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1998 Year in Review

It's Christmas time. That time of year to spread joy and good cheer throughout the land, No matter how much lousy food that land has foisted upon me in the last year. So in the true spirit of the Christ child, Hanukkah, the pagan rituals of the winter solstice and shameless self-promotion, KNPR and yours truly hereby bestow our 1998 Taste of Vegas "Johnny" awards for those places and people who made the past year gastronomically memorable.

For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, the categories were crowded with nominees. Truly a testament to how far we've come in our fine dining choices. Maitre 'D and esteemed producer Tim Anderson will announce the categories, and nominees, and I—as sole judge, jury and arbiter of good taste (of Vegas anyway)—will proclaim the winners: Drum roll please.

TIM: For best new restaurant, the nominees are: Bix's, Le Cirque, The Green Lips Café, McCormick and Schmick's and Petit Provence.

JOHN: Envelope please. And the winner is: Le Cirque. Yes, for truly applying the coupe de glacee to the icing on the cake, for the piece de resistance in our epicurean desert, no place anywhere can top what Sirio Maccioni and sons have done by brining a slice of the Big Apple to the universal home of the bad, bloated buffet. And if you think that's easy, just try mixing that many metaphors sometime.

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TIM: Our next category is come-back restaurant of the year, given to the place which has staged the biggest improvement over its past performance. The nominees are: The Tillerman, Andre's at the Monte Carlo, Café Nicolle and Ferraro's.

JOHN: And the winner is: The Tillerman. No surprise here folks, especially when you consider how shopworn and tire the old Tillerman had become. Each of these places was invigorated in 1998 by either new chefs or management, and all have managed vast improvement over past mediocrities.

That's all we have time for before we go to a break—which in this show's case will last a full week. So tune in next week when we'll conclude our year-end presentation of the most exciting culinary awards this side of the Flamingo Wash. You won't want to miss it. So, until then, have a happy and bountiful Christmas, and lay off the eggnog.

This is John Curtas.

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