Stealth burgers, wine excellence, and Cali’s foie bust is our boon

I heard shouting about a new burger on the block at Wildburger in the Wildfire Casino (1901 N. Rancho Drive, 646-3447), so I had to stop in for a try. And—surprise!—this might be one of the best burgers in the city: handcrafted, beautifully charred with a variety of toppings, and a nice value.

I like the straight-up Angus beef burger, but there is a moist turkey burger, a veggie burger and other options, all available on a brioche, sesame seed or wheat bun, or a lettuce wrap. Complimentary toppings include lettuce, tomato, onions, signature slaw, pickled onion, pickle planks or onion strings and one free sauce. The piquant jalapeño ketchup might be the best choice.

While it may be a cliché to use the term “mixologist” these days (because after all, very few call themselves merely a bartender in this town anymore), the term certainly applies at Sage, which continues to have one of the most interesting cocktail programs in town.

Now, try such imaginative fare such as white spirits barrel-aged in-house, ingredients such as gin-compressed blueberries, and atomized Angostura bitters, in drinks such as the Last Word, which combines barrel-aged Plymouth gin with green Chartreuse and Luxardo maraschino liqueur, plus a splash of lime juice; or the Empire State, with Hudson rye, Root liqueur, Angostura aromatic bitters and Punt e Mes vermouth, garnished with brandied cherries and orange oil. Whew!

Meanwhile, Wine Spectator, the wine industry’s leading publication, has awarded the new Caesars steak house Old Homestead with an Award of Excellence, and given Guy Savoy another coveted Grand Award, the magazine’s highest accolade.

These awards are for outstanding wine lists and are based on wine selection, pairings with cuisine and overall appeal to fine-wine aficionados. Winning a Grand Award requires a serious commitment; most winners have more than 1,500 labels and an excellent depth and breadth of fine wines. Kudos to both venues.

Finally, I was recently privileged to attend a dinner at Bouchon, where Thomas Keller and a team of chefs showcased some of their new fall dishes paired with several wines of note, one being an ’09 Inglenook Cask cabernet sauvignon, served with Snake River Farms Platinum rib eye. The first course, hearts of palm from Panama and Hawaii, had a garnish of Marcona almonds, watercress leaves and a vanilla bean crème fraiche.

Then came something Keller cannot serve in California: pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras dusted with a four-spice blend on French toast alongside a pile of Nantes carrots and young onions, all doused with sauce Perigourdine (truffles). It sure is wonderful to live in Las Vegas.

Hungry, yet?

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By Max Jacobson

Sammy DeMarco, a.k.a. Sammy D of First Food & Bar in the Palazzo, is one of our most creative chefs, so when he unfurls a new project, it’s big news. Rattlecan should be open by mid-October at the Venetian, and it’s going to be hip, fun and affordable. This is basically a burger and shot joint. You know: Jameson’s with a pickle back, etc., and fun spin-offs of familiar bar chow, such as Sammy’s original take on nachos (with crushed pizza crumbs and meatballs) and classic hamburgers cooked on a flat metal griddle.