VegasEats: Javier's at ARIA
» filed under Las Vegas tagged: vegaseats javiers aria misnomer dining reviews comments: 12
While preparing for the madness that was to be this year's VIMFP festivities (Gin is a cruel mistress. And so are you, Vodka.) the one and only Misnomer and myself decided that we had a craving for the goodness that is China Poblano. However, knowing that Javier's had just opened at Aria, I was able to ply him to try it with me instead, so that we could share the experience with those who might think about going there in the future.
While the results were positive for the most part, there were still some shortcomings to our meal. From this point on, I'll let the 'Nope's words take over, with my own commentary in italics peppered throughout. Much like our meal that night, this post is an experiment in writing in two parts. I hope it's a bit better than the guacamole we ordered as an appetizer.
The first thing you notice about Javier's is that it is very ropey. There are braided ropes hanging all over the place. Lots and lots of ropes. I didn't count them, but I'd say Javier's is at least an eight roper. Maybe more.
The space, while thoughtfully laid out, doesn't fit into Aria at all, unlike Union before it. Once inside however, the space is transformational, with ropes around the bar like those you see at Lemongrass, as well as a barrel vaulted dining room that feels something like a cellar in Spain. There's also some amazing carved art on the walls you should check out, all of which caught our eyes while we ordered made on the spot guacamole and the gratis chips and salsa showed up.
The guacamole was completely forgettable. Not bad, but unremarkable in every way. I'm a huge fan of China Poblano's guacamole, and Javier's pales by comparison. Shame, because this was an upsell at the suggestion of the waiter. The chips and salsa, on the other hand were tasty and fresh. The salsa in particular was bright and flavorful, with lots of cilantro. That didn't bother me, because I like cilantro. If you don't like cilantro, you'll probably not like Javier's salsa. I just dropped some deductive reasoning on you. If you don't like cilantro and deductive reasoning, I don't know what to tell you. Pack your lunch, I guess.
Nothing to add here save for the fact that I think it was some of the most bland guacamole I've ever had. Tostitos makes better guacamole seriously. The salsa on the other hand is fantastic, and the chips were crisp and not greasy at all. Avoid the green goop.
I started with a pomegranate margarita. It was wonderful. My gripe is that it came in a rocks glass that was 9/10ths full of crushed ice. Two or three strong pulls on my straw, and it was gone. Naturally, our waiter returned right away and offered to bring another. At $14.00 per, I declined. Instead, I ordered a Coke, which arrived at the table in an aluminum bottle. I queried whether it was a Mexican Coke, which is a delicious Coca Cola variant made with pure cane sugar. "Oh yes, Señor," our waiter assured. I picked up the bottle. High fructose corn syrup. Mexican Coke fail. Waiter knowledge fail.
I stuck with water and decided to be Plain Jane with a Patrón Silver classic margarita on the rocks. Mine wasn't crushed ice, but was lacking in size for the price. That said, it was tasty and went down very smooth, much better than the swill I've gotten as a margarita at Flay's MESA in the past.
I ordered the "Cabo Azalea" combination platter. Cabo Azul means "Blue Sammy Hagar" in Spanish. My sister blew Sammy Hagar during the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge tour, but that's a story for another day. The Cabo Azul features a lobster enchilada, a grilled chile relleno stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese, shrimp, and crab, and a shrimp taco. It comes with a side of rice and beans.
I didn't mind that the chile relleno was grilled rather than fried as much as I thought I might. Nearly every fried chile relleno I've ever ordered has come out with the breading soaked with oil and falling off of the chile, so I almost admire Javier's for dispensing with the breading altogether. The grilled chile was tasty, filled with mucho queso, and tasty sea bits. Ditto the taco. If I wanted to be particular, I could say that the shrimp in both the taco and the chile relleno were teeth-squeakingly overcooked, but seasoned well and tasty. The standout on my combo plate was the lobster enchilada.
As for myself, I went with the tried and true Carné Asada, as I figured sticking with the traditional entrees was the best way to evaluate the meal. What came was more akin to something I would order at a steakhouse, with a large steak with some Mexican style accompaniments on the side. The steak was cooked well, but lacked a bit in flavor, something it made up for in extreme juiciness. The side order of beans were good, but I avoided the same flavorless guac and inedible roasted chiles as to avoid a double dose of Zantac later. This proved to be the right choice as the meal was about to get a bit more interesting.
At some point after he lied to me about the Coke, our bilingual waiter approached us with an offer from the singularly lingual, multi-generational, Spanish speaking table seated next to us. "Would you like to try something organic," he asked, motioning toward a Mexican gentleman, who was now gesturing at us with an open plastic baggie. Typically, my answer to this question in an unhesitating yes - particularly if I'm at any sort of "Lazerium" - but the waiter followed up with, "They are not too hot."
Blackjacker and I peered into the bag at what were very likely off-the-Scoville-unit-chart hot little peppers. Seems this was, "un chiste para los gringos" (as translated by Google when I typed in, "white guy cry fire tears").
Was Javier's good? Well, the dinner company certainly was. The margarita was darned tasty. The food was filling, and welcome after my long day of travel. Bottom line, I could see myself eating there again as an impulse; the type of meal you eat when you suddenly realize that you've been sitting at the tables for six hours, and you're famished and want something in close proximity to where you are. Trouble with that notion is that I very rarely find myself in Aria. At the risk of damning it with faint praise, I'd say Javier's is likable enough, and not unpleasant.
And I'd have to say the same thing. It's a nice enough space, and a good enough filler to compliment the rest of what Aria has to offer, even if the price point is a bit high. Will I be going back to Javier's again? Most likely not, but that doesn't mean that it won't do well for those who like something different than what Aria already has to offer.
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