Top of the World is Tops, and More Batali, Bastianich for Venetian

On a glorious late-spring evening, nothing is more impressive than watching the sun set and the lights glimmer across the Valley from a white-tableclothed perch at Top of the World, the Stratosphere’s high-end, slowly rotating dining venue (380-7711).

Chef Claude Gaty is one of this city’s best-kept secrets. A native Parisian, he has lived all over the world, and incorporates Hawaiian, Asian, North African and American flavor in his many creations, food that reflects his eclectic style. Gaty has recently added many new dishes to his menu, bucked up by excellent wine choices from the restaurant’s somm, Dean Wachstetter.

I dined there last week, and was particularly impressed by the roasted Kurobuta pork belly with Argentine chimichurri and orange gastrique, even though I couldn’t identify the mystery flavor shot through every bite. (It turned out to be lime powder; Gaty loves Thai cuisine.) And the Colorado rack of lamb with Moroccan flavor turns out to be Gaty’s homage to the North African dishes he grew up with in suburban Paris. Served on a bed of quinoa and minted Greek yogurt, the dish is a masterpiece.

Meanwhile, the irrepressible celebrity chef Mario Batali and business partner Joe Bastianich are at it again. The Venetian has just announced that the two will open B & B Burger & Beer in September, a casual 120-seat dining room in the but-briefly-used former Rattlecan space, with 20 TV screens and a 2,000-square-foot outdoor patio facing the Strip.

Look for burgers crafted from the same good beef provided by butcher Pat LaFrieda at Batali and Bastianich’s upscale steakhouse, Carnevino, as well as salads, side dishes and shakes. It looks as if the two are trying to beat Danny Meyer at his game; Meyer’s famous Shake Shack is slated to debut in the new SLS Hotel when it opens in 2014.

Are you in the mood for a traditional English-style afternoon tea? Well, now you won’t have to go all the way to London for one: Francois Payard is offering a true English cream tea at his place in Caesars Palace, 3-5:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (731-7110). The price is $24-$30 if you would also like a flute of Prosecco—and includes teas from Payard’s Kusmi Collection, scones and mini-pastries, plus jams and whipped cream.

And finally, it’s official: Valentino Las Vegas will close July 14. If you’ve never had chef Luciano Pellegrini’s James Beard Award-winning cuisine, or experienced the hospitality of restaurateur Piero Selvaggio, it behooves you to do so before the Venetian restaurant closes forever. Valentino has been the most consistently excellent restaurant during my 14 years in Las Vegas, and will be missed tremendously. Good run, bambini.

Hungry, yet?

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