Mussels Normande, Pinot Brasserie
However simple to prepare, mussels are rarely given the thought or care in preparation they deserve. However, Pinot Brasserie does them justice. This underrated bistro serves the black mollusks piled high in a bowl, freshly steamed open with a lovely and fragrant creamy white-wine broth. The plump mussels are only upstaged by the traditional accompaniment of excellent, garlic-kissed pommes frites, also meant to be immersed in the broth. $16, the Venetian, 414-8888, Venetian.com.
Shrimp Toast, Fat Choy
It’s not a common combination, but once you’ve had one, you’ll want another. There’s plenty to love about this deceptively simple umami bomb. It’s minced shrimp with a bit of lap cheong (or Chinese sausage) drizzled with sriracha aioli and hoisin sauce, all atop a piece of toast. And then that bad boy is topped with a fried egg. Why would anyone put shrimp on toast? Why not? $8, Eureka Casino, 794-3464, FatChoyLV.com.
Veal Osso Buco Ravioli, Ruth’s Chris Steak House
It may seem like a heavy appetizer, but the half-moon pockets filled with tender osso buco and fresh mozzarella taste airier and lighter than you expect, the pasta slightly yellow thanks to an infusion of saffron. A subtle, white-wine demi-glace is drizzled over to complete the rich dish. Any pangs of guilt are immediately negated by the small portion of sautéed spinach on the plate. $16, Harrah’s, 693-6000, RuthsChris.com.
Macarons, Philippe Macarons
Not to be confused with the awful, American coconut macaroon, the French macaron is a sweet category unto itself, requiring perfect technique to make them consistently well. It’s essentially a cookie sandwich, except the cookie part is soft, airy and meringue-based, while the middle is a creamy ganache or jam. Jean Philippe Dufoin sells a variety of flavors online, including chocolate, salted caramel and strawberry, but the pistachio is a big hit—bright green, buttery and nutty. $21 for 12, PhilippeMacarons.com.
Little Big Royales, SHe by Morton’s
Chef Todd Mark Miller named these sliders after the French translation for the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder in Pulp Fiction. The patty is topped with cheddar and served on a toasted bun, but with the house-made special sauce, the bite-size burgers are more of Le Big Mac. $19, Crystals at CityCenter, 254-2376, SHe-LV.com.