Journey to a place and time where your senses can be at ease. Where beautiful golf courses, glimmering waterfalls and a warm breeze from the mountains set your evening. That’s what you find when going to dine at the Lake Las Vegas upscale community. It’s just a half-hour drive from Las Vegas, traveling east on I 515-95 Freeway toward Boulder City. This is a scenic route where you take the east Lake Mead off ramp and travel east past the Fiesta Hotel about five miles to reach Lake Vegas. There you will find a peaceful but exciting resort destination called MonteLago Village.
Upon arriving, my guest, Beryl Warren, and I walked the cobblestone streets lined with all sorts of quaint shops. Just as we arrived at Zinc Bistro, we heard the jazz sounds of John Calhoun and Friends while we gazed upon the lake.
Zinc Bistro, with its neo-classic theme, prepares the most elegant dishes to complement its surroundings. It is the creation of world renowned Executive Chef Joseph Keller. Without getting too carried away with the setting of this elegantly decorated bistro, the eye-catcher for us was the unusual bar made from zinc. It looks like stainless steel, but it is handmade entirely from zinc, which is a darker hue, and it has textured, sculpted designs for a dramatic effect.
In fact, all the Keller restaurants are noted for their zinc bars. The theme of incorporating metallic zinc and rich-tone mahogany cabinetry at the bar sets the mood for fine dining. Nearby, there is a marble counter where guests can sit and watch the chef create. Cooking classes are held early in the day.
Now, it was time to satisfy our palates, but not before Chef Keller enters the dining room and greets us with a hug. Keller travels the world, is the featured chef for the Shakespeare Festival, and is guest chef for a host of dignitaries and celebrities, among them Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Keller says he has a passion to communicate life and serve healthy, delicious cuisine, which he does ever so gracefully.
During our conversation about food, Keller said he imports many of his ingredients from Sonoma. We also shared views on meditation and health. I told him I consider him the Zen of culinary delights. This brings to mind the idea of a televised cooking show based on the Zinc Bistro style of Chef Keller. The Food Network may want to consider this.
Starting on the tasting phase of our culinary journey, for appetizers, I highly recommend Escargot Bourguignon and the Cheese Plate Fromage.
“This is best escargot I’ve had in a long time,” my guest Beryl said.
The escargot was just the right tenderness; the garlic butter tantalized the taste buds. The cheese plate was a creative mix of goat cheese along with other assorted imported selections, served with blueberries dipped in honey with apple slices.
The main entrees were superb, deserving a standing ovation.
Beryl’s surf and turf was Prawns alongside slices of Australian lamb with baby carrots. I selected a salmon dish. It was the Crispy Skin Salmon entrée served with creamy petite white corn polenta and flash-fried scallops.
One of the interesting flairs is how the menu is presented. It is printed on elegant parchment-type stock and inserted in the linen napkin.
The evening of ambiance and fine cuisine had an anticipated sweet conclusion. Keller’s pastry chef, Jennifer Powers, is originally from Spanish Trails Country Club. All her delicacies are made onsite, fresh from start to finish.
One specialty, Down East Blueberry Pie, is made from wild berries from Maine, scented with cinnamon and nutmeg and served with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. Beryl had crème caramel served with French butter cookies. The crème caramel was not overly rich and had a delightful taste, she said.
The service at Zinc Bistro is excellent. We congratulate our server, Shane, and Manager Tom Ruesenberg for their knowledge and a job well done. Overall, Keller’s bistro was an experience in taste, sight and graciousness.
“Fine food and enjoying life is what I love to do,” Keller said. He comes by it genetically as a part of family tradition. The family operates several top-flight bistros, including the Bouchon at the Venetian in Las Vegas and the Bouchon and French Laundry bistros in Yountville, Calif.
Thomas Keller of the culinary dynasty is known for writing world-class cookbooks and Keller’s books are readily available online at Amazon and other book sellers.
Zinc Bistro is open for lunch 11:30 -5 Wed. through Sat. Brunch is 11–3 on Sun., and dinner is 5:30–10 nightly. For reservations, call 567-ZINC (9462) or visit the website at www.bistrozinclv.com where you may online bookings. Food prices are above moderate, and CSN rates it a 10-plus.