I’m always amused when I read predictions by New York food writers as to upcoming restaurant trends. Could it be that merely by prognosticating, these wags make trends happen? Just sayin’.
A few predictions for 2013 seem to be coming true, though, such as a proliferation of ramen bars and more gluten-free options. Thankfully, the practice of having to pay for bread and butter hasn’t hit Strip dining spots yet, but if it does, I predict a revolt. In New York, it seems, several upscale restaurants now charge for artisanal breads and fancy butters. That ain’t gonna fly here.
Unless, perhaps, you have the style of José Andrés, the Spanish hurricane who owns Jaleo, E Bar and China Poblano in the Cosmopolitan (and who will also have the Bazaar at the SLS Hotel when it opens in fall 2014.) Andrés serves a special variety called “crystal bread,” a thin, crackling bread he discovered in Spain, which he rubs with cracked tomato to produce the Catalan specialty pa’ amb tombaquet—or bread and tomato.
I bring this up because it is an integral part of an amazing dinner I ate at Jaleo (in the Cosmopolitan, 698-7950) now being offered every Sunday afternoon, beginning at 4 p.m. I refer to cochinillo, suckling pig roasted whole on a real wood fire, right in the middle of Jaleo’s dining room. The pig comes to the table moist and juicy, with shards of crisp, golden skin, plus tomato bread and a duo of sauces, allioli (Catalan for aioli) and salsa verde (green herbs with oil and garlic). The price for this feast is $35. Add a little Iberico ham and that will pump up your bill handsomely.
Meanwhile, chef Mitsuo Endo has just opened Sweets Raku—a Japanese dessert bar the likes of which is making a splash in Tokyo, Paris and New York—adjacent to Aburiya Raku, his iconic kaiseki restaurant and pub at 5040 Spring Mountain Road (open 3-11 p.m. daily, 290-7181). The mostly white space serves desserts built in front of the customer.
And there are two more exciting openings to look forward to. One is BLT Steak, slated to open at Bally’s in early 2014. The restaurant is part of a planned re-energizing of the hotel, which includes the temporary addition of Drai’s After Dark and a redone South Tower. Former Las Vegas chef Laurent Tourandel conceived BLT Steak, and it is an impressive steakhouse. (The related BLT Burger chain was also started by Tourandel, but the chef no longer has an interest in it.) Meals begin with the restaurant’s signature popovers laced with Gruyère. I also like the 28-day dry-aged rib eye, and the list of more than 500 wines.
Finally, just when you thought it was safe to turn off the pizza oven, it has been announced that Tony Gemignani, 11-time World Pizza Champion, is bringing a new pizza concept, Pizza Rock, to Las Vegas. The restaurant, to be located Downtown at 201 N. Third St., will feature gourmet pizzas, artisan cocktails, imported beers and an extensive wine list.
Follow Max Jacobson’s latest epicurean observations, reviews and tips at VegasSeven.com/Blogs.