If ever there was a restaurant ELV was prepared not to like, it was Nu Sanctuary Lounge.
Why, you ask? Because of the following:
> It’s in a shopping mall;
> It’s in Town Square, ELV’s least favorite shopping mall in town*;
> It’s next to a movie theatre (generally a sure sign of sub-standard sustenance);
> It has a contrived, tells-yu-nuthing-name;
> It calls itself a lounge when it’s really a restaurant;
> It has a something for everyone menu filled with everything from pierogis to pizzas;
> It hypes its hookahs — another sure sign of mediocrity (see for example, Mediterranean, Paymon’s);
> It has a funny, non-restaurant name and it’s in a shopping mall for chrissakes!
In other words, Nu Sanctuary had about seven strikes against it before we set foot in the joint.
But we love it. No, we really do. We love it because the food is so damn tasty you’d have to have a bowling ball for a brain (and a tongue made of tin) not to.
That tasty food all sounds like one big cliche at first glance, but then you notice sneaky little tweaks and twists that Chef Brian Howard tucks into his repertoire — like deconstructed hummus, seared beef carpaccio “steak and eggs,” and “spring” chicken wrapped around Taleggio cheese and spinach (with a bright, lemony beurre blanc) — and you realize this is standard fare not at all.
Still skeptical, you then order the “Nu” burger — expecting another, by-the-numbers-nuthing-nu beef sandwich. Instead, what shows up is a hunk a hunk o’ burnin’ burger love made of brisket, filet and short rib, on a house made challah roll with house made pickles and chips, tasting of good, roasted beef. Suddenly, you start rethinking all those preconceptions and prejudices….whilst wondering why, in a town full of gourmet ground meat, few of them taste this good.
From there it’s on to a chickpea coated scallop over a cauliflower “risotto” that bestows some real ingenuity on this tired shellfish, a grilled summer (local) corn soup with a dollop of Dungeness, and those potato and cheese stuffed pierogis that are better than anything your nagymama made.
(ELV pre-broadcast correction: On Thursdays Dishing and Dining on KLAS TV Channel 8 with the Emmy Award-winning Denise Valdez, we will mistakenly refer to the scallop as a crab cake. Probably because we had a rough night, preceding the taping.)
Another reason to like Nu Sanctuary (remind ELV to ask where the *&^$*^%$ name came from), is their use of local, filtered water, carbonated on premises for those of us who drink carbonated mineral water….like it’s water.
Finally, there are the prices. That boffo, $14 burger is as good as any on the Strip costing $3-5 more; the tasting menu of soup, a “4 way tasting plate” (pictured above) and nitro caramel corn (or creme brulee) is only thirty dollars, most small plates are under a tenski, and the most expensive thing on the menu (a superb, spicy lamb tagine over Israeli couscous) is $25.
Everything is priced to sell, as they say, and we only hope the hoi polloi catches on, and starts filling this place up instead of wasting their money at the bankrupt The Grape, or their beer guts on the stale suds at Yardhouse. If they do, it will restore ELV’s faith in humanity….or at least its taste buds.
NU SANCTUARY LOUNGE
Town Square Las Vegas
6605 Las Vegas Blvd. South Suite 145
Las Vegas, NV 89119
* Actually, ELV hates all shopping malls. He just reserves special enmity for Town Square because of its distance from his house, and the pain in the ass it is to get (and leave) there.