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Burnt Offerings
Sun-Thur 5-10pm, Friday 11-2pm
3909 W Sahara Ave Suite 10, Las Vegas, NV 89102
702-848-2876 * [email protected]
Certified by the OU




One can argue some of the greatest traditions to come out of Judaism were formed during its time in the desert. One could easily point to the awe-inspiring circumstances that surrounded the creation of matzah: the edible symbol of the miraculous deliverance of a people freed from their bondage by an awe-inspiring G-d. The Jews prepared this special bread, their G-d having already incited and provoked Pharoah in every way possible. Yet for their oppressors, the darkest hour was yet to come; and what would be darkness for some would give way to be the revelation of light for others.

Matzah was born in haste in the desert, and centuries later, Ashkenazic tradition would bring us matzah ball soup. Still, I never imagined I’d have to travel to the desert to get a taste of this Jewish tradition reimagined at its finest.

But first, Las Vegas is truly an amazing city, an experience that other locales around the world (such as Monaco or Atlantic City) try to imitate but fail to duplicate. Among the many casino-and entertainment-themed resorts that line Las Vegas Boulevard is a thriving first class restaurant scene – some of the biggest names in the restaurant world have eateries in this 24/7 desert paradise. So, it goes without saying that a kosher restaurant has its work cut out for it trying to compete with the high standard. That said, kosher diners visiting Vegas, and spending their hard-earned money in its many resort hotels have every right to expect at least one dining experience on par with their non-kosher diners.

Thankfully, restaurant owner Alexandra Emtsova meets that demand with her brainchild eatery Burnt Offerings (3909 W. Sahara Ave). It’s a traditional Jewish cuisine and modern culinary experience under one roof in the middle of the flashiest desert destination on earth. And nothing says Jewish and Eastern European cuisine more than matzah ball soup which dates all the way back to the 1800s during the beginning of the Jewish culinary renaissance. “Matzah ball soup keeps the miracle of freedom from oppression relevant in our minds outside the observance of Pesach. And matzah balls are fun to eat and, quite frankly, fun to make and look at. In 2010, the world’s largest matzah ball was created at Shlomo and Vitos New York Delicatessen in Tucson, Arizona – another desert locale – just 412 miles southwest of Las Vegas. It weighed an impressive 426 pounds.

With Burnt Offering’s Traditional Chicken Soup ($15, homemade chicken noodle soup with homemade matzah ball), Mrs. Emtsova has given us a reason to return to the desert for what this critic would call one of the best takes on a bowl of matzah ball soup you can get in a restaurant anywhere.

“Our chicken soup is extremely popular,” the Burnt Offerings owner told The Jewish Press. “I grew up with chickens, and we also had chicken soup and the taste of that fresh chicken broth, and fresh matzah balls that my mother made, and my mother would roll the noodles herself and make them super thin. It’s really filling and it can cure anything.”

Emtsova’s mother would be proud to see her version of chicken soup on the menu. “Even when it’s 105 degrees outside, people still order our soup.” About 70% of Burnt Offering’s business is tourists who fall in love with the quality of service and the quality of the food in a place geographically and emotionally so far from home. But what Emtsova is most proud of is how her establishment is not afraid to take culinary risks.

The sign outside Burnt Offerings says “where the old country meets Las Vegas.” And while the general menu has many traditional yet elevated dishes for Jews craving a taste of home, a great deal of the menu changes seasonally. Emtsova said she is committed to pushing the boundaries of culinary invention – and to help her meet that goal she hired an equally ambitious young chef.

“I’ve been running restaurants since I was 24,” Chef Shane Shearin told The Jewish Press. “There are quite a few items inspired by me.” Shearin is excited about upcoming plans to re-create international dishes on a level not usually seen in a kosher establishment. His world travels have taught him the best food is not only found in the most expensive restaurants, but in the local, humble, ma and pa style eateries about town. “Some of the best places I’ve ever eaten I stood outside and wondered, “should I really go in there?” he said fondly.

For comfort food on a whole new level for a kosher establishment, he points to the Western (Beef) Bacon Cheeseburger ($27, hand-pressed burger patty topped with a secret recipe cheese sauce, tangy BBQ sauce, beef bacon strips and crispy fried onions). It’s well-known in the culinary world that it’s hard for kosher establishments to compete with non-kosher establishments when it comes to burgers – many of the popular ingredients found on traditional burgers that make them taste so great are unfortunately non-kosher. Somehow, Burnt Offerings has managed to get around this handicap to create amazing tasting burgers with fresh unique toppings that make you want to applaud their efforts. For example, the BO Deluxe Burger ($18, hand-pressed burger patty topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and with your choice of additional toppings: sunny-side up egg, beef bacon, vegan cheese sauce, pastrami and caramelized onions). “With our house cheese sauce, it’s really the equivalent of going to a Carl’s Junior. You just can’t get something similar in a kosher restaurant.” I agreed, it was one of the best burgers I had coming out of a restaurant that wasn’t specifically about burgers, and large enough to fill you up for the price. To my surprise, following my burger, several other entrees arrived at my table at the same time, and I was impressed with the speed in which this desert gem was able to deliver its high-quality food to the table.

The BBQ Beef Nachos ($19) were visual perfection, with warm home-made tortilla chips, large chunks of pulled beef, tomatoes, and a maror and lemon tarragon sauce that really demonstrated the chef’s skill in combining unusual and contrasting flavors that both surprise and please the pallet. It’s necessary to give an honorary mention to the onion jam, made with soy sauce, herbs and spices, then boiled down into a nice jam – a treat you’ll only get in this heavenly kosher establishment in the middle of Vegas.

Other notable mentions include the Deluxe Pastrami Sandwich ($26, 6oz beef shoulder pastrami, house slaw, deli and yellow mustard on rye bread), the Frank In A Blank ($14, puff pastry and beef bacon-wrapped all-beef frankfurter, honey mustard and dipping sauce). I was impressed by the integrity of the noodles under the savory Salmon Piccata ($33, vegetable medley, capers, pasta bed with lemon reduction sauce). Finally, despite the fact I’d clearly overeaten by the time it arrived, I still managed to finish the 3 House Made Rachel Rolls ($25, pastrami, corned beef, sauerkraut, mustard and vegan cheese sauce with a deep-fried egg in an eggroll wrapper).

My server, Joe Morgan recommended as a beverage the Lichi Passion Fruit Mojito (with lichi wine), “a very popular drink,” he assured me. When I asked him what he hears most from customers who discover Burnt Offerings for the first time, he said, “They are not used to this level of service in a kosher restaurant.”

Chef Shearin summed up the Burnt Offerings experience the best – his words reminding me why getting to write about food makes me about luckiest writer in the world. “I love this place because it gives me the creative freedom to create amazing food,” he said. “But it’s not just about the food – it’s about the experience; how it comes out, how it tastes and how it makes you feel. All these things are what make the food worth-while.”


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Baruch Lytle is a Jewish Press staff writer.