After all the Vegas dinner madness, we kind of felt like lunch was getting the shaft. So we went to Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar. K has been there before and Hubert is his man crush. I recently decided that Eric Ripert was my man crush so now we’re even.
We all spent the entire meal trying to figure out if our server was doing some sort of breathy dumb blonde Marilyn Monroe impersonation or had a really strange accent. The service was fine, but our server was distracting! While I expected the atmosphere to be casual, I was surprised that a Hubert Keller joint would allow (encourage?) their servers to look like waitresses at Hooters — ours was barely wearing a top. Anyway, back to the food.
K knew exactly what he was going to order — the over-the-top Kobe beef burger topped with foie gras with truffle sauce on the side and buttermilk onion rings. Unlike nearly every other meal we’ve had together, K did not offer me a taste of his burger which meant it must have been very, very, very good — too good to give up even one bite. I did get an onion ring though and it was a seriously delectable onion ring.
I got the trio of mini burgers — buffalo with caramelized onions, Angus beef with bacon and natural beef with American cheese — all served with skinny fries. On the side I got an order of red wine shallot sauce. My favorite burger was the Angus beef with bacon. It was simple and delicious. The buffalo with caramelized onions was good, but there were a lot of onions and they were kind of mushy so they kept falling out of the bun when I took a bite. The buffalo, which can get really dry if not cooked properly, was perfectly cooked. Both burgers went really well with the red wine reduction. The natural beef with American cheese was like a mini-McDonald’s cheeseburger, pickle and all. Not that it’s a bad thing, I just probably would have gone with another cheese because, as it turns out, American cheese and red wine reduction don’t go particularly well together. But the burgers were really good and the fries were hot, crispy and salty — just as I like them. K’s cousin ordered the zucchini fries which were my favorite thing. Crisp, herb and crumb coated pieces of zucchini that tasted exactly like mozzarella sticks without the cheese! Drool.
Later, we stopped in to the Chart House bar in the new “wing” of the Golden Nugget casino and sat in front of a bajillion gallon fish tank while chatting up a character of a bartender from New Jersey. He said the drinks on their menu were, “Meh.” So we told him what we liked and let him make us what he wanted. He made K a deeeeeeelicious lemony, not too tart, not too sweet, cinnamon-sugar rimmed Cable Car cocktail and I got a cucumber gin concoction that was good, but I liked K’s drink much better.
So we went back the next night before our Cirque du Soleil show and I enjoyed a Cable Car of my own and we snacked on some great lobster and shrimp spring rolls with cabbagey little bites tucked into the rice paper, amazingly hot, pillowy and flavorful shrimp and avocado tempura skewers and hearty bruschetta ”stacks” topped with prosciutto and fontina cheese. These were all way better than “bar food” should be and I’d easily go back there to eat dinner if it was even half as good. I did feel a little guilty enjoying seafood while a small ocean of fish was staring at us.
After the show and before the “late night in Vegas” evening began, we stopped in for a snack at the heavily eyebrowed Chef Todd English’s Olives restaurant in the Bellagio. We’d intended to eat at the bar somewhere else, but everywhere was absolutely packed. As we wandered about trying to find a good place with two open bar stools I got more and more hungry. When we found two spots at Olives they gave us bread and a dish of (appropriately) olives and tapenades. I do not like green olives, but I loooooove (luv) black and kalamata olives. K does not like any olive. I feel this is olive-ist, but am not going to argue because more olives for me.
The bread was homemade, warm and the caramelized onion foccacia was so amazingly sweet, yeasty and savory with the kalamata olive tapenade I just kept eating and eating. That was probably all I needed, but we ordered two flatbreads to snack on. Usually flatbread is small and snackable. These came on giant boards and could have easily fed four people each.
One of our flatbreads was a shrimp and chorizo number with red harissa. I was concerned this would be too spicy, but the bartender assured us that it was good and not very spicy at all. He was wrong. Admittedly, I am a spice wuss, but my lips were on fire after the first bite and after a few pieces K was “glistening.” Our other flatbread was a roasted pepper number that was good, but, sadly, I was too full after eating all the bread to enjoy much of it. We did have a great view of the Bellagio’s fountain show taking place right outside of the window though. Oh, and the Cable Car at Olives was good, but not nearly as good as the one at the Chart House.
The next morning, the power went out in downtown Las Vegas so we got ready for our flight in the dark with a bottle of water because apparently their water runs on electricity too. However, as we departed, we noted that the lights were out, but they did have a backup generator to keep the machines going. Priorities.
Ah Vegas, we’ll see you (and eat our way through you) next year!
UPDATE: K would like me to point out that he was not burger hoarding at Burger Bar, that I also did not offer him a bite of my burgers and that he freely offered me access to the truffle sauce that accompanied his food. He is correct on all counts!