Della’s Kitchen Providing Farm-To-Table Cuisine at Delano Hotel

The one-year-old Della’s Kitchen at the Delano has embraced the farm-to-table concept in a big way. Rather than just provide lip service with a few locally grown ingredients, Chef Jay Calimlim has cultivated relationships with several local growers to incorporate a bevy of dishes made with ingredients grown one to two hours away, such as K&K, a hydroponic farm located in Pahrump just 60 miles away. Many of the menu items list the farms they are sourced from and it’s the first one in Las Vegas in which I’ve seen mention of Nevada lamb and beef from ranches in Nevada.

In addition, chickens are free range and along with the beef are hormone and chemical free. Using the freshest, healthy and natural ingredients also allows for Chef Calimlim and his team to make as many items as possible from scratch, with all sauces, breads, jellies and jams made in-house. And the taste testifies to its goodness. Be sure to try the spicy homemade BBQ sauce that accompanies the Smoky Wings served with great presentation under a dome dosed with smoke and sugar free banana/berry jam that comes with the homemade corn bread.

Restaurant Manager Justin Crowe says lots of local foodies have taken notice and have become regulars. Although the restaurant is currently only open for breakfast and lunch, it has proven to be quite successful, and providing room service to the Delano’s 1,100 rooms, to the Franklin lounge in the evenings and squeezed juices for 3940 Coffee & Tea, helps keep them busy. Themed dinners have also been very popular and plans are to offer them three or more times a year. A recent “Rustic Harvest” dinner featured a four-course dinner paired with premium wines with dishes such as roasted squash salad, braised Durham Ranch pork cheeks, Durham Ranch venison loin and dessert of spiced caramelized apple confit.

The menu allows you to be healthy or splurge and is coded to Gluten Free and Smart Plate items having 700 calories or less, such as the Market Vegetables entrée with white bean puree, seasonal vegetables, pea tendrils and morel jus or Pan-Roasted Chicken Breast with Shelton’s free-range chicken, potato puree, spring vegetables and morel jus. Vegetarians have several items to choose from, such as house-made Granola; Tomato Salad with heirloom tomato, pea puree, salt-roasted beets, burrata and pea tendrils; Truffled Pappardelle with English peas, forest mushrooms and truffle butter; and Quinoa Cereal comprised of sliced banana, Pudwill Farms berries, almonds, chia seeds and soy milk. Indulgent items include Blackened Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp served with two types of grits: white hominy and local aged cheddar; Lamb Sliders with spiced Nevada lamb, pickled red onion, feta, K&K arugula and harissa aioli; and desserts of Crème Brulee, Apple Cobbler and Oreo Cheesecake.

As for the restaurant’s environment, there’s a casual relaxed ambience with wood tones and warm colors of yellow, aqua blue, lime green and brown and shelves lined with multi-colored jars and bottles alluding to the farm-to-table theme; and the space is open to the walkway to the Mandalay Bay allowing for people watching. Della’s Kitchen is self described as a farm-to-table comfort food café, but based on my experience, it goes well beyond, with fine dining quality at café prices.

Chef Arnaud Masset and Chef Nicole Erle Now at Aureole

Over the summer, Charlie Palmer brought in two new team members to leadership roles at Aureole. Parisian born and classically trained Arnaud Masset, who has worked at numerous restaurants throughout France, and was most recently executive chef of the Palms, is the new executive chef. Nicole Erle, a graduate of the CIA in Hyde Park, NY, who served as executive pastry chef for all of Wolfgang Puck’s seven Vegas restaurants, has taken over as executive pastry chef.

Chef Palmer joined his new chefs for a media tasting of the new menu. We were treated to Ahi Tuna Tartare with watermelon and fried soft quail egg and wasabi ponzu that merged the creaminess of ahi with the crunch of watermelon; slow poached Foie Gras Torchon, which broke the rules with a very rich and sweet frozen foie gras mousse in a course that was not a dessert but worked wonderfully well; Ora King Salmon with a red wine shallot crust, polenta and citrus butter kept moist by the cedar plank it was cooked on; Braised Short Rib Gras Ravioli with wild mushroom and a pesto-like fragrant basil and parmesan emulsion; Galantine of Jidori Chicken with king crab, mushroom herb jus and Brussels sprouts leaves; Tropical Rum Baba, a fruit salad with lemongrass sherbet; and Pumpkin Spice Cake with milk chocolate mousse and pumpkin pie ice cream.

All of the aforementioned dishes are being gradually added to the menu and after enjoying this stupendous tasting I can confidently report that this Mandalay Bay restaurant has not missed a beat with the transition, as Vincent Pouessel moved on to take the executive chef position at Daniel Boulud’s DB Brasserie.