If there’s any trace of glitz or glamour left in this city, you’d be hard-pressed to find it on your dinner plate. In case you haven’t noticed, our current restaurant landscape has been infiltrated by a glut of haute casual street food. Besides the few fine dining temples left standing (Guy Savoy, Twist, Joël Robuchon), we live in a world of burgers, pizza, noodles and tacos.
Fortunately, the second half of 2014 brought relief in the form of Bazaar Meat at SLS Las Vegas. Chef José Andrés’ spin-off of his five year-old Beverly Hills restaurant, The Bazaar, provides a novel experience to match Las Vegas’ best assets. It’s grandiose, hospitable, entertaining and the food is delicious.
As the name implies, protein — of every kind, in every form, and made to suit every taste — is the name of the game. (You can also play blackjack inside the restaurant, but I digress.) There is outrageously priced caviar service for the whales, shrimp cocktail for the traditionalists and Iberico ham for the food snob. Offal enthusiasts are offered kidneys while steakhouse lovers can stick to a Kobe ribeye. Or, for an obscene feast, guests can drop half a grand on an entire suckling pig, roasted in a wood-fired oven.
But for an over-the-top show, your best bet is to sample Andrés’ signature dishes and succumb to his magic. “Smoke and Ice” oysters arrive under a dramatic smoke-filled glass cloche, while chicken croquettes are served in curious sneaker-shaped dishware. For dessert, a palate-cleansing sorbet is frozen tableside with liquid nitrogen. It’s a lot of gimmickry that my cynical side might shun in any other city. However, this being Las Vegas, the showmanship is more than welcome — in fact, it’s long overdue. - Debbie Lee
"Best Place to Wow Out-of-Towners," 2015 Desert Companion Best of the City issue.
"Best New Restaurant," 2015 Restaurant Awards