Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out: A Las Vegas Date Night...Featuring Elton John in Concert and Dinner at Border Grill

Photo provided by Caesars Palace
Last month, Michael and I -- along with a two-member social media team -- headed to Las Vegas for a few days of fun! During the coming weeks, I'll be sharing all of the great food, shows, and attractions we enjoyed during our visit. I'm kicking things off today with this month's The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out feature. I'm sharing a Las Vegas Date Night we enjoyed at Caesars Palace and the Forum Shops located adjacent to the large resort. Our evening started with Elton John's phenomenal Million Dollar Piano show at Caesar's Coliseum venue. We've been lucky enough to see Elton in concert several times over the years, including his Red Piano show in Vegas a few years back. If you're an Elton John fan, this show is a definite must! Because the venue seats 4,000 fans, it's a more-intimate experience than a typical arena concert. Elton's voice is still strong, and he shares lots of great stories and anecdotes between many of the songs. The show lasts nearly 2 hours and features many of Elton's biggest hits -- along with a very entertaining multimedia stage show. Elton even invites VIP ticket holders to come up on stage toward the end of the show. The Million Dollar Piano was a great way to kick off our date night!
After the show, it was a convenient 10-minute indoor walk through the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace to Border Grill, our dinner destination. The restaurant features Modern Mexican food from well-known Chefs Mary Sue Miliken and Susan Feniger -- also known as the Too Hot Tamales. We were quickly seated and served deliciously tart margaritas and some of their delicious and creamy Border Guacamole. Our meal was off to a great start! Over the next hour and a half, the staff hand-selected a selection of the restaurants signature menu items for the four of us to share. 
First out of the kitchen was a pair of crunchy fried delights: Beef Brisket Flautas and veg-friendly Crispy Potato Rajas. Both items were perfectly fried and not the least bit greasy! The flautas featured a tangy crunchy cabbage slaw, fresh smoked chile salsa, citrus crema, and salty crumbled cotija cheese. Texans love smoked brisket, so this mashup of BBQ and Tex-Mex was a huge hit with our group. The flavors and textures of this dish work so nicely together.

The fried potato tacos feature a filling of creamy potatoes, and fire-roasted chiles. They're served topped with cotija cheese, guacamole, charred corn relish, and a drizzle of spicy chipotle crema. This is a perfect option for vegetarians -- but meat lovers will enjoy the flavors in these tacos too! Next out of the kitchen was another great veg-friendly option: Border Classics, featuring green corn tamales, lightly sweet plantain empanadas, and crunchy quinoa fritters. Especially nice were the perfectly seasoned and steamed tamales that came wrapped like a present!
Next, the kitchen sent out a duo of Border Grill's signature enchiladas for us to try, Chicken Poblano and Short Rib. The chicken enchiladas featured a vibrantly colored green poblano cream sauce, charred corn, shitake mushrooms, and roasted poblano chiles. The enchiladas were mildly spicy and bursting with the flavor of roasted poblano pepper and spiced shredded chicken.
The short rib enchiladas were topped with an earthy guajillo chile sauce and flavored with chayote squash, peppery watercress, and a drizzle of rich crema. The enchiladas were filled with shredded savory beef short ribs. The guajillo sauce was so earthy and rich that it reminded me a bit of mole, and it worked perfectly with the flavorful beef. We were starting to get a bit full, but the kitchen had one more surprise for us: perfectly grilled medium rare Cumin Grilled Skirt Steak!
This delicious platter comes with grilled spiced skirt steak, charred corn relish, arugula, tomato sofrita, and black beans. To serve, we cut slices of the meat and wrapped them in Border Grill's house-made flour tortillas, along with some of the beans and relish -- similar to fajitas. We were getting very full by then, so the platter was perfect for the four of us to sample the delicious grilled steak. To top off our meal, our server selected a duo of fabulous desserts for us to try, a decadently rich frozen chocolate bomb and an ultra-creamy cheesecake. Both were rich and not overly sweet, perfect for two couples to share after a fabulous Fresh Mexican dinner!
Border Grill has two locations in Las Vegas that are located on The Strip: the location we visited on the ground floor of the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, and a second location at the south end of The Strip at Mandalay Bay resort. Both locations offer lunch and dinner menus, as well as a creative all-you-can-eat small plates brunch on Sundays. If you're in Vegas and find yourself craving fresh, creative Mexican food...Border Grill is just what you're looking for!

Disclosure: Border Grill provided us with a complimentary dinner tasting to facilitate inclusion in this article. However, all opinions stated are solely my own.

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