Eater Awards 2018: Announcing the Las Vegas Winners
By: Susan Stapleton
t is now time — drum roll, please — to announce the winners of the 2018 Eater Awardsin Las Vegas. These winners comprise a diverse group of the finest and most interesting chefs, restaurants and bars in the city. They’ve defined this year in dining, and we applaud them.
First, a quick recap: Eater’s local editors in 24 cities nominated candidates for five major categories: Strip Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Stone Cold Stunner, Off-Strip Restaurant of the Year, and New Bar of the Year. These awards are geared toward places that have opened in about the past year, or people who have become involved in new ventures or otherwise changed the game in that time, which is why many renowned veterans don’t appear.
Eater readers then voted on winners, while Eater editors made their own choices. The national winners can be viewed here, but now, without further ado, here’s who came out on top in Las Vegas.
Restaurant of the Year: NoMad Bar
The name NoMad Bar is a misnomer, since the restaurant from chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara is really an all-day restaurant with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night dishes along with that award-winning bar program from bar director Leo Robitschek. The bar and restaurant sits off the lobby of NoMad and the new NoMad casino, a perfect spot for a cocktail before a show or a bite to eat late at night. The bar comes draped in oxblood red velvet chairs and sofas, some elevated as they approach the commanding bar, while an Austrian velvet and sheer curtain, custom made by Rosebrand, cloaks the bar. In the corner, a Steinway piano sits ready for live performances, often jazz in the evening. The restaurant’s menu offers a lesson in perfection. From the carrot tartare and black truffle tart to the hot and cold oysters and mixed fry, diners here will find a playful yet carefully executed menu that only exhibits why the sister bar in New York earned a Michelin star. The Humm Dog, a mischievous hot dog wrapped in bacon and black truffle mayo swaddled in a delicate griddled brioche; the NoMad French dip that swaps out shaved chicken and adds Gruyere and a horseradish cream for a twist; the lobster pot pie meant for two; or the childhood favorite ice cream sandwiches all make the menu. Read more about NoMad Bar here.
Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice: Catch at Aria
Chef of the Year: Scott Conant, Masso Osteria
He left Las Vegas, only the rebuild his Italian restaurant empire and return. Scott Conant’s Masso Osteria at Red Rock Resort brings the Chopped judge’s favorite comfort foods including his must-eat pasta al pomodoro, spaghetti in a tomato and basil sauce with just the right amount of butter and perhaps even more important, his caramel budino. Conant, who launched his Las Vegas career with Scarpetta and D.O.C.G. Enoteca at the Cosmopolitan, earned accolades from Esquire magazine in 2008 when Scarpetta was named one of the best new restaurants in America, and again in 2009 when the James Beard Foundation nominated the restaurant for best new restaurant in America. But D.O.C.G. closed in 2017 and Conant stepped away from all of his Scarpetta restaurants, although he is still involved with Scarpetta by Scott Conant in Miami inside The Fontainebleau. Great comeback. Read more about Scott Conant here.
Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Barry S. Dakake at Scotch 80 Prime
Design of the Year: Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace
How do you take the set of the television show and make it into a restaurant? See: Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace. The restaurant pays tribute to Ramsay’s Fox Network Hell’s Kitchen TV show with 8,000 square feet of themed space sporting an interior bar, two dining rooms, a showcase kitchen, and retail space. Diners first see a bronze HK sign with a pitchfork before they walk in to see Ramsay himself asking diners to walk right in. Once through the front doors, diners discover the illusion is created by a full-length video screen. Inside, diners feel as if they stepped foot on the stage of the show with a red side and blue side of the kitchen. Chefs and cooks in the kitchen don the exact uniforms from the show, wearing red and blue jackets with coordinating bandanas. Throughout the space, customers find custom-designed, laser-cut screen partitions and soft charcoal and ash-hued wall coverings. Even the lighting overhead features brass rods with pitchforks, while HK touches extend to the seating. Read more about Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen here.
Design of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Cafe Lola
Off-Strip Restaurant of the Year: Scotch 80 Prime
Barry Dakake’s Scotch 80 Prime at the Palms mixes old school Vegas with the chichi touches found in the high-end steakhouses on the Strip. This classic take on the steakhouse tips its hat to Las Vegas’ Scotch 80s neighborhood, an 80-acre plot of land north of the resort that was purchased in the early 1900s by the city’s first mayor, Peter Buol. USDA Prime beef, certified Japanese Kobe beef, chicken, chops, and seafood along with over-the top creations such as a mesquite-fired crustacean tower, dazzling the dining room when it arrives with Maine lobster, white Mexican shrimp, New Bedford sea scallops, Spanish octopus, Alaskan king crab, and steamed New England little neck clams on a circular custom flame lit vessel make the menu. Diners can order the Russian Baller caviar tower with vodka shots or a banana split served table-side. It doesn’t hurt that a collection of pieces from artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, KAWS, Damien Hirst, and Scott Hove decorate the space. Read more about Scotch 80 Prime here.
Off-Strip Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Scotch 80 Prime at the Palms
Bar of the Year: Rosina at the Palazzo
Sam Ross and David Rabin of The Dorsey fame created this old school bar with Art Deco flair. The 65-seat cocktail lounge Rosina features crystal chandeliers lighting the maroon u-shaped banquettes found on each side of the bar, as well as high-top tables with rich burgundy colored chairs and small cocktail tables paired with pearl-colored leather chairs spread throughout the lounge area. A soundtrack of Nina Simone, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Lauryn Hill, Maxwell, and more sets the tone. The lounge also features a champagne call button that allows patrons to top off their flute with the push of a button. Even the ice here has a decadent touch, embossed with a handcrafted “R.” Ross created the cocktails here, a nod to the classics including the daiquiri, French 75, Mai Tai, and Old Fashioned. Cocktail servers can offer special off-menu cocktails as well. Read more about Rosina here.
Bar of the Year Readers’ Choice: Juniper Cocktail Lounge at the Park MGM