Emeril Lagasse is one of the great guys of food.

A true mensch.

He can be single-handedly credited with popularizing food with the post baby-boom generation, inventing the Food Network, and making gastronomic passion, the honing of kitchen skills, and the ability to wax poetic about chanterelles and farmstead cheeses, popular with heterosexual men.

Yeah, that’s what we credit Lagasse with the most: Making gastronomy safe for straight guys.

Not that it always hasn’t been so. Going back to Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the horn dog in search of a corn dog has always been around. But in the eighties and even into the nineties, there wasn’t exactly a river of testosterone flowing through the food world.

Then Emeril came along to put the “man” back in mayonnaise. He brought macho back to braising and baking, and revolutionized the way lots of people (especially ham-fisted, American hetero dudes) looked at food and cooking.

So we have mountains of respect for the guy, have met him, and always found him to be friendly and charming to everyone — even prickly critics.

We just wish we liked his namesake restaurant more.

Because at two lunches there in the past year, the food has been plainly conceived (at best) to downright crude in execution.

Who knows when standards got lowered here, but methinks the moving of chef Sean Roe over to Delmonico (still the best Emeril venue in town), may have had something to do with it.

Regardless, our lobster bisque was non-too-lobster-y, way too thick, and devoid of charm. The cedar-planked mahi mahi was overwhelmed by the smoky scent of the wood (although our dining companion liked it), and pistachio-crusted redfish — not even in the same league as this version –

– crusted with pecans and served to us at Marche Bacchus a few days later.

The latter was a good piece of fish, against a backdrop of bitter vegetables and a buttery, smoky emulsion sauce; the former, a piece of fish with a bunch of ground nuts on top.

All of this could have been saved by a killer dessert, but the “beignets” were thick, bread-like, and heavy enough to use as German food. They were not worthy of the name, and the founders of the Cafe du Monde must be rolling over in whatever muffuletta they’re buried in.

Topping it all off was slow, inattentive, amateurish service that exemplified this craft at its worst: Lots of people moving around and acting busy, but nothing getting done.

You know it had to be bad, ‘cuz ELV is famous for not caring (and barely mentioning) service in his reviews — so inured to it (good or bad) has he gotten over the years.

So Emeril, we love you. Straight or gay, the men of America salute you and all you have done to raise our culinary consciousness.

We just wish the restaurant named after you performed at a level befitting your legacy.


In the MGM Hotel and Casino

3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109



5 thoughts on “EMERIL’S FISH HOUSE

  1. “Yeah, that’s what we credit Lagasse with the most: Making gastronomy safe for straight guys.”

    Heh. Well, we gays still know how to cook up a storm. Check out my kitchen some time. ;-)

    But anyway, it’s sad to see the original (for Vegas) Emeril’s deteriorate like this. I hope Chef Lagasse finds this as a wake-up call to “kick it up a notch” here.

  2. I’ll be at Marche Bacchus for lunch today – and think I know what I’ll ask Chef Jean Paul Labadie to whip up.

  3. This brings back memories. I dined at Emeril’s many times during its first two years at MGM Grand, and it was superb. At that time, it was Emeril’s only restaurant in Las Vegas, and his personal attention showed. My favorite server was David Burt who had an interesting program on KNPR.

    Now, that I’m on a Dewar’s and Soda induced tangent, old memories surfaced of wonderful dining experiences at Las Vegas Hilton when it was “The Hilton”, before Steve Wynn broke ground for The Mirage, so it must have been the mid-1980s. The Hilton was a great property in its day. I was there the week that Andiamo opened with its show kitchen. A first class room with excellent servers and Maitre de. In those days, Le Montrachet was one of the best “gourmet rooms” in the city, and I still remember the corned beef sandwiches at Mannachen near the main entrance to The Hilton. I don’t suppose any of the original restaurants are still there other than Benihana Village. OK, enough of that. Back to the 21st Century.

  4. detroit-

    Yeah, Benihana’s the only original Hilton restaurant left there. And honestly, there’s nothing there worth the drive. The grub there is merely mediocre (at best).

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