Maybe it's because my restaurant loop doesn't include St. Rose Parkway, or maybe I just don't drive in from California very much, but I have this feeling that the M Resort has been forgotten. It opened last spring, a sleek and shiny desert resort, and maybe we were so caught up in the CityCenter hype that M's novelty of newness didn't last long. But it's a very nice place, and there are nice restaurants inside.
Despite hosting the Vegas season of Top Chef, M hasn't developed a tremendous food buzz; an interactive cooking show called "Martini Time" and a big, popular buffet are the spotlights so far. It makes me think of a newer, nicer version of the Rio, another resort designed and built by the Marnell family where the buffet seems to take center stage.
But there has to be more, and there is: a bakery, Italian food, a deli, a café, a wine bar and a steak/seafood house, and then something a little more quirky, resting calmly on the 16th floor. Oddly, it's called Veloce Cibo, which kinda means "fast food" in Italian. It's a very cool room, stretching out along floor-to-ceiling windows for a unique view of the Strip from the south, done in earthy golden-brown tones with glass-encased lemon trees. In the pantheon of Vegas restaurants with views from above, this place is the most relaxed, and I recommend it.
Veloce's menu is different. There is quite a bit of sushi, sashimi and rolls to start on, "sharing plates" that can range from salad to sliders, and then a selection of entrees with multiple-personality disorder. There are five steaks, headed by a porterhouse with Tuscan herbs and grilled artichokes. There are three fishes, including king salmon marinated in pesto. There's a giant portion of delicious penne in parmesan cream sauce with peas, prosciutto and shreds of black truffle on top. And then there's a bunch of Asian-influenced dishes: sesame-crusted Ahi tuna with baby bok choy, a Thai roti pancake with roasted duck and peanut sauce, chicken lettuce wraps, and fried rice, spicy stir-fried eggplant or ginger-garlic wok'd vegetables on the side. Interesting.
Saving room for the big stuff, I opted out of the Screaming Veloce sushi roll and had three bites of great sashimi. (Please don't tell Rick Moonen that I had bluefin tuna.) I also loved mini lobster tacos — sweet and meaty lobster salad tucked into ultra-crispy corn shells with a bit of carrot and cucumber. They came with a shot glass of avocado puree with a little plastic straw; it was like a zesty guacamole milkshake. Does that sound gross? It was good. If you want to follow along with the menu's all-over-the-place theme, the Veloce Mixed Grill offers a petite lamb chop in natural jus, a small and tender filet mignon with béarnaise, and a spicy grilled tiger shrimp.
British critic and snarky Top Chef Masters judge Jay Rayner wrote, "there is nothing you can introduce to a crème brûlée that will improve it," but he's wrong. Veloce adds pistachio to this beloved dessert, bringing a new, clean dimension of sweetness that renders the candied pistachios on top completely unnecessary. It was a pleasant surprise, much like the restaurant itself. Maybe I need to think about the M Resort a little more.