Unless you’re an Emeril Lagasse die-hard — Would that be an Emhead or maybe a Gasbag? — you probably remember the chef most from his salad days on the Food Network, where he was occupied not with salad but with bamming and kicking things up a notch and spreading the gospel of his updated version of the best of New Orleans’ Cajun/Creole cuisine. And then maybe you tasted the fruits of his labors at one of his restaurants in New Orleans or at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand right here in Our Fair City.
Maybe later you dropped into his Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian, where the Big Bammer proved that he knew his way around a side of beef.
So now we come to the Palazzo’s Table 10, the name an affectionate nod to the table in his first New Orleans restaurant where planning for the restaurant was done and where staff gathered once it was open. In so many ways, it’s quite different from the widely known Emeril tradition.
For one thing, the menu is sort of all over the place. In less skilled hands, that tends to spell trouble, as an indication that a restaurant has no idea what it is and what it’s trying to do. Table 10, however, comes across as a cruise through the best of the world’s cuisines.
In a nod to tradition, we tried the Pasta Jambalaya ($28), which off the bat sounded like a hybrid in that jambalaya usually is based on rice instead of this delicate homemade fettucine, but it turned out to be even more nontraditional than we expected. Although the Cajun flavors were there in the form of traditional seasonings and slices of nicely spirited andouille sausage, the tomato-cream sauce lent an Italian feel as well. Large, plump, gently cooked shrimp and chunks of tender chicken completed the dish, which was served in a very generous portion.
A starter of marinated goat cheese ($13) had more of a Mediterranean feel, with Spanish olives (there’s a clue), sweet peppadew peppers (which sound like they should be Cajun but actually hail from South Africa), plus a pile of crunchy field greens, a nicely balanced and aggressively herbed (that’s a good thing) vinaigrette and a couple of crispy garlic toasts.
Our other starter had more of an Asian feel, the Tartare Trio ($13) of tuna, salmon and hamachi in tiny tender cubes, each dressed to show off its flavors, which were, predictably, quite mild for the tuna, a little smoky for the hamachi and downright assertive for the salmon.
Table 10’s rotisseries transformed our Kurobuta pork loin ($32) into that seared exterior/juicy interior that’s so appealing. This dish had more of a classic feel, with a reduction of Calvados and rosemary, both of which have such an affinity with pork.
And for dessert, the ubiquitous flourless chocolate cake ($9) with warm melting center, but in true Emeril fashion, this one was kicked up a notch with bourbon in the cake itself, a tart cherry compote on the side and peaks of brown sugar creme fraiche.
The wine list was broad, deep and nicely varied, with — and this is somewhat rare on the Strip these days — a number of easy-on-the-expense account bottles like our quite agreeable 2005 Earthworks Barossa Valley Shiraz ($39).
Service throughout from our team of waiters was efficient and amiable, and we fairly reveled in the atmosphere of the place, with its arty swirling-mosaic-topped tables, stairway to heaven behind the bar and energizing (but not overly loud) rock music. It borrows from a lot of cultural motifs — such as the wrought iron-style swirls on the banquettes, evocative of Bourbon Street — that rise above the minimalist, the neutral and the kitschy that predominate these days and work together in harmony, just like the seemingly disparate elements on the menu.
When you know what you’re doing, being all over the place can be a good thing.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or e-mail her at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com.REVIEW what: Table 10 where: Palazzo, 3325 Las Vegas Blvd. South phone: 607-6363 overall: A food: A atmosphere: A service: A pluses: Interesting, varied, well-executed dishes. minuses: It’s a little tucked-away in The Shoppes at the Palazzo