While it seemed the major casino resorts on the Strip were relying almost totally on celebrity chefs to anchor restaurants, the trend is shifting back to the food. Sure, you’ll continue to see celebrity monikers grace new culinary outposts, but more Las Vegas restaurants are opening without this hook.
We feel that one reason for this is that certain chefs are becoming overexposed, meaning, it’s not as rarified an event to eat at a place headed by a big name as it once was. And more sophisticated eaters are catching on that the person whose name is on the door is rarely behind the stove. Another reason is that diners are much more flavor savvy than they were at the onset of the Las Vegas dining revolution that began in the mid 1990s. As a result, it’s no longer necessary to have a celebrity chef to get attention. The food itself is clearly becoming the starring act.
The Monte Carlo, for example, is in the process of a such an evolution. It recently opened Diablo’s Cantina. This Mexican themed restaurant takes aesthetic cues from the Robert Rodriquez and Quentin Tarantino Film “From Dusk Till Dawn” as its jumping off point. A new steakhouse named Brand is opening this April and will concentrate on steaks in lieu of a famous personality.
Coming in May at Bellagio is the Japanese-themed Yellowtail Sushi Restaurant & Bar. Expect Yellowtail to have an assortment of sakes capitalizing on the popularity of the beverage.
Over at the Luxor–which is going through its own extreme makeover–there are several new and soon-to-open venues that eschew the celebrity-chef name game. The restaurant Company, for example, is home to a trio of chefs who all trained under the acclaimed Bradley Ogden. But these guys–all in their late 20s and early 30s, mind you–are not household names. They are out to reinvent the concept of the American Bistro in this 10,000 square foot space. Look for more restaurants to open that are helmed by chefs who cut their teeth under the tutelage of well-known personalities.
Also coming to Luxor is CatHouse, a modern interpretation of a 19th-century French bordello serving small, tapas-style plates. The Luxor Steak House opens in March.