Sin City is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Las Vegans aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential. Know a chef who wants to share some top dining spots? The tipline is open.
Elizabeth Blau [Photo: Bill Milne]
Elizabeth Blau has had quite a sensational year. She opened Honey Salt with her husband chef Kim Canteenwalla last October, partnered with Buddy Valastro to open Buddy V's Ristorante at the Palazzo earlier this month and was even pegged to reopen The Rainbow Room, the New York City restaurant and event space atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Rockefeller Center, by providing the culinary direction and operations strategy.
Blau graduated from the Cornell School of Hotel Management and started her career with famed restaurateur Sirio Maccioni. It was after Maccioni expanded Le Cirque to Las Vegas that Steve Wynn, who at the time was CEO of Mirage Resorts, saw her skills and tapped her to become the vice president of restaurant development for the resorts, developing the restaurant and beverage concepts at the Bellagio, which just turned 15. She followed Wynn to Wynn Las Vegas when it opened in 2004. Her restaurant development company Blau & Associates followed, and now she's behind the development of eateries at Kor Group, Montage Resorts, the Ritz-Carlton, Trump Casinos, Viceroy and Wynn. She launched Society Cafe at Encore Las Vegas with Canteenwalla and Kerry Simon's Simon Restaurant & Lounge at Palms Place, among others.
Here she talks about some of her favorite places to dine in Vegas when she's not eating at one of her own places, and this is a nice long list of places to frequent.
Which restaurants do you turn to when you're not working?
As a long time local and restaurateur, I am always trying the new places, but there is a handful that I keep going back to again and again. Kabuto on Spring Mountain is my go-to, crave-inducing sushi spot. Most nights they have dozens of insanely fresh fish flown in from Tokyo. Penn's Thai House is another one of my favorites, it's out of the way, down on the eastern end of Sunset, but it is worth the trip, definitely some of the best Thai food in town. Finally, Bouchon is an old stand by that I can go to again and again, Thomas Keller does bistro French perfectly.
What dishes are most memorable?
At Kabuto it is hard to name a single dish, course, or cut, but if I had to pick I guess I would have to say chef Gen's selection of Toro. There are usually at least three types to choose from. At Penn's the spicy crab curry is a showstopper, just an intense and supremely flavorful mix of huge chunks of crab meat and a wonderfully complex and slightly spicy red curry. I am a dessert person and Penn's sticky rice with mango is the best I have ever had! At Bouchon I stick to the classics and my favorites: oysters, steak frites, and finish up with a cannelle.
Why do you enjoy going there?
I love Kabuto because I feel like I am in Tokyo. The restaurant is tiny like a jewel box and chef Gen is not only a sushi master but extremely entertaining, and he takes great care of us. Penn's is still kind of a secret, amazingly, and I love the feel of a destination in my own city; plus Penn is so warm and loving and just an amazing hostess. Bouchon always feels grand and romantic to me, and Thomas Keller is one of my most favorite chefs, (my husband Kim Canteenwalla being my most favorite). Adam Tihany did such a beautiful job designing the room, and surrounded by all the marble and windows of the Venetian I think it is just a fantastic ambiance. I always know I am going to get an excellently cooked meal and well-executed service, and I love being able to rely on that there.
There are so many others I'd love to include: Dom DeMarco's and Due Forni, Chocolate & Spice Bakery, La Comida, Chada Thai, Osteria del Circo — I am so happy to see the locals restaurant and food scene growing here. We have always had some super talented restaurant people here, and as they step off the Strip it continues to strengthen our community and establish our dining culture. It is definitely an exciting time to be a part of the Las Vegas dining scene.
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