The Grand Lux Cafe and I have had an on-again, off-again romance for several years now. In the beginning, of course, everything was wonderful. We met at the Venetian in Las Vegas over delicious food in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere and had a whirlwind romance. I was sure our relationship would last forever. Later, at the Palazzo, we hit a rocky patch. I felt neglected, unwanted; the Grand Lux, I felt, had a wandering eye and was looking for something different. I was sure our relationship was doomed. Fast forward to 2011, and our relationship is back on track.
Okay, I really can’t sustain this relationship metaphor any more. Suffice it to say, I was not impressed with the Palazzo outlet of Grand Lux Cafe when it first opened. The staff was too young and inexperienced and didn’t seem to know how to deal with a solo diner. First they tried to wedge me into a table where I was practically sitting on top of a large group of six. It would’ve been terribly uncomfortable. When I requested a different table–out on the “patio” facing the casino so I could people-watch–they wanted to seat me with my back to the casino, facing a couple dining at another table. I had to move my place settings to the correct location, and they seemed confused as to why. Then my waitress ignored me for long stretches of time. And the food wasn’t even worth all the effort I went to. But I decided to give the Grand Lux at the Palazzo another chance this year, since I was staying at the hotel, and it was convenient.
What a different experience! I had two meals here, dinner and breakfast. Both times I was able to bypass the long lines of people waiting for tables by grabbing a seat at the bar. The food was good, if a mixed bag. I’ve had better calamari, but it was fine. The warm goat cheese salad was terrific.A couple sitting next to me during breakfast recommended the Express Breakfast–which is essentially the Grand Lux’s buffet. It was about what one would pay for a specific breakfast off the menu, but all you can eat. I took their advice, since the idea of getting my food quickly and getting out of there to start my day was appealing. While the buffet doesn’t have a huge variety, there was plenty of the foods I generally select at a breakfast buffet–scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, pastries, shredded hash browns, watermelon and yogurt. I was so stuffed I didn’t need to eat again until 2pm.
The best thing about sitting at the bar, though, was the atmosphere. The bartenders were friendly and efficient, and the bar area itself was comfortable and relaxing. I was able to chat with others at the bar and listen to good music. It was exactly the kind of experience I enjoy when dining out alone. Would I have been as comfortable in the dining room or patio? Probably not, and I don’t care. From now on, I’m eating in the bar.
So I’m glad I gave the Grand Lux another try. Moral to the story is, even if you don’t have a good experience at a restaurant once, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad restaurant. How many times in your life have you made a bad first impression? Aren’t you glad people gave you another chance?