Photos by Travis Tagala

Reaching the final months of Epicurean Society’s fall semester, the team decided to focus on more relaxed, social aspects of being an organization rather than the tight programming or coordination. A core activity of our club is to visit restaurants or food sources. The organization outing for the month of October took place at the ‘Block 16 Urban Food Hall’ on the second floor of The Cosmopolitan. 

Block 16 in The Cosmopolitan is a novel and unique culinary experience on the Las Vegas Strip which opened on August 31, 2018. There is a wide selection of dishes and sources to choose from: District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew, Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Lardo, Pok Pok Wing and Tekka Bar: Handroll & Sake. Epicurean members stopped at each eatery to understand the distinction among its neighboring snack spaces.

District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew began and was developed in New Orleans and its transition to the west coast has established a strong start within the Las Vegas community. Their entire menu is entirely fresh, and all items are made from scratch. Guests will be able to help themselves to espresso drinks, coffee, juices, teas, breakfast dishes as well as items for lunch and dinner. Their entrees combine savory and pastry: for example, their Croque Madame is a donut topped with a sunny-side up egg which sandwiches Applewood smoked ham, cheese, Dijon and béchamel. And, don’t get me wrong: They make amazing sliders (cheeseburger, chicken or pork belly) and just as you’d expect from their brand name. 

Epicurean members were entranced by the Hattie B’s Hot Chicken menu for quite some time, due to its focus on comfort dishes and the south (Nashville, specifically). Students were drawn to the fried chicken plates and enticing portion sizes with two sides, bread and pickles. Their heat levels, which made several members smirk at the sight, are named: SOUTHERN (no heat), MILD (touch of heat), MEDIUM (warming up), DAMN HOTT!! (fire starter) and finally, SHUT THE CLUCK UP!!! (a burn notice). Their dipping sauces were to be expected, but the Nashville Comeback Sauce caught our eye.

As members continued to explore Block 16, our hunger and appetite grew exponentially with the scents and kitchen sounds filling the air. The next visit was with Lardo, a sandwich joint offering larger sandwiches and more flavors. This dining concept was introduced to The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas by Portland Chef Rick Gencarelli: He introduced bold flavors and a couple of the sandwiches provide an appropriate insight into perspective. The Bronx Bomber sandwich consists of shaved steak, house provolone “whiz,” roasted and pickled peppers, vinegar mayo and shredded lettuce. Lardo’s Griddled Mortadella takes guests on a flavor journey especially with Mama Lil’s peppers, mustard aioli mortadella and provolone.

Several members decided to order from our second-to-last stop, Pok Pok Wing. Created by Chef Andy Ricker, this eatery concept was inspired by Portland influence. The restaurant’s menu contains many sweet, sticky sauces and glazes in supplement to the crispy bites of caramelized garlic and meat. Our team members ordered the Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings and the Ike’s Wing Special. While the taste was stronger than expected, the wings were cooked to an enjoyable crunch and the balance between sweet and savory was well executed. However, the experience with the smell was slightly less pleasant.

Epicurean Society made its final stop to the Tekka Bar: Handroll & Sake. Las Vegas’s restauranteur, Takashi Segawa, created this idea after being inspired from Japan’s ancient gaming destination from over 100 years ago. In Japanese, Tekka Ba translates to the old gambling place. Guests are able to order in roll sets (threesome, foursome and highroller) and are provided the option of sashimi and handrolls.

Block 16 Urban Food Hall has developed into a hub of novelty restaurant concepts and regionally authentic tastes. With the conclusion of Epicurean Society’s final restaurant outing for the semester, we turned our attention to “Breaking Barriers” which is a Hospitality Student Leaders social event hosted by Eta Sigma Delta.

At UNLV, Breaking Barriers is a student-hosted event which invites all of the hospitality clubs on campus and unites them to maintain partnerships and connections. Epicurean Society provided a buffet-style course for the event which included elote corn off-the-cob, chips and salsa and taco chip cups. The mixer provided plentiful opportunities for leaders to speak open-mindedly about their visions and ideas for their organizations.

With December fast approaching, Epicurean Society will host a winter fundraiser during the final exam study week from December 5-6. The fundraiser will be holiday-themed and will provide individuals with goodie snacks for stress relief and energy. The leadership team has agreed to create this program as a way to catapult up from fall semester with a bang.