Uncork’d astounds, Savoy innovates and the gastropub/brunch trends continue

This year’s Vegas Uncork’d, the annual food fest sponsored by Bon Appetite magazine, was by all accounts the best attended and the most successful one to date. Dozens of events were held, with the biggest being the Grand Tasting, held at the Garden of the Gods, an insane party with 77 participating restaurants and wineries. Viva Las Vegas!

I was especially impressed by two events, a “Fish Market” with Costas Spiliadis at Estiatorio Milos, and a multi-course dinner at Central, where Michel Richard dazzled the minions with halibut with fresh carrots and peas, meltingly soft short ribs, and his legendary chocolate bar.

Many visiting journalists, even those from geocentric New York, were jealous of the quality of our restaurants. I can still taste dishes from the Grand Tasting: hand-pulled noodles from Beijing Noodle No. 9, beef Wellington from Gordon Ramsay’s team, and Holsteins’ crispy pork belly sliders, even though what seemed like half the participants had some sort of slider.

The night before the festivities kicked off, I was privileged to dine at Guy Savoy (731-7110) where the chef unveiled his new 14-course menu. He’s a real champion of fine dining, and is encouraging a new audience with a pre-theater menu at $120. But this extravaganza, which he calls his “Innovation-Inspiration” menu, is, at $348, for serious foodies only.

Count me as one. Dishes such as concassé of oyster with lemon gratinée, marinated grilled Hamachi with sherry vinegar and radish gelée, and an exquisitely tender piece of saffron- and marjoram-crusted Wagyu beef, are at a level rarely seen outside la belle France.

David Myers and Brian Howard, meanwhile, have debuted their new concept, Gastropub Mondays, in the bar and lounge at Comme Ça at the Cosmopolitan. Fare such as crispy chickpea fritters with melted petit Basque cheese, Romesco and poutine, the Quebecois classic made with fried potatoes and cheese curds, will complement a new cocktail menu sponsored by Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey. There’s just no stopping the gastropub juggernaut, it would seem.

Finally, La Cave, Michael Morton’s trend-setting wine bar in Wynn, has kicked off a Sunday brunch, served 10 a.m.-2 p.m., for $40. Just a few dishes from chef Billy DeMarco include herbed leg of lamb, savory ham and egg flatbread and beef Wellington.

Spend an extra $20 for unlimited mojitos, caipirinhas and sparkling wine.

Hungry, yet?

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Imperial Duck, Wing Lei

Dishing With Grace

Imperial Duck, Wing Lei

By Grace Bascos

Sometimes called Peking Duck, or Beijing Duck, this extravagant preparation is nothing less than imperial when it’s served at Wing Lei. The roasted duck, with its golden-brown skin, is transformed into two courses. First, it arrives at your table whole on a cart before a server expertly slices 16 pieces from it. These are tucked into fluffy white bao or thin crepes to make sandwiches with thinly sliced scallion and hoisin sauce, while the rest of the duck is whisked away to the kitchen to become the filling for lettuce cups.