Aladdin / Planet Hollywood (last visit: September 2005).
New Orleans style.
March 2007 Update: Commander's Palace closed a few months ago. They're looking for a new location, but there's nothing definite yet. Your best bet is to check their website at http://www.commanderspalace.com/las_vegas/index.php, or check your favorite Las Vegas forum.
Meal #1: They usually have a special of grilled escolar (a kind of very rich fish); get it! I did, and was very pleased. Also good is their turtle soup, gumbo, and don't forget to get a complimentary praline as you walk out the door.
Meal #2: This time, I decided to eat breakfast here: beignets. Beignets are little squares of fried dough, dusted with powdered sugar. They were served nice and hot, with a little cup of caramel dipping sauce. Delicious. Accompanying them was a cup of chicory coffee. Surprisingly, I even liked that (although I confess to adding lots of sugar and milk). The bill: perhaps $10.
Meal #3: When I arrived, I was offered a table at the bar or in the restaurant. "We have both available". I chose the restaurant. Service was efficient and friendly throughout the meal. The waiter was great. He was friendly, and explained the menu and the day's specials. I expressed interest in the tasting menu, so he spent a lot of time describing each of the courses. I eventually decided to go with the tasting menu, and the wine pairing as well. Throughout the meal, the waiter, and others as well, were careful to explain each course as it was presented, and also checked with me as to the timing of the meal (too fast? too slow?).
Now, before I get to the food, let me provide a warning to anyone thinking of getting the tasting menu. It's a huge amount of food. Each of the seven courses is pretty big - and of course there's the complimentary praline after dinner. Don't eat more than half of each course. The same is true for the wine pairing. Yes, there are seven glasses of wine as well, and they seemed pretty generous - more than the one and one half ounces I'd expect.
At last, the food. Commander's Palace offers a tasting menu that changes frequently, usually including some of the current specials. The first course was Tabasco Mash Cured and Smoked Salmon Club Sandwich (I know all the courses' names because the chef gave me a signed copy of the menu). It's a high class BLT, using salmon smoked at the restaurant, crispy prosciutto, lettuce, tomato, and garlic bread. Very good.
Course 2: Crispy Softshell Crab. Coated with cornmeal, it was very crunchy. However, the coating was so thick that it hid the delicate crab flavor. Good, but not great.
Course 3: Roasted Foie Gras Gumbo. A gumbo with foie gras, andouille sausage, and wild mushrooms? Strange, but it works. The soup is dark, rich, and spicy. The foie gras doesn't stand out, but contributes to the flavor. Excellent.
Course 4: Pacific Seabass with Louisiana Crawfish. My favorite course. The fish was crispy on the outside, but very moist within. The crawfish were tender, and the lemongrass beurre blanc gave everything a wonderful flavor.
Course 5: Petit Filet Mignon with Black Tiger Prawn. Served with smashed potatoes and, as a special bonus (the chef does that sometimes), a boudin of ground buffalo and rice. I'm not sure I can fairly judge this course. At this point I was getting so full that the amount of food on the plate was intimidating. The meat seemed perfectly cooked, and had good flavor, and the boudin - basically a fancy sausage with in-house smoked buffalo - had excellent flavor. It probably rates a very good.
Course 6: Chef's Selection of Cheeses. Four cheeses, whose names I forgot to write down. I'm no cheese expert, but I enjoyed all four.
Course 7: Red, White and Blue Crepes. Crepes with fresh blueberries and strawberries macerated in port wine, topped with walnut liqueur. Served cold. This didn't sound very good to me. I was wrong. Very good indeed!
Here's a picture of the (paper) menu that came with the meal.
Commander's Palace combines gracious service with very good food. It's well known for treating solo diners especially well. My two dinners and one breakfast were winners all.
The bill for a three course dinner will run around $75, plus drinks, tax, and tip. The tasting menu is closer to $100; wine pairings are another $45.
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