We may think that Las Vegas holds the monopoly on indulgence and partying to excess, but during Carnival, the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, New Orleans lets the good times roll. Chef Carlos Guia, who spent a decade at Commander’s Palace in NOLA before opening the outpost here, has always shown some of his Southern roots on his menu at Country Club (in Wynn, 702-770-3315), especially at the popular Sunday Jazz Brunch. From February 11-17, however, the Big Easy comes out in full force like a coconut chucked from a Zulu Krewe parade float. Right up through Fat Tuesday, Country Club will offer prix fixe Taste of Mardi Gras menus at both lunch ($39) and dinner ($95), highlighting the festive fare that you’d consume before abstaining from fun for Lent.
Down-home ingredients are elevated to gourmet status in bites such as crawfish beignets (a hush puppy studded with the tiny crustaceans) or alligator tenderloins made crispy after soaking in buttermilk. It’s not Mardi Gras without gumbo, and Guia’s recipe is authentic as it come—rich and deep in color thanks to a dark roux and jam-packed with house-smoked Andouille sausage, shrimp and more crawfish. And of course, there’s king cake glazed in the traditional holiday colors of purple and green sugar, with a not-so-traditional praline cream cheese filling. And don’t go digging for the little plastic baby in your piece of cake either—Country Club has thoughtfully removed the surprise element (whoever gets the baby must make the cake next year), lest guests should chip a tooth. Besides, you want Guia making your king cake every year anyway.