A birthday tradition for me the last 5 years has been to go to Vegas for a fabulous dinner and a show. The first trip set the bar very high, as we saw the incomparable Tom Jones and then ate an outstanding 7 course meal at Joël Robuchon in the MGM Grand. I wish I had been a blogger back then. This was Vegas before the recession, and it was mind blowing. I have been back to Joël Robuchon once since then, and it is still fabulous and beautiful, but not what it was before the bottom fell out of the Vegas economy. The cheese cart was a little smaller, the menu not as diverse, and the cute French waiters were gone. Needless to say, I wish I had known then that that evening would be a very difficult one to recreate. Maybe I would have taken a few pictures of the meal, maybe I would have asked for another glass of rosé champagne (they were $75 a piece!!), maybe I would have savored it a little more.
Not to be discouraged, we have returned year after year, and have never been disappointed. We have paired an evening of Garth Brooks with dinner at Guy Savoy, Cher with Nobu, and Beatles Live with Wolfgang Puck. Last year, we stayed at the Aria in the (then) recently-opened City Center and dined at Julian Serrano before heading over to the Venetian to see Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in their Soul2Soul show.
A two-time James Beard Award winner, Julian Serrano was raised in Spain and made his mark in the States working at Masa’s in San Francisco and later as executive chef at Picasso in the Mirage. His namesake restaurant specializes in tapas and other Spanish food, and has received the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine. The menu at Julian Serrano is lengthy, with close to 60 plates from which to choose. But they are all small plates, so one person can choose several. With the help of our charming waiter from Belgium, we ordered the following smorgasbord: Tuna Tartar Cones, with cucumber avocado ponzu in crispy wontons; Gambas, shrimp sautéed with garlic and chile de arbol; Rabo de Toro, oxtail with Iberian pork and mashed potatoes; Black Rice, with calamari and lobster meat sofrito in squid ink; Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, with goat cheese and mushrooms; and, last, but not least, Pata Negra ham, described as “the most delicious ham in the world”, and it is (which reminds me that I should write a post about our trek to Montánchez, Spain, which is one of the main centers for the production of pata, negra, also known as Jamón Ibérico).
The design of the restaurant is a colorful mix of orange, red, yellow and purple mosaic tile throughout, even in the bathroom, where you will hear Berlitz-type tapes teaching you Spanish. Our waiter said the layout of the mosaic tiles were designed by Pablo Picasso’s son. I will take that and run with it.
|I normally don’t take pics of bathroom, but this was too fun|
|Floor, walls, bar front: everything is tiled|
|I snuck in before the restaurant opened to take most of these pics|
With a belly full of Pata Negra, we made our way to the show. Tim and Faith sang many duets and took turns singing each of their big hits, with costume changes in between. Highlights included a tribute to the Eagles with “One Of Those Nights” and “I Can’t Tell You Why”, Faith’s hits, including “Piece of My Heart” and “Breathe”, and Tim’s “One Of Those Nights”, and the ah-mazing “Live Like You Were Dying”. (Tim had me from the beginning with the black cowboy hat and the tight silk suits…I love that guy.) I highly, highly recommend the show. Catch it on Fridays or Saturdays through April 12. The lyrics of Live Like You Were Dying strike a cord with me, reminding me that everyday is precious, and to treat it like a gift. I wish the same for you.
I went rocky mountain climbing
What is next on my list? Britney, for sure! If you have any suggestions on restaurants, shoot me a line, or leave your comment at the end of the page.