Neros’ new crew and turkey dining deals

New Caesars Palace food and beverage director Franck Savoy has had his hands full with chef changes. While the impending change at Bradley Ogden is still a mystery, at Neros, the casino’s venerable high-end steak joint, things are shaking.

A new executive chef, Ryan Byrne, will soon be manning the stoves. Former Guy Savoy chef Andy Knudson, who has been the man behind the menu at The Beat Coffeehouse downtown, will rejoin the Caesars family as the restaurant’s sous chef. I think these hires portend a long future for one of my favorite classic Vegas restaurants.

Meantime, Neros’ talented former chef, Daniel Waked, is now running the Simon kitchen at Palms Place.

Now, I realize that not everyone stays home for Thanksgiving and, boy, are you in the right town for eating out for Turkey Day. Many of our top restaurants offer good deals for that Thanksgiving feast. Here are a few that caught my eye.

One of my favorite restaurants in the city, Sam DeMarco’s First Food and Bar at the Palazzo (607-3478), is offering an “Extravaganza” at $39 per person (kids ages 5-12, $19; under 5 years of age—or shorter than the chef—are free). The menu includes hot mulled cider and roasted pumpkin corn bisque, along with all the traditional fare, plus a homemade pie bar. Seatings are every two hours between 1 and 9 p.m.

At MGM Grand, the same $39 buys you a three-course feast at Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill (891-3000), beginning with kabocha pumpkin soup with cardamom crème fraiche and cranberry chutney, and ending with triple-layer pumpkin pie with cranberries and crème fraiche ice cream.

At Hash House A Go Go, the chain known for portions that would choke Zenyatta, specials range in price from $5.95 to $22.95; pumpkin bisque with sea-salt-toasted almonds, turkey breast with rosemary gravy, fresh mashed potatoes, old-school stuffing, baby green beans and house-made apple cobbler. Reservations are available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and walk-ins will be accepted at its Imperial Palace (254-4646) and M Resort (797-1500) locations. (The Sahara location will be closed.)

Food & Wine recently hosted an All-Star Weekend at Aria, which culminated in a Saturday evening tasting by its pool. I have been a vocal critic of these events, which seem to take place every month or so, diluting their importance. But this one was truly special. The Aria chefs, including Julian Serrano and Vincenzo Scarmiglia of Sirio and the team from the TV show Top Chefs, pulled off what may have been the best tasting I’ve been to in my 11 years in Las Vegas.

Dishes such as Jennifer Carroll’s grilled octopus with tiny cubes of fried eggplant and crispy chickpeas, and Scarmiglia’s osso buco with gnocchi, were astounding. Carroll, for the record, is head chef at Eric Ripert’s Philadelphia restaurant, 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge.

I can’t wait to go next year. But next year, I won’t have that second Manhattan.

Hungry, yet?

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Yes, there is life along that slight stretch of Sahara Avenue just past Palace Station, so stop with the eye-rolling. If you’ve bothered to study beyond the low-rent, mason-bricked apartments, fetish shops and the interesting fashions of those hanging out at the bus shelters, you could be in for a lively time. Beyond the odd bar and coach deli in a parking lot, there’s an undercurrent of odd personality that surrounds the perks in this neighborhood.