Vintner Grill oenophile update: beginning this week (2.20.09), VG now features 50 wines for under $50 on its list. Bravo…and some of our criticism below should be (re)considered accordingly.

We like everything about the Vintner Grill except the wine list. To our oenophilic sensibilities, it’s unfocused and strangely priced, and there’s too much going on and not enough at the same time.

There’s lots of wine from lots of countries, but look on any single page you’ll find a few bargains, precious few bottles in the $50-80 range, and then a number of big hitters that’ll set you back a least a Benjamin.

If someone were asking our opinion (and they’re not), we’d advise them to cut out the hodgepodge, give the list an identity based on a few, carefully selected regions (new world pinots perhaps?), get rid of all those $150+ bottles (are they really selling any these days?), and quit trying to be everything to everybody.

None of these criticisms apply to the hot hostesses or the beer list, however, both of which are outstanding. Those hostesses, along with uber-manager Peter Varela, do a splendid, professional job, especially later in the week when this place gets packed with cougars on the prowl and their middle-aged prey.

As good as they are, table service can occasionally get shaky and slow, especially at peak times.

As for the food, what’s not to like? Chef Mathew Silverman and his crew hit the ground running two years ago and haven’t let up since. About the only thing the big guy has lost is about a hundred pounds, as he keeps the menu humming with a nice mix of classics, pizzas and pastas in a most manageable menu (unlike the unmanageable wine list).

One of our wintertime favorites is Silverman’s tagliatelli with braised wild boar — a rich, gamy, artfully composed bit of pasta perfection, but his simply-cooked-but-nicely-dressed halibut with cous cous and toasted orzo, and his crab ravioli, demonstrates his facility with fishy things as well.

Speaking of which, we don’t know where you’ll come by a better $26 bowl of bouillabaisse, or a better Cobb salad, or crispy, panko-crusted calamari with a sweet, addictive, curry dipping sauce. Silverman likes sharp accents and visual interest in his food, and he mixes culinary metaphors about as well as any high-falutin’ chef you’ve ever heard of.

They even do small portions of almost everything on the menu which makes this place a serious deal for small budgets or small eaters.

Come to think of it, we at ELV have eaten here at least a dozen times since it opened, and can’t think of a single clinker among our meals. To do food at this level, with these quality ingredients, at these prices, is nothing short of phenomenal.

To hear an early review of VG ELV did (in the scratchy, virus-infected voice for which he is known) on KNPR (where we mispronounce the name — calling it Vintner’s, and engage in waaay too much sociological commentary), click here.

Lunch for two can always be had here for well under $50 (without booze). Dinner with a modest bottle of wine (or a few drinks) usually runs us around a buck-fifty.


10100 W. Charleston Blvd. Suite 150

Las Vegas, NV 89135


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