SIMON Sadly, Insufferably, Stupifies

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Alan Richman once gave us the best piece of food writing advice we’ve ever received. “When it’s really bad,” he said, “just report the facts.”

So here goes.

We entered a vacant restaurant around 6:15 on a Tuesday night. (Truly, there was maybe one other table occupied and no one was at the bar.)

We sat at the bar.

We ordered a cocktail. Then another. (It was that kind of week.)

Nothing wrong with the drinks, so we’ll leave it at that.

Hunger pangs struck.

We perused the dinner menu. It’s a relatively short one, which gave us (momentary, misplaced) confidence in the kitchen.

The pork cheek sounded interesting. So did pasta “Bolognese.”

“Maryland-style” crab cakes didn’t (sound interesting), but sometimes, in the name of research, you take one for the team and order something boring just to see how the cooks do it.

The same thinking informed our reason for ordering the steamed Spring vegetables. (pictured above)

First the crab cake arrived:

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It was by-the-numbers and unremarkable, but sufficiently crabby to hold both our attention and hope for the rest of the meal.

Then, a few minutes later, the other three dishes hit the table: the aforementioned “steamed” vegetables (more on them in a minute), the pork cheeks:

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…and finally, the pasta “Bolognese.” (The quotes are ELV’s, not the restaurant’s.)

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First, let’s consider the vegetables.

They were raw, lukewarm, and entirely unseasoned. They were neither glazed with fat nor sprinkled with anything that might enhance their natural character. By taste and texture, one could only conclude that they perhaps passed by a steamer for no more than 30 seconds before making their way to the dining room.

We mentioned that they are raw to the bartender/waitron, and he mumbled something along the lines of:  “Well, they’re supposed to be steamed and I’ll take them back to the kitchen if you want?” but we told him not to bother.

We told him not to bother because by that time, we had been confronted by the pork and pasta.

That pork consisted of two grey, golf-ball-sized nuggets of sufficiently tender meat that, once again, were unfamiliar with the art of seasoning. The tannish-yellow broth it sat in (which reminded us of unseasoned chicken stock) provided neither relief nor interest from this tedious state of affairs, and the poached egg on top(?) didn’t help either — it being equally unacquainted with salt, pepper or the reason for its placement thereon.

ELV was left wondering if he had ever seen an uglier restaurant dish, and wishing for the blessed relief of a hospital meal.

Then, things got worse.

The pasta was served un-tossed with sauce. Instead, a mass of cavatelli gemelli had a thick, tomato puree of intense, sugary sweetness plopped upon it. So dense and cloying was it, we were thinking of canned tomato paste with every bite. Instead of the meat being incorporated into the sauce, as in a true Bolognese, someone had folded chunks of steak into the mix at the last minute. It was to a real Bolognese sauce what Yanni is to Rossini – a crass, cheap imitation for the masses.

But wait, there’s more!

The whole enchilada of Kerry Simon‘s “Bolognese” was topped with….wait for it….huge, oily, deep-fried croutons!

Yup, croutons.

Have you ever heard of pasta being topped with croutons? We haven’t. But if this is some sort of culinary trend we’ve missed, please inform Eating Las Vegas immediately…so we can look forward to having our al dente pastas adorned with fried bread as a way of further ensuring that our bowels never move.

In the croutons defense, they provided the perfect capper for the meal. Greasy, flavorless filigree forced upon fatuous food fallacies.

Which pretty much summed up our feelings about this forlorn failure.

The bill for the food portion of the meal came to $85. It was paid.


In the Palms Place Hotel and Casino

4381 West Flamingo Road

Las Vegas, NV 89103


20 thoughts on “SIMON Sadly, Insufferably, Stupifies

  1. I’m not sure that those pitiful steamed veggies aren’t the ugliest dish I’ve ever seen served in a restaurant. I could dump some frozen Bird’s Eye vegetables on a plate and throw it in the microwave and it would look better.

  2. I walked in 8:30 a couple of fridays ago and found the place nearly empty except for a large table of young folks who’d been at the hotel on a training course. Certainly seemed to have lost its pizzas and the service was bumpy. The food was completely unmemorable. Such a lovely room too loose momentum like this.

  3. We were that Friday night for happy hour. Also empty and the food was terrible. The meatball sliders were big buns with a thumb-sized meatball; I couldn’t even eat the sushi after one bite (all I could taste was rice, anyway) and I had a stomach ache hours after.

  4. This restaurant has never being good. Now it is looking like a joke.. I never understand how a restaurateur is not caring and is allow to loose money everyday.

  5. The pasta pictured isn’t cavatelli. It is gemelli. It makes a bad meal even worse if cavatelli is mentioned in the menu description but gemelli is served.

    No attention to detail over there.

  6. Nice job Union cooks! thanks 226- maybe you can protest out in the street over unfair criticism of your beautiful food- Kerry Simon should cut his losses and run- how embarassing.

  7. ELV responds: We remember the waitron, not the menu, calling it cavatelli, but once you get past pappardelle, all pasta shapes frighten and confuse us.

  8. It’s in a terrible location, and also apparently lost its hot hostess. For shame! It’s a bearable lunch spot for me, a decent lunch for a double sawbuck if I happen to be in the neighborhood (and don’t want to wait in line at Ping Pang Pong across the street), but in my book it’s never been much more than that.

  9. The Palms Hotel and Casino does not have Union workers todd, thanks for another example of conservative intelligence

  10. ELV responds: The only good thing(s) that came of our meal there is: 1) We never have to go back (and since all hot hostesses have left, what’s the point?); and, 2) We will no longer have to listen to Al Mancini tell us what a great restaurant it is.

  11. Sorry Ed ! i thought from the looks of the food the awful cooks responsible must have been protected by the 226– Wow, that makes the food even more of an embarassment.

  12. As ELV knows from my postings, I really don’t think many of the “Celebrity” Chef resturants have been able to maintain the quality bill of fare commensurate with the price tags they want to charge for what is unremarkable food. Most of these joints are aimed at the tourista or doucebag posers with more money than taste buds. There are of course those rare exceptions as ELV notes in his blogs and reviews. But these are becoming few and far between.

  13. Lets add an element here that may be appropriate. While much of what artswanson says is correct, at least some of the “Celebrity” chefs did earn stripes while actually running their own restaurants – Savoy, Robuchon, Gagnaire, Puck, Batali, Lagasse, Flay … et culinary cetera. But Simon’s resume is thin on those fronts. He has shown skill in the kitchen, and in designing concepts and menus, but missing is that legacy of owning and operating his own restaurants, and bringing the necessary day-in/day-out quality control to the table. Which can lead to the kind of fustercluck that John had to sit through.

  14. ^
    Savoy : feels like I’m eating in a funeral home but the food is consistently good.
    Robuchon: ate there several times and the last time they served me a cold lobster ravioli and the sommelier tried to convince me a maderized bottle of Burgundy was from a hot vintage.
    Gagnaire: above average when the chef himself isn’t there, when he is, it’s awesome.
    Puck: consistently well above average but wine selection is pitiful compared to ten years ago.
    Batali: surprisingly, always good. (no, I do not work there)
    Lagasse: sick of the meat quality getting worse and the spice rub and butter becoming more plentiful on the steaks.
    Flay: ate there once, that was enough.
    Simon: wtf.

  15. It must have been an off night. I’ve been there many times and the food has always been good as well as relaxing in lounge to wait occasionally for a table is a pleasure. (great drinks) Sundays you are sure to wait due to it being a weekly destination for many locals and celebrities. May it be in Atlantic City, LA, Punta Cana, Vegas, ECT., ECT.. Good food, good people and good times are always had @ a Simon venue.

  16. I was there few weeks ago and the food was the worst food I have ever eaten in my life and I know about food. This guy is the most overrated chef and the food is fancily priced and awful. Even the homeless wouldn’t eat this junk. I think it appeals to the 20’s something crowd who go for the hype seen on TV food channels and they deserve it. I would not eat this junk even if it given to me free.

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