Hot Hostess Watch – Ary at POSTRIO

When we asked Ary at Postrio if she would be our next Hot Hostess®, she was understandably surprised:

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Then she blushed:

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Then she graciously allowed us to use her picture to advertise the fact that Mark Andelbradt has now taken over the reigns of this Wolfgang Puck warhorse in the Grand Canal Shoppes:

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After meeting Aryanna, we’re not so sure now what we’re more excited about: eating Andelbradt’s updated menu (debuting in a month or two, he assures us), or being seated by her.

For the time being, it’s just nice to know there are two reasons to go there.

POSTRIO

In the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian

3377 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702.796.1110

www.wolfgangpuck.com/restaurants/fine-dining/3821

Everybody CUT, Everybody CUT Loose – Foodloose!

I’ve got basically two “bucket lists” I’ve been trying to check off: bang off the Top Ten on the ELV list (I’ll need to find a Three Stooges-esqe way of eating at Guy Savoy and the Robuchon Duo, dropping that much $dosh$ is not in the equation), and the lofty, near Sisyphean task of trying every steakhouse in town, truly a Guinness Book/Ripley’s Believe It or Not worthy feat .

Imagine my luck, then, when I can do two at the same time!  CUT gets the #1 spot in the paperback guide that John, Max, and Al put together, partly because the top ten are in alphabetic order.  Or rather, entirely because of that…  I’ve only been to three of The Ten (and Marche was more of a brunch), but I can see the crowning jewel of Puck’s Vegas menagerie busting the top five.  And of course, how necessary is a steakhouse in a list of Vegas restaurants?

Imagine my luck again! It was Carnevale!  Not specifically relevant, but I just really like clowns, so there were a bunch of these harlequins milling around outside, completely silent and miming.

 
HILARIOUS CLOWNS

As much as I would have liked to continue that surreal air of whatever sick stuff those wacky Rothschilds get up to, the inside of CUT actually played down that feel of exclusivity and pomp.

I know I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff, I mean I’d be thrilled drinking Napoleon’s wine out of Charlemagne’s skull in a Merovingian castle, but I can appreciate it as a power move to forego that.  Comfortable, modern, not TOO loud, and I could see how people would dig some old Stones hit as they dig on their rib eye.  I suppose that’s the one real thing I felt was off kilter though, the music.  It does fit their Beverly Hills location as “the” spot for wheeling and dealing and all that degeneracy media stuff.

Continue reading “Everybody CUT, Everybody CUT Loose – Foodloose!”

It Was 20 Years Ago Today….Wolfgang Puck Taught Gourmets to Play

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ELV note: Spago Las Vegas turns 20 tomorrow.* In celebration of our most iconic restaurant (and the one that literally started the gourmet stampede to our humble burg), I thought not onre but TWO articles are in order. To read our paean to this auspicious event in this format, continue below, or pick up this month’s issue of VEGAS magazine — where it’s free and accompanied by lots of pretty pictures….including one of Jack Nicholson! And since our lamestream media has been typically negligent in commemorating this extraordinary event, we at ELV thought we’d publish an article from 6 years ago noting how seminal and sensational this restaurant has been for so many years.  To read it, continue after the jump.

THE RESTAURANT THAT STARTED IT ALL

“I never knew where to eat when I came here to watch the fights,” is how Wolfgang Puck describes why he decided to open a branch of Spago in Caesars Forum Shops, and thus boldly go where no great chef had gone before. The year was 1992. Puck had spent the previous dozen years taking California by storm and, in the process, redefining America’s notion of what a great restaurant could be. Still, the move was a bold one.  The success of the brand new mall was considered a long shot, and many a naysayer – including Puck himself – thought Las Vegas hardly ready to embrace his world-class, cutting-edge cooking, even in a restaurant as casual as his. “It was all steakhouses and “Continental” restaurants and it wasn’t that good,” is how he remembers our dining scene twenty years ago. “People would tell me how the casinos give away all these comp meals and how it wouldn’t work, but (Forum Shops developer) Sheldon Gordon told me, ‘Just you wait, thousands of people will come.’” Gordon may have been a prophet, but neither he nor Puck had the slightest inkling of the seismic shift they were about to cause. Because within two months of its opening, the rumblings of Spago Las Vegas’ success shook the gastronomic ground in the High Mojave Desert, and the whole world felt the shudder.

Spago Las Vegas officially opened on December 11, 1992, but at first, things were far from earth shaking. The first three weeks were very depressing,” Puck recalls. “The Review-Journal wrote a nice article (about our opening), and I thought we’d be turning people away, but that night only sixty people showed up.” Little did he know that the cavalry was about to show up in the guise of a rodeo. National Finals Rodeo cowboys to be precise, who jumped straight from their bucking broncs to the one restaurant in town with a national reputation. As grateful as he was to see all of those ten gallon hats, Puck quickly discovered that Las Vegas still had a ways to go in appreciating first class restaurants. He still chuckles remembering: “When they saw the open kitchen, they all thought it was a buffet and lined up and started ordering burgers and ribs.”

Within two months, everyone started breathing easier. By the end of 1993, locals had adopted it as the place to see and be scene, and A-list Hollywood celebrities (like Puck friend and fellow fight fan Jack Nicholson) started treating it as their home away from home. One Spago fan who didn’t have far to travel was Steve Wynn. “He used to come in all the time,” says Puck with a smile, “because apparently he didn’t have any place to eat (at the Mirage).”

What Wynn couldn’t get enough of was Puck’s (at the time) groundbreaking Cal-Ital-French cooking – that was as creative as it was toothsome. Twenty years on, the food is better than ever, and still true to Wolfgang’s vision. These days, top toque Eric Klein keeps the flame burning (and the standards as high) as any high volume gastronomic restaurant on earth. (On a busy weekend, Spago Las Vegas can serve 900 customers in a day.) Besides turning out the signature smoked salmon pizza and an array of seasonal specialties, Klein will feature an entire week of Spago’s original menu from twenty years ago (at 1992 prices!), including a glistening roast Cantonese duck, “Chinois Style” Colorado lamb chops, and a superior wild mushroom risotto. Pastry chef  Crystal Whitford joins the fun with a gorgeous Kaiserschmarm – sort of a light-as-air soufflé pancake — and a melting chocolate cake that was de rigueur on dessert menus way back when.

Puck and Spago literally changed the way all of us think about restaurants. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a non-traditional pizza or wondered why proteins are no longer smothered in sauces owes him a debt of gratitude. Every famous Las Vegas restaurant does as well. But for this gregarious Austrian, our hotels would never have seen that there’s gold in them thar gourmet hills – leading them to jump on the celebrity chef bandwagon that Vegas culture practically invented. Just ask Steve Wynn.

Continue reading “It Was 20 Years Ago Today….Wolfgang Puck Taught Gourmets to Play”