Sautéed Maine Crab Cakes with tomato relish served on a bed of basil aioli, has been consistent perfection, so much so that they are a mainstay of every meal I have here. And the Crispy Chicken Milanese, served with an arugula and cherry tomato salad and grain mustard, is served with the salad covering the chicken so that what arrives looks deceptively green; however, when all elements are tasted

Split for two with perfect presentation.

Chicken Milanese split for two with perfect presentation.

together – chicken and salad – just as served, the result is a a pop of crisp freshness blending the organic chicken with the plump tomatoes and slightly tart arugula.  The portion is generous enough to split and each of us devoured the meal in spite of the knowledge that chocolate beignets were on their way.

Of course no meal is complete without dessert and we ordered two: the Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée and the Chocolate Beignets with the caramel dipping sauce and vanilla ice cream.  The beignets arrived warm and perfectly fried – just enough to crisp the dough without any excess oil; when bitten, the center oozed chocolate delight. Though I have enjoyed crème brûlée in many venues before, the one that this kitchen serves is one of the most delectable I have tasted – the vanilla pops and the berries sweeten the spoon just enough to provide brilliant contrast to the crisp top.

Last week I returned for a lunch service and though this Thursday afternoon was packed because of the PAC 12 Basketball Tournament, we were immediately seated and, within three minutes, had our server at our table explaining the specials and taking our drink order.  Not only was our server attentive, her friendliness and knowledge of the menu perfectly complimented the food.  My companion had not had the crab cakes before and, when they arrived, his response was, “Oh, my.  That is delicious.”  He savored every bite, pacing his eating so that his portion of the appetizer lasted until the main course arrived fifteen minutes later.

An appetizer fit for a main meal.

An appetizer fit for a main meal.

His main meal was the Mesquite Grilled Steak Skewers – strip steak marinated twenty-four hours until the pieces are grilled and basted and placed upon a bed of creamy celery salad.  On our server’s recommendation, my plate consisted of  Barbecued Chicken Panini with creamy coleslaw, balsamic grilled onions and chipotle aioli. (I was torn between the Barbecued Chicken Panini and the Fish & Chips, but she raved that the chicken was phenomenal.)  The chicken was phenomenal.  The panini was pressed just

Barbecue Chicken Panini.

Barbecue Chicken Panini.

right, giving it a golden hue that told of a slight crust which, when bit into, yielded to the louder crunch of the coleslaw. Combine the texture with the flavor of the balsamic grilled onions and the chipotle aioli and each bite became a luxury.  The barbecue sauce was spicy and sweet and enhanced the delicate flavor of the juicy organic chicken breast.  The fries were the same herbed perfection as before, and though they come with the sandwich, our server readily offered up a salad or vegetables or whatever I wanted instead.

I could rave about the apple pie or the pineapple upside down cake or the smoothness of the Vespa speciality cocktail, but I won’t.  Instead, I’ll simply point you away from the Fish & Chips (the server was right) and to any other item they offer.  I should also let you know that this Wolfgang Puck’s, like all of his restaurants on the Strip, offer locals complimentary dessert.  How sweet is that?

Apple pie with cinnamon ice cream - a delicious pairing.

Warm apple pie with cinnamon ice cream – a delicious pairing.


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