BOURBON STEAK – Varley’s Visionary Vittles

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“”Why is it called Bourbon Steak?” asked our Official Number Two Son. “Because if they called it David Varley‘s Virtuoso Visionary Vittles no one would come,” we volunteered vivaciously. “Bourbon and steak are various and veritably versatile. Verily, despite our veneer of vanity, this voracious visage is a vestige of the vox populi, and stands vivified, vowing to vanquish inferior vedures, verdant veggies, vials and veins…none of which shall we view on Varley’s vellum. And you may call me ELV.”

“Voila,” our spawn vouchsafed, “Your vichyssoise of verbiage, veers most verbose, so let’s vacate our variegated (hunger) vacuum with his venerated vernacular, and dig in.”

And so we did.

And it was vividly, viably virtuous.

Yes, David Varley (formerly of the loved-but-short-lived DJT) is alive and well in Washington (D.C., not Iowa), ably assisted by Pastry Chef Santana Salas (she, formerly of Sea Blue), and soon to be joined by Adam Sobel, and cooking his little ham pickin’ heart out in the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown.

Which means Vegas’ loss has been D.C.’s gain…and whoever let these talents slip out of town should be shot.

Or maybe not.

Because if ELV has learned anything in his five decades of life (three of which have been spent in the High Mojave), it’s that Vegas isn’t about nurturing talent — be it in music, art, writing, comedy, acting or food — but rather, about cashing in once a reputation and Q rating has been established elsewhere. Culinarily-speaking: Las Vegas is a training/proving ground for young chef talent, who, like many talented professionals, often have wanderlust in their veins. Thus, will the good-to-great ones often leave seeking greener pastures.

So good for them and good for us. Because if ELV has learned something else from his years around here, it is that many a person moves to Vegas, moves away, and then returns. Which, in the long run, makes both them and Las Vegas a better place.

As for Varley’s vittles? They were &%^%*$# fantastic. Hyper-delicious. Fork-dropping-ly great. Innovative, but grounded in strong, primary flavors and textures, and instilled with his unique ardor and talent for all things gastronomic.

Most of what he served us was off the menu, but from his house made charcuterie (with bacon-cheddar marmalade…yummm!), to sea urchin pasta napped with lardo to a marrow and beef tendon risotto (that tasted like an unctuous-umami-bomb), every dish was infused with passion that we don’t much see around our humble burg.

Bourbon Steak is a steak house to be sure, and an excellent one (our rib-eye and strips were as beefy and mineral rich as these cuts get), but Varley’s vital virtuousity deserves voracious vociferousness…whether he’s vacated this venue or not.


2800 Pennsylvania Avenue

Northwest, Washington, D.C 20007-3717


Letter Of The Week

For some reason, many of the most hostile letters we get come to us through the KNPR Web site ( Here’s a recent one that had us scratching our head, and feeling sorry for uber-chef-and-nice-guy Vincent Pouessel of Aureole. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Hey John,

I think I’m going to start writing to you more often. What do you think about doing some segments about these failed chefs you praise like Bryan Ogden; how he left his santa monica opening or his dad who is spending time in jail or your other buddy David Varley who shot costs through the roof at DJT, which closed down; who couldn’t see that coming.

But on a positive note, You should do a special segment on Aureole, considering it truly lead the path for a successful prefix, fine ding house in Vegas and still pushes strong and definitely high light Vincent Pouessel. I would say hes the most hardworking, passionate executive chef in las vegas, and yes he still works in his kitchen. His name should be on a restaurant.

Maybe you should help guys like that, instead of kissing the ass of these shallow fools you have been praising.

I bet you $100 bucks I know las vegas food scene better than you. You will be hearing from me some more. You wouldn’t believe what I do for a living out here.



Dear Mr. Unpleasantandunsigned,

If you think it’s good to promote one chef or restaurant by badmouthing others, ELV (and the chefs on either end of your opinions) would beg you to reconsider.

Whatever personal or business issues a chef has are none of our business. Whether they’re talented or not is. The ones you mention so derisively are creative professionals who have enhanced our dining scene in numerous ways, and given immense pleasure to many customers.

As for knowing the Vegas food scene better than us; once you’ve eaten in every major restaurant in town at least half a dozen times, we’ll talk.

Indigestively yours,