One of my great joys since retiring to Las Vegas last year is trying out all of the fine restaurants here. Up and down the Strip, nearly every hotel has a celebrity chef restaurant.
For my 58th birthday, Mary and I decided to try out Michael’s, consistently rated among the top five restaurants in Las Vegas. It is named after Michael Gaughan, owner of the South Point resort and casino. If that last name sounds familiar, it should – Michael’s father Jackie owned the Union Plaza in downtown Las Vegas. The family has been in the casino business for well over 40 years, and Michael used this experience to create a fine dining establishment that harkens to an earlier time.
An intimate room that holds less than 100 seating capacity (including the private room to the back, where golf instructor-to-the-stars Butch Harmon was hosting a party on this night), care is taken to provide a culinary and service experience not seen in decades. From the Maitre d’ down to the busboys, the service was exceptional.
When you are seated, bottled water is immediately poured. Don’t expect to drain your glass, for the moment that you take a sip, a server will whisk over to refill it.
Two types of bread are presented, followed by MORT (the Mother of all Relish Trays). After seeing the piles of gherkins, peppers, beets, olives, tomatoes, quail eggs, and other noshes on this plate, we decided to skip a soup or salad course.
The menus were presented. Men get a menu with prices, women do not. This bit of anachronistic chauvinism again reminds us of times past.
The prices are not for the faint of heart. Chateaubriand for two is $160, as is rack of lamb for two. Veal dishes were in the mid $70 range.
Don’t let that fool you. Following the relish tray, an Intermezzo sorbet was served – with Dom Perignon poured over it tableside.
Although great desserts are available, it is hardly necessary, as a full pound of hand-dipped chocolates were provided gratis. Just when you think it is safe to waddle out the door and home, they then bring a large bowl brimming with fresh fruit to the table.
Really, all one needs to do is order a main course. Everything else is provided by the restaurant. Most entrees are cooked and/or plated tableside.
The word “no” is not in the vocabulary of the staff. At the table next to us, doting grandparents were celebrating a 10th birthday with their grandson. What did he want to eat? A grilled cheese sandwich. Cooked tableside, it was done to perfection.
We overdid it, of course. The cherries jubilee was outstanding. My double shot espresso was the best I’ve ever had. Since we are locals now, we had the luxury of taking home a “people bag” filled with what we couldn’t eat without looking for a Roman vomitoreum. I weighed it when we got home – 4.25 pounds of prime filet and all the trimmings! We didn’t have to worry about eating the next day…
Our bill was $210 – very reasonable for the opulent dining experience we had.
If you are in Las Vegas and want to experience “puttin’ on the Ritz,” Michael’s will suit you nicely.
Glen & Mary Frederiksen
Last night I had dinner after an interview in Canoga Park. Irene Virbila reviewed Marche in the Food Section of the LA Times Wed. 11/11/09 /www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-review11-2009nov11,0,3283743.story. It’s on “restaurant row” on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks. I had the house pate with an Albert Mann Alsatian Auxerrois Vielles Vignes 2007 that was fruity, rich, extremely well balanced, with some tartness and great acidity. The restaurant’s menu features small plates – last night they had a white truffle risotto for $80.00 but everything else was reasonably priced for the quality. I had a great salad with beets, grapefruit, smoked salata ricotta and walnuts, a ravioli with swiss chard in a brown butter sauce with roasted chestnuts that was very good. Also had paquette de porc $16.00 – kind of like pork belly that was very rich so you didn’t mind the small size of the portion – served with brussel sprouts, pears and grits. Took home the peanut butter cups which are exceptionally rich – a world apart from a Reece’s – this was only dessert item that could make the travel the rest had sauces or ice cream that wouldn’t take the trip. Paul Wasserman selected wines with some emphasis on biodynamic, organic and/or sustainable farming. With a completely full house I could still hear the great jazz playing of the sound system – they’ve gone to some length to dampen the noise which I appreciated. www.marche-la.com