Okay. Close your eyes and try to visualize Las Vegas, Nevada. What’s the first image that comes into your mind? Do you picture:
- Mega resort properties
- Neon lights
- Tiny wedding chapels and quickie marriages
- Jaw-dropping Cirque de Soleil productions
- Leggy show girls
- The Hangover
- Trendy nightclub parties hosted by D-list celebrities
- Noisy slot machines
- Craps, blackjack, roulette
- Old-school mobsters
- Classic French bistro dining, or
- Something else?
Wait a minute! Classic French bistro dining? Maybe…if you’ve ever eaten at Mon Ami Gabi.
On my last trip to Las Vegas, I ate lunch there twice and both times I sat outside on the patio where I could soak up all that warm Nevada sunshine, enjoy the best people-watching on the Las Vegas strip, and some of the most delectable French food this side of the Atlantic.
For those of you who like to plan, Mon Ami Gabi doesn’t take reservations for patio seating. On both occasions that I ate there I waited about 20 minutes for a table, but during the wait I was free to wander around the casino (and lose another $20 at the slots). The hostess had given me a round disk to carry. When my table was ready, the disk started to vibrate and red lights began flashing. It was the closest I came to hitting a jackpot all week.
Even the birds know where to find the best baguette crumbs in town…
On the first afternoon, I ordered a perfectly cooked jumbo lump crab cake, golden on the outside, moist and tender on the inside, served with a crisp rémoulade and a silky, tangy, lemon beurre blanc sauce.
Mon Ami Gabi is at the Paris Las Vegas resort which means it sits directly across the street from the Bellagio fountains. During the daytime, the fountains dance and sway to the music every 30 minutes. I watched five different shows as I whiled away the afternoon. After a cold Canadian winter, I couldn’t help but take full advantage of that sunny piece of real estate. Besides, it had only been a few months since I’d been to the other Paris where long leisurely lunches are the norm.
My light lunch left me with plenty of room for dessert so I gave into temptation and ordered the profiteroles – the most heavenly pâte à choux filled with creamy vanilla ice cream and double chocolate fudge sauce. Yum!
I often travel solo, and for the most part, I
prefer enjoy it. I don’t even mind eating in restaurants alone, but I admit that I find the experience more enjoyable if there is something to look at besides the menu. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I loved Mon Ami Gabi so much. The food was fantastic, but so was the entertainment. Between breaks in the Bellagio Fountain show, I watched a steady stream of street performers.
Have you ever seen the kind of busking that is so bad it’s almost good? If so, then you may have seen Jungle Josh’s Las Vegas Sidewalk Show.
Jungle Josh puts on a three-act extravaganza. First, he invites pedestrians to have their photos taken with his boa constrictor. All you need is your own camera or cell phone. Using his portable karaoke machine, he encourages people to ‘be just like Britney Spears without the mental problems”. In the second act, he asks people passing by to help him with a magic trick. He says he is “like Criss Angel but less gay and without the dancing”. I was too far away to actually see the intricacies of the card trick he performed, but the audience appeared at least slightly amazed. In the last act, he boasts that his assistant is one of only seven women in the entire world still practicing the art of sword-swallowing, and then she does just that – she swallows a 21″ steel sword.
The first three times I watched them go through their routine I was mildly annoyed but after a continuous 2 ½ hour loop, I found myself growing a little fond of them. I think I liked the fact that there was no star-dust in their eyes, no dream of making it big. These two were the antithesis of ambition. No glitz. No glam. Just living life on their own terms, by their own rules.
Viva Las Vegas!
Mon Ami Gabi 3655 Las Vegas Blvd South Las Vegas, Nevada 702.944.4224