Sick as we are of recession talk—gag—and ad nauseam prognostications about the economic climate—gag—we would be remiss if we did not at least point out the effect this economic downturn—gag gag—has had on Vegas’ late night dining options. The answer is that like giving a glass of warm milk to a rock star right before he goes on stage, this financial meltdown has had a coma-inducing effect on business. No stimulus here. So where then should we satisfy our post-club feenings?
There are, of course, always the ubiquitous 24-hour casino cafés, which serve a late-night menu most convenient for the guys on the fry and grill stations and always, always with a selection of quasi-Asian dishes. The vibe is usually somewhere between reluctant and embarrassed. The music, if it’s on at all, is everyone’s favorite entertainment budget cure-all, DJ iPod.
But help is on the way in the form of First Food & Bar, arriving in early June to deliver us from our late-night, post-nightclub munchie hell with a fresh concept, fresh food, breakfast when you need it most and a location convenient enough to warrant hitting anything other than your pillow after a big night out.
Located on the second floor of the Palazzo Shoppes between the mall and the Venetian canal terminus, First is the first tenant at 3327, that little nub growing in between the two resorts, and also the newest address on the boulevard.
While nothing shuts down a conversation faster than inquiring how the 100,000 square-foot build-out of 3327’s condo project is coming along—pause for nervous laughter and twitching from the sales folks—reps for VV Venture’s First Food & Bar are elated over First’s imminent arrival. “21/7” dining and breakfast on demand? We’re there.
At the helm is Chef Sam “Sammy D” DeMarco, who made a name for himself as “the chef’s chef” in Manhattan, serving up chicken wings and sliders to the likes of Wolfgang Puck and Charlie Trotter at the first First in the ‘90s. Chef DeMarco will bring his east coast flair with him, setting up shop each night at a kitchen station located right next to the entrance.
“I’ll be able to say hello, cook your food, and say goodbye, all from here,” he says, regarding the little square peninsula jutting out from the open kitchen into the foyer. “People wanna see you; they wanna know who’s cooking their food.” Just behind the hostess stand, an eight-top chef’s table is close enough for DeMarco to keep one eye on the kitchen, the other on special guests.
Special guests not wishing to bask in the adoration of a crowd can secure a table in the sizeable private dining area, which the chef hopes will transform into a locals hangout after hours. The rest of us are invited to drink and dine anywhere in the 200-seat dining room or bar, with a full menu available everywhere till 11 p.m. and a late night menu thereafter. Burgers, tacos, BLTs and blue plate specials—all are a possibility.
High booths will overlook the Strip or dining room, lower coffee table seating hints towards a leisurely brunch at any hour, taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi to get some emails out of the way. And the hotel-style door knob breakfast menus mean you don’t even need to get off the phone to order—just tick off your selections and keep those sunglasses firmly affixed and your hangover at least partially hidden. Your Barbecue Bloody Mary complete with Slim Jims will be right over.
Not far from the bar, a photo booth lets you send pics to friends all over the world, while in another corner, a live DJ spins. Live performances are not out of the question, teases DeMarco.
When the time comes—if the time comes—VV Ventures is said to have a full complement of nightlife and dining options slated for 3327, even further necessitating a hip, late-night dining spot that doesn’t come with the clanging of slot machines and the dreary casino café vibe. Vegas parties were meant to go ‘round the clock, economic downturns or no. Full of a million such rhyme-y epithets, Chef Sammy D invites, “You can come in for a bite, or stay for the night!”