PALM’s Prime Times Have Passed

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The Palm used to be one of our favorite restaurants.

We have our picture on the wall and everything!

Back in the day, we celebrated many a birthday of Hugh Alexander Curtas (d.o.b. 10.15.84 – The Official Number Two Son Of ELV) there, its  roasted lobsters were called legendary (by us) , and we once proclaimed the burger the best in Vegas (in 1999, in Las Vegas Life magazine).

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Before we get to that, a little history. When the Palm arrived on our eating scene in 1993, it was the third of the big chain steakhouses to plant its flag in our humble burg (Ruth’s Chris, in 1989 and Morton’s, in 1992 were the others). Believe it or not, they were considered some of the top dining venues in town at that time, with their only competition being mostly tired old “gourmet” rooms in many of the hotels. For someone like ELV (having recently moved back from the outskirts of New York City), these purveyors of prime were a godsend. None of them had watered down their brands at that time (Palm Las Vegas was its eighth store to open), prime beef still meant true prime quality, and a top flight booze bar and a real wine list were like manna from heaven to a dude used to the never-ending delights of the NYC restaurant scene.

The point is, we’ve had a soft spot in our heart for the Palm for over seventeen years, despite the occasional spotty service, steaks that occasionally taste like they come from the supermarket, and a wine program that has an accountant’s fingerprints all over it. Heck, we even took The Food Gal® there on our first date…

But last Friday’s burger was the last straw. Somehow they managed to cook an unseasoned burger* medium rare to rare (just the way we like it) but somehow dry it out at the same time. No mean feat that. The bread basket was an embarrassment of air-infused sponginess,** the bun semi-stale, and the limp fries greasy, flabby and unappealing to anyone but a six-year old. Our chicken Cobb salad was served without blue cheese and without shame. So limp and boring was its appearance, it might just as well have come from a Wendy’s salad bar. One quick bite convinced us it should have.

All of this chain-link mediocrity was consumed whilst watching a steady stream of clueless tourists deposit their shopping bags and their cash at a place that exists solely to separate them from the latter as quickly as possible. ELV knows not when the passion (and the good cooks) left, but it is painfully obvious this is now a cog in a franchised wheel, rolling only in the direction of the bean counters running the place.

That dry, unseasoned burger on a stale bun with greasy fries and a Saran-wrapped-quality salad came to $35 and we left a $10 tip.


In the Forum Shops at Caesars

3500 Las Vegas Blvd. South



* It costs $14. Fleming’s happy hour burger is twice as good at half the price.

** Palm’s bread basket was one of the first in Vegas to feature quality slices of Sanborn sourdough, raisin-walnut bread, and other doughy delights. These days, everything has the consistency of WonderBread with a slightly chewier crust.

7 thoughts on “PALM’s Prime Times Have Passed

  1. Dear ELV,
    I am a Las Vegas cabdriver. My mom is retired. She isn’t rich, and obviously neither am I. But we do enjoy our fine dining on special occasions. At your recommendation, I took her to Sage for her 70th birthday, and she was just thrilled by the quality of the food. I loved the food too, and I was happy/relieved that I could treat her to such a nice place without risking financial ruin. We’ve eaten at other terrific places (Comme Ca, Raku) at your recommendation, and again we were most satisfied by both the quality and the value. I don’t know about the other food critics in town. I’m convinced they’re either getting paid off or shilling for friends. I don’t necessarily agree with you 100%, but at least I have no doubts about your integrity. In a city obsessed with both an easy buck and the lowest common denominator, fine cuisine will always be facing an uphill climb. Thank you for fighting the good fight.

  2. It is very sad-especially when you realize that a professional kitchen can’t even make decent french fries. A good french fry is a very simple thing to cook.

  3. That place always was never very good. They serve the fattiest/greasy fillet steak in town. Its like the grill is next to the deep fryer and oil spills over onto the grill.

  4. We ate at the Palm and had the lunch special, stuffed flounder. While the food was just good the service was excellent. However, I ordered a Coke and it came in an 8 oz bottle. I had two and they were $3.75 each!

    While I don’t mind paying for nice things, don’t gouge me. This was a deal breaker for me and I won’t be back.

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