Before I get into three interesting dinners I ate recently, just a few notices. First, if you haven’t already heard, Café Heidelberg, a German restaurant and market at 610 E. Sahara Avenue, shuttered earlier this month after a 40-year run. The owner lost her lease. Cafe Heidelberg wasn’t a gourmet restaurant, but it had a large local following. It’s a pity that we don’t always give our colorful ethnic restaurants enough support.
Chef Dan Coughlin is getting national press. His restaurant, Le Thai, (523 E. Fremont St.) was singled out by Details magazine for his Thai meatball and noodle soup. The accolade, however, was headed by “Best Reason to Hit the Strip.” Maybe someone should clue in the editors about downtown.
Now, let’s talk about those dinners. First of all, Fleur, Hubert Keller’s Mandalay Bay small-plate restaurant that was rebranded after Fleur de Lys’ business flagged, has finally hit its stride. Keller’s terrific second banana, corporate chef Laurent Pillard, is back in the kitchen, with an equally talented chef de cuisine, Ryan Duqui.
There are new dishes to burn here, with too many standouts to print. Among them, though, is the foie gras taco with fig and summer truffle. Monkfish liver torchon embellished with crunchy nuggets of rice, soy and Hawaiian sea salt made the biggest impression, followed by diver scallops smoked a la minute with cabbage and bacon.
On July 4, Central, the 24/7 restaurant at Caesars Palace, tried an experiment it’s calling “The Great American Cookout” on the outdoor patio, helmed by the restaurant’s executive chef, Todd Harrington. It was an all-you-can-eat affair, priced at a fair $30 per person.
Owner/chef Michel Richard was not there, so many of the recipes came from Harrington, in particular the pulled pork, baked beans and the chili rub on a flatiron steak. Many local craft breweries, including Tenaya Creek and Joseph James, were on hand, and the beer flowed, er, like wine. Among the best dishes were gooey, breadcrumb-topped mac ’n’ cheese, bratwursts stewed in beer and little slider hot dogs. If you ask nicely, they may try it again next year.
Finally, the Sunday lamb roast, a British tradition that has gone Greek, is alive and well at Estiatorio Milos in the Cosmopolitan. Lamb is slow-roasted whole on a spit, twirling in the restaurant’s open kitchen just behind the fish market display.
The lamb is carved to order, served with wedges of roasted potato, and the price is $45 per person. Just don’t come too early; the lamb probably isn’t ready to serve until at least 7:30 p.m.