Pictured: Off the Hook
Back from Vegas and back on the blog. . .
As a POF (Person of Food) it was a pretty interesting trip. I hadn’t been to Las Vegas since the beginning of its effort in the 1990s to become a dining destination as well as a gambling mecca, so I was curious to see whether the restaurants there were really as good as many people say. In a word (or three): Yes, they are.
It was a little disconcerting to find these elegant, expensive upscale hotel eateries cheek-by-jowl with the raucous, garish casino floor — but once inside, the gambling madness seemed far away, and the food was as good as anything you could get in Miami or New York or San Francisco or any other food-centric town.
Just a few highlights. . .
Killer blue corn lobster tacos with habanero-fennel relish and spicy Yucatan chicken skewers with peanut-smoked chili barbecue sauce at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. House-made bowtie pasta dyed a verdant green with fresh mint, served with English peas, bits of pancetta and Pecorino Romano, plus a slice of warm panetone with tangerine segments and rum gelato at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s B&B Ristorante. And a terrific trio of tastes featuring osetra caviar, summery lobster-avocado salad, gorgeously bronzed whole roasted duck with subtle five-spice sauce, and ethereal lemon-raspberry souffle at Le Cirque.
Las Vegas is a crazy town and you have to put up with the incessant crowds and noise and flashing lights, but you can eat damn well there.
Now, to more local news. . .
It seems odd that a state bordered on three sides by water would have far more steakhouses than restaurants specializing in seafood. So word of a new fish joint opening in Boca is certainly good news.
That joint would be Off the Hook (1956 N.E. Fifth Ave.,561/609-2915), a slick-looking little spot in the Fifth Avenue Shops complex. Inside it’s all bright and cheery reds, whites and blues with a very contemporary seafaring feel. The long, narrow space features a boat-shaped bar, counter set with red and chrome hightop chairs, blond wood tables and buoys and fake fish decorating the walls.
The menu offers lots of familiar, comforting piscine fare, from conch fritters with Cajun aioli and fried Ipswich clams to crab and shrimp-stuffed lemon sole and a classic Long Island clambake, plus selections from the raw bar. For non-fin fans there’s a cola-glazed pork tenderloin, oven-roasted chicken breast and Angus burger.