OK, I’ll be honest: I didn’t expect Made L.V. to be anything less than stellar.
Made L.V. is from the wife-and-husband team of restaurant developer Elizabeth Blau and chef Kim Canteenwalla, who together own Honey Salt and are involved in a number of other ventures around town. Blau developed the Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore restaurants for Steve Wynn, and Canteenwalla is a respected chef who’s had restaurants at Encore and the MGM Grand, among others. They’re a couple of perfectionists who are dedicated to the craft of dining and aren’t the type to let things slide.
So is Made L.V. an exception to their pattern of excellence? Not by a long shot, and that was evident from the moment the Black Truffle Cheese Fondue ($7.25) arrived at our table.
With truffle season at full bore, everybody’s trying to get into the game. As a result, you’ll see truffle oil and black truffles listed as ingredients on menus all over the valley, and in a lot of cases, that prized ingredient is unidentifiable. So it was with — honestly — glee that, as the dish of fondue was placed on our table, I smelled that unmistakable, earthy, ethereal aroma. And with the thick-cut, freshly fried salt-and-pepper chips served with it, it was a worthy showcase for the fungi that are hunted by pigs and prized by kings.
A small plate of black mission figs ($9.50) was another example of using a fine autumnal ingredient to advantage. The treatment was simple, the figs simply halved and roasted with a balsamic vinaigrette, and the pairing with goat cheese was conventional. What lifted the dish a few notches was the inspired use of pistachios and pomegranate arils, sprinkled atop it. With the cheese and some arugula they cut the sweetness of the figs and complemented it beautifully.
While I usually avoid “barbecued” dishes at restaurants that aren’t barbecues I thought such a dish would be in order at Made L.V., in large part because there were quite a few of them on the menu. And the Smoked KC Style BBQ Ribs ($20 for a half-rack, $29 for a full) would put a lot of dedicated pitmasters to shame. Bigger than baby backs, they were meaty, smoky and tender in all the right proportions, and served with a crisp slaw, crisper fries and a bacon-cheddar biscuit that deserves a different name.
A whole but headless and tail-less brook trout ($22) was crisp-skinned and fork-flaky, its center cavity filled with a very appealing mixture that included kale and firm shrimp. But I think my favorite part of the dish was the accompanying green bean salad, with its assertive lemon accent.
Eggplant “Pastrami” ($10) was a bit of a mystery because it didn’t appear to have any of the seasoning that differentiates pastrami from corned beef, but it was excellent nonetheless. It seemed to us more like a Reuben, with its Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese (and also caramelized onions) on grilled rye, and left us feeling virtuous, enjoying the swap of all of that fatty, sodium-soaked meat for a vegetable.
We closed with Loaded S’mores Nachos ($7), which seemed a lot more like s’mores than nachos, not that we’re complaining.
Service throughout was fine, despite the facts that our server seemed a little overloaded with tables and that our reservation had been lost, which was no problem since the hostess seated us immediately.
Much has been done with the space that Made L.V. occupies, which seemed rather ungainly in its previous iteration as Bradley Ogden’s Hops &Harvest. The dining room and bar are more cohesive and potential flaws have been mitigated, like the emergency light turned into a lighthouse beacon. Seating is comfortable, the noise level reasonable. The entry has shelves with a large collection of board games for families who want to entertain the kids without the ever-present iPad, and books for single diners, ditto. Not that they’re likely to be bored once the food arrives.
And so, the pattern continues.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Email Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com, or call 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.
Made L.V., Tivoli Village, 450 S. Rampart Blvd.; 702-722-2000
Pluses: Interesting, well-prepared food with value.
Minuses: Our server was a little too busy.