When ELV — the man, the myth, the inveterate, insatiable, fastidious fresser — announced (on Facebook) he was about to do a dinner crawl through the SLS Hotel and Casino last month (to see how its eateries have held up after a year in operation), the comments he received both shocked and disappointed him.
“It used to be good, but isn’t anymore.”
“That place is always empty.”
“It’s about to go out of business.”
“You’ll find that most of the restaurants have either closed or have changed hands.”
Yep, that was the tenor of the comments he received….even as his staff was plowing through dish after tasty dish at the hotel….and he was live-tweeting about how extraordinary each mouthful was.
Well, nothing could be further from the truth.
Truth be told, the restaurants are thriving, even if the casino isn’t, and the F & B management and chefs who opened the joint on August 23, 2014 are still largely in place.
This is a very good thing. Continuity in management is a hallmark of well-run restaurants, and many of the same faces who ushered the ELV minions around a year ago are still cracking the whip and managing the stoves.
Even better is the fact that the food at all of the establishments remains darn tasty….as tasty and well composed as the first bites we consumed on opening day.
In terms of changes, only one restaurant has changed its stripes. What was the Griddle Cafe is now the Northside Cafe, but the flapjacks are still darn fabulous. So fabulous in fact, that we’re not sure banana pancakes can get any better than this:
All that happened with the Griddle Cafe was that the owner (an infamous, hissy-fit prone L.A. chef) proved difficult to work with, so the hotel took over the operation without missing a beat.
Yes, breakfasts at SLS are still in fine hands, thanks to Executive Chef Luke Forzano and staff, so you pancake palaverers can relax.
Not that ELV has anything against hotscakes, is just that, in his world, breakfast is good for only one thing: thinking about lunch.
And if we have one, teeny tiny gripe against the restaurants of SLS it is this: none of them (save for Umami Burger, the pizza joint and Northside) are open for lunch.
But boy do they make up for it at dinner.
We could go on and on about how on-point and off-the-hook most of the food is here, but instead, we’ll let our pictures (and a few words) do the talking.
Example number one: you won’t find sashimi any more pristine in Vegas than it is at Katsuya by Starck:
And if you’re in the mood for some kind of conspicuous crunchy rolls, they can more than fill the bill here with some carefully concocted and cooked creations:
By the way, the gyoza are also great:
This is crowd-pleasing sushi to be sure, but it’s done with good groceries and is a ton of fun. So much fun in fact, that we hardly noticed the thumpity-thump-thump stupid music they played continuously to placate (arouse?) day-clubbers seeking sustenance from something other than a vodka bottle.
From Katsuya it was on to Bazaar Meat, and a Josper-cooked wild turbot that just might be the apotheosis of roasted pisces:
We won’t go on and on about how excellent everything is at Bazaar, ‘cuz we’ve done enough of that in the past, but suffice it to say it is hard to get a bad bite in this preeminent beef emporium. Sure it’s expensive. But the best raw ingredients cost a lot….and if you’re choosy about what you put in your mouth (and you should be!),l paying the tariff here won’t sting as much when you realize you’re eating at one of the best steakhouses on the planet.
No restaurant crawl is complete without some Chinese food….and no one in Vegas can top the Hakka rice at Ku Noodle:
….or its Dan Dan Mian:
…or it’s salads:
Salads in a Chinese restaurant you say? Yes, and only José Andrés could pull off pea shoots and snow peas so toothsome that you’ll forget you’re in a noodle house.
Finally, we hit Cleo, which is and has been for the past 12 months, the single, best, most delicious, most multi-faceted Mediterranean restaurant in all of Clark County. (Even ELV’s Greek relatives agree with him on this one.)
Cleo is so good, it even had us wolfing down its hummus:
…and….god forbid….its beets when we’re there:
Yes, two of the foods ELV loathes the most he can’t get enough of in this joint.
Just like we can’t get enough of the restaurants throughout the SLS — each of which is a treasure in its own way, and each of which should be getting a lot more love from locals than they do.
If you love good food, in an easy-to-get-in-and-out-of hotel (that bends over backwards to appeal to locals), and you haven’t been, you are really missing something.
And if you’re one of those locals who brags about “never going to the Strip” to eat, you’re an idiot.
SLS LAS VEGAS
2535 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109