Summer Doldrums

June 09, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Celebrity Chef Hell, Chefs, Openings, Rant, The List

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It’s not even officially Summer yet and the mercury has already topped 100 degrees for a solid week.

ELV is glad the days are heating up, because that’s the only thing that’s hot in Vegas these days.

Our restaurant scene may seem muy caliente to some — with Daniel Boulud, Guy Fieri, Mathias Merges and Giada What’s-Her-Name all opening new joints in the last two months — but it’s still pretty boring with a capital “B” from where we’re sitting.

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GUY FIERI Gets It Done

May 29, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Events, Food, Openings, Reviews

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When you’re a human cartoon, it’s tough to be taken seriously.

When your pedigree springs from the louche environs of UNLV and the middle-brow banality of Johnny Garlic’s (not to mention those dens of sophistication: Sacramento, Santa Rosa and San Jose, et al, (wherein this franchise fits like stretch pants on a soccer mom), serious gastronomes consider your cooking  (if they consider it at all) unworthy of their time or calories.

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Hot Hostesses Watch – BIN 702 + A Few Thoughts on Downtown Dining

May 25, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Hot Hostess Watch, Openings, Wine

LaLa and LoLo (we kid you not — those are their actual names*) are two big reasons to do all of your fine wine tasting at BIN 702 in Container Park.

The other is: all bottles of wine are 1/2 price on Sundays and Wednesdays.

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DB BRASSERIE Deliciously Beckons

May 15, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Liquor/Liqueur/Libations, Openings, Reviews, Wine

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ELV note: Daniel Boulud is back, and gastronomes everywhere are licking their chops. But before we dive into reviewing his new spot db Brasserie (opened just three weeks ago), perhaps a little history lesson is in order.

When it was announced ten years ago that Daniel Boulud would be coming to Las Vegas (at the Wynn Hotel and Casino), no one in Las Vegas was happier than yours truly. When the Daniel Boulud Brasserie opened there in May of 2005, no one was a bigger fan or more loyal customer.

When Philippe Rispoli — the on-premises chef de cuisine who made the restaurant hum — was shown the door in ‘o7, things went downhill rapidly. Between the Wynn’s wanting to steak-i-fy the place, and a kitchen crew that had neither the heart nor the chops for true French food, it was pretty much a relief when they closed the joint (on July 4, 2010), so as to no longer sully the name of one of America’s greatest chefs.

But Boulud — being neither a fool nor a bad businessman — knew there was still gold in them thar hills; he just needed the Great Recession to recede a bit more before throwing down for another try in our humble burg. This time he’s maintaining more control (he owns the restaurant in partnership with the hotel, we’re told), and this time he’s gonna stick.

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Sipping and Savoring Santa Barbara (County)

May 11, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Food, Travel, Wine, Zines

This article first appeared in John Mariani’s Virtual Gourmet a few weeks ago. Click here to read it in the original format, or continue as you wish with the text below.

Solvang, California used to be a paragon of kitsch, corny architecture and lots and lots of butter cookies. When last we visited a little over ten years ago, it was at the tail end of its “outlet store phase” (as one local put it to us), and the Danish bakeries barely outnumbered the vacant storefronts – which is really saying something. These days, a great ableskiver, cheese Danish, or thin, Danish pancake accosts your waistline on almost every corner, but the real reason to come here is that this (formerly) sleepy little hamlet – known affectionately for decades as “Little Denmark” – has quietly become the wine capital of central California.

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Mother’s Day Memo: Eat at Home

May 09, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Rant, Wake Up With the Wagners

It’s the absolute, lead pipe cinch, without a doubt, out-and-out, consummate,  worst day of the year to eat in a restaurant.

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Letter of the Week – Fine Wine (Gouging) Times

May 01, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Letter of the Week, Wine

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Dear ELV,

One of my first great dining experiences was with my father at Picasso in 1998, and it remains one of the best meals of my life. I’ve returned to Las Vegas dozens of times since then, first for the innumerable temptations your city offers a young man and, as I’ve aged, increasingly for the food.

I believe any frequent visitor to Las Vegas understands and accepts there is a surcharge for the fun. The games favor the house, “complimentary” wi-fi is $25, and food will cost a bit more than back home, even if home is New York or Chicago. What the visitor gets in return, especially folks like me who live as far from New York and Chicago as Las Vegas, is unparalleled access to things like gourmet restaurants. It’s a long, long shot that I could get a seat at Marea, Daniel Boulud, and Per Se on back-to-back-to-back nights, but I can eat at Guy Savoy, Twist, and Sage on any given trip.

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7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Line Up to Eat at Giada’s New Restaurant

April 29, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Celebrity Chef Hell, Food, Openings

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Who cares if she can cook?

After reading this bought-and-paid-for piece of public relations drivel today, we at ELV thought the record ought to be set straight about why restaurants like Giada’s should be approached gingerly, if at all, and always with a sense of healthy skepticism about what is really going on.

So, let’s go over the 7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Line Up to Eat at Giada’s New Restaurant:

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In Defense of the Whiskey Pairing

April 28, 2014 By: mitchell Category: Liquor/Liqueur/Libations

Could you imagine being some old shepherd in the rolling moors of Scotland, in the times of antiquity?  You scrape out your livelihood, everything you own either generations old or slung together from the fauna around you, your whole world a tiny blip of stacked stones in an endless sea of nature.  But there is one thing in your life, seemingly pulled out of the ether with prestidigitation, that brightens your eyes, livens your disposition, and warms your heart.  It’s the ol’ water of life, that crystal clear brown liquid, whiskey.

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You Should Go To YUSHO

April 21, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Openings

Matthias Merges Makes Merry Mixology

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Draught Cocktail Degustation

Bold, compelling, uncompromising, intense, and one-of-a-kind were just a few of the phrases that leapt to mind as we sampled about 40% of Yusho’s menu last week — and all six of the house-made, draught cocktails pictured above.

“Totally unlike anything the Strip has seen since China Poblano opened in 2010,” was the other.

To say that we were impressed is an understatement. To say we weren’t expecting to be would be equally accurate.

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