Dinner at Lago (Bellagio), 10/2/2015

My wife and I were here with a party of 10 for dinner, 8pm on a Friday night. We arrived a bit early, told that our table was ready, and then asked to wait in the bar (???). We waited. And waited. And when I returned to the hostess and said, “You know, we’re all here, right?”, she asked my last name and then seated us at a round table with a nice view of the Bellagio fountains.

The décor is modern and stylish, and actually rather inviting. On the other hand, the place was as loud as Galatoire’s at Friday lunch, minus the brass band, and could benefit from some sort of acoustic engineering.

By 8:28 pm, we had yet to order as no one had come by our table since seating us and giving each of us menus. When our serve did show up, she informed us that with large parties, it’s easier to just have them bring out a number of dishes to share . . . we agreed, and the menus disappeared. A few more minutes passed, and they took our cocktail orders, and the food started arriving.

The whirlwind of plates came and went, and this morning (Saturday), I can’t really remember what we ate, except for a gnocchi dish in a blue cheese sauce (Gnocchi alla Romana) where the gnocchi were rather grainy and almost “cake-like.” So – cheating here – I looked at the menu on their website (Las Vegas Restaurants - Bellagio Hotel & Casino). In a somewhat random order, we had the following:

Bruschetta al Pomodoro (tomatoes, basil, garlic oil) that was served on barely toasted, and thus very soggy, bread.

Salumi Platter (prosciutto di Parma, finocchiona salame with [not enough] flatbread); although the meats were not made in-house, they were quite delicious.

Cheese plate (Piave, quadrello di bufala, some Parm, and flat crackers) which tasted like something purchased at Safeway or Kroeger’s.

Caponata (eggplant, onions, peppers, basil, pine nuts) that was very well done.

Polpa di Granchio e Farro (fresh crabmeat, organic farro grain, confetti) that I thought was quite good.

The Polpo e Fregola al Nero (octopus with squid in couscous and bottarga) that was really delicious and tender, but it’s the first time I’ve ever encountered a tentacle that was cut in half lengthwise. (Is that common?)

The Vitello Tonnato (veal in a tuna and caper dressing) was good, but very basic.

And the Agnello Scottadito (grilled lamb chops woth garlic and rosemary) that was delicious.

Clearly there are some very good and not-so-good things going on here. Hopefully any missteps, were at least in part, due to the size of our party and the pace of a busy Friday night. But . . . . .

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huh??? Oh my gosh that dining experience sounds utterly repulsive. 8 people is not a crazy amount by any stretch. And a Friday night in Vegas? At the Bellagio? One should be able to assume a high end room in Vegas runs on a default ability to handle themselves in a busy environment. In any event, thank you for the review!

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To elaborate a bit more . . . there is a difference between ordering, say, a four course meal for a couple (or a couple of couples), and serving a 10-top, especially on a busy Friday night. Was our dinner experience a cluster-fuck? No. Absolutely not. But could the execution have been better? Yes. Absolutely so.

Having no way of knowing whether – for example – they kitchen staff was short-handed that evening; or that the floor-staff was in training (some, I know were), or any number of issues that plague every establishment from time to time, I’m not ready to write-off Lago so easily. We plan on returning on a future visit (it seems we’re in Vegas 2-3x a year, whether we want to be or not), but the next time – whenever that might be – will be a dinner for either 2 or 4. Nothing larger. Based on that visit, Lago may be a “go” or it might be a “pass.”

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