Could $90 Be Worth It For a Roast Chicken?Photo by Carly Caramanna/Paste Magazine Food Features restaurants
As a travel and food writer, my favorite pastime every December is scrolling through images of that year’s culinary adventures. This year was particularly thrilling in that department—from knocking back endless rosé and oysters at Gerard Bertrand’s Southern France villa to landing in a food coma from a four-hour, 10+ course gastronomical juggernaut.
But few could top the $90 chicken I had from Martha Stewart’s new restaurant, The Bedford by Martha Stewart, located in Sin City. Where else would be a more appropriate locale to throw down nearly a Benjamin for an a la carte piece of meat? But alas, here I am. Still singing its praises nearly five months after the hotspot opened on the strip at the Paris Las Vegas.
Before we get into the literal meat of my visit, The Bedford by Martha Stewart is surprisingly the 81-year-old multihyphenate’s first foray as a restaurateur. The beloved food world personality, who calls the likes of Snoop Dogg a close personal friend, has built a bonafide empire over the years—and her restaurant is poised to be the metaphorical icing on the sweet, layered cake that is her career.
The Bedford itself is like an intimate glimpse into Stewart’s life. It’s somehow cozy and quaint while being posh and fitting of its setting—a unique dichotomy for a woman who has accomplished so much while also selling a lifestyle that feels oddly attainable.
The menu features familiar favorites but with an elevated, distinctly Martha twist. It’s a melting pot of French cooking and some of her most famous dishes—and it works seamlessly. Highlights include the hearty, like short rib ragu, as well as lighter French fare, like a classic Niçoise salad.
But the star of the show was the whole roast chicken. Touchingly, it’s a recipe Stewart learned from her mother as just a child. At $89.95, the chicken—a whopping three to four pounds—is stuffed with savory herbed breadcrumbs and carved tableside.
There’s no getting around it. Even in a place of pure opulence, that’s a lot to be spending on a chicken. But it’s not a far cry from what has been dished before in a town that excels at marrying sin and gluttony.
Just a few years ago, Yardbird, a celebrated Southern eatery in town, offered a $100 chicken & waffles that was cooked in truffle oil and duck fat and topped with caviar and gold leaves. The Bazaar by Jose Andres offers its own version of fancy chicken, a roasted half jidori chicken — the “Kobe beef” of poultry — priced at $32 per 1.5 pounds.
Let’s carve into how Martha’s pricey piece of poultry is worth it even for those devoid of rose-tinted glasses and who are immune to celebrity sway. First off, it does promise to feed around two people—and that will especially hold true if you are ordering some of the standout sides, like tableside smashed baked potatoes. Secondly, after one bite, you’ll swear some sort of David Copperfield-fueled magic trick was performed on it.
It is overwhelmingly easy to mess up chicken. That’s a simple fact that especially holds true at a high-volume establishment like a Las Vegas kitchen. But that’s not a problem here. This chicken was simply superb. It was the perfect combination of crispy, salty, fatty, moist and ultimately—for lack of better words—luxuriously juicy. It’s like a familiar taste of home while being absolutely nothing like what we were once served while clamoring around the dinner table.
Fitting for Stewart, this isn’t just any chicken hastily picked up from a mass distributor. Poultry served at The Bedford is sourced from D’Artagnan Foods, a supplier of hormone-free, organic and antibiotic-free meats. The distributor was one of the earlier adapters of the farm-to-table philosophy over 30 years ago. It works directly with small farms to provide quality meats to decorated chefs around the country.
On a Vegas trip, you may be inclined to dive into something more ostentatious, like a 34-ounce ribeye, but the roast chicken is not only divine but a perfect representation of what the restaurant offers: simple food done well.
In many ways, The Bedford by Martha Stewart is so Vegas, while being so completely removed from its fellow celebrity-branded hotspots. How was the best thing I ate all year a piece of chicken near a craps table? Much like our minds, our taste buds work in mysterious ways, and it hit the jackpot at the first-ever restaurant concept from Martha Stewart. I’d like to think that Julia Child, who was known to judge the quality of a restaurant by its roast chicken, would approve.