This week, we turned over the reigns of Week in Reviews to former Tasting Las Vegas editor Mike Dobranski. Like it? Hate it? Leave a comment or shoot an email to email@example.com.
While thankfully abandoning most of his template of yore (begin with some bullshit space-wasting anecdote, then toss in a mind-numbing, also space-wasting regurgitation of the menu), Las Vegas CityLife's Al Mancini often continues to spew his judgment of an establishment after merely one visit. So unfortunate. For the restaurants and his readers. But at least his reviews are devoid of personality and barely display even an elementary understanding of food and the cooking thereof, right? Mancini's latest victim of his one-night stand approach is Mr. B's Bar & Grill on Paradise.
First impressions weren't favorable, as Mancini didn't care for the vibe at Mr. B's, stating: "The first thing I disliked about the restaurant, which occupies the space once inhabited by Z' Tejas Grill, was the atmosphere. The dining room has marble floors and the type of large neon ceiling panels you'd expect to find in a bachelor party limo. The walls of the bar are decorated with caricatures of deceased celebrities, while the likeness of a stereotypically mustached pizza chef stands next to an exposed pizza kitchen. Other walls are painted with replicas of the Italian countryside and the Mediterranean."
Luckily for the restaurant, Mr. B. himself came out to do some hand shaking and baby kissing amongst the patrons, the waiter cranked up the charm, and Mancini's kvetches about the restaurant's atmosphere seemed to dissipate over the course of the meal. Mancini added:
Patrons, many of the women in formal eveningwear, approached the piano player with requests, all of which he happily performed. Despite my initial perception, Mr. B's has a supper club vibe and genuine charm that's hard to find in our town.
Mancini used his Spaghetti alla Carbonara as a metaphorical device to explain his singular visit. Apparently, the pasta dish improved as the night went on, going from "liquid" to set and thickened. Mancini cited egg timing and cream reduction mishaps as possible culprits. While this would have been a fabulous moment for Mancini to educate his readers that the only proper place for cream in a Carbonara is still in the carton and tucked away in the refrigerator, we'll pretend it just slipped his mind.
Perhaps Mancini could use the metaphor he thunked up all by himself to relate to his own profession: Sometimes to get the full, accurate picture of a restaurant, we need to give it some time. Like three visits' worth. I'm not just sayin', but I'm just sayin'.
Speaking of people that can't seem to haul their ass into a restaurant they're reviewing more than once, Las Vegas Review-Journal food critic Heidi Knapp Rinella chimed in this week on The Verdict's Inn Cafe in downtown Las Vegas. While Rinella admits to liking herself a sloppy sandwich, she does have some limitations, writing, "We don't, of course, want a sandwich to be too gloppy; that running-down-the-arm thing gets a little messy and we're guessing would be even more of a problem for the law community the restaurant targets, with their starched shirts and all that." Based off of a Cobb salad, side of slaw and a bite of the pastrami from her dining companion's sandwich, Rinella decided to sentence the The Verdict's Inn Cafe to a B+ without the possibility of parole. [LVRJ]
Vegas Seven food critic Max Jacobson cut the cheese at Morel's French Steakhouse and Bistro in the Palazzo as he praised their fromage, but felt they whiffed on dessert. With mixed feelings coming from charcuterie that, "were not as good as the porchetta [he] buy[s] at Valley Cheese & Wine in Henderson," and entrees and sides going "swimmingly," Jacobson came to the conclusion that, "Morels isn’t ready for a duel with Savoy or Robuchon on every level." But really, Max...who is? [VS]
Las Vegas Weekly food writer Jim Begley didn't find much wrong (surprise, surprise) with Prince Restaurant on West Flamingo. In fact, Begley only found the restaurant's patrons and their karadjordeva snicla (don't ask) to be subpar. But once he got past the "James Bond villain dopplegängers" and dry pork, it was all clear skies and gumdrops, reporting, "Better is the Prince Pljeskavica ($11), basically a Serbian Juicy Lucy. A ground beef patty is stuffed with sirene (a mild Eastern European feta) and pickles and served on grossly oversized housemade bread alongside the omnipresent kajmak." Here's hoping Begley got paid by the consonant writing this one. [LVW]
IN DER BLOGOSPHERE: Thinking you'd like to know, Eating Las Vegas’ John Curtas gave high praise to Weera Thai's Pad Ka Pow. After a seemingly bountiful meal, chef/owner Peter Weera did the smart thing and "trotted" out more food for Curtas. Curtas describes the bonus dish thusly, "It’s basically a loosely-formed patty studded with basil, chopped onions and jalapeños, cooked to medium, and then topped with more onions and peppers, pepper jack cheese and fried basil leaves." No mention if a Listerine digestif is included. [ELV]
Mr. B’s Bar & Grill [Photo: Michael C./Yelp]