Eating Las Vegas

John Curtas is …

You heard it here first….Gagnaire and Brennan coming to Vegas

Shhhhhh…Don’t tell anyone (let’s just keep this a secret between ourselves shall we?), but two mega-fabulouso chefs are coming to Las Vegas.

Pierre Gagnaire is close to (or has) inked a contract with MGM-Mirage’s CityCenter to open an outpost in the Mandarin Oriental slated to open there next year. Gagnaire is the chef-owner of his eponymous, Michelin 3-star restaurant on the Rue Balzac in Gay* Paree. He also runs outposts in Tokyo and Hong Kong where late last year he fed us the most expensive lunch we’ve ever had atop the Mandarin Oriental in that amazing city….a place where the name just seems to fit a bit better, wouldn’t you agree?

Terrance Brennan of Picholine and Artisanal fame (two of our faves in NYC), will be coming to the Echelon project – probably the Shangri-La.** Brennan has been instrumental in the resurgence of artisanal cheeses in America, and Picholine (as in olive), his Michelin-starred restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan has been a foodie mecca since the mid-90’s.

In honor of these announcements, this might be a good time to explicate on what makes Gagnaire’s food so fabulous. Click here for my article – written for – on my meal at Pierre TT (don’t ask me what that funky TT means – a “P”? Pi? A pie? – but’s it’s on all the matchbooks) in Hong Kong. The article is also Part Three of a travelogue I did on my memorable meals in that strange and wonderful city.

Click here and here for Parts One and Two of Eating Hong Kong.


* As in: excited with merriment and delight

** All prophesies made by ELV come with the Easterbrook Guaruntee: All predictions true or your money back!

Budweiser goes Belgian – true beer lovers rejoice

The beer true suds lovers love to hate isn’t really going anywhere, but Anheuser-Busch has just been bought by Belgium’s brewing giant InBev, basically because it’s been hemorrhaging profits like a busted keg for ten years. And it couldn’t have happened to a lamer, more insipid product.

In case you don’t get the point, we’ve always hated Budweiser (although we must confess in the past to having a certain fondness for Michelob). Here’s why we’ve disdained it so for years, concisely summarized in a piece that traces the rise and fall of our least favorite beer.

Although it did inspire the only two beer jokes we know:

Joke #1: Drunk to  drunk: “Does beer make you smart?” Drunk back to drunk: “Well it made Bud-wiser.”

Joke #2: How is drinking Budweiser like making love in a canoe? Answer: Because it’s f*cking close to water.

Writer Edward McClelland gets around to that last joke, at the very end of the article, and he bids a not-so-fond farewell to what’s been a blight on the American beer landscape for over a hundred years.

Fun Food Fact #1: early taste tests among St. Louis drinkers found them spitting Budweiser back at the bartender.

Fun Food Fact #2: founder Aldolphus Busch called his infamous brew “dot schlop” and drank wine instead.

Twenty years ago, Budweiser sold more beer in a day than all the craft beers in America did in a year!  McClelland also quotes another of our favorite beer statistics: in 1980 (the year yours truly discovered those fabulous elixirs known as Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale) there were but eight craft brewers in America. Today there are more than 1,300.

So raise a glass (of Rogue Porter, Fat Tire Amber, Abita lager, Stone IPA, Hennepin Farmhouse Saison et al ) to the McDonald’s of breweries, and let’s hope those fer-in-ners (who know a thing or two about the art and craft of beers), will improve things….or permanently relegate “Bud” to the back shelves of 7-11’s everywhere, where it belongs.


More Burger Love

Before we leave this summer subject for more upscale pursuits, we thought a final bit o’ burger love was in order. Ever the iconoclasts, the staff at ELV disdains top ten lists as hackneyed, trite, banal and boring. Therefore our final four* top hamburger/cheeseburgers in town are (in no particular order):

>The Bobby Baldwin sliders at FIX (FYI: sister restaurant STACK in the Mirage does mini-burgers just as well);

>The Double-Double at In-N-Out Burger;

>Hubert Keller’s $8.95 Ridgefield Farm Burger at Burger Bar in the Mandalay Bay – that we prefer to his slightly more expensive Black Angus burger and waaay more expensive Kobe (really Wagyu) beef burger ($16.50);

>StripBurger’s beautiful basic cheeseburger.

Honorable mention goes to the following for generally superlative treatment of this honorable sandwich: Palm, Island Burger, Country Club Grill at Wynn, Mesa Grill (because my buddy Al Mancini says so), BLT Burger (whose offerings may leapfrog many of these choices once it gets its service act together-go here to read Mancini’s review); White Castle‘s frozen twelve pack of jalapeno cheeseburgers (when you can find them), and, as my final two: L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (the ultimate/exaltation/celebration of mini-burgerhood – replete with Wagyu beef and foie gras on a house made brioche bun….but bring money); and the onion burgers at the Skyline Casino in Henderson** – now there’s a couple of joints with a lot in common!


* avid ELV readers know that Bradley Ogden‘s Bar Burger (see prior post) will always be #1 in our hearts and on our palates.

** many thanks to uber-attorney Dennis Kennedy for introducing me to these delicioso low-brow burgers years ago.

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