BRADLEY OGDEN – Awesome No Longer

What’s it like to be ELV?

Here’s an example:

You’ve had a stressful day (lunch, wine, more food, a chef interview, more wine, a digestivo or two, back to the office to harass the staff, a nap, answer a couple of e-mails….), then you get a call in the late afternoon from Vegas Uncork’d Executive Director Rob O’Keefe.

“Wanna meet for a quick one, John?”

“Sure. What do ya have in mind?”

“Uh…I dunno…what sounds good to you?”

“Uh, I dunno. (O’Keefe and ELV are surprisingly inarticulate about these things.) Someplace on The Strip I haven’t been in awhile…you know, to check up on how the kitchen’s performing….just to see if the place is still on its game.”

“Where haven’t you eaten lately?”

Bradley Ogden‘s a joint I haven’t hit in months. Let’s go and grab one of those big, fat, flabby, over-oaked, Jessica Simpson-esque chardonnays you love. Ogden’s list is full of ’em.”


So we rolled in to BO, sat down for a drink, and started to catch up over what’s happening with Vegas’s biggest and best culinary event.

Everything was going fine until we were recognized and the food started showing up. We don’t wish to sound mean or ungrateful, but almost to a dish, our dinner was a disappointment.

If you look closely, the pictures tell the story.

A mixed green salad that was a hardly-dressed mass (and a mess) of barely-torn greens. The Caesar — an unholy insult to the original. (To be fair, they’ve been butchering the glorious Caesar salad since they opened this place. Here’s how it’s supposed to be made.)

But these just began our tale of woe.

From there we “progressed” to a slab of foie gras with huckleberry jam that tasted fine, but looked unappealingly thrown together. Then it was on to a white tuffle risotto that was the worst example we’ve had in a coon’s age. The fact that we barely touched it didn’t register with the staff at all (inexcusable in a restaurant of this pedigree). Besides being difficult to eat in the huge, elliptical bowl they serve it in, the lord’s porridge (as Piero Selvaggio refers to it) was a gummy, starchy disaster. Nor did it taste much of white truffles — leading ELV to suspect the little tubers being shaved atop it were from Spain, not Italy.

Of course you can’t see how badly that risotto tasted, nor can you tell how tough and undercooked the pork belly was. And the triple-searing given the Kobe only served to toughen this most delicate of meats. Aren’t chefs supposed to know these things?

Even the desserts were pedestrian — and not in the same league as fabulous finales all over town.

And this from one of our iconic chefs and restaurants…

One excuse might be that Executive Chef Todd Williams wasn’t in da house the night we dined there. But almost to a course, everything was a let down from the top shelf experience you are led to expect from the billing this place gets among Caesars’ many fine eateries.

And a Michelin one-star experience, it was not.

Readers of this website, and our followers on radio and TV, know that we’ve been big fans of BO since the day it opened. But if they’re serving poorly executed food to a known critic, heaven help the hoi polloi when they happen upon this place.

It was almost enough to drive yours truly to one of those blowsy, overblown chards O’Keefe is so fond of.

Instead, we let him pick up the tip and left it at that.

The whole idea was his after all, wasn’t it?


In Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino

3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109


25 thoughts on “BRADLEY OGDEN – Awesome No Longer

  1. It’s not the chef being present or not. I’ve eaten there twice a year since it opened, and the past two times I’ve been there (last in June) have been an extreme disappointment. At the beginning, it was a 2-star quality restaurant, but now that both Ogden’s are long gone, it’s simply overpriced.

    Too bad…

  2. I’m shedding a tear for the entire Las Vegas dining scene. BO has been one of my favorites since I went over three years ago, and I always kept it as a back pocket recommendation for a solid experience. Looks like I have to reevaluate. Damn.

  3. Crap, and this is just as I’m supposed to take my dad to his “birthday party” dinner at Bradley Ogden this Saturday! This is just what I didn’t need to hear… But it’s certainly not your fault, Mr. ELV. It sucks that BO flubbed on your lunch.

    Still, I’ll have to decide for myself whether I’ll take the risk of keeping my reservations for Saturday night. I really wanted to impress my dad by showing him the inside of a Michelin-starred restaurant (he hasn’t been in one before, especially since there are none south of Santa Monica), but I’ll have to think about whether I want to risk his special night on this place.

    If I decide to go, I’ll let y’all know if my Bradley Ogden experience was the same, worse, or better than Mr. ELV’s. But if I don’t, do any of you have suggestions for a very special b-day dinner that won’t be too stuffy or snooty while still being classy?

  4. To impress but not too stuffy go for L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon every table at the bar is the Chef’s table. Don’t do the wine pairing, just get a bottle. It wasn’t worth the fortune they added to the bill.

    A little more formal are the restaurants in the Belagio and I’d leave the whole experience food and wine in their more than capable hands. Wine and food. (Picasso, Le Cirque, Circo).

  5. Don’t know what your budget is, but you did say your dad was a seafood guy right? Restaurant Charlie is a single star place that I had a very warm and inviting experience at. It is in the stratosphere when it comes to price though. Next best bet is Michael Mina which is more on a par with BO price wise. Have Fun!

  6. Thanks, everyone, for the great suggestions! Michael Mina does look interesting, and it does have some good seafood options on the menu, so thanks to bwdining for the suggestion. I was thinking of trying out Le Cirque some time with another special someone, but my dad still hates even setting foot in The Bellagio, so I’m still gently easing him into the concept of fine dining.

    Before I settled upon Bradley Ogden, one of my ideas was taking Dad to Aureole at M-Bay to see the famous “wine angels”, check out Charlie Palmer’s original Vegas foodie palace (we’ve liked his Orange County outpost so far), and possibly try out the new prix-fixe specials. Anyone have opinions on Aureole? Or should I keep looking elsewhere.

    Again, thanks to everyone (including Mr. ELV!) for the help, and I’ll probably know by tomorrow if I’ll swap my Bradley Ogden reservations for somewhere else.

  7. Three years after they opened they started slowly grinding down. . I have eaten in B.O. at least 30 times and have returned only once since Chef Varley left. When I go by the men’s room and look at that Thanksgiving Menu on the wall in the hall commemorating their first Thanksgiving dinner and compare it to what they serve now, I want to shudder. For a time, that restaurant was IMO the best restaurant in the city, it’s not even a shadow of it’s former self. The restaurant was at it’s peak when Bradley and his son were in the back as well as Adam Sobel, and Jeff Mauro. It really is a shame, such great talent and food came out of there. I suppose I’ll go eat their hamburger again for nostalgia sake … I hope they reinvent themselves, they deserve to succeed.

  8. Restaurant Guy Savoy is still as superb as ever. Try that instead. It completely blows my mind as to why Savoy has not earned three Michelin stars yet…

  9. tis the problem when 15 new places open up in a few weeks of each other. the vegas culinary scene has been struggling over the past few years to secure enough talented COOKS to work in these spots. when you add a few hundred more positions (from the city center projects), all those people with low seniority at the Bradley Ogdens and such start to jump ship, and downhill it goes for a while. Doesnt matter how talented the chef is, if he/she doesnt have a team of decent cooks around, then turmoil will insue! A chef is only 1 person. My insiders at some 5 star properties in town (hint hint) are seeing loses of near 20% of staff (mainly steady extra/part timers). i think this trend of lower quality service and food are here to stay for a while in vegas!!

  10. Really, really disappointing-espeically since it used to be a great restaurant. With a review like this, the Chef with his name over the door should be embarassed.

    I saw the first indication of troubles to come at Ogden when the standards began to waver back in May of 08 at a dinner associated with Vegas Uncork’d–around the time Brian left the kitchen. (Although he and his Father were BOTH in the kitchen that night).

    Now we are left with hard-boiled eggs with fish eggs and shards of cheese on top of wet romaine. Really, really disappointing.

  11. If the guy wasn’t such a degenerate gambler, maybe his mind would be on his food and not his next paycheck. Mr. B.O. himself was the only person in my many years in the industry to pull the old, “I forgot my wallet, can I write you a check?”. This was two years ago. For a moderately priced meal.

  12. Another informative and straight forward review, thank you. However, I still have to go and try their burger.

  13. One bad meal doesn’t mean the place has gone completely down the tubes. It’s still one helluva restaurant.

  14. There are problems in other cities as well bwdining…There are a lot of new recent additions to the New York Michelin Guide that should not be there.

  15. John, do you have an opinion on Lupo? I know they changed the interior, don’t know if they changed the menu or not, but the one review you did on it about a year ago was under a guest chef.

  16. I was just @ BO’s for dinner last week + it was great, BTW…if you know anything about wine, they have about 50 domestic chards and many are stainless or lightly oaked, to say they have a list full of overdone chards is just plain incorrect!!

  17. Chad-

    If you say so, I’ll have to give it a try myself either later this month or after the holidays. Sometimes I do disagree with Mr. ELV, but I just didn’t want to risk my dad’s b-day on this. Btw, I ultimately decided on Aureole and the food is fantastic! Finally, a place that fully deserves its Michelin Star! :-)

  18. AND I have just found out that they will be shutting down for a few weeks and reopening as a steakhouse !

  19. ELV, you wouldn’t know your ass from a hole in the ground. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

  20. Eating LV gets better each year he associates himself with the dining scene. How many times you want to eat hockey puck blue cheese souffle when Mina makes the best savory souffle in town, and that foie in the picture looked ” well cooked”.
    And the truffles….you had truffles at spago not to long ago and it was good. thats what happens when you dont by truffles from twitter@truffledealer. las Vegas’ premier source for truffle.
    Keep up the good work LV

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