(Wagyu coming soon to an Outback near you)
1) I know that Main Street Provisions ought to be my favorite restaurant but isn’t, and this makes me sad. There, I said it.
2) I know the only seafood worth eating on the regular is at Japanese restaurants.
3) I know that chicken parm in any guise sucks donkey dicks and anyone who says otherwise is a prole-pandering know-nothing who touts it simply for clicks from hicks who get their licks and their kicks from endless breadsticks.
4) I know that anyone who stands in line to eat food standing up is a fool.
5) Enough with the hot honey already.
6) When it comes to French bistros, Bouchon has it all over Mon Ami Gabi (which hasn’t changed its menu since Bill Clinton was President).
7) The days of the $15 cocktail are deader than Siegfried & Roy.
8) I don’t care how good you think Din Tai Fung is. It’s a chain and isn’t worth the indignity of trying to dine there. Aria parking bullshit, lines, reservations, and selfie walls…screw that noise. It’s goddamn dim sum, not haute cuisine. BONUS NEGATIVITY ALERT! It’s also full of white girls and FOMO Instagrammers…but I repeat myself.
9) I know that the best murder’s row of restaurants these days is at Resorts World. With better marketing, it could be to the 2020s what the Bellagio was to the early aughts.
10) Prepare yourselves for bread and butter charges (à la 1965). With accountants now running things on the Strip, the nickel and dime-ing will soon creep into your bill faster than a $78 bottle of water:
(Lap dances much cheaper)
11) The better the hotel, the better the restaurants. (Exception: the Sahara – a meh of a hotel housing one of America’s greatest steakhouses: Bazaar Meat.)
12) This whole kaiseki thing must be stopped before it gets out of hand. What was once special (A-5 wagyu, o-toro, uni...) has become so over-hyped and commonplace that it will soon be overrun by the sushi-bro crowd — dudes who didn’t know their unagi from their anago four years ago — douchenozzles who ten years ago were throwing down five-hundy on vodka in hopes of getting laid. Now they’re invading our better sushi bars and harshing my mellow. F**k sushi bros with a splintered chopstick.
13) Money (the pursuit thereof) and marketing ruins everything in food.
14) There is absolutely no reason to go to the Strip for Japanese anymore.
15) If you want great sushi the way it was meant to be (sliced by dedicated chefs without pretension) head to Sushi Hiroyoshi on west Charleston, or Sushi Hiro on south Eastern, or the granddaddy of our Vegas scene, Yui Edomae Sushi. The first will remind you of a Shibuya hole-in-the wall, the latter two may have the best selection of fish in town. Kabuto is so crowded, no one goes there anymore.
16) I know I am rediscovering my passion for home cooking, and still retain some skillz taught to me by the master teachers of the late 20th Century: Julia Child, James Beard, Craig Claiborne, Pierre Franey, Marcella Hazan (in person) Jacques Pepin (ditto), and others. In gleaning through old cookbooks, I also remembered how terrible most chef cookbooks are (exception(s): Wolfgang Puck and Jamie Oliver – whose books are remarkably straightforward, tasty and easy to follow). Famous restaurant cookbooks are even worse. This little veal roast (from Featherblade Craft Butchery, natch) with a tarragon-mustard sauce was whipped up in about an hour:
(Boy’z got skillz)
(Just say no to sauce dots and smudges)
17) I am so over pizza it isn’t even funny. Wanna go get a pizza?
18) I wish Japaneiro were closer to my house.
19) I wish Jamon Jamon had more customers.
20) I know the boom in Spanish food (in Vegas) has reached peak tapas. Probably in the rest of the U.S. as well.
21) You officially have my permission to stop caring about the restaurants in the Bellagio.
22) I know Noodlehead is the restaurant you go to when China Mama is packed to the rafters. What it lacks in size and variety it makes up for in (Chinese) pasta punch and tasty skewered fish balls:
23) I know that restaurants need to give up their addiction to branzino and find another easy-to-pronounce pisces: Orange Roughy, Chilean sea bass, etc… to sell for the sake of upscale fish fanciers.
24) I know I hate summer truffles and you should too. Summer truffles bring nothing to the party but the name.
25) I know that the minute you see an AYCE sign go up at a restaurant, they are serving the cheapest, shittiest food money can buy.
26) The whole restaurant-cum-nightclub thing (Tao, STK, et al) is so cheugy it hurts. (Look it up.)
27) So is caviar on everything.
28) If you find yourself scratching your head over the weird similarity in menus (roasted Brussels sprouts, fried cauliflower, yellowtail crudo, tuna tartares here, salmon, chicken, steak there, always concluding with a smattering of vegan/vegetarian (to appease those with fear of food)….welcome to the club:
(Chou-fleur is so ten minutes ago)
29) Face it: mezcal sucks. It doesn’t suck as much as natural wine, but it blows as much as Moby Dick.
30) Casa Playa is terrible just like I told you it would be.
31) Viva! by Ray Garcia in Resorts World pretty much kicks every Mexicans’ ass in town.
32) Thankfully, no one is inviting me to whiskey-food pairing dinners anymore. Whiskey and food go together like hot fudge and monkfish.
33) I know I am, in every restaurant I enter, usually the oldest person in the room. Which leads me to ask: What happened to all the Boomers? Are they home sipping supper through a straw? Door Dashing every dinner? Consuming all calories on the couch? We are the generation that put T.G.I. Fridays and its ilk on the map, but we also sowed the seeds, 40 years ago, of the food revolution that brought better cooking to all corners of America. Instead of reaping our just desserts, we’ve become a generation of house-bound retirees consuming pre-chewed food in-between Netflix and Fox News updates. Or even worse: we’re cruising our way to god’s waiting room. I blame the Great Recession of 2008-2012, which legitimized hard surfaces, cheap seating, and military jet afterburner noise levels — all in the name of creating a “party atmosphere” — ALL of which came at the expense of comfort. Covid only made things worse. Now it seems, an entire generation is in hiding…or perhaps just seeking peace and quiet before we’re shown the door:
34) We are more excited about Half-Bird opening than anything on the Strip.
35) Awkward, but those who go to very popular (and entertaining) Twitter feeds like Vital Vegas and Las Vegas Locally for food recommendations always read like people with no taste asking people with no palate to send them to places with no clue. I rest my case.
36) I know that I don’t know what’s going on at Eater Vegas and barely care. Apparently I am still blocked from the Twitter feed, even though the previous (hideous) human in charge is long gone. I’ve asked the current custodian to unblock me because I sincerely want it/her to succeed and do some good for our food scene.
37) I know you shouldn’t sleep on Vic & Anthony’s as your go-to downtown steakhouse. The food is solid, the wine list full of finds, and there’s none of that celebrity-touting bullshit to put up with. (Ed. note: I don’t give a shit how many celebrities eat at your restaurants. Celebrities don’t go to great restaurants; they go to places where they’ll be treated like bigshots. Celebrities and good food go together like lamb and tuna fish. On Strip, don’t forget Delmonico — it is huge but welcoming, and open on weekends (Fri.-Sun.) for lunch, with a great bar and a winning wine list.
38) I know I like the food at Carson Kitchen but hate the atmosphere — beautiful food (like this terrific tempura) served in a cold, impersonal setting which has not improved with age (its or mine):
(Hot food, cold decor)
39) I know I’m back to eating Indian again (dots not feathers), thanks to Mt. Everest India’s Cuisine.
40) I know if there’s a restaurant in the ‘burbs I wish I ate at more often, it is probably Khoury’s:
(Khoury’s knows how to mezze around)
41) I know that I’m still waiting for the menu at Marché Bacchus to be more ambitiously French. But I never tire of going there.
42) Some days I’d give a digit for a decent green chile cheeseburger.
43) I know dipping a bunch of stuff in a hot pot until it all comes out tasting the same is an Asian thing I will never understand. Nor do I wish to.
(The X-Pot packs ’em in)
44) Live fire cooking is overdone and overrated and you know it.
45) So is yellowtail crudo.
46) So are chef pop-up dinners.
47) There are still gems aplenty in Chinatown, but it’s in danger of being overrun by corporate Korean and cookie-cutter Vietnamese.
48) I know that the ghosts of Joël Robuchon, Marcella Hazan, and Pierre Troisgros could reappear with whisks in hand and you still couldn’t get me to eat at that sorry, saddle-sore lowbrow bastion of the faux-cowboy crowd known as the Mount Charleston Lodge.
49) Stop eating food in quotes, i.e., some reshaped chemical experiment pretending to be something you remember from childhood — ersatz edibles that aren’t what they call themselves — all done in service of tricking you into eating them. Fake bacon, cheese made of nut paste, “milk” made of soy juice, “chicken” that isn’t chicken, impossible burgers….just how stupid are you? The question answers itself. F**k you and your fraudulent, dumbass, politically correct fake food diet with a lamb shank.
(Vegan “butchers” are a thing, people)
50) For the 10,000th time: tipping is sexist, classist, racist, and elitist. And probably a dozen other ists which I can’t think of right now. If you’re in favor of tipping, you are buttressing the evil confederacy of cheapskate restaurant owners and self-serving servers — neither of whom give a damn about anything but the bottom line in their pocket. As Wendell Berry once said, “Eating is a political act,” and your attitudes about tipping have far-reaching consequences for society. Choose one: Am I a selfish asshole? Or someone who believes in fairness? It’s that simple. You’re welcome.
51) Yu-Or-Mi Sushi has gotten scary good. You heard it here first:
52) I wish I didn’t know that the foodie explosion of the past forty years is inversely proportional to the sustainability of life on this planet. What we have gained in the knowledge and enjoyment of better food has been devastating to our climate and the species we rely upon for our proteins. And by “we” I mean middle and upper-income Americans, Europeans, and Asians.
Every time you eat a piece of sushi, cheap salmon, free-range filet, or Chick-Fil-A, you are contributing to the unholy union, and devastating effects, of human avarice and appetite. True Beluga caviar does not exist anymore because short-term greed triumphed over long term husbandry. Tuna and who knows how many other fish will be next. Chicken dinners used to be special. Now we raise and kill them by the billions to feed our ever-hungry maws. As a species, we are addicted to cheap eats and advertising, and every living thing on the planet is suffering for it.
I have been fortunate in my life to taste the best meat and poultry money can buy. I’ve eaten oysters straight from the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel and striped bass right off a Nantucket boat. (Once you’ve tasted a proper king salmon, in season, in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll never again order it anywhere else.) I’ve had wild game and elusive birds brought to my table by chefs who bought them that morning from the hunters who claimed them. My fork has torn at the sweet, gamy well-traveled flesh of langoustines and wild turbot, flown 6,000 miles from their source for my amusement. Fromages fit for a king have sated my taste buds, just miles from where they were made. But it is all to end soon and I know it.
Flavorless truffles will soon be as ubiquitous as Portobellos. Japan now makes “scotch” whisky. China is getting into the wine game, and what they produce will be passable, but not as good as those they seek to imitate. Uni from Hokkaido or Santa Barbara used to be a treat reserved for those in the know. Pretty soon someone will figure out how to farm them and they’ll appear at Red Lobster. (Okay, maybe that’s an analogy too far, but you get my point.)
Regardless, in a couple more centuries, humans will have used up the animals that have sustained us for millions of years. Overfishing destroyed the Atlantic cod stocks in half a century, probably never to return. We should be ashamed of ourselves but lust and commerce do not allow for such reflection. We are destined to be vegetarians and vegans (as soon as they figure out a proper food replacement for animal protein), and I’m kinda glad I won’t be around to see it.
So the last thing I know I know is to enjoy the earth’s cornucopia of great taste while we still can. Because soon enough, this dude will be making all the rules:
7 thoughts on “52 Things I Know I Know…and Some I Wish I Didn’t Know”
Great post John- You are the food God.
Council Curtas, good evening and condolences. Very well written and reviewed. I believe we are in agreement on the gourmet food offerings and it certainly mirrors the oenology industry. I tip my National Championship UGA cap to you.
I’m with you on most of this jeremiad, but leave mezcal alone. Mezcal is good.
You’re always entertaining, John, and more to the point, spot on regarding food, culture, and the human condition. However, every time you threaten to quit writing, I become apoplectic.
Hopefully, my staff won’t see this post – not only they will grow the bill for extra food but too soon realize a tip in Wynn is worth the director’s monthly salary.
you want a green chili cheeseburger? two suggestions
1. Southwest Diner in Boulder City
2. Rum Runner/Badger Cafe by UNLV
Thanks, Bradley! And thanks to all for the comments.
Comments are closed.