My first night in town, I met up with some of the more party-prone folks at the conference and we hit the town. Our conference was at the Rio, off-strip, so it was natural that we'd head to the nearby Palms. If you follow any celebrity gossip, you know that the Maloofs own the Palms and they've somehow made it a celebrity haven. All I knew was that I was hungry.
We ate at Simon at Palms Place. Palms Place is the adjacent Palms tower (every casino seems to have a special second tower now) that you access via the SkyTube. I thought the SkyTube would be quite exciting, but it's more of an airport people mover. Rather boring for such a trendy hotel.
Simon is on the 6th floor of Palms Place. It's adjacent to a gorgeous pool area – closed in the winter – and surrounded by palm trees and fireplaces on the outside. Inside it boasts stark, clean, and modern lines. An interesting features was a sort of greenhouse in a far room, which was obviously growing herbs and assorted greens.
The by-the-glass wine list was okay, but not overly impressive. I ended up with a 2007 Ferrari-Carrano Sauvignon Blanc because I knew I could trust it. It ran me about $11/glass. The wine list was small but focused. I particularly liked their selection of organic and biodynamic wines. The one that stood out was the "Clor Sacres" Savennieres from Nicolas Joly, which costs $75. To give you an idea of the markups, the bottles in the Spanish section cost about $20 over the retail price. I suspect that was the sweet spot on the list, and I'm rather encouraged by that.
The menu was eclectic. I'm not a food blogger, but I'd say it was nouveau American cuisine + sushi. Chef Kerry Simon brings in fresh, locally grown products and in many cases, organically grown. I've read that since, but it was also pretty obvious to me just from the menu. As many of you know, I'm a complicated eater. I'm picky and I have food allergies. There was plenty on the menu that I would eat, which I found refreshing.
I ordered an endive salad (sans walnuts) followed by citrus-braised short ribs with corn tempura and a bed of grits. It's the first time I've ever had grits and I doubt I'll ever find them quite so soft, fluffy, and un-grit-like again. It was excellent. Several folks at the table had ahi tuna and sushi, both of which received rave reviews.
As far as service, I found the front waiter (er, waitress) to be rather condescending and rather lacking in customer service. That said, the back waiter was excellent. We chose not to have dessert but noticed a table next to us enjoying a huge serving of Cotton Candy. No kidding. We grabbed it and joked around, so the back waiter brought us a small serving of our own Cotton Candy, no charge.
Overall, I rate Simon with a , despite the fact I was so turned off by our server. After all, the rest of our service, from the bus boys to the hostess, was excellent.
Following Simon, we trekked back to the original Palms tower and visited the Playboy Club, which was surprisingly old-school and classy. Yes, both the waitresses and the dealers were wearing bunny outfits. It was a throwback to the '60s and didn't bother me in the least. We followed that up with a trip upstairs to the Moon nightclub. It wasn't my thing at all (a little too techno when I'm all about Sinatra) but I did enjoy the retractable roof and the gorgeous views of the mountains and Las Vegas.
View a complete slideshow of the Palms, including Simon and the Playboy Club here or on Flickr.
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