Letter of the Week – WTF with “Fully Booked”?

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David knows his Weiners

ELV note: One of our favorite paisans – David Greco – who owns and runs Mike’s Deli on Arthur Avenue in da Bronx, was in Vegas recently, and filed this report (the kind we at ELV love to get from our favorite foodies) on some of his experiences. He also ends his mini-reviews with a question that often bugs us as well as our staff

Dear ELV,

Having a craving for fancy French during my recent visit, I wound up at Twist. I dare say I was disappointed. Dreadfully boring room. OK sure, maybe great place to impress a hot brunette, but service was spotty. For example, no one removed the dirty plates from the entree course until the dessert course arrived.

Both appetizer (Pierre’s salad) and main (pork chop) were rather pedestrian. The pork chop was even on the dry side. The highlight was certainly the “grand” dessert. That was worth the price of admission. Frankly, I think if you want French in this town, there is little reason to go any farther than Robuchon and L’Atelier.

Bazaar Meat‘s praise is well placed. They are doing some really interesting stuff in there. I had the strip steak, and found it a bit boring. But a handful of appetizers and the sides were awesome. I sat at the bar near the charcuterie station and the chefs entertained me and sent some samples my way. The tuna carpaccio was unspeakably good. The dining room there is a bit too busy for my taste though. It seems like there is just some inefficiency in the wait staff where they are constantly running around.

I do have a question. Both Bazaar and Giada were “fully booked” when I approached the hostess stand without reservations. This wasn’t a problem at Giada, I just sat at the bar, but Bazaar does not offer a full menu at the bar. I sat at the bar at Bazaar anyways and the hostess fetched me a couple minutes later saying they had room. However, both rooms were half empty the entire time I was there. Why could neither seat me when the rooms were so empty?

Salumi-ly yours,

David Greco

ELV responds:

Dear David,

It gruntles us to hear you loved Bazaar Meat (especially from a guy who knows his meatballs), and we agree with you about Robuchon and L’Atelier (although we think Guy Savoy must be considered in the same sentence as well). As for Twist, it appears you ordered á la carte — which is not the strength of that menu — but there is still no excuse for a dry pork chop at those prices.

To your question about “fully booked” (or the dreaded euphemism du jour, “fully committed”), we can only offer this tepid defense of the restaurants. In both cases, these places are in their infancy. Management has told us they have kept the reservations down, and don’t want to stress the kitchens beyond 50-60% capacity for the first month or so. 

Given that both places are huge (Giada seats 225, Bazaar 350), and have extensive, labor-intensive menus, this caution is understandable until staff gets their feet on the ground.

Thus are we of two minds about these things. We sympathize with the customer who, like yourself, has traveled far to sample the (highly publicized) goods, and finds themselves being denied a seat when there are plenty to be had. On the other hand, we have four fingers and a thumb.

Seriously, we want to side with the restaurants here, but we must admit your annoyance is not misplaced, and further indication of the food factory mentality that is all too pervasive in Vegas. Anywhere else in the world, it would kill most restaurateurs to turn away a paying customer, but here in Sin City, they know there are plenty of fish ready to be hooked, in the barrel right behind you.

Buon gusto,

Giovanni

11 thoughts on “Letter of the Week – WTF with “Fully Booked”?

  1. Thanks, ELV. I totally agree. Both Robuchon restaurants at MGM Grand are THE BEST french cuisine I’ve ever enjoyed, anywhere. Guy Savoy is right up there. Twist is, at best, inconsistent.

  2. Does Giada now offer the entire menu at the bar? When I visited in late July, I was told in no uncertain terms that only the (very limited) bar menu was offered at the bar. Finding myself in LV solo quite often, this was disconcerting, as I don’t mind sitting at the bar, but prefer a table. At Giada, at least in the past, being able to enjoy the dinner menu was a virtual impossibility.

    One of my huge pet peeves is being asked, when I’ve made a reservation for one, If I’d like to sit at the bar. Every. Single. Time.

  3. While I disagree with John that the alc menu at Twist is a ‘lesser’ choice, I think the OP simply ordered poorly…though at a place like Twist there should be no flaws in execution. Gagnaire excels at esoteric detail and Ryuki is bold with fish, foie, fowl, and produce. His meats are never a strength. It is not a steakhouse.

    As to the commentary on “fully committed,” suffice it to say the service here in Vegas is shit, at best – a bunch of wannabe actors and bottle service aspiring blondes left to turn tables for tourists. If anything, I respect Andres and Giada for turning people away rather than stuffing the dining room and leaving everyone there to pisspoor service like the Mina empire so regularly does.

  4. I agree with George–a major pet peeve is being asked, being pushed very hard really, to sit in the bar, and that’s after one already has a table booked in the dining room. Happened on my last trip at Table 10. When I arrived the hostess promptly put me at a rickety table in the bar. A table for drinks not dining. I did bring up the fact I had booked the dining room but it fell on deaf ears and I didn’t want to embarrass myself or the hostess by arguing further. The food was good, but the experience was poor. Look, I got the money, I know food, cooking and service, so let me sit at the table I reserved in the dining room. I can withstand the derisive looks, so give me the same service the other customers are getting.

    I call bullshit on this “fully committed” crap. If you can’t handle a 250 seat dining room on day one then that’s your fault. Hire qualified employees, enough employees to handle the service and give them proper training and pay. If you can only deliver on serving 75 guests, then scale back the grandiose plans of the restaurant. If you need the first few months to get up and running then you’re not off to a good start in my book.

  5. Twist has a pork chop and a steak on the menu by the request of MGM/Mandarin Oriental to cater to any pedestrian hotel guests who don’t have a clue just in case they happen to wander into the hotel’s premier restaurant. I am not 100% positive, but I do not think you will find a pork chop or a steak on the menu at any of Gagnaire’s other temples of gastronomy, case in point: https://sketch.london/menus/Lecture_Room_Library_a_la_carte.pdf

    I know he is your friend John, but someone needs to say the truth. Greco did a poor job of ordering off the menu, he ordered the “safe” salad and protein and in turn his experience was pretty poor. He might as well told the staff he has no clue, perhaps that is why service was spotty when it’s well known that service here is usually impeccable. After all if David orders the adult fine dining equivalent of chicken fingers, who would suspect that he would notice if his service was sub par? As penance for his sin, he should go back to Twist, but this time either trust the staff’s guidance or get the tasting menu to see how truly brilliant this kitchen is. Gagnaire is on par with Joël Robuchon and Guy Savoy, we are truly blessed to have all of the French grandmasters represented in our city (including Ducass even though he has been phoning it in for far too long with a sub-par for a chef of his stature).

  6. I agree with InTheCards…your friend is a successful chef and deli operator and goes to a Pierre Gagnaire restaurant and orders a Pork chop and steak? It isn’t a Pierre Gagnaire-managed steakhouse.

  7. To InTheCards:

    I read your comment here with total astonishment.

    A well known restauranteur ordered and was unimpressed with an item on the menu of a fine dining establishment.

    And it’s his fault? It was on the ‘effing menu ! ! !

    You are the absolute reason the term “food snob” was created.

    But you couldn’t leave it there, could you?

    You had to then add his service possibly was spotty because he ordered the wrong thing.

    Do you have any idea how haughty, pretentious, and supercilious that is?

    Not only do you give “food snobs” a bad name.

    You give haughty, pretentious, and supercilious idiots a bad name.

  8. to cmsaisa .. In the cards is exactly correct . A restaurant of that stature is not meant to please the masses, it’s fine dining because they train and train and train even more to have the highest standards.. There is no excuse for dry pork but at the end of the day you do not go to twist to order ala carte! Doesn’t make anyone a food snob, just educated on dining – you wouldn’t go to mcdonalds and order a tasting menu and contain that it sucked.. It’s just not what they do !
    Jb / really ?? Pampellouse ? You need to eat out more .. How about Comme Ça
    They do an amazing job .. I’ve never seen a brasserie cook the way they do.. The service could be better at times but one of the best in the city .. Frenchies catch up !! I think the chefs a white guy .. Bazar meats .. Wanted to love it just fell short

  9. To Crusty onion:
    Thanks for the note, and as much as I appreciate your comments, I’ll try to go easy on you here.

    1) You wrote: “A restaurant of that stature is not meant to please the masses”.

    Thank you so much for letting me know my potentially inferior culinary C.V. may cause them to not accept my presence.
    Heaven forfend I order something that causes the entire restaurant to have an “E.F. Hutton” moment.
    That is your first condescending comment. Don’t worry, I’m keeping count.

    2) You wrote: “There is no excuse for dry pork”.

    Sadly you followed that amazingly perceptive phrase with the word “but”.
    Sorry, no “buts” allowed.
    You’re trying to “qualify” a lousy pork chop? If, as you say, there’s “no excuse”, there’s no excuse.
    In fact, if I’ve never eaten there, shouldn’t I be concerned about the quality of any restaurant that can’t produce a decent, edible pork chop?

    3) You wrote: “at the end of the day you do not go to twist to order ala carte! Doesn’t make anyone a food snob, just educated on dining”.

    In 2 sentences you unwittingly, but hysterically proved my food snob point.
    You condescendingly told me what I should or should not order with my money – thanks for that advice by the way…
    …and then in the same breath claimed your condescension of what I should not order does not make you a “food snob”.
    I hope you realize there is only one reason people are called “food snobs”.
    It’s because they ARE condescending ! ! !

    4) You wrote: “you wouldn’t go to mcdonalds and order a tasting menu and contain that it sucked.. It’s just not what they do !”

    Your example makes so little sense I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just make one point.
    If I go to McDonalds, I expect everything on the menu to be up to McDonald’s standards, no one else’s.
    Again, Twist’s pork chop is ON THE MENU !
    Take it off or make it right.

    5) You wrote to jb: “Jb / really ?? Pampellouse ? You need to eat out more ..”

    Oh, no, Crusty onion , you’re not a food snob…My God, what was I thinking? I take it all back!

    Cheers,
    cmasia

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