Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 | 5:21 p.m.
Just as Hollywood races out its newest movies before Dec. 31 hoping to slide in under the Oscar nominations deadline, so do our new bets for winning restaurants and nightclubs to take the 2013 Las Vegas nightlife scene by storm.
I’m omitting chef Gordon Ramsay from this rundown because he’s already soft opened his two newest restaurants: Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill at Caesars Palace and Gordon Ramsay BurGR at Planet Hollywood. Official celebration and red-ribbon openings take place in January.
Much of the spotlight falls on Steve Wynn’s newest entry, Andrea’s, named for his new English wife who assures me that she’s going to be hands on with the restaurant and nightlife lounge at the Encore. Andrea has described it as vibe dining, an expression coined by Bagatelle’s British founder Jonathan Segal for his global group of successful supper clubs.
Andrea says watch out for photographs of her eyes, shot during a modeling session, that will watch over patrons from the back wall of the bar in the 6,200-square-foot venue. The hot zone of this certain-to-be popular playpen will be the raised center dining dais, a see and be-seen spot for platinum party people.
It’s an easy stroll along the 2,100-square-foot terrace into Surrender Nightclub from the former Switch space Andrea has transformed -- and to Sean Christie’s new VDKA bar with 250 worldwide offerings of the popular potato potpourri.
Executive chef Joseph Elevado, who is a genius after his long Las Vegas years with Nobu and Social House, returns from a brief L.A. sojourn to helm Andrea’s kitchen, and that guarantees rave reviews for the food. It’s the only restaurant I know of that has its own musical DJ chef, with Wynn resident Steve Angello of Swedish House Mafia matching music to the menu.
There’s a hidden gem that will receive much attention, as well. “Top Chef All-Stars” cheftestant Angelo Sosa, who labored for chefs Alain Ducasse and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, has gone off-Strip. He opens Poppy Den in Summerlin’s Tivoli Village with a New Year’s Eve VIP party and then officially on New Year’s Day to the public.
Angelo owns two hip, successful bistros in Manhattan, Social Eats and Anejo, and authored the bestselling cookbook “Flavor Exposed,” 100 global recipes from sweet to salty and earthy to spicy. He starred on “Top Chef 7” and was runner-up and voted fan favorite, which brought him back to “All-Stars.” He was ill during preliminary rounds and became the only chef on the Bravo series to be seen getting a shot in his thigh so that he could make it into the finals!
Angelo gave me a sneak preview of Poppy Den, a sprawling, two-level, 6,000-square-foot venue for 170 people, his first outside Manhattan. The outside deck on the second-floor Forbidden City lounge with its birdcage chandeliers has a view right through Tivoli up to the Red Rock Mountains. In all, there are four environments, from the country chic downstairs dining area to the seduction of an opium den. The menus are on pages inside old English books.
“It’s all a lighter, healthier take-off from gastropub menus, and I’m relying on local farmers to make that really effective,” Angelo told me. “There will be Asian fusion bar -- snacks upstairs and downstairs where the open-air bar goes indoors and out to the elegant English garden in springtime and summertime with jasmine and honeysuckle.”
VIEW AND MARKET TIME
Angelo is partnered with former Planet Hollywood chief Bill Feather, who has already opened the restaurant View, the View Cheese and Wine Bar and the Market Time round-the-clock dining spots at Tivoli.
“Angelo turned down every invitation to go to the Strip hotels,” Bill said. “It took me two years to woo him out here, but he wanted a fun, unique spot for great food, very reasonably priced where diners could really appreciate his unexpected art of food without Strip hotel pressures.”
Bill also takes over the old Bottles & Burgers building nearby next month, and watch for the name of its chef who will startle with his move to the suburbs.
“It’s out here where the new feel to the Las Vegas food scene has now really begun to take off,” Angelo said.
Also eagerly anticipated, with no advance looks yet, is the curiously named SHe that’s been converted from the former Eva Longoria restaurant Beso and nightclub Eve at Crystals in MGM’s CityCenter. SHe opens NYE and promises steaks from Morton’s downstairs and a wild, no-inhibitions cabaret club upstairs.
With an “Eyes Wide Shut” motif of masked men and fabulous females in curvy corsets, bursting bustiers and fishnet stockings, it’s complete with sensual, sexy shows from the master of dancing with danger, Jeff Kutash. He reigned over the Strip with his extravaganza “Splash” at the Riviera as the forerunner of adult topless club revues for many years.
No word yet if Eva and her “Desperate Housewives” gal pals will be upstairs or downstairs -- or both.
HAKKASAN AND LIGHT
The giant, five-level, 75,000-square-foot Hakkasan restaurant and nightclub at MGM Grand had been expected to open for NYE, but with all of the luxurious additions and lineup of superstar DJs, that will now be in March. Its rival, Guy Laliberte’s Light nightclub in partnership with the Light Group at Mandalay Bay in the former Rum Jungle space, also is opening in March with live theatrical performances in an Ibiza-style party.
The world’s largest gay dance club with five rooms for hip-hop, Latin, house, Top 40 and country will open partly in time for NYE. Krave Massive has come to life at the converted Neonopolis movie theater downtown, and in 2013, there are reliable rumors that it will expand with a comedy club, performing arts theater, a pool ringed with cozy cabanas and a lesbian-only dance parlor.
XI SHI AND HERAEA
The restaurant Xi Shi (named for the four most beautiful women in Chinese history) and female-inspired sports bar Heraea at the Palms didn’t quite make their hoped-for Dec. 31 openings but will do so in January. However, the petite mixology bar Scarlet carved out of the old Palms boutique will be serving its first cocktails before the midnight hour rings in the New Year.
And chef Thomas Keller gets his delayed Bouchon Bakery opening at the Venetian this weekend. A warm welcome to all of the new competitors in the Las Vegas nightlife scene. May 2013 bring you all good luck and fine fortune.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.
Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.