The Vdara Hotel is a non-gaming, architectural gem, that has, among its many attributes, a giant Frank Stella painting hanging behind the registration desk, fabulous public art hanging all around it, and a great chef hanging out in its one and only restaurant.
That chef is the German-born Martin Heierling — he of Sensi in the Bellagio fame — and what he’s doing at Silk Road is both an extension of his all-over-the-map style, and a refinement of it.
As a three meal a day restaurant, Silk Road must be, by definition, all things to all people. Heierling takes that concept a few countries further with a menu that does tasty renditions of everything from lamb meatballs that would please any Mediterranean mother, to a avant-garde, very Spanish, way with boquerones — in this case, white anchovies rolled around feta, dill and mint filling sitting atop a highly piquant piquillo pepper sauce. While only a $12 appetizer, it might be the best thing on a menu full of tasty delights.
At Sensi, Heierling is known for everything from tasty steaks to decent tandoori. Here, he keeps things more Mediterranean with Kataifi (shredded phyllo) crusted shrimp that, while a bit overwrought for our tastes, put you in mind of upscale Turkish street food and tagine steamed mussels that are French by way of Algiers. Of course, this being a worldly restaurant being done by a fusion food fanatic, he would be remiss in his geographical passions if he didn’t give a nod to Thailand with fabulous cilantro, galangal tapioca and Kaffir lime scented chicken and coconut soup.
About the only mezze we haven’t been crazy about is the not very charred, unapparently marinated beef carpaccio, that was so salty it would’ve sunk in the Dead Sea.
We haven’t gotten around to trying such compelling entrees as crispy Thai red snapper with green olive butter, or seared John Dory with ras el hanout (mixed Moroccan spices), but the airy and artful (literally) dining room makes a visit here so attractive (as does the easy in and out off Harmon Ave.), that’s it’s only a matter of time.
In the meantime, and while we’re eating our way through all the Aria eateries, we’ll content ourselves with memories of Heierling’s top flight mini-burgers, and just about the best, tempura-coated, deep fried oysters around.
Two other notes: Silk Road makes just about the best use of natural light of any restaurant in the history of Las Vegas, and the coffee (Illy French press), is nonpareil.
In the Vdara Hotel in City Center
2600 Harmon Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89109