Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

Security Breach: Westin’s Jake and Eli Restaurant and Bar

This is probably the last post we’ll ever do about Westin Las Vegas.

That’s because the hotel closed its casino this summer, and if your hotel doesn’t have a casino, why does it have to even be in Las Vegas? Be in Cleveland, all due respect.

The Westin still has sign outside touting its Max Casino, so we stopped by to make sure it’s gone. It’s gone.

What the Westin does have is a sign for a new bar in the works, Jake & Eli.

Westin Las Vegas Jake and Eli

Nothing makes us thirstier than a made-up story about a historical event that never took place.

The blurb on the sign says something we can’t believe we’re taking the time to type: “Two guys meeting to toast a great day and gorge on the best sirloin in town, arguing over who’s [sic] bourbon is better. The name Jake and Eli is based on the historic tales of two different men who are credited with being the first to create the concept that we now know and love as American Bourbon. This is an authentic American story that gives a vintage elegance like a worn club chair, and combines the mood with the savory smells and tastes of grilling meat and hearty laughter.”

As far as we can tell, the “Eli” in the name is Elijah Craig, sometimes (almost certainly erroneously) credited with the invention of bourbon. The “Jake” seems to refer to Jacob Beam, one of the forebears of Jim Beam.

Whatever, it’s all a tremendous load of manure, reminiscent of Downtown Grand’s misguided attempt to fabricate an “authentic” historical basis for the name of its original restaurant, Stewart & Ogden.

To help is get through the agonizing amount of marketing bullshittery, we did a security breach of the new restaurant.

Westin Jake & Eli

It’s no fun doing a security breach when there’s so little security. Again, no casino.

The Westin seems to cater mainly to businesspersons, so if you’re one of those, feel free to get excited about Jake & Eli.

Fun fact: Originally, the Westin was called the Maxim. It was in front of the Maxim that rapper Tupac Shakur was shot. The crime remains “unsolved” despite the fact every damn fool knows who did it.

Hey, not all fun facts are equally fun. Just go with it.

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Todd English is Out at Aria’s Todd English P.U.B.

What is Todd English P.U.B. without Todd English? We’re about to find out.

Rumors are celebrity chef Todd English is on his way out at Todd English P.U.B., although the venue will continue as a brew pub.

P.U.B. stands for “Public Urban Bar,” which is likely to remain the case even after Todd English’s name has been removed from the place.

Todd English P.U.B.

Ironically, the Todd English P.U.B. logo contains an hour glass, a way of measuring time running out.

From what we hear, the management team of Beerhaus could take over operation of whatever Todd English P.U.B. becomes, which is disappointing (if true) as Beerhaus is easily the weakest offering in The Park’s restaurant row.

Todd English is probably best known for his cooking show, “Food Trip with Todd English,” on PBS. His original restaurant was Olives in Boston.

It’s unknown if Todd English’s ouster from the establishment bearing his name at Aria has anything to do with recent sexual harassment allegations against him. A lawsuit was filed against the chef and members of his New York-based Todd English Food Hall restaurant staff, and six others have filed suits alleging “repeated instances of sexual harassment.” It’s possible Aria and MGM Resorts executives got wind of the New York lawsuits and decided to cut ties with English to steer clear of any controversy (or legal liability).

It’s worth noting Todd English’s Olives at Bellagio is set to close this winter. That venue will be replaced by Spago which will relocate from the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. There will be a quiz.

Celebrity chefs, of course, have little to do with the day-to-day operation of Las Vegas restaurants with their name on them.

The chefs are contractually obligated to make appearances at the restaurant for publicity purposes, then receive about five percent of the restaurant’s gross sales. (See also chef Gordon Ramsay.)

People seem to have a fondness for Todd English P.U.B., but business is business.

Casinos have been re-evaluating their partners to determine if it’s more profitable to manage venues in-house. That’s one of the reasons Flamingo’s Sin City Brewing isn’t called that anymore (it’s now Patio Bar, because naming things is hard), ditto Fat Tuesday at Linq (it was replaced with Purple Zebra).

If more news surfaces, you’ll hear it when we do!

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Pizza Lotto to Close, Naked City Pizza to Open at El Cortez

Pizza Lotto, a perfectly good pizza joint at El Cortez casino in downtown Las Vegas, is closing.

Another pizza restaurant, Naked City Pizza, is taking its place.

While we haven’t tried Naked City Pizza, 1) it’s pizza and 2) “Naked.” What’s not to like?

Pizza Lotto Italian restaurant

When it opened, Pizza Lotto promised it would have lottery-inspired scratch-off cards with discounts, but it never delivered. (We’ll wait.)

Reports are Naked City Pizza will open at El Cortez after the new year.

Naked City Pizza seems to have lots of die-hard fans, but it’ll be up against a couple of pizza joints that aren’t just good, they’re great. Specifically, the incomparable Pizza Rock near Downtown Grand and Evel Pie on Fremont East.

To its credit, Naked City Pizza was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” We are not entirely sure which category it fell under.

As we tend to eat pizza at least three times a week, we can’t wait to give Naked City Pizza a try.

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Clique’s Salute is Out at Red Rock Resort, Replacement Rumored

If you stick to The Strip and downtown when you visit Las Vegas, you won’t care too much about this news. Keep reading, anyway. You’re probably at work, and it’s a way of sticking it to The Man.

Clique Hospitality’s Salute Trattoria Italiana at Red Rock Resort is set to close by the end of 2017, as foretold in a story back in June 2017.

Salute Red Rock

“Salute” is a way of saying “cheers” in Italian. An alternative is “cin cin,” which means “to your health.”

Red Rock Resorts is rumored to be phasing out five under-performing Clique restaurants, although the company has denied it’s doing so.

The company’s partnership with Clique isn’t ending, as Clique will operate new venues (unrelated to food) at Palms resort as part of its $485 million overhaul.

In an awkward turn of events, we’ve learned Salute is likely to be replaced with another Italian restaurant.

A source says the new restaurant will be operated by LDV Hospitality, the folks behind Scarpetta, the Italian eatery at Cosmopolitan.

While our experience at Scarpetta wasn’t particularly memorable, we have high hopes for the new offering at Red Rock Resort, about 20 minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip.

Salute

Since we’re learning foreign languages, try this: “Ute” is Swedish for “out,” as in “Salute is out at Red Rock Resort.” That’s really how the sign looked during our recent visit.

LDV Hospitality has a solid track record with bars and restaurants.

It remains to be seen whether Red Rock Resorts will continue to purge its remaining Clique Hospitality restaurants.

Clique Bar & Lounge at Cosmopolitan is by all accounts a hit, but Clique’s track record with food offerings is sketchy at best. Our meal at Clique’s The Still at Mirage was one of the worst we’ve ever had, although we hear management has changed since our visit, so the current menu may actually be survivable.

While a restaurant closing can be disruptive to employees, as one eatery closes, another tends to open, so we look forward to seeing what Italian temptations will soon make their way to Red Rock Resort.

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22 New or Renovated Things Coming to Palms Resort

The owners of Palms, Red Rock Resorts (Station Casinos), is going all-in on the resort with a planned $485 million investment in a metric hell-ton of renovations and from-scratch offerings.

The sheer amount of newness is dizzying, so we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of changes at the Palms for your convenience. By “comprehensive,” of course, we mean “as comprehensive a list as we can muster while hammered.”

Palms

Love the Palms marquee? Spoiler: Don’t get attached.

1. Nightclub

Palms is partnering with Tao Group in a big way. For starters, Tao will operate a 29,000-square-foot nightclub in the former Rain space.

2. Dayclub Pool

Dayclubs are like nightclubs, but with more sunscreen. The dayclub at Palms, also operated by Tao Group, will be 70,000-square-feet and accommodate 5,000 people, most of whom will be sucking in their gut. The new dayclub will presumably be open year-round.

3. Lounge

Palms is bringing in another partner, Clique Hospitality, to operate a lounge. Think Clique Lounge at Cosmopolitan. Yes, that’s the lounge where O.J. Simpson behaved so badly he was banned from the Cosmopolitan for life. Let’s hope Palms upholds the policy.

Palms

Alize closes at the end of 2017, too. Hint: You’re probably pronouncing it wrong.

4. Bobby Flay Restaurant

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay will slap his name on a seafood and raw fish restaurant at Palms. His Bobby’s Burger Palace on The Strip is meh, but Mesa Grill has done well for Caesars Palace, and Flay knows his way around a chermoula, whatever that might be.

5. Mark Vetri Restaurant

Mark Vetri is apparently a legend in Philadelphia, and he’ll bring an Italian restaurant to Palms. When it comes to cuisines, there’s Italian and everything else, so we’re really looking forward to this one.

6. Michael Symon Restaurant

Yes, we broke this story weeks before anyone else, but we’re not about gloating, we’re about newness. Michael Symon is co-host of “The Chew” and will hopefully make Palms one of the few spots you can get decent BBQ in Las Vegas.

Michael Symon

Michael Symon has a successful BBQ restaurant in Cleveland, a city very similar to Las Vegas. And if you managed to read that sentence without laughing, we’re truly impressed.

7. Vandal Restaurant

It’s another Tao Group collaboration, and this one has a record of success in New York. Vandal is known as a hotspot, despite mixed reviews about its food. Vandal’s been described as “specializing in mini-ramen, mini-burgers, mini-knishes and an assortment of ostensibly edible things that have been fried into balls.” They say that like it’s a bad thing!

8. High Limit Rooms

One of our favorite hangs at Palms is the high limit slot room, so we’re excited to hear it will be getting a revamp. There will also be a new high limit room for table games. Casinos have tried combining high limit slots and tables, but not successfully, so Palms is on the right track.

Palms

That wall is the former high limit slot room. Just trust us on this one.

9. Noodle Bar

Strolling through Palms, it’s obvious the resort has many, many Asian customers. They are coveted by casinos like Palms, and Gold Coast just across the street, so a noodle bar is sort of a required amenity.

10. Steakhouse

While Palms has always had a great steakhouse, we’re sort of happy we’ll never have to type “N9NE” again. That affectation aside, we enjoyed the place, but it was a leftover from an earlier era at Palms, and it’s time for some fresh meat.

Palms N9NE Steakhouse

Oh, all right, one last time: N9NE.

11. Front Desk Registration Area

It’s not the most glamorous part of a Las Vegas resort, but anything’s going to be better than the temporary space where guests are currently checking in.

Palms check-in

These are what’s known as “aspirational stanchions.” Which would also make a great band name.

12. Renovated Casino

At the moment, the casino at Palms is 80% construction wall. The entire casino is getting an overhaul, and this blog loves it some new casino smell.

Palms

Palms is doing construction walls right.

13. Center Bar

It seems like only yesterday (four years, to be exact) the Social cocktail bar at Palms made its debut. Well, it’s out with the not-that-old and in with the new because Palms is getting a new center bar.

14. Hotel Rooms

Apparently, when the Fantasy tower at Palms went up, they neglected to finish 60 of the rooms. Well, they’re finishing them now.

15. Room Renovations

Palms plans to renovate 282 rooms and luxury suites. Fun fact: If you slept in one room every day, it would take you 282 days to sleep in all of the newly renovated rooms at Palms. We are a blog, not a fun fact machine.

Palms

China House says “Zàijiàn!” Hey, we’ve traveled. (To Google Translate.)

16. Spa

Palms has announced it will soon get an all-new spa with 16 treatment rooms. Currently, Palms has Drift Spa and Hammam. The Hammam at Palms, a co-ed Turkish bath, was the first in Las Vegas. We like our Turkish baths just “ed,” thank you very much.

17. Pearl Theater Overhaul

In the mix of all the renovations will be a refresh of the 2,600-seat Pearl Theater. We hear that when the theater opens after its renovation, guests will receive necklaces. We’ll wait.

18. Rooftop Social Club

Ghostbar was a blast, but it’s time for a new take on this popular rooftop haunt. Clique Hospitality will operate the new social club, which is different from a nightclub in that the word “social” seems to resonate with the kids, along with “fleek,” “bomb” and “allowance.”

Palms casino

No, you’re not getting bigger, the Palms casino is getting smaller. It’ll pass.

19. Buffet

If you’re spending $485 million to give your Las Vegas resort a facelift, it had better include the buffet. Bistro Buffet at Palms is getting retooled after closing in June 2017. During our visit, a guest was kvetching about receiving a direct mail piece with a buffet coupon. You’ll get your buffet soon enough, buddy, as will we all.

20. Covered Parking Spaces

Again, not glamorous, but 525 new covered parking spaces are nothing to sneeze at when summer temperatures in Las Vegas are comparable to the surface of Mercury.

21. Hotel Marquee

Hey, it’s not all good news. We love the Palms marquee. We’re hoping the new marquee keeps a lot of neon tube benders busy for years to come.

22. Porte Cochere

“Porte cochere” is a fancy way of saying “that place where you pull up to a hotel in your hooptie.” We’re only about 20% confident that word means what we think it means.

That’s about it! All the Palms renovations and new venues should debut in late 2018 or early 2019.

Our Captain Morgan-fueled list only covers what’s on the way, not what’s already happened.

For example, Palms recently opened a new cafe, the Lucky Penny.

Palms

Pennies are only considered lucky if you find them face up. Some things are non-negotiable.

The food at Lucky Penny was mixed bag, with some of the most exceptional Asian food and boozy shakes we’ve had anywhere.

Palms

Given the incredible Oreo-M-G shake (featuring Stoli vanilla vodka) at Lucky Penny, maybe you are getting bigger after all.

The veggie burger was a crushing disappointment, as was a dish called “Almost Boneless Chicken.” Really, if you’re going to do “almost boneless,” just go boneless. It’s an extra two minutes of preparation time, and well worth the effort to avoid lawsuits.

The desserts, though.

Palms

Nothing says “We need to wrap this up” like sharing a gratuitous dessert photo from Lucky Penny just to please the Pinterest gods.

A temporary dining option, Social Table, opened in the former Hooters space. Social Table goes away at the end of 2017.

The 14-screen movie theater complex at Palms is set for a massage.

We did leave planned meeting and convention space (18,000-square-feet worth) off our list, but only because it’s extraordinarily boring.

Red Rock Resorts seems confident its massive investment in Palms will pay off, calling it a “destination hybrid,” intended to appeal to both locals and tourists.

Palms

No word on whether the mushroom caps are staying or going. We predict going.

The company points to a strong economy in Las Vegas, and a growing population, as reasons the company is spending more on improvements to Palms than it cost to purchase it in the first place ($313 million).

Whether Palms can regain its former glory remains to be seen, but damn, we’ve got a lot to look forward to while we wait to find out.

Palms Las Vegas

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Two Bald Brothers Restaurant Closes Downtown

Two Bald Brothers, a Mediterranean restaurant, has closed downtown.

The restaurant opened in June 2017.

Two Bald Brothers

Two Bald Brothers, we hardly knew your shawarma.

The modest restaurant took up the former Zydeco Po-Boys space.

The “two bald brothers” were Roei Klein and Yitzhak Maydan.

They were, in fact, bald.

They weren’t brothers, however, and apparently had a falling out shortly after the restaurant opened. It’s believed Maydan departed the business just a few weeks into its operation.

Two Bald Brothers was Maydan’s fifth restaurant and Klein’s first.

Two Bald Brothers

You know it’s bad when you’re open from 00 a.m. to 00 p.m.

Word has it a well-known Las Vegas hospitality pro already has his eye on the Two Bald Brothers space, although the contract hasn’t been signed yet. Rumors are the next offering in the space could be Mexican.

The restaurant sits in a “restaurant row” on Carson Street, about a block off Fremont.

Vegenation is next door, with the new 7th & Carson next to that.

Here’s a fun fact: The former owner of Zydeco Po-Boys, Brandon Trahan, now cooks for Vegenation.

Downtown’s restaurant scene is eclectic and, to put it mildly, fluid. We look forward to tasting what’s next.

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