April 11, 2013

Dishcrawl Las Vegas

Dishcrawl debuted in Las Vegas last night. Being the lover of food that I am, I was excited to attend. Dishcrawl takes a group of diners on an mystery dining date where you sample dishes from four different neighborhood restaurants; Reservations are $45. Only the first location is disclosed 48 hours before the event. I thought it was a neat concept, but some friends didn't like the element of surprise and declined to go. Unexpectly, we ran into a fellow foodie friend when we showed up at the first restaurant. So, that was a nice surprise.

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Las Vegas' first Dishcrawl was at Tivoli Village. We began the evening at Kabuki Japanese Restaurant. I was familiar with the chain, I've walked by the one at Town Square numerous times, but have never tried it. We mingled a bit before our first course was served. Kabuki served us marinated beef and mushrooms, and two sushi rolls: "Lotus on Fire" california roll topped with spicy tuna and jalapeno and likely the "Sunkissed Roll" with salmon with avocado. Our table of four was split on what the best roll was Frank and I preferred the "Lotus of Fire" since we favor sushi with a kick. It was a good start to the night. We were excited to see what else was in store.

The next stop was Cantina Laredo. I dined there earlier this year at a Yelp event. That visit I enjoyed the tuna tacos and cantina rolls so I was hopeful to experience them again. However, they chose different dishes to showcase for Dishcrawl. We had a tasting of their empanada with red and green sauce, chicken flauta and ceviche. The empanada lacked any punch, the flauta was overseasoned with a heavy hand of salt. I couldn't even finish it. And the ceviche had a mediteranean twist with capers and olives. I hate olives. So, it was like a perfectly good ceviche was ruined. If this was my first impression of Cantina Laredo I'd be sorely disappointed just as Frank and others in our group were. I mentioned to the manager that they have better dishes on their menu to showcase. To make matters worse, cocktail orders were taken when we were seated and we didn't get our beers until the end of our meal with only five minutes to spare - we only had 35 minutes at each location;. Chug-a-lug.

The Pizza Lounge was next. I never even knew it existed so thank's Dishcrawl for turning me onto something new. It's been open nearly a month and it's a quaint, but stylish place tucked into a nook. They'll soon be adding outdoor patio space. They specialize in gourmet pizza and pasta. However, it was the beer selection that left an impression on us. Several draft handles were a pleasant surprise for such a small space. Here we had a sampling of two types of pizza: shrimp chipotle and California pepperoni, pesto bowtie pasta, meatball and pear & gorgonzola salad. I liked the California pepperoni pizza best with bacon, spinach, and sliced roma tomatoes. I only wish the crust was crisper. Perhaps it would be under regular circumstances? The pesto bowtie pasta with chicken and sundried tomatoes was the other crowd pleaser. The staff was fantastic. They moved at rapid pace and did so with a smile.

Dessert was at Leone Cafe. They stayed open to accomodate our group. They put out a spread of pastries and served granita samples. I had the chocolate croissant. It was nice, but nothing too memorable. The mocha in the granita was overpowering. Where was the coffee?

All in all, there were some dishes that shined and others that fizzled. I'm glad we took part. It be better if they frequented fewer chains and highlighted local mom & pop restaurants. In any case, it'll be interesting to see if it takes off.

After the Dishcrawl, we went over to La Casa Cigar Lounge for a smoke and nightcap. It has a huge properly humidified humidor. I just love the smell. I could camp out in there all night. Instead, Frank pulled me away and we went out on the back patio. It was a nice place relax for an evening. Midnight came much too soon. I see more evenings there in our future.

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