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Australian Chef Shaun Hergatt knows how to make hits, whether it’s at his newest Michelin-star winner Vestry in SoHo, his private restaurant at 432 Park Avenue — known as New York City’s Billionaire’s Row — or as culinary director of The Surf Lodge in Montauk, N.Y..
Now Hergatt is taking his talents and mother-of-pearl spoon to the West with Caviar Bar at Las Vegas’ Resorts World, scheduled to open Dec. 3.
“Las Vegas has a certain level of opulence and also a little bit of flash,” he says. “It’s a place where people want to act out their dreams and their desires for a few days and then go back to where they live.”
The city’s indulgent persona is one that pairs well with caviar, Hergatt says.
Located in the dining and shopping district at the casino-resort, which opened in June, Caviar Bar, explains Hergatt, is a 1,200-square-foot leased space. Walk through the massive doors and find an intimate 105-seat restaurant. The seafood-driven concept, aside from dollops of its namesake, will have lobster and fish from around the world with Hergatt doing grilled items as well. Seasonal cocktails will complement the ingredients at play.
“I think that I have the ability to offer people an experience. If you want to come for a celebration and have Champagne or if you just want to have some beautiful caviar, we have different flavor profiles, textures and price points,” Hergatt explains.
Caviar Bar will also be a vehicle for Hergatt’s Caspy caviar brand, with varieties such as Baerii, Kaluga, Golden Russian Osetra and Sevruga, used in his artful culinary creations and available for purchase wholesale.
Priding himself on being approachable, Hergatt insists that caviar is for all.
“In many cultures, it’s a lifestyle. If you go to a lot of the areas where caviar is accessible, it’s 1,000s of years of history. It became an elitist, opulent, expensive product because of the supply and demand,” he says. “It doesn’t necessarily have to break your bank account. It’s something that you can eat on a regular basis. And to be honest, it’s just a delicious thing. There are so many different levels of quality. There are so many different flavor profiles, there are different types of sturgeon and you can taste the nuances in the textures and the colors.”
For those who don’t fancy fish eggs, organic salmon, tartares, Wagyu beef, an extensive cheese, ham and salami selection as well as rich desserts round out the menu, which can be presented a la carte or as multi-course tastings.
“Whether you prefer a caviar-centric dish or simply a beautiful cut of salmon, the restaurant offers an immersive social setting for people to meet, have a drink and mingle,” he says, adding, “The art of cooking is having super delicious food that people really enjoy. I love to play with the food and make sure it looks fun and exciting.”
With 20 years in New York City under his belt, he has an extensive library of cocktail recipes, emphasizing there is no need to completely reinvent the wheel. “Can you change a martini? Yeah, you can. But I love a Dirty Martini on a great day. And, if you’ve got a great bartender that knows how to make the perfect Dirty Martini, it’s something to come back for,” Hergatt says.
On the wine front, expect an international selection with a focus on Burgundy and more than a dozen options by the glass.
And it wouldn’t be a caviar bar without Russian design influences. Designed by Roman Vnoukov, the space will feature Belarus crystal-embellished doors, fabric-covered walls, and tables adorned in stingray. On the ceiling, find hand-blown crystal balls that look like caviar.
Open until 2 a.m. Caviar Bar will cater to diners with different objectives as the night progresses. “On the early side, people turn up for a couple of drinks and they will try some iberico ham and a bit of caviar,” he says. Caviar Bar will welcome the late night crowd for snacks, dessert and cocktails around midnight. “Have a couple more drinks,” says Hergatt. “You don’t necessarily want to go to a club because it’s just not your thing anymore.”
In a sign that the caviar craze might be here to stay, earlier this year, the north star of America fine dining, chef Thomas Keller, and Shaoching Bishop launched Regiis Ova Caviar & Champagne, a new pop-up destination in Yountville, California. Its motto is to celebrate bubbles, classic dishes with a contemporary approach, and their caviar brand, Regiis Ova.
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