Archive for the ‘Food’


September 10, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Openings, Reviews 7 Comments →

Calling Bazaar Meat a good steakhouse is like calling Liz Taylor just another pretty face. What it is is a meat emporium pure and simple, featuring the purest of meats served in the simplest of ways — a carnivore’s heaven, if you will — stocked with the best meat on the hoof money can buy. These animals died for your sins pilgrim, and what little rapture they had on this mortal vale should not be forgotten, and you would do well to count your blessings and honor them as you feast on some of the finest protein preparations on the planet.

Religious experiences like this, however, don’t come cheap. The meal for four we experienced below (with enough food for 6-8) would have easily cost $1,000 (before tip and anything to drink), but if you’re the sort who thanks the lord when you slide a sliver of creamy, gamey and dense Jamon Ibérico de Bellota onto to your tongue (and we are), then $70 is more than worth the dispensation:

Jamon Ibérico is truly the ham all hams want to be. There is something about the nuttiness, the silkiness, and density of sensations that no other cured pork leg on earth can duplicate. Even the Italians admit their finest prosciutto can’t hold a candle to these acorn-infused wonders, and the everlasting mouthfeel will stay with you longer than alimony payments.

If those slices of salty-sweet satisfaction don’t satiate, there’s always some bison carpaccio ($26) to tweak your taste buds:

….it being a playful take on buffalo wings, incorporating a tang of blue cheese here and a spot of Frank’s hot sauce there.

Speaking of playful, the croquetas de Pollo ($12) are nuggets of deep-fried perfection — stuffed with shredded chicken in a textbook béchamel sauce, and come stuffed in a shoe:


The delivery vehicle being some sort of Spanish slang for the little darlings. Try to limit yourself to a bite or two because they are filling, but they also provide a nice creamy beginning to a meal that will, if you order correctly, will be a non-stop parade of sharp, smooth and mineral rich flavors.

The conceit of this menu is you can go big or go small, raw or cooked, large format or tiny tapas, depending on your mood and/or the size of your party. It’s really quite the stroke of genius on José Andrés’ part to re-invent the American steakhouse as a Spanish food hall, but as huge as the enterprise is (360 seats), there’s an intimacy to the space (and a softness to the lighting) that blunts any sense you’re in a head-em-up-and-move-em-out corporate cattle call.

Another stroke of brilliance is packing a meat-obsessed menu with all sorts of top-notch vegetarian and seafood items. Before we get to the meat (and believe us, we will get to the nonpareil proteins in a picosecond), perhaps a preview of these pulchritudinous palate-cleansers is preferable, or at least propitious.

Abhorrers of animal flesh will find plenty to love among the garden greens and leafy things proudly displayed at the front of the store:

Whether it’s a roasted Padron pepper ($15), or a cauliflower “steak” with pine nuts and preseved lemon ($12), or drop-your-fork-delicious Brussels sprouts “petals”with lemon “air” ($12):

…that float your boat, you’ll find plenty of antioxidants to applaud without getting within a parsec of dead animal flesh.

Pescatarians won’t complain either, since the raw bar here puts out the sweetest clams this side of Nantucket:

…giving these little bi-valves some leche de tigre  (tiger milk) bite, and the texture of a Peruvian tiradito in the process.

Should your salad-seeking be of the seafood sort, you won’t find more sincere sustenance that this soupçon of lobster and Alaskan claws:

And these super-ripe tomato translations are….

….wait for it….

…technically tantalizing and transformingly terrific.

In fact, the “Beefsteak” tomato tartare (above, $18) might be the most jaw-dropping thing on the menu — it being by turns sweet and acidic, and the perfect expression of late summer eating at its best.

Now, for the show stoppers.

Knowing we were in for a panoply of pig and a cascade of cow, we took but two bites of these braised Wagyu beef cheeks ($36):


…but can still pronounce them the best braised beef we’ve had this year. The mojo rojo sauce surrounding it was finger-licking good as well, but, as is the fashion these days, there wasn’t enough of it on the plate to actually use to flavor your beef bites…so scraping the sorry schmear off the plate, and licking it off your fingers, is the only way to (im)properly enjoy it. (Sigh)

What can we say about the steaks other than they are simply sensational. We strolled over to the grill with Chef David Thomas and picked out the 28-day aged, Washugyu Ranch, Angus/Wagyu beauty in the middle of the grouping at the bottom left:

…and this is how it came to the table:

Once again, the schmear of mustard was but a suggestion of a sauce, but the steak was so full of umami succulence it hardly needed it.

They may not be doing the super-aged thing here that Carnevino does, but there’s no denying the pedigree of this beef. At $80/pound we estimate this headliner would have run around $100 for a single steak. But it was also more than enough beef for four adults, and made a mighty tasty steak sandwich the next day at the ELV manse.

Then Chef Thomas took it to “11.”

In this case with a quarter suckling pig:

…that was as succulent as its name suggests:

Just how can one describe how good it is? Put it this way: deflowering virgins hasn’t been ELV’s thing for some time now, but if he ever wanted to violate some vegan (and thought has occurred to him on many occasions), all it would take would be slipping some of this crispy, crackly, consensually concupiscent skin into where no turgid flesh has gone before, to turn them to the dark side.

If that didn’t do it, one bite of José’s S’mores — foie gras-stuffed, house-made Graham crackers:

…would do the trick.

In no time flat, all sorts of taboos would be dropping like common sense in the California legislature, and you could get on with having a proper sex…er…uh….we mean eating life, and start popping things in orifices you never thought possible…like these “Foiffles” — air waffles with foie gras espuma:

…that are so good her eyes will be rolling back in her head.

The panoply of desserts are outrageously good too:


…but right now we need a cigarette.

Bazaar Meat is about to become one of the most famous restaurants in America. Mortgage the house, rent out the kids, and go there. You won’t regret a bite of it.

Both of ELV’s meals here were comped, but sizable tips ($90 the first time; $200 the second) were left to reward the exceptional service.


SLS Hotel


EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 23. CARSON KITCHEN

September 04, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Critics, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Max Jacobson, Reviews 8 Comments →

Picture 1 of 1

Carson Kitchen is a small place (only 46 seats as of this writing), that reminds us of Le Pigeon in Portland, Oregon, or Bar Jamon in New York City. The open kitchen is framed by an L-shaped bar, and you are so close to some of the action you can practically quiz the cooks on what they’re making as you wait for your plates. There are four tables at the front and then another large bar, on the other side of the small room, which doubles as a cocktail venue and communal seating for an array of drop-dead dishes the likes of which will shock you with their intensity and perfection.


EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 21. ROSE.RABBIT.LIE.

September 01, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Critics, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Max Jacobson, Reviews 7 Comments →


The first time I went to Rose.Rabbit.Lie it was late; I was drunk and liked the space, but hated the music. (But all the other drunks seemed to be having a whale of a time.) The second time, I was sober, liked the food, and still hated the music. The third time, I got as far away from the music as possible and learned to love it. So you might say the best way to appreciate your meal here is sober and in silence, and the best way to enjoy RRL is high as a Georgia pine.


Breakfast, Lunch and Two Dinners at SLS

August 27, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Critics, Food, Openings, Reviews 3 Comments →

SLS logo

“I’m sorry, but we are no longer taking requests for media day,” the e-mail said.

“Wait. What?” we thought to ourselves. “You won’t give a little early access to Eating Las Vegas so we can get some first photos of your restaurants? DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”

The fact is, the p.r. hacks and flacks running these things usually don’t. Which bothers us not at all.

Because the last thing you want when you go restaurant exploring in a shiny new Vegas hotel is to be followed around by some clueless bimbo.

So with that e-mail tucked into our pocket, we went anyway. Strolled in like we owned the joint, six hours before the official opening, to patrol the premises alone, without being herded like cattle with the various free-’zine freeloaders on property.


EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 17. MIZUMI

August 20, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews 4 Comments →


If Mizumi had an advertising budget like Nobu or Bar Masa, Devin Hashimoto would be a household name by now. As it is, he toils in (relative) obscurity in one of the most beautiful restaurants in Las Vegas, seemingly content to kick the ass of his more famous competition, beating them at their own game, night after toothsome night.


EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 16. CHINA MAMA

August 19, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Critics, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews, Spring Mountain Road Comments Off


China MaMa has settled comfortably into its skin of being our best Chinese restaurant, but that doesn’t prevent it from being the constant target of slurs and rumors along the lines of: “It’s not as good as it once was” or “No one goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”


EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 15. ALLEGRO

August 18, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Critics, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews 1 Comment →


‘Tis a pity what’s happened to upscale, authentic Italian food in our humble burg of late.


EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 14. SAGE

August 12, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Critics, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews 1 Comment →

14. SAGE

I’d like Sage a whole lot more if it weren’t so hideously expensive. Everything on the main dish menu — meats, fishes and pastas….yes, pastas — tops the forty dollar mark, which means you’ll top a buck fifty a head here without breaking a sweat.


EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 13. JULIAN SERRANO

August 11, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Critics, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews Comments Off


Five years ago, Las Vegas went from having no good tapas in town to having two of the best Spanish restaurants in the country. This one just keeps getting better and better.


Masa Would Be Mortified

August 08, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Celebrity Chef Hell, Food, Rant, Reviews 8 Comments →

ELV note: We interrupt our regular programming — i.e., our march through the 50 Essential Restaurants of Las Vegas, in descending order –  to bring you a few words about Bar Masa.

What you mainly feel, after the anger subsides, is a sense of relief. The sort of relief that only comes from knowing you’re free. Free from the pull of perfection. Free from dark thoughts that pull you back in, time and again. Thoughts of passions and pursuits. Chasing the high. Never getting enough.