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Sirk TV On-The-Scene Interview: Chef Johnny Church Of PJ Clarke’s/Caesars Palace [Las Vegas Restaurant Week 2011]]

Luxury Settings & Lithe Soirees: Las Vegas Restaurant Week 2011 – Feature – Part I

The predilection of Las Vegas Restaurant Week resounds around the idea that world class restaurants and chefs give back a bit by offering fixed course menus highlighting some of their best dishes. The amount of venues participating has skyrocketed including highly regarded visions both on and off the Strip.

Visions change depending on the venue. The beginning starts with the ultra new balancing with the Restaurant Week soirees that bring out both the fun and interaction of the actual personalities behind the food.

Chef Stephen Hopcraft of STK currently sits atop the most wanted real estate on The Strip with his restaurant inside The Cosmopolitan, bathed in a nouveau circular style with 80s music balancing out the notion of a 54-style resurgence.


Enveloping in the structure of the fixed menu, the spicy pickled prawns offered a distinction of crispness while the sour tartness gives them a reflective balance.


The main course enticed with a signature steak revolved with seared tuna highlighted by a gentle but vivacious wasabi sauce bordered by truffle oil infused frites that simply lifted with a sense of comfort.

Ending out the third course was a flaky and delicious preserved stone fruit cobbler with the dough made on-site in the kitchen revolving within a cinnamon ice cream dollop which made the flavor pop.

Sliding in a texture of non-Restaurant Week items to sample, the tuna tartare enveloped on a crisp enhanced with its smoothness while the macaroni and cheese delighted but it was the short rib ravioli that dazzled with a melting taste that truly captured the essence of the restaurant.

Over at the newly redesigned Tropicana, the culinary scene is re-emerging starting with Bacio, the new restaurant by Chef Carla Pellegrino, bathed in white emitting to the nouveau Miami texture mirrored by the hot new day club on The Strip: Nikki Beach.

Continuing in the structure of the fixed menu, the beginnings of the Fritto Misto di Mare created an essence of crunch with zucchini mixing in a light but resounding remoulade tomato sauce before engaging in the the Cotoletta di Maiale, translated as a pan seared pork chop sauteed in hot cherry peppers providing a intensive zest to warm the palette.

Concluding with a sense of sweet enticement, the Profiterol, a pastry filled with French Vanilla gelato and topped with a warm chocolate sauce engaged and raptured the taste buds.

Adding a bit of non-Restaurant Week possibilities, the Affettati Misti antipasti allowed tenderness with proscuitto and salami but it was its garlic aged in olive oil to an insistent taste that dazzled while the Insalatina di Mare with its shrimp, lobster and crabmeat in a citronette base simmered the vision.

The Restaurant Week soirees, events with a bit of fun and a decided focus, used the notion of Vegas with the balance of the ideas and programs that it helps.

Chef Kerry Simon, known for his outreach and connection to the cause, held the official mixer at his KGB [Kerry’s Famous Burgers] outlay at Harrahs, serving his favorite comfort food while the music and raffles revolved.

Among the possibilities reflected in Restaurant Week on display was the waffle fry nachos with sloppy joe sauce and a delicately placed jalapeno along with his popcorn shrimp easily multiplied in essence with a tart lemon aioli.

The revolution of non-fixed items enveloped the view as well with Kerry’s famous Iron Chef Sliders which simply melt in the mouth along with desserts of note including expresso milkshakes and cereal infused cupcakes (think Cookie Crisp).

First Food & Bar at The Palazzo hosted the “Shuck & Swallow” event where oysters and good cheer continued hand-in-hand with the eventual winner guzzling some 146 slimy beasts in a run while the Blue Moon draft flowed in the late afternoon texture.

Wrapping out the night. “Bubbles, Burgers & Bocce” at Rao’s in Caesars Palace indulged in its notion of champagne and the intuitive possibilities of Bocce Ball as explained and progressed by two lovely referees. The tendency of a pesto topped slider melted in the mouth as the considerably addicting competitiveness of the sport made it an ideal sidetrack for late night luxury.

Late afternoon structure allows for some interesting qualities. Within The Wynn, La Cave offers a differing ambiance over the pool with the outside veranda structured in design to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter as dinner envelopes the coming dusk.

Within the fixed menu, the hamachi begins with a sense of zest surrounded by pickled chilies and a splash of lemon while the bacon-wrapped dates accompanied by a blue cheese fondue display a foundation of lovely intention that offers solace. A sliced sirloin steak, effortlessly wrapped in an embrace of mushroom fondue,  follows leading into a closer of enclosed and dexterous chocolate cake.

Sliding with a vision on its non-fixed items, the jumbo lump crab lettuce cups of La Cave stand out offering a blossom of flavor surrounded by a wonder of freshness.

With the different ideas of dinner infusing intensity up and down the Strip along with a texture of both entertaining and fulfilling events to intermix the day, Las Vegas Restaurant Week continues with the ability through over 140 restaurants to offers the beauty of something for everyone.

Uplifted Fine Prevalence: Vegas Uncork’d 2011 – Feature

Culinary wrangling springs from the necessity of finding the best chefs in any given place. With Las Vegas, mirrored  by the surge in the past ten years of celebrity chef restaurants, the desert has become the go-to mecca outside of New York & Europe for culinary excellence and diversity.

With Vegas Uncork’d, Bon Appetit, known for its interesting arts outreach culminating as far as Sundance and Cannes, brings the progression together in one weekend to celebrate through a bevy of events the necessity on what is possible ranging from private dinners at outlays such as Mandalay Bay to the Grand Tasting at the Olympic Pools.

Beginning with the Saber-Off bringing all the chefs together in front of the Fountains of Bellagio, the balance of old school in Bradley Ogden to the new vision of Jose Andres wrangles through the white uniforms as Julian Serrano, knife in play, slices the champagne as the waters burst behind him.

Directly after, overlooking the waters within the Bellagio reception area, the distinctiveness of the culinary ideas begin anew starting with a wrapped salmon bite topped with a crisp and caviar followed by tangy pork belly skewer served with mango.

Not to be undone, a sliced grape filled with cream cheese and sprinkled with feta gave way to an inspired shandy mixing the cocktail with the undeniable Stella Artois. A wrapped cucumber roll with crab and caviar beautified as the closer of either a mocha or cheesecake lollipop wet the appetite for later travails.

The Centerpiece for the entire weekend rested within the wonder of the Grand Tasting held at the Olympic Pools of Caesars Palace. This grand visage transformed into a startling journey of food testing the different palettes and uplifting them in tandem.

Chef Lenger of Stripsteak [Mandalay Bay] began by initiating with seared octopus, hearty but smooth, while Chef Canteenwalla of Society Cafe [Encore] melted with a whitefish morsel surrounded with light greens.

Emoting in tandem, Chef Guia from Country Club [Wynn] offered zest with a tangy scallop topped in spice with a pork finish while Chef Walzof of Lake Side [Wynn] offered a scrumpious dollop of swordfish on a bed of tomatoes.

Broadening with a notion of desert and French styling, Chef Sohn of Eiffel Tower [Paris] offered up a smooth creme with a crisp sauteed with onions while Chef Maury of Jean Philippe Patisserie [Aria] indulged with similarity to the opening reception with a smooth mocha and cheesecake vision that skips the heart.

Hesitating momentarily at the Patron Bar near the pool card tables, the El Pepino mixing Silver with an intention of citrus and cilantro necessitates bite leads in the delicacy of Chef Michael Mina of American Fish [Aria] mixing greens and tart sauce with a vision of tuna and rice that allows for altered perception.

Providing the first part of a one/two punch for the evening, Chef Fujita of Marssa [Loews Lake Las Vegas] initiated with a brisk and vivid tuna taco, quick and vivacious, while Zach Allen of Carnevino [Palazzo] allowed for bountiful with a braised brisket slider.

Opting for a more spicy tendency, Chef Linquist of Dos Caminos [Palazzo] offered sauteed chicken bathed in onions while Chef Lagasse of Stadium [Palazzo] countered with a Creole Shrimp Po’Boy covered in jalepenos, bacon and tangy cole slaw.

Not to be undone, Social House [Crystals] continued the festivities with a duel-structured flavor optimizing salmon sashimi mixed with crispy shallots, tiny cilantro and curry vinaigrette countering with the tendencies of a pork belly in a pea-miso puree and pickled spring onion providing a subtle yang.

Within the middle of the melee with the pool circling around, Chef Pierre Gagnaire, known for his undeniable touch with Mandarin Oriental, stunned and delighted the crowd with a DJ set that drew both young and old with a sense of style, elegance and sheer mastery.

With Steve from Martorano’s [Rio] continuing to show his skillful mastery of Italian cuisine while embracing the heartier aspects of taste with his incomparable homemade meatballs served by his tantalizing servers as well as a bountiful eggplant mozzarella, Chef Pellegrini of Valentino [Venetian], who had his work cut out for him, balanced with a smooth and delectable ravioli bathed in pesto.

Chef Fujita of Marssa [Loews Lake Las Vegas] continued his mastery with what he deemed a “sushi cupcake” built with tuna, eel and caviar that was simply magnificent while Chef Takeshita of Sushi Roku [Caesars] countered with a hand roll tuna crisp that, while tangy, could not hold a candle to the cupcake.

Rounding out the celebration with a triple threat, Chef Meyer of Comme Ca [Cosmopolitan] envisioned a 18A Pencillin sip countered with a quail’s egg confit over bone marrow shavings completed with an apricot sponge creme, together providing a wonderful permutation to the evening’s festivities.

Discussing the finer points of “Eating Las Vegas” consummating its thoughts within a panel in the lofty perception of Jasmine, the evolution of desert cuisine becomes more defined. With the economy impacting the simple notion of this kind of life on a basic level, the celebrity chef culture (which once seemed the cornerstone of Vegas cuisine) is now evolving into a more simple food based culture. While “Twist” invariably is mentioned as a go-to spot, the absence of truly molecular gastronomy or a tapas-fueled Spanish fine dining establishment continues to fuel the fires of what could be. While the French revolution that sparked nearly ten years ago has settled into the notion of a diversified palette, Vegas does still rank among the best in the world.

Vegas Uncork’d shows that Las Vegas continues to bring together the best of culinary in the world buoyed by a culture reverent of both the ideas of established chefs and simply by the notion of good food transformed.

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