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July 01, 1999
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Don’t’ let Star Canyon fool you. You will be tempted to pigeonhole it as just another Tex-Mex joint with a star chef’s name attached to it. You will also be tempted to walk right by because you’re not in the mood for yet another Mexican-Texican nouvelle snorin’ sonoran food emporium. So you will probably want to pass on it as you ponder Emeril Lagasse’s take on prime steaks at Delmonicos, or Joachim Splichal’s nouveau bistro called Pinot, but if you do pass on Star Canyon for either of these hot spots, you will be making a big mistake.

Celebrity Chef Stephan Pyles has gotten caught between a rock and a hard place with his Vegas rendition of the restaurant that put Dallas, Texas on the culinary map. That rock is Delmonico's, which is a tad stark for my tastes--although the food is wonderful--and the hard place is Pinot Brasserie—another place with great food but one which doesn’t have its service act together. All of which makes- it hard to get a lot of essentials, like bread, a drink, food and the check.

None of these flaws pervades Star Canyon, however. It’s whimsical and stunning décor is Texas modern in the best sense of the word and the food will make you forget the Alamo. Pyles’ food as executed by Chef Mark Kiffin is chock full of culinary mixed metaphors that takes you from Tijuana to Timbuktu. Every worldly food from tamarind seeds to bourbon to cambazola gets thrown into the innovative mix and surprisingly everything works. Unknown menu descriptions abound and confuse matters even further, but the crackerjack wait staff are walking encyclopedias of esoteric ingredients and they’ll gladly tell you what llapingachos or manchamanteles are (a potato pancake and a fruit mole sauce if you’re interested). So ask a lot of questions, relax and prepare to enjoy some serious gastronomic fun.

Star Canyon is located in the Venetian Hotel & Casino.

This is John Curtas

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Archives

Nov 24, 2010 | Thanksgiving 2010 - Another Beanie Reveal
John Curtas delves into family history to discover the real story behind Grandma Schroader's Sour Beans.

Nov 19, 2009 | Valentino -- You don't know the truffles I've seen
According to Food Critic John Curtas, no other Italian restaurant in Las Vegas has performed at such a high level for so long.

Oct 1, 2009 | Blow It Up
In at least one part of town, our dining critic John Curtas says the food used to be a lot better.

Sep 25, 2009 | Social Media Meltdown
For our dining critic, John Curtas, social media has started to intrude on dining out.

Sep 2, 2009 | Discovering LOS ANTOJOS
Our dining critic John Curtas finds a new affordable favorite.

Aug 20, 2009 | Chinois R.I.P.
For John Curtas the recent closing of Wolfgang Puck's first Las Vegas restaurant brings back memories.

Aug 3, 2009 | Food, Inc.
John Curtas turns movie reviewer today - but the subject is in his usual area of expertise. Hear his review of "Food, Inc."

Jul 16, 2009 | The Steak That Saved Las Vegas
Dining critic John Curtas finds some steak aged for EIGHT MONTHS and he tells us how it tastes.

Jul 2, 2009 | Bang for Your Buck
Everyone's food budget is tighter these days. But if you still want to dine out now and then, our dining critic John Curtas has a few tips on restaurants now giving you more bang for your buck.

Jun 19, 2009 | Whassup with Wazuzu
Explore Dining Critic John Curtas' love/hate relationship with Wazuzu. If you want to spice up your dinner go for at least a "4 or 5."

Jun 12, 2009 | Two Farmer's Markets
Fresh, locally produced food has become a big trend across the U.S. Our food critic, John Curtas, says there's more of this trend in Las Vegas than you might think.

Jun 4, 2009 | MandM Soul Food
John Curtas tells us about one of his favorite dining spots - a surpsingly affordable one.

May 28, 2009 | Checkpoint Charlie
While fine dining has seen a downturn in Las Vegas in recent months, our dining critic John Curtas says at least one dining legend intends to stay put. Charlie Trotter is standing pat in Las Vegas. John Curtas reviews Resturant Charlie.

May 8, 2009 | Food Festival Frenzy!
It's a time of many food festivals in Las Vegas. John Curtas has an overview.

May 5, 2009 | Peppermill Coffee Shop and Fireside Lounge
A landmark Las Vegas restaurant gets a visit from John Curtas. He takes you to the Peppermill.

Apr 23, 2009 | Thai Me Up Thai Me Down
Thai cuisine is starting to show up in more places in Las Vegas. John Curtas has some recommendations

Apr 9, 2009 | A Gourmet Corner - In Spring Valley?
Food Critic John Curtas takes a trip to the strangest gourmet corner in town.

Apr 2, 2009 | Pip's is a Pip
If you're looking for good dining near Aliante, our dining critic, John Curtas, has found a new place to go.

Mar 26, 2009 | Stripped to Its Bare Essentials
Dining on steak at Planet Hollywood! John Curtas takes you along.

Mar 19, 2009 | Hachi is absolutely amazing!
John Curtas has a find - a Japanese-fusion restaurant on the west edge of the city.

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