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.
Megan Bringas [Photo: Chelsea McManus]
Megan Bringas was a viola performance major before she found her true calling — pastries. So she headed to the Midwest Culinary Institute in Cincinnati to earn a degree in pastry arts. Her work took her to Payard Patisserie at Caesars Palace, Alex at Wynn Las Vegas and then as pastry chef at Lakeside. In 2010, she participated in a Food Network challenge for holiday window displays and won. Now she's the new executive pastry chef for Aureole at Mandalay Bay, overseeing the menu development and creating tasting menus and dessert displays for the Swan Court. Here she talks about how she's a mood eater and why she likes to try new flavor combinations.
Which restaurants do you turn to when you're not working?
I am very much a mood eater. When I am in the mood for Japanese, I go to Naked Fish's. If I am craving pizza, Due Forni definitely hits the spot. When I'm feeling like some modern American comfort food, Honey Salt has all of those things.
What dishes are most memorable?
At Naked Fish's, I have to have two things, the Roppongi roll, kind of a sophisticated version of a spicy tuna roll, and the miso butter-glazed sea bass, which has the perfect combination of salty and sweet.
At Due Forni, they have great appetizers as well as pizza. The semolina gnocchi is a must-have, with smoked Nueske's bacon, peas and just a hint of black truffle crema. Also, the Roman style Piccante pizza with bufala mozzarella, spicy soprassata and fresno peppers.
While I think everything is great on the menu at Honey Salt, the charred octopus is amazing, incredibly tender and flavorful with Romesco sauce and patatas bravas.
Why do you enjoy going there?
Naked Fish's is great because their fish is always extremely fresh, their rolls are unique, and we are there so much, we really notice that their service makes us feel at home. I always like to try one new thing, with our favorites when we go here and have yet to be disappointed.
Due Forni is unique because they have two different baking styles for their pizza, both Roman and Neapolitan. They also have a small menu of well crafted cocktails with some interesting combinations of liquors and flavors.
I really do think that executive chef Joe Zanelli has a way with flavor. You can always count on amazingly interesting combinations, utilizing different spices and herbs to accentuate the natural flavor profile of each dish.
Any other information you want to include?
I become very inspired when I try flavor combinations that I have never thought of before and it starts to make me look at ingredients in a new way. Using tarragon to enhance apples or using peppercorn to complement blueberries, I find that by using historically savory ingredients in a sweet capacity can only make for more interesting and provocative desserts. I love nothing more that to have someone question an ingredient that I have used, and then be amazed by it, as I do often when I go out to eat. I feel like I have to get the most interesting-sounding thing on the menu, just to challenge myself in taste. Being the pastry chef for two Charlie Palmer restaurants, both Aureole and Charlie Palmer Steak, I am in a unique position to create desserts with classic American appeal with a hint of intrigue, which I try to do in a very seasonal and current way.
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