Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Dish of the year and a big burger let down
If it turns out Hinduism is the one "right and true religion" than after Vegas I'll be in a lot of trouble. I consumed my fare share of bovine, and some it so divine that it may be worth eternal damnation by the many hands of Ganesh. Without further adieu; behold the best dish of 2011:
I know it's early, Hell, it ain't even Summer, but make no mistake, this is the best braised cheek I have come across in a very, very long. Not surprisingly it comes from the deft hand of Jose Andres; or really one of his trained minions since I had this at his latest Las Vegas outpost: Jaleo.
I love Spanish Tapas but sadly have never been to Spain. Las Vegas is a lot closer and for now it will have to do as my "tapas go to spot". There were other highlights like a fisherman's stew featuring a silky smooth squid braised, to the point where the texture resembled a raw, fresh off the boat Kumamoto oyster and the obligatory yet classic, Pan con tomate: Toasted slices of rustic bread brushed with fresh tomatoes and Spanish anchovies. But they were all just forgettable runner's up next to this Prom Queen.
Yes, Her Majesty is ridiculously fork tender. The potato puree served as the safety net to catch all the cheek's jus. And then there were the morel mushrooms. Just in case you didn't feel like royalty eating this perfectly cooked veal cheek, these fungus treasures were to me the equivalent of a ticket to the Prince William-Kate Middleton wedding, wait no better than that. Got it. They were like getting a Golden ticket to the Willy Wonka factory. I told you this was the dish of the year.
Todd English sucks. Well, maybe that's harsh. Carl's Jr sucks. Parking tickets suck. Todd English is an overpriced let down. Well, I guess he does suck.
Burger Busters, a burger blog, touted Olives as the best burger in America. This could not be further from the truth. This thing was your average, overpriced restaurant burger. Now to be fair, restaurants do change their staff but from this burger, by design, was totally underwhelming.
The patty was preformed, and arrived overcooked. The cheese was a boring cheddar. The onions were drowned in balsamic, so much so, that half way through I had to remove them all together. Were there any good points? Yes. The butter lettuce was good, the tomato was fresh and ripe, and the bun was decent. Yeah, that's right folks - the highlights were lettuce, tomato and bread, and when considering the quality level touted by burger joints today - Olives is merely passable.
And the worst part? The french fries. Look at those nasty potato wedges dusted with parsley and parmesan . . . straight out of the Olive Garden; these were the worst fries I have eaten since the 80s when I frequented Hardee's.
My real rage comes from the fact that the Burger Buster blog rips on, among many notable burgers, Father's Office. The FO burger, while not for everyone, does deliver a Chef's "concept burger". The gruyere and maytag blue cheese, the caramelized onion compote, the dry aged sirloin and the pleasantly bitter arugula; each ingredient is chosen methodically, all the while with a clear final vision in mind. Olives bares no resemblance to this. Its just a big, bland letdown.
A whole lotta nuthin.
On a positive note we had warm and friendly service at the restaurant; among the most personable we have had in Las Vegas. And sitting in the patio overlooking the fountains at the Bellagio was a huge plus. I'd like to think the burger was "off" that day, but considering how pedestrian it was from an ingredient stand point, I'd skip it all together and try somewhere else. Like every Vegas trip, you and win some and lose some, but this time Jaleo has me coming out on top . . . Vegas, I can't wait to go back.