The food-critic trap, buzz-worthy barbecue and a hot new bakery

Perhaps you saw the tempest stirred up over the so-called “outing” of Los Angeles Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila. If not, what transpired was basically this: Virbila and her party were refused service at a Beverly Hills restaurant, Red Medicine, and summarily kicked out. One of the principals at the restaurant then stuck a camera in her face and snapped her photo. It appeared on and, later, all over the Internet, compromising her closely guarded anonymity.

The entire incident seemed childish and unfortunate, but also raised a few interesting points. Does a restaurant have the right to refuse some customers a table? Is a critic’s anonymity crucial when a restaurant is being evaluated? (Tell me what you think) Personally, the best thing about being recognized is not having to wait for a table. It’s not really an advantage, otherwise. The staff just gets nervous, and then the kitchen sends you dishes you don’t want to eat.

Meanwhile, new restaurants continue to spring up off-Strip. A second Buzz BBQ recently opened (9670 W. Tropicana Ave.), and its mantra is low and slow—the secret formula for good barbecue. The rib tips are sensational—blackened, fall-apart tender and smoky to the bone—while the brisket, cooked over hickory, rivals any in the city.

This is the kind of real pit barbecue I’ve been missing since Barbecue Masters in Henderson closed its doors three years ago. The chicken is a deep bronze, the andouille sausage a spicy treat, and the sides, such as fried okra and collard greens, done well. Try a homemade cobbler (apple, peach or blackberry) for dessert.

Bonjour Euro Bakers (4012 S. Rainbow Blvd., 889-0611) is also new. It’s a classic French bakery that sells baguettes and a nice selection of pastries, but the real star here is the croissant, the flakiest and the richest one I’ve ever eaten in Las Vegas. The ham-and-cheese croissant is a bit much, though. The Béchamel sauce filling is pure overkill.

Virbila needn’t worry about being spotted at Maximilians, a charming country house in North Hollywood, Calif. (11330 Weddington St., 818-760-1300), with a number of cozy rooms and tables, an abundance of flowers and soft lighting. Her colleague, Linda Burum, already did a review of the place.

I was just there and I can tell you that its specialty is something not found in Las Vegas: Hungarian cuisine, which is glorious. Start with langos, fried potato and wheat-flour bread that looks like a giant golden baseball glove, and progress to halaszle, Hungarian fish soup redolent of paprika.

Goose that is crisp, fragrant and expertly roasted and venison with liver dumplings are typical main courses. Desserts are szilvás gombóc, potato dumplings filled with plums and dusted with powdered sugar, or Maximilians’ torte, chocolate covered white cake with chestnut puree.

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