Christmas Dinner in a Mall: The Palm at Caesars Forum Shops
Who would have thunk you could get Lobster and service in a mall?
On our Christmas Eve pilgrimage to Vosges Chocolate at the Caesars Palace Forum Shops (try the lavender white chocolate drink at the mini-bar), Chuckmonster and I found ourselves hungry for dinner. We had not planned on having our Christmas dinner in a mall, but given that the Forum Shops only seem to have one entry point, we managed to get stuck inside the maze of shops on the eve of the holiest days of the year with our blood sugar steadily dropping. The choices were not all that appealing, to be honest. We shot down the Italian with the indoor 'patio' seating (you have to consider sitting outside the restaurant, in the common area of the mall 'outside' for this to qualify) and Spago, Wolfgang Puck's bistro to the stars of the 80's. Spago was in the news just as much as any celebrity that even Chuckmonster, who knows virtually nothing of celebrity gossip had heard of it. Alas, the facade was quickly shattered once he glanced their menu. There was nothing on there he couldn't get at your local California Pizza Kitchen.
Palm was all we had left and while we knew of the steakshouse's West Hollywood location, we never had the oppotunity to check it out. Vegastripping tradition states Christmas dinner must be at a steakhouse and as luck would have it, Palm fit that category.
We approached the host after bobbing and weaving our way into the busy restaurant to inquire about a table for two. We were greeted and seated immediately, without hesitation after answering 'No' to the reservation question. We were led to the bar area next to the main dining room and seated in very private and quiet booth, with a lovely view of the mall common area.
After introducing herself, our server schooled us on the specials and chatted with us about steak. I wanted to know about the difference between a filet and a rib eye, the latter being having more of a 'flavor' while the former being the more tender. In the end I decided to forgo my usual filet after she promised me the ribeye would not be grisly and Chuck went for the 3 lb broiled lobster. For sides, a baked potato and steamed asparagus which was enough for us to share, she insisted.
For starters we shared a ceasar salad and shrimp cocktail, which arrived with the cocktail sauce on a narrow plate next to a ramekin of horseradish, to allow us to mix to taste. We were warned to go easy on the 'radish as it was 'atomic', which appeared to be true only if you had a sensitive palate. The shrimp themselves were massive, meaty and were the perfect temperature. The salad dressing for the ceasar was a bit too creamy for my taste, but the parmesean crisps more than made up for it.
Before the main course arrived, Chuckmonster was offered a bib, which I gleefully insisted he wear. He was suited up for his lobster, which arrived soon after. It was split down the middle and broiled until the edges just began to brown. The claws were split at the table and huge chucks of meat were extracted and placed before him. The shells were quickly whisked away and melted clarified butter and a dressed lemon half took their place.
Chuckmonster can be a squeamish eater and can be easily put off by food, at times. I teased him about the tamale of the lobster (the shits to us common-folk) thinking he would pass. I mentioned that it was meant to be the best part of the lobster and without hesitation he smeared it all over meat and tucked in. He confirmed that it was indeed great - that it added a buttery flavor to the already succulent meat. I, being a squeamish eater myself, refused a taste of it but that didn't deter him from secretly adding some to my taste of the crustacian. Even I have to admit that it was rather tasty.