After four years of hard times, everyone is ready to sound the death knell for fine dining in Las Vegas. But rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, we had so many excellent dining experiences to consider this year that it was quite a challenge to decide which ones to single out. After more than a few passionate discussions among Vegas Seven’s food-and-beverage team, we’ve come up with a “best” list that shows that our restaurant scene is not only very much alive, but still evolving.
True, losing Alex, a two-Michelin-star restaurant at the Wynn, was a blow. But that is more emblematic of a shifting management philosophy at Wynn than reflective of overall trends around here.
Look at Caesars Palace. It has overhauled its restaurant options impressively. Washington, D.C., star chef Michel Richard’s 24/7 bistro, Central, is already turning heads with its multimillion-dollar build-out, a menu of French and American classics, and spectacular desserts. The resort plans to replace Bradley Ogden in the first quarter next year with a gastropub concept from England’s Gordon Ramsay. The 180-room Centurion Tower will be totally redone as Nobu’s own hotel, complete with a 9,500-square-foot Japanese restaurant.
And although we’ve lost many neighborhood favorites, we continue to improve as an ethnic dining destination. Two amazing fusion concepts, Forte and DW Bistro, are solidly entrenched in the local scene. The Chinatown scene keeps improving, too, thanks to newcomers such as Big Wong, our first Brooklyn Chinese restaurant, and Café de Japon, a Japanese-style restaurant/coffee shop.
Will we ever get tired of burgers? It seems not, since I Love Burgers at the Palazzo is already planning a second location at Town Square, Smashburger continues to expand, and Five Guys, yet another national chain, has debuted successfully on South Eastern Avenue.
And the aforementioned gastropub concept is also adding new wrinkles to the local scene. English’s is already open in the Town Square location that once was home to Louis’, and plans are afoot to open Public House, another gastropub, in the Venetian.
We are already salivating just thinking about what 2012 will bring.