Vietnamese Imperial rolls

The Black Sheep, Morels’ Summer Menu and German and Austrian Wines

For very selfish reasons, I’m loving that the southwest corner of Las Vegas is seeing some solid eats. One of the newest standouts is The Black Sheep (8680 W. Warm Springs Rd., Chef Jamie Tran, formerly of the shuttered db Brasserie, has given comfort food a Vietnamese twist. The space is one created with love (and sweat) by Tran and her partners Andy Hooper and Jon Schwalb. Gray barnyard slats line the east wall, while across the dining room there is an assortment of white framed mirrors. A friendly bar displays a diverse selection of interesting and value-driven wines. Tran’s food is prepared and delivered with love. I recommend for starters the bao slider (one of the best I’ve ever had), created with house-made pork sausage, fried quail egg, crispy shallots, fresh herbs and jalapeño aioli. The Vietnamese Imperial rolls are like lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) with a serious attitude, made with Duroc pork, shrimp, pickled heirloom carrots, frisée salad and garlic citrus vinaigrette. Then there’s the spicy chicken wings—sticky, sweet, hot, salty and crispy goodness bathed in exotic tamarind flavors and accented with black garlic. The slow-cooked short rib and Scottish King salmon in a clay pot are two very satisfying entrées also worth checking out.

Photography by Krystal Ramirez

As evidenced by the triple-digit temps, it’s summer, but the cool thing that Morels Steakhouse & Bistro (inside The Palazzo, brings to the table is its $45 four-course dinner tasting menu showcasing summertime flavors and ingredients. Available daily through Labor Day, choose a first course between fried calamari with spicy pomodoro or curry coconut shrimp. Next, decide on steamed Prince Edward Island mussels, beef tenderloin tartare with truffle potato chips or Snake River Farm American Kobe sliders. Then, fuel your herbivorous side with a choice of Marchini Farms radicchio salad, snap pea Caesar with red and yellow endive, Greek salad with imported Italian sheep’s milk feta or hearts of romaine with roasted garlic Caesar dressing. For the final course, choose from free-range chicken paillard; shrimp pappardelle; grilled petit filet mignon with potato galette, asparagus, baby carrots and sauce Bordelaise; or New York grass-fed sirloin with potato puree, vegetable ratatouille and sauce Bordelaise. I said it was a great deal, but I didn’t say the choices would be easy.

Finally, keep chilling, because a thirst quencher is always welcome in the summer. And because it’s a wine lover’s duty to extol the virtues of genres that are underloved and/or still undiscovered by the masses, we’re going to talk about two. First, the Riesling: The great white grape of Germany deserves a few more sips to realize that it’s just too beautiful to ignore, and let’s just go ahead and make room for it next to rosés this summer. Its “sweet” reputation is not fashionable, you say? Never mind that, because you can have it dry, too. Look for the word “Trocken” on the label, which means “dry.” It doesn’t mean dry wines are better, but it will tell you the most basic detail of what’s inside the bottle. If you’re looking for other clues on the label, look for the letters GG, which stand for Grosses Gewachs which means Great Growth, or more familiarly, Grand Cru! These wines command enormous respect and are winning friends worldwide.

Speaking of which, try Von Winning “Winnings” Riesling, as well as other top producers such as Dönnhoff. For a touch of sweetness, Chada Street (3839 Spring Mountain Rd., offers the 2015 Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl Kabinett, which is a phenomenal introduction (or reintroduction) to Riesling and pairs well with the Thai cuisine.

The other wine to drink right now is Grüner Veltliner, a signature varietal typically associated with Austria. Like Riesling, it’s also produced in an array of styles—creamy and voluptuous, sleek and snappy, sparkling, sweet and mature—these wines are true chameleons and very food-friendly. Most can be thirst-quenching, fresh and fruity with flavors that tease the palate with citrus and white pepper with stone fruit and cress. An excellent Grüner Veltliner is the Nikolaihof “Hefeabzug,” which is poured by the glass at Lotus of Siam (953 E. Sahara Ave.), Valley Cheese and Wine (1570 W. Horizon Ridge, Henderson) and Hofer Grüner at Whole Foods (multiple locations). You might as well grab them in the 1-liter bottle.

Bottom line, these wines are the stuff of lazy afternoons, backyard parties and sitting around the pool with friends, feet skimming the water. They refresh the soul and animate the senses.

Marisa savors with all five senses. Read more at or visit her blog