This is the first and probably the last time I’ll be staying at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas.  In addition to the trifling annoyances (in-room safe not working, housekeeping skipping our room today, being told I could leave my valuables at the front desk only to be told by the front desk that I had to leave them with the Bell Captain only to be told by the Bell Captain that they had to be in an enclosed piece of luggage (forcing me to lug my laptop around with me all afternoon) only to later be told by someone else at the front desk that I could leave my valuables at the front desk, etc.)  is the one big annoyance of being charged for in-room wifi.  It feels so nickel and dime, well beneath a hotel of its supposed stature.  Next thing you know, one of maids is going to stop by to ask if I’d like to pitch in for fellow employee Anita’s going away party. Akemi, on the other hand, likes the Cosmo just fine.  She finds the bed incredibly comfy (I have to agree) and loves the patio…

Akemi says: “Come on out!”. I say: “No way.”

I’m not a patio (or standing on anything more than three feet off the ground) guy, so “nice patio” lines up in neither column so far as I’m concerned.

Today was our big walking day.  Lots of walking punctuated by excessive bursts of eating…

Akemi checks out the steampunk telescope – to get an unreal view of the ceiling.
Yet another BIG SHOE.
Oh that perverted penguin.
Akemi induces vomiting.

For lunch, we headed over to a place I mean to try out every time I’m in town.  This trip, we finally got there: Bobby’s Flay’s Mesa Grill in Caesar’s Palace.

We started off with a great corn soup, packed with a spicy wallop as advertised.

For her main, Akemi ordered a shrimp dish that came with a cilantro sauce.  I requested the cilantro sauce on the side because she isn’t a fan.   When the dish arrived, I couldn’t help but notice the shrimp were swimming in the cilantro sauce.  I asked the (different) waiter who served us: “Is that cilantro?”.  And he replied: “No cilantro.”

Hmmm.  Sure looks like cilantro to me.

Akemi took a bite.  As it turned out, either the waiter serving us desperately needed to brush up on the menu or the parsley on the plate was doing a bang-up imitation of cilantro.  Akemi resigned herself to eating it but I wouldn’t allow it.  I called over our original waiter and pointed out the cilantro.  He tried to sidestep the issue by saying he had served the “chili oil on the side” as I’d requested.  Even if that were true and I had asked for “chill oil” on the side (which I didn’t), the fact that the chill oil was also served IN the sauce as evidenced by the photograph makes his point moot.  He then suggested Akemi try the dish and if she still minded the cilantro, he would exchange it.  No pressure.  We asked to exchange it.  So he presented us with the menu.  Again, I had to point out there had been some sort of miscommunication.  We didn’t want another dish.  We wanted THAT dish with the cilantro sauce on the side.  Our waiter informed us this was impossible.  Somehow, between the time I placed the initial order and fifteen minutes later, it had become impossible.  So Akemi settled for a chopped salad.

I had the chile relleno.

We ended up trekking all the way over to the Wynn Hotel in search of a fantastic dessert place I swear I remember visiting once – only to come up empty.  We trekked all the way back and, by the time we were within visual range of our hotel, we were hot and exhausted.  So I suggested a little pick-me-up in the form of a sundae at Serendipity.

Akemi says: “Yeah. Whatever. Waterfall.”
Snack time!

She had the frozen hot chocolate.  I did the amaretto-almond hot chocolate.  AND the carrot cake sundae with vanilla and butter-pecan ice cream.

Properly recharged, we had plenty of energy for what lay ahead: Dinner at Jaleo…

Pan de cristal con tomate: Toasted rustic bread brushed with fresh tomatoes, topped with anchovy.
The golden fried quail eggs atop a bed of Spanish ratatouille.  Akemi’s favorite.
Grilled squid with roasted artichokes in a squid ink sauce.
For dessert – a surprisingly great flan!

Akemi loved dinner and we would have gone back for a return visit – if not for the fact that we’d already booked Michael Mina at the Bellagio.

One more night and I’m Vancouver-bound!

26 thoughts on “July 17, 2012: Vegas Day #2: Mesa Grill! Serendipity! Jaleo!

  1. The squid looks fantastic.

    Akemi should learn to tell the waiters “No cilantro, it is a food allergy”. They must be more careful then. Wait staff really don’t like it when diners puff up and die on the floor. Makes for bad Yelp! reviews.
    I’d have asked for a small bowl and a spatula and then done the impossible by rearranging my food at the table. Heck, Denny’s is more accommodating!

  2. The ice cream looked wonderful. So did the quail eggs. And I’m still trying to figure out how you eat so much without being huge. I guess that’s a state secret. 🙂 Have fun on your last day!!!!

  3. Just curious, why didn’t you ask to see the manager when the waiter wouldn’t give you the dish as you asked for it. Will you be going back to a Mesa Grill? I hope they took that dish off your bill.

  4. Dang. you’d think that between the economy making any customer more valuable, and the fact that it’s supposed to be one of the better rated eateries, they would do a better job. Ah well, the decline and fall of western civilization carries on apace. Hope dinner goes better, and that the trip back home is as pleasant as your flight into Vegas.

  5. Ugh, I hate it when restaurants get so uptight, it’s one reason I don’t go out much, too many allergies and intolerances. In my experience most places don’t like you messing with their dish, or the extra effort/thought even if for an allergy. They lie to us all the time and get so mad and act like we’re too stupid to know when we’re having a reaction to the food. It’s not hard to mistake your throat swelling up and closing off, thanks.

    I’m surprised at the charge for wi-fi, usually I’m surprised how it’s advertised free everywhere (my bank, the grocery store, etc.) so to not have it at a hotel where most have been advertising free wi-fi in your room! for some time, and a hotel like that, is shocking. It’s like a few years ago when we flew to visit family and they told us we could have one free piece of luggage (this was the first time we flew after they started charging) and when we got there they charged us for all of them. Wait, you said one free bag per ticket? So why am I paying as much for my flight for my luggage? Sorry, one per group, so why did I have to pay for all three (we had four seats, and two of the bags were technically carry-on size for the kids stuff which they wouldn’t let us change to carry on since we had already started to check them and the flight was full), some bull crap, and when we tried to argue they threatened to kick us off the flight. Thanks a lot ye who also gouged us for the last minute tickets to get home for a funeral. We offer special rates – just not for you.

  6. Yet another reason why I wind up staying at places like Best Westerns in Vegas. The big hotels, besides being more expensive, nickel and dime you for everything. I’ll take my free breakfast and free wifi and stay one block off the strip anytime. Granted, they don’t have that awesome view from that patio! The always lovely Akemi looks very relaxed there!

    The service at that hotel is inexcusable, not to mention that restaurant. Gah. I’m not really caring for that presentation of the cilantro-ridden shrimp dish anyway. I just looks kind of a mess. Desserts looked good, though!

    Oh, and thank you for using “moot” correctly (not that I would believe you would ever use it incorrectly). It’s a pet peeve of mine when people either misuse that word, or pronounce it “mute”. Drives me crazy!

  7. I hope Bobby Flay will read your review of dinner and call you to apologize.
    That toasted tomato bread looks wonderful, and snack time desserts, wow, Next trip to Vegas, I may have to ck out Serendipity, thanks.

  8. I am afeared of heights (I can’t stand on anything more than a foot off the ground!), but I can handle balconies and such if I am assured that I won’t fall off (high railing, etc). I will still get a bit of vertigo, but I won’t freeze. I will freeze, however, if I try walking on the rock jetties around here. My knees lock up and everything. For some reason my eyeballs and brain think that my fat ass can fall through the one inch gap between rocks. 😛

    The food looks yummy! However, if I got that shrimp dish I would have requested the cilantro, and hold the shrimp. 😉

    Enjoy the rest of your little getaway! Love the picture of Akemi on the balcony – very pretty. 🙂


  9. Sorry about the hotel and cilantro fiasco. You would expect better from such a place, no? Are you afraid of heights, or just balconies.

  10. You walked to the Wynn and back? Wow! I could barely walk the width of City Center in that heat. As far as wi-fi, my observation is the more expensive the hotel, the more likely they are to nail you extra for wi-fi as well. Weird but true.

  11. I have like 16 days of catch up to do. Got Patrick’s crud, then Jeff, then me still, then Patrick seizure, then…goes on and on.

  12. Afterthought… Goodness, even Denny’s has free wifi.

    Good food, not so much, but Free! WiFI!

  13. “amaretto-almond hot chocolate” I have died and gone to heaven. I would love to try that some day. I’m so excited. Next Thursday, July 26, I will be on a plane headed to LaGuardia airport in New York City. Landing at this airport is not a problem for me but taking off is. I always think we’re going to go down in the Hudson River. Then, Patrick’s godmother and her husband will pick me up and drive me out to Setauket, Long Island where they live. I have known Patty since I was 15 (so that would make it 33 years). She was trying to steal my boyfriend away. They say keep your friends close but your enemies closer! Dumped the boyfriend and we’ve been best of friends ever since. Then on Friday is the ice-breaker buffet dinner at a local Patchogue restaurant (where I need to find out if they allow smoking inside because if they do, I will not be going). Saturday night is the big high school reunion at the Bellport Country Club where Patty will go as my “date.” Of course we will love playing up this prank as I introduce her as my “friend” and only those who have gotten back in touch with me on Facebook will know I am married to Jeff and not to Patty. She did not go to our high school but did date one of my classmates (thanks to my kick-ass going-away party–moved to Florida) and I think he will be there as he just moved back. I’m sure that sometime that night we’ll resemble a Glee episode as we break into song (many professional singers in the bunch), reminiscing about our days in Chorus. Then Sunday morning we head into New York City where I will go to the 9/11 Memorial (and pay my respects to the 3 classmates who died in the towers), and bring some closure for me. I still cannot watch the documentaries. I imagine it will be similar to going to the Vietnam Memorial Wall, except I will recognize 3 of the names on there. And then if there is time, I’d like to the Museum of Natural History OR go back to the place in Brooklyn where I spent the first 5 years of my life. I’ve seen it on Google maps, but to stand there would be really cool. It’s no longer a slum–it’s been revitalized. Of course I’d love to meet up with anyone there, but not sure the logistics of all that since we’re only in there for the day. Monday, we might head off to Davis Park, Fire Island where I met Patty (her family parked their boat next to my foster family’s boat–we spent the entire summer there on a 38-foot boat, 4 foster kids, 2 of their own kids, and the two foster parents. Cramped space. I heard it’s changed a lot. My plane returns on Tuesday. I was a bit worried that I might have to cancel, but it seems the antibiotics are working.

  14. Ugh, I absolutely loathe wait-staff like that. The sad truths are either it really is impossible to make it without the cilantro sauce because all their stuff is premade and all they do is heat it up when it’s ordered, or the waiter is such an insufferable prick that they don’t really care about their customers. Both are reason enough for me to never return to a restaurant. In fact next time I’m in Vegas(this November), I probably won’t even bother trying to go there. I’m always leery of restaurants that are only popular because of their owners, anyway. This just adds to the list of reasons not to go. I don’t go to fancy restaurants for novelty, I go for amazing food.

    -Mike A.

  15. I’ve read reviews of Mesa Grill, and some have said that they do not allow substitutions or changes. I think your waiter may have just nodded during your order to avoid the conversation and hoped you wouldn’t notice once the food arrived.

    I’ve also read that in one (or maybe all) of Mario Batali’s restaurants, that he does not offer salt or pepper on the table supposedly because his creations are already seasoned “to perfection”…

  16. Oo-la-la- you fancy folk and your paying for WiFi. I’ll think of you the next time I’m using the free WiFi while my kids run through the McDonald’s play place.

  17. @ PBMom – If you go to the Museum of Natural History, you almost HAVE to pick up Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s book, Relic. I picked it up at a used book shop a couple years back, and through it fell deeply ‘in love’ with Special Agent Pendergast. But I also fell in love with the museum, too. Preston (I believe) once worked there, and the book was his way of getting back at them…lol. Just kidding, but the book is full of behind the scenes museum-y atmosphere, though I will warn you that it’s a sci fi-ish thriller, with some gory bits and a lots of scary moments. I loved it, though, and reading it makes me want to visit the real deal someday.


    1. @Das Thanks for the info. I will definitely check it out if we go. My friend changed our plans to Monday. She wants me to meet her stepdaughters on Sunday.

  18. So sorry about the hotel. I wouldn’t mind paying for GOOD Wi-Fi because sometimes the free ones are so slow! It was ridiculous they made you cart your bag around though!!!!!!! We went to one hotel that made us give a deposit for the TV remote. Never again!

    Your balcony view looks so beautiful! We had a beautiful view at the condo in Destin. I had breakfast on the balcony looking at the dolphins play in the Gulf. I believe I’m going to like my friend’s new wealthy husband 🙂 .

    The pictures are so good. Akemi is very photogenic.

    DP: Funny girl 😛 .

    Eat lots of good food!

  19. @ JimFromJersey – That’s just crazy (not allowing subs or changes). What if you’re allergic to an ingredient? (Which is what I tell wait staff at some restaurants to make sure seafood doesn’t end up in my meal – like those horrid anchovies they always want to slap on top of my otherwise perfect Greek salad 😡 ). I can understand the rule if a customer wants to change it so much it becomes a totally different dish, but to leave out one ingredient shouldn’t be a problem for a good kitchen. (I also understand the ‘no sub’ rule for specials and early birds, that’s necessary to keep costs down and prevent abuses.) It sounds like Mesa Grill is more of a snobatorium than a restaurant that aims to please their customers.


  20. I’ve noticed higher-end hotels nickel-and-dime you more than budget chains or mom-and-pops. Parking charges, resort fees (the last one covered only a small gym and a newspaper, and you had to go to the lobby for the newspaper) etc. Very odd, and really does leave a bad taste.

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