Wine Talk with Alice Swift
Emeril’s Fish House – Scott McSimov
Last month, I visited Emeril’s Fish House for the first time. The New Orleans style restaurant owned by Emeril Lagasse opened in 1995, within and alongside the opening of the MGM Grand Hotel.
So what makes this restaurant stand out from the rest? Aside from being the first Emeril Lagasse restaurant bringing New Orleans cooking to Las Vegas, the venue also has fresh fish flown in, with daily specials and prix fixe menus available. Their wine menu is also quite unique, as there are selections from regions all around the world, including many undiscovered wines you will not find in your typical restaurant or retail store.
The Restaurant Manager and Working Sommelier is Scott McSimov, whose first venture into the Emeril Lagasse world began at Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian Resort Casino in the back of the house. During his 10 years there, he moved his way up and over to the front of the house, and ended up as an events coordinator prior to accepting his current position at Emeril’s Fish House. In total, McSimov has been with the company about 15 years. The General Manager, Sean Watson, also has been with the company for just under 20 years, working his way up over the years as well. It’s clear to see that company and leadership loyalty is pretty typical, which shows the appreciation and dedication to the Emeril Lagasse brand, mission and culture.
Despite the fact that the restaurant has a focus on seafood e.g., fresh fish and live oyster bar, they have also chosen to evolve to the ever-changing market, with items like steak and happy hour specials. Their wine list consistently receives Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence for its 1300+ wines. Amazingly, their reserve wine list even includes wines purchased from the restaurant opening, such as DRC Grand Cru Burgundy wines from the early 1980s and very reasonably priced, I might add!.
Of course, the wines by-the-glass program is a big seller, but McSimov chooses to offer flights/tastings for beverages beyond just wine, like fortified wine, tequilas, etc. These alternative selections are essential to the restaurant’s success due to the range of guests they have, from Wet Republic clubbers, to convention attendees. Guests also have the option to sit at the Chef’s Table, with a perfect view of the kitchen, and a special menu of 5-6 courses with a wine pairing menu option.
When it comes to wine and guest service, McSimov employs a simple but commendable strategy: “The story sells the wine… you can’t get focused on the label, [you must] see past it.” During server training, McSimov chooses to share the story behind the wines, with a focus on the history and foundation of the wine, rather than just tasting and sharing the characteristics of the wines themselves. Listening to the winemaker tell their story of how the wine came to be leaves a lasting impression, and telling that wine maker or producer’s story will help leave guests with a lasting impression. Of course, the wine quality must be there as well, but that should be a given.
Be sure to stop by Emeril’s Fish House at the MGM Grand Hotel the next chance you get! If you like scallops, McSimov recommends pairing the Seared Sea Scallops with the Philipps Eckstein Riesling Kabinett Graacher Himmelrich Mosel, Germany.
McSimov’s Wine Picks:
• Agnitio Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley
• Paul Lato’s Suerte or The Prospect
• Tom Reuling Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast
1. McSimov is a self-proclaimed “hobbyist,” working with materials such as woods, metals and electronics, producing some of the furniture and other items used in his own home.
2. In addition, McSimov loves cooking: “Kitchen is my therapy.” His cuisine of choice is “Mexitteranean,” which he calls creative cooking, fusing Mexican dishes with Mediterranean spices.
3. McSimov used to own a bed and breakfast in Utah.
I must say that after my first time visit, I have been “reeled in” and will make Emeril’s Fish House one of my regular stops when it comes to quality seafood and wine. Take a look at a few of the photos from my experience with Emeril’s Fish House for some of my favorites of the evening!
Until next month, Cheers~!