GMG - Las Vegas Weekly

November 7, 2013

Las Vegas Weekly

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10 reasons we're living in the GOLDEN AGE of Vegas dining There's never been a better time to eat Las Vegas. As the Strip and the city around it have evolved, so has the Valley's sprawling dining scene. The fancy "gourmet rooms" of Rat Pack-era Vegas have given way to the finest French dining rooms and steakhouses in the country, many manned by world-renowned chefs. Fun, casual restaurant concepts are in abundance, too, and passionate local restaurateurs are pushing the boundaries of neighborhood dining to create a fully formed, diverse local food scene. From eat-your-way-through neighborhoods to groundbreaking restaurants, these 10 reasons are a right-now snapshot of why today truly is the Golden Age of Las Vegas dining. 1. The world's best ingredients end up on local plates. It's a crowded Saturday night at Estiatorio Milos at the Cosmopolitan, and amid the breezy Grecian decor, customers line up at the restaurant's fish display to choose the evening's fare. There's the New Zealand St. Pierre, its spiny fins belied by delicate white filets; the hulking Canadian lobster, languidly waving its claws in the packed ice; or perhaps the Portuguese balada, a rare, coral-hued bream whose sweet, tender flesh makes it one of the eatery's most popular offerings. The balada takes just minutes to prepare, served crisp with a sprinkling of hand-shoveled sea salt from the Greek island of Kythira. "Our philosophy is as simple as our food," explains general manager Savvas Georgiadis. "Fresh ingredients. We try not to change the natural taste. Flavors and textures—we don't play with those." Milos is one of dozens of Strip restaurants that literally go to great lengths to bring the freshest, most authentic ingredients to their diners. From seafood to beef to greens, the practice of "sourcing"—culling 14 LASVEGASWEEKLY.COM NOVEMBER 7–13, 2013 14-15_Feature_Dining_20131107.indd 14 ingredients from their naturally occurring locales— has become increasingly common at Vegas restaurants, as the city's dining profile has risen to compete with places like LA and New York. Even "locally" sourced ingredients can be imported from hundreds of miles away in California, and bringing in rarer meat and seafood can be a logistical art—or nightmare. Simplicity is Milos' signature, but achieving it can be incredibly complex. Twenty-four hours before a balada is steaming on a customer's plate, it's swimming off the coast of Portugal. The moment it's reeled in, a race against the clock begins. It takes six to eight hours for a fisherman to bring his catch ashore, pack it and pass it off to transporters at a local market, who load the catch into dry ice-packed boxes designed to handle the plane trip across the Atlantic. Once the boxes hit the plane, however, deliveries are at the whim of layovers, weather and other delays. To combat the uncertainties of air travel, Milos keeps a driver on call 24/7 to pick up shipments the moment the plane taxies to the gate. Milos brings in upwards of 300 pounds of sea- food each day, with as many as 15 varieties of fish and shellfish from countries including Greece (tsipoura), Portugal (balada), Morocco (octopus) and New Zealand (St. Pierre), along with the East and Gulf Coasts of the U.S. With such tenuous logistics, casualties are inevitable, and missed connections or a long delay on the ground can send orders to the trash. "You can't survive with mediocre quality," Georgiadis says, adding that even fresh fish are kept no more than two days. Mark and John Smolen, owners of Las Vegas' Crab Corner seafood restaurants, first tapped into the sourcing trend in 2005 when they began shipping live blue crab from their native Baltimore and selling it out of their van. Demand was so high that the pair launched Nevada Seafood Wholesalers the following year. "We realized there was a void for fresh seafood in Las Vegas," Mark says. "We were surprised by just how many people wanted that unique product. You can't fake a Maryland crab cake." Today, Nevada Seafood Wholesalers dominates the local market for live seafood, shipping from Maryland, MILOS FISH MARKET BY L.E. BASKOW; MILOS DISHES BY MONA SHIELD PAYNE 11/6/13 1:22 PM

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