Hard to Leave the Big Easy, Big on Japan, and a Night with Accarrino

Jeff and Rhonda Wyatt of Marche Bacchus (2620 Regatta Dr., 804-8008) are natives of Louisiana, and I was lucky enough to be in New Orleans with them recently. They took me on an insider food tour of their favorite hotspots, and I’m still reeling from the crawfish pie, boudin, crabmeat au gratin and Creole gumbo.

Among places hit, Cochon, August, Galatoire’s for Friday lunch, and the capper, Saturday brunch at Commander’s Palace, which rose like a phoenix after extensive damage from Hurricane Katrina and a 16-month closure. Donald Link’s Cochon was terrific, serving the spiciest bloody mary in creation (the glass almost white from grated horseradish), and amazing fried alligator, but so were the oysters en brochette at French 75 bar inside Arnaud’s, and the barbecued shrimp at Mr. B’s.

The Wyatts, meanwhile, in collaboration with their chef, David Middleton, have added oysters on the half shell to their menu, as well as a full caviar service, so Marche Bacchus might seem a little more like the Big Easy than before. And you still get to choose great wine in the shop, and drink it with your meal for that nominal $10 corkage. The Wyatts are incredible hosts, whether you are with them here, or in their home state.

Meanwhile, the antidote to all that rich food is Japanese dining, a lean cuisine that is low in fat and sugar, unlike the bread pudding soufflé at Commander’s. The new kid on the block is Yonaka (4983 W. Flamingo Rd.), which does a modern, fusion-y take on this cooking, adding fruit, nuts, spice and color to dishes in an original, unexpected fashion.

Chef Ramir DeCastro, ably assisted by veteran sushi chef Toshi, creates dishes you’ve never seen before in a handsome off-Strip venue, an upbeat place with wooden blocks covering the walls to absorb sound. Crudo, a version of sashimi, is seabass, a sort of marinated tomato wedge, candied quinoa, ikura (a.k.a. salmon roe) and lemon herb oil, a work of art you’ll feel guilty about dismantling.

Hot dishes include takorizo, grilled octopus with thin slices of chorizo, honeydew melon, almonds and salsa verde, and ishiyaki, your choice of either wagyu beef or scallop that you cook yourself on a hot stone. Open until 2 a.m. Call 685-8358 for a reservation.

RM Seafood will welcome chef Matthew Accarrino of SPQR in San Francisco for a one-night collaborative dinner benefitting Three Square Las Vegas on March 14, an opulent five-course feast. The evening begins at 7 p.m. with a cocktail reception featuring hand-crafted specialty cocktails paired with hors d’oeuvres. Seating is at 7:30, and will feature dishes by Rick Moonen as well as ones from Accarrino’s new cookbook SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine. The price is $150 per person, and includes an autographed copy of Accarrino’s cookbook. Call 632-9300 or email info@rmseafood.com for more information

Hungry, yet?

Follow Max Jacobson’s latest epicurean observations, reviews and tips at VegasSeven.com/Blogs.