Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The SilverSpoon Guide to Las Vegas!!!

Where can you go to Paris, Rome, Venice and New York all in one day? 
Vegas, of course!! While the City of Sin may not be for everyone, Mr S and I love the opportunity for partying, fun, shopping and eating lots of food. And gambling? Well we'll have a flutter, but neither of us are particularly into it and we'd prefer to spend our time in Vegas doing other things. So I'd like to present my guide to Vegas, minus any recommendations for where to gamble! In my previous blog, I gave you a little tour of the Encore and the Wynn so this post represents my recommendations outside those hotels and also where to avoid!

Restaurants 

There's something for everyone in Vegas, whether it's high-end Michelin dining, a cool hot spot, a quick burger or an all-you-can-eat buffet, you can please your most fussy friends. Here are my choices for places to dine:

Dinner with a View

With it's neon lights, crazy shaped buildings (Eiffel Tower or Egyptian Pyramids for example) and huge skyscrapers...it may not be London or New York but the Vegas Skyline is iconic. Here are my choices for restaurants with a great view of the famous Strip.

Yellow Tail


Dine on the outdoor veranda of Yellowtail and you can enjoy a panoramic view of Vegas as well the the famous Bellagio fountains. Located in the aforementioned hotel, Yellowtail serves exciting modern Japanese creations which can be paired with one of their exotic sakes. Check out the Frozen Beauty Sake for a mere $2,400...




Be sure to try the Sashimi Pizza topped with truffle oil (top left); it's fabulous Asian comfort food.

The Eiffel Tower Restaurant at The Paris Hotel 

Image for iStock

Now, I know what you're thinking...'Oh, Angie surely that's tacky...and haven't you eaten at the real Eiffel Tower?' Yes I have, but I assure you, dining at the Eiffel Tower in Vegas in incredibly romantic. Ok I concede it's not as romantic as the real Paris, but with fine French food and views over the Bellagio fountains it's really rather special. Decor inside the restaurant and in the Paris hotel is a little dated but ignore the retro vibe... and enjoy the great view with you loved one. 

miX

Michelin-starred miX at the Mandalay Bay Hotel is my top choice for dining with a view in Vegas. We loved it so much when we first went to Vegas three years ago, that we had to revisit it on our honeymoon.



It's the perfect place to view the entire Vegas strip and the vast landscape of neon. 
Multi-Michelin super chef, Alain Ducasse created the menu, so you're not just coming for awe-inspiring views, the food is utterly incredible too. 


The poached egg with a chorizo condiment (top left) was a posh version of egg and dippy soldiers and probably one of the best things we had while we were away...we even asked for more dippy soldiers...

Finally, a restaurant with a view to avoid is Top of the World at the Stratosphere. The hotel itself is pretty shabby, though great if you're looking for thrill rides!! The restaurant is 800 feet above the strip and the view is good but the interior is very retro and it rotates 360 degrees which can make you feel a little queasy!

Great for Lunch

Sushi Samba

Very conveniently situated in the shopping centre at the Palazzo, Sushi Samba serves great food with a fabulously lively atmosphere. When we were there, Brazil were playing a world cup game so the South American fusion restaurant was particularly lively.


With it's orange archways, citrus tones, art projections and installations, you can't help but get into the carnival spirit at this restaurant that fuses the cuisine of Japan, Peru and Brazil. 


Olives

I love this restaurant in the Bellagio for the perfect daytime view of the fountains served with a side of Mediterranean comfort food.




Julian Serrano

Hard core shopping calls for an array of tapas and a huge jug of Sangria, Julian Serrano at the Aria is the place to have it!

Check out the dish on the top right, the molecular raspberry tuna skewer for something a bit more adventurous.

Clubby

Hakkasan

I mentioned in an earlier post that when I'm away I try not to go to places that I could go to in London. Well, I didn't really stick to that, I visited Sushi Samba twice and Nobu twice! Oh well, the thing is when you know somewhere is good, it's just a no brainer! Despite these intentions, Mr S and I had always planned to visit Hakkasan at the MGM Grand, we love the London restaurants and were keen to try the Vegas night club version.


I was a little disappointed that the interior is exactly the same as the London version as is the menu. But when you're on to a good thing...

The fabulous Cantonese food is every bit as delicious too. We ordered our favourite Dim Sum dishes to share...


After dining you can ascend the stairs and head into Ling Ling, the chill out Lounge and then on through to the nightclub. I think the Hakkasan night club is probably the biggest club I've ever been to at 80,000 square feet with a capacity of 7,000.




We were greeted by a huge stage and DJ, pounding music, laser lights and dancing girls - and the place was packed with people. I have to admit I love partying, but this was too much for me (I quite like having a place to sit down!) but if you want as really banging night in a very cool club, Hakkasan is the place of the moment.

And if you like massive night club / restaurants with an Asian flavour, Tao is a fab alternative to Hakkasan. And you'd be in good company as it's one of Kimmy K's favourite Vegas hotspots. In fact the first time we were there she was having her bachelorette party, the one for the wedding to Kris Humpheries...

Hotels

There are so many weird and wonderful hotels in Vegas, some are gorgeous and glamorous, some have had their day and are starting to look shabby, while others are to be seriously avoided altogether! Here are a selection of my favourites, aside from the Encore and the Wynn, and why I think they're worth visiting.

Bellagio

One of the most luxurious hotels in Las Vegas, Bellagio was inspired by Lake Como in Italy. The hotel houses one of the most iconic features of Vegas, an eight acre lake with dancing fountains synchronised to different pieces of music.


On entering Bellagio you a greeted by a totally out-of-this world, and slightly crazy conservatory housing botanical gardens.




Everything at Bellagio exudes luxury, the shops are high-end designer fabulous, the 65,000 square foot spa has a comprehensive selection of indulgent treatments and the Mediterranean-style pool is simply beautiful. I already mentioned Yellowtail and Olives for dining but I'd also love to try Picasso, the fine dining restaurant where you can enjoy French food while admiring the great artist's masterpieces.

If you're in the party mood, head to Bellagio's super club, Bank. The ginormous club is uber opulent with gold accents and glittering gems suspended from the ceiling.


I've not had the chance to see it but apparently the show 'O' by Cirque du Soleil is fantastic featuring, world class acrobatics and synchronised swimming. 

The Venetian 

The Venetian and it's sister hotel, The Palazzo, are probably the most epic that I've ever encountered in Vegas. With over 7,000 rooms in the combined adjoining hotels, they make up the second biggest hotel in the world.


Venice, Italy is the inspiration for the hotel so obviously there is a canal running through it!


I think the shopping area, The Grande Canal Shoppes, is one of the best retail therapy spots in Vegas. It has all the high-end designer shops plus the high street ones that are lacking at The Bellagio and The Wynn / Encore. There's tons of great places to eat, again high end places such as CUT by Wolfgang Puck, cool places like Sushi Samba and fab clubby places like TAO. 

Another great place for shopping is Caesar's Palace, a gargantuan hotel based on ancient Rome. At the hotel's Forum Shops you will find plenty of the top designer brands and high street fashion. Rather fabulously, my favourite restaurant has opened it's first hotel there! 


Mandalay Bay

A great choice for a family friendly hotel in Vegas is the Mandalay Bay, the pool is an enormous eleven acres big and includes a 1.6 million gallon wave pool with a sandy beach and lazy river. When we first visited three years ago we checked out the Aquarium and shark reef which is a great distraction for children.


The Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque de Soleil is also very family friendly (though they don't admit children under 5) with high energy dance moves, acrobatics and aerial performances set to the legendary songs of Michael Jackson. 


Mr S and I went to ONE while on our honeymoon, and though it is totally fabulous,  strangely the two of the Cirque de Soleil shows I've seen in London at the Royal Albert Hall have been better. But I love the music of the king of pop so it was great to dance away to the tunes while watching the fabulous feats performed on stage.

For a total luxury and break from the casinos, The Four Seasons, Vegas is adjacent to the Mandalay Bay. The all-suite, THEhotel, soon to be rebranded as The Delano, also operates as part of the Mandalay Bay hotel. The complex really allows for the best of both worlds, and with 24 restaurants in this awesome trio of hotels, you really can't go wrong!

Best of the Rest

Aria: The Aria has more of a modern look to it's older counterparts as many of the hotels in Vegas are starting to look a little dated. We loved looking around the Crystals shopping centre which was more modern and less crowded than the Venetian and Caesar's Palace. The rooms at the Aria are also characterised by 'smart technology' the lighting, curtains and music can be tailored perfectly for the guest's wishes. For the ultimate in luxury and VIP treatment plump for one of the Aria's Sky Suites.

MGM Grand: When you enter the MGM Grand, you will probably notice that this once dazzling star of the Vegas Strip is now looking a little tired...but this mammoth hotel is definitely worth a visit. It houses Joel Robuchon, the only three Michelin star restaurant in Vegas, as well as Wolfgang Puck and the epic restaurant / night club, Hakkasan. It is also home to Wet Republic one of the biggest and hottest pool parties in Vegas, I have this on good authority from Mr Silver, who very much enjoyed it while on his stag party! It is also home to the Sky Lofts, one of Vegas' most luxurious and VIP accommodation.

The Cosmopolitan: If you're looking for something uber glamourous, glitzy and more modern look no further than the fabulous Cosmopolitan. The Cosmopolitan has a fabulous selection of restaurants, bars and clubs and the perfect place to party. Lovely lifestyle blogger, Caroline, has stayed there a couple of times so check out her blog Cocktails and Caroline for a full review of this hotel. 

This post is the last of my honeymoon series and I really hope that you've enjoyed it! 

Follow on Bloglovin


Monday, 20 October 2014

The Gourmet Odyssey: Clove Club, Merchants Tavern and 8 Hoxton Square

Every foodie has a bucket list; that is an ever growing list of restaurants to visit in London or around the world. My current list has thirty-five restaurants on it...plus I have a separate list of the Michelin star restaurants that I visited years ago and want to revisit for my blog. 

Sadly with limitations on time, money and a general concern for my waist line...I can't tick places off my list very quickly. So when the opportunity arose to visit three restaurants in one day, I grabbed it with both hands. 

No I wasn't eating in a different restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner (though I do like that idea), I was heading out on the London Restaurant Festival Gourmet Odyssey and we would be dining in a different restaurant for each course.

And our mode of transportation between restaurants?


A traditional RouteMaster Bus.

Laurent Perrier champagne was the official partner for the event, so not only would we be trying three fabulous bucket-list restaurants, but we would be sampling a Laurent-Perrier champagne in each one.

The tour was taking us out of our usual West London stomping ground for the opportunity to discover what East London had to offer.

The day kicked off with a champagne reception at the oh-so-hip Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street.


With a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut Non-Vintage in hand, Mr S and I admired the sweeping views of East London from the roof terrace at the Ace.



The Ace is a relative newcomer to Shoreditch and the brand started out in the USA. It's about as hip as you can get with cool modern furniture and a lobby including retail space, work stations and a photo booth. 


And there's a bike on the wall...

I definitely want to return to the hotel to try out their own restaurant, Hoi Polloi. 


After enjoying a few glasses of champers on the terrace, we took our seats on the bus. 
As there were 150 people on the tour, we'd been split into three groups. Each group was on a different route and therefore had a different menu as we'd be visiting the restaurants in a different order. 

I'll be honest when I saw our menu I was a little disappointed... the menu choices were not dishes I'd usually choose but a good thing about the tour was it took you out of your comfort zone to go to new places and try different things. Though I was pretty jealous that one of the other groups had tuna ceviche as a starter.

The first restaurant on the tour was The Clove Club.


Recently awarded a Michelin star, this was the restaurant I was most excited about visiting. 

The Clove Club is inside what used to be Shoreditch Town Hall that has been repurposed as an arts and events space. I'm not going to lie...the dining room isn't pretty...It kind of reminded me of school, with high-ceilings, long wooden tables and very little in the way of colour. 


The first room you enter is the bar, which apparently turns into a lively venue for the evening, serving small plates and cocktails. 


The main restaurant has small open kitchen at the back and serves a set five course menu which includes interesting and slightly obscure ingredients. 

The champagne that we would be sampling here was Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut. 



My favourite champagne as it contains only 60 calories per glass! This is because it is 'zero dosage' champagne and no extra sugar is added at the end of the fermentation process. It is an acquired taste but I like the slightly tart flavour of the drink. 


The bread was absolutely delicious with a thick crust and soft chewy dough. The accompanying whipped butter melted gloriously on top. 


The starter was a chestnut and truffle broth with pheasant dumplings. In my mind broth is watery or stock based so I was surprised to receive a creamy soup. I've mentioned before that neither Mr S or I like truffle but I think I'm coming round to it because I really enjoyed the musky taste of the rare ingredient paired the gamey stuffed dumpling. However, the creamy and the heady flavours of truffle and pheasant meant that the concoction was incredibly rich and although I enjoyed it, Mr Silver got to finish mine!

And with our starter done it was back on the bus!


Bus selfie!!!




After the pared down simplicity of The Clove Club, the dining room at Merchants Tavern was far grander.


 The venue is actually a converted warehouse and apothecary now furnished with plush leather banquettes that contrasted with the exposed brick work so that the restaurant still retains the industrial-chic look common in Shoreditch. 

Our chosen bubbly was Laurent-Perrier Vintage 2004, a gorgeous dry champagne with notes of honey, which is now very rare - though it was be poured pretty freely :) 



I had high expectations for the food as Merchants Tavern is a joint venture between super chef Angela Hartnett, Neil Borthwick (former chef at The Square) and the founders of the mini-chain, Canteen. 


Main course was a loin of venison served with braised red cabbage and silky mashed potato. As I mentioned, not a dish I would usually choose, regular readers will know fish is usually at the top of the list for me. But as expected from chefs with that background, it was an absolute sensation. The meat was perfectly rare, the cabbage not overly sweet and the gravy tied everything together. There was also some fruit on the plate, I believe it was a plum, which worked incredibly well as part of the dish. Again the dish was very rich, and I do think there should have been some communications between the restaurants as we did have two very rich gamey dishes. Though some people would welcome this, I prefer lighter foods and pairing those two dishes together made for a very heavy meal. 

Anyway...we had a bus to catch and a dessert to have!


I'd been looking forward to trying 8 Hoxton Square as Mr S and I loved our lunch at it's sister restaurant, 10 Greek Street

Once again, we were greeted by a very basic dining room with painted brick walls, industrial lighting and a menu written on a blackboard. Though I love my luxury, I also really appreciate these kind of restaurants that aren't overly stylised, the food is on show here... not the dining room. 


Here we were treated to the Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose...


Despite a love of all things pink...I'm actually not a huge fan of rose as it can be too sweet but the signature Laurent Perrier Rose is actually quite dry and very drinkable.




Sadly we didn't get a great photo of the dessert, a chocolate and amaretti torte served with vanilla cream. I blame Mr S for this...he was in charge of taking photos and was too eager to dig into his tart. We were slightly nervous about ending on such an indulgent note after such a rich starter and main course but the dessert was surprisingly light and mousse-like with a lovely crisp crunch of the amaretti. It was the perfect way to end a truly wonderful day and when I got home I very happily ticked three restaurants off my bucket list, though I do plan to return to try them properly! 

What's currently top of your bucketlist? 

Clove Club
380 Old Street 
London 
EC1V 
020 7729 6496

Merchants Tavern
36 Charlotte Road
London
EC2A 3PG
020 7060 5335

8 Hoxton Square
London 
N1 6NU 
020 7729 4232
Follow on Bloglovin