Stewart + Ogden at the recently opened Downtown Grand is named for two 19th-century food lovers, Archibald Stewart and Peter Skene Ogden, who are also honored with street names in the neighborhood. It’s a three-meal restaurant just off the main casino floor, and clearly, the management and designer are shooting for a bistro atmosphere. At any rate, Stewart + Ogden’s an alternative to the more upscale Triple George Grill across the street, and it serves a mean breakfast, too.
In a former life, this was the down-market Lady Luck, and the transformation, I must say, is impressive. The new casino floor has a slick, modern look. Adjacent to Stewart + Ogden is a small sportsbook with good deli sandwiches and hearty soups, and there is also Red Mansion, a Chinese restaurant with a menu designed by chef Can Duong of Wendy’s Noodle Cafe in Chinatown.
Just inside the doors from the valet, and to the right, Stewart + Ogden is a narrow room with a tin ceiling, a stainless-steel bar and sea-blue leatherette booths. There are also two rows of rather generic white tables and yellow plastic chairs that look like they come from an IKEA warehouse. When I remarked to a young but wise server that the chairs had to go, he had a rejoinder: “The designer is proud of these chairs.” Maybe so, but they just don’t match the elegance of these surroundings.
The menu is executed by chef Michael Sellman, who has worked in Las Vegas since the 1970s, with Caesars Palace and MGM Grand on his résumé. But if you’re expecting a generic, coffee-shop menu, you won’t find it here. Many dishes have unusual twists, such as Dr Pepper-braised pot roast and the Cubana, a Cuban sandwich with a black-bean schmear and tomato-chipotle sauce, in addition to the roast pork and cheese.
Breakfast is just fine. The fried-green-tomato Benny—lavishly sauced with a classic rémoulade and layered with fresh lump crabmeat—wouldn’t be embarrassed to find itself on a menu in a top New Orleans restaurant such as Galatoire’s or Commander’s Palace. If you’re a griddle person, you can hardly improve on the springy lemon-ricotta waffle, redolent of sweet lemon preserves.
The lunch menu is reasonable, and the restaurant already seems to be attracting a Downtown crowd, many of whom come in large groups. Sick From School chicken noodle soup has a 10-cent name, but don’t let that deceive you. This is a hearty bowlful with rich broth, egg noodles and shredded dark-meat chicken. It’s a real treat.
The Garden Shed is a nice salad of arugula, kale and spinach leaves dressed simply with light vinaigrette and topped with shaved Parmesan. Among main dishes, the fish and chips is a remarkably greaseless version using Arctic cod, although the fennel slaw is overly sweet, and those chips, ordinary french fries, were flaccid.
And although I enjoyed the eccentric Dr Pepper-braised pot roast, it is quite sweet, and the sweetness is amplified by the presence of diced, braised sweet potatoes under the enormous, tender hunks of beef. Colorful spears of broccoli rabe, however, give this dish an almost impressionistic appeal. Additional entrées such as roast chicken, trout and salmon also shine on the dinner menu. And for dessert, the butter brioche bread pudding is an alliterative delight.
The boys, Stewart and Ogden, never had it this good.
Stewart + Ogden
In the Downtown Grand, 206 N. 3rd St., 719-5100. Open daily for breakfast 7-11 a.m., lunch 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and dinner 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Lunch for two, $22-$39.