Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Fat Greek, or My Lunch with John Curtas.

A few weeks ago I "won" lunch with Las Vegas food critic extraordinaire John Curtas. After only one swing and a miss this humble food professional/critic was able to connect with the globe trotting attorney/Iron Chef Judge for a home run of a meal. We dined al fresco at The Fat Greek (NW Corner of Flamingo and Decatur, way in the back). The weather was wonderful, the food much better than expected, and the company knowledgeable and ready to eat. John normally talks enough for two, so generally you can sit back and listen to a man who has eaten in more restaurants, in this town alone, than I probably have in my life. We spoke of life (as it relates to food), food, business (of food), food, and even love (of food). And, most importantly, we also spoke of what was on the plate in front of us. The place does a better job than most at bringing Greek food to the masses. I say this because masses of Greek restaurants are unforgivably horrible. It was a good lunch, with mostly fresh ingredients and pleasant service. It is family run, which is always a plus in my book. So if you have a hankering for what is as close to a true Greek flavor as you can find in Las Vegas, Fat Greek may be the place for you.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

Fat Greek on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bar Boulud

I don't know that I can say much about this restaurant beyond that it is excellent. It is everything you expect from a Daniel Boulud eatery. The interior is modern, cool, and very comfortable (although the chairs are not built for dining, only for eating and become uncomfortable midway through your main course.) The service is good, servers are well trained and a sommelier is eager to help with a very nice wine list concentrating on Burgundies. The charcuterie plate was very good and leaned toward pates. The entrees were well executed, balanced and delicious, and dessert made me want more of the same. So go, expect something very good and you will not be let down.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

Bar Boulud on Urbanspoon

Purnima

When Chef Gordon Ramsay opens a restaurant of his own everyone wonders how many stars it will receive. When that same chef puts a restaurant on his show, Kitchen Nightmares, everyone wonders how long before the restaurant closes. On a recent visit to New York I had the privilege of going to one such restaurant from last season, Purnima. This place was a mess when Chef Ramsay arrived: shoddy management by committee, a filthy kitchen with little to no leadership, and a wild menu with very little that made anyone think Indian. Chef Ramsay brought in Vikas Khanna, a talented young Indian chef, cleaned, and trimmed the management fat.

My visit came a couple months after the show updating viewers on the state of Purnima and other Ramsay transformed locales. The interior is still nice, contemporary and sedate. The service is warm and solid, although I was served what seemed to be a merlot when I asked and was charged for a pinot noir. The menu is classic Indian; Samosas, Kormas, and Vindaloos, among others. The Samosas are just ok, I had better at another Indian place in the same trip. The lamb korma was very good, the meat perfectly done and the sauce well balanced. But two things stood out on my visit. The first, and most obvious, was that the place was empty. It was just me, the manager, two servers and the cooks. I am afraid Purnima may not last long. So while it is there go, if for no other reason, for the other outstanding little bit of Purnima, The Naan Bread. This Nan deserves capitalizing. It is by far the best I have ever tasted. So go for The Naan, stay for the food, and say hi to Chef Vikas while you’re there, but don’t just go in for a picture with him ladies.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

Purnima on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 6, 2008

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon


The following is an old review from December of 2005. The price of the Discovery menu has increased, but, according to all those I know who have gone since, this restaurant is still definitely worth the increased ticket price.

The Restaurant: L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon.
Location: MGM Grand across from the KA showroom.
Menu Decouverte (Discovery Menu) for 1 price: $95 plus drinks and tip.

The Skinny: Amazing. That one word easily sums up the entire experience of sitting at the bar at L'Atelier. In a location that abuts the super fancy, extremely high-end Joel Robuchon at the Mansion, this tiny, maybe forty seat workshop is not to be outdone by its big brother. The menu consists entirely of small portion choices, a sort of French inspired tapas bar, if you will. The best bang for your buck is definitely, as usual, the tasting menu, or in this case, the Discovery Menu. This ninety-five dollar choice is a bargain considering seven of the nine courses can be purchased a la carte for a total of $114. However, when dealing with cuisine of this magnitude, money should be no object. From the amuse-bouche (a vegetable fondant topped with an avocado cream) through the two featured desserts (Les Airelles: a chestnut confit topped with a cranberry milkshake; Le Chocolat: a chocolate pot de crème of sorts) the flavors and textures were all delightfully well balanced and spot on. The service was solid and not at all below expectation for an establishment of this caliber. There is a bonus for true foodies and culinarians: The seats at the bar allow full view of the kitchen and the masterful workings within. Of course, what would my review be without some mention of alcohol? I had a Mango Mojito, which was good, but not in my top three. I would recommend sticking with a glass of wine or two from their fine selection. One other warning, this experience is not recommended for anyone who cannot understand how textures and flavors can work together to create not something that just makes you say “That’s yummy”, but instead transcends and transports with its combinations.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

BOA Steakhouse


The Restaurant: BOA Steakhouse
Location: Top floor of the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Las Vegas
Dinner for 1 price: $72 plus tip

The Skinny: Very good food in hefty portions. The menu is Surf & Turf and features Kobe beef (Wagyu or American Kobe, specially raised hybrids of Angus and Kobe beef) for some of the steak options. I started with a Pomegranate Mojito. I could have had 6 of those things they were so good. Still, I am more impressed with the blueberry mojito at Spago and the Lavender mojito at Parasol Down in the Wynn. I went for the Market Menu which featured a choice of salads, entree and sides, and came with crème brulee for dessert. I had the Chop Chop Salad which consisted of chopped artichokes, salami, chick peas, olives, tomatoes, pine nuts, and provolone cheese. It wasn't a huge salad, but it was certainly filling and could be used as an entree for lighter eaters or someone saving room for dessert. For the entree I had the Kobe Flat Iron Steak. Very good meat, well seasoned, and the Cabernet sauce I chose for dipping was perfect. The sides for me were the fries, which apparently were sprinkled with a touch of truffle oil, and the mushrooms which were also wonderful, especially dipped in the cabernet sauce. By the time I got through all of this I was fairly full. The crème brule was nice, no more, no less. All in all this was an enjoyable meal; service was well above what I expect at this mid-range type Strip restaurant. The price is typical Strip (unfortunately) but the portions are typical steakhouse (fortunately). The meal I had would have left a light eating couple content. So, I recommend making this an entree only kind of place unless you split the Market Menu. The entrees with two sides are sufficient, then walk down the strip and find dessert elsewhere.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

Saturday, October 4, 2008