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May 19, 2005
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My plan was to sneak into the Wynn, check out a few of the restaurants (at least the one's I'm interested in), and report on them before any other media outlet. Well that lasted about 2 minutes, because no sooner had I requested a table for one at Boulud Brasserie on the third day it was opened than one of the managers nailed me with a 'hi Mr. Curtas, nice to see you.' The same thing happened at the SW Steakhouse, when I discovered that half the staff of Circo was now working there.

Next came Bartolotta's, the ....uh....how do I say this? VERY decorated Italian seafood emporium. I did manage to cop one anonymous meal before yet another manager, this one formerly from Sea Blue, spotted me nosing an overpriced vino bianco, at the bar.

So despite my best efforts, I've hardly been given the typical tourist treatment at any of these swanky joints. Nevertheless I have managed two meals at each, and rather than spring a full-fledged review on any of them, I thought you might like some of my preliminary notes so you'll know what to expect if you wander into Son of Bellagio.

Well first of all you can expect to pay...a lot. And unlike what a certain F&B Director/Consultant stated on State Of Nevada in March, there is nothing small or cozy about any of these venues. These big three (and Alex) are about as much like an intimate dining salon as the Wynn is to a Red Roof Inn. Regardless of size, reservations are just about impossible to get for peak dinner hours. Almost from the get-go, even if you call several days in advance, you'll get the: 'we have a table available at 6 or 9:30' routine.

The good news is that Boulud and Bartolotta are open for lunch. That doesn't mean you'll get away cheaply, however. Two lunches for two at Bartolotta will set you back three big bills (and that's if you each just have a glass....that's right, a glass, of wine). The orata at Bartolotta was as freshly made, and impeccably -if simply-prepared--and as jaw-droppingly priced, as any one pound fish I've ever devoured. Boulud goes slightly easier on the wallet, and does French classics like duck confit, and pizzaladierre to perfection. But I would expect nothing less from Le Grand Daniel. SW (an awkward and needlessly cumbersome moniker---wouldn't Steve's Steakhouse be much more to the point?). Anyway, Steve's is a steakhouse full of surprises. Taking a tip from Laurent Tourondel's all-the-rage-in-steaks BLT Steak back in New York, it infuses the tired steakhouse genre with some real Gallic flair. Chef Eric Klein's bacon bread, tarte flambé, and choucroute garni are so good, I could swear I was back in Alsace. This kid will be one to watch.

....and this kid 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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