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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was 2001…a gastronomic odessy.
Anyone can do a 'best of list' at the end of December. But I have decided to bestow a unique set of awards —unfettered by advertising – on those places that tickled and tortured my taste buds over the past twelve months…so here they go.
Best new restaurant…Joseph’s Brasserie in the Desert or is it deserted Passage. Chef Nick Webber turns out some faithful reproductions of classic French Dishes, that will knock your socks off if you bother to put your foot in the door of this exceptional restaurant.
Worst meal of the year; the Salmonella surprise at the Goulash Pot…’nuff said.
Best Restaurant on the Northeast side of town: None—it’s the sides of town that no one talks about…or apparently eats out in, either.
Worst Makeover: Spage. The money they spent to make this place ugly would astound you…luckily, the designers didn’t get a hold of the chefs.
Best Restaurant that’s closest to my house: Nozomi…Domo Arigato Nozomi.
Worst Affluent Neighborhood to dine out in: Monochrome…er…uh… I mean Green Valley. Actually we’re retiring this award this year since Greenspun Valleyites seem content to dine in mediocrity forever.
Best Places to see strippers: Luv it Custard…with the Western Special Sundae in one hand, and a twenty in the other, of course.
Weirdest Food of the Year: Those gelatinous tapioca tea ball drinks at Tea Planet.
Best Blend of Tired Food and Old…and I mean REALLY Old Vegas: The New Bootlegger.
The Pha pha pha pha Phenomenon of the Year: All those Vietnamese Pho parlors springing up like rolls all over Spring Mountain Road.
Saddest Loss of the Year: The passing of Jean-Louis Palladin and the closing of Napa. Along with Wolfgang Puck, Jean-Louis did more to put Vegas on the culinary world map than any other chef. Every one of us should toast this amazing innovator anytime we take a bite of peekytoe crab, diver scallops, or free range chicken.
So there you have them….our picks and pans for two thousand one. As we complete our odessy I leave you with a toast for the new year…by that well-known scribe and imbiber Ben Franklin:
Be at war with your vices at peace with your neighbors and at home with those you love, and let every new year find you a better person.