Two decorated chefs; one great steak house

Two of the most prestigious restaurant awards in the world were announced recently. One was the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants. (I am on the voting panel.) The surprise winner was Noma of Copenhagen, Denmark, with Spain’s famed temple of molecular gastronomy, El Bulli, ranked first last year, coming second. No Las Vegas restaurant made the list.

Then there was the annual James Beard Awards, held in New York City, with the Wynn’s Paul Bartolotta among dozens of Vegas chefs in the audience. Claude Le Tohic, the chef at MGM Grand’s Joël Robuchon, won Best Chef Southwest, beating out the other two finalists, Lotus of Siam’s Saipin Chutima and RM Seafood’s Rick Moonen. But Moonen, whose restaurant is at Mandalay Place, had his day as well. He won a James Beard Television Award for hosting a segment of Chefs A’ Field, which took place in Alaska. Congratulations to chefs Le Tohic and Moonen.

The Outstanding Restaurant Award went to New York City’s Daniel, and Best New Restaurant went to Marea, also in NYC. Daniel Boulud of Daniel recently shuttered DB Brasserie at Wynn. Michael White of Marea was the opening chef at the MGM Grand’s Fiamma. It’s comforting to know that New York is still the center of the universe—or at least that the Beard House says it is.

I’ve known Strip House chef John Schenk since he came here to open Nectar at Bellagio, in the spot occupied today by Fix. John is a good ’ol boy from rural upstate New York. He grew up on a farm and knew how to butcher a steer before he could tie his shoes.

Strip House, for those of you not familiar, is one of this city’s best steak joints. It’s housed in Planet Hollywood, with a design by David Rockwell, done in lurid crimson. Black-and-white deco portraits hang on the wall. Lighting is dim and sexy, tres Belle Epoque.

But Schenk’s meats are the main draw, such as a 40-ounce porterhouse that he dry-ages for 35 days, best eaten with the house steak sauce. On the side, you can have such treasures as goose-fat potatoes or creamed corn with pancetta. For dessert, there is the incredible 24-layer chocolate cake, which will feed a small orchestra.

Strip House, incidentally, is a national chain, but Schenk, who is the corporate chef for all of them, has made Las Vegas his home—a real plus.

Call 737-5200 for a dinner reservation.

Hungry, yet?

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