One of the restaurants slowly making ranking up in my list of favorite off-strip locales has made some major changes in the kitchen since my last visit. While my first impressions of Andre’s wasn’t perfect, over the last few months I have been lucky enough to have had some excellent meals there and slowly was considering it a regular hangout, especially at their excellently stocked bar and with their really cute and talkative hostess.
However, on arriving this time for lunch, I was surprised that most of the kitchen staff, with Chef Marty Lopez (formerly of 35 Steaks + Martinis) leading them, was no longer there. It was a huge surprise indeed, since my conversations with Chef Marty made it clear that he was not only enjoying working at Andre’s but was looking forward to helping them grow and expand. What could have made him leave so suddenly, I wondered.
According to their corporate offices, this was not at all planned, and is part of a series of unfortunate events after they closed their location in the Monte Carlo. Chef Marty Lopez indeed had left Stacked Hospitality and Andre’s, only because a second Andre’s location fell through and they were left with a talented Chef that Andre’s sincerely wanted to be in the kitchen.
Chef Marty had trained under Purdue years ago, and I guess Andre felt his name-sake restaurant would be better served with the teacher and partner helming it for now. Stacked made it clear they would welcome him back in the future if they can.
NB: After speaking with Chef Lopez, and Stacked, they wanted to make it clear the split was amicable and that this was a decision the Chef made himself in July to move to other projects.
Good news is that the menu is “expanding.” Not so much expanding, as coming together with there no longer being separate and distinct lunch and dinner menus. This is something I personally had wanted to see, as I felt the dinner selection was more bistro and the lunch selections were a little too sandwich oriented, and missing some of their signature dishes I knew and loved. I wanted to have them all day!
“We are not really in business to say no, so when guests would come in for lunch and request a Foie Gras or a Dover Sole we always accommodated the request,” Joe Marsco of Stacked Hospitality told me. “At the same time if someone came in for dinner and requested a Lobster Roll, we were always happy to accommodate. After all it is about the guest experience and if we are able to offer something more unique, more efficiently, with one menu throughout the day it is best way to go.”
And the food was excellent, as always — but with an expanded menu, I was able to have some dishes like a Garlic-Buttered-Parsley (ala Escargot Butter) Pork Chop that melted in my mouth and almost made me want to chew on the bone to get the last bits of buttered white meat.
One of the things they are doing that really excites me is their family meal series, where they bring the local community of Chefs together. “Chef Andre hosted the Jean Louis Palladin Dinner to benefit the James Beard Foundation for 15 years with the last event honoring Andre’s 35th Anniversary at Andre’s Monte Carlo,” Marsco told us. “amily meal is a more casual approach on a similar idea. Its intention was to mesh together customers with a gathering of industry professionals for an evening of food and beverage.”
The next family meal is on September 19th, at 7:30 featuring Chef John Courtney, one of my favorite Chefs in Vegas.