With Society Café as Encore’s in-spot for elegant comfort food, here’s an opportunity to sample one of Kim Canteenwalla’s delectable recipes: his famed Fish & Chips. Canteenwalla’s secret? “To get the best fish in season, in the winter months we use black cod, but in the spring and summer we use halibut,” he explains. “We also don’t use a traditional beer batter, but rather a light spice dusting on the fish, which makes for a healthier dish and a cleaner taste.” Here, Canteenwalla has broken down the dish into an easy-to-try recipe
Combine all ingredients, mix thoroughly
Preheat vegetable oil to 350 degrees, portion Halibut into 1 1/2 oz fingers yield 24 pieces, season fish, dip fish fingers into buttermilk for 5 minutes, coat each fish finger thoroughly with fish flour, submerge fish fingers into frying oil no more than 6 to 8 pieces at a time, cook fingers for 3 to 5 minutes until golden, pat dry on absorbent paper.
Peel and cut potatoes into 1/4 thick strips, hold in water. Blanch ahead of time in 300 degree vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes (partially cooked) can be done one day prior. Submerge fries in 350 degree vegetable oil until crispy and golden. Season to taste
Combine all ingredients add crispy capers to each portion as garnish on top of Tartar Sauce
Photo: Barbara Kraft
If you’re looking for the ultimate in all-American comfort food, has Kim Canteenwalla got a menu for you.
As the Executive Chef and partner at Society Café, Canteenwalla has painstakingly crafted a breakfast, lunch and dinner selection that reads like the culinary version of wrapping yourself in a ultra-luxe cashmere blanket, from Gooey Sticky Buns, Mini Quiche Trio (classic Lorraine, smoked salmon & chive, and asparagus & goat cheese), and “Oscar” Benedict (poached eggs with crab cakes, asparagus and hollandaise) for breakfast to Sloppy Joe Sliders, Market Chop and, yes, Pigs in a Blanket. “We wanted our menu to be approachable and familiar, so we put a twist on some old favorites,” Canteenwalla explains. “It's throwback stuff, but we're doing it with a bit of flair, and outstanding ingredients.”
A Sticky Bun from Society Café Encore
The Montreal-native Canteenwalla knows a thing or two about putting modern, elegant spins on classic dishes: With both his parents working, and with Kim as one of four kids in the family, dining out was a frequent ritual. But on the weekends, it was time for dad to cook, he says. “He was always trying new things,” Canteenwalla recalls. “He didn't use cookbooks; he'd just sort of go at it. My mom had to cook, but it was clear my dad had fun doing it.” Kim inherited his father's passion, and some of his fondest memories are of watching fellow Canadian Graham Kerr, aka The Galloping Gourmet, on those rare days when he stayed home from school. “Except for a short time when I thought I wanted to be a baseball player—until I realized I just didn't have the talent—being a cook was the only thing I ever wanted to do,” Canteenwalla says. (In a fitting bit of symmetry, the chef says one of his favorite activities now is to cook for his four-year-old son, Cole, who once was devoted to grilled-cheese sandwiches, “but now he's into lamb and lobster.”)
Canteenwalla's career has taken him all over the world, from Cambodia to Dubai to Palm Beach; Canteenwalla eventually met Steve Wynn when he was asked to run the culinary operations at Beau Rivage, the resort Wynn once owned in Biloxi, Mississippi. Today, Canteenwalla is back in the trenches as executive chef and partner of Society Café, a casual restaurant serving breakfast lunch and dinner every day of the week, and he is quite simply loving it. “I really missed having my own restaurant,” he says. “I missed the camaraderie of working with the guys, the peak times when things are really flowing. And even when things aren't flowing, and I have to jump in and take control.” Taking control is something the chef finds himself doing less of these days. “Society Café was really a collaborative effort,” he says. “I worked with my wife [Elizabeth Blau, who owns a restaurant consulting firm] and my partners, which include Steve Wynn, Oliver Wharton and Sean Christie, to come up with the concept and the menu. I used to think that writing a menu was only about the chef's vision. Now I see that it's collaborative. Everybody has different input, and the end result is better for it.”
Tuna Tartar from Society Café Encore
Such brainstorming resulted in a range of tantalizing dishes, from Braised Pork Short Ribs and Roasted Halibut to Rack & Spice, Lamb Chop “Curry Hot Pocket”. Canteenwalla also holds a special affection for the menu items he calls “sticks, picks, and finger foods,” their inspiration being the Pu-Pu platters he remembers from eating in Chinese restaurants growing up. Offerings include Grandma Rose's Meatballs, chili meatballs inspired by those made by his wife's grandmother; chicken wings shaped like lollipops; mac 'n' cheese portioned into bite-size pieces; spicy shrimp served in lettuce cups; and barbecue ribs—the overarching idea being that a party orders a varied selection for sharing. Such a philosophy suits Canteenwalla's taste perfectly. “That's how I like to eat now, a lot of small plates that we all share from; and I think that's how other people like to eat, too,” he says.
It's this accent on food, friends and familiarity that drives Canteenwalla to create such elegant-meets-casual fare. No matter whether you choose the Steak House Salad (blue cheese, beefsteak tomatoes, truffled deviled eggs and Worcestershire dressing), the Lobster Roll 'Club' or Society's famed Fish & Chips, this is one Encore chef who's doing more than his share to create the ultimate Society.
Society Café Encore, inside Encore Las Vegas.
Sun - Thur: 6:30am - 1am; Fri - Sat: 6:30am - 3am
3121 Las Vegas Blvd. So, Las Vegas, NV 89109 (Map)
Reservations: (702) 770-DINE (3463) or Toll Free (888) 320-7110