ELV note: As proud as we are of this recently published article in VEGAS magazine, our happiness is muted by the fact that Kerry Simon was recently admitted to a local hospital because of pneumonia. To anyone suffering from multiple system atrophy, as Simon is, such an illness is a very serious condition, and does not portend any kind of healthy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Simon and his family.
(Rainbow cauliflower, from Carson Kitchen’s farm fresh menu.)
If someone had told me a year ago that Kerry Simon’s Carson Kitchen would be both a raging success and the spark of a restaurant renaissance, I would have looked at them with the same bemusement I usually reserve for conspiracy theorists and Chicago Cubs fans. A year ago (or three, 10, or 20 years ago), Downtown Las Vegas was a restaurant wasteland. The idea that young couples, suburbanites, professionals, and entire families would come here to eat seemed as far-fetched as having a mob lawyer for a mayor.
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.
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.
(David Chang-as articulate as ever)
Isn’t it amazing how chefs become great writers as soon as they become famous?*
Suddenly, guys who flunked out of school, or who have worked with their hands their entire lives, or who once couldn’t get a job doing anything but answering phones in a restaurant, become marvelous, creative scribes as soon as they have a brand worth brandishing.