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The Palazzo Restaurants – Part One

Now that it’s been open for 6 months, and I’ve eaten in every restaurant there at least twice, I thought I’d give you a quick rundown of what’s worth eating in, and what’s not, in the Palazzo.

 
It couldn’t be a worse time to open a bunch of fancy food emporiums – what with the recession….er….uh….I mean: economic downturn and all – but you have to give the Venetian/Palazzo credit(?) for flying in the face of eating out adversity and asking Charlie Trotter, Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse to strut their high priced stuff for Sheldon Adelson’s conventioneers – who aren’t spending quite as freely as they were when these places were on the drawing boards.


In fact, according to Restaurant News magazine, food and beverage business is down 16% on the Las Vegas Strip. I’ve been told by various operators that the number is closer to 25%. So one has to wonder if Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant Charlie/Bar Charlie are viable concepts at this juncture.

Restaurant Charlie is all about precisely rendered seafood, and it does a nice job at not-so-nice prices. Bar Charlie is the adjoining mini-bar/sushi/seafood bar concept that is all about the exotic artistry of Chef Hiroo Nagana – presented as mandatory prix fixe tasting menus of $175 and $250 dollars per. Guess which concept I think will be the first to tank? As good as those creations are, (and both times I’ve tried Nagano’s imaginative concoctions, they’ve been fabulous), Bar Charlie might just be the wrong restaurant in the wrong hotel at the wrong time.

And speaking of not-so-nice prices, be prepared for some serious sticker shock and some seriously over salted food, should you or your dining companions mindlessly insist on enduring a meal at Carnevino. This Mario Batali meat emporium has all the charm of a bus station, and is so massively overpriced that you’ll feel like one of Adam Perry Lang’s overstuffed cattle being led to slaughter when you get the bill. For example: I just returned from New York where a prime, well-aged steak for two, at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse on Park Avenue South (www.wolfgangsteakhouse.com) – that gives Peter Luger’s a run for its money), cost $82.50….at Carnevino it’s $150. As my dad would’ve said, “At this place, they see you comin’.”

 
A slightly more reasonable steakhouse is Morel’s, and I have to give it credit for a serious Caesar Salad – made well and tableside – and a fine cheese selection, mouth-wateringly displayed as you enter the dining room. The outdoor patio is also a plus, and if you don’t go crazy, two people can dine here for well under two hundred dollars….something that’s almost impossible at Carnevino.
If you still insist on paying tribute to the Food Network gods, head upstairs to the Palazzo Shoppes. Be forewarned though: when they put the extra “pes” on the end of shops, they also saw you comin’!

 

At the top of the escalator you will find Emeril Lagasse’s latest – called Table 10 - a place that, according to the press releases, “…hopes to capture the warmth and charm of the restaurant kitchen.” Unfortunately, this $7.5 mil, 200 seat factory is downright boring; produces food that is serviceable at best (see photos below), and, as Samuel Goldwyn might’ve said, has neither warmth nor charmth.

Next week: More on the Big P….Including what may be Las Vegas’s best steakhouse.

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6 Responses to The Palazzo Restaurants – Part One

  • That is to bad about Carnevino, looks like it is a fine line for some of these “celebrity chefs” to capitalize on their business opportunities and still maintain their standards that got them to where they are.
    Tony, in your mind which big name chef has done the best job at balancing the two here in Vegas?

  • Mr. Curtas,

    I couldn’t agree with you more, much like the “housing crisis” and condo-tel free for all, the clammoring of celebrity chefs to get a piece of the exploding vegas strip had to reach full saturation at some point.

    The sad part is that many of these restaurants and their staff DO have the potential to blow away and heighten a culinary scene (which some consider to be fabricated and theatrical) that can often rival that of San Francisco, LA, New York and maybe even Paris at times. It has left all of us questioning our position in this community and industry, and wondering whether our passion for everything gastronomique is validated when we are fighting to prove our worth amongst a dire ecomony.

    …..and in a final atempt to further the adoration as expressed per one snappy-dressed Vegas food critic, I hereby name myself honorary Vice President of the Hiroo Nagana Fan Club. Not only will admission score you a sweet “I yield BIG knives” pin…it coincidentally means you have witnessed one young and talented chef who is paying great respect and care to pristine ingredients, time honored traditions and breaking the barriers of what was once considered a cuisine bound by simplistic preparation of raw fish. Chef Hiroo is a magical entity in and of himself and I can’t wait to see where this samurai chef goes.

    All the best to you and Red. Your loyal server,

    Elisabeth Wolf (DJT)

  • John,

    Look out I think Liz is trying to steal your literary thunder!
    Preach on Sister, its too bad that all these damn “celebrity” chefs are ruining things for the rest of us. Sadly the almighty dollar and add revenue driven “critics” like the guy who ate ten bad “burgers” and lived to tell about it speak the loudest out here. Portland Oregon here I come!

    John hold down the fort.

    -DWV

  • Thanks for the comments! And if I don’t watch myself, Elisabeth may “trump” anything I write about food or chefs!

    Best to all!

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