He was once the best chef in Vegas. Back when Laurent Tourondel was top toque at Caesar’s Palace (and presiding over the last days of the Palace Court Restaurant from 1996-1998), Vegas had never seen anything like his refined take on French cuisine. Classically trained at Troisgros in Roanne, France, he also experienced immense critical success at the ill-fated Cello in New York, before devoting himself to the more prosaic concerns of building a restaurant empire.
Now he’s two days from opening a 200 seat hamburger restaurant right off the Mirage Casino-in the space formerly home to the famed white tigers of Siegfried and Roy fame – one of whom once tried to make its own burger out of Roy’s face. We’re guessing the cuisine will be a bit less refined than Tourondel’s peekytoe crab soup en gelee (Yup…Nuthin’ gets past EATingLV.com!), but from our sneak peek and taste test of yesterday, the burgers will take you straight back to the classic California Googie diner burgers of the 1950’s, albeit with substantially better beef.
Here’s a preview of the space, and a good look at what goes on in the final hours before the launch of an $8,000,000 burger joint!
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: three whole months is an awfully long time to keep up a blog; poor John must just be exhausted; and how am I to get through the week without his witty, insightful and erudite commentaries on the Las Vegas restaurant scene? Well I really don’t know what to say other than seek professional help, take up a non-food related hobby, and holster those credit and debit cards until I get back.
The good news is that, while I’m away, I’ll be bestowing the munificence of mind and spirit that you have come to take for granted on the rest of the world, as I assume my rightful throne (for one episode at least), on the judges stand of Iron Chef America-beginning its seventh season this fall (air dates TBA).
As popular as ICA is, I must confess I remain true to the Japanese original-a show that reveled in badly- dubbed wackiness and its breathless emulsification of haute cusine into high camp.
For a blast from the past, click here to listen to my original “review” of the original Japanese Iron Chef for Nevada Public Radio.* Number Two Son of Food Man (Hugh Alexander Curtas D.O.B. 10-15-84) and the culturally babe-i-licious Ginger Bruner (D.O.B. unknown) supplied the other voices.
*Important historical footnote: Our spoof of the show aired on January 4, 2001, nine days before Saturday Night Live ran a similar (and far inferior) skit….although the mini shark’s head pizzas whipped up by Charlie Sheen looked mighty tasty.
With this week’s Food For Thought commentary, heard on News 88.9 FM KNPR-Nevada Public Radio, we bestow our last bit ‘o love on DJT. Having featured this small gem on radio, TV, and on this website, as well as talking up the cooking of Joe Isidori and David Varley to everyone from NORM! to Robin Leach, all we can do now is sit back and hope the public responds to a first-class operation that: 1) doesn’t trade off the name of an absentee, overhyped, metabolically challenged “celebrity chef;” 2) isn’t in a mega-casino that takes a Sherpa guide and GPS system to navigate; and 3) won’t murder your wallet with prix fixe menus and overpriced, big-hitter winelists.
Special added bonus: My commentary also defines the difference between an epicure, a gourmet, a gastronome, a gourmand and a glutton. Who says restaurant reviews cain’t bee edjeecaetional?
Click here to hear my review of DJT on Nevada Public Radio.