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Inside the Aladdin
I know Thanksgiving is over, but I'm still giving thanks that Commander's Palace has finally opened. After a tortured construction history that caused a two-month delay in the opening, we now have a taste of New Orleans right in front of the Desert Passage that pays delicious homage to the Big Easy's original. In New Orleans, Commander's Palace is consistently at or near the top of the restaurant heap in a serious restaurant town that is serious about its food. AS the flagship of the Brennan family, it has set the standard for Creole food since 1880; which means they've been cooking crayfish etoufee there since before Las Vegas was even thought of. And before he ever was thought of, much less surrounded by press agents and sycophants, Emeril Lagasse sharpened his talents as Commander's executive chef. That was after another cooking heavyweight, Paul Prudhomme, left to open K-Paul's--the place that really put spicy food on America's eating map. With this pedigree, one would imagine that the Brennan's have this restaurant thing knocked, and they do. Like the Maccioni's of New York, they refuse to spread themselves too thin, insuring that quality control and reputation remain high and intact.
And what quality it is. My partner in crime, John Bonds of Taste of Vegas fame, took one sip of their turtle soup and now can't get enough of the stuff. Commander's short menu is faithful to its Louisiana roots and full of upscale odes to Creole cooking that set it deliciously apart from other high-end eateries. Appetizers like Tasso Shrimp Henican, are so good that no one will want to share them. Seasonings are strong but subtle. . .normally an oxymoron, but not for this kitchen. They won't knock your socks off in a Cajun way, but from the Lyonnaise fish to the Colorado Lamb Chops, everything dances in the mouth. Italians call this effect, saltimbocca, and you will be calling for Chef Carlos Guia to thank him after one bite of his seafood stew.
I'm telling you folks, this place hit the ground running--well it's had 120 years of practice--and is already one of the best restaurants in town. I guarantee.
This is John Curtas.