Sabotaging Sin City’s Return


Miracle Mile Shops and Stations Casinos deliver crushing blows to the local economy amidst relaunch efforts…

Our entire nation continues to endure a seemingly endless pandemic lockdown. Weeks have turned into months, and quarantine extensions get added as our bank accounts dwindle. The world will be a very different place when all of this has passed. Only the strong, smart, and very lucky may come out of it relatively unscathed.

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The economy of Las Vegas seems to be most in jeopardy of total collapse. No other city depends so greatly on a daily influx of tourists. Our locals form a giant hospitality team, ready to host, serve, and entertain the world. If and how that will happen again has become an aggressively-debated subject, as a cringe-inducing exchange between Anderson Cooper and Mayor Carolyn Goodman recently demonstrated. So while casino execs and politicians huddle over their laptops, hashing out plans through virtual meeting apps, it’s the “little guys” who are about to suffer the most.

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This week, a series of letters was sent out to business owners and employees that will put thousands of Vegas residents permanently out of work. Those dedicated staffers and smaller-scale entrepreneurs are being erased from the chalkboard with the flick of a wrist. It’s a crushing blow delivered at time when people couldn’t possibly be more vulnerable, an ugly tactic we should remember with our wallets long after the doors to Las Vegas have been unlocked.

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Letter number one comes from Robert Buchanan, Vice President/General Manager of Miracle Mile Shops. Sent to tenants of the busy Planet Hollywood-based mall, the letter requires an agreement to pay the full amount of rent accrued during shutdown. Business owners must sign off on this legal agreement prior to reopening, despite the fact that their businesses have been unable to generate a single dollar of income since mid-March.

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The multi-page document, of which I have a copy, offers the option to defer payment of rent and spread it out over twelve months (without interest or penalties). Failure to pay the rent would result in a monetary default of lease terms. Recipients have been instructed to keep the terms confidential and not to discuss the matter with other occupants of the mall or any third parties (oops…too late).

While an interest-free rent deferral might sound generous on paper, the amounts in question can literally be hundreds of thousands of dollars per tenant. These are staggering sums that will more than likely cripple and/or close a significant percentage of Miracle Mile‘s shops and restaurants.

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The tenant that contacted me about this situation explained that rental rates are based on a monthly average of the mall’s total annual foot traffic. Nevertheless, no adjustments have been made to reflect a period of ZERO customers. No pro-rating, no discounts, no rent forgiveness, no exceptions. The store owner, who asked to remain anonymous, noted that his business was already struggling to break a profit.

Hard to share too much without giving away _____ (name of business) but I’d been trying to talk to them since this (the pandemic) started. No response, vague replies to emails. I kept asking a week leading into it. No guidance, no direction.

Finally we were given 24 hours to vacate. To get access we now have to schedule a meeting with a Miracle Mile security guy to walk us there. Total lockdown. They still want full rent. So ironic.

At Miracle Mile Shops, as in many other malls, a tenant’s rent is only one part of their financial responsibilities. They also have to pay their share of marketing, insurance, trash, water, security, facilities maintenance, and much more.

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In other cities, landlords have taken pro-active steps to offer assistance. They are so concerned about losing valued tenants that they’re asking what can be done to assure that shops will reopen. But in corporate-run Vegas, nothing matters except for pleasing the stockholders.

How is this legal? It’s insane! It will take Vegas at least a year to recover from this so how can the landlord do this to its tenants? Multiple tenantss are grouping together and with one voice seeking legal assistance to fight this greed.

It just simply breaks your gears when you’ve worked so hard for something and been paying big dollars to this landlord for them to rip out our hearts during a crisis like this.

I’ve already mentioned Mayor Goodman, whose “Open up Vegas and see what happens” stance has garnered an enormous amount of ridicule. At the opposite end is Governor Steve Sisolak, who put the statewide shutdown in place. Sisolak supports a slow and organized approach to restoring our daily lives, which has received its own share of protests and demonstrations.

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I’m not interested in delving into political arguments here, as I see logic in both approaches. The reason I bring it up is to emphasize that everyone has a stake in the decisions. Nobody has a perfect list of answers, so we wait, sacrifice, obey the rules (or protest) and watch those bank accounts dwindle down to nothing.

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In the meantime, everyone seems to be asking the same question: when will MGM Resorts open? The same with Caesars Entertainment properties and Sands Corp. (Venetian/Palazzo). And while we focused our gaze on the big three, a lesser-known chain called Station Casinos swooped in and drove a dagger through the hearts of thousands of its own employees.

Vegas-based Station, which operates ten local establishments including Sante Fe Station and Palace Station, has gotten pretty powerful in recent years. Bolstered by the success of Red Rock Hotel and Green Valley Ranch, Station plunked down a cool billion to buy and renovate the once-popular Palms Casino Resort. An undeniable failure, the “new” Palms bled massive amounts of money, mostly through the catastrophic disaster known as KAOS Nightclub.

Station Casinos rested their billion-dollar Palms investment on the shoulders of a vulgar rapper-felon…and a grown man dressed as a marshmallow…

On May 1st, Station Casinos sent out letters to full-time Palms employees, announcing their terminations…effective 5/16/20. Similar letters were mailed to employees of Fiesta Henderson and Texas Station, both operated by Station Casinos. What makes this letter particularly ruthless is that they’re referring to the shuttering of the three hotels as a “temporary closure”, which in actuality took place two months ago. What this means is that when Palms, Fiesta Henderson and Texas Station reopen (if ever), they will be treated as new entities.

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              Palms Casino is the latest tombstone monument dedicated to overreaching ambition…

In the meantime, Station is off the hook for protecting their own employees. The company will grant certain benefits through September, then the labor force is on its own. The letter also stated that their will be “no bumping rights”, meaning that terminated individuals would have to reapply for their previous jobs, forfeiting any earned seniority if they return. This also means zero opportunities to transfer to other Station locations to maintain that seniority.

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           Photo: Sky News

Some people out there may be inclined to say “Corporations have to do whatever is necessary in order to survive”. But what about right now? Unleashing a bloodbath in the current economy is simply catastrophic. I’d rather see a company dig in for the moment and take its chances later. Much later.

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So what is a struggling employee or business person to do in the current climate? We certainly can’t rely on the government to help. Very few people have had success in collecting unemployment benefits, judging by the daily posts I read on social media. Sadly, numerous businesses have announced that they won’t be coming back, either. Friends of mine from every walk of life are considering moving away and some have already begun the process.

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Performer Andrew Hill, who entertains audiences at Station Casinos, shared these hard words regarding the closure of Fiesta Henderson on Facebook:

Well looks like our contract at the Fiesta is done and dusted ! Yep, for all the clueless fools sprouting Vegas is gonna bounce back!! ….Can you all Please stfu!

If anyone quotes the most idiotic destructive statement of “Vegas always reinvents itself” or “ we’ll be bouncing back in no time” …. can you please punch them very hard in the face!

When ever the wonderful PR word “ reinvent” is used …. it is code for cost cutting, slashing entertainment and figuring out how to screw people to make more money…

For those who stick it out and hope for a successful recovery, things look bleaker every day. Think back to the long-term effects that 9/11 had on the airline industry. In order to offset dwindling profits, nearly all airlines began charging mandatory fees for checked suitcases and eventually, carry-on bags. Yet once air travel rebounded, those fees remained. They now generate more profit than actual ticket sales.

Las Vegas Hotels closed own to COVID-19 Virus.

As you read this, Las Vegas is virtually a ghost town. Every action taken by those in power during the days ahead will undoubtedly become a new standard. If the events of this week are any indication, the citizens of this city are in for for years of serious trouble.

Many of us have been hoping that Vegas will use the shutdown as an opportunity to undo damaging decisions of the past decade. Former Vegas Mayor Jan Jones Blackhurst is among them. We’ve urged the Big Three to toss out resort fees, eliminate paid parking, send “celebrity chefs” packing, dump those $20 cocktails down the drain and make Las Vegas appealing to the masses once more.

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Las Vegas may be your playground. But it’s also our home. The future of this city depends on it being recognized as a community of flesh-and-blood people. But nobody seems to be listening.

Banner Photo: Palms Casino via Facebook


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Click here for the article’s companion piece “Vegas Goes Dark – The Beginning of the End…or a new Beginning?”

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Click here for my related article “Is Sin City Determined to Drive You Away?”

 

 

 

Hofbrauhaus Brings Munich to Sin City


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Hofbrauhaus celebrates sixteen years in Las Vegas this week. Let’s party! Click HERE to read the BestOfVegas version on their awesome site.

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Las Vegas is known for its endearing recreations of famous cultural landmarks. From the Eiffel Tower and the Egyptian pyramids to the canals of Venice, they’re all here. But venture a few blocks off the Strip and you’ll encounter the most authentic experience of them all…Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas. Hofbrauhaus has been bringing the sights, sounds, and flavors of Germany directly to your table for sixteen years.

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Situated on the corner of Harmon Avenue and Paradise Road (and just a pretzel’s toss from Hard Rock Hotel), Hofbrauhaus is based on the world-famous Munich original. An astonishing structure that’s even more impressive on the inside, every corner is teeming with fun, frivolity, and culinary excitement. No expense has been spared and no detail too small to make your visit a true Bavarian treat.

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The Las Vegas location is the only officially-licensed extension of Germany’s revered treasure. Munich’s grand Beer Hall and “outdoor” Biergarten are here, as are replicas of German chestnut trees that only grow in Europe. The Vegas variety is made using thousands of hand-created artificial leaves placed onto living trunks. Artists have painstakingly duplicated the beer hall ceiling’s gorgeous murals by hand, lending authenticity to the exact 1:1 construction.

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European craftsmen have fashioned dozens of sturdy benches and tables to handle the hundreds of rowdy revelers. As part of the tradition, guests climb onto the benches every day, steins held aloft. They’re arranged in a communal-dining style so you’re sure to make new friends while you eat, drink, and make merry.

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Of course, every restaurant is only as good as its food, and this is where Hofbrauhaus truly excels. They import their smooth creamy sauerkraut directly from Germany, and the dough for their famous Bavarian pretzels is shipped across the ocean in climate-controlled containers. Nothing is processed or made from mixes, and the kitchen uses timeless recipes and authentic ingredients.

The Hofbrauhaus menu is a veritable cookbook of German specialties. Munich Pork Roast (Schweinebraten) and Chicken in Mushroom Sauce (Gegrillte Hähnchenbrust) will vie for your attention with an extensive list of sausage dishes like Majoran – Kalbsbratwurst (veal), Currywurst, Nürnberger Rostbratwürstl (pork) and Geflügelbratwurst (chicken). If you can’t decide, dive into Wurstplatte, a trio of favorites served with sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and onion mustard.

There are a wide variety of vegetarian/vegan dishes, sumptuous salads, traditional desserts like imported Apfelstrudel (apple strudel) and of course, those giant baked-to-order pretzels served with Obatzda cheese and two kinds of mustard. Side dishes and appetizers include Bavarian potato salad, homemade spätzle, bread dumpling, red cabbage, apple sauce, potato pancakes, and radishes & rye.

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Naturally, you’ll want to pair your meal with a few steins of legendary Bavarian beer. Hofbräu Original Lager, Hofbräu Dunkel and Hofbräu Hefeweizen brews are all imported directly from the King’s brewery using 400-year-old recipes. Every keg is made following the Purity Law of 1516 (The Reinheitsgebot) as declared by Dukes Wilmhelm V and Ludwig X of Bavaria. The kegs are shipped to Vegas and stored in a perfectly-chilled beer cellar along with wines and liquor used for Signature Shots.

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Speaking of shots, the Sin City extension of Hofbrauhaus has developed a tradition of its own. Since the little glasses of liquor are delivered to tables on long paddles, some fun-loving guests began requesting a spanking after downing theirs. The ritual caught on and is especially popular for birthdays and other special occasions. So don’t be surprised when you see fellow diners bent over a table or grabbing their ankles. Smack!

But there’s no need to wait for a special event to visit Hofbrauhaus. Every night is a party! There are live bands, sing-a-longs, group toasts, and dancing. Themed events salute both German traditions (Käsespätzle challenge) and uniquely American traditions like National Pretzel Day and the annual “Big Game” viewing.

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Each year, the Beer Hall hosts a month-long Oktoberfest celebration. Weekends are especially festive with keg-tapping parties hosted by guest celebrities like Australian Bee Gees, the Chippendales, Cesar Millan, magician Hans Klok, Rich Harrison (Pawn Stars) and BMX pro Ricardo Laguna. It’s the perfect time to enjoy one of their seasonal beers like Oktoberfestbier with a plate of Oktoberfest Jägerhackbraten (homemade German-style meatloaf).

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But no matter what season you visit, Hofbrauhaus is always a great time. You’ll learn some German phrases, make some great memories and leave with a satisfied appetite and a song in your heart.

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Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas is located at 4510 Paradise Rd. Hours are Sunday – Thursday 11AM-11PM and Friday – Saturday 11AM-12AM

 Photos: Sam Novak, Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas

 

 

Food and Fun Come Together at ‘sixth + mill’


Venetian’s latest culinary offering brings the flavor of southern Italy to St. Mark’s Square…

If you’ve ever visited the city of Venice, you no doubt have fond memories of indulging in the wonderful tastes of the local cuisine, most likely from a scenic outdoor patio. The dining opportunities of that amazing destination are one of a kind…yet Vegas visitors can relive the experience once again…or for the very first time…at sixth + mill ristorante, pizzeria and bar at Venetian.

You may recall my previous write-up of Venetian/Palazzo‘s Matteo’s Ristorante Italiano, a glorious Sin City extension of L.A.’s famed Factory Kitchen. Situated along Restaurant Row, this eatery is the brainchild of restaurateur Matteo Ferdinandi and his longtime friend Chef Angelo Auriana. Now these gentlemen have brought another Los Angeles destination to Vegas, this time at Venetian’s St. Mark’s Square.

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sixth + mill takes its name from the original location in California. The restaurant is a celebration of southern Italian culture as seen through the region’s food. Here guests can enjoy “outdoor patio dining” while taking in Venetian’s signature street performer shows. This is their operating philosophy and conveys why dining there is such a pleasant way to enjoy a meal:

Experience a casual-refined atmosphere that recreates the feel of a classic ristorante – pizzeria and the platform to educate and share the culture and the lifestyle of Southern Italy and its people’s dedication to food and wine.

In Southern Italy, the rich volcanic soil has always been the fueling force of the agriculture that from thousands of years has produced unique ingredients that are intrinsically part of the much sought-after Mediterranean Diet.

Chef Angelo’s commitment is on keeping these old traditions alive today. The cuisine of sixth+mill focuses on traditional recipes that capture the uniqueness and versatility of the regional southern Italian food and include appetizers, fritters, homemade pasta, meat & poultry, seafood, and desserts, keeping an eye on traditions and looking at today’s necessity of lightness, healthiness, and simplicity.

With a description like that, it’s clear that Chef Angelo and Matteo take great pride in sharing their heritage with guests. And fortunately for Vegas foodies, we now have two restaurants by these gentlemen to choose from.

My first visit to sixth + mill was a veritable bounty of flavor, color, and presentation. Interestingly, my companion and I gravitated towards plant-based dishes that were perfect for a satisfying lunch without a heavy feeling afterward. We began with some dishes from the list of “Fritters”.

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First up was u’vroccolo, a plate of cauliflower florets accompanied by parmigiana dipping sauce ($11). It was followed by brussels sprouts toasted, a hearty mound of the divisive little cabbages prepared with a slightly smokey flavor and topped with almonds, paprika and lemon ($12).

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Our final fritter was arancinotto, a generous portion of the traditional Sicilian recipe made with rice, beef, pork, tomato and mozzarella ($12 for 3 pieces). Mouthwatering with every bite, this delight was my favorite part of the meal.

We then moved to a selection from “Small Plates” with melanzana, a warm shareable made with eggplant, parmigiana, scamorza and tomato ($15). Other small plates on the list include minestra soup with quinoa, vegetables, ricotta and chili oil ($15), crostone, an inviting mushroom toast with herbs, reggiano and provolone ($13) and rapini, a leafy green vegetable cooked with chili oil and oregano and served with ricotta and bread crumbs ($9).

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While these delicious vegetarian dishes were incredibly satisfying, there was plenty left to explore on the extensive sixth + mill menu. Our next selection from “Meat & Poultry” was brasato (braised beef with carrots, red onions and gaeta olives – $38). It was so moist, delicious and tender that I was able to separate it with a spoon.

There’s also polpette beef and pork meatballs, chicken parm, pollo romano, and siciliana prime beef steak to go along with seafood selections like acqua pazza (sea bass), pepper-couli salmone and spicy mussels mitili.

While enjoying the brasato, our table was visited by Matteo Ferdinandi himself. Jovial and clearly excited about his new restaurant, he wanted to be sure that we were enjoying our meal. Yet…he couldn’t resist chiding us in a joking fashion about not trying any of his endless combinations of pizzas.

The menu features hand-crafted Neapolitan style pizzas, traditional wheat pastas, and tomatoes chosen with purpose. They use three varieties of tomatoes for their pizza sauce; one for sweetness, one for tanginess, and one for consistency.

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There are six varieties of red pizzas and four white pizzas to choose from. You can customize your selection with ten specialty toppings like n’duja (spicy pork salume), stracciatella (water buffalo milk cheese) and speck (smoke-cured prosciutto). All pizzas are baked in one of two special pizza ovens created to achieve the best airy and chewy crust. The ovens were flown into Las Vegas from Italy especially for sixth + mill.

Pasta is a big deal at any Italian restaurant, but sixth + mill goes the extra mile. Every ravioli, cavatelli, linguine, and fusilli is made fresh in-house and topped with sauces like meat-tomato ragu, chicken sugo and lemon cream with mint oil. There are whole wheat varieties and gnocchi (potato dumplings), too.

Make sure to complete your meal with one of several delicious desserts. And check out their outstanding beveage menu of cocktails, wines, champagne, beers, and teas.

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So the next time you’re craving authentic Italian food with a view of Venice, head over to sixth + mill at Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes. It’s the perfect way to satisfy your culinary urges while indulging in a mini-vacation at the same time.

sixth + mill is open daily from 11 am to 11 pm. Phone: 702.414.1227 for reservations and information…

Photos: Sam Novak, sixth + mill

 

SERVED – Green Valley’s Culinary Delight


Chef Matthew Myer brings eclectic flair to the neighborhood….

In recent years, the popularity of chef-driven restaurants has exploded. Once centered on the Strip, kitchen wizards have found success in Downtown and surrounding areas. One might observe that the further they get from the tourist district, the more daring and creative they become.

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Such is the case with Chef Matthew Meyer. This dynamic young graduate of Pasadena’s Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute is the creator/owner of SERVED, a relatively new restaurant in the McDonald’s Highland area of Henderson. Located at 1770 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, this intimate brunch/dinner establishment is a local gem that’s worth seeking out.

Despite his young age, Chef Meyer has been shaking up the Vegas dining scene for over a decade. You might remember his two iterations of Matteo’s Gourmet Cafe and the popular Just Rollin’. As his exposure in magazines and websites has grown (along with the accolades), so has Chef Meyer’s offerings to the valley. Matteo’s Gourmet Food Services, a high-end catering operation, provides exceptional cuisine for special occasions.

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All of this experience and experimentation has culminated in SERVED, Meyer’s latest dine-in endeavor. A sleek yet simple restaurant, SERVED provides Meyer the opportunity to share his latest creations in a personal atmosphere with the highest regard for quality ingredients and skillful preparation.

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Chef Meyer describes his approach to the menu as “Cultural favorites, redefined…where guests will have a chance to savor the flavors of the world in a single dish.” Eric C. Gladstone, the marketing powerhouse behind the annual Vegas Unstripped and other highly-regarded food festivals, had this to say about Chef Matt and SERVED:

Chef Matt takes a global approach to his creations, fearlessly crossing culinary boundaries to combine flavors from throughout the Eastern and Western worlds, as well as myriad techniques. But you don’t have to pull apart all the effort in order to enjoy them–the food truly speaks for itself. This is the most exciting breakfast, lunch and dinner food happening in Henderson right now.

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With an introduction like that, it would be tough not to have high expectations. But at a recent presentation of his latest dishes, both experts and laypersons like myself were equally impressed by what we sampled.

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First up were a few tapas: Asparagus 5 Ways – pureed, grilled, fried, fermented and raw asparagus served alongside a poached egg and hollandaise ($10).

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Scallop Benny presents seared scallops, celery root puree, roasted celery root, poached egg and hollandaise, celery/apple salad topped with celery lace tuile ($12).

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Fans of deconstructed dishes should get a kick out of Raviolo ($12), a plate of egg yolk, herbed ricotta, herb-laminated fresh pasta, Guiness braised short rib, broccolini and pan sauce.

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My personal favorite from the tapas selections was Octopus Benny ($11) served with sesame heirloom tomatoes, white corn puree and uni caviar hollandaise.

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Appetizer Beef Tataki ($11) is thinly-sliced and lightly seared mushroom marinated beef with fermented mushroom aioli, parmesan shavings and fried capers.

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A few more tapas were distinctly Asian, beginning with Pinchi Kimchi Foie Gras ($12), a seared piece of foie gras atop a rice pancake, served with kimchi, pickled radish, Korean pear salad, crispy fried rice noodle, sesame oil and a soy galbi glaze.

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Thai Suckling Pig ($12) is an unforgettable crispy pork belly in sweet soy sauce sprinkled with fried garlic and served with broccolini and a poached egg.

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The one dish that everybody buzzed about was Beef Stroganoff ($22) from “Classics Redone”. It’s Guiness braised short ribs atop house made pappardelle and fermented mushrooms. Familiar yet unique, it’s one selection sure to satisfy.

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Despite the small size of SERVED’s dining room, the list of stunning dishes is hefty, thanks in no small part to sharing a kitchen with Chef Meyer’s catering service. The daily Brunch Menu lists elaborate benedicts and egg dishes, hash, pancakes, French toast, tacos, sandwiches and a wide variety of gourmet burgers.

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Their evening Dinner Menu, Wednesday through Sunday from 3pm to 9pm, ups the ante with an inclusion of salads, “Reverse Brunch” and “Chef Special” entrees. Daily Specials weekdays from 9am to 2pm offer significant savings and even 2-for-1 sandwiches on Tuesday.

As a relatively new local, I’ve enjoyed discovering a wide variety of eclectic and unique dining offerings, some that tourists may sadly never see. But thanks to food enthusiasts like Eric C. Gladstone, Esther’s KitchenEDO Gastro Tapas and Wine and the upcoming Graffiti Bao restaurant are getting the exposure and popularity they deserve. Add SERVED to that list, and visit Chef Matt and his team right away.

SERVED is located at 1770 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson/Green Valley. Open Monday and Tuesday 9 – 3, Wednesday to Sunday 9 – 9. Call 702-263-0136

Photos: Sam Novak, SERVED via Facebook

NEW FLIGHTS RESTAURANT EVOKES THE HEYDAY OF AIR TRAVEL


Aviation-themed eatery comes in for a landing at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops….

In recent years, it seem like the chasm between affordable dining and high-end cuisine has gotten wider and deeper. Nowhere is this more apparent than the Las Vegas Strip. Thank goodness FLIGHTS has made a successful on-time arrival at Miracle Mile Shops of Planet Hollywood Resort. Dazzling, affordable and absolutely exquisite, FLIGHTS just may be the most memorable meal you’ll have on your visit.

Created by professional hockey player Alex Hult and wife Sarah, FLIGHTS was inspired by the popularity beer and wine “flights”. Those smaller-sized presentations seem to go hand-in-hand with tapas, small plates and family-style dining. Why not bring everything together into an airline-themed restaurant and pub?

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FLIGHTS is a fully-realized experience that begins the moment you arrive at the “gate”. Costumed reservation agents will check you in, issue a boarding pass and escort you inside. Passengers are given the option to check in on social media to receive a free glass of champagne. Once seated, you’ll be greeted by flight attendants (servers) in retro-style outfits, many of whom remain in character throughout your trip.

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Prior to take-off, you may wish to choose a Craft Cocktail or spirit/beer flight from the impressive beverage menu. Signature Cocktail Flights run $19 and offer exciting combinations of Mojito (watermelon/strawberry/classic), Cosmopolitan (cranberry/grapefruit/orange), Daiquiri (mango/lime/strawberry) and many more. Each flight will tickle your taste buds with a trio of fresh and exciting flavors.

The collection of Craft Cocktails offers something for every mood. From the light, bubbly Aviation (gin, creme de violette, luxard – $12) and Frequent Flier (Tito’s vodka, St. Germain liqueur, champagne – $12) to the smokey sultriness of Red Baron (mezcal, tequila, demerara syrup – $13), you’ll want to try them all. Fortunately, the flight attendant can be summoned at the touch of your own personal call button.

An absolute must-try is the Triple Threat ($22), the stunning union of a 22-oz. Prickly Pear Margarita, 7-oz. bottle of Corona Light and a vial of Patron Silver tequila. Served in a massive goblet, this party-in-a-glass should last you until the landing gear touches down. Amazingly, the Triple Threat (and all of the other flights and cocktails) are available for $10 daily from opening until 5 p.m.. This Happy Hour deal makes FLIGHTS one of the most outstanding bargains on the Las Vegas Strip.

But of course, cocktails are only one part of your in-flight service. A wonderful selection of small plates, entrees and desserts have been created in the galley by Chef Kyle Kingrey (M Resort, Palazzo’s LAVO). His beautiful and wonderfully-seasoned comfort food is presented family-style, so you’ll want to dig into several dishes.

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Colorful APPETIZER FLIGHTS like Ceviche (shrimp/ahi/salmon – $16), Ahi Tuna (sashimi/tataki/poke – $19) and Stix (thai chicken/chimichurri beef/ancho shrimp skewers – $18) will compete for your attention with shareable BITES like Korean “Buffalo” Chicken ($12), House Made Meatballs ($14) and Steak Street Tacos ($13).

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Entrees come in shareable portions on the dinner menu, too. Smoked Paprika-Dusted Salmon ($23), Crispy Chicken Breast ($22), Ancho BBQ Shrimp ($24) and Prime NY Steak ($32) are served on platters with a variety of sauces and garnishes. Vegan and vegetarian Sides like Roasted Mushrooms (with nori furkake and a miso ginger glaze – $7) and Mac & 4 Cheeses ($9) are so satisfying that two or three make a hearty stand-alone meal.

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There are several individual salads and dishes offered on lunchtime flights. Outlandish sandwiches like the Chicken and Waffle (with maple syrup, red hot butter and house slaw – $16) and Beef Bahn Mi Sliders (with pickled veg slaw and miso mayo – $6 each) play nice with traditional entree-sized Radicchio-Romaine Caesar, Caprese or Mediterranean Salads ($11, add chicken/ahi/salmon/thai shrimp for an additional charge).

Even the most exclusive airlines often neglect dessert…but FLIGHTS has you covered. Reversed Cheesecake Flight ($11) includes three styles of the popular treat (strawberry/Oreo/mango) within glass jars topped and topped with crumbled crust. An authentic New Orleans-style Beignet Flight ($11) delivers a bowl of sugar-dusted pastries, served warm with vanilla creme anglais, chocolate and strawberry coulis dipping sauces.

Chocolate Dive Bomber ($12) fills a goblet with molten lava cake, vanilla ice cream and two different sauces. Even though it’s listed as a “shareable”, this writer recommends one Dive Bomber for each passenger…just to avoid the potential for any mid-air incidents.

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Photos: Sam Novak, FLIGHTS, FLO Advertising

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Rise and Shine” Brings the Sun To Your Table


Delightful brunch place is a hidden treasure waiting for you to discover…

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One of the great things about visiting Sin City is the endless supply of new and exciting restaurants. Just when you think you’ve decided on a favorite, another pops up to demand your attention. And quite often, they’re off the beaten path.

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Such is the case with Rise and Shine: A Steak and Egg Place. This wonderful little treasure features made-to-order meals served with a side of whimsy. You’ll know you’ve left the ordinary behind from the moment you walk in the door. Dozens of flower-festooned umbrellas hang upside-down from the ceiling, making it clear that the weather inside is always bright and sunny.

 

Beneath those colorful inverted parasols, cast members carry out their tasks while clad in adorable sleepwear and fashionably-unfashionable flannel robes. No matter the hour, your server will be perky and alert, perhaps due to heavy doses of Rise and Shine‘s outstanding bottomless cups of LavAzza Italian house coffee.

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A variety of comical photos adorn the menu, which covers the gamut of breakfast and brunch favorites, albeit with many unique qualities. Several of those twists go into preparing freshly-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. Build-your-own fruit and yogurt parfaits join French Press coffee, herbal teas, flavored lattes, cappuccino and iced coffees as wonderful starters.

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While perusing the menu, you can indulge in a Rise and Shine specialty – Pot of Bread with butter and jelly. You may need to ask for a second helping, as the list of specialties seems to go on and on forever. If you’re the kind to stick with basics, their list of omelettes runs from healthy (Grilled Chicken & Egg White) to indulgent (Fancy Steakhouse). And of course, you can design your own with a choice of three from a list that includes avocado, banger sausage, turkey kielbasa and bell pepper.

 

The “Classics Done Better” section presents goodies like Homemade Corned Beef Hash & Eggs, Smoked Salmon-N-Eggs Benedict and Oatmeal with Toasted Pecans. Sweet-lovers may wish to dive into a stack of Banana Frosted Flake Pancakes, S’Mores Campfire Waffles or Peanut Butter & Blueberry French Toast.

Feeling a little “South of the Border”? Why not order up a Grilled Steak & Chorizo Burrito? You can substitute chicken for steak…either way comes with a side of refried beans. New Yorkers should love the Two-Fisted Bagel Sandwiches. Luscious selections like Roast Turkey California and 3 Little Pigs (bacon, ham and banger sausage) are sure to fill you up.

 

Since Rise and Shine has “A Steak and Eggs Place” in the title, you can probably guess what’s front and center in the menu presentation. What you may not expect is the wide variety of steaks to choose from. Bacon-Wrapped Tender Steak, Philly-Style Cheese Steak, island-inspired “Loco Moco” Steak Burger, Chicken-Fried NY Steak and much more.

Traditional steak offerings are grilled to perfection with a spice rub that sears in flavor. If memory serves, those spices include actual coffee with gives a bit of blackened taste to the meat. Is your mouth watering yet?

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Lunchtime kicks in at 11:30 am (don’t worry, breakfast is served from open until close). Garden salads like the NY Steak Caesar and Grilled Chicken Cobb compete with a list of steak burgers and chicken sandwiches for your love. Wraps like the Spicy Tuna & Spinach and Crispy Fried Chicken w/provolone and avocado come with either fries or the outstanding wasabi broccoli slaw.

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Photos: Sam Novak, Rise and Shine

 

 

SkinnyFATS – Fun, Hip and Healthy Dining


 Vegas-born restaurants will change your ideas of “Good-For-You” food…

The fitness culture of Sin City is big….and growing. Of course we’ve got hundreds (if not thousands) of models, athletes, acrobats, dancers and other performers who call Las Vegas “home”.  If you think these fine physical specimens get by on a boring diet of broccoli and smoothies, you’d be wrong. For exciting meals that fit their demanding lifestyle, the hip and health-conscious have embraced SkinnyFATS. Now this locally-born collection of exciting restaurants is going national.

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The slogan for SkinnyFATS is “Live healthy. Live happy”. That second phrase is what sets SkinnyFATS apart from stodgy “clean eating” establishments. You’ll know you’re in for fun the moment you walk in the door and are greeted with a chorus of “hello!” and “welcome!”. That positive attitude is enhanced with colorful decor, carefully-selected music and a relaxing, inviting design. The restaurants are counter-service style but you’ll still feel pampered from the ordering process to your final bite.

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Everything at SkinnyFATS represents their business philosophy….especially the very affordable menu. Certain choices are considered to be indulgent, so the menu is divided between a “Healthy Side”  (selections under 600 calories) and a “Happy Side”, i.e. those that aren’t. Yet even those supposedly naughty choices are whipped up with beneficial twists.

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SkinnyFATS starts each day with luscious breakfasts. The ScramBowl ($8.95) is an egg-white scramble made with turkey bacon, zucchini, mushrooms, carmelized onion and cherry tomatoes. Packed with flavor and protein, this hearty bowl has only 295 calories. Healthy Side choices include Cluck Moo, an egg white omelette with shaved NY steak, carmelized onion and avo pico ($11.95) and Berry Strong, a protein waffle topped with berries, strawberry chia jam, orange agave and turkey bacon ($8.95).

Happy Side breakfasts include S’motherload, a burrito filled with filet mignon, sausage, fajita peppers, potato and eggs, then smothered with cajun cheddar sauce and pico ($11.95). Perhaps the meat-lover in you catches a glimpse of Steak Eyes 2.0, an intriguing plate of country-fried filet medallions and two eggs served with jalapeno cornbread and gravy ($12.95).

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For lunch, you’ve gotta try TOMato Cruise ($3.95), an amazing soup that’s the freshest and richest you’ll ever slide your spoon into. This vegan delight is topped with 9-grain croutons and boasts a calorie count of only 230. You can add a Grilled Cheese Sandwich for $4.20 more.

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If you’d like to whet your appetite with crunch and heat, try CauliFIRE, a spicy vegan/gluten-free shareable of cauliflower, buffalo sauce, pico and cilantro ($5.95). Gobballs ($5.95) are turkey meatballs flavored with spicy arrabiata sauce, pesto and roasted tomatoes. Seafood lovers will adore Pimp Shrimp ($9.95) a cucumber boat filled with tempura shrimp, cilantro slaw and avo pico.

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Once you’re ready for the main course, dive into dozens of sandwiches, burgers, tacos and “Things In Bowls”. Remember….nothing here is ever ordinary. Turnip Tacos ($7.95) serve an insane combination of filet mignon, jicima, pico and habanero lime crema inside two wheat tortillas. Gluten-free Smoke In A Bowl ($9.95) piles agave barbecued chicken, peppers, onions, black bean salsa, pineapple and cilantro yo over a bowl of jasmine rice. T.A.T.S. ($9.95) reimagines the BLT as a low-cal winner with turkey bacon, avocado, tomato, spinach and spicy yo on 9-grain bread.

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If you’re on the way to the gym or just need a kick, fresh juices like Liquid Defense, Hangover Remedy and Green Mile will have you at your best in no time. Of course, naughty grab-and-go cookies like Chocolate Chunk, Salted Caramel and Lemon Blueberry (all $2.95) are also ready for your eager hands.

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