Making Waves

Lake Las Vegas is back on the menu. Here are five reasons to make the drive …

Things have been picking up of late in The Village at Lake Las Vegas. The last time I stopped by, the self-parking garage—almost empty on recent visits—was nearly full, and there was a good Saturday-night crowd on hand for a free lakeside concert. Despite the loss of some good restaurants at Lake Las Vegas in recent years, there is, once again, no shortage of fine dining in these parts, so bring a hearty appetite. Here are my favorites:

Firenze Lounge at Ravella

Perhaps you remember when this sprawling property was the Ritz-Carlton. Now, it’s been taken over by a new resort company, and the hotel is about to reopen Medici, its fine-dining venue.

For the moment, you can eat chef Andrew Chadwick’s mature, creative cooking in the Firenze Lounge, where whole legs of pata negra ham from Spain and San Daniele prosciutto sit waiting to be carved into 40- or 60-gram raciones (about 1 and ¼, or 2 ounces.)

The chef has quite a résumé, having worked at elBulli in Spain (for more on molecular cuisine, see Page 129), and Michel Bras in France, so expect surprises. The lounge menu relies on small plates such as smoked risotto with sea urchin and tomato pulp, or a grilled sous-vide octopus with feta cheese and Meyer lemon. There is a happy hour every day at 4 p.m., featuring flavored Cosmos for $5. 567-4700.

Bernard’s Bistro by the Lake

This charming room, a white-tablecloth space filled with pottery, burgundy wainscoting and lots of dark wood once belonged to Joseph Keller, the brother of Thomas Keller from Bouchon. Now, the torch has been passed to French chef Bernard Tordjman, a most genial host.

The food here is delicious, and the prices reasonable. My wife and I split a grilled artichoke with a tangy rémoulade, then moved on to a pair of main dishes, a mille-feuille filled with braised chicken and the evening’s star, garlic miso marinated whitefish. 565-1155.

Luna Rossa Ristorante

Directly across the street, Luna Rossa has been here since The Village first opened, and it features a pizza menu for a modest dinner, and fancier fare should the mood strike.

Like the neighbor across the way, this restaurant also features white tablecloths and patio tables. The menu runs to classics such as bruschetta, risotto ai funghi (with fresh mushrooms), spaghetti with clams, and lasagna. If you’re in the mood for pizza, they are huge and priced from $15. 568-9921.

Auld Dubliner

This authentic Irish pub has imported wooden furniture, Irish artwork and a parquet floor, plus good pub cooking to match. There is a great menu of Irish whiskies such as Red Breast and Jameson’s 18 Year, and the terrific house-made ginger ale beats a soda back any day.

Try a corned-beef sandwich on marble rye, boxty (a kind of stuffed potato pancake) or the textbook fish and chips. They ran out of their highly touted raspberry trifle on a recent visit, so I have to go back. 567-8002.

Black Pepper Grill

If the ethnic dining thing isn’t your bag, go domestic at this regional American establishment, the newest addition to The Village. Highlights from the menu include a spicy chicken sandwich with Havarti cheese, and a 16-ounce bone-in New York steak. 567-9950.

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Seared Sea Scallops at Vintner Grill

Dishing With Grace

Seared Sea Scallops at Vintner Grill

Executive chef Matthew Silverman has a way with marine bivalves. For his seared sea scallop entrée, Silverman uses fresh U-10 Diver scallops from Portland, Maine. They are crusted in coriander seed and black pepper, and then pan-roasted with olive oil to give them a good sear. They are finished with a little butter, fresh herbs and dried arbol chilies. But what happens after that changes with the seasons. “During the winter time, I like to do a risotto with them, sometimes using butternut squash,” Silverman says.