Odds, Ends and Veal Parmigiana

(No one can beat Enzo’s meat)

A few things as we head into the stretch run of this holiday season:

1) O-Face Doughnuts announced it’s closing at the end of the month, leading our staff to ask: If downtown can’t support a freaking doughnut shop, what gastronomic chances does it have? Answer: We haven’t a clue. Every time we were in O-Face (and that was dozens of times) it always seemed to have customers. Not wrapping-around-the-block numbers mind you, but a fair amount of folks ready to make their own O-face after biting into the pastries. Were they the best doughnuts we’ve ever had? No, but they were a damn sight better than any others in town. And the coffee was superb. Pity all around, and a real head-scratcher when it comes to predicting what, if anything, this signals for the future of downtown dining. Speaking of which…

2) The Smashed Pig is now open, on East Fremont Street, right across from the failed experiment that was Radio City Pizza. It’s another Downtown Project-funded operation, but initial visits have been very positive, with chef/owner Martin Smith firmly in control of a tight, controlled menu of the English pub food he has in his veins. Don’t miss his fish and chips:

…served with superior mushy peas, or his steak and ale pie, or the sticky toffee pudding:

 

The burger and beers are also top notch, and only the noise level gives us pause. (Tip: eat at the bar if you want to hear yourself think.) All and all though, TSP is a flat out winner, and a nice addition to your downtown dining options. Eating Las Vegas loves restaurants that are so much better than they have to be.

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Holiday Dining My Way

ELV note: We’ve been as busy as a beaver this fall — writing for a various ‘zines and trying to finish the copy for the fourth edition of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants. Oh yes, and we also took a two-week trip to Germany and Alsace (that we’ll be writing about as soon as the book gets done), and we got engaged to be married AND we’ve been trying to keep up with our day job — saving the taxpayers’ money at the City of Las Vegas. As a result, our nights have been shorter and our ELV posts have been fewer. So, with all that in mind, we thought this would be a good time to post our recently published article in VEGAS magazine, highlighting our ideas for where to best have a bacchanalian blowout over the holidays. Read on, happy holidays, and we’ll resume more regular postings once all this hubbub subsides.

Upscale Egg Salad at Le Cirque Las Vegas(Le Cirque puts its spin on egg salad)

Dining in Las Vegas is extravagant any time of year, but during the holidays, our temples of gastronomic delight really pull out all the stops—and stoppers.

In Las Vegas, creating a holiday environment all year-round is our specialty. But during our winter holidays (when, granted, you might have to look for snow in the Bellagio Conservatory rather than outside), the city’s best restaurants stage the ultimate in over-the-top dining—featuring très luxe products from around the globe brought in to satisfy gourmands looking to dress up, dine out, and drink it all in, the Vegas way.

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As the French invented both the modern restaurant and Champagne, you can be assured a holiday meal at Joël Robuchon (MGM Grand, 702-891-7925) will be second to none. James Beard Award–winning Executive Chef Claude Le-Tohic (pictured above with the man himself) is a truffle snob of the best kind, and by Christmas Day, his menu is usually festooned with the finest black truffles. “After about mid-December, the white truffles start declining in quality,” he explains. “That’s when we start using truffes noires, which are much better when cooked. Many of our customers request them over the holidays.” Thus can you find these gorgeous fungi adorning everything from a mousseline served with a semi-soft boiled egg with Comté cheese to a white onion tart with smoked bacon that proves the rest of the world has nothing on the French when it comes to crafting an umami bomb.

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WING LEI for the Holidays

A man cannot be too serious about what he eats. – Confucius

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to pause, collect ourselves, relax a bit, and reflect upon…Chinese food!

Yes, Chinese food. The world’s oldest and greatest cuisine.

For as big a Francophile as we are, there is no gastronomia that competes with China’s for venerability and deliciousness.

To put things in perspective, China cooks were selling food to strangers, and codifying their cuisine, 500 years before Romans started feeding Christians to the lions. It is fairly undeniable among food historians and anthropologists that Chinese culture is the most keenly food-oriented in the world. And it’s no coincidence that the phrase “Have you eaten?” is the most common of daily greetings in the Chinese language.

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