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Vegas Eats Preview: Cleo at SLS Las Vegas

By Chuckmonster on Wednesday, 30th July 2014 12:59pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 5


SLS Las Vegas is opening in August and wallpapering the world with PR that states that the restaurants they are importing from Los Angeles are, like, awesome. Fortunately for you, most of the VT staff lives in L.A., enabling us to give these spots a spin and share the results. Previously, we visited the original Katsu-Ya location in Studio City, the Griddle Cafe in Hollywood and Umami Burger in Burbank.

As before, this series of posts are previews of what might happen at SLS, based on reviews of the existing venues in Los Angeles.

Cleo restaurant is located inside a former flop house hotel which sbe bought and transformed into boutiqueish Redbury hotel about five-seven years ago, right in the middle of tourist section of Hollywood. Cleo - named for the Egyptian pharaoh, not the 90's progenitors of coffee house grunge - offers a wide ranging menu focusing on cuisines from the Mediterranean and Middle East - Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Greece, Persia and beyond from Chef Danny Elmaleh. Don't let this scare you... this is sbe restaurant, of course they have sliders.

Immediately upon arriving at Cleo, we were greeted by this... a standing SLS Las Vegas advertisement which fraudulently presents its location as being right next to Wynn / Encore, when reality it is 1.3 miles and three and a half large casino parcels between it and Wynn. I walked it and it took me 30 minutes.

Sls Cleo Sls

Also... it sure does look like a Dianetics ad, leading us to wonder if Sam Nazarian a Scientologist? SBE employees certainly act like they're in a cult.

Inside the Redbury.... signage...

Sls Cleo Signage


Sls Cleo Tables

...a gabbing gaggle of servers ignoring us...

Sls Cleo Lobby

... Theda Bara...

Sls Cleo Patra


Sls Cleo Wishboneash

"Blowin' Free" by legendary and semi-obscure English boogie rock band Wishbone Ash (from their incredible album 'Argus') on the muzak system. Wishbone Ash was Iron Maiden bassist/mastermind Steve Harris' favorite band in the early 1970's, providing the prototype from which he built the mighty Maiden empire. Despite being greeted at the door with sbe puffery and indifferent service, I'm smiling... a deep deep cut just for me?

Sls Cleo Bar

Eventually, we (me, MissMonkay and JohnH) were led through the lobby past the dining room bar to our table that faced the open kitchen. Sls Cleo Kitchen

Allison, our server, met us at the table, distributed menus and made herself available for any and all questions. We asked tons and sent in orders for starters.

Sls Cleo Menu Sls

The first thing on the menu - "SLS Las Vegas".

Sls Cleo Menu Drinks

The first thing on the drink menu? A hashtag SaharaToSLS cocktail.

Sls Cleo Menu Sls

The first key to mind control is to get your targets to speak the planted truths back to you "I'll have the #SaharaToSLS." Sls Cleo Saharatosls

How could I not order the Kool-Aid? It came with a silver Grey Goose vodka stirrer and a sprig of rosemary! Flavor was mishmash of sweet and bitter with pear flavored vodka kicker. How about skipping the rosemary and replacing the vodka with an aromatic gin? Because 'woo girls' don't drink gin. Forgettable.

Sls Cleo Medmargarita

JohnH ordered the Mediterannean Margarita, made with Casamigos tequila, fig-almond syrup and a schfritz of fresh lime.

Sls Cleo Lebaneh

Fresh bread arrived wrapped in a Cleo branded paper bag - steamy, hot, airy, light and delicious. We ordered two dips for the bread, Lebaneh with Feta (top) and Htipiti (bottom). Lebenah is best described as a goats milk yogurt strained into cheese, then mixed with feta and covered in olive oil and spices. It has the consistency of a runny cream cheese - creamy, delicious with a hint of feta's salty tang. Htipiti is a Greek dip made from roasted red peppers, capers and feta chese. Super tangy, smoky and rich.

Sls Cleo Greeksalad

Next came the Greek Salad - feta, letuce, cucumber, tomatoes, olive oil, fresh chopped leaf and olives. Underwhelming.

Sls Cleo Brusselssprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts topped with chopped parsley, capers, sliced almonds and a viniagrette - the end result was a crispy, sprouty take on salt & vinegar potato chips. A revelation.

Sls Cleo Spanakopita

Spanakopita - a Greek delicacy made of spinach & feta chese wrapped in filo pastry, fried and sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds. Cleo's spanakopita left us all wanting more flavor.

Sls Cleo Shrimpbriouats

Shrimp Briouats - a juicy pocket of shrimp and Moroccan seasonings wrapped in filo-like dough. An explosion of delicious.

Sls Cleo Kebabs

Cleo offers an extensive kebab and sausage menu - we ordered (left to right) the Boudin Blanc sausage, Lamb Kebab and Chicken Kebab. Adventurous, foodies should know that Cleo offers sweet bread kebabs.

We ordered the Boudin Blanc (left above) - a super tender, almost creamy white pork sausage with salty crisp casing. Lamb kebab (above center) was tender yet slightly musty - unanimous miss for the table. The chicken kebab, was just that.

Sls Cleo Old hollywood

In the middle of this blizzard of small plates, JohnH ordered an Old Hollywood - made with his beloved Bulleit Bourbon, bitters and the same fig almond syrup his margarita came with.

Sls Cleo Ravioli

Then came Ravioli filled with cheese and egg and served in a brown butter sauce. Wow.

Sls Cleo Meatball Tagine Op

Final dinner course was the meatball tagine, which the waiter poured two uncooked eggs on, then scrambled in the spicy tomato and pepper sauce. Holy crap.

Sls Cleo Meatball Tagine Op

Meatballs were perfectly rare... oozing fat and mouthwateringly flavorful. Wow. Cleo also offers chicken and beef cheek tagine.

Of course, we ordered dessert.

But first... almost on cue... a Cleo 'spokesmodel' saddled up to our table, her arching back facing us, with spine turned enough to provide clearance for her craned neck to Garbo-ize "is everything to your satisfaction?" tilting her hips enough to reveal the thong outline beneath her translucent dress.

The three of us sat there in disbelief at this grand display of pretentious sbe puffery. She tossed her hair, and sashayed away to the growing sounds of our barely contained snickering. "What was that about?" we asked each other.

Dessert arrived.

Sls Cleo Flourcake

Flourless chocolate cake with deep fried banana - gooey sweet delicious.

Sls Cleo Toffee

Sticky toffee pudding with a sugar crisp.

Sls Cleo Coffee

Coffee - a French press, brewed at the table - dark and roasty.

Sls Cleo Tea

Tea - steeped at the table. All served in mis-matched array of estate sale tea cups.

Sls Cleo Bill

Dinner for three with three cocktails and desert came to $184.21 plus tip. Our server Allison was thoroughly incredible.

Sls Cleo Marketing

And then she came by the table and told us that we could have the chance to win a $500 sbe gift card if we give them our personal contact information to add to their SLS Las Vegas mailing list. Get the picture?

There is no restaurant in the Las Vegas tourist corridor like Cleo. Chef Danny Elmaleh touches on all of the major culinary traditions in the Mediterranean/Middle East/Northern Africa traditions and presents them in contemporary, approachable way that will make Cleo the break out restaurant at SLS Las Vegas.

Tagged: vegaseats   dining   reviews   cleo   danny elmaleh   sls las vegas   sbe   


Comments & Discussion:

Food looks awesome. Hopefully the LV locale doesnt have that horrible decor.

PS: REAL greek salad doesnt have lettuce.

Food looks good, but that fig garnishing the rim of the margarita looks like it belongs in a toilet bowl.

Your interation with the spokesmodel reminds me of a night at Oscar's where we had an equally akward moment with one of the "broads"

Other than those insane drink prices that looks pretty good.

As for the spokesmodel...well, sex sells...right?

Not my cup of tea but I may try it anyway after this review

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