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This is a big deal, primarily because it shifts the focus from theHOTEL boutique concept from MGM to a known entity.  I’m not particularly familiar with the current financials of theHOTEL, but it seemed to make a big splash initially and then fizzled with the advent of the Cosmopolitan.

Morgans Hotel Group is known for their design-based boutique concepts, such as the Starck-designed Mondrian, etc.  Late last year they obtained a controlling interest in Light Group- the folks that run many of the noted nightclubs in Vegas- ostensibly to run food and beverage across the spectrum of their investments.  My feeling is that Light Group will have far more in-depth involvement with this new venture.

This should be an interesting addition to Las Vegas- if done properly.  Rumors of The Sahara green-lighted as a design-based hotel destination abound at the moment. The Sahara concept would make 3 proper design/boutique-marketed hotels (despite size) on the Strip. It’s quite possible that Las Vegas may become the design destination I hoped for when we moved here 11 years ago. Mandalay Bay was the top hotel/design destination on the Strip at that time, despite those awful chandeliers. Very nice to see MGM beginning to get back to basics.

I wish them all luck and the fortitude to stay on top of trends, no matter how silly.


Here’s the press release:

August 6, 2012 (Las Vegas, NV) – MGM Resorts International and Morgans Hotel Group have announced an unprecedented partnership to introduce Delano Las Vegas, an all-suite hotel at Mandalay Bay. After completing a property redesign, Morgans Hotel Group’s signature luxury brand will come to life in place of THEhotel in late 2013.


This strategic brand partnership marries the traditions of excellence from both of these leading hospitality companies. Delano Las Vegas will be managed by MGM Resorts under a long-term licensing agreement withMorgans Hotel Group.


“In keeping with our commitment to create superior experiences for our guests, transforming THEhotel into Delano Las Vegas will add a new dimension of energy and excitement to the Las Vegas Strip,” said Chuck Bowling, president and COO of Mandalay Bay. “The Delano South Beach experience is very special and loved worldwide, most notably in key Latin American and European markets which we have strategically identified for future growth potential.”


As Delano’s second outpost in the United States, Delano Las Vegas will transport the iconic brand from the shores of South Beach to the Las Vegas Strip. Once completed, guests will experience the Delano lifestyle, and its unique blend of effortless luxury and impeccable service at the world-renowned Mandalay Bay.


In addition, Morgans Hotel Group plans to introduce several new food and beverage concepts at Mandalay Bayto be managed by The Light Group. Venues will include a casual American bistro by Chef Brian Massie, a Japanese dining destination by celebrity chef Akira Back and a new vision for Red Square. The Light Group will once again reinvent Las Vegas nightlife with a revolutionary nightclub. All venues are scheduled to open in 2013.


Michael Gross, Morgans Hotel Group CEO said “MGM Resorts International is the market leader in Las Vegasand we could think of no better partner to operate Delano. We’ve had our eye on Las Vegas for many years, and have finally found the right location and opportunity. Delano as a brand evokes luxury with an unexpected touch of individuality. This enables our guests to easily discern between mere travel and the unparalleled experience atDelano. We can see no better market and partner to help us launch our largest property to date.”


Built on an ideology centered around unique guest experiences and the feelings those experiences conjure, no two Delano properties will ever be the same. Each location will adapt to its surroundings, providing exclusive experiences that combine superior service with high-energy night and daylife, as well as an unmatched standard of fine dining. Delano enthusiasts from around the globe can expect the same attention-to-detail, premier service and quality experience at Delano Las Vegas as its iconic South Beach predecessor.


Each of the property’s 1,100 all-suite accommodations will be redesigned in keeping with the Delanopersonality. Rounding out the Las Vegas experience will be the transformation of the destination’s public spaces including bars, lounges, spa, and restaurants, with additional details to be released in the coming months.


Farm To Strip Dinners at First Food and Bar, Palazzo LV

[caption id=”attachment_11250” align=”aligncenter” width=”320” caption=”Chef Sammy D and Snapper”][/caption]

Chef Sammy DeMarco, aka “Sammy D”, or the “D Man”, is a busy boy these days. He’s just opened a restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, and still finds time to be one of the most creative chefs in the city.

Now, DeMarco is doing a series of Friday evening dinners, “Farm to Strip” at First Food and Bar, his Palazzo restaurant. The menus rely on whatever is fresh that day from the Downtown 3rd Farmer’s Market, and the kickoff dinner, which DeMarco cooked for ten people, was one of the most colorful and impressive meals I’ve eaten this year.

[caption id=”attachment_11251” align=”aligncenter” width=”320” caption=”Bountiful Hues”][/caption]

This is the sort of dinner I miss here, a California aesthetic if you will, revolving around fresh produce, fish and meat. If I’m in the Bay Area, I try to eat at The Café at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, where Alice Waters practically invented this genre.

[caption id=”attachment_11252” align=”aligncenter” width=”319” caption=”Pretzels”][/caption]

This menu was lovingly simple; a vegetable salad with Green Goddess dressing, American Gulf wild red snapper with fresh vegetables, a farm roasted pig with pickles, peaches and Okinawan sweet potato puree, a strawberry donut trifle, and various libations.

But oh, how this food tasted. First, DeMarco plied my table of ten with his well known Skittles vodka cocktail, a silly, kid cocktail that no kid can drink, a rainbow of vodkas flavored with Skittles of varied colors. I opted, instead, for a Blue Moon beer, one of my faves. The salad, full of chunked, fresh avocado, tomatoes, and several greens, was terrific.

[caption id=”attachment_11253” align=”aligncenter” width=”319” caption=”roasted beets”][/caption]

Chef Sammy then came to the table with a giant whole snapper with a salt crust, that he showed us before serving. The meat, moist and juicy with a slightly sea-like tang, fell apart when prodded. On the side there were several platters of market fresh vegetables; yellow sweet corn, a plate of both purple and gold cauliflower, sweet Italian peppers and an unusual anchovy aioli that only Al Mancini could identify, and gorgeous green asparagus. Your greedy reported ate several tips.

[caption id=”attachment_11254” align=”aligncenter” width=”272” caption=”Sorry Babe”][/caption]

The chef then brought out the pig, snout, ears and all, plus enormous sheets of crisped skin that we ate like potato chips. The meat had the same juicy resonance as the snapper, but I stuck to the skin. I couldn’t stop eating it. Finally my wife had to jab me with a fork. Sorry, dear.

Mercifully, I’m not fond of sweet pickles or sweet potatoes, although I admit that the purple sweet potato puree was unusual to the eye. But I did feast on the roasted peaches on the platter with Porky. Wow!

[caption id=”attachment_11255” align=”aligncenter” width=”320” caption=”Strawberry Donut Parfait”][/caption]

Dessert was rich, creamy and indulgent, like much of DeMarco’s food. The donut was yeasty, the strawberries ripe and market fresh, and the cream thick and sweet, like many women I know in this town. This will be a monthly occasion, probably the 1st or 2nd Friday of the month, with the dates to be announced. I’ll keep you posted on the site.

For reservations, call 607-3478, or visit www.firstfoodandbar.com. The prices will be kept as low as possible, most likely in the $60-$75 range depending on market availability.

Young Designers- Young Guns at COLAB DOWNTOWN LV TONIGHT

Griddle Me This: Bottles and Burgers, Tivoli Village LV

Reprinted with permission from Seven Weekly Las Vegas. Check out Seven Magazine by picking a copy up at Unicahome and other fine venues in our fair Village of Las Vegas. Find out what is new and notable in Las Vegas online here.

[caption id=”attachment_11138” align=”aligncenter” width=”300” caption=”The Block 16 Burger with Baltimore Fries”]The Block 16 Burger with Baltimore Fries[/caption]

It’s too early to call Ray Nisi an empire builder, but he seems to be making a success of Bottles & Burgers in Tivoli Village, the most recently opened member of his Double Helix wine bar family. And lord knows this mall can use him.

The concept is simple: wines by the glass or half-bottle, imaginative and well-crafted burgers, shareable plates and both a soda fountain for kids and a bar for adults. Anyone fancy a Hostess with the Mostess—Three Olives Cake vodka, vanilla ice cream and a pulverized chocolate cupcake? I thought as much.

Of course, Nisi has an ace in the hole with the talented chef Doug Vega, a man who is, perhaps, working under speed here. Like his counterpart Anthony Meidenbauer of Block 16 Hospitality (the Barrymore, Public House, etc.), Vega has free rein to create an upscale menu with considerable variety and international flair.

Max’s Menu Picks


Arancini, $8.

Irish sliders, $8.

Garden of Eden Salad, $9.

Burgers & Fries

Block Sixteen burger ($9) with Baltimore fries, $5.

One can just as easily get plates of hummus orarancini here as half-pound Angus beef burgers. And don’t for one minute expect anything as pedestrian as lettuce and tomato. The Block Sixteen—named after a portion of the original city grid, but still paying unwitting homage to the competition at Holsteins—is topped with caramelized onions, sharp cheddar and chipotle aioli on a tender brioche bun baked by a small, local Vietnamese bakery. As burgers go, this one is a must.

This is a large space, more than 6,000 square feet including the outdoor patio. The best seats may be at the soda fountain, where soda jerks create those adult milkshakes like the aforementioned cupcake affair.

Since the place has been designed for families as well, there are gooey milkshakes with add-ins such as Oreos and sprinkles in addition to the grown-up stuff. If you’re in the mood to be cozy, booths are spacious and comfortable, leather lined and plush.

When I first visited, the signature Double Helix burger was a baseball-size gob of chopped beef stuffed with pork belly, short rib, horseradish and tomato compote. Now it has morphed into the Double Helix BBQ, which subs in bacon, cheddar and charred onions for a more conventional, more appealing take.

You don’t have to go beef, but spicy turkey and an oddball vegetarian option—a quinoa mushroom patty that a kid could turn into pure mush before a parent could turn his head—make unusual burger bedfellows.

I’m a total mark for Irish sliders, which the menu says is grilled beef brisket, but is really corned beef with sauerkraut, a Thousand Island dressing thick enough to stand a spoon up in, and Jarlsberg cheese. I wonder why they don’t simply call the damned thing a Reuben. I’d eat them anyway.

Fries are done five ways: Baltimore, with brown gravy and pepperjack cheese sauce, is the closest thing to poutine you can get in northwest Las Vegas. (For that dish, visit Meidenbauer’s Public House.) The Double Helix fries get shallots, sherry aioli and fines herbes. These are my two faves, anyway.

The extensive wine and beer list includes seven boutique drafts, such as the terrific Canadian dark ale, Trois Pistoles, and endless wines in half bottles, full bottles and glasses. Two killer bargains include a Curran grenache blanc ’09 ($45) and the ’06 Costa de Oro pinot noir ($27) both from Central California.

Mr. Nisi, we think you might be onto something.

In Tivoli Village, 450 S. Rampart Blvd., 735-9463. Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun-Thu, 11 a.m.-midnight Fri-Sat. Dinner for two, $35-$55.
Vegas Uncorked 2012 Preview: May 10-13 2012

Vegas Uncorked 2012, the city’s premier food event, kicks off this coming Thursday with the famed Saber-Off event, by invitation only, where chefs line up to knock champagne corks off with a saber.

Twenty six separate events follow, each sponsored by Bon Appetit Magazine.  It’s the city’s premier food festival, open to the public, for a price, naturally.

What makes it unique is the presence of our celebrity chefs, from Charlie Palmer and Wolfgang Puck, to Alain Ducasse, Michel Richard and dozens of others. It all comes to a head Friday evening, at a Grand Tasting at the Caesars Palace pool, beginning at 7:30. Tickets are still available at the Website, www.vegasuncorked.com, along with further details with regard to events still available.

Many of the Masters Dinners and Lunches are already sold out. I’ll be attending Michel Richard’s Thursday evening dinner at Central, and the 11 a.m. Sunday Steak and Eggs with Charlie Palmer, one of the festival events I look forward to every year.

In addition, I’ll be at Charlie’s poolside Clambake Saturday night at Mandalay Bay, and the noon Saturday fish market with Milos owner Costas Spiliadis. It all looks to be a great time, and I’m loosening my belt already. See you there.

(via Against the Grain: Three Vegas Strip Steakhouses)

(via Against the Grain: Three Vegas Strip Steakhouses)

» New Tropez Outdoor Collection by Stefan Diez for Gandia Blasco

» Unicahome Spring Cleaning Sale 25%-65% OFF!!!

(via Opportunity Village Celebrity Poker Tournament April 7th 2012)

(via Opportunity Village Celebrity Poker Tournament April 7th 2012)

» New Items for Springtime

(via Cabaret Indoor Outdoor Collection by Kenneth Cobonpue)

(via Cabaret Indoor Outdoor Collection by Kenneth Cobonpue)

(via Cabaret Indoor Outdoor Collection by Kenneth Cobonpue)

(via Cabaret Indoor Outdoor Collection by Kenneth Cobonpue)

(via Cabaret Indoor Outdoor Collection by Kenneth Cobonpue)

(via Cabaret Indoor Outdoor Collection by Kenneth Cobonpue)

(via Unicaworld’s Food Critic Max Jacobson Gets Top Story at Saveur Magazine)

(via Unicaworld’s Food Critic Max Jacobson Gets Top Story at Saveur Magazine)

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