Two Delectable Media Tastings at Caesars Palace
Innovative Dining Group combined a celebration of its 20th anniversary with a media tasting of the fall menu of Sushi Roku in The Forum Shops at Caesars that blended traditional Japanese ingredients with European and North American favorites. The sampling we enjoyed was so extensive it would almost be easier to list what items on the menu we didn’t try, as we were treated to no less than 15 menu delights. Our hosts for the evening were Executive Chef Haruhiko Takeshita, Chef du Cuisine Allen Watkins and General Manager Johnny Seo, who took turns explaining the dishes as they were placed before us.
Highlights included toro carpaccio made of bluefin tuna belly (the best part of the fish) with oscietra caviar, tamari soy and kizami wasabi; octopus crudo with yuzu kosho; bamboo rice risotto with shrimp, scallop and fresh truffles; Nova Scotia lobster tail pan-seared and roasted with yuzu citrus butter, ginger and garlic; rib eye tobanyaki with sweet sesame soy sauce and truffle oil; gensai roll composed of seared togarashi salmon, avocado and kisami wasabi topped with yuzu sauce; Roku ramen with grilled shrimp, chilled ramen, cucumber and poached egg; and dessert of carnival cheesecake with berry compote that was enveloped in cotton candy and was dramatically revealed after being set afire and burning off the sugary pillow.
As usual, the Innovative Dining Group lived up to its name, as the Sushi Roku team pulled out all the stops in showing what a versatile menu they can turn out, with exceptional quality and a definite wow factor.
Searsucker Executive Chef Stephen Lasala impressed us once again at a media tasting of his latest menu. The tasting was certainly a feast with calamari steak with chili honey glaze; fig toast with black farmer’s cheese and desert honey; fried pig’s ears with lime, cilantro and sea salt; bone marrow with fresno chili bourbon glaze; biscuits; made from scratch burger; brick chicken with lemon, garlic and blistered tomatoes; drunken skirt steak with beer marinade; rib-eye tomahawk with chimichurri and demi-glace; roasted cauliflower steak with romesco, tomato jam, caper and vinaigrette; side dishes galore; and desserts, including Searsucker’s famously delicious chocolate chip cookies and s’mores. I highly recommend you make your way over to Caesars soon to try these for yourself.
Gourmet Dining in a Casual Setting in the Burbs Without the Strip Price Tag
Andre Rochat is renowned for being Las Vegas’ first celebrity chef and one of the first classically trained French chefs to bring true gourmet dining to our city, opening his groundbreaking eponymous restaurant in 1980 in Downtown Las Vegas. Sadly, his Andre’s fine dining venues on the Strip and Alize at the top of the Palms (closing after NYE) are becoming recent memories, but fortunately for us, his legacy lives on in the burbs, at Andre’s Bistro & Bar.
Open since January, 2017 and located in an unassuming strip-mall at Ft. Apache and Patrick, the Bistro is founded by Andre Rochat and is a joint venture by Managing Partners Joseph Marsco, Mark Purdy and John Wood. The eminent Chef is now retired, but visits often and is a big part of the menu. Mark Purdy oversees the kitchen and comes with plenty of experience to make him a good fit. The Nantucket native began his career 29 years ago washing dishes and as he puts it, attended the school of hard knocks, working virtually every job in a restaurant. His resume includes 10 years with Charlie Palmer at Aureole in NYC, opening the Aureole at Mandalay Bay and at Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in Sonoma; and at Chef Andre’s Mistral at the former LV Hilton and more recently at Alize before coming over to open the Bistro.
The décor includes more than a few hints to Chef Andre’s illustrious past, with the lampshades and sign from Andre’s at the Monte Carlo in the private dining room and a handful of his favorite menus from years past decorating the walls. Other accoutrements include a polished concrete floor, earth tones of burnt orange and taupe, hanging globe lights and large windows allowing for an abundance of natural light.
The menu has a bit of everything, all done to a very high standard, but without the kind of prices you’d find on the Strip; and any second bottle of wine is always priced 50% off and several full portion menu items and drinks are available throughout the restaurant at a discounted price during the daily happy hour from 3-6 p.m.
Not-to-miss items are the French onion soup with gruyere cheese ($10, $7 during happy hour); melt-in-your-mouth seared foie gras with fuji apple ($24); artisanal sausages with spicy lamb, pork-garlic, duck and smoked bacon ($20, $15 during happy hour); moules frites—Cape Cod mussels with tomato concasse and duck fat fries ($24, $15 during happy hour); and daily specials such as the beef bourguignon (beef tenderloin braised in red wine with bacon, mushrooms and pearl onions) that I enjoyed. For a more casual and extremely reasonably priced option, the burgers, served with duck fat or sweet potato fries, are ground in-house and come in choices of Thai chicken, lamb, salmon and beef ($12-14 and all four are $7 during happy hour).
Capably manning the bar is Lead Bartender Cameron Hagg, who serves 50 wines, a dozen whiskeys and classic and signature cocktails, like the Violet Beauregarde with vodka, elderflower liqueur, Crème Violette, Cocchi Americano and lemon juice.
For the ultimate finale you will need to plan ahead and order with your entrée, as the Andre’s classic soufflé, which comes in options of chocolate or Grand Marnier, requires extra time to reach perfection.
While we are disappointed the Strip renditions of Andre’s are no more, we are indebted to the team of Marsco, Purdy and Wood for keeping the legendary chef’s legacy alive, and at a price that most should be able to handle. Andre’s Bistro & Bar is open from 3 p.m. and from 10 a.m. on weekends.
High End Dining in a Cozy and Quiet Environment
Chef/Owner Matthew Meyer’s Served restaurant is proof that you don’t need to be in a stuffy fancy setting to enjoy gourmet presentation. The small, but quaint space with only 12 tables is tucked away in the back of a business plaza at Valley Verde and Horizon Ridge across from the McDonald Highlands neighborhood in Henderson. It is a relaxed setting, with white faux wood floor, mahogany wood chairs, wood panel ceiling and large windows.
Although he received classic French training at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, there are plenty of global influences on Chef Meyer’s menu. You’ll find Scottish salmon prepared with a citrusy Thai panang curry; chipotle chicken taco—smokey chipotle chicken topped with fresh mango salsa and cabbage slaw; tocilog (Filipino breakfast) with sweet cured pork, garlic fried rice and atchara (pickled papaya); Peruvian lomo saltado—filet of beef sautéed with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and potatoes with a sunny side up egg & plantains; bahn mi Vietnamese sandwich with marinated roasted pork belly, cilantro, jalapeno, pickled radish and carrots; and shrimp pappardelle—pan-seared jumbo shrimp, beef stock, bone marrow butter, green peas, shallots, broccolini and fresh basil garnished with fresh Parmesan. It’s also unlikely anyone will leave hungry, as portions are quite generous, like the selection of burgers, which are piled high 12-oz patties in eight options such as short rib chili, teriyaki and classic cheeseburger. Chef Meyers uses plenty of fresh vegetables and quality ingredients and all dishes arrive to your table with beautiful presentation, as you would expect from a Le Cordon Bleu grad.
Prices average between $12 to $20 and an exceptionally good deal is during the daily happy hour from 2-6 p.m. with $3 beer, $5 wine, tacos for $3 each, sliders for $5 each and the humongous burger and a beer for $15.
Hours are Mon.-Tue. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wed.-Sun. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.