Casino Inspiration

casino2All photos ©United International Pictures (UIP)

I saw Scorsese’s Casino for the first time the other day and LOVED the design ethos. The textures, the technicolors, the glitz and glamour of old school Vegas make me want to a) immediately fly to Vegas for the weekend, and/or b) immediately throw a fantastic Vegas-style dinner party.

Preferably both. Immediately.


Have I told you that I love Vegas like it’s going out of style? Which, OK, it kind of is; but still, it is my disneyland in the desert, where life only exists for the purpose of fun and lying by the pool in the sun.

I especially look forward to the flight in, because you fly over a whole lot of nothingness for a long time and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, below you is a glittering man-made oasis with nothing but sand surrounding it that could not exist without our extraordinary ability to make something out of nothing. It’s a giant paean to the gluttony and consumerism – and capitalist ingenuity – of our culture, and there’s something beautiful about people being able to create a place that is entirely, solely, exclusively only for our own enjoyment of those sins. I love it.

And I don’t even gamble.

casino4I love the crazy colors and the glitter and sequins, the fact that you can walk around at 7am in a cocktail dress and nobody thinks a thing about it. People say you can do that stuff in New York without anyone caring, but you can’t. (Not that I’ve tried it – what, lil ol me???!)

I love the fact that everything is an extreme high or low: the temperature, the prices, the winnings. Everyone I know either loves Vegas or hates it – there are no feelings in between.


So what would a Vegas-style menu be? I think it has to be a little be a little classy, a little bit trashy, a little bit over the top and a lot of fun.

I’d start with a big round of cocktails and appetizers. Vegas is into wine these days, but old school Vegas liked their cocktails stiff and large. I’d serve classic martinis (vodka or gin as you like) with blue cheese stuffed olives (traditional with a twist), Cosmopolitans (because Vegas just is), and have some home-spiced bar nuts to munch on.

For the meal, steak is the obvious choice, and a perfectly good one, but it isn’t my thing. I’d make delicately poached salmon with creme fraiche and caviar, creamed spinach as a side, and serve a huge gooey dark chocolate fudge cake with a good port for dessert.

Soooo decadent, I love it!

This menu is clearly not the only way to go  – I know you guys have some juicy Vegas stories and can come up with some great Vegas-esque menus. What would your trashy, classy, over the top decadent menu be? Leave ’em in the comments!

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10 thoughts on “Casino Inspiration

  1. In honor of the delicious lobster omelet we once had at the Bellagio at 2 a.m. wearing cocktail dresses, I would make lobster omelets….and champagne cocktails!

  2. Ooh that’s such a genius idea! Easy to make yet so Vegas-y. Everyone’s been awake for breakfast at least once in Vegas, and not because they went to bed early. I luf it.

  3. Casino is alive as an unexpectedly, unabashedly romantic paean, as Scorsese meant it to be, to the sleaziness, sexiness, and ultimately self-immolating corruption of pre-Treasure Island Vegas (though if consumerism without scruple is your bag then Dubai–pre Dubai World?–is your bag), encapsulated in no better dynamic than the hustling Ginger McKenna (and her pitch perfect spangle glam/chintz housefrau aesthetic) and her lovelorn husband, the ultimate survivor.

    Onto the menu inspirations, and since the Bellagio (with the implied fantastical brunch) has been name checked, I’ve culled (cribbed), without scruple, from Joel Robuchon’s 3 starred restaurant, to be “modified” for home consumption:

    Le King Crab
    King crab, avocado in a heart of romaine and olive oil with coral

    Le Saumon
    Salmon tartar with shiso sprouts and caviar

    Les Palourdes
    Clams, roasted in seaweed butter and caviar, buck wheat tuile

    Les Crustacés
    Roasted lobster with green curry, Uni on mashed potato with roasted coffee beans, truffled langoustine ravioli with chopped cabbage

    Le Bar
    Pan-fried sea bass with a lemon grass and stewed baby leeks

    Le Canard
    Duck and seared foie gras with sweet and sour fall fruits, grapefruit zest and cracked black pepper

    La Fuji
    Fuji apple confit with Calvados granite, dulce de leche

    La Sphère de Sucre
    Sugar sphere filled with mascarpone mousse, Limoncello marshmallow

    Also from the one-starred L’Atelier J. Robuchon:

    Le Burger
    Beef and foie gras burgers with caramelized bell peppers

    Lamb shoulder comfit, fava bean stew

    Le Kampachi
    Lightly seared kampachi with crispy onion rings

    Le Citron
    Lemon biscuit roulade, praline mousse, Tequila sorbet

  4. Oh, one more, from the Four Seasons, basic and perfect:

    Warm Double Fudge Brownie
    Butterscotch Caramel Sauce, Oven-Roasted Maple Pecans and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

    Preceded by:

    Cabernet-Braised Short Ribs
    Anson Mills Organic White Grits, Rainbow Chard, Smoked Gouda Fondue, Morel Mushroom


    Mushroom Risotto
    Parsnip, Asparagus, Ricotta Salata, Black Truffle


    Niman Ranch Lamb Rack
    Mushroom Duxelle, Lavender Spaetzle, Drunken Plums, Port

  5. And one more again; from the tasting menu at Alessandro Stratta’s 2-starred Alex:

    Heirloom Tomato and Octopus Carpaccio with Parsley Puree, Brioche Croutons and Osetra Caviar
    Delamotte, Brut, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne, France MV

    Japanese Wagyu Strip Loin with Pommes Dauphine, Wild Mushrooms and Sauce Bordelaise
    Elderton, Shiraz, Command, Barossa Valley, Australia 2003

    Toasted Vanilla Custard with Maple Poached Peaches and Crème Fraiche Ice Cream Zaccagnini, Moscato di Castiglione, Passito, Marche, Italy 2004

  6. Sin City wouldn’t be as sinful without chocolate. I would make chocolate mousse w/ espresso and rum……mmmm.

  7. In my opinion, salmon is too sissy for vegas. I’d go for a meatier fish, like tuna, which is also amusing for its double entendre. Bring out the crass side of tuna by crafting your sashimi pieces into two mounds and putting titty tassels on each to top them off. I’d add Ceasar salad in homage to the greatest old hotel and good crunch. It also gives you an excuse to put small naked greek statues on your table. Then for dessert you need some sort of lit-on-fire banana rum thing to invoke the spirit of treasure island’s special effects pirate fight before it got a pop soundtrack and bootie dancers. Voila! Booze, fire, and pasties!

  8. HAHAHAH you are a genius! Titty tassels! DONE AND DONE. This dinner is definitely happening.

  9. Tassels, ta-tas, and tequila: Perfect:) simple, easy to remember, and captures the tawdry soul that Vegas that tries so hard to tame, with a nod though to Cirque du Soleil (see: Aforementioned fire/volcanic eription, interpretive dance, eye bleeding colors, a trapeze, and spangles) and Elvis (see: those horrifyingly dense sandwiches for which he became famous).

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