The last thing one expects in a town like Vegas, ground zero for neon glitz and tawdry pleasure, is a restaurant like Rosemary's. A family-run place that serves seasonal food prepared in a highly personal style by its married chefs/proprietors, Rosemary's is a far remove from the aggressively upscale crop of theme-park-like celebrity chef restaurants that have invaded Vegas in recent years. Michael Jordan and his wife Wendy opened Rosemary's-named for his mother-to provide "a comfortable place for locals. I don't think they get the respect they deserve," he says. The locals in question are obviously tickled pink: in a City Life readers' survey, they voted Rosemary's the best new restaurant of 1999.
Before opening their own place, the Jordans worked at some of the top restaurants in New Orleans, he with Emeril Lagasse at Emeril's and NOLA, she at Bayona and Peristyle. When Lagasse opened his Las Vegas outpost, Emeril's New Orleans Fish House, he recruited Jordan to serve as executive chef. The restaurant enjoyed immediate critical and popular success. But like many ambitious young chefs, ultimately the Jordans wanted to step out on their own. They found a pretty space off The Strip, commissioned a local artist to create artwork for the walls, recruited Wendy's mom to handle public relations, tapped into some old family recipes for inspiration, and opened up shop. A writer for Las Vegas Magazine, for one, appreciated the effort. "The cuisine, American with a French influence...presents a very personalized style that is inspired by the chefs' training, upbringing, and tradition. One signature dish, the fabulous appetizer Hugo's Texas BBQ shrimp, was created by Uncle Hugo as a last-minute party saver."
Despite stiff competition from all the high-rolling chefs crowding onto the Vegas stage these days, "I have not had a better, more satisfying Las Vegas meal than the one I had this fall at Rosemary's," Lenadams Dorris wrote in City Life. "From the stunning appetizer concocted of blue-cheese imbued cole-slaw, to the silky, ambrosial corn soup and all the way through to the immensely creative and extraordinarily tasty hot tuna Niçoise, everything was perfect." Wow!
Wild Mushroom Risotto Cakes with Asparagus and Aïoli
Roasted Artichokes Stuffed with Gruyère and Quail Egg
White Cheddar Sandwich with Heirloom Tomato Relish
Demi-Crabcake with Grandma's Pickles and Homemade Tartar Sauce
Summer Corn Soup with Chive Compound Butter
Goat Cheese-Stuffed Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs with Basil Pesto, Arugula, and Balsamic Syrup
Hugo's Texas BBQ Shrimp with Maytag Blue Cheese Slaw
Grilled Pork Chop with Hoppin' John and Creole Mustard Reduction Sauce
Lemon Ice Box Pie with Blackberry Coulis