Day Three – Olives
Yes food fans, we saved the worst for last.
The Food Gal® once remarked about Olives: “It’s so busy, the food doesn’t have to be any good.”
And it isn’t.
A lunch and a dinner there over the past several days confirms that nothing has changed about Olives since it first opened its doors ten years ago. Todd English’s food is as overwrought, artless and boring as ever. Which is quite a feat when you think about it. Cooking ingredient-heavy, complicated food that is bland and uninteresting is nothing short of genius, but English and his minions seemingly do the impossible every time we dine here.
We stroll in every year or so just to take comfort in the incessant banality of the place. It’s almost heartwarming in fact, to realize that some things remain eternal in the restaurant world: Todd English will be forever famous for forgettable food, and Olives Las Vegas is the poster restaurant for Celebrity Chef Hell.
Actually, Hell’s Celebrity Chef Restaurant® serves nothing but Todd English and Emeril Lagasse recipes, whipped up by fat guys in red ponytails and orange clogs…all presented with a booming voice-over commentary by Cat Cora, while Rocco DiSpirito dances in the background.
Be that as it may, there was a smidgen of optimism in our hearts as we strolled in last Sunday. “Who knows?” we thought to ourselves, as we perused the special Winter Week (read: Recession) lunch menu: “Maybe there’s been a turnabout in the kitchen. Perhaps a dozen disappointments will be atoned for…”
Alas, it was not to be.
It’s really saying something when not even the olives at Olives are interesting: …but they paled in comparison with lame onion soup: or the thick, pasty, chestnut-stuffed pasta: or a mess of a salad:
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
As totally tasteless as the Roasted Chicken Panini with Smoked Bacon, Pea(?) Aioli, and Gruyere cheese sandwich was, it was an olfactory, fungiform, filiform and foliate riot next to the Pasta Fagioli soup that came with it:
And if those weren’t bad enough, the crab cake sandwich we ordered won the unofficial Eating Las Vegas award for the worst crab cake we have ever encountered. This thick, tough, deep-fried dough-ball: …eventually gave way to reveal stringy, under-seasoned and tasteless (are you sensing a theme here?) crab meat:
The whole concoction sat atop a stale, brioche bun, and was dabbed with two (count ’em…two!) toppings: the same black olive tapenade that accompanied the bread, and a sweet, red-pepper spread — neither of which brought anything to the party.
As with ELV’s many marriages, hope triumphed (temporarily) over experience, so we stuck around for dessert:
The menu said it was a sour cherry mascarpone and ricotta cannoli. It tasted of none of those…although the cannoli shell was frozen and rock hard, just like you’d get in a bad Italian bakery…or more likely, some low-end, supermarket “bake shop” trying to imitate a cheap Italian bakery.
On the plus side, we got to lunch and visit with uber-SoCal-food-dude Russell Wong:…the fountains were fun: ….and the two little girls at the next table were adorable: …so the meal wasn’t a total loss.
Lunch for three, with one person getting the $25 special, and the other eating only soup and salad, and yours truly getting the pasta and crab cakes plus two $18 glasses of wine, came to $186 (including a $30 tip)…all of which left us feeling like this guy.
At the Bellagio Hotel and Casino
3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109