DUMBEST IDEA OF THE YEAR – The “Butcher Shop” at Echo & Rig
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 2013 – The Steak Tartare at Echo & Rig
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
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.
HEAD SCRATCHING PHENOMENON OF THE YEAR – The Restaurants at Tivoli Village
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:
BEST SINGLE BITE OF FOOD OF THE YEAR
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF 2013
CHEF OF THE YEAR
RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
and the eagerly awaited award for:
BEST RESTAURANT THAT’S CLOSEST TO MY HOUSE
To be cont’d….