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Desert Companion

At first bite: Continental Plates

halibut_passion_fruit_sabinorr018.jpg

Halibut Passion Fruit
Photograph by Sabin Orr

Mordeo and Partage mix up the Spring Mountain dining scene with European flair

When it comes to boundaries, Las Vegas’ vibrant Chinatown blurs geographic and culinary lines. It’s been steadily expanding along its main drag, Spring Mountain Road, and into arterials like South Jones Boulevard since it arose in the ’90s. Of course, there’s always been more than Szechuan, Cantonese, and Mandarin cuisine to be found in the Spring Valley neighborhood. This is now especially true with the recent opening of two remarkable eateries, Partage and Mordeo.

Partage

Partage.  Photograph by Sabin Orr

In May, Partage took over the site of the abruptly closed Chada Street, a popular upscale Thai restaurant. Created by a trio of restaurateurs (Executive Chef Yuri Szarzewski, Executive Pastry Chef Vincent Pellerin, and Nicolas Kalpokdjian), Partage brings an inventive suite of French gastronomy to Chinatown. Which should come as no surprise: The three are known to many locals for their casual Eatt Gourmet Bistro on West Sahara.

In its sophisticated interior of clean-lined wood and earth tones warmly illuminated by bubble-like chandeliers and tabletop candles, Partage specializes in intricate, eye-popping tasting flights. “It’s modern French cuisine,” Szarzewski says. “The idea is to import our knowledge from France. We go to farmers in the morning for vegetables to create dishes — something fresh, not too heavy.” Szarzewski notes that Partage’s location is in a sense central Las Vegas — it’s relatively close to westside environs, not too far from Downtown or Henderson, and just a couple of miles from the Strip.

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Partage’s small plates of note include pillowy salmon croquettes served with luscious avocado mayonnaise and a trompe-l’œil plating of fresh halibut that’s been transformed to look like delicate slices of dragonfruit. Other fresh denizens of the deep include oysters, scallops, octopus, and lobster in elaborate presentations. Vegetables are highlighted at Partage, which gets much of its seasonal provisions from Southern Nevada growers. In a nearly architectural presentation, the ratatouille-stuffed tempura squash blossom is balanced on a zucchini puck like an edible Calder mobile. And in a rich, visually arresting assembly, creamy veal sweetbreads are paired with earthy salsify, porcini, tonka bean purée, and crisp wheels of fried lotus root.

Larger entrée plates, designed to be shared, range from mini seasonal vegetables stuffed with vegan “meat” and quinoa, to ginger-crusted duckling breasts with roast peaches and sautéed mushrooms. For sizeable celebrations, look to the 32-ounce Choice beef tomahawk steak smoked with hickory, applewood, or hay. Housemade desserts rotate daily, and can include classic sections like a mini Baked Alaska filled with cloudlike meringue and zingy raspberry coulis or whimsical confections du jour. The wine list is succinct and smartly curated, and the mixology program pushes spirits forward with concoctions like the summery, gin-based Passion Rosemary with herbaceous Aperol.

Partage is extraordinary, but a few caveats are in order. First, its experimental nature is probably not the best match for those with less adventurous palates, something to keep in mind for business gatherings or family in from out of town. Further, staunchly traditional Francophiles won’t find bistro fare like escargot, frog legs, or cheese-topped onion soup in the repertoire; an avant-garde disposition comes in handy.

Charcuterie

Charcuterie at  Mordeo.  Photograph by Sabin Orr

A few blocks west is the newly opened Mordeo, a tapas-inspired gathering place that melds influences from Spain with inspirations from Latin American and Japan. Making its home in a new brick building, the restaurant is the brainchild of one of Chinatown’s movers and shakers, Khai Vu of District One Kitchen & Bar. Mordeo is well-lit with picture windows, festive wallpaper, and gleaming marble countertops. While there are a few tabletops, the room is geared toward convivial bar seating, including the chef’s table that abuts the open kitchen. For Vu, Chinatown’s diversity in restaurants and advantageous location made it the ideal place to open Mordeo. “It’s a very central location,” he says.

The menu’s Iberian origin is on full display with the surf-and-turf mélange of fragrant clams and mussels with chorizo, with crispy fingerling potatoes and pickled Fresno peppers on the side. A spicy Japanese touch elevates dramatic, grilled Nigerian prawns with a sprinkling of togarashi powder. And Latin America is at the fore with a selection of snappy ceviches from sea trout to grouper.

Clams and Mussels

Clams and Mussels with chorizo. Photography by Sabin Orr

Mordeo’s blending of Mediterranean, Asian, and New World flavors stems from Vu’s trip to Barcelona earlier this year. “I went to Spain, and I looked at tapas. Then I looked at Japanese cuisine. They’re very similar,” says Vu, noting the Japanese tradition of izakaya-style grilled bar food.

Charcuterie is a Mordeo specialty, especially succulent slices of cured Jamón Ibérico de Bellota from pigs raised on acorns. A central, glass-walled meat-aging room and a steampunk-looking Berkel slicer are part of the décor, too. On the dessert menu, caramel flán is a traditional nod.

Mordeo is a lively scene, but its early months came with a bit of a snag — a delayed liquor license. Vu expects it to be in hand in August, just in time for the launch of a craft mixology and sangria program created by co-founder and master sommelier Luis de Santos.

While Partage and Mordeo make for a complementary pair, it’s a duo of dining options that adds to the surge that’s been transforming Chinatown over the past few years, from the gonzo tropical concoctions of the Golden Tiki to the New American food stylings of Sparrow + Wolf, fellow neighbors on an evolving Spring Mountain Road.

 

 

Partage

3839 Spring Mountain Road

702-582-5852

partage.vegas

Hours 5p-1a daily

 

Mordeo

5420 W. Spring Mountain Road

702-545-0771

mordeolv.com

Hours
6-10:30p daily

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