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Strip Steak
Photography by Sabin Orr

High Steaks: Americana's strip steak with chimichurri sauce

Changing Tastes

Desert Companion

Variety is the spice of Americana’s assured, eclectic menu — and the secret to its unlikely buzz

Situated in the northwest valley, Americana is far from the Strip both geographically and psychically, but tourists are already finding their way to the recently opened restaurant. “I’d say maybe 20, 25 percent are out-of-towners. We get a lot of people coming in from California,” says chef Stephen Blandino, who also tries to create a sense of the “new” for repeat local diners. “We’re always trying to think of something different, so if you walk in here, it’s a different experience.” That commitment to variety is served by a weekly harvest menu, as well as a range of holiday dinners, wine tastings, and cooking classes.

Poached Golden Egg

All that glitters: Linguine carbonara with poached egg dusted with edible gilt powder.

It makes sense that the restaurant’s buzz can be heard from a distance. Americana is serving some of the most creative food in the valley — dishes that are contemporary without being trendy, and luxurious without being ostentatious. A salad fills tiny red endive leaves with goat cheese to present two common ingredients in a new way — it looks like a plate of rosebuds and tastes what you imagine a rosebud would taste like. Linguine carbonara with house-made pasta is also artfully composed: a briefly poached “golden” egg, dusted with edible gilt powder, is ready to ooze into the buttery, cheesy pasta with the merest poke of your fork. And grilled octopus doesn’t try to disguise the main ingredient in marinades and breading as on many menus. Poached and then grilled, it’s served with a mixture of sausage and olives that provides hints of salt and brine while adding texture. There are even more subtle contrasts, like the foie gras foam on Americana’s butternut squash soup; they’re both rich, both smooth, but one is lighter than the other, a contrast enhanced by the waiter pouring the soup at your table.

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The cocktails are likewise elegantly crafted: Roosevelt’s Smoked Old-Fashioned is a concoction of house-brand Jefferson Reserve bourbon, maple syrup, and bitters that arrives in a glass box full of flavorful smoke that unfurls as you remove your drink, like a ghost or a magic trick. A grapefruit-accented variant on the Moscow Mule and a bourbon smash with so many berries it’s practically a dessert will please less exotic tastes.

The setting at Americana is also worth savoring: It sits on the side of a manmade lake, abundant water and lush green lawns making diners forget they are in Vegas. The only glittering lights are those that adorn the small boats drifting around the lagoon. You can even take a stroll before or after your meal — just watch out for the ducks and swans wandering across your path or the occasional oblivious jogger.

One way Americana’s menu reflects the seasons, beyond its vast plate-glass windows, is through the weekly harvest dinners: Appetizer, entrée, and dessert, accompanied by unlimited wine pairings. One week a silky, nutty cauliflower soup was adorned with velvety truffle-poached scallops — a smooth taste that contrasted nicely with the spicier entrée of strip steak with a peppery green chimichurri sauce. Peanut butter pie with hazelnut gelato made for a rich, cool finish. Each menu is created around what’s seasonal and available. “I call my purveyors, I say, ‘What do you guys have coming in that’s really good?’ They say, ‘You should try these purple new potatoes that are coming in,’” Blandino says. “So we try those out, and then we pair them with the meat. Then I match things.”

Sunday brunch is another case of the restaurant adapting to repeat customers. “That’s absolutely a locals’ thing,” says Blandino. Although, with an array of small plates — from chorizo and egg tostada to Merlot-poached pear tartare to shrimp-and-grits — it could give some Strip buffets a run for their money.

American Cheesecake

Say cheese: Americana's cheesecake offers a delicate but decadent finish.

Both the Sunday brunch and the harvest dinner are $42 (the latter includes unlimited wine pairings), another way that Americana considers its local clientele: Not everyone is here to splurge. You can go big and have a blowout, order sashimi and venison and a side of foie gras — but you can also have $1 oysters on Tuesdays or drop in for happy hour, where a changing array of dishes and drinks are half-price.

On any given weekday, a crowd of loud-laughing blondes and silver-haired gentlemen, couples in Warby Parker glasses, and trios of women in hats cluster around the bar, sipping Manhattans, smiling as another cork is popped. “You’ve got to keep it fresh and vital, so we’re always constantly changing and tweaking stuff,” Blandino says. At Americana, the regulars certainly don’t want everything to stay the same.



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