Sizzlin’ Eats at Las Vegas' Monte Carlo Hotel

Sticking to the on site restaurants within your hotel does not always make for a wise dining itinerary. Chances are the price point is setfor unwitting tourists and the food may not represent the region’s bestofferings. I recently joined a blogger group on a sponsored visit toVegas’ Monte Carlo Hotel resolved to challenge thisconventional bit of wisdom. After all, the hotel wasn’t oversellingtheir restaurants as “best on the strip” but simply presented the venuesand let you decide. I was impressed by the sheer range of options andtasty surprises…all the way from McDonald’s Happy Meals to top-chefprepared French dishes at Andre’s featuring North America’s largest cognacselection. Here are my favorites:

Diablo’s Cantina

First and foremost, Diablo’s is party central right on the strip so be prepared for a boisterous ambiance with drink specials changing by thehour. A playlist peppered with rock and hip hop pumps through the soundsystem and it’s only a matter of time before folks at a nearby tableburst into an all out sing along. When I was here, it was Queen’sBohemian Rhapsody, falsetto verses included!

Diablo's Cantina Grilled Chicken

It’s no wonder because besides being in Vegas, there’s plenty to celebrate here with over 32 different varieties of tequila, a diversearray of signature drinks, and a full menu of some super tasty entrees. Ihad the wood grilled half chicken, double garlic sour cream smashedpotatoes, asparagus, and ancho chili sauce paired with their AgaveMargarita. Chili flecks rim the glass instead of salt giving itjust the right kick without worrying about spiking your blood pressure.You simply can’t pass up their warm fresh baked nachos lightly dustedwith lime essence. Others at my table raved about the ultra crisp Boxof Angry Calamari served with dipping sauces.

BRAND Steakhouse

As we sat waiting to place our order, all of us couldn’t get over how hushed and relaxing the atmosphere was even though BRAND openlyoverlooks the flashy gaming floor just steps away. Must be theresult of highly planned acoustics. A whimsical twist to the décorwasn’t readily apparent until I looked up…cow patterns subtly dot theceiling.

BRAND Steakhouse Sirloin on the Rocks

Now to the food…we started out with thinly sliced raw pieces of marinated sirloin served alongside a super hot rock. Place a strip ontop for just 3 seconds on each side and you get perfectly done morsels…ataste of what was next up…a wood grilled 10 oz NY sirloin all seasonedand seared with just the right amount of fat! And what could be betterthan pairing this with a glass of their house Merlot. We passed aroundsides like crisp lightly sautéed green beans, wood grilled asparagus intruffle fondue sauce, and wild mushrooms simmered in white wine,shallots, and fresh herbs. One item on the menu caught our eye…the 120oz. Ultimate Steak for $250…enough for 6 people but if you caneat it all by yourself in one sitting is absolutely free! Many of uswere curious, “Did anybody actually do it?” “Two people,” replied thewaiter. “A large college football player and a man as thin as a rail,methodically chewing each piece thoroughly until it was done.” It washard to imagine since none of us even had room for dessert.

Andre’s Restaurant

I didn’t eat here but walked past and spur of the moment took a personally escorted tour by General Manager David Borowik. From theentrance up to the cozy dimly lit cigar lounge, this place oozed refinedtaste and expense account heaven! Once inside, you’re guaranteed toforget that you’re anywhere near a casino never mind Vegas…more like aserene chateau in the hills of France. Upstairs guests can relish inthree different private dining rooms. In the main dining room, romanticcandlelit tables dressed in white

Andre's Cognac Collection

linen, fine sterling silver, Raynaud Limoges china by Alberto Pinto, and delicate stemware complete the setting.

Here are some standouts that will ensure my return here once I either hit it big or my rich uncle kicks the bucket. On site Head Chef Andre Rochat personally attends to eachdish that leaves the kitchen, their wine cellar contains more than 1,000different vintages along with an attentive sommelier to assist with thebest pairing, their savory chocolate and Grand Marnier soufflé, and thelargest cognac collection on the continent with some servings reaching$300 apiece. More like a museum display showcasing cognacs producedthroughout the last century, one bottle sticks in my mind, a 1917vintage distilled in France entirely by women during World War I sinceall the men were called to duty. The flavor is described as moredelicate and flavorful than other years due to the extra attention itreceived. Now I want a sip of that before it’s lost to antiquity!

photos courtesy of Monte Carlo Hotel and Steve Mirsky

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