A cheap taste of Keller, eating up La Cave, and a new Extreme location

All serious foodies need to realize how lucky we are to be in Las Vegas, and that goes double for being in the United States. Famed chef Thomas Keller recently offered an 11-course menu of his most famous dishes from the French Laundry for $835 per person at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. And that did not include wine.

On my last visit to Hong Kong, in October, I paid $795 for my ticket on Air China. So, instead, I headed over to Bouchon at the Venetian, where I could eat the chef’s amazing salmon rillettes and boutique lamb for $50.

The Wine Spectator, meanwhile, unveils its highly anticipated Top 100 Wines of the Year in its new issue (Dec. 31-Jan. 15). Here is its Top 5, in ascending order: with 96 points (out of 100), Altamura Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ’07, $85; with 97 points, Revana St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon ’07, $125; with 97 points, Peter Michael Sonoma County Ma Belle-Fille Chardonnay, $85; with 94 points, Two Hands Barossa Valley Bella’s Garden Shiraz, $55; and the Wine of the Year 2010 … Saxum James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles ’07, 98 Points, $67. If you want to see the rest, go to WineSpectator.com.

Yes, La Cave, the new wine bar at Wynn Las Vegas, has great wines, but don’t overlook the cooking. Chef William DeMarco (an alum of Sam DeMarco’s First Food and Bar, but oddly enough, no relation) has a great menu of small plates, flatbreads, exotic salads and grilled items.

Standouts include halibut rillette with toasted baguette, Sunnyside duck egg and jamón serrano, a prosciutto, arugula and caramelized onion flatbread, and Old Vegas-style baked clams with pepperoncini and Parmesan. For red-wine aficionados, there are terrific imported cheeses as well, at $5 a portion. And don’t miss the coffee lollipop for dessert.

Finally, Extreme Sushi & Sterling Steakhouse, the popular Southern Highlands outpost, has opened a second restaurant at 8955 S. Eastern Ave., with a patio and children’s area to boot. Most people come for an eclectic menu that includes Japanese curry and baked mussels to go with the hand rolls and nigiri. But I like the 28-day dry-aged beef, the 16-ounce New York being my first choice, at a reasonable $29. Call 537-1111 for a reservation.

Hungry, yet?

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This Florentine porterhouse for two is a prime example of what makes chef Mario Batali’s steak house great. And it all starts with beef that is dry-aged for 60 days and exceeds USDA prime standards. The steak, between 32 and 42 ounces (without the bone), is rubbed with sea salt, black pepper and rosemary, cooked and then carved for you and your partner tableside. $70 per person, in the Palazzo, 789-4141.



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