While staying at the Mirage in Las Vegas during the Consumer Electronics Show this past January we ate at B.B. King's Blues Club - twice for breakfast and once for lunch. The primary reason we ate there is because it was close to the elevators and it was one of the few places in the Mirage that had breakfast and wasn't a buffet.
B.B. King's Blues Club is named for, of course, the legendary blues guitarist B.B. King. Cindy and I have visited his original club on Beale Street in Memphis which opened in 1991. It turns out like most venue/restaurants that bear the name of a famous person, B.B. King's Blues Club is owned by a licensing corporation that sells out franchises. The Memphis-based franchise company owned by Tommy Peters runs the club's locations in Memphis, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Nashville and Las Vegas. There are other franchise's in New York City and at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.
B.B. King's Blues Club features live music at each venue (American Idol winner Kris Allen played at the one at the Mirage one evening when we were there), and they have a full menu that features barbecue and Cajun specialties. Each club, because of the layout of the building, is a little different from the others. The one in Memphis is actually pretty small, while the one in New York City is pretty good sized. The B.B. King's Blues Club at the Mirage is also pretty good sized with a stage, two bars and a large dining/seating area.
(Now, not to name drop, but if you're not a regular visitor to Road Tips, if you'd like to read about the time I actually met B.B. King, click here. It was a pretty cool deal, to say the least.)
When we were checking into the Mirage, we all decided that lunch was a necessity, especially considering it was 1:30 in the afternoon and the East coast and Canadian guys hadn't had anything since breakfast and it was 4:30 body-time for them. I remembered a pretty good cafe/coffee shop near the elevators that I would eat in from time to time for meetings a number of years ago called the Paradise Cafe. But the Paradise Cafe was now a small pool-side bistro that served continental breakfast starting at 9:00 a.m. In its place was now B.B. King's Blue Club.
We dropped our bags in our rooms and met up at B.B. King's. As I said, their menu consists of primarily barbecue and Cajun food, but they do have burgers, sandwiches and other basic restaurant fare. I had a Swiss/mushroom burger that came with fries, along with a cup of their gumbo. They also featured some specialty tap beers on the menu, but quite honestly they were all flat. Even the Bud Light they served on tap tasted flat. My burger was OK, nothing special. The gumbo was also average, at best. Definitely not anywhere close to the best gumbo I've ever had. But I did try some of their barbecue sauce on the fries. I thought the barbecue sauce was the highlight of the meal.
B.B. King's Blues Club's breakfast menu is pretty basic - and pretty expensive. Both days I ate there I had the omelet with three ingredients - cheese, mushrooms and chopped kielbasa sausage. It was $14 bucks for the omelet. The first morning we ate there, one of my colleagues, Todd, saw "Chicken and Waffles" on the menu. He exclaimed, "Fried chicken and waffles? What kind of a combination for breakfast is that?" I explained to him that it was a big thing in the south and that a number of chicken and waffle restaurants were even in Chicago. He got a major kick out that, but never ordered them up. It was $15 bucks for chicken and waffles at B.B. King's.
The breakfasts were nothing spectacular. The kielbasa sausage that they used in the omelet was pretty bland. In fact, I thought they had put ham on the omelet the first day until the waitress explained to me that it was, indeed, the sausage.
Service was spotty at B.B. King's. They were pretty attentive until they served the food, then they basically left us alone and didn't check back. A couple times, they'd forgotten something - a side or a glass of milk - and we'd have to flag someone down to find our waitress or waiter. It was a pretty big place, so they were always on the go. But I found out later on that the place had just opened in December of 2009, less than a month from when we ate there, so it was understandable why the service could be spotty. It seems to be that way in most new restaurants - even ones that come from well-established franchises.
Like most restaurants/clubs of its type, B.B. King's Blue Club was average, at best. It's a tourist trap with some pictures and memorabilia, over-priced food and flat beer. But it was the closest place to eat while we were at the Mirage and it served its purpose. I just wouldn't eat there because I wanted to eat there. It was the basically the lesser of all evils presented to us in terms of quick, casual dining at the Mirage.
(Update - This place has mercifully closed...)