“Prejudice is a vagrant opinion without visible means of support.”
― Ambrose Bierce
“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices–just recognize them.”
― Edward R. Murrow
“How you look at it is pretty much how you’ll see it”
Am I prejudiced? You bet your sweet bippy I’m prejudiced. But unlike the the blindly opinionated, I like to think my biases are born of experience, not bigotry.
Put another way: I’m not easily impressed. And I do carry a certain “been there, done that” attitude into most restaurants these days.
Does that mean I can’t be objective? No it doesn’t and yes it does.
Because I don’t look at places through the wide-eyed amazement of some amateur….or the credulous, bought-and-paid-for acceptance of someone just happy to be getting free food.
And I do have a certain chip on my shoulder that comes from enduring thousands of p.r. pitches over the decades telling me how “amazing” some chef or his menu is….and then discovering it’s nothing but a re-hash of something done better (and a lot earlier) somewhere else by someone more talented.
Which is basically a long way of saying there are probably some restaurants I just shouldn’t bother with anymore. Because even walking into them, I know exactly what they’re doing and what I’m going to hate about them.
Like Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellars.
What is HK&C? Well, it’s a carefully calculated corporate contrivance conceived to cash in on the credulous cravings of the uncritical.
There isn’t an original thought on the menu and there isn’t single recipe that isn’t done better somewhere else. Wood fired pizza? Yeah….it’s okay but Novecento and Settebello have nothing to worry about. Oysters in the ‘burbs? Great….if you like yours served with a jigger of ketchup masquerading as cocktail sauce. Roasted fish? Wonderful! And they serve it with some sauteed greens! How original!
We could go on, but the point is, we tried six different dishes and they all fell flatter than Al Mancini’s prose. All of it served in a huge space filled with ironic, antique-y things on the walls….just like TGIFriday’s….in 1972!
Restaurants — like HK&C, Made LV, Echo & Rig, and god bless ’em, the new Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill in Downtown Summerlin (which is neither a town nor down of any town we know of) etc. — are just copies of copies, rehashes of rehashes, created to separate you from your money by selling the idea that they are a lot better than they really are. We spent a month traveling to Atlanta, Charleston, and San Francisco in August/September, and ate dozens of meals in fun, chef-driven, casual joints that shamed everything we ate at Hearthstone…or anything else we’ve had in Vegas over the past several months..
The first three restaurants cited above wouldn’t last a month in any of those cities — or in Denver, Dallas, or Portland for that matter.
So yes, Michael Uzmann, you were right. I shouldn’t have gone in the first place. (M. Uzmann rightfully chastised me for not having an open mind about many of our neighborhood dining options.)
I should recognize my biases against these retreads and not walk in waiting to be disappointed. No matter how hard I try, I can’t separate 50 years of dining out around the world from the experience of walking into a f*cking neighborhood casino in f*cking Summerlin, and having the staff act like a raw bar and a wood-burning oven is the second coming of Jesus-f*cking-Christ.
You can fool some of the people all of the time, Light Group, but you can’t fool me at all anymore.
Show me some passion, show me some originality, or show me the door.
I won’t waste my time or calories on your meretricious mediocrity anymore.
Yeah, I’m back, chefs of Las Vegas.
And I’m tired of being bored.
Live with it.
Then go get some f*cking game.