Monday, September 19, 2011

Vegas Baby

We landed in Las Vegas yesterday and have already had our first Elvis siting. My husband and I have come to Sin City for a conference, but we intend to lap up all of the good eats and amazing hiking available. We checked into our hotel, Red Rocks Canyon Resort, and decided to stay actually in the resort for dinner so that we could explore all the hotel has to offer. After peeking at the menus of all the restaurants on site, we decided on the Yard House. They boast the world's largest draft beer selection; we were all in.

There was no wait and we actually scored a high top table with a great view. The restaurant was bustling with busy servers attending to their tables, and a bar that did indeed have a huge beer selection. Our server, Kandace, came over promptly and took our beer order. We ordered the Sea Dog Wild Blueberry Wheat, a favorite of ours in the bottle on a hot summer afternoon. Vegas is pretty warm at 96 degrees, but the beer was thirstquenchingly good. Our server was surprisingly candid about menu options. We had intended on ordering a Thai Chicken pizza, but she steered us away from that. The menu was pretty extensive and extremely eclectic. We ordered, with Kandace's guidance, two beef shortrib street tacos, shrimp lettuce wraps, poke appetizer, and truffle fries.

As we were waiting for our food to arrive, my husband and I commented on the decor. All of the lighting fixtures and bar surfaces at Red Rocks are made of some variation of veiny marble. It makes an interesting lighting display as the marble motif is mixed with iridescent baubles. The music at Yard House was not necessarily my taste. I like for dining music to be an accompaniment rather than have it fight for center stage. Yard House's playlist was mostly classic rock by their definition, not so classic in my mind and quite loud. I did notice that the staff really works together. They were running each other's drinks and food, and pre-bussing tables to clear dirties. In fact a different server arrived shortly with our food.

For the dining course, we ordered a Dunkle and a shorty of Rogue's Hazelnut Brown Nectar. Both delicious and perfect with our food selections. The Yard House offers beer in a number of sizes, including shorties which are 8 oz. pours and perfect if you want to sample a few varieties of what is on tap. We started off with the street tacos. They were fairly small, as Kandace had warned, but full of yummy deliciousness. The short rib meat was ultra tender and well seasoned. Inside the taco was a green papaya salad that added just the right tang and brightness to make the taco explode in your mouth. They were delectable. Next time, I would probably just order the taco platter and get a couple of different varieties. The tacos were our favorite at the end of the night.

Next, we dove into the lettuce wraps. My husband introduced me to lettuce wraps on another trip. He loves that they are not as carby as a traditional taco and offer the crunch of the lettuce as an interesting texture twist. We went with the shrimp tacos with macadamia nuts, shredded purple cabbage, tofu, carrots and cilantro. The wraps came with a choice of dipping sauces: peanut, firecracker, and a Thai aoli. The firecracker was the winner. It had what tasted like a melding of fish sauce, hoisin, and maybe Serrano chilis finely diced. It had a nice slow back heat and brought alot of character to the lettuce wraps. The mixture for the wraps was actually pretty well seasoned, and I loved the tofu addition. It was not tasteless and firm, but nicely marinated and grilled. The lettuce leaves themselves were unwieldy. Some had little tears in them which made for messy eating. Overall, they were pretty tasty.

Then it was time to turn to the poke. I was most excited about this dish because I love a well done poke bowl. The fish actually looked nicely cut and was that deep blue-red color that fresh tuna is. It was mixed in with bamboo shoots, carrots and cilantro. I must say, I was disappointed. The poke was fresh-tasting but had little to no seasoning. It was crying for some acid. A little lime wedge would have done wonders. I took a couple of bites and let it go. The thing I could not stop eating was the truffle fries. We ordered these on a lark because it is all the rage to add truffle to mac and cheese and my husband and I always joke if you want to make something upscale, just add truffle. We have tried to find a truly outstanding version of the truffle mac to no avail. Mac and cheese is mac and cheese- good but should be relegated to the homey, comfort food station that it occupies. These fries though, were outstanding. they had fresh shaved Parmesan and chopped herbs mixed in which gave the fries that deep nutty flavor. The truffle oil added an earthy dimension to the fries that dispelled any need for salt, or the offered ketchup. They were not greasy or difficult to handle. They were stars of this meal.

Kandace noticed we had finished with our meal and came over to check on us. We decided to go full boat and order dessert. They offered a mini-dessert sampler platter that had a couple of the dishes we were interested in, so we ordered it. It consisted of a molten chocolate cake, a lemon pudding cake with raspberries, and a peach cobbler. I also ordered a Blue Moon shorty; I thought the citrus and coriander nuances of the beer would pair nicely with dessert. The desserts arrived on a clean, simple white plate. They actually looked quite stunning, unfortunately flavor did not follow. The molten lava cake was what you would expect, not anything exciting but pretty decent taste. It was a little overcooked so the outside was almost crispy. The lemon pudding cake that I was so excited about was undercooked. It was actually totally raw and inedible. I was sorely disappointed. My husband enjoyed the peach cobbler, but all in all dessert was a big miss. We went ahead and asked for our check.

Overall,The Yard House is a great place if you want to meet friends for a brew and maybe a light nosh. Their draft selection is impressive. The service was friendly and efficient. The food, unfortunately, is only mediocre. I will be curious to see what else Vegas has to offer for a curious pallette.

Yard House (Red Rock Resort) on Urbanspoon

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