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Las Vegas' Small Plate Invasion Underway With La Cave, Jaleo and Fleur by Hubert Keller

Las Vegas is about to get hit with a tidalwave of small plates and I’ve got my rubber ducky in hand and am ready to bathe in the sweet warm waters.  It’s no secret, I love small plate dining.  The diverse selections, the often much more intense flavors and the intricate techniques used for small plate dishes is what puts me in my happy spot.  The Las Vegas Strip is about to get a major boost with three new and exciting restaurants in La Cave at Wynn Las Vegas, Chef José Andrés’ Jaleo at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Fleur by Hubert Keller at Mandalay Bay.  Here’s bit of a preview of the three:

La Cave at Wynn Las Vegas – Billy DeMarco, Executive Chef
(opening December 3, 2010)

La Cave Logo

La Cave Logo

A partnership between Wynn and Michael Morton brings this Wine Bar and Small Plate nook.  The menu is divided into categories based on the dish’s origin; From the Sea, Farm, Oven, Garden, Grill, Butcher and Cheeses from Cow, Sheep or Goat.  Some items of note on the menu are Salt-Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese and Pistachio, Hamachi with Pickled Chilies and Candied Lemon Zest, and a Quail Egg, Nueske’s Bacon and Cheese Flatbread. La Cave is scheduled to have Lunch, Dinner and Late Night service.

Jaleo at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas – José Andrés, Executive Chef / Rodolfo Guzman, Head Chef
(opening December 15, 2010)

Chef José Andrés

Chef José Andrés

Along with the opening of Las Vegas’ newest resort comes Chef José Andrés highly acclaimed Spanish Tapas concept, Jaleo.  With Chef Julian Serrano’s eponymous tapas emporium next door at Aria, I’d expect there to be some friendly fireworks…which is all good for We-The-Grazer.   While there isn’t a menu posted specifically for the Las Vegas location yet, looking at the menu for the existing locations shows that there is an extraordinary attention to the top ingredients imported from Spain. Jamón Ibérico de Bellota (the greatest ham on Earth), a whole host of Spanish sheep’s-milk cheeses, and Bomba rice for the paellas are just the tip of the iceberg.  While there are traditional items like Bacon Wrapped Dates, Pan con Tomate, and Chicken Croquetas, there are also some Andrés specialties done “José’s Way” such as, Rice With Duck Confit, Duck Breast and Foie Gras Cream, Spoonful of Sea Urchin with Diced Peppers, Cucumber and Tomatoes and Canary Island-style Rabbit Confit with Apricot Purée.

I don’t know how much of that our location will be getting, but I’ll certainly be knocking down the door to find out.

Fleur by Hubert Keller at Mandalay Bay – Hubert Keller, Executive Chef / Steven Wolf, Chef de Cuisine
(opening December 16, 2010)

Fleur by Hubert Keller

Fleur by Hubert Keller

The poster child for the War Against The Casualization of Fine Dining in our Little Twinkle in the Desert is Fleur by Hubert Keller.  Old gourmands stuck in a bygone age practically spit up their Petrus when Chef Hubert Keller announced Fleur de Lys’ transformation. Why are they converting one of the most cherished fine dining establishments in town into yet another tapas joint?  Well let me tell you.

Let’s make no doubt about it, they’re going to make a hell of a lot more money with a more casual small plate place than a standard stuffy fine dining restaurant. But, in my book, it’s a win win situation.  They’re going to make more money and we’re going to get a great variety of much more interesting eats.  Yes, gourmands, fine food can be (and usually is) served on small plates.  A few examples from Fleur’s menu: Abalone with Pickled Shitake and Soy-Ginger Foam, Quail Skewers with Piperade Sauce and Manchego Salad and a Crab and Avocado Sphere with Watermelon Gazpacho just to pick a few at random.  But never fear hold outs of Fleur de Lys, there are a few larger plates for those that demand such things.  Items such as an Organic Chicken Breast with Cabbage, Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Potato Purée and a 40oz. Prime Tomahawk Rib Eye with Shallot jus are available to satisfy your entrée needs.   The majority of the eclectic and internationally-inspired small plates on the menu are priced at $12 or below, with a few of the more luxurious items like the FleurBurger 5000 of Waygu Beef, Foie Gras and Truffle with a bottle of 1995 Chateau Petrus rolling for only $5,000.

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Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

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1 comment to Las Vegas’ Small Plate Invasion Underway With La Cave, Jaleo and Fleur by Hubert Keller

  • I guess I have even more places to add to my “To Eat List”!

    And for the record, I love the concept of tapas. While every once in a while I HAVE to do a formal, multi-course, fine dining dinner, sometimes I just want to graze on a handful of small plates. While it sucks that Fleur de Lys is gone, I’m looking forward to trying what Fleur has to offer.

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