This week is Restaurant Week here in Las Vegas. This week several of the fancy restaurants sign up and serve special fixed price meals and make donations from the sales to our local food bank. The special meals are usually combinations of several standard items but in smaller portions and usually much less expensive than ordering from the regular menu. It is a good opportunity to try out new places and get a good sampling of what is available. Last year we went to Andre’s French Restaurant in the Monte Carlo, a place that I’ve wanted to try out ever since we moved here. Andre used to have a restaurant in an old building downtown and been there quite a while, but with the economy changes a few years ago he closed that location and moved to the MC.
Usually I don’t find out about these until afterwards, but fortunately this year I saw a web site that discussed the event. This year I got reservations for lunch at MOzen Bistro and dinner at Jean Georges . I’ve never heard of MOZen, but have been reading reviews about Jean Georges since it opened a few years ago. Both places are at City Center on the Strip, where there are quite a few new restaurants that are highly rated.
On Monday we went down to City Center. They have seven parking garages, six are valet parking and only one is self-parking. For some reason I don’t really like to use the valet, just something about strangers driving my car (and I’ve seen how the valets drive, speed seems to be the primary objective). The self-parking garage is only accessible from Las Vegas Boulevard, which is not a street that locals usually enjoy. I much rather like hitting the parking garages off of the back streets, and so park at the Monte Carlo garage when we hit that part of the Strip. It’s a fairly long walk through the Monte Carlo lobby and the shopping area to get to City Center, but since MGM owns that whole block it’s all indoors. From the end of the Monte Carlo area there is a tram to the middle of City Center and then to the Bellagio, which also has a garage only accessible from LV Boulevard, so going to that casino we also take the same route.
We’ve never been to the Mandarin Oriental hotel before. It is one of the few hotels that does not have a casino attached, so there is not much to see if you aren’t staying there. It’s located in the southwest corner of the City Center complex, supposedly on Las Vegas Boulevard itself but really behind a conference center wing and challenging to find. There are little signs with funny arrows placed around pointing to it, but it’s down there.
To the left of that picture is one of the art installations placed around City Center. It’s the Claes Oldenberg typewriter eraser, similar to the one located in Washington at the National Gallery of Art:
We were a little early for lunch (by design), the MOZen serves breakfast then closes between 11 and noon to set up for lunch. We went early so that we could walk around the hotel (lots of photos, coming in a later post). One of the locations we stopped at was a small area off of the main lobby which is located on the 23rd floor. This area has nice soft seating, good views of the Strip and also serves as a Tea Lounge
B and I sat and shared a nice pot of tea
and gazed out the windows for a while
They also serve a ‘High Tea’ from 2 to 5 in the afternoon with scones and sandwiches. We usually take out of town visitors up to the 40th floor of Mandalay Bay to get a view of the Strip, but after coming here we may add this location to our itinerary. After finishing our tea we went down to the third floor to MOZen, which faces the same direction but has a slightly different angle, looking out at Crystals shopping center instead of down on it
It is a rather small restaurant, with two rooms and lots of windows. At the back of one room is a sushi bar with specialized chef. You can sit there and munch on a variety of items or take a table and have sushi served
Seating is pleasant, with round tables for four, six or two. We sat right by the window
We both ordered the Restaurant Week special, a large Bento Box style meal with five different items: Soft Shell Crab, Avocado, Cucumber, Masago Hand Roll And Laab Gai Chicken, Thai Relish And Lettuce Wrap, Tandoori Salmon With Mint Sauce, Miso Mustard Angus Striploin And Truffle Butter Naan, dessert of Ginger Panna Cotta, Pepper Streusel, Pear Coulis And Pear Ginger Gelee (taken off of their menu). I didn’t take a photo, but I can say that each item was marvelous, it’s easy to taste why the French put so much effort into the sauces. It was really nice combination of things, all small portions of totally different tastes but that went well together to provide a full meal. Too bad it’s not on their regular menu, but it did provide a variety of tastes that indicate what everything else would be like.
We’ll probably go back, it is a central location with great food. We will definitely hit the tea room again, with the views and nice seating it is in the middle of what I call our ‘south Strip’ walking tour for visitors. So if you come out to Vegas we might end up there. Well, not end up more like middle pause. Tomorrow night, steak (unless I go for the salmon)!