Can a building be cursed?
A handful of restaurant locations scattered throughout the Valley seem like they might be, with one restaurant after another opening then quickly closing in the same space. (One beautiful-but-doomed spot in Boca Park finally gave up on food altogether and became a veterinary hospital.) The Tivoli Village space that houses the new Made L.V. hasn’t had enough casualties to declare it “destined to fail.” But the closures of former tenants Bottles & Burgers by Double Helix and Bradley Ogden’s Hops & Harvest are enough to give you pause.
Fortunately, the folks helming its new incarnation are Las Vegas’ ultimate culinary power couple: restaurant consultant Elizabeth Blau and her husband, chef Kim Canteenwalla.
The couple has renovated the room since Ogden’s residency, opening it up and converting one of the bars into a cooking station. They’ve also brought dining tables into what was once an odd oversize entrance foyer. That room also houses several shelves of board games and children’s books that double as the kids’ menu.
The restaurant is more casual than the couple’s other west Valley operation, Honey Salt. In fact, despite its child-friendly policies, it’s basically an upscale tavern. There’s a healthy craft beer selection, 19 wines by the glass and a variety of cocktails, two of which are on tap. A back area houses a pair of video games. And the food is a more refined version of bar fare, much of which is meant to be shared.
The first thing you’ll note is there’s no free bread service. Instead, you can order pita with tzatziki sauce, garlic toast or a pair of large bacon and cheddar biscuits for $4 to $5 per order. I opted for the biscuits, which were so incredibly rich and packed with flavor, they really didn’t require any of the accompanying honey-salt butter.
Among the more original parts of the menu is the one dedicated to five dips and spreads served in a mason jars. They include a rich, earthy chopped chicken liver, pimento cheese and a delicately smoked sour cream with onions served with house-made potato chips. The last one may have been inspired by Blau’s love of making dips with Lipton soup mix in college, but it’s a much more subtle version.
Other fantastic appetizers include thick-cut bacon served with deviled eggs and red-onion jam, and a delicious artichoke stuffed with the grain freekeh, Parmesan, lemon, herbs and garlic. Among the four styles of large “butcher cut” chicken wings, don’t overlook the salt and vinegar version. Canteenwalla had never heard of that preparation until his son discovered them in an Albertsons and dragged him over to try them, but the results are some of the best wings I’ve had in a long time.
From the sandwich section of the menu, the Canteen Bahn Mi—featuring a house-made pâté, country ham, pickled carrots and daikon, herb salad and sriracha mayo—is a well-balanced winner. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the vegetarian eggplant “pastrami.” The thick cuts of eggplant completely overpower the Swiss cheese, caramelized onion and Thousand Island dressing.
With so much emphasis on the shareables, I’ve only tucked into one of seven “Mains,” the fish fry. Three large pieces of cod are delicately battered and perfectly cooked, and then served alongside some rather unremarkable fries. However, as a novel twist, they’re accompanied by a saltshaker filled with malt vinegar powder, so you can load them up with vinegar flavor without drowning them in liquid.
My dessert, too, arrived in a mason jar: layers of banana pudding, Nabisko Nilla Wafers, whipped cream and salted caramel. While it was good, I’ll opt for the S’mores “Nachos” on my next visit.
And there will be a next visit. Made L.V. definitely offers something new to the evolving Tivoli Village dining collection. So I’m fairly confident it will prove there is no curse on its space.
Al’s Menu Picks
- bacon and eggs ($8.25)
- salt and vinegar chicken wings ($9.50)
- baked artichoke ($10.75)
- fish fry ($17.75)
Tivoli Village, 702-722-2000. Open for lunch at 11:30 a.m. Wed–Sun. Open for dinner 4 p.m.–11 p.m. daily. Dinner for two, $30–$75.