One hallmark of a remarkable dining experience in Las Vegas is the memory of it lingers. Given we’re still thinking about Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab long after our visit, it more than qualifies.
And we aren’t even a seafood person.
If you’re not salivating by the time you finish this story, we have failed miserably.
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab has been a fixture at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace since 2004.
It’s rumored the restaurant is one of the most profitable in all of Las Vegas, and it’s easy to see why. Hint: It’s the awesome.
Start in the bar. In Las Vegas, it’s the law.
From Joe’s elevated but unpretentious atmosphere to its stellar cocktails and mind-blowing entrees, this restaurant is a must-try.
Once you try it, expect to discover your latest dining addiction in Las Vegas. As if you didn’t have enough places to love, already.
Let’s kick things off with an amazing cocktail, one our waiter (more about him in a minute) said is about the only signature drink offered.
Most of the cocktail menu consists of classics, but the South Beach Peach cocktail is an original and joins our roster of world-class panty-droppers.
“Pantry-droppers” should be shared by consenting adults, so no need to get indignant.
There’s a wide selection of appetizers as you might expect, with a decidedly seafood bent, including fried calamari ($15.95), oysters Rockefeller ($18.95), charred octopus ($17.95) and jumbo shrimp cocktail ($18.95).
We really need to just skip listing the prices, because it’s Vegas, and money is no object! Translation: Our friend paid. Moving on.
Kusshi (Japanese for “precious”) oysters were priced at “market,” so good luck with that.
The menu at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab holds one delight after another, so let’s just dive into the goodness.
Joe’s is known for its crab, and the Alaskan king crab got rave reviews from the seafood-lovers in our party.
It’s all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.
Joe’s has a guy who cracks, cuts and trims the crab legs for you, so don’t worry about breaking a nail.
There’s probably a name for this gig. Crab sheller? Shucker? Enabler? Oh, just eat.
Let’s just say every entree and every side was spectacular in quality, quantity and presentation.
The Filet Oscar ($49.95) made one of our dining companions swoon. Literally.
This food has not been styled. This is just how it looks. In real life.
There were three highlights of our evening at Joe’s. You’ve seen the first, it was the South Beach Peach. Plural.
Second, we had one of the best steaks we’ve ever had in Las Vegas, and we’ve been to just about every steakhouse in town. The bone-in filet mignon ($58.95) is in the “Bone-In Signature Prime Steaks” portion of the menu, and has probably ruined us for any other filet mignon, ever.
Behold, 16 succulent ounces of paid vacation for your taste receptors.
A third highlight of our evening was meeting John Lucas. We’d call John a server, but that’s like calling Michelangelo a “proficient doodler.”
Lucas’ whip-smart banter and exhaustive knowledge of the menu helped make a great meal into an utterly unforgettable evening on the town.
John needs his own TV series. Please get on that, Hollywood producers.
Lucas deftly orchestrated delivery and removal of plates and glasses, timing courses masterfully and shepherding others on the team at Joe’s in a way that was a wonder to watch.
Our only observation would be the masterful orchestration of the waitstaff wouldn’t be necessary if the booths weren’t so small. Then again, the food’s so good, elbow room be damned.
Casual dress, lively vibe, no loud music. We would like to kiss you deeply on the mouth, Joe’s.
As so often happens during a restaurant outing in Las Vegas, self-restraint flies out the window at Joe’s, but you’ll want to show a little because at this restaurant, desserts aren’t just understudies, they’re superstars in their own right.
And we aren’t even a pie person.
First up, some kind of pie with berries. They appear blue.
We tried taking a bite and nearly lost our hand. People are very passionate about pie.
Then we had what can only be described as an orgasm on a plate. Check out Joe’s banana cream pie ($9.95).
We’re fairly sure the banana cream pie at Joe’s could bring about world peace.
Just wow. We’ve always sort of hated the texture of pie, but that dislike ended the moment we took a bite of the banana cream pie. We may go back just to have it again.
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab more than exceeded all our expectations, and as we said, our meal has crossed our mind innumerable times since our visit.
The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace is about the only shopping mall worthy of Joe’s.
Hey, we have to throw a little love to Pinterest every once in awhile. More than 160,000 people visit our boards each month. It’s not bragging if it’s true.
It’s another action-packed episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast, and we can’t apologize enough.
In this episode, we take in one of the quintessential Las Vegas experiences, the gondolas at Venetian.
Behold, one of the best aphrodisiacs in Las Vegas.
We’ve got all the latest on some glorious drama, the demise and investigation of “Divas Las Vegas” at Linq. It’s juicy.
There’s also a slew of news you won’t find anywhere else, including a bungee jump coming to Stratosphere, the general counsel of Wynn Resorts getting the boot, a casino expansion at Golden Gate, plus lots of news and rumors about restaurants opening, closing and filling our gullet with untold delights.
Don’t miss our review of Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab at Forum Shops.
It’s Joe’s. It’s time to eat some art.
The show is bursting with perfunctory stories about all the latest things going on in Sin City, of course, from the death of “The Voice, Neon Dreams” to the delay of “A Mob Story” at Plaza and “Menopause the Musical” celebrating its 5,000th hot flash at Harrah’s.
Get your fill of all the WTF you’ve come to expect from the 11th best Las Vegas podcast! Your results may vary.
One of the longest-running shows on the Las Vegas Strip, “Divas Las Vegas,” has closed suddenly after 18 years at the Linq hotel (formerly Imperial Palace and the Quad, for a minute).
“Divas Las Vegas” featured a cast of celebrity look-alike female impersonators lip-syncing and dancing to popular songs.
The drag revue starred Joan Rivers impersonator and Las Vegas institution, Frank Marino.
Marino’s 18-year stint at Linq followed a 20-year run at Riviera in “An Evening at La Cage.”
Although the cast didn’t realize it at the time, the show’s last performance at Linq was June 26, 2018.
The demise of “Divas” was so abrupt, it came as a surprise to just about everyone at Linq hotel and its parent company, Caesars Entertainment. For example, on the night the show’s untimely end was reported, the Caesars blog auto-posted a story promoting the show. The article was quickly removed.
Signage advertising “Divas Las Vegas” is already coming down across the Linq resort and elsewhere.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal was the first to confirm the show’s closure, but chose not to share, or is possibly not aware of, details of the drama surrounding the show’s going dark.
This is our favorite “Divas” performer, Derrick Barry. Yes, you’re allowed to be straight and have a favorite drag performer. This isn’t the 1950s.
While it’s being reported the closing of “Divas Las Vegas” was a “mutual decision” between Caesars Entertainment and the show’s producers, that’s far from the full story, according to our contacts.
We’ve heard several unverified reports that the end of “Divas” was sparked by an investigation into fraud related to the collection of funds for charity.
Frank Marino is a longtime supporter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the show publicizes proceeds from merchandise sales are donated to charity.
It’s Frank Marino’s final curtain call at the Linq.
We’ve also heard a number of Linq showroom employees were fired in recent weeks. The cause of those terminations is unknown, but appears to be related to the investigation.
Sources further share that when Frank Marino was informed he and members of his team were part of the fraud investigation, he was incensed and threatened to end the show. Caesars Entertainment reps, according to sources, informed Marino he was free to do so.
Ouch. That’s nearly as awkward as when Caesars Entertainment named the theater “Divas” performed in for nearly two decades the Mat Franco Theater, after magician Mat Franco had been there just two years.
In the words of a Las Vegas burlesque performer, nicknamed Sweetie Bird, “A drag show closing? It would be weird it there wasn’t any drama.”
While “Divas Las Vegas” had a solid run, word is the show’s ticket sales have flagged recently, and show cancellations had become more frequent.
The “Divas” cast out and about.
Crack Las Vegas Review-Journal entertainment reporter Johnny Kats has reported “Divas” will relocate this fall, and claims the show will go dark at least through September. Yes, the dreaded “haitus” so many Las Vegas shows have fallen victim to, including the recent “Marilyn.”
Read the Review-Journal story for some obligatory public relations nonsense, both from Frank Marino and Caesars Entertainment.
We trust any potential relocation of “Divas” will depend upon the outcome of the investigation into alleged wrongdoing, and it seems unlikely the show would move to another Caesars Entertainment resort given the friction caused by the current unpleasantness.
Casinos, of course, are prickly about their reputations because of strict gaming regulations. Even allegations of illegal or unethical behavior are met with quick and serious ramifications.
At one point, Caesars Entertainment gave comedian Vinnie Favorito the boot from Flamingo because of his gambling debts, some of which were incurred via Caesars employees.
“Divas Las Vegas” was a much-loved show, very much woven into the entertainment fabric of Las Vegas.
For a drag show, it drew an incredibly diverse audience, and longtime fans are sure to be dismayed by recent events.
The divas celebrated their 1,000th show at Linq hotel in July 2012.
Should Frank Marino and his team be vindicated, we hope he’ll find another home for his quirky, entertaining show. Given the fact Joan Rivers passed away in 2014, it might be an opportune time for Marino to revamp his act.
During our interactions with Frank Marino, we’ve always found him to be gracious, charming and funny as hell, so we wish him all the best.
Golden Gate is back in action again with some dramatic changes and a new casino expansion.
We took a peek behind-the-scenes at what were, until recently, walled off areas of Golden Gate’s casino floor.
The casino’s floor is expanding into the space previously occupied by Du-Par’s restaurant.
The Du-Par’s kitchen was at left, counter and tables to the right. Yes, we all miss the pancakes. Bright side: Pancakes never gave anyone a jackpot.
Du-Par’s made an abrupt exit from Golden Gate when the restaurant’s owner got into hot water with the I.R.S. for tax evasion. There are no plans to have a restaurant at Golden Gate anytime soon.
The new floor space will accommodate an additional 50-60 slot machines, a significant number for a casino with a very small footprint.
The door at back leads to Main Street, the one on the right to Fremont.
Here’s one more look at the work-in-progress. The area will be accessible to the public in a few days, and slot machines will be brought in within a week.
Golden Gate regulars will notice another big change to the casino floor, a move of the casino cage.
It’s moved closer to the hotel’s registration desk and valet entrance. Don’t forget to check out the old-timey slot machines on display nearby.
Due to strict rules about capturing images of casino cages, we are unable to share this photo, sorry.
Next up at Golden Gate, an expansion of the high limit room.
Currently, high limit is table games only, but with a move into the previous cage space, the high limit room will now include high limit slots.
More room for high limit slots, or what we commonly refer to as our “retirement plan.”
Here’s a look at the current high limit room.
Our favorite part: The fringe on the walls was inspired by the fringe on the uniforms of the casino’s dancing dealers.
This is the den we’d have if we were ambitious or even moderately successful.
The high limit room revamp is set to include some intriguing elements inspired by the building’s original design features.
Here’s a look at the other side of the construction wall. Golden Gate’s original arches are expected to play a part in the design of the new high limit room. Now you know.
There’s a chance these arches were around when Golden Gate opened in 1906, but we aren’t sure. We are a blog, not that guy in the Amish hat on “Pawn Stars.”
The latest changes at Golden Gate follow on the heels of another recent expansion that integrated the former La Bayou casino space. That expansion also included a new entrance, loyalty club desk and beer distribution room. Of course, we got photos. Do you know this blog at all?
Golden Gate has managed to do a lot with a little, and we hear there are still more surprises in the works.
A beloved member of the cast of reality juggernaut “Pawn Stars,” Richard Benjamin Harrison, has died at 77.
An announcement of Harrison’s passing was made on the Facebook page of the Gold & Silver Pawn shop made famous in the History Channel series.
Amount of your crap put up with: Zero.
The statement read, “It is with heavy hearts that we acknowledge the passing of Richard Benjamin Harrison (known as ‘The Old Man’ to ‘Pawn Stars’ fans the world over) this morning. He was surrounded by loving family this past weekend and went peacefully.”
The statement continued, “The team at Gold & Silver Pawn and the Pawn Stars family is grieving his loss. He will be remembered as the best father, grandfather and great grandfather you could have by his family and by fans as the sometimes grumpy (always loving, however), often wisecracking, and voice of absolute reason on the History television show ‘Pawn Stars.’ Services are pending and the family appreciates your prayers and kind words.”
The “Old Man” was immortalized as a puppet in the ill-fated “Pawn Shop Live.”
While Harrison’s appearances on “Pawn Stars” had decreased in recent seasons, fans of the show will remember him as a funny, no-nonsense curmudgeon who kept his co-stars, most of them family, in check.
Of Harrison’s passing, co-star Austin “Chumlee” Russell shared, “It’s hard to believe he is gone. He was such a big part of my life and treated me like family. I will miss him greatly and carry the lessons he taught me throughout my life. You could always count on him to straighten you out or make you laugh and both of those things I need every day.”
This sort of says it all.
The Las Vegas-based “Pawn Stars” has been on the air since 2009, and the “Old Man” opened the pawn shop with his son, Rick Harrison, in 1988.
The show recently celebrated its 500th episode.
Richard Harrison will be missed by legions of “Pawn Stars” fans, us among them.
It’s time for another disappointing episode of the only Las Vegas “podcast” that deserves to be in quotation marks.
This week, we dive headlong into the best fine dining deal you’re going to find in Las Vegas, the prix fixe menu at Golden Nugget. You won’t actually find it on the menu, but here’s a .pdf that will come in handy.
You won’t have room for the creme brulee, but that’s no reason not to have it. You’re in Las Vegas.
That’s just the beginning of the fun. Or possibly all of it. You’ll have to listen to find out.
You’ll also hear us entertain ourself with stories of a string of slot machine jackpots in recent weeks. We’ll tell you exactly where we got ours so you can grab one of your own.
We chat about Park MGM and the end of free drinks in Las Vegas. Sort of.
There’s a slew of exclusive news you won’t hear anywhere else. Which is basically the definition of “exclusive,” but whatever.
Learn more than you could ever want to know about the return of the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse, “Baz” closing at Palazzo, a $3.2 million jackpot at the Silverton and more.
Say adios to the former Smith & Wollensky.
We’ve got rumors up the wazoo (not an actual body part) about Marquee at Cosmopolitan, a possible suitor for Hooters, what’s going into the Grand Wok & Sushi space at MGM Grand and why the folks at the 18 Fremont casino project are calling their new parking structure the “Garage Majal.”
Of course, there’s a hastily slapped-together “Listicle of the Week” and an overview of the main causes of upset. Yeah, it’s as random as it sounds.
Join in the fun for our final episode of Season One of the Vital Vegas Podcast.
Not to be outdone by the MSG Sphere, Resorts World shared a new rendering complete with an orb of its own.
A clear dome in 120-degree heat? Now, we know where Resorts World will be baking its Bao buns.
The $4 billion Resorts World is an Asian-themed resort being built on the Las Vegas Strip near Wynn Las Vegas.
The proximity to Wynn is relevant because, based upon the new rendering, some have noted similarities between the Resorts World design and that of Wynn and Encore.
The design of Resorts World has been refined since it broke ground in May 2015. The original opening date was, wait for it, 2016. Awkward.
Earlier renderings of Resorts World (see below) featured older Chinese architectural elements, but has been revamped to have a more modern feel.
Resorts World has become “more Shanghai than Beijing.” It goes without saying that, since we’re American, we are only pretending to know the difference between those two places.
Resorts World has taken its sweet time, presumably in no hurry to open a resort with 3,000 rooms before there’s more certainty about whether demand can accommodate such inventory.
Those watching the construction project closely have noted the addition of several floors to the hotel, but the pace of construction is still agonizingly slow for those of us who love shiny new things.
You go, Resorts World. This was taken in March 2018.
Here’s a segment on KLAS about Resorts World and other projects slated for 2020. Yes, we’re featured in the segment, but that’s not why we’re sharing it. Probably.
While 2020 seems optimistic for a Resorts World opening at this point, anything’s possible if the casino’s owner, Genting Group, opens the financial floodgates and uses those cranes for something other than show.
It’s been awhile since we popped into the Park MGM. In fact, the last time we visited, it was Monte Carlo.
All that’s changed, because Monte Carlo is no more.
Park MGM might have less character than Monte Carlo, but we love that new hotel-casino smell.
That’s right. Monte Carlo, after two decades, is officially Park MGM, a member of the MGM Resorts family.
The company is investing $550 million in the rebrand.
While the hotel’s name has changed, the resort is still in transition, so we snapped some pics to keep you in the loop about what’s up. No thanks, necessary, although we are a big fan of foot rubs. Just saying.
Yes, you’re suppressing a yawn, but it gets better.
We’re pleased to report Park MGM isn’t in the rough shape we’d heard rumors about. The rebrand of Monte Carlo started in 2016, if you can believe that.
Business at the Strip resort has taken a huge hit because guests encountered extensive construction for months on end, with lots of venues closed and walled off, and word spread.
Now, though, things are starting to take shape at Park MGM, including the unveiling of new offerings like Juniper Cocktail Lounge and Money Line sports bar.
Let’s take a look at Park MGM, back to front.
The rebrand has included the build-out of a new reception area.
Vegas hotels have castle themes, circus themes, Egyptian themes and Venice themes. Park MGM is foliage themed.
Nearby, there’s a new restaurant and bar, Primrose.
Primrose comes from a Scottish word meaning “tree of the moor,” moor or less.
The hotel’s pool area has been completely done over. Now, there are three small pools, with lots of seats and umbrellas and people wishing they’d hit the treadmill a bit more often before their Las Vegas vacation.
The pool complex offers a number of ways to spend money, including reserved lounge chairs ($15), daybeds ($75), cabanas and Baja loungers ($15).
There’s a new high limit slots room, where we made sure to donate some of our disposable income.
The high limit table games are awkwardly out on the casino floor nearby, but we suspect they’ll have a new home soon.
A very new addition to Park MGM is its new West Bar. It’s a fairly typical casino bar, with 19 video poker machines.
Only about half the seats at West Bar have video poker, presumably because guests aren’t gambling like they used to.
We played some video poker and were given comped (that’s Vegas for “complimentary”) drinks during our play. And, yes, they even poured Captain Morgan spiced rum from a bottle.
Yes, we’re touting the fact a casino bar 1) comps drinks, and 2) pours liquor from a bottle. You’ll see why in a minute.
Making our way through the casino, we got to see the new Juniper Cocktail Lounge. We’re pretty sure this was the same space as Monte Carlo’s Hit Lounge.
Juniper has a pretty swanky design, and features a number of video poker machines at the bar.
Don’t try to read that sign or you’ll put an eye out.
As you might expect at a lounge called “Juniper,” there are a ton of gin-based cocktails on the menu. Gin gets its main flavor from juniper berries, a reminder how much you can learn while hanging out in Las Vegas cocktail lounges.
Most of the cocktails at Juniper Cocktail Lounge are in the $15-17 range.
We were dismayed to learn no drinks are comped (free) for those who play video poker at the bar. Hey, we warned you in the headline there would be bad news. There’s more to come.
We say either have video poker and comp drinks, or don’t have video poker. Otherwise, you’re just being annoying.
Closer to The Strip, there’s the new Money Line Sports Bar & Book.
Money Line Sports Bar & Book has a welcoming layout, with a pool table and a couple of mini bowling lanes.
When you bet on a “moneyline,” you’re betting on the outright winner of your favorite sportsball game.
The bar, of course, is lined with video poker machines.
As we started to play, we were informed (again), there were no comped drinks for video poker players. Not even a soda.
The Moneyline sports book and bar was almost entirely empty during our visit. On a Saturday night. Coincidence?
Our earlier dismay turned to annoyance as we realized this isn’t a fluke, but a trend, and not the good kind.
It seems MGM Resorts is taking a page from the Wynn Las Vegas playbook, as Wynn stopped comping drinks at its video poker bars some time ago.
This “trend” is troubling because while Wynn and Encore are just two hotels, MGM Resorts has a slew of them on The Strip. Don’t be surprised if this is a glimpse at things to come.
Denying video poker players comped drinks is getting some customer backlash, according to staff we spoke to, but whether this policy will spread remains to be seen.
Oh, well. We’re not going to let a misguided policy put a damper on our visit. Probably. We’ve got more exploring to do.
Much of the negative buzz about Park MGM has had to do with the temporary entrance from the Las Vegas Strip.
It’s fairly easy to see why.
Again, these are growing pains, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
Let’s head out front. Who needs comped drinks when we’ve got a security breach to lighten our mood?
Here’s a look at the construction on the Strip side of Park MGM.
Former home of 800 Degrees Pizza, Blvd. Creamery, Yusho Japanese Grill and Sambalatte. Hey, they were all four years old, so time to go!
There are a ton more photos in the gallery, so hang out awhile.
Our first Park MGM security breach. You always remember your first.
This front structure is supposed to be Eataly, a “vibrant marketplace with cafes, to-go counters and sit-down restaurants from Mario Batali, the guy accused of sexual misconduct.”
We added that last part ourself.
This whole Eataly thing is complicated.
MGM Resorts says the $13 million project will continue despite explosive allegations against Mario Batali, but we’re thinking the company is probably looking for another partner for the venue.
Las Vegas Sands (owner of Venetian and Palazzo) recently pulled the plug on three Batali restaurants, despite his company’s claims Batali is no longer involved.
Set to close July 27, 2018, are B&B Ristorante and Otto at Venetian and CarneVino at Palazzo.
If you miss the Monte Carlo casino, we hear there’s another, less interesting one, in Europe somewhere.
MGM Resorts has been very public about its zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct, so they’re in an impossible position at the moment.
The space is looking pretty good, though, and here’s what it’s supposed to look like when it opens.
They’re definitely trying to class up the joint. Just ask the former Diablo’s Cantina.
So, that’s our whirlwind tour of the new Park MGM, a work in progress.
While we’re not thrilled about the comped drink policy at Juniper Cocktail Lounge and Money Line sports bar, there’s a lot to like about Park MGM, including the staff.
Most members of the Monte Carlo staff have made the transition to Park MGM with their friendliness intact. They’re not shy about admitting there’s been some chaos during the rebrand, but they’re starting to see former Monte Carlo customers return.
The reality, though, is those Monte Carlo customers aren’t really the target customer of Park MGM. Park MGM has aspirations to attract younger, more affluent customers.
A prime example is Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar. While we’ve heard it’s good, it’s not really for the value-conscious.
Juniper seems more along the lines of Skyfall at Delano and Clique at Cosmopolitan than fans of the Hit Lounge.
Although it’s not on the sign, Park MGM will have a boutique hotel, NoMad. NoMad needs a better agent.
It’s odd to think of the Las Vegas Strip without Monte Carlo, but Las Vegas is always throwing something new against the wall to see if it will stick.
Enjoy more photos from our recent foray to Park MGM.
Our favorite celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, has another Las Vegas hit on his hands.
Hell’s Kitchen is currently one of the hottest restaurants in Sin City, so we had to check it out.
Fun fact: Gordon Ramsay toyed with naming his Las Vegas restaurant “Hell’s Vestibule,” but that didn’t have the same ring to it.
Hell’s Kitchen opened at Caesars Palace on Jan. 26, 2018, and was an immediate hit. The restaurant claimed to have received 12,000 reservations in 10 days.
In restaurant parlance: That’s a metric hell-ton.
So, why are we saying it’s a “qualifed” success, rather than an “unqualified” one? Well, to be honest, we didn’t really get it.
“Donkey!” Sorry, we had to get that out of our system.
First, the place is really, really loud.
Hell’s Kitchen moved into the former Serendipity 3 restaurant space, and it’s pretty much a big, square box. You know, like a speaker box. The place is packed, so the sound reverberates, and you end up having to shout throughout your meal.
Some people enjoy that cacophony in restaurants, as it can create a feeling of high energy and excitement. We are not one of those people.
A minor quibble at the start of our meal: It was odd when our waiter informed us we couldn’t order our appetizers unless we knew our whole order. It made the evening feel like we were there for the convenience of the restaurant staff, rather than the other way around.
Next, while Hell’s Kitchen restaurant was inspired by one of our favorite reality shows, wait for it, “Hell’s Kitchen,” there wasn’t too much of “Hell’s Kitchen” to be found.
This wall is devoted to past “Hell’s Kitchen” winners, a mere 80% of whom are in therapy following their appearance on the show.
Yes, the walls of the show kitchen are half red and half blue, and there are lots of pitchforks to be found, that’s about it.
There’s no real tie-in to the show, other than as a marketing hook.
Everyone in the Hell’s Kitchen kitchen seemed to be working in harmony. What fun is that?
Our real issue, though, was with the food and drink. (We’ll resist grumbling about the fact the menu looked like it was produced by a printer running out of ink. Well, sort of resist.)
The bottom line: The food and drinks were good, not great.
Let’s start with a cocktail, as most nights out in Las Vegas do.
We tried the Meet Your Maker ($15), with Maker’s Mark bourbon, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, mint, apple, strawberry and cinnamon. It was perfectly acceptable.
In a town full of amazing cocktails, this was certainly a cocktail.
Next up, the Wagyu meatballs ($18), featuring slow-roasted tomato sauce, polenta croutons, parmesan cheese and basil. The meatballs, too, were passable, but nothing to write home about.
Oh, who are we kidding? Nobody actually writes home anymore, but you know what we mean.
We didn’t know polenta croutons were a thing, but they were a pleasant surprise.
Time for the entrees!
While we didn’t try Gordon Ramsay’s most famous dish, the Beef Wellington ($49), our new friends at the next table did and they raved about it.
Beef Wellington looks like a steak wrapped in pastry, but it has to be more complicated than that. Probably.
We ordered the filet mignon (eight ounces for $47), and it seemed to be prepared properly. Not especially flavorful. Not awful. Just there.
Sadly, our mind wasn’t blown. A state we’re all too familiar with, actually.
Same for the roasted rack of lamb ($39). It was entirely adequate.
We’re pretty sure they’re not going to use “Entirely adequate!” on their advertising.
Again, we don’t claim to be a food critic. Hell’s Kitchen is a smash.
Are you going to get mad if we say the potato gratin was just average, too?
Let’s talk about some bright spots at Hell’s Kitchen.
The service was top-notch. Friendly, knowledgeable servers were attentive without being intrusive.
Also, the restaurant has a bar. Always a good thing.
Yes, they carry Captain Morgan spiced rum. Don’t you ever think about anything else?
There’s also a life-size video of Gordon Ramsay that greets guests as they arrive. We are a fan of the chef, so that was fun.
Gordon Ramsay has said he’s a fan of In-N-Out Burger, so he can’t be all bad.
We hesitated about dessert, so the waiter brought one, anyway. A gratis dessert is a wonderful way to make a good impression.
The sticky toffee pudding ($9) was selling like crazy, so people obviously liked it. Other people.
We wouldn’t know sticky toffee pudding from spotted dick pudding, but we do know ice cream, and this got a resounding “just all right” from us.
Another positive: While the prices are steep at Hell’s Kitchen, they don’t seem outrageous. After all, Caesars has to pay Gordon Ramsay his five percent commission on gross sales (it’s six percent if sales top $15 million a year).
Ultimately, Hell’s Kitchen was worth a visit, just to see what all the buzz is about.
The place is getting solid reviews on Yelp, with much of the criticism related to the experience not living up to the hype.
Our bottom line is that “good, not great” doesn’t really fly on the Las Vegas Strip, especially at these elevated prices.
Still, lots of Las Vegas visitors are going to check out a new restaurant no matter what they read in blogs. Have at it!
If you have limited resources, though, drop by Hell’s Kitchen for a photo op, then make your way to one of the exceptional restaurants nearby that’s more worthy of your time and money.
The Hell’s Kitchen logo uses a trident, but devil’s are traditionally depicted with bidents. Yes, we have officially run out of photo captions.
If you’re a Gordon Ramsay fan, head to Paris Las Vegas for Gordon Ramsay Steak.
Even his Gordon Ramsay Burger at Planet Hollywood is better, and Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips restaurant at Linq promenade is a much less expensive and equally satisfying offering.
If you’re just looking for an amazing steak, go inside Caesars Palace to Old Homestead Steakhouse.
If you’re a meatball person, some of the best in town can be found at Rao’s, also at Caesars Palace.
For the record, the best meatballs in Las Vegas call Pizza Rock home, downtown.
If you’ve tried Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen and disagree with our level of “meh,” we’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment, or whatever people are doing to share their thoughts these days.