search
Loading
|  home | feedback | help          
StarChefs
Features Holiday Baking 2008
 
TRAVEL ARCHIVE
Las Vegas II: Where to Eat & Where to Stay 2009
January 2009

Las Vegas: A child of the 60s.

Sin City has been through many phases of maturity—from growing up in the 70s, to being a young adult in the 80s, to achieving booming success in the new millennium. The casinos and resorts have been raking in profits year after year, and in turn investing a lot of the surplus cash into the growing restaurant and wine scene. And internationally known chefs, (the likes of Joel Robuchon, Mario Batali, and Charlie Trotter) who are lured to open their own Vegas venues, add fuel to the fire.

There is perhaps no place else on the planet with a higher concentration of high-ticket menus and wine lists than in the couple miles that make up the Strip. Visitors from all over the globe come to the desert oasis for fine dining.

Of course, a thriving restaurant scene has meant a lot of employment opportunities for chefs, cooks, sommeliers, and the industry as a whole. What’s more, chefs and sommeliers are banding together to support and network with each other. They’ve recently formed a Las Vegas chapter of Slow Foods; they’re working together to shore up local farmers; and collaborating with university agriculture programs. Sure, volume is always a challenge when it comes to creativity in this city and meeting your numbers is the key to what Vegas considers a success, but the sheer variety of restaurants and growing range of cuisines makes it more exciting than ever.   

But like many adults, Las Vegas is experiencing a bit of a mid-life crisis. The city’s real estate market experienced a dramatic “correction” (bad news for those who already own homes there; good news for those thinking of buying—assuming you can get a loan). And of course the recent global economic woes and topsy-turvy stock market may slow tourism. Despite the prospect of a downturn, chefs are still optimistic about the city’s food future. And after taking a look at the list we have put together of the city’s top dining spots (including several captained by our 2008 Las Vegas Rising Stars), you’ll see why the future looks bright.

Bradley Ogden
Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(877) 346-4642
Wed-Sun 5pm-11pm; Lounge open daily 5pm-11pm

Bradley Ogden was one of the first restaurants to bring the concept of market-driven menus to Vegas. Over the last five years this kitchen has contributed an enormous amount of talent to the local culinary scene and continues to do so. Our most recent visit to Bradley Ogden introduced us to Pastry Chef Andrea Sans. Her creative takes on American classics is inventive with fun, modern twists, like her gluten-free Bing cherry rice pudding with a caramel rice crisp topping and angular vanilla-sugar tuile. Of course, like all things at Bradley Ogden, what’s available at the farmers market drives produce choices, so don’t expect Sans’ blueberry cheesecake in the winter.

Recommended Desserts:

  • Blueberry Cheesecake with White Chocolate Oatmeal Shortbread and Market Blueberries
  • Carrot Cake Bread Pudding with Toasted Pecan Flan, Candied Carrot and Butterscotch Sauce
  • Bing Cherry Rice Pudding, Caramel Rice Crisp, Vanilla Rice Tuile and Chai Ice Cream

Charlie Palmer Steak
Four Seasons Hotel
3960 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 632-5000s
Daily 5:30pm-10:15pm

+ Click image to enlarge

Charlie Palmer Steak finds the middle ground between being a steakhouse and a more delicate West Coast restaurant with its vaulted ceiling, big cushion chairs and light cream and yellow colors. Similarly, Executive Chef Steven Blandino’s dishes are big, bold, and subtly creative to surpass steakhouse expectations and keep more adventurous diners interested. Blandino’s dishes have heart and soul, like his truffled egg salad with thin shavings of fresh white truffles (when in season) and warm mustard vinaigrette spooned on tableside. And the chef’s side-by-side serving of American versus Japanese Kobe-style beef is an enjoyable way to compare and contrast the two rarefied meats.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Truffled Egg Salad with Watercress, Proscuitto and Warm Mustard Vinaigrette
  • East Meets West: American Kobe Style Strip Loin and Japanese Kobe Style Strip Loin
+ Click image to enlarge

Michael Mina
The Bellagio
3600 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-8255
Sun-Thurs 5pm-10pm; Fri and Sat 5pm-10:30pm

There’s an elegance about Michael Mina—from the understated décor to the expertly executed dishes of 2008 Rising Star Chef Anthony Amoroso. Amoroso has a way with making complex dishes seem simple, pure and utterly sophisticated. His pancetta-wrapped quail are shaped into bite-size coins and placed on individual leaves of sautéed Brussels sprouts; a Marcona almond puree is smooth and delicately sweet and rich and the quail jus deeply flavored and savory; almond milk foam delicately topped the quail pieces giving it just the right amount of modern sensibility. On the wine side, Sommelier Joseph Phillips will guide you through the wine list with friendly, professional ease.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Caviar Parfait
  • Alaskan Halibut with Maine Lobster Tortellini, Roasted Oyster Mushrooms with Lemon and Olive Oil Emulsion
  • Pancetta-Wrapped Cavendish Farms Quail with Marcona Almond Puree,  Quail Jus and Almond Milk Foam
+ Click image to enlarge

Restaurant Charlie
The Palazzo
3325 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 607-6336
Sun-Thur 5pm-10pm; Fri and Sat 5pm-11pm

Chicago Star Chef Charlie Trotter’s first Las Vegas venture, Restaurant Charlie, in the new Palazzo, is one of the more exciting new additions to the city. Snag the kitchen table perched up on a glass-walled balcony with a bird’s eye view of the entire kitchen for the best seats in the house. The restaurant is blazing a new trail in cocktail service by offering both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks paired with dishes on the menu. Creative, thoughtful dishes come out of the new kitchen one after another, including a raw Japanese snapper paired with tender kombu and bracing lime gelee that cleanse the palate. Corporate Pastry Chef Aaron Lindgren set up a pastry department (before moving on to the next Trotter project) that’s not afraid to get a little experimental—think mint-infused strawberries with lime and hempseed ice cream.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Uni with Apple Barley Miso
  • Japanese Snapper with Braised Rishiri Kombu and Lime
  • Lemongrass Spring (non-alcoholic cocktail)
  • Coconut Conundrum (cocktail)
  • Mint-Infused Strawberries with Lime and Hempseed Ice Cream
+ Click image to enlarge

Vintner Grill
10100 W. Charleston Boulevard, Ste. 150
Las Vegas, NV 89135
(702) 214-5590
Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm; Fri and Sat 4pm-11pm; Bar daily until 2am

Vintner Grill is one of a growing number of off-Strip locales that is proving that there’s more to the city’s dining scene than what resides on Las Vegas Boulevard. Executive Chef Matt Silverman’s food is modern American with international touches. His wild boar papardelle was rich, filling and completely fantastic with perfectly cooked pasta and meltingly tender boar. Sommelier Troy Kumalaa is outgoing and friendly; he offers wine selections that are eclectic and price conscience—a welcome break from the bank-breaking casino restaurant wine lists. The restaurant itself has the feel of a modern West Coast living room with lots of white and green and dark brown accents—and the canopied, candle-lit patio is flat out seductive for evening dining.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Pan-Seared Diver Scallops with Preserved Lemon-Black Pepper Risotto, Grilled White Asparagus and Fine Herbes
  • Tagliatelle with Wild Boar Bolognese, Truffle Pecorino, Fresh Nutmeg and Opal Basil

+ Click image to enlarge

Hachi
Red Rock Casino and Resort
11011 W. Charleston Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89135
(702) 797-7576
Sun-Thurs 5pm-10pm; Fri and Sat 5pm-11pm

If you’re a Nobu fan but looking for something with an edgier, more hip design and riffs on a couple Nobu classics, head to Hachi. It’s one of the flagship restaurants at Red Rock Casino in Summerlin and the kitchen is lead by Chef Linda Rodriguez (a Nobu protégé). Rodriguez’s dishes are modern and distinctly Asian in aesthetic, and her flavors are bold and bright, borrowing from Japanese, Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines. Her Asahi crab salad with cilantro vinaigrette was a harmonic balance of savory, sweet, tangy and spicy—the kind of flavor combination that leaves you wanting more.  

Recommended Dishes:

  • Asahi Crab Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette
  • Crispy Spicy Shrimp with Chipotle Mayonnaise
  • Braised Shortrib with Roasted Fuji Apple Puree
+ Click image to enlarge

Nobu
Hard Rock Hotel
4455 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-5090
Daily 6pm-11pm

Nobu is a sure thing when it comes to top quality sushi and sashimi in Las Vegas, but don’t expect the same, familiar sushi you’ve come to love. The young and ambitious Sushi Chef Chase Kojima has pretty out of the ordinary ideas about modern sushi. Take his Tai snapper sashimi with yuzu kosho oil, gorgonzola, shiso, steamed beets, candied walnuts and raspberry vinegar reduction for just one example of how he’s exploring beyond the usual confines of sushi/sashimi. Who would think blue cheese, shiso and raspberry vinegar would work with raw fish? Kojima does and he found a way to pull it off.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Tai Snapper Sashimi, Yuzu Kosho Oil, Gorgonzola, Shiso, Steamed Julienned Beets, Candied Walnuts and Raspberry Vinegar Reduction
  • Live Mizutako Seared with Infused Olive-Sesame Oil with Garlic Puree, Sesame Seeds, Chives, Ginger and Citrus So
+ Click image to enlarge

Social House
Treasure Island
3300 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 894-7111
Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday 5pm-12am; Fri and Sat 5pm-2am

Treasure Island’s Social House is no mere restaurant, it’s an ultimate Vegas experience: the space is dark, clubby and party-all-night lively—and the hourly Treasure Island pirate ship battle just off the restaurant’s balcony only adds to the hot spot atmosphere. However, Executive Chef Joe Elevado’s food doesn’t let the scene steal the Social House show. Elevado’s dishes are full of tenacity with unusual flavor combinations and skillful execution. The chef’s main course dishes were particularly noteworthy, showing Elevado’s depth of talent not just for sushi (he is another Nobu disciple), but also for heartier fare in the Kobe, Kurobuta, and Kabocha direction. 

Recommended Dishes:

  • Kobe Beef Trio: Garlic Oil Seared Snake River Farms Kobe with Kalamansi Soy; Imported Wagyu Beef Tataki; Snake River Farms Kobe with Kizame Wasabi Cream
  • Tai/Crispy Chicken Skin: Japanese Tai, Crispy Chicken Skin, Sweet Peas, Ramps, Lap Chong and Star Anise Chicken Reduction
  • Kurobuta Pork Belly with Kabocha Puree, Pickled Shallots, Rice Crackers, Soy-Mirin Reduction and Pink Peppercorns
+ Click image to enlarge

Tao
The Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 388-8338
Sun-Thurs 5pm-12am; Fri and Sat 5pm-1am

Tao literally means "the path;" in Vegas, it also means one of the hottest restaurants and nightclubs in the region. (And to others it means the highest grossing restaurant in the US—think $68 million in business in '07.) Executive Chef Mark Andelbradt (2006 New York Rising Star) ensures that the 900 to 1,300 covers served each day meet his exacting standards for the Pan-Asian dishes the mega-restaurant serves. Andelbradt’s Crispy Tuna Sashimi Roll with Edamame Coulis is wrapped with pickled ginger and scallion and has a crisp texture on the outside with a spectacular hunk of tuna on the inside—it hits all the right notes, especially when you’re dining pool-side at Tao’s open-air Beach.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Crispy Tuna Sashimi Roll with Edamame Coulis
  • Wasabi-Crusted Fillet with Sweet Onion Tempura
  • Kobe Tempura

+ Click image to enlarge

Yellowtail
The Bellagio
3600 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-8300
Sun-Thurs 5pm-10pm; Fri and Sat 5pm-11pm

The Bellagio rolled out another upscale restaurant; it’s a modern-style sushi bar and lounge named Yellowtail. The kitchen is lead by yet another Nobu protégé Executive Chef Akira Back. Back’s sense of presentation is both artful and playful and his subtle layering of flavors is nimble. The chef maintained a decided Japanese look and feel to the dishes, but used Korean and French accent ingredients to give his dishes a distinctive transcendent flavor and quality—the pungent Korean miso paired with the toro and caviar is a prime example. We’re looking forward to visiting Chef Back in his own kitchen and restaurant in the near future (our sneak preview tasting was held in a neighboring restaurant)—we know there are good things to come.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Tai Carpaccio, House Marinated Masago, Shiso and Tosazu
  • Toro Sashimi, Caviar, Micro Mixed Greens and Kuchujang Miso
+ Click image to enlarge

Alex
Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 248-3463
Thurs-Mon 6pm-10pm

A classic, formal setting befits Chef Alessandro Stratta’s elegant Riviera cuisine at the Wynn. But don’t let the mahogany wood lattice work and subdued rust and mint color scheme lead you to think the food is on the strictly classical side. Stratta works emulsions, gelees, and subtle spice blends into expertly prepared dishes. His scallops were paired with sweet, delicate ingredients, like mango and fresh water chestnuts, and rounded off with a sweet curry emulsion—a little ethereal and a little unusual. And Pastry Chef Jenifer Witte follows suit with her deliciously familiar-with-a-twist desserts.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Seared Sea Scallops with Mango, Fresh Water Chestnuts and Sweet Curry Emulsion
  • Butter Braised Maine Lobster with Sweet Corn Custard, Chanterelles and Tomato Confit
  • Strawberries and Cream with Brown Butter Cake and Strawberry Sorbet
  • Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate
+ Click image to enlarge

Border Grill
Mandalay Bay
3950 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119
(702) 632-7403
Mon-Thurs 11:30am-10pm; Fri 11:30am-11pm; Sat 11am-11pm; Sun 11am-10pm

Colorful murals, lively music, and a mix of Latin dishes—not to mention great mojitos and patio seating—makes Border Grill a perfect spot to get a fiesta going. Better yet, Executive Chef Mike Minor, the winner of our 2008 Las Vegas Sustainability Award, makes eating at Border Grill delicious, an eco-friendly and educational experience. The chef is working to make a 100% sustainable and organic menu; educates his staff and diners about the menu and issues surrounding sustainability and environmental concerns; and makes sure that each guests’ place setting has a sustainable seafood wallet-size guide for them to take with them.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Sauteed Scallops with Toasted Ancho Chiles, Braised Greens, and Red and White Rices
  • New Zealand Green Lip Mussels with Ancho Chiles, Garlic, Chorizo
+ Click image to enlarge

RM Seafood
Mandalay Place at Mandalay Bay
3730 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 632-9300
Downstairs: 11:00am-11:00pm; Upstairs: 5:00pm-10:30pm

Rick Moonen’s seafood mecca is a breath of fresh air: the veteran chef is leading the way for Vegas in this sustainable seafood concept, and serving chic cuisine without any wacky science. And Moonen’s got some serious talent in the kitchen to back him up. His Chef de Cuisine, Brian Rae, is a 2008 Las Vegas Rising Star, and between the two they cook up some of the city’s top dishes, including meaty cobia with Sticky Rice, Piquillo Pepper Chutney, and Sake Lees "Gazpacho." Sommelier Jeff Eichelberger will put you at ease with his down-to-earth and friendly tableside manner; his pairings will make you think twice about the role of beer in fine dining (he matched a Belgian Chimay ale with braised oysters that was eye-opening). NB: the restaurant has two levels. The upstairs is fine dining—where Moonen and Rae get to play with ingredients—and the downstairs is more casual with classic American seafood dishes and a sushi bar. 

Recommended Dishes:

  • Pan-Seared Abalone, Slow-Cooked Aricauna Egg, Toasted Brioche with Brown Butter and White Balsamic
  • Medallions of Cobia with Sticky Rice, Piquillo Pepper Chutney, and Sake Lees "Gazpacho"
  • Butter Poached Lobster with Porcini, Favas, Toasted Gnocchi and a Grand Marnier Monte
+ Click image to enlarge

Sensi
The Bellagio, Spa Tower
3600 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-8800
Daily11am-2:30pm; 5pm-10pm


Italian? Got it. Indian? Check. Asian? Definitely. Few restaurants embrace eclecticism like Chef Martin Heierling’s Sensi. The 2005 Las Vegas Rising Star chef’s restaurant is designed to please as many palates as possible, and his flawlessly balanced and executed dishes never disappoint. A native of New Zealand, Heierling leans toward Southeast Asian flavors in his best dishes, like the coconut curry soup or Rice Flake Crusted Maine Lobster with Coconut Tapioca and Malaysian Mango Slaw. And with the glass walled kitchen set smack dab in the middle of the dining room, it offers a entertaining show.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Rice Flake Crusted Maine Lobster with Coconut Tapioca and Malaysian Mango Slaw
  • Beef and Lamb Combo: Tamarind Braised Beef Shortribs with Onion Seed Grits; Roasted Colorado Lamb Tramezzini with Pea Puree, and Porcini Mushrooms
+ Click image to enlarge

Simon Restaurant & Lounge
Palms Place
4381 W. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89103
(702) 944-3292
Daily 7am-11pm

Simon (named for Chef Kerry Simon) is the penthouse restaurant and lounge in the new Palms Place tower. The space is gorgeous with an open and spacious modern minimalist design; glass walls divide the lounge from the dining room and the outdoor pool. Executive Chef Chris Vaughn oversees Simon, as well as banquets, in-suite dining, and the employee dining room; his menu offers a range of international dishes from South American to Indian to Asian to modern American. Vaughn's braised shortribs were tender and flavorful, accompanied by rich grits and crunchy corn tempura.

Recommended Dish:

  • Citrus Braised Shortribs with Grits and Corn Tempur
+ Click image to enlarge

Andre's
401 South Sixth Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101
(702) 385-5016
Tues-Sat 5:30pm to 10pm

Andre's in downtown Las Vegas is a landmark restaurant, not just because it was founded by renowned French chef Andre Rochat in 1980. Andre's is remarkable because it thrives in its off-Strip location and is still serving top-notch French cuisine. Until recently (Fall of 2008), 2008 Las Vegas Rising Star Chef Gregory Engelhardt was the Chef de Cuisine of Andre's (he's been promoted to Executive Chef of Rochat's new Italian-focused restaurant in the Monte Carlo); his carefully crafted classic French cuisine had all the markings of a Rochat protégé: a thorough understanding of French cuisine, flawless execution, and an updated sensibility. One bite of Engelhardt's Cube of Poussin, Black Truffle, and Foie Gras with Porcini Jus and you'll understand why he is one of our Rising Star Chefs.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Rock Lobster with Tomato Gelee, Celery Root Remoulade, and Truffle Oil
  • Cube of Poussin, Black Truffle, and Foie Gras with Porcini Jus
  • Caponata-Wrapped Rack of Lamb with Loin, Fondant Potatoes, and Natural Lamb Jus with Harissa
+ Click image to enlarge

Bouchon
The Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 414-6200
Breakfast: Mon-Fri 7am-10:30am; Oyster bar daily 3pm-10pm; Dinner daily 5pm-10pm; Brunch Sat and Sun 8am-2pm

Bouchon is mega-chef Thomas Keller's Vegas venue with a classic French bistro menu, featuring what Keller considers French comfort food—steak frites, French onion soup, oysters, and pot de crème, to name a few items. Executive Chef Mark Hopper has been with Keller for several years and knows his way around the Keller kitchen. Hopper’s integration of fruit into two dishes in particular was impressive: compressed apricots are thinly sliced like a carpaccio and in a duck breast preparation a layer of stonefruit is added in between the breast meat and skin and then Cryovaced to hold it together during cooking. Pastry Chef Chris Herrin’s dishes are straightforward and tasty in a classic bistro way, but updated with modern flourishes. The restaurant itself is decked out in bistro deep red colors, dark woods, and has a beautiful oyster bar, which is available for walk-ins.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Salad of Compressed Apricots
  • Liberty Valley Duck Breast and Stonefruit Bialdi
  • Cantalope Sorbet with Anise Ciabatta and Poached Black Mission Fi
+ Click image to enlarge

Daniel Boulud Brasserie
Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(888) 320-7110
Daily 5:30pm-10:30pm

Daniel Boulud Brasserie (AKA DB Brasserie) is a bit French and bit American, but definitely Vegas. The restaurant is big—250 seats big—with a rich interior, patio seating by the "Lake of Dreams," and a menu with replete with French onion soup and an ultra-deluxe DB Burger. But venture off the DB Brasserie classics path and you'll find Executive Chef and 2008 Las Vegas Rising Star Chef Wesley Holton's more modern, bold interpretations. Holton's Pan-Roasted Loup de Mer and his Trio of Kurobuta Pork are two of his best dishes. What's more, you can rest easy in the knowledgeable hands of Sommelier Jerome Depulch.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Tuna Tartare with Tobiko Caviar, Grilled Shiitake, and Sesame
  • Pan-Roasted Loup de Mer with Cauliflower, Saffron, Grapes, and Pine Nuts
  • Trio of Kurobuta Pork with Gnocchi, Rapini, and Green Apple
+ Click image to enlarge

Joël Robuchon
MGM Grand Hotel
3799 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 891-7925
Sun-Thurs 5:30pm-10pm; Fri and Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm

Joël Robuchon is a dining oasis like few other restaurants in the city with its rich, intimate ambience and accent décor and tableware that changes several times a year. French-native Kamel Guechida is the Executive Pastry Chef at Joël Robuchon (as well as at L'Atelier du Joël Robuchon and the private MGM Villa) and his desserts are extraordinary. Each is a little masterpiece in pastry, like the La Fraise: served in a small glass dish on a nest of cotton candy and tiny morsels of white chocolate coated marshmallows, candied flowers, strawberry sorbet, and poppy seed syrup inside. Guechida’s Mignardises Trolley is amazing too with over 30 precious candies, chocolates, bonbons, macaroons, and other treats to choose from. Dining at Joël Robuchon is no small affair; in fact, the 16-course Degustation runs for $385. Just be sure to save room for dessert.

Recommended Desserts:

  • La Framboise: Fresh Raspberry Surprise Inside White Chocolate Sphere, Yuzu Ice Cream
  • La Fraise: Sliced Strawberry in Poppy Syrup, Marshmallow in White Chocolate and Strawberry Sorbet
  • La Caramel: Caramel Cremeux Infused with Arabica, Chocolate Rice Souffle
+ Click image to enlarge

L’Atelier du Joël Robuchon
MGM Grand Hotel
3799 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 891-7777
Sun-Thurs 5:30pm-10pm; Fri and Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm

L'Atelier is the more casual side of Joël Robuchon; the super sleek, hyper shiny black and red restaurant with bar-style seating looks onto an open kitchen, where you will see Executive Chef Steve Benjamin and his support team quietly and carefully prepare the small, modern French dishes. Benjamin's expertise is in his near perfect execution. His La Caille was a free-range semi-boneless quail stuffed wit foie gras and served with truffled mashed potatoes. The flavor combination was classic in every way; the quail was delectable, juicy, delicate but meaty; the potatoes were incredibly rich in flavor, almost inexplicably smooth, and bordering on saucey in consistency.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Les Huitres: Poached Baby Kusshi Oysters with French "Echire" Butter
  • La Langoustine: Crispy Langoustine Fritter with Basil Pesto
  • La Caille: Free-Range Quail Stuffed with Foie Gras with Truffled-Mashed Potat
+ Click image to enlarge

Le Cirque
The Bellagio
3600 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-7223
Daily 5:30pm-10pm

If nothing else, the décor at Le Cirque will keep you entertained with its slightly over the top—but classic Le Cirque—design that utilizes what must be miles of colorful fabric to create a tent-like effect. Even monkeys adorn the china. Despite the opulent circus interior, Executive Chef David Werly keeps the food fresh and updated. His roots are certainly firmly in classical French techniques and ingredients, yet Werly stretches the fairly strict confines of Le Cirque's traditional menu by incorporating subtly diverse, unusual ingredients, like kadaifi (a finely shredded wheat pastry dough similar to phyllo) with a beet and scallop warm salad, or roasted halibut with calamari "popsicles," or cocoa nibs on a skillfully seared duck breast.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Roasted Scallops with Langoustine "En Kadaif," Mosiac of Beets, White Balsamic Dressing
  • Roasted Alaskan Halibut, Pesto Emulsion, Calamari Popsicles, Borlotti Beans, and Tomatoes
  • Crusted Honey Glazed Duck with Cocoa Nibs, Pea Mousseline, and Potato Souffle
+ Click image to enlarge

Restaurant Guy Savoy
Caesars Palace, Augustus Tower
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(877) 346-4642
Wed-Sun 5:30pm-10:30pm

There are many reasons to go to Guy Savoy in Las Vegas. For one, it's currently the only place to taste famed French chef Guy Savoy's multi-starred and diamond-ed cuisine. Another reason—and reason for our most recent visit—is for Pastry Chef Uyen Nguyen's ethereal desserts. Nguyen won our 2008 Rising Star Pastry Chef Award and was also a presenter at the 2008 International Chefs Congress. Nguyen's sense of presentation—what we call exotic Zen—was at once simple, artistic and a feast for the eyes. On top of that, the desserts tasted as good as they looked.

Recommended Desserts:

  • Citrus Salad with Hot Chamomile Tea Steam
  • Coconut Six Ways
  • Fresh Dates with Fromage Blanc Sorbe

+ Click image to enlarge

B&B Ristorante
The Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 266-9977
Daily 5pm-11pm

Carnevino
The Palazzo
3355 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 789-4141
Taverna & Bar Menu 12pm-12am; Dinner 5pm-11pm

Enoteca San Marco
The Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 677-3390
Daily 11am-11pm

At long last Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich have a Vegas presence—and they didn't start with just one restaurant. The dynamic restaurant duo took a gamble and opened three separate venues in two resort/casinos within just weeks of each other. Each operation has its own identity, but all three share Executive Chef Zach Allen (a 2008 Las Vegas Rising Star). When it comes to the menus at these Batali/Bastianich restaurants an Italian influence is a given, and Allen finds a way to keep it fresh with highly seasonal and unexpected ingredients, like fava leaves on thinly sliced cured pork loin and fresh ginger in his Averna pork. As expected, meat and wine play leading roles at the Italian-styled steak house Carnevino, though the menu has a good selection of antipasti and several pasta dishes. B & B Ristorante is arguably the closest of the three to fine dining, but retains a Batali-style casualness with his rock 'n' roll music selection and menu that includes home-style Italian dishes, like Lamb's Brain "Francobolli." Enoteca San Marco is the laid-back wine bar/antipasti pit-stop/restaurant.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Lobster "Crudo/Cotto"
  • Squash Raviolini with Rabbit and Pancetta
  • Averna Pork
+ Click image to enlarge

Nove Italiano
The Palms
4321 W. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89103
(702) 942-6800
Sun-Thurs 5:30pm-10pm; Fri and Sat 5:30pm-11pm

Perched up on one of the top floors of the Fantasy Tower, Nove claims dramatic views of the city from its dark and Swarovsky crystal laden dining room. Its clubby atmosphere is accentuated by the young female hostesses' and servers' bustier "uniforms" (NB: the restaurant is owned by the N9NE group that also operates several Vegas nightclubs), but once you get your dinner menus it's all contemporary Italian-American.  Executive Chef Geno Bernardo's main course dishes are hearty and flavorful, so starting off with his Flight of Crudo, with over a dozen little bites of simply dressed and garnished impeccably fresh raw seafood, is the way to go; the chef's ode to the Manhattan pizza icon, Lombardi's White Pizza with Clams, is a gooey, crisp-crusted, finger-licking winner, too.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Flight of Crudo
  • Lombardi’s White Pizza with Clam
+ Click image to enlarge

Payard Patisserie and Bistro
Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(877) 346-4642
Daily 6:30am-3pm

If sweets are your thing, go to Pastry Chef extraordinaire Francois Payard's eponymous patisserie and bistro. Not only can you get some of the city's best desserts—several Payard classics, others the creations of Executive Pastry Chef Gregory Gorreau's—but you can make a meal of them. The black olive macaroon is exceptional for its sweet-savory flavor combination, chewy-crisp macaroon texture, creamy filling and subtle blue cheese component in the ice cream. The menu doesn't stop short at the sweet stuff; it includes an array of French-oriented savory breakfast, lunch, and dinner items that even a dessert devotee can appreciate.

Recommended Desserts:

  • Olive Savory Macaroon, Black Olive Cream Cheese with Gorgonzola Ice Cream
  • Poached Sickle Pear with Pomegranate, Cabrales Cheese, and Szechuan Pepper Ice Cream
  • Apple Tatin with Aged Cheddar, Frisee Salad, and Toasted Walnuts
+ Click image to enlarge

Noir Bar
Luxor
3900 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 262-5257
Wed-Sat 10pm-late

Noir Bar is one of the most exclusive lounges in city—you must be on the guest list or know someone at the door to get in, and absolutely no photos are allowed inside. It's the ultra-ultra lounge. There is no drink menu; mixologists interview guests to determine the best drink to make for each individual. Master Mixologist and Bar Manager Ken Hall’s specialty is dessert cocktails. Ever wondered what carrot cake would taste like as an after-dinner drink? Hall can show you—and it really does taste like carrot cake, cream cheese frosting and all. But his Spicy Cucumber made with cucumbers, lime, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and tequila is barely sweet and refreshingly tangy. And if savory cocktails are your thing, ask for “Basil Boy” who muses with the herbal affects of, no surprise, basil and occasionally thyme (though his Banana Split is pretty fabulous, too).  

Recommended Cocktails:

  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Spicy Cucumber
  • Carrot Cake
+ Click image to enlarge

Nora’s
6020 W. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89103
(702) 365-6713
Mon-Thurs 11am-10pm; Fri 11am-12am; Sat 4pm-12am

Located in one of the many strip malls along West Flamingo, Nora's is an unassuming Italian-American restaurant that just so happens to also have one of the city's top mixologists behind the bar. Gaston Martinez and his cocktails are the reason to venture off Las Vegas Boulevard, if not to mix with locals and listen to live Sinatra-style lounge music. Martinez built the cocktail program at Nora's from the ground up, and when he's not competing at mixology and bartending contests around the globe for top prizes, he's shaking and stirring at Nora's. Go for a classic or one of Martinez's own concoctions, like the double-decker, hot and cold Amplex Tremo with a list of ingredients that will leave your head spinning.

Recommended Cocktails:

  • Amplex Tremo
  • Berry Explosive
  • Perfect Spice
+ Click image to enlarge

StripSteak
Mandalay Bay
3950 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 632-7777
Daily 5:30pm-11:00pm

Steaks are a sure bet at Michael Mina's StripSteak, but what most people don't know is that there's a Rising Star behind the bar. Quite literally, our 2008 Las Vegas Rising Star Mixologist, Amanda Gager, shakes her cocktails at StripSteak's lounge. Though most of the drinks she makes for the average diner are "girlie drinks" loaded with sugar, Gager's personal style focuses on balance, texture, and flavor when creating her own cocktails. Bourbon is at the top of her list and her Honey Love is a delightful blend of Cointreau, freshly squeezed lemon juice, honey syrup, egg white, freshly grated cinnamon and, of course, bourbon.
 
Recommended Cocktails:

  • Honey Love
  • In A Hammock
  • Sun Burst

Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(877) 427-7243
(800) 634-6661
Rooms start at $120

Out of the mere 3,300 guest rooms and suites on the 85-acre Caesars Palace property, there’s something to suit nearly every budget and desire—from plebe to royalty. Rooms in the Augustus Tower are spacious and decked out in a chocolate brown and light blue color scheme and furnishings are sexy and sleek. Special touches include huge marble bathrooms, Jacuzzi tubs, cushy beds, fluffy robes, and a view of the Bellagio’s water show next door. What’s more, all rooms include access to the 4.5-acre Garden of the Gods pools and gardens.

Green Valley Ranch
2655 S. Rainbow Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 392-7313
Rooms start at $95

Located 20 minutes off the Strip, Green Valley Ranch is an ideal spot to find fantastic room deals for under a hundred dollars, escape from the madness of the Las Vegas Boulevard, or just to unwind. The atmosphere is grown-up and refined with Old World styling and a subtle color scheme. Nearly 500 rooms offer high-speed Internet access, plush robes, and comfortable beds. The pool and garden area is expansive and features private cabanas, lawns, and infinity-edge pools.

Wynn
3131 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 770-3340
Rooms start at $180

All 2,700-plus rooms at the 50-story Wynn are something to remark about. Firstly, they are spacious (averaging 640 square feet—larger than most Manhattan one bedroom apartments!), and each has a sitting area for resting those weary, casino-treading legs. Of course, the luxury appointments—the 310 thread count sheets, bedside drapery and light controls, flatscreen LCD high-def TV to name a few—can’t go without mention. Lastly, the property itself is beautifully maintained, and almost littered with several of the city’s top spots to dine. Also look for the highly anticipated opening of Steve Wynn’s extension of the Wynn, Encore.



Bookmark and Share

 
 
hotlinks_general_narrow
  • Las Vegas Rising Stars 2008
  • Las Vegas Photo Galleries
  • Letter From the Editor: Summary of Tastings
  • Top Pairs from Las Vegas




  •  Sign up for our newsletters!|Print this page|Email this page to a friend
     QuickMeals   Chefs   Rising Stars   Hospitality Jobs   Find a School   Wine   Community   Features   Food Events   News   Ask the Experts   Tickets   Cookbooks
    About Us | Career Opportunities | Media Kit | StarChefs in the News | Site Map
    Please help keep StarChefs a free service by displaying our button on your website. Click here for details.
      Copyright © 1995-2014 StarChefs. All rights reserved.  | Privacy Policy