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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dining Review: Hugo's Cellar

Hugo's Cellar is a dining location located in the basement of the Four Queens Casino on the old strip in Las Vegas. 

I will admit.  I hate Vegas.  I really hate Vegas.  As far as I'm concerned there are two kinds of people.  People who like Disney World and people who like Vegas.  Either the house wins or mouse wins. 

Now if I hate Vegas so much why was I there? Simple.  A lot of people like Vegas so they tend to hold a lot of conferences and training seminars there.  That means ever couple of years I end up stuck in Vegas.

If there is on thing that would tempt me to return to Vegas or stop on my way through it's Hugo's Cellar.

Just how good is Hugo's Cellar?  Everything considered it's the best restaurant I've ever been to.  What makes it that good?

The Service

The service at Hugo's Cellar is top notch.  In fact the only place in Disney that might be able to match it is Victoria and Albert's.  They have a classic style of service that you just do not find anymore.  For example if you take a sip of water someone is right there to fill it back up.  If you order a drink it appears so quickly you do a double take.  If you ask a question they answer it correctly or bring over an expert to answer it.  The wait staff take an interest in you and are very attentive.  It's really sad that this kind of service is so rare now.

The Food

If someone were to look at the menu at Hugo's Cellar they might think they were looking back in time.  The only things you find on the menu are classics.  Hugo's doesn't do fusion.  They don't do new age.  In fact there are no tree hugging hippie dishes on this menu.  It's classic meat, salads, seafood, and upscale sides. 

 It's not uncommon for a restaurant to offer a salad with your meal.  It is uncommon today for the salad to be made to order at your table.  Yes in a total, and really enjoyable, blast from the past Hugo's rolls up a salad cart and mixes your salad to order.

Now the salad isn't just lettuce and a dressing.  There is a whole range of ingredients from anchovies to pine nuts and everything in between.  On top of the ingredients you get to pick out of four different dressings. 

As far as the rest of the food goes everything is top notch.  If you order a medium stake it will be medium.  Everything is cooked perfectly.  It does not matter what you order.  Some of us ordered beef, others chicken, and others fish.  In no case was anything undercooked or overcooked.  That is really worth noting considering many places overcook chicken and reduce to glorified jerky out of fear of not killing every last trace of bacteria.

Hugo's offers some excellent choices for desert too.  Now I will admit.  If you really want a good experience you need to order the bananas foster.  Even if you do not like bananas order the bananas foster.  It's that good.  It also helps that they do it at your table.  Just like the salad, up rolls a cart and a server fires up skillet and makes your desert.  This means that your desert is going to be piping hot and the ice cream is still going to be ice cream and not a pool of room temperature goo.

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere at Hugo's is just what you would expect.  It really looks like a wine cellar.  In fact it beats out Le Cellier in this regard.  Le Cellier is nice but it's nothing like Hugo's.  The layout of Hugo's really adds to the feeling.  Where Le Cellier is like a big box Hugo's is long and narrow with lots of nooks. 

The drawback of Hugo's is it's location.  I do not mean this in terms of geography.  To get to Hugo's you need to walk through a loud, stinky, casino which is full of people that leave you wishing you had an armed guard.

Okay I am joking about the armed guard but like all places in Vegas you have to walk through a casino to get there.

Overall Hugo's hits every right on the mark.  You just cannot beat them when it comes to what they do.  This pick one thing and they do it very well.  If you every find yourself in the old strip in Vegas and don't mind paying what Disney would charge for a Signature Dining experience then check out Hugo's Cellar.

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