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.
Bryan Dillon [Photo: Jenna Dosch]
Consider Bryan Dillon the grand overseer of all things food and beverage at Station Casinos. The corporate director of food and beverage operations for the casino giant started his 30-year career at the Ritz-Carlton in Boston and opened numerous resorts with Interstate Hotels Corp. over the years. He came to Vegas as the corporate executive chef of Bertolini's and opened six restaurants across the country in three years. As the executive corporate chef of Starwood Hotels & Resorts he helped fold in the Sheraton and St. Regis portfolios as well as the Westin. For Station Casinos, Dillon started as the executive chef at Texas Station in 1999 and was involved in the openings and acquisitions of Fiesta Henderson and Fiesta Rancho, Green Valley Ranch, Thunder Valley Casino, Red Rock Resort, Aliante and the Graton Resort. Here, Dillon talks about three of his favorite restaurants in Las Vegas, and each has a show of some sort associated with it.
Bryan Dillon [Photo: Jenna Dosch]
Which Vegas restaurants do you turn to when you're not working at Station Casinos?
1. Palm at the Forum Shops at Caesars
2. Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas
3. Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand
What dishes are most memorable?
1. I have been to Palm restaurants all over the country and they have the most incredible calamari. It never lets me down. I also enjoy the fried cherry peppers along with the tender lightly breaded squid that is always fried to perfection. It comes with a nice garlicky and spicy marinara that I could eat by itself. And, of course, their steaks are not too shabby either.
2. At Mon Ami Gabi, there is a frisee and kale salad that is a nice take on a traditional French salad with the bacon lardons and the soft-poached egg. It's the perfect light starter, or even meal, along with the crusty bread and butter. You can never go wrong with great bread and butter. Great, quality restaurants always start the meal with phenomenal warm bread and the bread at Mon Ami does not disappoint.
3. Joël Robuchon is the finest restaurant in the entire city. It does not matter what the menu is, as it changes on a regular basis, but this is somewhere you go when you want to be wined and dined to the max. The food is always the best of the best and is presented in a manner that all chefs who are true foodies wish they could do every day because it is all about the best products, the finest china and impeccable service. This is art and should be experienced at least once in your life, so that you can say you have experienced the finest in food and service.
Why do you enjoy going there?
1. I spend a tremendous amount of time at work and really enjoy the people I work with, as I consider them my extended family. Sometimes, I really like to go out and just decompress and watch people. The Forum Shops is one of the greatest places in the world to people watch, since when people come to Vegas, they lose their inhibitions. I think it's funny to those of us who live and work here because you see some pretty amazing sights.
2. After the Forum Shops, I think the patio at Mon Ami Gabi is spectacular. With the Fountains at Bellagio and the foot traffic that goes by, the energy is pretty sweet. I love the service and I know what I am going to get, which is smooth, efficient service in an atmosphere that is like no other. I truly enjoy it and look forward to taking my foodie family there. I will say that being in the industry for more than thirty years, my family and I have gotten very spoiled. We eat in the best restaurants around and we all have very high standards, so it says something when I feel good enough to continually go back somewhere.
3. I go to Robuchon because it is complete theater. From the way you are greeted and seated, to the full experience of being waited on like you are the most important person in the world. The dining room is impeccably groomed and the waiters are at your beck and call, even though there is typically never a reason to ask as they anticipate every need and are seamless and unobtrusive as they go about their ballet. This restaurant is a gem and I wish I could be there once a month, as they are always developing new and exciting presentations that are like art. Even the bread presentation is over the top, with a bread trolley that comes to the table with a bountiful selection that has to be twenty different selections all made fresh daily and served with butter that is shaved from a bell of butter and topped with fleur de sel tableside. Outrageous. I would be happy just having the staff meal there, as I am sure some tremendous products cross those culinary palettes every day.
Do you have anything else to add?
I am so pleased to see the focus that is being brought to bear on the "farm to table" philosophy in this town as it is so important for our future and our children's future that there is clean unadulterated food that is not genetically modified and they get to know what real food is.
There is nothing better than the taste of a tomato that is still warm from the garden that was grown locally topped with a fresh farmstead cheese and great olive oil. This is something many people don't get to appreciate, but when you focus on quality and demand, and for your products to be real and not made in a laboratory, it will make a difference. Buy local, buy fresh, and support our local farmers markets. You will not be sorry, as all of your dishes will be better with it and for you!
· All Coverage of Station Casinos [~ELV~]
· All Dining Confidentials [~ELV~]