A tale of two tables

Las Vegas holds no attraction other than restaurants (not buffets as they hold even less attraction than casinos). Tricia joined me last week on a quick business trip. The View Wine Bar, and Bouchon Bistro were enticement enough, and a hike in the Red Rock Canyon while I was speaking sealed the deal.

We found The View last November on our trip to Death Valley, and the experience there elevated it to one of our favorites. So after landing at the airport, checking in to the Flamingo to be near my seminar, we headed to the suburb for a great meal. It was sunset as we sat down at a window seat, St Patricks day but not crowded, anticipating a relaxing and wonderful small plate meal.

IMG_0301I was put off immediately by the loud live music, so loud it was distracting and even made it hard to talk. Thankfully the singer took a break for a significant part of our meal, yet we did have an encoure for the last part, as loud as ever.

The food was good yet seemed to not be of the same caliber as our first visit. Most were heavy on the salt. I looked in the kitchen, the chef who we had met on our first trip did not seem to bee there, possible he takes Sunday nights off.

The service was good, James was attentive to the point of too helpful, a bit less explanation of each dish would be a nice touch. Beth, our server from our first visit was a pleasant as ever, which must have contributed to her promotion to manager. Remembering us she surprised us with Beignets for desert. I love the carmel sauce. Because of her we will give The View another chance if we get back there, yet it was not the evening I was hoping for.

The next night we headed for a long anticipated dinner at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon. Keller has been voted “Restauranteur of the year 2013.” His first establishment was The French Laundry in Sonoma, Tony Bourdaine calls it one of the best in the world. In November oysters and Champagne in the afternoon along with a glimpse of Keller himself whetted our appetite for a full dinner.

IMG_0303Well, it was above average, but not great. The waiter was friendly, even as he frequently suggested a $145 bottle of wine through the meal. I started with beef marrow, which I must say has become a new favorite. I followed that with mussels and frites. Tony Bourdaine spilled his wine on his show at his surprise that the fries were as good as those he makes at his restaurant  And I must agree that the frites were the best part of the meal. The Mussels were not near as good as those I had last year at The Jory in Newberg.


So food-wise the trip did not meet the anticipation. The View gets a second chance, I doubt I will be as quick to visit a Keller place in the future.

Pretzel confessions

They say (whoever they are) that it is good to admit your weaknesses and addictions. I try to spare folks most of my politically incorrect addictions, yet one I gladly fess up to is my affection for warm pub pretzels with grainy mustard.

IMG_0282 Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon does a wonderful job brewing. Their Pale Ale and Inversion IPA rank among my favorites. If you have never visited the brewpub in bend you may not know that they also do an excellent job on food as well. The dual attraction resulted in a major expansion over the last year, easily doubling their square footage. They have more room, yet is it still crowded on a Friday night, a testimony to the growing popularity.

This pretzel with an assortment of mustards was presented in a most unique fashion. Instead of boring piles of three different mustards, these were aesthetically swirled in concentric circles, a touch of class for a pub tradition. Even the pretzel breaks from the traditional shape, adding the twisted braid down the center; a work of art and taste to enjoy.

Another place I enjoy pretzels is at the Thirsty Lion Pub in Portland, Oregon. Here it is the venue that makes it. The Thirsty Lion is a British themed pub with a real emphasis on soccer and rugby. So a lunch of pretzel and soccer is about as good as it gets.

When it comes to pretzels they should be similar in texture to a bagel, but not quite as chewy, a bit more of a bread like texture. What does not work is if they are gummy.