Thursday, January 12, 2006

Mon Ami Gabi Review

On Sunday, after a very rough all-nighter, we spruced up and decided that a nice lunch was in order. Paris was on the way to the Aladdin (where some serious shopping would be in order, my husbandly duty for the trip), and since it’s a casino we rarely spend much time in, we decided some dining exploration was in order. Enter Mon Ami Gabi. (geez, could I say "in order" just a few more times?)

Since the weather was nicer than anyone expected, the patio was packed and I questioned whether we would be able to get a spot. I also internally questioned whether or not I actually wanted one. The looks on most of the faces dining there said that these people thought they were seriously upper-crusty because they were out on the patio. The restaurant was obviously nice, but from the outside looking in, the vibe I got from the clientele seemed pretty unwarranted. However, the attitude of a few customers shouldn’t be a primary dissuading factor, so in we went.

Time for some cocktails! If I’m going to endure a shopping gauntlet, I’m damn sure going to have a drink or two in me. Looking at the cocktails made me a somewhat apprehensive as they seemed a bit expensive, more so than usual. $11 for the Gabi Martini, which was just a Grey Goose martini with bleu cheese stuffed olives. I figured that if nothing else it had the olives going for it. Per usual, I stressed very fucking dry, and the Mrs. decided on a Sidecar.

The Sidecar was very good; it wasn’t amazing, but still delicious nonetheless and properly made. I wish I could say the same of my martini. Starting off the litany of things wrong with it, it was very small. Was there a shortage of Grey Goose that I missed? Was there a sudden wild fluctuation in the vodka market that shot the price up to $75/bottle? I’ve been in many finer establishments where I received 50% more drink for about 15% less money, and thus begins the Mon Ami Gabi stock plummet and I haven’t even tasted anything yet. Let’s do that, shall we?

Well, that could have been better. Obviously, swearing during my order didn’t properly communicate how seriously I take the “dry” quality of the martini’s I order. Perhaps next time I’ll bring a sign and hold it as though I’m attending a sporting event, or I could have it painted on my torso and rip my shirt off in a Hulkamaniac rage when I order. Maybe then I can get the point across. I suppose I could have just told you that there was entirely too much vermouth, but this was a serious fuck up for such a pricey drink. Stock is plummeting, folks. I simply sighed and tried to enjoy my bleu cheese stuffed consolation prize.

Our wait to be seated having been surprisingly short, Mon Ami Gabi finally scored its first points, post martini debacle. The sun was such that, at our table, it was shining directly into my eyes. I know, that’s what sunglasses are for, but even so, it was annoying and I began looking for a way to remedy the situation. Like a true sign from above, the couple at the table directly behind us left and I quickly grabbed the server to see if we could hop tables. I expected at least a slightly annoyed look, as this request was going to be a bit of a pain in the ass. Without blinking, she informed us that it would be no problem and began transferring our bread and drinks. Nice.

Speaking of the bread, our baguette also helped Mon Ami Gabi make up a couple of lost points, at least to the point where I wasn’t raving pissed. It was better than average if one is considering the big picture of bread, but when the focus is narrowed to establishments that purport to be finer, it was only slightly above par. Pleased, but not excited would be the best way describe it, I suppose.

In odd contrast to the pricey cocktails, the food was reasonably priced. Craving meat, I decided on the Hamburger with Brie and Mushroom, while the Mrs. went with Croques Monsieur, a sandwich with ham, jarlsberg, gruyere, and béchamel (a white sauce, made by adding hot milk to a roux of butter and flour). My burger, much like my drink, was far south of where I thought it would be. The Croques Monsieur was quite good, and I tried to rest easy in the fact that at least one entrée lived up to the “fancy” factor that Mon Ami Gabi was obviously trying to give off. It was perfectly warm and soft, and the flavors of the sandwich melded together exactly as I had hoped.

Service during the meal was very good, and given the ease of the table changing situation earlier in the meal, we were very pleased with this aspect of the restaurant. In fact, I would say that it was the only thing that was consistently great. By this time, you surely must have noticed a theme running throughout this piece, and if not, I’ll take this opportunity to lay it out for you. Don’t worry, I was going to anyway.

Good, but not great. Worth the time, but lacking the power to encourage me to make a second trip unless it’s wildly convenient. Throughout this entire review I’ve been trying to think of something more summarily specific as to the “why”, and I think I’ve got it. I could have cooked this meal. Since I’m approximately a million miles away from being any kind of professional chef, I expect better from a place like this. If you’re looking for a number, I would give it a 6.5 out of 10, overall. Severely underwhelming.

If you’re looking for a really nice lunch, head over to Olives in the Bellagio instead.