weather icon Clear

Delilah to channel glamorous supper clubs of old Las Vegas

Wynn Las Vegas, it seems, has mastered time travel.

Stroll into the resort’s new Delilah supper club at just the right time, as a vocalist seemingly breaks the sound barrier with “At Last,” and revel in the opulent surroundings. Just like that, you’re transported to the Las Vegas of the ’40s and ’50s — or, as designer Todd-Avery Lenahan calls it, “the golden age of glamorous travel to Las Vegas.”

Lenahan, president and chief creative officer of Wynn Design & Development, said his inspiration came from the clubs that put the magic in old Las Vegas.

“We really wanted to create something that had a wonderful landmark quality from its opening day,” he said.

The new club, which will officially open Wednesday, is an offshoot of the original Delilah supper club in West Hollywood, but the elements in common don’t extend beyond the name and, presumably, a celebrity clientele.

“They’re very, very different,” Lenahan said. “The only real similarity is that in California they have four wooden palm trees” clustered near the center of the club. “Ours are more than twice the size, and they’re solid cast brass. Of course we translated them for the Las Vegas experience.”

Las Vegas also figures prominently in the club’s artwork, some of which came from the archives of UNLV. “It’s an amazing story about Las Vegas history,” he said. “I really wanted to use so much of our history that’s often overlooked.”

Lenahan said he expects the club’s clientele will be mostly locals during the week, and people dropping in for a drink at the Little Bubble Bar after a day in the nearby convention center. On the weekends, he expects mostly visitors, primarily from Southern California. The atmosphere will transition as the evening goes on, from dinner background music until about 8:30 to a live band until about 11, followed by surprise “name” performers mixed with DJs.

“In true supper club fashion, it’s always a surprise,” he said. “It’s not a themed venue,” like the Mayfair Supper Club at the Bellagio. “It’s not a show with a staged time with repeating acts. The entertainment is sort of in the background, in many ways.” The emphasis here is on the ambiance, the food and the cocktail program.

Executive chef Joshua Smith, a Bonanza High grad and veteran local chef who technically started at the property as a teenage lifeguard at the old Desert Inn, said his job is a dream come true.

“The Wynn is something I’ve looked up to forever,” Smith said. “Once I saw this place … how could you say no after seeing this room?”

His first step was developing the menu, in coordination with the teams from the property and partner The h.wood Group.

“The only request was to do their burger,” he said of the latter, referencing a double-patty creation made with dry-aged meat, iceberg lettuce and red onions on a potato bun.

Well, there were a couple of other things, such as breaded-to-order chicken tenders with housemade ranch and spicy barbecue sauce, and a carrot souffle from the original Chasen’s restaurant in Los Angeles, which he said is a sentimental favorite of h.wood owners John Terzian and Brian Toll.

“What was important to them was those real simple dishes,” Smith said. “There’s Japanese, Peruvian and Mexican influences. A Chicago classic, Shrimp de Jonghe. New England crab cakes. A menu with that Americana vibe that doesn’t have to be so straight across the board.”

Other specialties include signature fish and chips made with potato-crusted Dover sole, wagyu beef Wellington, scallop ceviche made with Clamato juice, and strawberry shortcake baked Alaska for dessert.

Resort mixologist Mariena Mercer Boarini was in charge of the beverage program.

“I’m very into storytelling with my cocktails,” she said. “Every cocktail at Delilah I feel tells a story — vivacious energy and enchantment and magnetism. She’s real for me. I want to tell her story, show her glamour and beauty through the cocktails.”

To that end, Delilah’s signature drinks include the Stepford Wife, which she said is a take on a French 75 “in a beautiful pink glass with gold dust on the side. A very aromatic build to it, with rosé Champagne. So it’s effervescent and bubbly, kind of her personality for me.”

And the Film Noir, built on the foundation of a classic Old Fashioned, “with a beautiful ice spear with a flower in the middle, in a glass that’s designed to reflect light from the bottom up.”

Mercer Boarini said visuals are particularly important to her, since we first eat — and drink — with our eyes.

“Everything I’m trying to make as beautiful as the room and the cuisine of Chef Josh,” she said.

Lenahan said he sees the club as a real departure from the norm.

“In this market, there’s this rush to do things that are really contemporary,” he said. “We don’t do trend at Wynn. It’s unique, not a replica of anything in the world.”

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.