Charlie Trotter to roll dice again on Las Vegas

CHICAGO Fine dining restaurateur Charlie Trotter is planning to try his luck again in Las Vegas after an aborted attempt 12 years ago. The famed chef has signed a deal to open Restaurant Charlie and Bar Charlie in the Venetian Hotel before the end of 2007.

The 100-seat seafood restaurant will feature both a la carte and tasting menus, with checks expected to average $175 or more. The 18-seat bar will specialize in Japanese food and fruit-based cocktails.

Trotter, who is celebrating the 20th anniversary this August of his acclaimed Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, said he decided to accept the Venetian offer after "many years and many proposals" failed to lure him back to the Strip. He pulled out of his previous venture at the MGM Grand after about a year when the hotel's owners tried to tone down his innovative cuisine to a broader, more less-adventurous audience.

The expanding Venetian resort also has signed chefs Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck to open restaurants. Trotter said he intends to be at the Las Vegas restaurant often, between overseeing his Restaurant C in Los Cabos, Mexico, his Chicago flagship and a new Chicago project in the Elysian Hotel. But he has hired chef John Shields to run the Venetian outlet's day-to-day kitchen operations.