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October 01, 1998
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: So Many Restaurants, So Little Time

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SO MANY RESTAURANTS, SO LITTLE TIME

SO MANY RESTAURANTS--SO LITTLE TIME. NOWADAYS THAT’S MY CONSTANT COMPLAINT. IT USED TO BE--LIKE 5 YEARS AGO--THERE WEREN’T ENOUGH GOOD PLACES TO EAT IN LAS VEGAS. THESE DAYS IT’S ALMOST AS IF WE HAVE TOO MANY.

IT ALL STARTED IN 1992 WHEN SPAGO, AND THEN EMERIL’S, CAME TO TOWN. UNTIL THEY BROKE THIS GROUND, A FAMOUS CHEF OR RESTAURATEUR WAS AS RARE IN LAS VEGAS AS A FLAT-CHESTED SHOWGIRL. NOW EVERY SAVVY FOOD SERVER IN AMERICA WANTS A PIECE OF OUR ACTION. EVEN THE TOAST OF NEW YORK, SIRIO MACCIONI AND HIS FAMILY ARE SOON TO DISPLAY THEIR WARES AT THE BELLAGIO HOTEL. THE MACCIONIS, OWNERS OF LE CIRQUE 2000, LIKE W.P. (WOLFGANG PUCK) & E.L. (EMERIL LAGASSE) ARE NOW BETTER KNOWN THAN MOST OF THE CELEBRITIES THAT MADE THEM FAMOUS IN THE FIRST PLACE. ALL ARE SO ANNOYINGLY GOOD AT SELF-PROMOTION THAT THEY MAKE ASHLEY JUDD LOOK LIKE GRETA GARBO.

WITH THESE THOUGHTS IN MIND, I WAS LESS THAN THRILLED AT LEARNING THAT VICTOR DRAI, EX-HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER AND RESTAURATEUR TO THE STARS ON LA CIENAGA IN LA, WAS OPENING IN LAS VEGAS. COMING ON THE HEELS OF THE GONE BUT NOT MISSED NICKY BLAIRS, HIS RESTAURANT, DRAI'S, WOULD SEEM TO HAVE AN UPHILL FIGHT TO LURE CUSTOMERS TO ITS REAL DOWNHILL LOCATION. I MEAN WE’RE TALKING THE BASEMENT OF THE BARBARY COAST HERE----HOW MUCH MORE DOWNHILL CAN YOU GET?????

BUT DRAI’S HAS SOME WEAPONS AT ITS DISPOSAL THAT MIGHT CARRY THE DAY. SUCH AS THE FOOD WHICH IS CREATIVE BIG CITY FARE, BUT PRICED A FEW BUCKS AN ITEM LESS THAN AT THOSE OTHER EXPENSE ACCOUNT MONEY PITS AROUND TOWN. AND ITS DÉCOR, WHICH IS WAY BETTER THAN ANYTHING YOU MIGHT EXPECT AT THE BARBARY COAST.

AND EVEN IF SUBTERRANEAN DINING ISN'T YOUR BAG, YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT THE COMFORTABLE AND SOPHISTICATED COCKTAIL LOUNGE. NOTICE I DIDN’T SAY BAR, DRAI’S BRINGS A JAZZY-BLUESY LIVE MUSIC LOUNGE TO TOWN THAT IS ELEGANT IN A WAY THAT THE AGING PINKIE-RING SET FROM NICKY BLAIR'S WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND IF YOU EXPLAINED IT TO THEM.

LIKE I ALWAYS SAY, YOU KNOW YOU’RE MIDDLE-AGED WHEN YOU DON’T WANT THE BAND TO START PLAYING AND LEAVE AS SOON AS IT DOES, AT DRAI’S I STUCK AROUND.

THIS IS JOHN CURTAS

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John Curtas has a find - a Japanese-fusion restaurant on the west edge of the city.

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