Monday, September 14, 2009

Dining in Vegas (Part I-Pinot Brasserie)

We spent a few days in Vegas after Labor Day. We aren't big gamblers, but we love to eat. Vegas is one of the great food cities in the world--no where else can you find such quality restaurants in such a small place, with little difficulty in getting reservations.

We arrived at the Vegas airport at 2 p.m., and, after the ordeal of checking in and unpacking, we wanted a simple, easy meal. I had always wanted to eat at Chef Joachim Splichal 's Pinot Brasserie, located in the restaurant row area of the Venetian.

The restaurant is very much in the style of a French bistro, with "sidewalk" type seating near the hallways of the Venetian (Technically, there is a difference between a bistro and a brasserie, according to this article, but the distinction was not evident at this establishment.) The food was "ok." We had scallops and short rib, which were fine. We also had onion soup, which we sent back because it was very weak and soapy tasting, and raw oysters that were not fresh. We passed on dessert, thinking we would go to the Emeril's restaurant next door to get some bread pudding.

The most distinctive part of the experience was not the food, but the presentation of the restaurant to the public and its patrons. From the hallway of the Venetian, Pinot Brasserie appears to be an intimate restaurant, with a few good people-watching perches on faux front porches. Though the doorway of the front porch is a much larger room that seats several hundred people at a time. We were seated in the larger room with three other parties scattered about, where we looked like marbles rolling around the coliseum. Only a couple of parties were seated on the porches. Therefore, the restaurant to each of us, and to the passersby, looked to be, and was, nearly empty.

This is a failing restaurant. Its location is directly across from the B&B Ristorante, which is run by Mario Batali, and sandwiched between Delmonico Steakhouse, an Emeril Lagasse operation, and Valentino, which is an outpost of a famed Santa Monica Italian restaurant. All of the neighboring restaurants had an active vibe and an alert staff. Food's probably better too.

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