There’s no place like home – Delmonico Steakhouse (The Venetian, Las Vegas)

Is there anywhere more romantic than the grand canals of Venice for an evening meal?   This was a second visit for me to Delmonico but it meant so much more as my fiancé was experiencing the wonderful food that a Emril Lasagsse restaurant offers.  Not dissimilar to James Martin, Emril learnt his craft in pastry but swiftly moved on to become a world class chef, passionate about ingredients.

Delmonico Steakhouse opened in 1999 and whenever I speak to fellow foodies while on holiday in Vegas they always rave about this place.  It comes as no surprise that one of the best restaurants in Las Vegas is located it this stunning hotel.

We booked for 9pm and had a short walk from the Mirage and wandered through the beautiful italian styled casino.  We arrived slightly ahead of our reservation and joined other diners in the bar area while our table was prepared.

We ordered some pre-dinner drinks and within 5 minutes our hostess led us into the warmly lit dining room.  I often wondered why this function is needed as the young lady did not carry our drinks not really very hospitable.wp-1477429326702.jpg

We were seated in the first room in with a wonderful view of the main restaurant (the kitchens are tucked away here, so no viewings of the Chefs’ in full throttle). We were welcomed to our table by our waiter, Drew, who advised us of the house specialities for that evening and that Michael would be our Maitre’d guiding us through the menu until our order.

The wine list was the most extensive I have ever seen with plenty of choices for the high rollers.   We selected a reasonable priced Argentine Malbec Casarena Reserva 2012 for $45.00.  This wine is produced by Casarena in Mendoza, the largest region in Argentina for the Malbec grape and this wine is known for its big sweet black fruit flavours.

We moved onto the menu, which as you would expect was not as extensive, but offered an excellent selection to please any carnivore.  For us it was an easy choice, we’d come to a steakhouse and we were not going to take a different direction other than maybe a lighter starter.  wp-1486642771230.jpg

The Maitre’d, Michael returned to take our order of Vine Ripened Heirloom Tomato Salad ($18) to share followed by a glorious Chateaubriand with asparagus and smashed garlic potatoes.

Anyone with OCD look away now, as the sight of this cucumber being slightly right of centre might drive you nuts.   wp-1486634843901.jpgThe amouse-bouche (or if you prefer hors d’eouvre ,some say the former is for a bite size portion but I thought the latter was supposed to be bite sized too) was a slice of cucumber with a blackeye-pea humous; a welcome palate cleanser between our cocktails and malbec.

The bread served gave us a smile and a slight chuckle as their “Mushroom Bread” (as announced)  was indeed a Yorkshire Pwp-1486634780945.jpgudding, maybe not the norm but then we are in Vegas and this city anyting but normal.  The Mushroom Bread was served with a salted butter so possibly the most calorific bread basket I’ve ever been had.  I love butter, but even I draw the line at buttering Yorkshire Puddings!

The atmosphere of Delmonico is warm and cosy despite the size of the restaurant and the front of house team are well-balanced in their style between formal and friendly.  Diners ranged from large tables of men only (clearly on a stag celebration; or should I say bachelor) but not so that it interfered with the smaller tables or couples.  We were within one of the larger alcoves with two other couples and as the tables have good spacing you could hear soft conversation without feeling overlooked (unlike Gordon Ramsey Steak at Paris).

The Heirloom Tomato salad was served just in time to hold off our hunger for the main event.  Priced at $18 a plate I had high expectations for this salad with slices of burrata cheese, red onions, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and slithers of fresh basil. Burrata, meaning buttered, gives you a wonderfully creamier texture compared to mozzarella; a cheese often served with tomatoes, but don’t confuse the two as they are different.

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The salad was divine a fabulous mix of tart, sweet and creamy and a serving more than enough for us to share. I would not normally choose tomato based salads but Delominco’s changed my view and certainly set the bar very high.

We were cleared and waited for our Chateuabriand, a fillet which was raised naturally by Creekstones Farm in Kansas (the home of my favourite fictional heroine).  The term naturally raised is what we in the UK call organic, some cattle in North America can be fed growth hormones and feed which is genetically modified.

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Drew arrived centre stage and presented the Chateaubriand and as flambeau work commenced our fellow diners were drawn to the watch the gentle basting of those rich meat juices over our fillet.  I wondered if these diners, who had opted for the larger portioned creole steaks, looked on with intrigue or envy?

This Kansas reared fillet was as good as any I have ever eaten – no wonder Dorothy uttered those immortal words “there’s no place like home”

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The accompaniments were just perfect; the asparagus was crisp and perky in contrast to the smashed potatoes which oozed a salty butter and warm garlic flavour.  As I write this review a month on I swear I can recall every tender bite and flavour of this simple yet glorious meal.

Despite being tempted with a wonderful sweet menu we had no room for dessert and politely declined.  The team at Delmonico thought better and presented us with a complementary sorbet to cleanse our pallets, a lovely touch to end a fantastic dining experience.   The bill was $198 before a gratuity, about £150 at the time of the exchange rate and worth every penny.

I sit on my couch back in England on this cold autumn day dreaming of our return to this fabulous restaurant or to another Emeril Palace.  Just maybe, if I click my heels, I too can return to savour this fine Kansas beef.

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Happy eating

 

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You can ring my bell – Eight Bells Inn, Chipping Camden (Church St, GL55 6JG)

We walked into this cosy pub in the heart of beautiful Chipping Camden where a warm welcome was chirped from behind one of the six hand pumped beers.  I thought as we entered, we have stuck gold looking around this low-beamed bar complete with a roaring fire but best of all was the fabulous smell of something delicious being cooked in the kitchen.   On first impressions it seemed impossible to not love this  Cotswolds village inn; please don’t let the food change our first impressions.

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The Eight Bells was a welcome relief after only 50 yards from here we first stumbled into the Lygon Arms, which may be a popular Racing UK venue, but the menu and atmosphere was less than enticing.

We found a table and considered as we were dining at 8.00pm at Charingworth Manor later and it was already 2.00pm we order a lighter lunch of sandwiches, but could not resist a portion of their chips.  The decision to choose sandwiches was not an easy one whilst we watched our fellow diners tuck into a huge Lamb Shank and Hook Norton Beer Battered Cod but we stayed strong.

We ordered a couple of pints of the aforementioned Hooky from Hook Norton  the pubs most local brewery (about 20 miles east) and what a great pint of golden and maltyness. The pub is lovely and we pleased to have found a seat across from the a roaring fire.

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Perfect Pint of Hooky by Hook Norton

Did you know that Hook Norton still deliver to some local pubs by Shire Horse and Dray? If you in the area it would be worth checking the Hook Norton site to see if you can see these beautiful horses in action.

This inn was busy with a gentle hum which felt very calming or maybe it was the pint of Hooky giving the soothing effect – either way we had found a real gem in this corner of the Cotswolds which has a fabulous atmosphere.

Our lunches were served and both were presented neatly with no fuss or garnish on the plate. I’m never sure how I feel about a lack of green on a plate but in the interests of zero waste I trust the Chef to waste any leaves (I hasten to add you can top your order for an extra mix of salad and chips).    The chips were golden and tasty – crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

David loved the Brie and Bacon Ciabatta as it had a great balance of filling to bread and was oozing with hot creamy brie over thick slices of quality back bacon.  What was unexpected was the apple chutney which really added to the mixture and made this creamy, meaty sandwich a ten out of ten for him.

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Brie and bacon ciabatta

The rare roast-beef, was as ordered rare, all too frequently we are promised this but served overcooked but not today.  With lots of peppery rocket, and sweet and spicey horseraddish all in a crunchy ciabatta (did you know ciabatta was commercially only introduced to the UK in 1985 by M&S). This was looking good and it tasted good too but the beef was fighting for its place in the flavour race as it was quite thinly sliced. It was a real shame as they advertise the sandwiches as hearty.  On a positive the beef was tender and of good quality.  Just more slice of beef for the £7.95 would have seemed fairer and given a perfectly filled and balanced sandwich.

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Rare roast beef sandwich

The bill was just under £27 for the two of us before a tip so reasonable value. We really enjoyed our visit to the Eight Bells and next time we are going to Cheltenham we will definitely make a point of calling in and trying their main courses.  If we are organised enough (this pub has 6 gorgeous en-suite rooms which book fast) we would like to stay here so we can sample some more of their excellent kept beer.

So if you are a regular visitor to Cheltenham races I would recommend you put this lovely 17th century inn on your list of considerations, with its beautiful setting and 4 star rooms and a concise and varied menu that is reasonably priced oozes confidence .

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Thyme Bistro (Cannon Hall Barnsley); a refreshing change

Our first trip to the lovely Thyme Bistro at Cannon Hall was a refreshing change as so many times this type of venue with captive audiences fail; read more to find out why I rate Thyme Bistro.

We arrived about 1245 and were advised there was about a ten minute wait for a table and were shown to the patio area; where we enjoyed the views and perused the menu .

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We were seated close to the counter displaying their wonderful choice of sweet treats; which already had caught the Ord brothers eyes. The bistro has a lovely buzz and considering it is very child friendly you are not deafed by the excitement of little ones.  The bistro is clean, light and bright. The offer free WiFi throughout and a seperate dining area for those with dogs (clever idea).

Our waitress took the table’s order of five meals; two of which were specials and one kids meal and all choices were available.  Not long after two of the specials were removed from the blackboard (good to see this being updated for incoming diners).

Two of the five specials ran out by 1pm – this must be a good sign?

Our meals were served within 20 minutes and the first to arrive was David’s Battered Haddock which was setting the bar on  looks.  Served with hand cut chips and mushy peas (as sponsored by illy) and good portion of tartare sauce looked good value at £9.95.  The batter was golden and the fish was moist and flakey as were the chips which were superb; as good as you should expect in a gastro-pub. The only irritation was the peas in an espresso cup (nearly as annoying as slates instead of plates).

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My order of the Cajun Chicken Burger was topped with bacon, cheese served with and hand cut chips and corriander soured cream – an  impressive stack.  I would have removed the bacon to reduce the calories  but  it was encrusted in the cheddar which was in turn melted to the chicken so I enjoyed it in all its glory.  The chicken was moist, the only issue was it lacked spice this maybe due to the flavour being overpowered by the cheddar and bacon.  Yet again the chips were spot on just a shame the chose to serve a soggy and slightly rotting salad garnish.  If it was my choice I would have served the Cajun burger with less cheese and let the spices do the talking.

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A good choice of hot and cold drinks are available and for the real ale lover they offer,albeit bottled, Black Sheep.  I enjoyed a fantastic illy cappuccino.

Overall I think pricing is fair for the quality.  Service is with a smile although we did note some misunderstandings within the team and it would be interesting to see if they can handle the pressure on a sunny day when there are more dinners.  

My recommendations to the Thyme Bistro would be to lose serving peas in coffee cups, ensure your garnish is not decaying and be bold with your spices.

Overal I recommend you dine at Thyme. We will be returning for seconds and hope that next time it deserves full points.

 

If you’d like to read more of my food adventures you can follow me on Twitter @EatBakeBlogGB  or Instagram with my reviews published on TripAdvisor as Louise Winder.

Louise x
http://www.LouiseWinderFoodAndTravel.com

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