Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Charlie Trotter, Las Vegas

This article originally appeared in a recent issue of Dining Out magazine (above). This is also the first place our world famous tag line, "We're foodies, but we're drunks first," first appeared. And it was our editor/friend Josh Tyson who suggested we build our empire around it. Besides that, however, the published version (above) is edited down slightly from the original (below). The juicy puke story is omitted, for instance. And none of my crappy photos were used. Probably because they were crappy. My camera wasn't working. The only thing worse than lugging around a big ole Nikon, is lugging around a big ole Nikon that doesn't even work. Fucking digital. You look like an idiot with one of those thing slung over your shoulder. Back when I used to be a photographer (around the Civil War), it meant something to have a Nikon FM2 in your hands. Now everyone's got one of those things with the black and yellow strap. And mine didn't work. I eventually discovered that the battery was dead, but that wasn't before I thoroughly embarrassed myself in front of celebrity chefs like David Myers. "Can I take your picture?" I asked, interrupting his conversation with some other hot shot restaurateurs. "Sure," he said. He was very polite. And very patient as I sat there pointing the camera at him and pushing the shutter button, while nothing happened. "Fuck," I said after a few uncomfortable moments. "Sorry," I mumbled, "my camera is fucked up." I don't think I blushed, but that's how I felt. Back at the booth, I managed to get it to take a few pictures which I've included with the article below.

Tania arrives at the gala event. "Would you like some wine?" "Plaze..."

Unfortunately Tania and I were a little over anxious in terms of our partying, and decided to get completely wasted the Friday night before our flight to Las Vegas to attend the opening of Charlie Trotter’s new restaurant, Restaurant Charlie, at the Palazzo. “We’re going to Vegas tomorrow! WOOOO!” We went to bed in the wee hours of the morning and slept right through our flight…woo.

We got the next flight and easily checked into our hotel well before the 1:30 start time at Restaurant Charlie. We showered and tried to pull ourselves together for an event neither of us knew what to expect. “What is it? Do we get lunch?” “I don’t know?” The only thing I did know was that I had the shakes really bad and I wasn’t going to be able to hold a glass of wine. We’re foodies, but we’re drunks first.

Sure enough, first person to approach us as we wandered into the bar area at Restaurant Charlie was a cocktail waitress with a tray of wine. “Would you like a glass?” A very thin and delicate glass of wine perched on an ever so slender stem? “Su-r-r-r-r-r-e,” I shivered. Even with two hands I could barely get the thing to my lips. But, ahhhh, sweet liquor. I gulped it down and grabbed another. I was slightly closer to “normal.”

The maitre de approached and he very cordially explained the lay of the land and instructed us to make ourselves at home. We did a lap around the spacious dining room, gandered at the wine cube, and, after realizing we were sufficiently out of our element, we took a seat in a brown leather booth to watch the crowd. Tania always looks beautiful and elegant when we go to these fancy restaurants, but no matter what I wear, my beard and scraggly long hair automatically puts us in a lower class. We have no problem dropping the cash for these kinds of dinners, but we always get treated like we’re little trailer park kids on our first date in Las Vegas. “HOLY COW, TANIA! THERE’S A FRICKIN’ PHONE IN THE BAFFROOM!” I remember one time we ate at Aureole and the waiter asked if we wanted the wine label to keep as a souvenir. “No, really, that’s okay—“ I started to say (I have lots of old wine labels on empty bottles in a corner of my kitchen), but he was already off. Moments later he was back with a condescending smirk, presenting us with our keepsake: a cute little card with the label from the bottle of wine we had just tossed back. I have no right to be indignant about being treated lower class, however, because when I exited the restaurant, I dashed into the first bathroom I saw in the casino, crashed into a stall and barfed up our $600 dinner. The purple mass (lots of wine) hit the bottom of the toilet, did a u-turn, and leaped back out of the toilet and onto my nice shoes. All class.

I eventually managed to get one picture of Charlie Trotter (left) speaking with David Myers (middle) and Love Boat Captain, Gavin McCloud.

Fortunately Charlie’s opening was more of a mingling affair with lots of famous chefs and restaurateurs eating little bits of food out of tiny spoons, so I wasn’t given the opportunity to drop a giant depth charge in his toilet. Although, I will say that Charlie did take a dump on my plate. I believe the waiter said it was a spiced artichoke heart covered with toasted pine nuts and Indian spices? Don’t remember exactly, but it looked and tasted like someone had pulled a cat turd out of a litter box. Absolutely disgusting. Screw you Charlie Trotter!

Artichoke heart, my ass. That's a cat turd.

On the other hand, we were absolutely delighted by the saffron risotto with chives, and Tania (who doesn’t particularly care for sea food) had a “life changing experience” (Zagat review!) with the grilled diver scallop on a Greek yogurt sauce and a parsley emulsion foam. “You know how people make that face on the Food Network?” she said doing her best impression of that stupid Rachel Ray orgasm face, “well, this is one time it’s appropriate.”

Tania digs into the orgasm face scallop. Beside it is the saffron risotto. Not as good as Tania's risotto, but very good.

Connected to the restaurant was an even smaller restaurant called Bar Charlie that functioned as a kind of sushi bar. “Li’l Baby Shakes” had some trouble with his chopsticks and trying to get the tiny hamachi bellies, mackerels, Japanese snappers, braised rishiri, and tuna tartar into his mouth, but the ones he did manage to cram in there were excellent.

Mr. Sushi man doing the Sushi Man Dance.

Overall, Restaurant Charlie promises to be yet another Las Vegas foodie destination. I know when we go back, we’re going to book the chef’s table, which hovers above the kitchen…so we can keep an eye on those cats.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This place sucks. The staff complains about horrible working conditions from the very immature management. The servers get minimum wage. The going rate for servers in the REAL HOTELS and RESTAURANTS is more the doulbe that. This is just one more illustration of why Trotter does not deserve to be in Las Vegas. He will fails AGAIN. The kitchen staff must work for 3 hours each day without clocking in beofre their 8 hour shift. Where is the Labor board? It is way over priced, the portions are small, the service is terrible, the chairs are uncomfortable, the bartentder sticks his fingers in you all your drinks BEFORE he tastes the for you.