Rick’s Tasting Game at RM Seafood is one of those things you might not normally consider doing in Las Vegas when you’re traveling solo. To play the game, go to RM Seafood, located in Mandalay Place. Aside from being an excellent restaurant that serves up sustainable seafood, it is home to one of the most creative experiences in Las Vegas: Ice cream tasting.
I got to try this fun game in September with a trio of ladies I met via the wonderful world of Twitter two years ago (Julie, Kim and Lisa), along with my friend Abby and Lisa’s friend Dori. Somehow, I pictured us doing this around a table, but we wound up sitting at the bar. So when the ice cream came out, we split into teams of two for the tasting: Abby and me, Julie and Kim, and Lisa and Dori.
Here’s how the ice cream tasting works: You get 16 sample sizes of each ice cream flavor in separate little cups. You are also given a piece of paper with 16 circles in the same layout as the ice cream, and this is where you’re supposed to record your guesses. If you guess all the flavors correctly, the ice cream is on the house. Otherwise, you pay $18.
Our bartender that night was J.R. Starkus, brother of Executive Chef Chris Starkus and one of the best mixologists in Las Vegas. (J.R. has since moved on from RM Seafood.) Kim and Abby both knew him, but it was the first time I’d had the pleasure of meeting him. He whipped up some creative cocktails for the group and talked a bit about his studies to become a Master Mixologist.
[Aside: That's a whole other culture I know nothing about. It sounded incredibly difficult, like studying to become a doctor. Only instead of memorizing Grey's Anatomy (the medical textbook, not the TV show) and the symptoms of hundreds of diseases and medical conditions, you need to memorize the histories of all alcohols by decade. You must also be able to identify liquors--and brands--in a blind taste-test and pass an on-the-spot test by judges who are obviously going to make it as challenging as possible (picture Top Chef with liquor). Of course, unlike becoming a doctor, if you get something wrong as a Mixologist, no one's going to die. Probably.]
But back to the Tasting Game: If you’re going to play this game, put on your thinking cap, ready those taste buds, and bring a sense of humor. I suck at guessing things, like someone’s height or weight, or how many jelly beans there are in a jar. But even if you were great at things like that, you’d still have a very hard time guessing all the flavors of these ice creams.
They don’t create simple flavors like chocolate or mint. Oh no. These creative devils use pretty much any flavoring, herb, spice, food and beverage you can imagine in bizarre combinations to come up with these ice cream flavors. The flavors are constantly changing, so even if I were to tell you all 16 flavors we had, it wouldn’t spoil anything. They will not be the flavors you will have, if you decide to try this.
Going by how very wrong we were on some of the flavors, I’m more than a little concerned about my taste buds. We were sure one of the flavors was coconut cream pie, but it wound up being buttermilk orange sorbet. I mean, those aren’t even close! We guessed basil for one of the flavors, and it wound up being pink peppercorn sorbet. I don’t even know what a pink peppercorn is. JR quipped that they should take some of the worst guesses that customers make and create ice cream flavors of them. (If that ever happens, be on the lookout for Dandelion and Pixie Stix ice creams.)
Of course, the most important question for the solo traveler is: Can you play Rick’s Tasting Game on your own?
Before I tried it, I didn’t think I could eat that much ice cream by myself. But it’s not like you have to eat it all. You just have to taste it. The sample sizes of the ice cream are small enough that the amount probably wouldn’t prohibit a solo from the experience (especially if you went on an empty stomach).
But overall, I’d have to say this is a lot like Trivia Night at the local pub: Maybe you’re smart enough to do it on your own–and win–but it’s just not the same. It’s the teamwork that makes it fun. So if this is something you really want to do on your Las Vegas trip, I’d recommend making some new friends and bringing them with you for the experience.
Total cost: $18 for 16 flavors of ice cream and a whole lot of frustration and laughs. It’s definitely one of the more unique experiences you can have in Las Vegas, and I highly recommend it.