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This off-the-Strip gourmet restaurant has diners and reviewers swooning.
Photo: Jim Laurie (Above: Hugo's Texas Barbeque Shrimp; Below: Halibut Linquist)
Virtually every big resort on the Las Vegas Strip can boast of a top-of-the-line gourmet restaurant run by a celebrity chef. The restaurant that has earned more awards than any other fine-dining establishment in the entertainment capital, however, is not on the Strip, but in a strip mall 10 miles from Las Vegas Boulevard.
Rosemary’s Restaurant has been chosen Best Gourmet in the Las Vegas Review-Journal readers’ poll every year since it opened in 1999. Owner and chef Michael Jordan and his wife, Wendy, have borrowed from their roots and life experiences in structuring a menu described on their Web site as “French-inspired, creative American cuisine with regional twists from New Orleans, the Deep South, and the Midwest.”
Jordan estimates that half of the restaurant’s clientele are visitors venturing out from the resort corridor. Competing with the Strip means tourists have to be willing to shell out an extra $30 to $40 for a cab ride. Jordan says, “Quality fills seats, and we pay close attention to the big three—great food, great drink, great service.”
Jordan has a flair for commingling ingredients on your plate. Unlike some gourmet restaurants where everything is a la carte, Rosemary’s serves up a full plate, pairing each entrée with accompaniments that compliment each other in taste, texture, and visual appeal. Crowd favorites and the dishes Jordan and Director of Operations Michael Shetler are most proud of include Hugo’s Texas barbecue shrimp with Maytag blue cheese cole slaw a tantalizing marriage of sweet and tangy barbecue sauce with robust blue cheese; crispy skin striped bass, served with Andouille
sausage, rock shrimp, and fingerling potato hash with Southern-style hushpuppies—a tour of Louisiana on a plate; and milk-fed veal sweetbreads, of which there are four to five variations, paired with a rich bacon mustard demi glaze. Shetler calls their sauce work central to their success; all of the creations are made from scratch, including the bread and ice cream. Jordan strives to use fresh ingredients from nearby farms. Greens come from area farmers in Pahrump and nearby Utah, and other ingredients arrive from Los Angeles.
Each meal is prefaced with a complimentary amuse bouche (bite-sized appetizer). The mignardes (plate of sweets) complete the meals, though there are decadent desserts on the menu, such as crème brûlée and chocolate flourless cake fortified with sweet Scotch caramel sauce and house-made vanilla bean ice cream.
Rosemary’s completes the package with excellent wine and beer pairings. An extensive wine list boasts more than 250 labels housed in a wine cellar. Rosemary’s was one of the first restaurants in the city to take beer seriously. Its extensive beer list includes more than 30 brews ranging from European lagers to American micros and Belgian Trappist ales offered by very few dining establishments. A beer and wine pairing suggestion appears with every appetizer, soup, salad, and entrée.
The restaurant has seating for 105, including a lounge and private room. The tables are set with crisp white linen, and the walls are adorned with colorful paintings created by local artists. Special events, such as beer, wine, or spirit-pairing dinners, are held at least six times a year.
To replicate your favorite dish, you can visit foodoflove.com to purchase “FOOD of LOVE,” a CD-ROM that has 238 printable recipes designed by Michael and Wendy Jordan that will give you the know-how to duplicate the chef’s mastery.
Hugo’s Texas Barbecue Shrimp with Maytag Blue Cheese Cole Slaw
Three-part recipe serves four
24 shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup barbecue sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
1 cup Maytag blue cheese mayonnaise (recipe follows)
3 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup Maytag blue cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Make the cole slaw just before cooking the shrimp by tossing the cabbage with just enough mayonnaise to coat. Add half of the green onion, half of the blue cheese, and season with salt and pepper to your preference. Toss well.
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, place a large sauté pan. Add the oil and, when you see ripples and a slight amount of smoke, add the shrimp, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook the shrimp until golden brown; about two to three minutes on each side. To plate, place a pile of the blue cheese cole slaw in the middle and lean five shrimp against the slaw and the sixth on top. Spoon a little barbecue sauce over each of the shrimp and a little more around the plate. Sprinkle each plate with the remaining green onion and blue cheese. Garnish the rim of the plate with black pepper.
Makes four cups
10 ounces Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce
10 ounces Kikkoman soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice, strained
10 ounces ketchup
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Combine the first five ingredients in a small sauce pot and stir over medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes and remove from heat. In a large sauce pot, bring the cream to a boil. Simmer until the cream is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in some of the barbecue base until you like the flavor. Bring the mixture back to a boil and simmer again until it coats the back of a spoon.
Maytag Blue Cheese Mayonnaise
Makes two cups
1/2 ounce shallots, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice, strained
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 cups canola oil
1/4 cup Maytag blue cheese
In a food processor combine the shallot, egg, lemon juice, mustard, and vinegar. Turn on the machine for 30 seconds and slowly add the oil. Add salt and pepper and pulse the machine two times for one second each. Taste for seasoning. Push the mayonnaise through a fine mesh strainer. Fold in the blue cheese.
8125 W. Sahara Ave., #110, Las Vegas
Hours: daily from 5:30 p.m., weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Caption: Michael and Wendy Jordan (right) aim to share their diverse culinary experiences with diners. “Rosemary’s menu reads like a storybook of our lives,” Michael says on the restaurant’s Web site.
• Top restaurant in the Las Vegas “Top Food” category by ZAGAT, 2007 and 2006
• Restaurateurs of the Year by Nevada Restaurant Association, 2007
• Award of Ultimate Distinction by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 2007
• Best restaurant in Las Vegas by Trip Advisor, 2006
• 4th Best Food and Beer Destination in North America by Celebrator Beer Magazine, 2006
• Spirit Restaurant of the Year by Santé, 2003