Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012 | 2:26 p.m.
Hot off the grill! Congratulations to Wolfgang Puck on today’s 20th anniversary of his restaurant Spago in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace -- Wolf was the spark that ignited the culinary revolution here. Mayor Carolyn Goodman commemorates the history-making achievement with a “Key to the City” presentation.
It was Dec. 11, 1992, that Wolf, a good pal for 30 years, opened Spago’s doors, and I flew here then to see it. It’s difficult to believe when Spago first opened with its smoked salmon and caviar pizza, roasted duck and stir-fried baby bok choy that it wasn’t readily accepted by tourists and locals. It was still the days of shrimp cocktails and giant steaks! In fact, by Dec. 31 that year, Wolf thought he was about to lose everything and made plans to shutter in January.
Las Vegas boxing promoter Bob Arum told him to hang on until a big January bout -- and with all the fight fans who descended, it changed everything, and Wolf’s success was assured for evermore. To celebrate, there will be a throwback menu with 1992 pricing all week. Tonight, Wolf cooks a VIP dinner for his Las Vegas supporters, poses for photographs, greets guests and signs his cookbooks.
U.K. INVASION: British chef and “Hell’s Kitchen” terror Gordon Ramsay is opening two Strip venues next week, making three in the same year. His U.K.-themed, 290-seat Pub & Grill opens at Caesars on Dec. 18, and four days later his BurGR opens at Planet Hollywood -- a food feat never experienced before on the Strip. He opened his incredibly successful Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Paris in May.
“It’s been incredible the positive reception since May,” Gordon said. “We’ve been developing these different concepts for quite a while to deliver three distinct, unique dining experiences with the variety, originality and high quality that we believe people want and appreciate.”
Chef Jeremy Berlin, who worked for Gordon in London and L.A., will be executive chef and oversee kitchen operations. P&G is divided into two sections, the grill restaurant and an authentic pub serving British pub food (shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and English ale onion soup), plus, 36 beers on tap and 24 bottled beers. Red telephone booths serve as the backdrop with waiters in punk-rock outfits designed by Allison Leach (no relation).
Meantime, BurGR is not grandma’s hamburger, but taken in a new direction with pork belly bao buns, sweet potato fries and pudding shakes, a heavenly combination of thick milkshake and silky pudding. Beef patties will be cooked over a 750-degree open flame fueled by apple and Adler woods. BurGR will be the only gourmet burger restaurant on the Strip using the technique to create more complex and powerful flavors.
I’m hearing rumblings that the annual gas bill for the massive, spectacular 30-foot wall of flames at BurGR’s entryway will be $100,000 to $250,000! It will seat 200 people, and again Hollywood’s “Mad Men” and “Glee”designer Alison will create the colorful uniforms.
20 NEW VENUES: Incidentally, between now and year’s end, we have nearly 20 venues opening on and off the Strip, including former “Top Chef” contestant and New York culinary king Angelo Sosa with his Poppy Den Asian gastropub in Tivoli Village and Steve Wynn’s Asian vibe dining Andrea’s named for his wife who will mastermind it.
POLAR OPPOSITES: The Travel Channel has confirmed today that the debut six half-hour episodes of Las Vegas food writers Al Mancini and John Curtas’ new reality TV food series will be titled “All Forked Up.” The renowned food critics who can’t agree on anything to save their lives are polar opposites when it comes to dining out.
Al with his Mohawk is right at home in a punk-rock bar known for outrageous burgers and bacon martinis, while John in white suit and bow tie would rather uncork a cult Cabernet for pairing with a perfectly dry-aged steak. Every week, this culinary odd couple explores a U.S. city by forcing each other to their latest wild food find that reflects their differences.
TRUFFLE TEMPTATION: Valentino chef Luciano Pellegrini has created a prestigious and extravagant seven-course white truffle tasting dinner for Friday night at his Venetian restaurant. The James Beard Award winner has a menu of traditional and contemporary Italian cuisine that includes pastas, entrees and desserts.
More Counter Intelligence with the 5th anniversary of Francois Payard’s Patisserie at Caesars and the restaurant industry’s American Red Cross fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy victims that brought out 22 chefs and restaurants to the Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
Catering to the young and modern crowd, Planet Hollywood is a one-stop shop for entertainment with its massive shopping mall, slew of restaurants, spacious casino and clubs.
The ambiance of the casino is retro-chic meets high-tech with black granite floors throughout and colorful LED lights throughout the space. The theme carries into the 100,000 square-foot casino with 250 flat screens topping off slot machines. The casino is also home to 87 tables, a sports book and a poker room.
There's also the Miracle Mile Shops, one Vegas' largest malls, with 140 stores including BCBG Max Azaria, bebe, Urban Outfitters and The Discovery Channel Store.
Following an afternoon of shopping, guests can satisfy their appetites at one of the gourmet restaurants in Planet Hollywood, like the non-traditional approach to steakhouses at Strip House or check out the exotic Far East motif at KOI restaurant and lounge. And if guests are still looking for more, they can spend the after hours at Privé, Triq or Krave nightclubs.
Perhaps one of the resorts biggest attractions came in March with the addition of "Peepshow." The naughty twist on the story of Little Bo Peep is modern-day spin on the run-of-the-mill Vegas topless review. The "Peepshow" stage has seen visiting celebs like Scary Spice Mel B, "Dancing with the Stars" Kelly Monaco and Playboy's Holly Madison.
Transport yourself to the opulent and excessive Roman Empire at Caesars Palace. But the ever-changing Caesars Palace is far from ancient. The hotel and casino is constantly raising the bar for what visitors can expect in a Vegas resort experience.
Caesars Palace features 3,348 rooms and suites in five towers, including the new luxury boutique Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, which opened Feb. 4, 2013, in the totally remodeled Centurian Tower. Caesars features 129,000 square feet of gaming space, including the Strip’s largest poker room and a 250-seat sports book. Other amenities include about two dozen restaurants, a four-level shopping mall, four pools, a spa, Pure and Poetry nightclubs and Pussycat Dolls.
Dining options include restaurants from world-renown chefs Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay and, on Feb. 4, 2013, Nobu Matsuhisa.
You never know what characters you’ll run into at Caesars with regular performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Elton John and maybe even the emperor himself.