This review of a Las Vegas restaurant is a break from The Picky Glutton’s usual London-based coverage.
Much of the dining scene on the Las Vegas Strip seems to be dominated by celebrity chefs, some of whom I’ve heard of and many of whom I haven’t. Emeril Lagasse, a TV chef, is one of those I haven’t. I popped along to his New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand one lunch time to see what the fuss was about.
Emeril’s is a large, stylish space in a generic beige sort of way. The high-ceilinged dining room is dominated by a large circular bar and a seemingly endless supply of tables. It can get quite loud during peak times, so it may not be ideal for a romantic meal or business lunch. The friendly service was especially attentive though, even by American standards.
The bread rolls for the table had a surprising brioche, buttermilk-like taste to them which was complimented well by the fluffy butter which looked more like airy clotted cream.
I started off with the ceviche which turned out to be a curious disappointment. There was a plentiful amount of tuna, white fish, scallops and shrimp, but I’m fairly certain only the latter two were uncooked. Raw seafood marinated by citrus juices is essential to a good ceviche, so having cooked fish felt like a cheap cop out. Although the citrus dressing was suitably refreshing and tart, it was spoiled by the presence of a tomato-based sauce and an excessive amount of avocado and sour cream. The endless sea of tortilla chips is a bizarre and unnecessary addition.
It’s as if they started making a ceviche, but changed their minds mid-way and ended up making a deconstructed seafood taco instead – and not a particularly good one at that.
Thankfully my main course, a seafood pan roast (essentially a jambalaya), was more successful. The peppery, buttery, tomato-flavoured rice was very moreish. I especially enjoyed the plump, smoky king prawns and the sweet and light tuna and mahi mahi – a delicious Hawaiian and Caribbean fish not often found in Britain. It all comes together to form a bold, satisfying dish.
It may seem odd to have bread and butter pudding, a quintessentially British dessert, in Las Vegas but it was one of the most intriguing items on the dessert menu if only to see how Emeril’s would approach it. It had a slight chewiness to it and was very buttery and dense, despite its apparent fluffiness. The cream was light and gently sweet which complimented the pudding nicely, but didn’t have much whiskey in it as far as I could tell. It’s nicely done, but it won’t set the world of bread and butter puddings alight.
Emeril’s is one of the few restaurants I’ve seen to have Blue Mountain coffee available on the menu so I had to indulge. I neglected to ask which grade of Blue Mountain coffee it was, but it tasted like the good stuff to me – very smooth with no acidity, naturally but subtly sweet with a slightly smoky finish. It’s not cheap though at $20 for a 3-4 cup cafetiere.
Emeril’s competencies clearly lie in hearty fare like the pan roasted seafood jambalaya rather than more unusual dishes like ceviche. Stick to the former and you’ll have a fine meal.
Name: Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House
Address: MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109-4319, USA
Phone: 001 702 891 7374
Opening Hours: seven days a week 11.30-14.30 and 17.00-22.00.
Reservations: highly recommended.
Total cost for one person including coffee but excluding tip: US$80 (approx. £50 at the time of writing – you’ll pay less if you skip the coffee or choose a cheaper variety)