Tag Archives: dining

Feel No Pain: Get Uncork’d in Las Vegas

For the next four days you can attend the largest foodie event ever held in Las Vegas, if not the Western world: Vegas Uncorked, sponsored by Bon Appetit.

The event officially kicks off at 4 p.m. today when French superchef Alain Ducasse performs the champagne uncorking with a saber at his Mix restaurant and lounge atop The Hotel at Mandalay Bay.

The festival takes place May 6-9, with the signature event being a “Grand Tasting” ($175) on May 7 at the Garden of the Gods in Caesars Palace.  That event will feature chef Hubert Keller serving.

Not everyone has the chance—or wherewithal—to dine at the restaurants of chefs such as Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Bobby Flay or François Payard, but they all will be there (along with about 60 other celebrated chefs) displaying and offering up their delicious wares.

Among the events on May 8 are the Ultimate All-Star Interactive Luncheon ($195) at Encore; Culinary Theater: All the Kitchen’s a Stage ($95) at RM Seafood; and the Wine Immersion Experience ($75) at Bellagio.

The lineup of celebrated chefs who have Las Vegas restaurants includes Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, Paul Bartolotta, Julian Serrano, Todd English, Luciano Pellegrini and Charlie Palmer.

Tickets are going fast; please go to www.vegasuncorked.com for further information.

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Project Dinner Table Launches in Las Vegas

There is no shortage of delicious, multi-course meals or acclaimed chefs to prepare them in Las Vegas, yet now a new dinner series is bringing something different to the table.

Project Dinner Table debuts April 24 and aims to showcase Las Vegas produced ingredients in a unique setting.  The inaugural meal invites discerning, community-minded diners to take one of about 150 seats at the table—yes, the table; there is only one but it’s very long—and enjoy a six-course meal at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Orchard in North Las Vegas.

The menu is prepared by Sensi chef de cuisine Roy Ellamar and includes a salad using Overton-based Quail Hollow Farms greens, grass-fed beef (from Bar 10 in northern Arizona) served with vegetables grown at the Las Vegas Gilcrease Orchard.

Part of the proceeds from the $150-a-plate meal will support Junior Achievement of Southern Nevada, and the venue and chef will change with every monthly installment of the series.

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Las Vegans Relish Vegan Restuarants

It’s not easy finding really good vegan food hotspots in Las Vegas.  So, here’s seven good ones for your discerning vegan palate:

Rainbow’s End  This market and café is full of natural foods and has a wonderful vegetarian/vegan café. The most popular dish—for more than 30 years—is the Green Goddess pita sandwich ($7.49), which features avocado, cucumber, tomato, grated carrots and beets, onions, Vegenaise and cheese. There are some wickedly tasty desserts, too, including a sinful organic peanut-butter chocolate pie. Café open for breakfast and lunch 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and noon to 5 p.m. Sat.; market open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat. and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun.; 1100 E. Sahara Ave., 702-737-1338.

Go Raw Café  Considered by many the only truly vegan kitchen in Las Vegas,  this restaurant lives up to its name by serving cuisine made of raw ingredients, such as the Gimme the Beet “Cheese” Burger ($10.88, with fries), which consists of beets, carrots, sunflower seeds and parsley served on living bread with handmade ketchup, mustard, mayo, onion, tomato, lettuce, sprouts, avocado and almond cheese. 2910 Lake East Dr., 9 a.m-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., 702-254-5382, and 2381 E. Windmill Lane, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., 702-450-9007.

Red Velvet Café  This Las Vegas vegan hot spot is known for its amazing food, stylish décor and friendly atmosphere. The extensive menu, featuring dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs vegan-style ($10.99), will satisfy the pickiest eater. 7875 W. Sahara Ave., 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 702-360-1972.

Samosa Factory Indian Cuisine  Samosa claims to serve the best vegan and vegetarian food in Las Vegas, and it certainly offers affordable food with great taste. See for yourself, with dishes such the Baigan Bharta, charbroiled eggplant with onions and tomato, or the Veggie Kofta Curry, which includes opo squash, chickpea flour and garlic. All of these dishes are served with basmati rice and cost $11. Lunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., dinner 5-9 p.m. Mon.-Thurs. and 5-10 p.m. Fri., noon-10 p.m. Sat.; 4604 W. Sahara Ave., 702-804-0293.

Paymon’s Mediterranean Café & Lounge  This is a vegan-friendly place, but you might call ahead to make arrangements for your meal. Try the lentil soup ($2.95 cup, $6.25 bowl) and the rich hummus for lunch. 4147 S. Maryland Parkway, 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. (lounge open to 1 a.m.), 702-731-6030; and 8380 W. Sahara Ave., 11 a.m. 1 a.m., 702-731-6030.

Panevino Ristorante & Gourmet Deli  This alluring restaurant is very vegan-friendly. They make a delicious wholewheat penne with vegan sauce ($22), and it even has homemade vegan desserts.  The catch? You will need to call at least 24 hours ahead of time to make arrangements for a vegan meal. That may be a pain, but the great part is being able to dine your way while enjoying the company of your non-vegan friends. 5-10 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 246 Via Antonio Ave., 702-222-2400. 

Whole Foods Market.  Yes, it’s a supermarket chain, but true vegans know the value of its offerings and convenience. Whole Foods not only offers a vast array of organic produce, but its deli has great variety for vegan meals, including a salad bar—making this an ideal place to get a quick bite and pick up the groceries. Four locations: www.wholefoodsmarket.com

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Recipe Bandido Steals Away in Las Vegas

Rodd Wilbur isn’t your ordinary chef.  In fact, he’s not a chef at all.  But what he “relishes” – he prefers “cloning” – the secret recipes for popular dishes made by restuarant chains like McDonald’s, Applebee’s and KFC.  Then, to make some scratch, he writes books to show how you too can make the yummy stuff. 

Wilbur started with the Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie theft, coming up with a recipe that was a variation on the Nestlé Tollhouse classic and tasted remarkably close to Debbie Fields’ moneymaker. Then he moved on to more savory exploits. For his second recipe, he reverse-engineered the Big Mac. That special sauce? It’s basically Thousand Island dressing! 

A former TV news reporter, Wilbur, a Summerlin, Nevada resident, now works full-time cloning recipes for his cookbooks, which are for sale on QVC and have been featured on Oprah and Live with Regis and Kelly. He’s really not a chef or an innovator; he’s a casual-dining cloner, and success means tasting just like the real thing. 

“I want it to be exact,” Wilbur says as he gets to work on recreating a batch of cous cous salad from the Houston’s chain of restaurants. “I don’t want to make it better; I don’t want to make it worse. I don’t want to make it less fat. I don’t want to do anything to it except exactly duplicate it.” 

So far, Wilbur has exactly duplicated enough recipes for nine cookbooks. His 10th, 17 recipes shy of completion, should be out in September. The book will be called Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3. “Alternate title: The Greatest Cookbook Ever Written,” Wilbur jokes. 

Since publishing his first cookbook in 1993, Wilbur has sold close to 5 million copies of his cookbooks, all of which tackle well-known recipes from fast food or casual dining chains and break them down for cooks to re-create at home. 

His 1,000th recipe — the one most requested by visitors to his website — was Olive Garden’s chicken and gnocchi soup, or as Wilbur describes it, “really good shit.” 

Flipping through the pages of his books is like looking at a greatest-hits menu from chain restaurants: Buffalo Wild Wings’ Caribbean jerk sauce, the Cheesecake Factory’s Bang-Bang Chicken and Shrimp, Chili’s lettuce wraps, KFC’s biscuits. 

And Wilbur has all kinds of tricks for figuring out what goes into the dishes that people crave. Sometimes he asks for a seat at the bar or near the kitchen, so he can watch how desserts or dishes are assembled. Other times he claims to be a strict vegetarian or vegan, so he can find out if a dish contains chicken broth or animal fat. When Oprah Winfrey challenged him to create the Jack Daniel’s grill glaze from TGIFriday’s before appearing on her show, Wilbur faked an allergy so the restaurant would give him a list of the ingredients. 

Wilbur just loves his role of playing recipe investigator, hunting for clues and then putting the recipe pieces together until he’s completed a culinary puzzle that tastes fresh off the line.

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New Daytime Partying Comes to Las Vegas

To many, partying into the wee hours of the morning in Las Vegas is just part of the seductive intrigue.  But, why not opt for a change to your modus operandi and try an opulent brand of new daytime partying? 

The 9 Group, renowned for superb dining, nightlife and lifestyle experiences, presents a provocative and innovative new dayclub affair known as High Society at Nove Italiano in the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, premiering 1 p.m. Sunday, April 11.   

Creating a posh atmosphere filled with life’s little luxuries in the middle of the afternoon, High Society offers partygoers a place to mix and mingle among Las Vegas’ nobility while indulging in high-end libations, decadent brunch and vivacious entertainment.   

Upon entering, Nove Italiano will envelope guests in a complete sensory experience – from sophisticated interior decor, to aromatic food and thirst-quenching beverages, to the incomparable energy created by resident DJs Zen Freeman and Mark Stylz spinning on the turntables.  Atop the Palm’s sky-scraping 51st floor, Nove Italiano’s guests will indulge in some of the city’s most spectacular views, and enjoy ever-changing exuberant entertainment, including roaming live musicians and a live painter offering complimentary tableside guest portraits. 

The brunch menu at High Society combines rich tastes and traditional favorites at various stations including the salad, fresh fruits and fish stations, as well as a build your own frittatas station. Fare also includes warm items on the griddle or hot plate such as Italian sausage and pepper hash, crispy pancetta and chicken apple sausage, a variety of poached eggs served with crab cake, spinach and bearnaise sauce, pancetta, ciabatta, drizzled with a Hollandaise sauce or long cooked greens mixed with a fontina cheese and fonduta. Other warm items include a variety of pizzas and Panini sandwiches. Guests can pair brunch with $99 bottles of champagne and half bottles of spirits. 

High Society will start at 1 p.m. every Sunday at Nove Italiano. The buffet brunch is $30 per person. Guests must be 21 years of age or older to attend. Admission is free and table reservations are strongly recommended. For more information, VIP tables and bottle reservations, visit www.novelasvegas.com  or call 702-942-6800. 

Nove Italiano is open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.  For additional information, please visit www.novelasvegas.com or call 702-942-6800.

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Las Vegas Chefs Battle for Best Chef of the Year honors at James Beard Awards

Three Las Vegas chefs are battling for the coveted title of Best Chef of the Year Southwest in the 2010 James Beard Awards, and several other Strip chefs are represented in the Oscars of the food industry, as well. 

The finalists were announced last week in New Orleans, and the winners will be announced May 3 at New York’s Lincoln Center. 

The three Best Chefs of the Southwest finalists are the off-Strip Saipan Chutima from Lotus of Siam, Claude Le Tohic from Joël Robuchon at MGM and Rick Moonen from RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay. 

Michael Mina from MGM, Mandalay Bay, Bellagio and Aria is recognized twice in the prestigious awards: His RN74 in San Francisco is nominated for Best New Restaurant, and his self-named restaurant, also in the City by the Bay, is nominated for Outstanding Service, competing against Robuchon’s restaurant at MGM Grand.

Robuchon’s MGM pastry chef Kamel Guechuda is up for the Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year. 

Chef Tom Colicchio, well known to foodies here for his Craft at MGM and as host of Bravo’s Top Chef, is nominated as Outstanding Chef of the Year for his original Craft in Manhattan. 

Two other New York chefs with outposts in Las Vegas will also battle in the Outstanding Restaurant Award category: Mario Batali, who has restaurants at The Venetian and Palazzo, has been nominated for his Babbo in New York City and Daniel Boulud from the Wynn for his Daniel in Manhattan. 

Timothy Hollingsworth, former Venetian chef for Thomas Keller Brasserie and now at Thomas’ French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., has been nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year. 

In other Las Vegas chef news, Todd English from Bellagio and Aria was nominated for Best TV Special for Food Trip With Todd English, as was The Venetian and Palazzo’s Emeril Lagasse who will go head-to-head with English in the TV category for Emeril’s Culinary Adventures: Napa

And architect and designer David Rockwell, who has masterminded numerous Las Vegas restaurants, Crystals at MGM’s CityCenter and the show Peepshow at Planet Hollywood, will be inducted into the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

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Las Vegas Loses Celebrity Chef Restaurant Charlie

Las Vegas is once again losing one of its celebrity chef restaurants. Charlie Trotter has closed his two-year-old Restaurant Charlie in the Palazzo in Las Vegas. 

Trotter, who is a Chicago institution, won his first Michelin star at his seafood-centered Las Vegas restaurant. The sushi bar inside the restaurant, Bar Charlie, was selected as one of the nation’s best sushi spots by Bon Appetit last year. 

Alas, the finances just weren’t working out for the Las Vegas restaurant that gave a valiant performance.

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