Archive for the ‘Celebrity Chef Hell’
ELV note: We’ve been consistently disappointed by Mario Batali’s more affordable offering at the Venetian ever since it opened. (A lunch there a little over a year ago had us longing for the enforced mediocrity of Canaletto — literally a stone’s throw away in the same shopping mall.) After a succession of paltry and pathetic pasta performances, we had a face to face with Molto Mario and his partner Joe Bastianich last fall and gave them details. In return, they made all the right noises and assured us that things would change. By the looks of things, they haven’t. Below, uber-foodie and Official Friend of Eating Las Vegas David Ross explains (in a tone more reasonable and less hyperbolic/venomous than you are probably used to at this web address) why this is just another celebrity chef money machine — to be avoided by anyone with anything but a company credit card and low expectations. (ELV wonders if, with their busy schedules, Mario and Joe ever actually taste their restaurant’s food)
A partnership between Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, (you know his Mother, Lydia, she cooks Italian on PBS), Otto Enoteca should be a soft introduction to guests of the marriage between Italian wine and quality ingredients crafted into familiar, yet authentic dishes. That’s one of the better aspects of what this restaurant should be. Yet the expectations of dining in the restaurant of a former “Iron Chef” is quickly tempered by reality. Otto Enoteca is both the best and worst of the Celebrity Chef culture in Las Vegas.
Best Night to Dine Out – Thursday
Worst Night to Dine Out – Saturday
Worst parking – MGM Grand
Worst Valet – MGM Grand
Worst Oversight in Posting This List Yesterday – Yonaka
Best Candidate for Best New Restaurant of 2013 (so far): (toss-up) Yonaka/Hops & Harvest
This is the picture posted in the New York Times today about Paula Deen supporters lining up to support her and her restaurant in Savannah, Georgia.
We at ELV hate to get in the middle of racially sensitive issues, but there are dozens of reasons Paula Deen should lose her job at the Food Network, but being a late-middle-aged, racially-insensitive, inarticulate Southern white woman ain’t one of them.*
ELV note: For the first time in six years, yours truly did not attend a single event at Vegas Uncork’d. In this past half-decade, we have gone from being both a participant and reporter at the event to one whose excitement about it ranks somewhere between our boredom over the interminable NBA playoffs and our disgust about whatever stupid country music award show is in town this week. This makes ELV sad — both for the event and himself — as there was a time he when he felt these four days in May would be the defining event in the history of the Las Vegas dining revolution. Alas, like Camelot, it was a fleeting aspiration that was not meant to be.
We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs… Oh wait, this is something else entirely, although I’m fairly certain I listened to “Sympathy for the Devil” at one point, and I recall there being amyl nitrate somewhere.
The build up to this story held a great many undertones of personal danger, but mostly calling in favors, tracking down PR types and weaseling my way into whatever it is I could. My fervor was motivated less by testing my true grit against a weekend of a gluttonous bacchanalia, although I am always eager to do that, but to test my earlier prediction about the Hubert Keller/Sarah Johnson Beer Garden being the best real event (“real” referring to any that isn’t a Michelin starred chef cooking a dozen-by-a-dozen degustation-athons). Really, honestly, with the trend of overselling the food booth and TV chef selfie events AND making the grievous omission of any Le Cirque/Circo/Sirio things, I would say my prediction had sadly come to fruition. Grand Tasting: consider the ball dropped. It all kind of ran together…
Nothing about this place is as good as its reputation. - Seymour Britchky
Nobu is the perfect example of what happens when a celebrity chef gives up, sells out and cashes in. It is the gastronomic equivalent of a once-innovative cook deciding to abandon his legacy to the highest bidder and spend his retirement padding around his culinary house in a succulent silk robe and savory slippers.
None of this is surprising. By now, everyone knows Las Vegas is where they all come when it’s time to settle back and rake in the cash, because our captive audience of 40 million yearly visitors are credulous enough to buy the hype and settle for what little substance they get. But, not being rookies to the celeb chef rodeo, Eating Las Vegas‘ savvy readers know that it is those customers who ultimately pay for the luxury that these (former) titans of gastronomy and their retainers enjoy.
Las Vegas is also where our brimming-with-cash casinos are more that willing to throw money at an established chef’s brand in hopes it will save them from the food and beverage disasters they inflict upon themselves when left to their own devices (cf. Wynn Hotel/Switch). The money men behind Nobu know this, so this is where they’ve decided to plant his flag one last time time before he sails into the Peruvian-Japanese sunset.
ELV update: Well the mystery meat mystery has been solved folks! Susan Stapleton reported earlier today that Charlie Palmer, he of Charlie Palmer Steak fessed up and issued a public apology to Anthony and Ottavia Bourdain for the steak he served them 12 days ago. And Bourdain graciously accepted. For the record ELV regrets his mistake in identifying the hotel the Bourdains were staying in. Had he been a more diligent reporter, he would’ve sought confirmation of the information he received.
Geez Louise! What a tempest in a teapot!
Ottavia Bourdain, whom Grub Street New York describes as “foodie royalty” was in Las Vegas two weeks ago to take in a UFC match, shoot machine guns and drink a lot of Amaretto with her husband Tony. (more…)
A recent lunch for two at Otto consisted of the following:
- small octopus salad
- grilled radicchio with smoked mozz
- gnocco fritto (fried dough strips)
- short rib ravioli
- tagliatelle with ham and Spring peas
- ice cream dessert
To make an expensive, disappointing story short, the radicchio was billed as grilled, but tasted so strongly of kerosene that all nuance (not to mention flavor) was obliterated. (Side note: ELV loathes the chemically-odoriferous scents left on food from gas grills, and wonders why chefs even bother.) The gnocco fritto were as tasty (and about as complex) as something you’d get at a county fair, and the two pasta dishes were seriously flawed.