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Dining

The Weekly staff takes on Restaurant Week

Five writers, five meals, five very full stomachs

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Aureole’s duck leg confit
Photo: Spencer Patterson

JULIAN SERRANO Five years ago, my dad made a killing at the blackjack tables, so he took me to Picasso at Bellagio. No. 1 best meal of my life. I haven’t been to a Julian Serrano joint since. Haven’t found the right occasion ... or the money. But this week, for $30.10, I ate lunch at Julian Serrano’s namesake restaurant at Aria. I was thrilled when a piece of my almond-stuffed dates (wrapped with applewood-smoked bacon and served with piquillo pepper sauce) got caught in my back molar. I only wish it stayed there longer. The torrija (French toast’s Spanish cousin) was oddly comforting and familiar (“oddly” because I’ve never had torrija before). The only trouble was that extra-tough Angus steak served in the middle. —Rick Lax

AUREOLE Restaurant Week finally got me into Aureole, but the experience won’t tempt me back. The three-course dinner, priced at $50.10, showed off obvious culinary skill, but delivered few remarkable bites. My salad combined too many disparate flavors (octopus, lobster, potatoes, several veggies) while my wife’s was built around an over-rich foie gras. Second courses were an improvement: My beef short rib was nicely tender, her duck leg confit was the night’s highlight, moist and savory with an exquisitely crispy skin. Desserts, well, I’m really not a dessert kinda guy. More disappointing than anything we ate, however, was the treatment Mandalay Bay’s high-end eatery showed the charity-benefiting concept. Restaurant Week menus were virtually ignored as our waiter detailed Aureole’s regular offerings. No mention was made of the hunger-fighting cause. Plus, we were denied $10 wine pairings promised at threesquare.org. Guys, if you’re not into Restaurant Week that’s okay; just don’t sign on to participate. —Spencer Patterson

MICHAEL MINA To be honest, Michael Mina at the Bellagio wasn’t my first choice for Restaurant Week. I wanted to try Mina’s Aria eatery American Fish, but it was closed on Monday. I also considered Sage, but my dining companion had already been there. By the time I arrived at the $50.10 menu at Mina’s namesake Michelin-starred restaurant, I had lost a bit of my Restaurant Week buzz. It came back the moment I sat down for dinner. Mina is a casino-housed oasis built for special occasions and splurges. We wisely splurged on the tuna tartare prepared tableside for an extra $15, following it with mains of slow-baked salmon with baby falafel and beef filet served alongside a miniature short rib “cottage pie.” Michael’s root beer float with sassafras ice cream and warm chocolate chip pecan cookies rounded out a wonderful meal. My only regret: not getting to try the signature lobster pot pie. Perhaps when my parents are around to pick up the bill. —Sarah Feldberg

BOA STEAKHOUSE After enjoying an amazing three-course lunch for $20.10 at BOA Steakhouse, I have one question: Why can’t Restaurant Week be Restaurant Month? The meal began with a large Caesar salad, nearly enough for an entire lunch. Then came the burger—prime beef on a brioche bun with perfectly cooked fries. I was at capacity far before I’d finished ... but still handled some chocolate-filled donut holes for desert. The chocolate turned out to be unnecessary in the airy, puffed treats, served with crème fraiche and caramel sauce for dipping. Restaurant Week rules! —Ken Miller

CHARLIE PALMER STEAK My group and I agreed that Charlie Palmer Steak is one of the best $50.10 bargains during Restaurant Week. The Boston bibb salad was lightly drenched in creamy buttermilk dressing and topped with bacon, which is always a good thing. The sizable 14-ounce New York striploin was whole roasted to perfection (medium rare); the lobster tail was delicious; and the family-style spicy broccolini and truffled potato were delightful and decadent, respectively. The Meyer lemon creme brulee with raspberries and a shortbread cookie wrapped up a fabulous meal. Bonus #1: The wine pairings, for an additional $10.10, are fancy French varietals and bottomless(!). It was marked on the bill but never charged, so we left it as tip on top of our regular tip. Bonus No. #2: Charlie Palmer Steak at The Four Seasons, tucked away from The Strip and gaming-free, was strikingly and thankfully tranquil. —Don Chareunsy

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Photo of Don Chareunsy

Don was born in Laos and grew up in Montana. He was Helena High's yearbook and newspaper editor and, after ...

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Photo of Sarah Feldberg

Sarah Feldberg is the editor of Las Vegas Weekly magazine. A veteran journalist, Feldberg previously worked as the Weekly's web ...

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Photo of Rick Lax

Rick Lax

Rick wrote the books Fool Me Once: Hustlers, Hookers, Headliners, and How Not to Get Screwed in Vegas and Lawyer ...

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Photo of Ken Miller

Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is Las Vegas Weekly's Managing Editor, having previously served as Arts & Entertainment Editor, Music Editor and a ...

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