Gordo’s hat trick, doing the Laundry, and the TI Shacks up

It has now been confirmed that cranky chef Gordon Ramsay—who is also about to open a gastropub-style concept in the former Bradley Ogden space at Caesars Palace—will also open a third restaurant in his constellation here. The tentative name is Flame Burger, to debut at Planet Hollywood sometime in the early spring. I’m looking forward to see this vaunted chef’s interpretation of an American standard.

Meanwhile, I recently had the chance to dine at one of America’s very best restaurants, The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif. Reservations at Thomas Keller’s palace of gastronomy are hard to come by—call (707) 944-2380 and keep those fingers crossed. A table must generally be booked at least two months in advance.

But a group of five friends visiting from Hong Kong gave me plenty of notice, and so we dined on a tasting menu of 14 small-but-satisfying courses ($270 service included), beginning with a summer melon soup and ending with tiny, warm donuts presented in a cloth-lined basket. In the interim, we had such delicacies as hen-egg custard with a ragout of Perigord truffle, and sweet butter-poached lobster with prunes, apples, baby leeks, walnuts and watercress.

Every course was orchestrated down to the minutest detail. Only Joël Robuchon and Guy Savoy can rival this restaurant for artful plating, polished service and amazing technique in the kitchen if we compare The French Laundry with Las Vegas restaurants. But amazingly New York City has seven three-Michelin-star restaurants now with names familiar to Las Vegans, including Keller’s Per Se and Masa, Masa Takayama of BarMasa and Tetsu’s Warner Center outpost.

Back on the Strip, a new dinner spot, Seafood Shack (800-288-7206), has debuted at the TI. Open from 5-10 p.m. daily, the restaurant features nautically themed décor and a seafood menu, with dishes such as San Francisco-style cioppino, a tomato-based shellfish stew, and an authentic New England clambake with all the fixin’s. Décor features a real ship’s anchor and reclaimed barn wood siding. On select dates, the Shack will offer two-for-one entrees in October.

Finally, I attended a pizza party at D.O.C.G. (698-7000), the little sister restaurant to Scarpetta in the Cosmopolitan, and was reminded that, in spite of all the ink the secret pizza joint on the same floor gets, this place offers some serious pizza, with a bubbly crust and great toppings. I really love the pie with soppressata and another with fonduta cheese, but what really impressed me with was the Tuscan fried chicken I tried in the kitchen.

Hungry, yet?

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EAT, chef Natalie Young’s modest, yet somehow jazzy restaurant, and downtown seem as made for each other as William and Kate. Springtime and flowers. Bacon and eggs. Max’s Menu Picks Breakfast Steel-Cut Oats, $7. Golden-Brown Pancakes, $9. Lunch Shrimp and Grits, $11. Green Chile Chicken Posole, $9. Arugula Salad, $10.



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