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September 23, 2017

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Counter Intelligence: Keller expands? ‘Iron Chef’ restaurant? Plus, Rick Moonen


Tom Donoghue/

2013 UNLVino’s Bubble-Licious honoring Thomas Keller, flanked here by Robin Leach and Larry Ruvo, with the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence at The Venetian on Thursday, April 18, 2013.

2013 UNLVino: Sake Fever at The Mirage

2013 UNLVino's Sake Fever honoring Masaharu Morimoto with the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence at The Mirage on Friday, April 19, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Cooking With Rick Moonen and Carrot Top

Chef Rick Moonen and Carrot Top host a cooking demonstration at Three Square Food Bank to benefit the Grant A Gift Autism Foundation on Sept. 15, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Emeril Lagasse's Carnival du Vin

Emeril Lagasse's annual Carnival du Vin at the Palazzo. Launch slideshow »

2012 Vegas Uncork'd: Grand Tasting at Caesars Palace

The 2012 Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit Grand Tasting at Garden of the Gods at Caesars Palace on Friday, May 11, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Star chef Thomas Keller, whose restaurants French Laundry in Napa and Per Se in New York, are consistently ranked the Top Two in America, says he’s begun thinking of another Las Vegas outlet. “For the moment, we’re laying low refining what we have in Las Vegas, but I’m sure we’ll open another in Las Vegas sometime in the future,” he told me.

“I like the relationship I have at The Venetian with our existing partners, so it would be there or the sister Palazzo. We’ve just remodeled the kitchen of Bouchon at The Venetian, and we have our two bakeries. We’ve brought in a new chef, Josh Crane, from our Yountville headquarters, and sous chef Matt Alba returns to us after a stint with Michael Mina. I feel like the owner of a baseball club doing trades!”

JAPAN INVASION: “Iron Chef” star Masaharu Morimoto will open a restaurant at The Mirage. The announcement was due during the Sake Fever night of UNLVino at the casino resort. The contract points have all been agreed to, so expect the official confirmation shortly when the plans are unveiled and aren’t overshadowed by other events.

*Yellowtail’s Akira Back at Bellagio will be consulting chef of the new 10,000-square-foot, 300-seat Kumi Japanese restaurant this summer at Mandalay Bay, the third of the new Light Group dining venues there. Executive sushi chef Toshiyuki Motoyama promises influences of Thai, Peruvian, Latin and other Asian cultures for modern twists on Japanese design. Look up when it opens at the sweeping cultural calligraphy in gold leaf set against the black ceiling. Toshiyuki comes here from Light Group’s Delano Hotel in South Beach, where he was sushi chef at Umi.

*Sushi Roku’s annual $45-per-person, three-course Summer Break menu will run from Memorial Day through Labor Day at its Forum Shops location in Caesars Palace. In addition to a trio of appetizers, there’s a Chinois chicken salad, a choice between sushi and steak with shitake mushroom tempura topped off with dessert of raspberry bread pudding with fresh fruit and sorbet. Try the new salmon sushi topped with chopped tomatoes and shallots.

NEW RESTAURANTS: Chef Rick Moonen will serve the last meals in the upper dining area of his much-heralded RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay on Friday. He’s converting the second-floor space, which leads to and from The Shoppes at Mandalay Bay, into a new concept: RxBoiler Room. He says the transformation will be completed by late June with a unique Steam Punk-inspired restaurant and lounge with decor reminding of the 19th century industrialized Victorian era.

“The Las Vegas food scene has been turned on its ear the past few years, so we wanted something truly unique and exciting. This will be a funky mix of old and new with an exciting eating and drinking experience,” said Rick. “I’m a fan of science fiction and the Steam Punk sub-genre. We’ll celebrate that with the new restaurant.” The downstairs RM Seafood remains open.

Best Models agency owner Ken Henderson has fulfilled a lifelong dream of opening his own restaurant, the 1,900-square-foot Pizza Lounge in Tivoli Village, and his pies served under four crystal chandeliers are unlike any other pizza parlor in the valley. The three different-sized flatbreads are winning raves from critics and regulars in the 90-seat spot, which features 10 craft bottled beers, 13 craft beers on tap and more than 20 wines. Pizza Lounge has iPad-iPhone chargers and WiFi at the bar, and the lobster ravioli gorgonzola and chipotle shrimp will keep you tweeting from your table all day long.

Michelin Star chef Conrad Gallagher and wife Candice have opened their new Posh Burger Bistro in Summerlin combining classic burgers with upscale cuisine. There are burgers with truffle aioli, seared foe gras, fried quail egg, mint yogurt or red onion marmalade. Specialty burgers include elk, ostrich, salmon, duck and oxtail.

Solid rumors are abuzz that New York star chef Daniel Boulud will return here with a new concept at The Venetian/Palazzo. Expect that to be confirmed at the hotel’s epicurean event for the Nevada Restaurant Association on May 23. Also: a new Las Vegas restaurant is expected from Food Network star and UNLV alumnus Guy Fieri who is a UNLV. Both culinary stars were among the Las Vegas chefs contingent at the Pebble Beach Food Festival days ago with Wynn chef Paul Bartolotta, Francois Payard from Caesars Palace, David Wurley from Mandarin Oriental and Hawaiian restaurant royal Roy Yamaguchi, who has two outlets here.

CHEFS NIGHT OUT: Ever wonder where Las Vegas chefs go for dinner on a night off or for sustenance after work? You’ll find many of them at the lakeside Marche Bacchus in Desert Shores, where Alex Stratta is the consulting chef and his protege David Middleton are dazzling with food gems. They’ve also added a new caviar service to the contemporary menu items. Champagne wishes and caviar dreams are very easy on the wallet.


Star chef Emeril Lagasse celebrates Soft Shell Crab Week at his three restaurants here starting Monday: Delmonico and Table 10 in the Venetian/Palazzo and his new Orleans Fish House at MGM Grand. “It’s peak season for our signature New Orleans flavor Gulf product,” said culinary director Sean Roe.

Tivoli Village will be the site of the second 2013 Project Dinner Table series with the sit-down, family-style dinner served at one very long table for 200 guests. Chef Bradley Ogden, who opens Hops & Harvest there, soon joins chef Sam Marvin, who is opening Echo & Rig Steakhouse and Butcher Shop there soon, too, plus, chef Alicia Stewart from Angelo Sosa’s Poppy Den.

French star chef Michel Richard has opened a 100-seat French garden-inspired patio for the summer at his Central in Caesars.

Chef of the Century Joel Robuchon has created a new spring menu with seven items, from appetizers to dessert, at his L’Atelier in MGM Grand.

Tao at The Venetian has created four new cocktails for summer: The orchid with blueberry sparkling sake; the Dragon Slayer with Bacardi Dragonberry daiquiri; the Phuket margarita using Milagro Silver tequila with Pomegranate liqueur; and the Lychee Martini with Belvedere Gin and Grand Marnier.

Congratulations to three Caesars Entertainment restaurants on earning honors in the Gayot guide. Guy Savoy at Caesars won a spot in the Top 40; Central was named to the Hot 40; and Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Paris placed in the Top 10 U.S. steakhouse listing.

BON APPETIT: Four days of feasting for foodies and fans get underway with Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit from May 9-12. We’ll have the full Royal Robin Rundown of events early next week. More than 6,000 people are expected for the festival’s seventh annual event.

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.

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