Eating Las Vegas

John Curtas is …


 To be fair, it comes with a potato (how retro!), and some very good vegetables, or an extremely good black bean soup — that soup comes with a jigger of sherry, just as it should. But what really set off the meal for us was the pitch perfect wedge of lettuce with bacon and blue cheese:

We opted for the dry-aged strip (with a little Kagoshima A-5 thrown in for good measure) and both cuts were the equal of anything in town. The basil ravioli with guanciale and chanterelles was no slouch either, and would’ve been right at home at B&B Ristorante. It, along with that superb spinach salad, had me and the Food Gal® fighting for the last bite.

But what really floated our boat (as it was clogging our arteries) was the duo of foie gras:


The List

Image result for anton ego

Everyone knows ELV loves restaurants. That’s why he’s been obsessing over them for 50 years and  writing about them for 22.

ELV — the man, the myth, the inveterate fresser —  first fell in love with restaurants when he was a mere tadpole of 6 — when his mum and dad would take the family every Sunday for breakfast at Ronnie’s in Orlando, Florida.

We used to sit (all six of us) at a booth right inside and to the right of the front door. (People watching was my parent’s favorite sport, and boy, did we ever get an eyeful every weekend.) I can still taste the fist-sized, house-made pumpernickel rolls — dark and sour, loaded with finely-chopped, melted onions, tri-folded into the dense, chewy dough. Dad used to buy them back the sackful to take home, and one of my first food epiphanies came from unfolding the roll and stuffing it with rare roast beef (that dad also brought home from their deli counter).

(I even remember going off into a little corner of our house, or sitting on our sofa alone while doing this, the better to enjoy the savory-sour marriage of soft bread and beef all by myself. To this day, when I’m really hungry and there’s something really good to eat in the house, I enjoy sitting off in a corner by myself, enjoying it in the most primal and infantile sort of way.)

Nothing beats eating alone sometimes, just as nothing can compete with watching the human comedy pass by, over good food, good company and the ones you love.

(As usual, The List* contains all of those places at which we’ve dined over the past few months. All places are highly recommended, unless otherwise noted.)


Libertine Social


Zydeco Po-Boys

Ocha Thai

Bazaar Meats

Omelet House (Terrible with a capital “T”.)

Yuzu Japanese Kitchen

Chengdu Taste


Weera Thai

Andiron Steak & Sea

DJT (Some remarkably good food, in an old-fashioned, Miami Beach-like lobby, with some killer seasonal specials. Put aside politics and dig in. Just try to forget where the money is going.)

THE Steakhouse at Circus Circus

Charlie Palmer STEAK


Carson Kitchen

Standard & Pour

Itsy Bitsy Ramen & Whiskey (Ramen that’s gone from decent to terrible, with the worst whiskey list since Whiskey A-Go-Go .)

La Comida


B&B Ristorante


Gelatology (Best. Gelato. In. Town. Period.)


Mon Ami Gabi

Du-par’s (Get the pancakes. Or the patty melt. Or a slice of pie. Skip everything else.)




Art of Flavors

Rick’s Rollin Smoke BBQ (I wouldn’t eat here with Al Mancini’s palate.)

The Smashed Pig

El Sombrero Mexican Bistro


La Cave


Halal Guys (Inexplicably popular food at unbelievably low prices for undeniably dumb Yelpers. I guess that explains it. I wouldn’t go back here if the food was free. Because that’s what it tastes like. Cheap ass, free food.)

Due Forni

Chicago Joe’s (No one gives a shit anymore and it shows.)

Harvest by Roy Ellamar

Estiatorio Milos


Mr. Chow

Spartina (In L.A., I know, but worth a drive just for Stephen Kalt’s fabulous pastas.)


Bardot Brasserie

The Goodwich

Emeril’s Fish House


André’s (Au revoir to a French classic.)

Goong Korean BBQ

Hobak Korean BBQ

Magal Korean BBQ (We ate multiple times at all three of our new, upscale’d Korean ‘cue joints, and Magal gets our nod as the best of the bunch.)

Delices Gourmands French Bakery and Cafe

Yui Edomae Sushi

EATT Healthy Food (Eat. Here. Now. For the healthiest French food in town.)

Le Pho


L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Beer Park (For lover’s of serious suds and serious bar food. Even Budweiser tastes better here. Go figure.)



The Perch (Everything tastes like it came out of a freezer bag, because it probably did.)

Lotus of Siam


(That’s 66 restaurants in 90 days if anyone’s counting.)


Yep, ELV loves restaurants like vanilla loves fudge, like peanut butter loves jelly, like Donald Trump loves grabbing cats.

It started at a very young age and has continued right through into our sixth decade of life.

We love restaurants for their theater, for people, for the food, and for the civilization they represent. But mainly we love them because they remind us of that little boy, sitting in a big, semi-circular, low-backed booth on a late Sunday morning with his family, waiting for those pumpernickel rolls to show up, while his mom and dad made him the happiest kid on earth.

Letter of the Week – Can Food Ever Be Art?

Dear ELV,

I am a smart person and by smart person I mean I’m a Yelper because I am full of opinions about things but I know what I like and I like to share them with people. Nonetheless because I am adamant generally about things I like and believe and do not care if these thoughts make sense to others but why I hold them is due to honesty that I love about telling people about things that everyone might like and respect.

So my question is this: Can food ever be art because I think definitely it is art?


Dr. Science

p.s.  I have a doctorate in Science. Please do not forget this when you are talking to me.

ELV responds:

Dear Dr. Science,

The short answer is “no.” Food is not art. Food is a craft. A craft built upon technical expertise, dedication, precision and repetition.

Craft is functional and disposable; art is original, emotional and thought provoking. Great art makes you think; great craftsmanship makes you want to use something. Nay, it demands you use it to give it value.

Art is transcendent. A work of art stands for something beyond itself. Anyone can paint a picture, but only Vermeer could paint a Vermeer. (Look him up, they probably didn’t talk too much about Dutch masters in science class.)

To quote another: The only time craft has been elevated to art is when it has acquired additional value beyond its function or purpose. Charles and Ray Eames (you’ll have to look them up too, no doubt) did not design their furniture to be art, but art it became. art)

Food is food. It is a manufactured product, made on assembly lines, meant to be consumed. In that sense, and in the sense that it gives us life, it is the ultimate craft. No matter how pretty or ingenious the plate, it is always a creation (and craft) of the most temporal and visceral kind.

What you and other, semi-educated folks do is confuse artistry and artisan talent with something original and profound. The paintings of Arcimboldo:

…are art.


…is not art:

There is nothing abstruse about whatever Ferran Adrià did. He simply deconstructed food and re-imagined it as something else — much like General Mills did when they invented the first fruit roll-up.  He just did it on a much smaller scale and much prettier plates.

Nothing chefs do qualifies as art. They will tell you this. Thomas Keller and Joël Robuchon have told me this. Everything they do is born of repetition and respect for time-honored techniques. They don’t invent anything, anymore than Grant Achatz invented de-constructed dessert.

What you do, Dr. Science, is confuse beauty and cleverness with art. Just because something looks pretty doesn’t make it art. True art — be it in music, literature or the visual arts — is greater than itself. Nothing you chew on is ever greater than itself.

End of lesson

John’s Tweets

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