Steak Oscar, another New Year and store-bought chicken that’s actually good

Her honor, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, was on hand to bolster her husband’s newest venture, the downtown steak house Oscar’s, housed in the Plaza under its fabled dome. The concept is “Beef, Booze and Broads,” and there will be a stable of scantily clad women on hand to chat up customers. The hope is that it will help revitalize downtown. And if what I ate is an indication, things are off to a reasonable start.

Oscar himself strongly endorsed a crab-cake appetizer, and since he’s from Philly, I took his advice. You get two densely packed discs, made from back-fin crabmeat—quite impressive. I had the Spilotro skirt steak, redolent of garlic and peppers, and was impressed, even if a colleague deemed hers slightly tough.

My only complaint was with the potato latkes, which were just jumped-up hash browns. The ex-Mayor’s bubbe would have said feh. “We’re working on them,” he whispered to me. So it appears, so far, that Oscar’s is definitely worth a visit. Call 386-7227 for reservations.

Chinese New Year—this time the Year of the Dragon—begins Jan. 23, and China Poblano, José Andrés’ fusion concept at the Cosmopolitan, offers a number of new menu items and cocktails. I can’t tell you what they’ll be as yet, but count on surprises.

At $2.97 per pound, the price for Mary’s Chicken at Whole Foods Markets, may sound too high for many consumers. But they shrink considerably less in the oven than the waterlogged, factory-farmed chicken you get in a conventional supermarket, and they taste 10 times better.

This is a plump, organic bird that crisps in the oven beautifully. I used rosemary from my garden on it, and it came out perfectly. A four-pound bird will serve six, comfortably. And it’s far cheaper than paying $11.95 there for a fully cooked bird from the rotisserie. They average less than two pounds after cooking.

Hyde Bellagio, our newest lounge/nightclub, opened in time to ring in 2012. It occupies the space that formerly belonged to the Fontana Bar, which had been there since the hotel opened in 1998.

This is a collaborative affair. Portland-based mixologist Ryan Magarian created the signature cocktails menu, including the Caribbean Snowflake with Cruzan rum, grapefruit juice, Angostura bitters and whipped egg white, while Mario Maccioni of the adjacent restaurant, Osteria del Circo, is supplying the food. Expect Kumamoto oysters, warm flatbreads, filled bomboloni and various artisan popsicles. Caviar service? Sure.

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One amazing thing about dining out in Las Vegas is how the techniques and diversity of local chefs increase from year to year. And 2011 was no exception. I sampled a wonderfully eclectic menu over the last 12 months, to which the following dishes will attest. So here—and in no special order—are the 10 best things I ate in 2011. Avgolemono Soup at Milos

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