Bon Appétit

Jan 8, 2001 9:45 PM

Veteran L.A. restaurateur Piero Selvaggio has done it again: his Valentino restaurant at The Venetian is one of the finest gourmet eateries in the city. With executive chef Luciano Pellegrini at the helm, Valentino features a magnificent menu that changes seasonally. His Grand Tasting Menu features such breathtaking selections as sauteed Hawaiian blue shrimp in a cognac and tomato sauce; grilled cuttle fish salad; rack of wild boar; sea bass ravioli with squid ink sauce; and smoked swordfish carpaccio with a honey-mustard dressing.

To round out the gourmet experience, try one of the artistic desserts, including the cinnamon crusted gratin with almonds and papaya carpaccio. Also worth noting is the impressive wine cellar, which ranks among the top 10 in the country.

Caesars Palace recently added a new gourmet dining experience to its roster of fine restaurants: 8-0-8, an upscale room specializing in the Hawaiian-themed fusion signature cuisine of master chef Jean-Marie Josselin. The new restaurant, named after Hawaii’s area code, follows the theme of Josselin’s award-winning restaurants in the Hawaiian Islands.

The diverse menu features influences from Europe, Asia and the Pacific Rim. Chef favorites include bamboo-steamed sea bass, miso-crusted halibut, seared John Dory Coujonette and a superb wok stir-fried lobster with yellow curry ginger sauce. Meat entrees include tandoori chicken with curried kabocha broth, braised veal cheeks in a day boat scallop combination, and the popular seared beef filet with sweet Hawaiian shrimp in a cepes port sauce.

The new Taos Steakhouse at Santa Fe Station has a rustic ski lodge ambiance with wood panels and a 15-foot-tall carved-wooden bear that greets visitors. The menu features steak house favorites with a Southwestern flavor.

For instance, accompanying a nice selection of grilled New York steaks, filet mignon, prime rib, porterhouse, lamb chops, shrimp, salmon and lobster tail are a variety of dishes spiced Southwestern style. They include mashed potatoes, jalapeno white cheddar au gratin potatoes, Santa Fe French fries and a five-onion Santa Fe soup.

For starters, a basket of Southwestern-style bread includes a moist jalapeno corn bread and tangy lavase cracker-bread. Another nice starter is the Santa Fe spring rolls made with chicken, pablano chili, avocado and cilantro.