Sunday, March 18, 2007

CULT OF WESSONALITY: It has become difficult in Las Vegas to come across a restaurant in a casino which doesn't have a celebrity chef's name attached, be it Wolfgang Puck's five locations, San Francisco's Michael Mina's (who?) four, French god-chef Joël Robuchon's pair at the MGM Grand, Thomas Keller (where Matt and I had a fine dinner back in August), Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Emeril Lagasse, Nobu Matshisa or Todd English's beloved Olives at the Bellagio. And that's just off the top of my head.

And, typically, they deliver. My latest addition to the list is Tom Colicchio's craftsteak, and the Top Chef judge's kitchen runs smoothly. Started off with a half-dozen oysters, included three from beloved Wellfleet, and then an expertly-grilled ribeye, medium-rare (as always) with a side of soft polenta with blue cheese crumbles.** And they nailed the crème brûlée; the custard was still cool while the top torched right. Simple, effective presentations relying on solid ingredients, just as you'd hope.

Which is all a roundabout way to ask: which celebrity chefs do you trust most? Whose name, attached to a restaurant other than his main location, would you rely upon to deliver no matter how long it's been since he's actually been there?

** Two side notes: (1) why would anyone ever order a cut of steak other than ribeye? The ribbons of fat are the whole point of eating steak; I don't get the people who order strip steak, with the same taste in every bite; and (2) fyi, the only better ribeye out there is the one at Philadelphia's Barclay Prime, with the high-heat charred crust and top-quality Gachot & Gachot meat.

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