It has the best location of any restaurant in town. Smack in the middle of restaurant row in the Venetian, where every guest, gambler and conventioneer at this mega-plex walks by it at least twice a day.
Yet rumors have been circulating of David Burke‘s imminent demise for sometime now. Last week, Robin Leach first mentioned that someone in the Venetian was pulling up “…stakes and eggs, and moving back to New York….” (Burke’s specialty/obsession is the egg in all its forms and cooking guises.) This past Sunday, Norm! in his R-J column, also reported it as a rumor making its way through our restaurant mill.
Both of which were (and are) vigorously denied by Burke and his management.
To which we can only say two things: 1) we at ELV have heard the same rumors (independent of Robin and Norm!), and; 2) experience has taught us that restaurant owners and management will deny they are closing a place, while looking you straight in the eye, with one hand on The Bible and the other on The Torah, the night before they shutter an eatery for good.
Call it deception, call it denial; facing facts can be hard. And the fact is, David Burke doesn’t show up here much, and the place is hanging on by its fingernails, despite having vastly improved its food.
So things don’t bode well for Burke. Like Joachim Splichal ‘s Pinot Brasserie right next door, he hasn’t developed his brand, or worked his magic here, beyond slapping his name on the sign. (Jean-Georges Vongerichten is the poster guy for absentee chef syndrome, but his restaurant (Prime in the Bellagio) makes so much $$$, no one cares or calls him on it.
Which is a shame (for DB and diners seeking interesting eats), since Executive Chef Dan Rossi served us some mighty tasty goods recently. Lobster with scrambled eggs on toast points, sweet and sour spinach salad, Tasmanian sea trout that was all you could want from a farm-raised fish, and a brined, double-cut pork chop that is the last word in porcine perfection. And his deconstructed banana split was a thing of beauty.
If David Burke has a failing (as a chef and restaurateur) it’s that his food can sometime seem overly complicated. It’s not meat ‘n ‘taters, nor is it fussified French, nor ingredient-driven Italian. He takes American classics and twists them into something very Burke-ian, that (sometimes) borders on the surreal. ELV still remembers a sandwich he had at David Burke and Donatella years ago, with the bread being giant, soft pretzel sticks, and an “angry lobster” that looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss cartoon.
Still, we know many chefs who consider him a slightly mad (in a Mad Hatter sort of way), but immensely talented, creative force in gastronomy, whose restless mind goes on flights of food fancy that many consider fantastic.
With Rossi in the kitchen, maybe that creative beast has been tamed somewhat. In Vegas, this is a good thing. Best not to challenge the taste buds or brains of our slack-jawed hordes too much.
But Rossi has serious chops, and they’re not just pork. He worked for years under Alex Stratta, so, by definition, he is a perfectionist. His talents, melded with Burke’s vision, could be good for this restaurant.
If it can figure out a way to start capturing customers.
And if it decides to stick around.
In the Venetian Hotel and Casino
3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109