John Curtas is …

The 2013 Johnnies Continued….

DUMBEST IDEA OF THE YEARThe “Butcher Shop” at Echo & Rig

Yes, you can beat this meat

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The thing about Echo & Rig is, the whole place is a big con. Everything about it promises to be something much better than it actually is —  with the meat market out front being the best example. Everything from the slabs of dead protein to the slick, highly designed interior of this customized “butcher shop” advertises the presence of superior beef being properly handled by masters of meat. In reality, you’re getting a few low end steaks (if you eat in), and some supermarket-level cuts from the shop (if you want to take some steaks home).

In other words, the whole enterprise is geared towards convincing the credulous that the food is much better than it actually is. (Heaven forbid they actually concentrate on quality and charge for it.)

All of the meat is choice and the sausages are gawd awful. But they shore do wrap ’em up mighty purty for all of them thar swell folks who come a lookin’!

The whole operation is craftily designed to appeal to people in $500,00 homes, driving $50,000 cars, who won’t spend more than fifty bucks on dinner.

It’s the same crowd that has barely weaned itself from its Buca di Beppo and Fleming’s dependency, so maybe, in retrospect, this is a great idea. Think about it: mediocrity disguised as quality in a pretty package.  A description that fits Summerlin to a tee.


MOST DISGUSTING DISH OF 2013The Steak Tartare at Echo & Rig

Sometimes a picture is worth 1,000 words

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If you need any more convincing that the reach-exceeds-their-grasp cooks at E & R don’t know what they’re doing, take a close look at this tartare. All they did was grind up a bunch of raw meat in a blender and then knead some capers into it. (You’ll have to take ELV’s word for it that there wasn’t a bit of seasoning to the dish, beyond that of meat mush with the occasional caper-y tang.)

This was served to us during opening week, with the owners and corporate chefs in full attendance, trying to make everything perfect, with full knowledge of who we were. We told the waitron if we wanted dog food, we would’ve brought our own Alpo.

The prosecution rests.

SIGN OF THE YEAR – Park on Fremont

In retrospect, we were being kind

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The poorest conceived, worst executed bar food we’ve had in a decade was endured over two occasions at this East Fremont Street newcomer. Ryan Doherty (one of the owners) told us they would be upgrading the menu. They haven’t, and reports from our loyal readers tell us, if anything, the food has gotten worse.

You have been warned. And warned.

BTW: Our last visit to Commonwealth — a bar (also owned by Doherty) we really liked when it opened and visited several times earlier in the year — found a cocktail program that has been seriously downgraded. Four different drinks were ordered from a dumbed-down cocktail list and each of them looked identical, with crushed, supermarket ice packed into the same, generic cocktail glasses. When we asked about it, all we got from the waitron was attitude and ignorance.

Shame on you Ryan Doherty. If we wanted this much mediocrity, we’d head to Echo & Rig.

Try putting that on a sign.


Nine eight places to eat, packed in one little outdoor mall that’s deader than Julius Caesar most of the time. Some (Cantina Laredo, Poppy Den), are quite good; some are frauds (The View calls itself a wine bar even though it has nothing but a limited selection of shitty wine); and some (Brio, Leone Cafe, Echo & Rig, Pizza Lounge) cater solely to the bourgeois sensibilities of those who demand a certain level of inferiority in their medial meals.

None of it makes any sense — especially when you consider that many of these places share a common ownership — and none of them are that busy, except on the occasional weekend evening. Nevertheless, all of them soldier on, despite empty seats and constant rumors of vendors not getting paid and imminent shutterings.

The restaurant business is tough enough without having to flounder amidst a sea of competition for the diner’s dollar. Expect another closing or two within the next six months.

Is this the end of the Johnnies? Far from it. Stay tuned for our final picks and pans tomorrow when we’ll be handing out the coveted kudos for:





and the eagerly awaited award for:


To be cont’d….

The Lunch Bunch knows 3 more Johnnies will be awarded

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6 Responses to The 2013 Johnnies Continued….

  • At what point will you begin to realize just about everyone that works in the Las Vegas food and beverage industry finds you repulsive. From your students at UNLV to Executive Chefs and GMs all over town. I’ve never once heard a positive thing about you or your critiques. It may even be possible that they purposely fed you that Alpo looking tartar, in hopes you never return. I’ve been in the industry for 16 years, and have eaten there around five times. It’s definitely not winning any Michelin stars any time soon. But for the prices and no corkage its by far the best steak house pound for pound. Can you find a better steak? Of course, but for $35 or less? Not a snowball’s chance in hell. Instead of crediting their success with the ignorance of it’s patrons. It might possibly be that locals are tired of paying out of their ass to eat on the strip, or at any other local steakhouse for that matter.
    In short your review not only misses the mark. But makes you sound like a child that didn’t get his way. “With full knowledge of who we were.” give me a break, everyone knows who you are and thats exactly why no one cares. In a town full of steak houses, Eco & Rig offers locals a good dinner, far superior to any steak house off the strip. With out the commute or price tag of the strip. Looking forward to your arrogant and most likely condescending reply.

  • I really don’t think the restaurant would take a chance on offending a food writer by purposefully serving slop. All restaurants will bend over backwards for ANY well known food critic no matter what. Especially during a grand opening. Why would anyone want to drive business away by offending a food critic on purpose? ELV has a lot of devoted fans who like reading their reviews. No restaurant management would ever take a chance on losing business? It’s a ridiculous notion.

    The picture proves it’s slop.

  • Anthony, you are what my uncle Vito would have called a “horses’ patutsie” ELV’s reviews are part agent provocateur and food essayist. He paints a food picture with words and humor. Something I think you may lack or fail to recognize. Most of the reviews if taken for the guidance and critical observations with a grain of salt will make the reader smile and learn a little about the local food scene. Frankly, you need to get out about town more. Its a new year and time to reflect upon harsh judgments about your fellow man. ( only kidding…you can rant all you want!)

  • Anthony, are you an idiot, or just a bitter failure? Speak for yourself. Be a man. Don’t give me any of the “everyone in the food industry hates you!” bullshit.

    Don’t like what he has to say? Ignore him. Whining and bitching like a little girl in the comment section of his blog, well that’s just sad…

    And your notion of them serving him an inferior dish intentionally only underscores how stupid you really are.

  • ELV responds:

    “In all the world there is nothing that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and those that consider price alone are this man’s lawful prey.” – John Ruskin

    Many thanks to my regs (loyal readers) Jim, Art and Mark for the comments and the support.

    And thanks to Anthony Jamison (misguided soul though he may be) for taking the time to read and caring enough to write.

  • haha you are total cheap ass john thats why industry people hate you. ive waited on you at least 15 times personally. the reason is we have to give so much special attention and all your free courses you tip 20% of what u are charged for but we give u at least 5 extra courses and spend way more time making sure your shit is perfect that we lose money from other people. You are mostly correct about all of your food critiques and echo and rig is total garbage good call. funny article. anyway, your food writing is clever plus funny and your a true gastronome and that i respect. keep it up buddy and keep calling out these chefs who dont have the skill cook in a homeless shelter

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