One would say it would be remiss of a traveller in Los Angeles to not make the fourish hour drive down the I-15 to spend an evening in magical Las Vegas.
I'd say you'd have to be a fucking moron not to hit up Vegas for a truly bonkers night if you're out on the West Coast.
It's one of the most ridonkulous booze playgrounds on Earth. We've had the good fortune of rolling the dice on several occasions, with each being the same drunken, debauched, awesome gamble fest: Walking around boundless hotels that feel like theme parks carrying drinks in oversized chalices, sitting on a roulette table next to the cigar wielding dude from Ohio on a hot streak, standing in clubs that feel the size of Wembley Arena - but with an outdoor swimming pool in the middle of them. It is crazy. And don't even get us started about the buffets, suffice it to say that greasy-bibbed patrons scoff down 30 tons of shrimp alone every day. Mental.
Driving towards Vegas, in a brief break from the license plate game, conversation moved towards what we were going to line our stomachs as a kick off to our one big night in the neon meadows. Talk veered from seafood to steak until someone announced it didn't matter as ' the only way to get good food in Vegas is to spend $200', a comment met with nods from the other yanks. Apparently, it costs a lot to eat well there. Fuck it, we'd just hit the first place we saw in the hotel then.
As luck would have it we were staying in the Mandalay Bay, which meant as we Ocean's Eleven'd down the corridor out of the elevators we walked right into Burger Bar, the self-aggrandised 'ultimate build your own burger experience': Dark-wood laden and Deco-ish, it's a Vegassian attempt at New York brasserie, which kind of succeeds whilst simultaneously looking a bit like the bar from Cheers.
There are an exhaustive profusion of options ranging from five different types of patty, six types of bun, and 40+ toppings including half a grilled lobster. For the more irresolute they have a range of Chef's suggestions to alleviate the decision making process, the bare-faced exhibitionist of the lot being the 'Rossini' - a Kobe-style Waygu beef, sautéed fois gras and shaved black truffle concoction that will set you back 60 bucks.
Wanting to save my money for the tables, we decided to throw it down with the American Classic. As the name implies, it's a classic bacon cheese served open, begging for your choice of condiments. The bloomer-style looking sesame seed bun raised a sceptical eyebrow when it arrived, and whilst soft was still quite dense and bready. Luckily its relative thinness served to avoid it subjugating the grain fed black angus beef patty, cooked medium rare to intensely-hued pink perfection. The American cheese was nicely melted, trapping the bacon onto the meat, and the veggies were typically crisp adding a fresh bite. And we ploughed through it easily.
But, it left us wanting. The beef wasn't particularly seasoned or flavourful, the bacon had crunch but lacked any smoke or saltiness, something that was missing in the cheese as well. All the parts were there, but someone had forgotten to invite taste.
Maybe it was the excitement of being about to go and tear some shit up distracting from the food, but we get the feeling that if you commit yourself to something a bit more decadent here, like Vegas itself, you'd probably have more success. Well, more success than we had at the roulette wheel later on anyways. ✪