John Curtas is …

John Mariani

Finding the Frauds – John Mariani on the Absurdity of the World’s 50 Best List

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It’s that time of year again, when Restaurant magazine, an industry journal published out of London, names the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants,” an annual list so nonsensical as to make “Alice in Wonderland” seem like a serious guidebook.

Years ago I was invited to be one of the hundreds of judges for this awards program (and I was to pick the other North American judges), now made up of more than a thousand food writers, chefs and restaurateurs, and well-traveled gastronomes. Each judge casts seven votes, “three of which must apply toward restaurants outside of his or her home region. Voters must have dined at a restaurant within the past 18 months.”  After that first year on the panel I realized the whole thing was a farce, for several reasons.

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CARBONE Q and A or, Is Vegas Ready for a $64 Veal Parm?

ELV note: We recently engaged in an e-mail chat with one of our loyal readers and thought you, another loyal reader, might be interested in the discussion.

Dear ELV,

My spouse and I love your Web site. It seems like the only place a dedicated foodie can go to get honest, infallible, unimpeachable, and incisive analysis of the Vegas food scene. Since we don’t live in your town (and only come to visit about once a year), we depend on you to tell us where to best spend our dining out dollars. With that in mind, we have a trip upcoming over the holidays and wanted to know your thoughts about Carbone

We have many thoughts about Carbone.

So you’ve been? (By “you” of course, I’m referring to “you” in the imperial, imperious third person, as “you” are wont to do…)

Yes, WE have been there once, last week.

I heard it was expensive…

You heard right.

Is it worth it?

It depends….

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Vegas is Back, Baby!

ELV note: My article on the current state of Las Vegas’s on-the-Strip dining scene debuts today on über-food writer John Mariani’s Web site. To read the article in its Mariani-approved form, click here, otherwise, continue below for the Director’s Cut.

Yee ha! Vegas is back, baby, with a vengeance, and the doldrums of 2009-2014 are now as forgotten as last night’s losing streak at the craps table. You can see it in the faces of waiters; you can feel it in the upbeat attitudes of the staffs in hotels all around town. Dining rooms are full, check averages are up, and bargains are getting tougher to find than a loose slot machine. Las Vegas Restaurant Revolution 3.0 (the first two versions rolled out in 1998 and 2005) may be a bit more modest in scope, but it’s just as tasty, with big-hitter chefs expanding their repertoires without diluting their brands. Here are the big three, all opened within the past 9 months, that everyone’s talking about.

BARDOT BRASSERIE

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French bistros and brasseries may be as hip as a dickey, but in the hands of Michael Mina (and his Chef de Cuisine Joshua Smith, pictured above), the classic and time-worn suddenly seems as fresh and effervescent as the rosé champagne you will be offered here to begin your meal. Bardot Brasserie is resolutely a copy of Parisian brasserie, with lots of traditional-yet-modernized bistro recipes thrown in for good measure. No matter what you call it, Mina and Smith are cooking inspired French food that has had this place packed from day one.

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