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Is ‘Celebrity Fine Dining’ an Oxymoron? Here’s Where to Eat in Vegas to Find Out

The opening of Martha Stewart's very first restaurant, The Bedford, ushers in a new era of celebrity fine dining in Sin City — one that promises that everyone can be invited to a chef's exclusive table
PALM AND OCEAN

The flashing lights and chaos of the Las Vegas strip are far away from Martha Stewart’s farmhouse home — which she’s meticulously recreated in her first restaurant, The Bedford. Recently opened at the Paris Las Vegas Resort and Casino, the best-selling author’s abode has been turned into a fine dining experience for 200 guests. And every dish, piece of glassware, and linen tablecloth she chose herself.

Stewart says that she knows the irony of most people her age are retiring while she’s decided to go into the restaurant business. “Well, I don’t sleep very much. I was doing so many other things, developing products, a daily show,” Stewart told press during a launch luncheon at The Bedford in Vegas. “Staying up late at night, and then getting up at 5 AM to do TV didn’t really jive anymore.” Thus, The Bedford was born.

Although it’s Stewart’s first-ever restaurant, this isn’t a surprising development. For someone who’s built a massive empire, the only place to go is up, where celebrity restaurants are opening left and right — Las Vegas. The restaurant features an impressive attention to detail from Stewart’s home, from the shades on the faux windows (an electronic screen displays the view from her farm, with weather that will ‘change’ based on the season), to the glass vases on display in the large dining room.

Just like the Eiffel Tower recreated outside the Paris hotel, Las Vegas is a city of great imitation. The rise of celebrity fine dining over the past few years sees many chefs in the public eye adapting their own cuisine for the Vegas crowd, and quasi-imitating images of their own selves (think Gordon Ramsay’s real life Hell’s Kitchen). Stewart’s menu has a French-inspired feel, but reflects her own cooking and roots better than many other attempts in town.

The Bedford Martha Stewart

After all, she didn’t just put her name on the door — she’s been in total control, even down to the restaurant’s playlist (mainly Yacht Rock, although she’s vetted the songs herself because she “can’t stand annoying music”). Even the farmers and produce purveyors are the same she uses when cooking for her own family. Although you’re still reminded it’s fine dining.

“You can splurge here and get very delicious, expensive dishes,” Stewart says. “But you can also eat very nicely and a little bit more moderately if you order some of the lesser dishes, like the square hamburger. I don’t ever eat hamburgers, but I’ll eat this one. It’s a square patty on a square brioche, and it’s still of the best beef.”

Stewart refers to this as “high-low”, which she discussed in a previous Rolling Stone interview about her collaboration with Frito-Lay (i.e. Ruffles chips and Steak Tartare canapés, something she’s served during catering previous events). One can be skeptical of how much “low” is incorporated into the “high-low” moniker of this restaurant though, especially with one look at the wine menu. Most of the bottles are over $120, save for a few mid-range whites (including Martha’s Chard, her California chardonnay from 19 Crimes. Another reasonable wine? Snoop Dogg’s blend, called Snoop’s Cali Red).

Martha's Chard

Buy 19 Crimes Martha Stewart Chardonnay $15

On the drink menu is also her signature “Martha-rita” a frozen margarita made with pomegranate juice and Casa Dragones blanco tequila. During luncheon, she turns to ask if the specialty margarita glasses have made it in, “are we ever going to get those?”. Thomas Joseph, Senior Vice President and Culinary Director for Martha Stewart Living, replies that that would make for a very expensive cocktail. She mentions the glassware were Pfeiffer glass, then adds, “I’m thinking all the time — how can we make money while we’re having so much fun?”

That’s the whole idea of business in Vegas, right?, she tells our table. Entertaining ways to pull a profit. Artists in-between touring and recording new music set up residencies like John Legend and Usher, and you can clearly tell they’re enjoying themselves on stage. Celebrity restaurants in Vegas can be passion projects, but they can also be clear advertising for celebrity’s larger “brand”. It all comes down, Stewart told Rolling Stone, to presentation.

“First of all, presentation is extremely important. Finding the all the local ingredients that were fresh enough and superb enough to serve in the restaurant was a challenge. But I think we’ve done it.” It’s at that point that she tells us to eat our chicken, and makes sure we take our pictures on “portrait mode” to capture the dishes properly.

The Bedford Martha Stewart

Who exactly is the audience for celebrity fine dining, then? Unscripted (or more like semi-scripted ‘reality’) television itself is considered a “low brow” art for the masses, even if the actors and professionals depicted are respected in their fields, like Bobby Flay and Stewart. Something that appeals to everyone, regardless of status. Fans of Beat Bobby Flay might be more inclined, though, to go grab a signature Crunchburger at Bobby’s Burgers than try for a reservation at Amalfi. Perhaps that’s why certain chefs, like Flay, choose to open several locations on opposite sides of the spectrum. Even Ramsay’s next venture is a far cry from Hell’s Kitchen, an upscale, comfort food feel based on his own personal kitchen called Ramsay’s Kitchen.

But there’s always “high-low” brow, restaurants that walk the fine Vegas line of truly upscale and kitsch-casual. Lean too far into Vegas’ idea of luxury, and you get the gaudy, yet still endlessly entertaining, Vanderpump à Paris (a menu fashioned after an old Paris newspaper, yet so hard to read that it took five of us to order an appetizer. You can also buy the menu for $20). The Bedford, and Stewart, aim to straddle the line, and succeed in creating a space that feels simultaneously personal, polished, and “perfectly perfect,” as she says.

Maybe that’s why the best celebrity restaurants don’t remind you that you’re in Vegas at all. Whether that be through elegant design that transports you off the strip, like the sake-shaped intimate dining spaces in Caesars Nobu, or the curated menus that lean into the cuisine personal to the chef rather than plastering their name everywhere. It occurred to me during one meal that without the gift shop, and set replication with hot and cold prep chefs donned in blue and red, Hell’s Kitchen could pass for a Wolfgang joint. But would anyone really book a reservation if it wasn’t Hell’s Kitchen?

Martha Stewart The Bedford

There’s something approachable about having a celebrity’s name attached to this version of fine dining, making it feel somehow less pretentious and aesthetically prohibitive than upscale establishments with similar price tags. Stewart or Flay’s names alone might draw in someone who would’ve never thought to try stuffed squash blossoms, or salmon carpaccio. If you’re only in town to visit for a few days, would you risk the money on a 5-star restaurant from an accomplished, yet unknown outside the industry chef, or one who’s been a trusted name on your TV for years? 

Maybe that’s not a bad thing. These spaces don’t have to pretend like there’s not a face behind the name — Giada’s self-titled menu at The Cromwell felt refined, yet with touches so personal, I would’ve thought she was in the back recommending the pastry selection herself. What you’ll eat at The Bedford are dishes that Stewart has perfected over the years, including some family recipes. The pierogi that her mother taught her how to make is on the menu, served here with sage brown butter. If the concept is “what Martha serves in her own home”, and what she happens to serve is smashed potatoes with caviar, then that’s just honest cooking.

This is only the beginning, too. Father of the Cronut, Dominique Ansel, is opening up a new bakery in Caesars Palace, Cookie Shots and Frozen S’mores guaranteed. Emmy-winning chef Martin Yan is set to open M.Y. Asia at Bally’s Las Vegas (soon to be Horseshoe) with an open-facing hand-pulled noodle bar. Are any of them reinventing the wheel? No, but they’re updating their greatest hits for the strip, and when you sit down to the table in this town, whether you expect it or not, you’re going to be served entertainment on a plate. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a side of each chef’s personal journey.

Exiting Stewart’s tranquil farmhouse back into the chaotic casino feels jarring, but there’s something so unique about the experience. The clashing energies, having a roast chicken several feet away from someone who just won it big at the slots. If that isn’t Vegas, we don’t know what is.

Ultimate Guide for Where to Eat In Vegas

If you’re looking for the best celebrity restaurants in Las Vegas, or even how to score fine dining reservations on the strip, here’s everything you need to know about the famous chefs that have opened their kitchens up in town.

1. The Bedford by Martha Stewart

EDITOR’S PICK

Put on your Sunday best and head over here if you want to feel like you’re sitting at the table with Stewart herself. Like a classic Martha dinner party, there’s linens, appetizers that are as personal as they are elegant (try the pierogi), and generous pours of Martha-ritas and -tinis. You might forget the harsh lights of the casino under the mood lighting of fine dining’s most trendy table lamps, but the spectacle of having a waiter smash your baked potato table side will remind you you’re always in for a show in Vegas.

Where to Dine: Paris Las Vegas

2. Amalfi by Bobby Flay

BEST MEDITERRANEAN

You won’t find any burgers, brew, or ‘Q here from Bobby Flay — but you will find a working seafood display, staffed by a knowledgable fish monger. The whole grilled fish is a clear winner, with Meyer lemon and capers if you’re feeling traditional, or salsa verde if you want the meal to feel more Flay-esque. To accompany your meal, forgo the signature spritz for a smoky mezcal Negroni, and pick from a large menu of rich, handmade pastas.

Where to Dine: Caesars Palace 

3. Nobu

BEST ALA CARTE

What more can we say about Nobu that hasn’t already been said? It’s Nobu! If you’ve got a big group, we recommend the Omakase tasting menu (which has Vegetarian option too), but otherwise, order an array of small plates from hot and cold options (and a floral lychee martini). There’s Nobu classics like Toro Tartare with Caviar, and playful, new additions like the Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna. No matter what you order, you won’t be disappointed.

Where to Dine: Paris Las Vegas, Caesars Palace

4. Giada

BEST BRUNCH

Brunch is meant to be hearty, shared, and familiar — Giada’s is all this and more. Italian entrées with a California twist, you can choose how “brunch-y” you want to go. Bottomless mimosas and a rosemary-parmesan scone from the excellent pastry assortment is a great way to soak up post-night out debauchery, but large, succulent shrimp and Cavatelli pasta can have you feeling like you’re on a breezy coast in an instant.

Where to Dine: The Cromwell 

5. Vanderpump à Paris

BEST DRINKS

When you go to the Vanderpump, fun is absolutely mandatory. Flashy and French, you can’t help but ‘ooo’ and ‘aah’ when drinks like the “Louvre At First Sight”, a mezcal cocktail under a smoke-filled pyramid, arrive at your table. While we personally think it would function better as a Parisian cocktail bar, with its Art Nouveau-inspired velvet banquettes and iron-wrought crystal chandeliers, dishes like the “Birdcage Aux Fromage” (a cheese platter served in a vertical cage) don’t sacrifice taste for whimsy.

Where to Dine: Paris Las Vegas

6. Hell’s Kitchen

BEST FOR GROUPS

If you’ve ever watched Hell’s Kitchen, you already know what to order: the lobster risotto to start, the famous Beef Wellington, then the Sticky Toffee Pudding to finish it off. All of it has been perfected for years, and all of it is good (and all of it you’ll want to steal off a friend’s plate). But there’s no greater charm than dining here with fans of food TV, pointing out the wall of past season winners, and watching the open kitchen of divided chefs do their thing during service.

Where to Dine: Caesars Palace