photo by Bill Bokelmann

Searsucker Continues to Offer an Impressive and Diverse Menu

Searsucker at Caesars Palace pulled out all the stops last month, with a media tasting of its diverse menu hosted by Chef/Owner Brian Malarkey and Executive Chef Stephen LaSala. We sampled so many menu items that it would almost be easier to list those we didn’t try, but here goes: The feast included spicy hamachi & avocado, heirloom tomato & burrata, charred octopus ceviche, roasted bone marrow, calamari steak, grilled Atlantic salmon, bone-in NY steak, beer braised short ribs, braised pork butt, diver scallops, jidori organic chicken; and sides of jalapeno-chorizo corn, roasted brussels sprouts with walnuts and bacon mac & cheese. And, as if that wasn’t enough, we finished with NY-style cheesecake with chocolate ganache, the to-die-for melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chunk cookies and rocky road bread pudding that arrived with a dramatic flair — with its marshmallows ablaze providing a campfire-esque touch.

One of the best aspects of the gathering was getting to meet Top Chef reality TV competitor, restaurant empire builder, celebrity Chef Brian Malarkey, who opened his first Searsucker 7 years ago and now owns 14 restaurants in Las Vegas, L.A., San Diego and Austin with two more on the way in Waikiki and Cabo. Chef said, “We are not a chain restaurant. Our chefs are not handcuffed but are free to do what they want as long as it fits the theme.” When asked how he landed in the culinary, world he added, “After college I was always cooking for friends and my dad said, ‘you should do this.’ So I went to culinary school and my first job was working for Michel Richard at Citrus in L.A..”

Hats off to both chefs for pulling off such a well-rounded tasting, and also to Chef Brian for sharing his gregarious and affable personality.

Delmonico Steakhouse Unveils Its Own Whiskey

It’s only fitting that a restaurant with a vast selection of more than 700 whisky, bourbon and single malts, reputedly the largest in Las Vegas, would want to procure its own bourbon. Last month Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian released the W.L. Weller Private Barrel Antique 107 Single Barrel Select and I was honored to be one of a select group of journalists to be the first to experience it. The bourbon was produced by the well-respected Weller brand, which is named for the original company owned by Julian “Pappy” van Winkle. Eight months ago Emeril’s Las Vegas team, led by Director of Operations Mike Olsen, traveled to the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky and hand-selected the bourbon that had been aged in a barrel labeled #29, to become the restaurant’s own. The barrel filled 156 one-liter bottles, all of which now belong to the Emeril’s Las Vegas restaurants and the barrel is proudly on display at Delmonico.

Using the same exact recipe as the legendary Pappy van Winkle and distilled and matured at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, this specific barrel was filled on 12-16-2010 and stored on the 7th floor, where it was aged for six years and five months and bottled at 107 proof. This bourbon is made with wheat instead of rye and after tasting it, I can verify that it is extremely well balanced and complex, and like Goldilock’s porridge and bed, is not too hot, not too soft, but is just right. It works straight or in a cocktail, such as Delmonico Lead Bartender Lillian Hargrove’s creation titled “Six Degrees of Separation” containing Weller 107, Domaine de Canton, honey syrup, pink grapefruit juice and lemon juice. Available exclusively at Delmonico Steakhouse, Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House, Table 10 and Lagasse’s Stadium, it is priced at $14 per 1.5 oz. pour, or $15 for a cocktail.

During the tasting we also got to enjoy Chef Ronnie Rainwater’s new bar snack menu, a collection of delectable bites that includes Caviar Deviled Eggs, Truffle Parmesan Potato Chips, House-made Pork Cracklings and Wagyu Meatballs. I suggest you head over soon to try both Chef’s new menu and this superb bourbon.