This is something that should have been written a while back, but we were hesitant because we were not sure that Bar Forte (4180 South Rainbow; southeast corner off of Flamingo) was going to have much of a shelf life. It would be difficult to be more un-Vegas, a family-run place with an eclectic menu of some unique Eastern European creations along with some traditional Spanish tapas. All in a setting that would make you feel like you stumbled in off of an alley somewhere in Sofia, Prague or Bucharest. No chance here, right? Well they have been making a damn good go of it, and now that we see many of the local critics chiming in positively (John Curtas has written a few nice recent pieces, and they will be featured on his "Dishing and DIning" segment with Denise Valdez on Channel 8 this week), we can start to feel a little more confident about our own taste buds. So as we lament the closing of Rosemary's, and so many other individually-owned restaurants around the Las Vegas valley over the past two years, let's also celebrate those that are still making it happen.
There was a hesitancy to post about Bar Forte earlier because there is that usual conundrum of wondering if our taste buds were not overly romanticizing a place because we were captured by the owners, and the vibe. That happens. You want so much for them to succeed that you can not be convinced that your taste buds are being honest (once upon a time, about 10 years ago, this was happening at a little place called Lotus of Siam). But as more and more critics take note (Las Vegas Weekly also did a nice recent take), we know that it is not just us. The best way to experience their menu is to treat it tapas-style, and better yet if you have a group of friends for a lot of sharing. There are several creative salads that are nice to keep on the table as sides. Almond stuffed dates wrapped in bacon that are as good as what one would find at Julian Serrano, yet at a much different price point. The "Adjarski Khachapuri" is unique; think of a canoe made of bread that is stuffed with suluguni (pickled cheese), and then an egg cracked into the middle, slowly oozing through bread fresh from the oven. There are stuffed peppers in multiple forms, but we particularly like the version with meat and rice and served with a yogurt/dill sauce. The "Forte Fries" are still cooked with some lard, as fries should be, and are terrific. A variety of Russian dumplings. As good as the octopus is, the rice beneath it is sublime, after absorbing all of the flavors. But perhaps the favorite of all has been their assortment of Eastern European sausages, and unique condiments to even further enhance their flavors. And these are all at totally un-Vegas price points - where else are you going to finish your meal with $2.00 baklava?
So we like Bar Forte, a lot. And now it looks like a lot of other folks do as well.
Forte European Tapas Bar and Bistro
4180 S Rainbow Blvd Ste 806, Las Vegas, NV 89103
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