Being relatively close to so many great restaurants makes Las Vegas dining one of the perks of living here in the Valley. Choosing which restaurant to go to next can be daunting. We chose Morels this week, and we chose badly.
Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro
Morels has a great location within the Palazzo Resort & Casino. It’s along the Strip with dining indoors or out, a perfect place to do some people watching and you can see the Siren’s Show at TI just across the street without fighting a mob. Morels has a nice little bar & lounge where you can enjoy a happy hour cocktail, or step outside and have it al fresco. The dining room doesn’t make a great impression as far as decor goes. Pretty plain, although they do have some sexy artwork on the walls. That’s the good news.
The Bad News
When you visit Las Vegas dining out should be a memorable experience. The food at Morels was completely forgettable. The service was indifferent. The menu was expensive. It’s like we hit the trifecta of ingredients for a bad dining experience. I started off with a drink from their list of specialty cocktails; a nutty mojito. The description said made with coconut rum, mint, lime etc. It was horrible. I could barely make out the coconut flavor. It looked and tasted like undiluted lemonade concentrate. There wasn’t a mint leaf to be seen or tasted and the only lime was a tiny slice hanging on the glass rim. .
To start we each had soup; Potato Leek and the Onion Soup Gratinee. The Potato Leek was thin and watery with a flavor profile to match. The Onion Soup was overly sweet and sugary tasting. How bad is our luck? We’re in a French restaurant and can’t get a decent French Onion Soup! I had the Summer Heirloom Tomato Salad with mozzarella cheese, wild arugala, house pickled onions, EVOO, Grapemust reduction. Flavor wise this was the one bright spot in our out-on-the-town Las Vegas dining experience. I especially liked the pickled onions and the dressing. The presentation was non-existant. Never going to get on the cover of Gourmet Magazine with that. My husband had the Sunsweet Watermelon & Arugula Salad with toasted papita seeds, shaved parmesan cheese, and a golden balsamic vinaigrette. The parmesan cheese had no business on this salad. A case of delicious ingredients that did not work well together.
For the main course I had the Pan Seared Halibut with summer tomato and mango relish and micro herbs. It was served in a bowl. Why? Because it was swimming in fruit juice. Not sauce; juice. Like putting Hawaiian Punch over a beautiful piece of Halibut……just wrong. My husband had the New York Steak with Pommes Frites. Definitely not prime, although the price was.
The desserts we shared were the Vanilla Profiteroles with warm chocolate sauce, and carmelized almonds and Vanilla Pavlova with chopped seasonal fruits, sweet cream and a pineapple and passionfruit coulis. I’ll take the blame on the Profiteroles. Truth be told, I’ve never had a Profiterole that I like. The pastry always tastes old and stale to me, so I’ll give Morels the benefit of the doubt on that one. The Vanilla Pavlova is a different story. The pastry should be delicately crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. It was hard all the way through like a cracker. Trying to break a piece with my fork sent it flying across the table. It was overly sweet, but it did look fabulous.
Overall we found the food to be very one dimensional. There was nothing to be excited about. No thrilling combinations of tastes and textures, or amazing sauces. No beautiful presentations that make you hesitate to take the first bite because it will upset the artful arrangement on the plate. It was very blah.
First off let me say that although the service was bad, we did not let that reflect in our opinion of the food. We judged the food based on taste and presentation which were both mediocre. I would also point out that although our server, who was the lead in a three man team was awful, the other two performed their duties without fault. We noticed the lead server next to us seemed very good and attentive to his guests. We had a four course meal and not once did our server ask if we were enjoying everything. My husband had steak and wanted pepper. He had to flag down a busser. He wanted ketchup for the pommes frites (french fries) and finished before we could get any attention. I had barely two sips of my horrible cocktail and pushed it to the side. The server never asked if there was anything wrong, despite the fact that I obviously wasn’t drinking it. The only time the server made mention of our satisfaction was when he dropped the check saying, “I hope you liked everything”. Hope we liked everything? Why? Because now it’s time to fill in the gratuity on the credit card slip? Terrible. And by the way, we ate early in the evening (5:00), it wasn’t busy, and he wasn’t new, or inexperienced. He didn’t want to be bothered. Get a desk job dude.
One more thing…
Morels is a Las Vegas dining destination with a great wine list, great location, and tons of accolades in various publications. We have heard many mixed reviews. I have a close friend that says the brunch is killer, other friends had experiences similar to ours. Bottom line is this. Las Vegas dining shouldn’t be a crap shoot, especially when entrees average $50 ala carte. Save the gambling for the casino. For a sure thing, read our review on Alize at the Palms and make your reservations.