Openings, closings and festivals dominate my notepad this week. First off, Las Vegas Restaurant Week returns Aug. 27-Sept. 2, giving visitors and residents the opportunity to dine at top restaurants for a set price, with part of the proceeds going to a worthy cause, the Three Square Food Bank. Participating restaurants create menus at price points from $20 to $50. Visit HelpOutDineOutLV.org for the venues and details.
Just two days earlier, on Aug. 25, the Venetian and Palazzo will host the fifth annual Carnival of Cuisine, with more than 15 of the resorts’ restaurants taking part. This is the culmination of the Cibo-Vino (or food and wine month), the capstone on the resorts’ three-month-long Carnevale festival of Italian culture. Tickets are $60 for general admission, $85 for VIP. (414-9000, Venetian.com).
On a more somber note, everyone knows Bradley Ogden finally closed its doors Aug. 5, after a nearly 10-year run, to be replaced, it is now confirmed, by a Gordon Ramsay gastropub. I ate one final dinner there, and it was terrific. I’ll miss the blue corn muffins, Maytag blue cheese soufflé, Petaluma chicken and butterscotch pudding. For nearly a decade, it was one of the best restaurants in this city. Gordo, you have big shoes to fill.
And on Aug. 6, another standout restaurant, SeaBlue at the MGM Grand, also said farewell. The Mina Group—which owns American Fish, Michael Mina and Nobhill, among other restaurants here—will continue to manage the space. Let’s see what they do next.
Despite the closures, I haven’t exactly been starving. Recently, I stopped in to try menu additions at Taco Bell, and what I ate there made me want to run for the border all right—to go find some real Mexican cooking. They’re doing citrus herb-marinated chicken and cilantro rice in salad bowls, and high-priced burritos with new fillings, but beyond that, it’s mostly old wine in a new bottle. The chicken has no discernible herb flavor, and the rice, while pleasant enough, could use a larger dose of cilantro. Well, Tenochtitlan wasn’t built in a day.
Finally, a newbie at Town Square with an oddball name, Fracos & Fröccs, has opened in the shaded area just down the path from the Rave Theaters. A fraco, says owner Guy Girardin, is sort of like a taco, but with a low-calorie mu shu crepe standing in for a tortilla shell. The fillings aren’t Mexican, but they do include pulled pork, a Reuben and tuna salad. And what’s a fröcc? It’s fresh fruit, ice and seltzer, an item popular in Hungary, according to Guy. Thought you’d never ask.