The evening after lunch at Holstein’s Shakes and Buns I was happy to see my old friend Felipe. He had migrated from San Francisco to Las Vegas. Felipe and I worked at the same time for the Consul General of Japan in San Francisco. You really don’t know professional food service until you have served an eight-course meal to the CEO of Kikkoman. The Consul General’s residence was certainly a great place to meet a wide range of people, my favorite was Kristi Yamagishi, but that’s another story. Felipe and I wanted to have an extraordinary dining experience and we wanted to see if you have that in one of Las Vegas’ casino restaurants.
Well, we picked Caesars Palace. The first time I went to Caesars I must admit I got totally lost, the place is immense. I digress by saying that the first time was awesome. We had gotten free passes to the OMNIA nightclub. And boy what a party experience that was. I mean I have been to a variety of places and seen a lot of things, I had even hung out with the famous Space Cowboys of San Francisco and I'm pretty sure that they're the ones who wrote the book on partying. Period. Is a matter of fact, when you get to the last page of the book it says, and I quote, "party on, don't stop now, turn to page one and continue reading!" It's funny, I've read that last page at 6 a.m. many times. But my experience at the OMNIA that night that impressed me the most was the ceiling jets of compressed carbon dioxide that cooled the room from 90 degrees to 60 degrees in a few seconds. So, the dancing never stops.
"Is a matter of fact, when you get to the last page of the book it says, and I quote, "party on, don't stop now, turn to page one and continue reading!""
But on this occasion, we had come to Caesars Palace to visit a restaurant named Searsucker. The original Searsucker is the brainchild of Chef Brian Malarkey and James Brennan which opened several years ago in the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego. I've mentioned Brian Malarkey before, he is the chef that I met at Herb & Wood. Brian Malarkey has garnered a rather well-known reputation in the food business over the last decade. In 2007, he was on the third season of Top Chefs. Now he is involved in the ownership of over a dozen venues.
There are four Searsucker restaurants, the one here in Vegas, the one in San Diego, the one in Austin, TX, and the one in Del Mar, CA. Each venue has a completely different interior and each has different menus and yet all focus on the community's clientele. I like how they describe themselves. " Searsucker is not just a restaurant, it's a social dining experience that embraces what food does for us socially." They go on to say,” Searsucker isn't a place to get away, it's a place to get together.”
Frankly, this is what I like about Brian Malarkey. He gets it. He knows that dining out is more than just refueling. It is a social experience where customers meet customers, or where people come to feel comfortable with old friends. And a place to meet new friends. This is exemplified by the staff who let you dine at your own pace, staff who don’t intrude on your dining experience, they enhance it.
It was great to see Felipe again. We talked about old times and how we still really enjoy the food industry. I started the evening off with a Ginger Apple Buck from their Specialty Drink menu. It is made with Virginia Black Whiskey, sour apple liqueur, lemon, ginger beer, and whiskey barrel bitters. It was a great rendition of the Buck or Mule recipe. Searsucker has a dozen Specialty Drink choices so it was difficult to pick just one. Here are just a few of the drinks on the list, click the link below to see the full drink list.
Spicy Pineapple Margarita
Avion silver tequila, El Silencio mezcal, pineapple, chipotle pepper, grapefruit
Bulleit bourbon, vanilla, blackberry, fresh squeezed lemon, fresh muddled mint
Grey Goose vodka, Lillet, apricot, pineapple, cardamom, mint
As an appetizer, I had a few of oysters served with a pomegranate mignonette. I then enjoyed a pear Walnut goat cheese salad before I moved on to the scallops as my entree. The scallops were exquisitely done and served on a board with heirloom tomatoes and a fungus called Hen of the Woods along with a sweet corn and a pea puree. The art of presentation hit its best mark when the chef used a board for the entrée instead of a plate.
Here are a few of the signature dishes from Searsucker:
beer braised short ribs
horseradish potatoes with crispy onions
braised pork butt
whiskey apples, brussels sprouts, prosciutto
jidori organic chicken
grilled fingerling potato, blistered grapes, pomegranate
cannellini bean ragout, spring vegetables, herbs
spaghetti squash, garlic, lemon
Damn, I missed out on ordering the Jidori® organic chicken again. On the other hand, Felipe is a vegan and every good restaurant provides vegans a choice because nearly every other party has a vegan in it. The vegan entree at Searsucker was a vegetable curry to which you could add a choice of chicken or shrimp if can’t go without meat. Searsucker did an excellent job of presenting everything. The cocktails were great, the wine was excellent, and the service was professional. Brian, if you're listening, you're doing a great job, keep up the good work.
Here are some of Chef Brian Malarkey other venues:
Well, it was a huge day for me, starting out with my introduction to Marina Mercer and then having lunch at Holstein’s Shakes and Buns, but the end of the day having dinner at Searsucker with my old friend was the best way to end my stay in Las Vegas. When I got home to our World Mark timeshare, Ruka was asleep, of course. She turned her head and opened one eye as if to say, "Where the hell have you been all day, and before I could tell her she says to me, "were you out at the strip clubs, were you playing roulette or craps in the casino, it's late." I said, well, it's not that late. she said, "it must be 3:30" no Ruka it's only 11:30. Go back to sleep, I'll tell you about my day in the morning.
As I lay there thinking about my long day and all the things I had seen, the unique drinks, the awesome food and stunning interior design, I thought to myself, how am I going to top this.
Please log on to ChasingCuisine.com and follow my journey….
Enjoy life, drink responsibly.
© Copyright Chasing Cuisine 2017 all rights reserved
Author : Neal Murray
Designed By : Sean Derning