America Hungers for Americana, More Lotus to Love and Cab Passion

The American food scene, it seems, is in full nostalgia mode. Pies have made a big comeback, with favorites including Du-par’s killer apple pie at the Golden Gate Downtown, and Megan Romano’s Chocolate & Spice, where one finds rustic fruit pies and a rich banana cream. Bouchon now serves buttermilk fried chicken on special occasions. Michael Mina’s new Pub 1842, which I recently reviewed, does a throwback lobster pot pie.

New restaurants are relying on homey names to draw in customers, and specializing in American comfort foods. Tom Colicchio will open Heritage Steak in The Mirage later this summer, Bradley Ogden’s new Hops & Harvest has a name that recalls a kinder time in this country, and McCall’s Heartland Grill makes you think of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic”—until, that is, you try chef Rick Giffen’s cutting-edge cooking.

So, why the sudden burst of old-fashioned sentiment in terms of what we eat? I can only imagine that it’s a reaction to all the sushi, ramen, hummus (which will be featured in a Super Bowl commercial next year) and foreign flavors that have invaded America’s palate. Like the French say, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” or “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

Things are slowly changing at our most famous Thai restaurant, Lotus of Siam, as well. Penny Chutima, whose parents, Bill and Saipin, own the place, confirmed that they will be expanding into the space once occupied by Namaste, the restaurant next door, in a Commercial Center shake-up.

Chutima also confirmed, somewhat ruefully, that Namaste had an electric and water bill linked to the one at Lotus for several years, and never made good on it. Oh, well. At least, the Chutimas will be using what they pay for from now on.

There are several other tidbits to throw at you. One is that tattooed Steve Martorano of Café Martorano—a.k.a. the Godfather of Las Vegas Italian cooking—will be bringing his great meatballs, Sunday gravy and bucatini carbonara to Paris Las Vegas early next year. Can’t wait, Cuz!

Also on the docket is a terrific wine dinner scheduled for Thursday, July 25, at the Venetian and Palazzo resorts, as part of the ongoing Carnevale summer celebration. The dinner, entitled Passion for Cabernet will feature rare wines by Antinori and Col Solare of Washington, as well as a multicourse menu created by the property’s executive chef Olivier Dubreuil for the hefty, but reasonable (in the context of these glorious wines), price of $200 per person.

Finally, another Frenchman in the Venetian impressed me on a recent visit. It’s easy to overlook Pinot Brasserie, until you try the exquisite cuisine from chef Eric Lhullier. The charcuterie board, halibut, organic roast chicken and ahi tuna salade Niçoise are all without equal on the Strip, and there are soufflés, macarons and house-made sorbets to finish things off.

Hungry, yet?

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