lobster salad

Don’t hate on the young because they’re beautiful. Hate on them because they deserve it.

The deserving young were much in evidence at Las Vegas’ too cool-for-school Cosmopolitan hotel  and casino. We were seated at one of the many ringside tables at Jaleo, the hot tapas restaurant. If it were any more integrated with the second floor lobby, Jaleo would be the lobby bar. In fact, given the menu of haute cocktails and small plates, it nearly is.
Clearly somebody made a deliberate decision to eliminate the restaurant walls and expose the eye candy passing through; who were we not to consume it? Especially because the eye candy proved oddly more satisfying than the meal itself.
The young flock toThe Cosmopolitan
 Young men swaggered in skinny jeans and low sneakers, skinny ties or restaurant shirts or faux-prep vintage 2011. To a T, the young women poured  –  and stuffed  or literally sausaged – themselves into variations of the same jersey dress. On top these girls were dressed to spill, and on the bottom – well, just what does one wear under a dress that short with heels that tall?
Our young server was a tad older than the crowd and therefore happy to join in our fun. She shared with us a game she and her friends played. It was called “tourist or hooker?”
It seems a shame to focus on the crowd when the restaurant is from chef Jose Andres, with a James Beard award under his belt and notable restaurants in several American cities. But this is a restaurant where the food couldn’t help but take a back seat to the scene.
This is despite considerable effort by the chef to serve the glitziest of small plates with prices and calorie counts to match. There’s little concession to the chunky and middle-aged here. Our server, asked to recommend something low fat, rolled her eyes.
The three-page menu is nearly all small plates, plus three large plates (one a 22-ounce ribeye) and a handful of paellas. But entire groupings of the small plates were off limits to a dieter – ham and pork sausages, cheeses. The  frituras section carried the slogan, “Frying is overrated…Yeah right!” It seemed safe to choose from among the verduras (vegetables) and sopas (soups).
For The Restaurant Dieter, that confidence was misplaced.
The gazpacho was a wonder to look at – a diagonal dam of itty-bitty cucumber and onion chunks, holding back a lake of rosy broth on one side and a raging river of olive oil on the other. It was one of those gazpachos that falls into decadent territory rather than the salad-in-a-bowl we dieters hope for.


A plate of oven fire-roasted red peppers, eggplant and sweet onions held perhaps an ounce of each swimming in at least a third cup of a heavily-oiled dressing. It went mostly untouched.
Grilled vegetables or oil?
A third round of ordering held more promise. I went for a dressing-on-the-side version of the lobster salad The Restaurant Dieter’s spouse ordered.  Chunks of lobster dotted baby frisee, red and green leaf lettuces, orange, grapefruit and pomegranate seeds. At $18, it was among the highest-priced small plates and good, but hardly transporting.
And a plate of two seared scallops atop romesco sauce arrived perfectly cooked and with an acceptable sheen of fat, but again, just OK.
Given the scene at Jaleo, maybe the food’s beside the point. Or maybe food for dieters is beside the point.
The young crowd certainly didn’t seem to mind at all. The girl in the micro-miniskirt decorated with an erect-penis print just chattered away with her bridesmaids, totally consumed with celebrating the sanctity of her upcoming marriage.
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