John Curtas is …


The Best Burger In Town – LV Weekly’s limp lineup is laughable

Every so often, we pause from surfing the soft-core porn and Asian massage ads in the Las Vegas Weekly to actually read something in it. This week, since the election, war in Iraq, stock market free-fall, gas and housing crisis might be a bit too much…er…uh…information for those consumed with whether to hit Prive, Christian Audigier or The Bank tonight, this ‘zine/free porn provider/club promotional device/etc. decided to feature The Ten Best Burgers in Vegas as its lead story.

And it gets everything wrong. Well, in a spirit of generosity, let’s say almost everything. There’s no argument with the In-N-Out double-double, or the sliders at CUT, or Brand (although who on God’s green earth wants to endure the clusterf*ck of trying to get to the Monte Carlo these days?)

But after those three, though, things get decidedly worse….and stupid to boot.

Because if you’re gonna feature the Top 10 Burgers….why not stick with….uhmm… HAMBURGERS? As in: round patties of cooked, ground beef? Instead, the “article” spreads the love (Do we smell advertising revenue? I think we do…) around to Veggie Burgers (The Claim Jumper?…Puhleeeze!); a Turkey Burger (a different subject entirely); a Lamb Burger and a Bison Burger (ditto).

Forsooth, not-so-fair-Weekly! Dost thou sayeth that the most regal of American foods, the hamburger, hath crossed the Martini Line? I beseech thee! Thou shall not condemn thy most royal of foods to the mendacity and mediocrity of poor Caesar (the much-maligned salad.) Do not, I beg thee, abandon thy noble burger!

But it would seem the Weekly has, since four of the Top 10 aren’t really hamburgers at all; and a fifth, the beyond-mediocre patty-melt at Kilroy’s (not technically a hamburger either), also made it onto this list. So now, if certain burghers (hambones? dillweeds?) are to be believed, we’re supposed to consider anything on a round bun (or any sandwich made with chopped anything) a “burger” (just like any drink in any martini-shaped glass can call itself one, and any salad made of romaine may hail to Caesar.)

Sadly, as long as vegetarians, something-for-everyone restaurateurs, and meretricious editors are around, the mighty American hamburger will face this onslaught of perversions. But methinks this humble-but-authentic creation won’t go gentle into that dark Applebee’s night of salmon/turkey/veggie/tofu burgers.

And any food writer that helps it to do so ought to be forced to spend a week eating this.

Purists unite! And forswear any attempts to call anything that isn’t a hamburger a “burger.”

And FYI: The Best Burger In Las Vegas is at Bradley Ogden. It is the Tiger Woods of cheeseburgers – when it’s on its game (which is every night at the bar at BO), the others are playing for second place. It’s also one of the best burgers in America.

So sayeth me and multiple James Beard Award Winner Alan Richman. Read about it in more detail here.


p.s. For a great look at hamburger history, buy Josh Ozersky’s book on the subject here.

MARCHE BACCHUS is Decadent, Diabolical and Delicious.

The staff at ELV has never been good at math. That’s why charts and graphs like this one usually frighten and confuse us:

Wine – Vintage – Strip Restaurant PriceMB Restaurant Price

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2007 $75.00 $38.99
Caymus Conundrum 2006 $70.00 $36.99
Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 $550.00 $204.99
Duckhorn Merlot 2005 $120.00 $65.99
Philippe de Rothschild Rojo Chile 2004 $60.00 $23.99
Finca Luzon Merlot, Jumilla 2003 $30.00 $18.99
Gaja Barbaresco Costa Russi 2000 $795.00 $390.99
George “Nuptial Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2005 $225.00 $89.99
Harlan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $950.00 $634.99
Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $110.00 $58.99
Joseph Phelps Insignia 2004 $405.00 $229.99
Row Eleven Pinot Noir 2006 $56.00 $26.99
Shafer “Red Shoulder” Chardonnay 2004 $110.00 $59.99
Stanley Lambert August Shiraz 2004 $59.00 $26.99
Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label NV $110.00 $60.99
Williams & Selyem Pinot Noir 2005 $175.00 $82.99

But even our numeracy-deficient brains can detect a bargain when we see one. And it doesn’t take a mathematical genius like this to decipher that serious wine drinkers (or casual wine drinkers, or first time wine drinkers) can’t do better than the prices at Marche Bacchus. I would even submit that the “Strip” prices quoted above are unduly modest, and that you can easily spend more on those bottles of wine at certain restaurants up and down LVBlvd. So.

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RAKU Rocks!

Paul Bartolotta goes there. Rick Moonen goes there. Joe Isidori and David Varley just went, and uber-wine guys Jaime Smith and Ken Fredrickson can’t stay away. In fact every chef and foodie in town is making a pilgrimage these days to an obscure corner of a run-down strip mall that houses this tiny, 30-seat sanctuary of serious Japanese robatayaki cooking.

Raku has only been open two months, but it is probably the single most exciting off-Strip restaurant to open in the past two years. And in terms of finely-tuned food, nothing off the Strip can match it.

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