I’m Not Prejudiced, I Just Hate Everyone’s Opinion Except My Own


“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.

21 thoughts on “I’m Not Prejudiced, I Just Hate Everyone’s Opinion Except My Own

  1. Hey John,

    Good to have you back. Have you tried Makers & Finders on Main St.? It’s a tasty lunch.


  2. We tried to go into HK&C (drawn by the oysters – bummer about the sauce) but were turned off by the poorly trained and/or pretentious staff before we could sit down. Boo

  3. We can agree to disagree here, John, but I’ve eaten more extensively than you OR Mancini in Charleston, San Francisco, and possibly Atlanta and find Hearthstone to be on par with many.

    There is no better suckling pig in the city. Not even if José Andres is comping it to you. The octopus here is also special, as are the polenta and squash sides.

  4. Also, while we’re talking “free,” lets disclose how often you actually pay for a meal in this town – or what, exactly, everyone’s darling “Carson Kitchen” is doing different (or better) than MadeLV, Hearthstone, etc? I have my theories…

  5. I haven’t been to this particular Puck location, but your shot at Wolfgang seems a little harsh. Yes, it’s a celebrity chef chain location, but I’ve always found Puck to lean more chef and less celebrity where it counts. It doesn’t seem to me like these outposts pretend to be more than they are. I always feel like I’m getting my money’s worth and a notch higher than those at similar price point. Just my opinion, without prejudice (in the legal sense).

  6. why dont we talk about the real problem, its the people in this town, not the chefs. there is no ssense of culture or community here, so noone supports great food scenes, unlike portland vegas will never change, it is far to transient to ever cultivate anything worth while

  7. From your rebuttal ‘uhockey’. You obviously haven’t traveled and dined much outside of our valley. Vegas can’t hold a candle to what is going on in alot of the country. We are truly the red headed step child of a food scene.

  8. Ah its so nice to have the Hoi polli back comenting after ELV has tossed a few barbs at the wanna be “Chef Borardees” of this town. Sadly, I did partake of theofferings at WolfGang Pucks new Summerlin location and found it wanting. The famed pizza was tough and the rest of menu uninspired. I did not even try the HK & C after looking at the menu and not seeing anything remotely intriguing on the bill of fare to compel me to spend my time or money in the place.To quote Victor Laszlo to Rick Blaine in Casalanca “welcome back to the Fight”!

  9. …I smirk at”Has a Clue” and his total lack of a clue. Check the blog, bucko, and tell me who around here has been outside Vegas and who has not.

  10. Well I know elv goes outside vegas, but I was talking about you buckaroo. If you think lotus and Raku (2 spots in a city) make vegas a culinary contender in the likes of Austin, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, the Carolina’s and atl just to name a few, well then your travel extent as implied is a joke. But I regress to your level. Thank god for honey salt, Raku and lotus our culinary scene is complete,!!

  11. I was discussing my blog, buddy…the one netting about 250,000 hits a month, nationally and internationally. The one cited on eater. The one that ranks in Plotnicki’s top 100 contributors to OAD.

    Its cool though, I’m just an amateur eater who has been to all your referenced spots above – and then some.

    No one said Vegas is ‘complete’ but I’d put it above Seattle or the Carolinas, while the fine dining scene cruises miles above Austin or PDX…as does the Asian cuisine, by-and-by.

    Cheers, feel free to stop on by endoedibles.com and get your fill sometime. :-)

  12. Dr Mike me and Matt are the only people in Las Vegas who ever eat in relevant places. Mike is the finest fine diner everrrr. Just ask him.

  13. “staff act like a raw bar and a wood-burning oven is the second coming of Jesus-f*cking-Christ” This made me laugh. So great!!

    ELV. I don’t understand how you do it. Eating the same variations of food stuffs over and over again. I think its awesome you do, but its got to be draining. Well, kale Caesars are on the rise, so that will be something new. lol.
    How does someone such as your self with such knowledge, taste and amazingly honest critique serve a higher purpose for the Americans that dwell in Las Vegas to grow up, mature, care, become tasteful and sophisticated, and actually develop community instead of worshiping “the great pyramids”?

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