David Clawson opened the David Clawson Restaurant on October 1, 2014 and I’ve been avoiding it like the plague ever since. The reason for my evasion is simple: I have loathed the Henderson/Anthem area of Clark County with every fiber of my body for twenty years. So unpleasant do I consider the entirety of the Southeast quadrant of our humble burg that I would rather be sentenced to a lifetime of eating Slim Jims and Hostess Twinkies than endure the mind-numbing, soul-killing drive up or down Eastern Avenue to expose my sensibilities to the commercial wasteland it celebrates.
Henderson/Anthem is so generic, pre-fabbed, cynical and craven it makes the Strip look venerable and historic by comparison.
It is a collection of monochromatic developments centered around franchised businesses with nary a place to walk or ride; an amalgam of residences and businesses with all the charm of a Subway sandwich shop. There is no place to walk; there is no place to drive. It is a community without any sense of one, formed for one and only one reason: to make housing and strip mall developers rich.
Get the point? I only go to Henderson/Anthem at the point of a gun. (Or to go to Valley Cheese & Wine)
Because as I type these words I’m already planning my next visit to DCR.
Is it that good?
Yes, it’s that good.
It is the brainchild of a seasoned chef with major chops, who is cooking his kind of food in the all-over-the-globe style (and smaller portions) of the way we eat today.
Don’t call it a tapas bar. Do call it a collection of smaller plates, made for sharing, that are priced right and cooked and seasoned to a fare thee well.
Lots of proteins are featured, and after eating nearly everything on the menu we only found two clinkers in the bunch — a scallop ceviche that was way too acidic and a veal cheek that was way too salty. Hardly a clinker, but one dish we didn’t quite “get” was uni (sea urchin) atop rice bound with a Reggiano “cream.” It appeared as if the chef wants to contrast the earthy-gamy-saline quality of the urchin with risotto-like rice (an avant-garde surf and turf if you will), but for us, the combination fell flat.
Everything else was cooked a point and nearly perfect — showing the skills of a confident chef who knows how to pair flavor notes and accents with the skill of symphony conductor.
Nothing we’ve tasted has been overwrought or over-thought. Everything, from the barely blanched asparagus pictured above (set off with just the right amount of shaved Parm and sweet-sour Meyer lemon dabs) to a mini lamb t-bone with olive tapenade and something called muhammara (a Syrian red pepper paste, and yes, we had to look it up) infused yogurt, couldn’t have been any better.
Best of all is further proof of ELV’s age-old aphorism that you know you’re in rarefied edible air when the cheapest thing on the menu is also one of the best.
This rather monochromatic dish (conceived, no doubt, as an homage to all of the houses and edifices surrounding the restaurant) is simply called “lo mein, garlic, more garlic:”
….and is so packed with sweet, pungent (but not overtly sweet or pungent) garlic essence that is almost addictive. Milk-blanching the garlic softens these flavors, we’re told (grazie Carlos Buscaglia) and makes you want to plow through forkful after forkful of the barely-slurpy, toothsome strands. Even better, it’s only seven bucks.
We could wax poetic about the kusshi ‘ersters in ponzu sauce (extraordinary for an off-Strip joint), gorgeous foie gras (served with pear-ginger-shallot jam), or a pitch-perfect pork belly, but we were just as enthralled by the fresh, hamachi salad:
….(showing a firmness and freshness of fish not usually found 12 miles off Las Vegas Boulevard) and the crispy-tender quail — each dish presented as artfully as anything in a hotel, at about a quarter the price.
As we said, those plates are small, meant for sharing, and priced right. Most items on menu are in the $8-$12 range, with a few proteins going north of that, but not by much.
What this means is a couple can enjoy four or five plates of top quality vittles, with a glass or half-pour of wine (great idea that) for right around a hundred bucks — a price that would easily be 40-50% more in one of our overpriced casino dining rooms.
Speaking of wine, the pairing of wines, sakes and ciders with the various dishes on the backside of the menu is sheer genius:
….and something we’ve been entreating restaurants to do for almost a quarter of a century.
Oenophiles may be bored by the list, but in a brand new, 50 seat place in this neck of the woods, the selection and price point is probably just what the doctor(s) will order.
As for desserts, there’s only three on the menu, but they’re fabulous…and far more sophisticated than anything else in the ‘burbs.
So, in case you can’t tell, we at ELV think DCR is great. Only time will tell, but it may do for neighborhood dining what Raku did for Chinatown. Summerlin should be envious, and Henderson/Anthem should be proud. There is finally a neighborhood joint with fork-droppingly delicious food, hand-made by a dedicated chef, mixing lots of culinary metaphors beautifully, that mere mortals can afford.
Finally, you might be asking: How does ELV like his crow?
The answer: Usually with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
As long as they’re being cooked by David Clawson.
Merry Christmas to all!
ELV has eaten twice at DCR. The first time, the tab was picked up by his dining companions, and the other, he paid $106 for two, including a single glass of wine ($18). He has neither been comped or recognized on either occasion.
DAVID CLAWSON RESTAURANT
2840 Bicentennial Parkway
Henderson, NV 89044
ELV note: In our world, breakfast is good for only one thing: thinking about lunch. But obviously, others disagree. For that reason, we’ve turned the column over to M. Uzmann today for his discerning delectation in divining these (sometimes delightful, sometimes disgusting) digestibles. FYI: you can access these and other reviews of Michael’s at www.endoedibles.com.
Special to Eating Las Vegas by Michael Uzmann
Born Catholic in the Midwest during the 1980s Sundays meant one thing, breakfast…after church of course, and although raised middle class in a city not particularly known for anything culinary save for Tony Packo’s it was probably those early years that formed a palate prone to hefty morning meals of pancakes, French toast, and ‘Moons over My-hammy.’ Obviously evolving my palate over subsequent years and having dined at several of the “world’s best,” many still question my choices for breakfasts so heavy in sweets, particularly given my career choice, but still those masticatory memories persist – the result an ever growing list of morning meals to please gourmand and inner-child alike.
Here it is food fans: our inclusive, independent, infallible, indispensable, indomitable, inevitable, individual, incorruptible index of Las Vegas 50 most “essential” restaurants. It represents our educated opinion of the best food and restaurant experiences Las Vegas has to offer, in descending order of importance to our food scene.
Put another way, these are the restaurants I would take another food writer, gourmet, world-class chef, or ardent food fan to if they asked me to take them on the ultimate epicurean tour of Vegas, and we had a month to complete the task. (For those of you who are wondering: every one of these places has been visited multiple times by yours truly. Many of them have fed us at least a half a dozen times, and in ten of them we’ve eaten more meals than we can count.)
Readers of the last printed edition of this title, will notice that 21 of the 50 entries are new — that’s how much our food scene has changed since we released the 2013 edition in November, 2012. The year ahead may be a quieter one as far as new openings are concerned, but don’t bet on it.
There may finally be enough interest (and affluent warm bodies) downtown to finally give that area some traction in the finer foods department (thank you Kerry Simon), and the venerable Strip hotels are going to be upping their games now that some of their stores are starting to show their age (are you listening MGM and Caesars?) Smaller hotels with a few, top flight offerings seem to be the wave of the future (à la the SLS), although Resorts World might be a behemoth that changes the game the way the Bellagio did in 1998.
All of us at Eating Las Vegas hope this will be the start of a tradition — that of releasing our 50 Essential list every Nevada Day/Halloween. We will be updating some of the reviews throughout the year, and you can look forward to our “new look” Web site coming on-line within the month, which will make accessing the 50 Essential much easier, as well as all past and current content.
In the meantime we will continue to give you Las Vegas’s only erudite, incisive, unfettered and un-compromised opinions on its restaurant and dining scene….and never forget that we at ELV stand by our ELV Guarantee: All Opinions Right Or Your Money Back!
THE TOP 10
THE REST OF THE BEST
12. China Poblano
13. Julian Serrano
16. China MaMa
18. Le Cirque
19. db Brasserie
20. Giada – The Restaurant (on Earth – The Planet)
23. Carson Kitchen
25. Lotus of Siam
26. Michael Mina
29. Bazaar Meat
30. Eiffel Tower Restaurant
32. Due Forni
35. District One
36. Chada Thai
39. Sen of Japan
40. B&B Ristorante
43. Mint Indian Bistro
44. Marche Bacchus
45. Ku Noodle
46. El Sombrero
47. Desnudo Tacos/47.1 Rodeo Tacos Barbacoa estilo Hidalgo
48. Zen Japanese Curry
49. The Goodwich
50. Art of Flavors
Honorable mention: Delmonico; Chocolate & Spice Bakery; La Comida; Wing Lei, Botero; Katsuya by Starck; Honey Salt; Prime; Table 10; Mundo; Comme Ça; Top of the World; Aloha Speciaties; Soyo; O Face Doughnuts; Bin 702; Border Grill; Tacos El Gordo; Buddy V’s; Herbs & Rye.