Whimsical Small Plates, M.E.N.U.S. for Students, and Getting High on Chocolate

If chef José Andres had it his way, he’d have both his culinary creations and his dining guests marinating in conviviality. And that is perhaps why his Bazaar Meat by José Andrés is executing the menu at the adjacent Bar Centro (in SLS, 702-761-7610, SLSLasVegas.com). Perfect for those who want a more casual vibe, Bar Centro offers a lively pick of small plates served nightly from 5:30 p.m. These include fresh oysters with fruit vinegar, cocktail sauce, lemon and black pepper ($3 each); cotton candy foie gras with crispy amaranth ($8); a suckling pig sandwich exclusive to Bar Centro ($10); and my two favorites: grilled pulpo a la Gallega, Galician-style octopus served with potatoes ($12) and crispy pork-skin chicharrón with Greek yogurt and za’atar spices ($6).  Additionally, the menu offers a selection of specially priced wines, beers and cocktails such as the Med Martinez, available exclusively at Bar Centro, with Tanqueray Gin, Pedro Ximénez sherry, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, sherry vinegar and olive oil ($8).

If you love food, you’ll have to agree that sampling a variety is the ultimate way to enjoy. But eating while supporting others is the icing on the cake. So something to consider attending is the Epicurean Charitable Foundation’s M.E.N.U.S. gala at 8 p.m. September 16 at Mandalay Beach (ECFLV.org, 702-932-5098). Proceeds from this event support ECF’s primary charitable endeavor of providing scholarships to local high school students interested in pursuing careers in hospitality and culinary arts. They do this partly through mentorship programs. Take Ana Marie Mormando (GM at The Mansion and SKYLOVE at MGM Grand) and her mentee, Karen Nava, a UNLV senior. With Mormando’s support and guidance, Nava has thrived and became the president of NSMH (National Societies of Minorities in Hospitality) at UNLV, and now serves as the chair emeritus, as well as a presidential student ambassador. She also works as a front desk agent at the Venetian and the Palazzo. One way to support this program is by attending the event, which showcases an impressive line-up of restaurants, including BLT Steak, Border Grill, Delmonico Steakhouse, Giada, Libertine Social, Rivea, The Barrymore  and more.

Those who truly love chocolate seem to become utterly euphoric when presented with these melt-in-your-mouth bites of decadence. And, now it’s actually possible to elevate that feeling—literally. The High Roller (at the Linq, 702-322-0593, HighRollerLV.com) has just launched an in-cabin chocolate tasting experience featuring Ethel M Chocolates. Guests will learn about the origins of chocolate and how the pieces were created, all while focusing their attention on the aroma, taste and texture. The single rotation adventure includes a chocolate ambassador showcasing five different types of pieces and the stories behind them as well as a glass of wine. Tastings are available 5-8:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Admission is $52 per person, or a private cabin can be purchased for $1,500. Now, that’s pretty sweet.

Marisa Finetti savors with all five senses. Read more at VegasSeven.com/DishAndTell, or visit her blog LoveAndRelish.com.