Photos by Chef Marty Lopez, Dave Canela and courtesy of PT’s and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill.
Chef Marty Lopez Now Heading the Kitchen at Herringbone
A few months back, after Chef Geno Bernardo left his executive chef position at the ocean-to-table concept Herringbone at Aria, the reigns were handed off to Marty Lopez, a very gifted chef who has more than 15 years of experience working for high-profile Las Vegas restaurants. Born in the Philippines, Chef Marty moved to the US when he was 12, and began cooking at the young age of 5. As he frequently went with his grandpa to the market, learning how to pick produce, he quips that as a child: “cooking was my baseball.” Chef’s previous executive chef positions were at Andre’s Bistro & Bar and 35 Steaks + Martinis; and in 2012 was part of the opening team for Bacchanal Buffet and Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill at Caesars Palace. He also gained valuable experience working in the kitchens of Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian, The Capital Grille at Fashion Show Mall and was mentored by chef André Rochat while he worked at Mistral, Andre’s Restaurant & Lounge at Monte Carlo and Alizé at the Top of the Palms.
Speaking of his new position, Chef says, “I’m thankful that I’ve been given the freedom to have at it, be myself, work with ingredients and flavors I’m familiar with and draw from my background and experience.” And evidently he is doing exactly that, as a new menu has been rolled out, with 95% of the items new dishes created by the talented longtime Las Vegan.
I happily allowed Chef to cook for us and he proceeded to bring out nearly the whole menu. Unfortunately space won’t allow mention of all of them, but here are some of my favorites: Crudo of the Day—Tuna Tataki with 5-spice and shaved foie gras; Shrimp & Scallop Aguachile—avocado, cilantro, cucumber flowers, crispy lotus chips and Mexican bay scallop & Florida rock shrimp marinated in cucumber water, serrano and lime; Blue Crab & Corn Bisque—lump crab, cilantro, roasted corn, ginger and saffron; Vegetable Fritto Misto—a large shareable tempura-style crispy vegetable patty with champagne vinaigrette; Viking Village Scallops—New Jersey jumbo-sized scallops with carrot puree, morels, English peas and squid ink adobo; Day Boat Halibut—asparagus, roasted eggplant, summer squash and tamarind broth; and a Herringbone mainstay served at all Herringbone locations: Buffalo Octopus—a play on chicken wings, 6-7 hour-braised Spanish octopus marinated and fried in Frank’s Red Hot sauce.
From this tasting it’s quite evident that Chef Marty is utilizing what he learned about cooking seafood while at Alizé, as well as drawing from his family background and stellar experience in some of Las Vegas’ finest establishments. Herringbone is open daily for lunch, small bites, dinner and weekend bunch and is the only restaurant at Aria offering an option of al fresco dining. To view all of the menus visit herringboneeats.com/locations/las-vegas/menus.
Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill Bringing the Cuisine of the Iconic Chef to Downtown Summerlin
Austrian celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has been awarded two James Beard awards and multiple Michelin stars and has built an empire of restaurants throughout the world. His Spago is recognized by many for igniting Las Vegas’ dining scene when it debuted at Caesars Palace in 1992, after which he followed with Cut, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, Cucina and Lupo on the Vegas Strip. But in 2014 he introduced his bar & grill concept to the burbs, opening his first eatery off of the Strip: Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at Downtown Summerlin.
Manning the kitchen is Chef de Cuisine Tim Duda. Raised in New Jersey, he has been with the Puck group for four years, and worked at Cucina in CityCenter and Lupo at Mandalay Bay before leaving the Strip. Chef relates that the menu is a collaboration with all of the chefs in the company, with 95% of the menu unique from other Puck concepts and 75% the same as the same-named concept at the MGM Grand.
Chef Duda works closely alongside General Manager Devyn McLaughlin, who was hired in February with intentions and goals to move up within the company, and after beginning as a server to learn every aspect of the Wolfgang brand, after a month moved to lead bartender and shortly after was promoted to GM. Also moving up through the ranks is Banquet Manager Ian Cordero, whose career with Puck began as a server in 2013 at Cucina and after also spending time at Spago and opening the Summerlin location, in 2017 stepped into his role as manager.
As for the aforementioned menu, a must-have is the simply-made but quite addictive Truffle Chips topped with a blue cheese sauce and just the right amount of truffle. Another great starter is the Hummus Vegetable Crudite with sourdough pita made from the same starter Wolfgang Puck introduced to his restaurants more than 30 years ago.
Loyal Knights fans will want to check out the Vegas Golden Knights Shrimp Basil Pesto Pizza, which was created by Nate Schmidt and Wolfgang Puck, and is so delicious Nate may have a future in menu design once his NHL hockey career is over. This collaboration is only fitting, as Schmidt’s business involves playing with a “Puck” and Wolfgang initially gained fame for his pizza at Spago.
Main course delights include the Spicy Calabrian Brick Chicken served with shishito peppers, which despite the name only brings mild heat to the table, and also big flavors. The rotating Oven Roasted Market Fish during our visit was a delectable halibut served in a white wine butter sauce with spinach, summer squash and corn puree. Another stellar fish entrée is the Salmon en Papillote, cooked and served in parchment paper to retain its moisture, accompanied with roasted tomatoes and fennel. The 8-hour Braised Beef Short Ribs was an enjoyable, hearty dish, but it was outshined by the rich, creamy polenta it was accompanied with.
Two desserts unique to this location are the Crème Brulee made with fresh vanilla bean (no extract) topped with blackberries and blueberries; and Cheesecake Fromage Blanc made with ricotta served with fresh berries. One that is found at all Puck restaurants is the Chocolate Chip Cookies, which are made from scratch and religiously follow Wolfgang Puck’s iconic recipe.
Another example of distinctiveness can be found in the cocktail list. The Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned utilizes both a rye and bourbon (the brands change periodically, but usually are Buffalo Trace and Bulleit Rye), which are barrel aged for three months before being mixed with orange, bitters and the not-too-sweet demerara.
Prices are reasonable (mostly in the $10-$25 range), especially considering you are experiencing the cuisine of the renowned Wolfgang Puck, and are considerably less than those found at his Strip locations. Show up during daily happy hour from 3-7 p.m. and prices plunge to $3-$10 on items such as chicken wings, calamari and shrimp ceviche; featured beer drafts and wine by the glass for $5; and cocktails for $5-$7. And, oenophiles will appreciate the ½ off on bottles of Rose deal during Sunday brunch and ½ off bottles of wine Mon.-Thu.
PT’s Entertainment Group Launches New Happy Hour
PT’s Entertainment Group currently comprises 59 taverns throughout the Las Vegas Valley and Nevada (reportedly more outlets than Starbucks!), including PT’s Pub, PT’s Gold, PT’s Ranch, PT’s Brewing Company, Sean Patrick’s, Sierra Gold and SG Bar, all of which are open 24 hours daily. Its new happy hour can be found across all of its locations, and best of all, the deals are offered twice daily: from 5-7 p.m. and midnight-2 a.m.
Director of Culinary Scott Green (whose resume includes opening the Bacchanal Buffet and more recently heading Robert Irvine’s Public House) has created the menu, which I learned first-hand offers not only great deals (all priced from $6-$8) but excellent quality. Selections priced at $6 include mildly spicy Sriracha Chicken Bites and Potato Skins loaded with bacon and PT’s beer cheese; $7 selections include innovative Chicken Parmesan Sliders; and flatbreads, including Three-cheese, Meat Feast, The Gilroy and Buffalo Chicken, are $8. All are great choices, but the standout has to be the Pub Burger for only $7, which at a generously-portioned half pound, served with fries, is more food than most could handle in one sitting, and is as good as burgers I’ve enjoyed in specialty gourmet restaurants, making it the best deal in town for a burger of this quality.
Drink deals are half-off all drafts (including PT’s own locally-made craft brews like the 2017 GABF award-winning Boulder Stout), select wine choices (such as Trinity Oaks) and several premium wells (includes Buffalo Trace, Bulleitt and Pendleton bourbon).