We’ve had prime rib carved tableside at some of Las Vegas’ more traditional meateries, dessert crepes panned and filled before our eyes, guacamole chopped, and Caesar salad tossed. A table side Bloody Mary service, however, was a first.
My wife is at once a big fan of this hearty (and nutritious) morning cocktail and a critic of any establishment that deigns to use Mr. Ts or a similar pre-made mix. Needless to say, she was in heaven with a service that featured fresh tomato juice, a choice of premium vodka or tequila (a “Bloody Maria,” presumably), and accouterments including celery, fresh herbs, garlic, olives, Worcestershire or hot sauce, pickled garnishes, and shaved horseradish. It was practically a meal in itself.
The Bloody Mary was also the perfect drink to get your blood flowing on a breezy Vegas, which was chilly enough to get the Morels waitstaff scrambling to surround us with portable heaters. No doubt the brisk breeze helped explain why we had the restaurant’s beautiful outdoor patio, overlooking the Strip and the Venetian fountains, all to ourselves.
The lack of a crowd was certainly no reflection on the quality of the food presented by executive chef JL Carrera, which was uniformly excellent.
Service began with a complementary plate of miniature beignets, a nice treat that stirred our New Orleans soul almost as much as cocktails at breakfast. Seeking a healthy offset, we began by ordering a fruit plate, which in addition to the usual honeydew melon, cantaloupe and pineapple was accompanied by a chunk of fresh honeycomb for nibbling and yogurt for dipping.
Diving into the main course, I chose the smoked salmon Benedict served with spinach on a thick slice of crisp brioche, while my wife went all-in with the marscapone French toast, topped with caramelized bananas and drizzled with maple syrup. Delightfully rich and indulgent, the big pieces of French toast were a challenge to finish: luckily, she had me along to make sure not a bite went to waste. (As for my Bennie, it had already disappeared in a glorious haze of fresh hollandaise sauce and perfectly poached egg yolk.)
Morels serves breakfast weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and an expanded brunch menu on weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The setting is delightful: go outdoors for sunshine and people-watching, or choose the indoor dining room for its upscale atmospherics. The breakfast menu includes a variety of eggs Benedict and omelet choices, crepes, pancakes, waffles and French toast, plus a few eye-openers like a flatbread topped with house-cured Scottish salmon. Brunch adds burgers, sandwiches, pasta, a raw bar, and full dinner entrees. The Bloody Mary cart and bottomless mimosas, of course, are available anytime.
For lunch and dinner, Morels brings to the table steaks, the aforementioned iced seafood bar loaded with oysters, prawns, lobster, and crab, a cheese and charcuterie bar with more than 60 internationally sourced farmhouse and artisanal cheeses (plus fondue), and a wine list with more than 450 bottle selections and about 60 wines by the glass.