ELV note: The NOW Report launched yesterday, bringing a local, on-line newspaper format to Las Vegas that promises to be free of the political meddling, journalistic log-rolling, and ethical vacuum that plagues our local media. Steve Schorr’s vision is one that we share, and we’re proud to be one of his regular contributors. Below is our introductory column on the web site, that you can and should read in its original format by clicking here.
Eating Las Vegas with John Curtas
By John Curtas October 25, 2016 9:45 am Entertainment
If the Las Vegas restaurant scene was an operating system, we’d be on the cusp of its 4.0 version. The original launch (1.0) took place from 1993-1995, when Wolfgang Puck, Charlie Trotter, Emeril Lagasse and Mark Miller first planted their flags on our high desert shores. 2.0 blasted off on October 15, 1998 with the opening of the Bellagio, which quickly begat a feeding frenzy that Mandalay Bay, the Venetian and Caesars Palace were quick to dive into. This mega-resort boom sustained us through the early aughts, until Alain Ducasse (2004), Joel Robuchon (2005), Guy Savoy (2006) and Pierre Gagnaire (2009) incited a 3.0 French Revolution that brought haute cuisine credibility, and the world’s food press, to our town.
Having survived the doldrums of 2008-2013, the Vegas restaurant scene is now doing something completely different: transforming itself from a corporate-led, top-down, celebrity chef-driven restaurant scene to and honest-to-goodness food culture. A culture that values the skills of entrepreneurial chefs, and home-grown ideas, as much as it does the flash and dash of flyover culinary stars who treat the Strip like a personal ATM machine.
Las Vegas will always be about extravagance and star power, but in the food world these days, smaller is better, local tops imported, and a chef in the kitchen beats a licensed “brand” any day. Both downtown and in the ‘burbs, the quality and care you see on the plate in places like Glutton, Andiron and Japaneiro competes with anything you get in the big hotels. All the while, Chinatown – our unsung gastronomic star since 1995 – continues to boom with superb Korean barbecue, ramen, Vietnamese and Szechuan food leading the way. And what the Japanese have brought to our culinary scene, in terms of attention to detail, can be seen all over town in places like Hiroyoshi, Yui Edomae Sushi, and Yuzu Japanese Kitchen.
Yes, we are in the midst of another boom – a more modest boom, but one that is bearing fruit for everyone, not just tourists. With this column, I will be reporting on this food scene in a way that I think is way overdue. Week by week, I will be supplying you with picks, pans, and opinions about where to get the good stuff, on and off the Strip. Some of these reports will be straight reviews, some will be food articles. All of them will be seasoned with a lot of attitude – a point of view, I hope, that will make you hungry to take a bite out of one of the great eating cities of the world.