David Clawson Restaurant
canapé – salmon belly, wasabi, citrus, salt rock
amuse – uni, simulated sea water, seaweed
bread – milk bread, plugra butter, alaea red salt
soup – corn bisque, tomato, crab, chive
mushroom – bruschetta, portobello, balsamic, feta cheese
scallop – hokkaido, tamari, finger lime, tobiko
salad – hamachi, avocado, do chua, pomegranate
A Fleur D’Or 2011 Sauternes
liver – foie gras, pear, ginger, shallot jam
crab – jumbo lump cake, red pepper, basil
duck – leg confit, lemon, honey, blueberry
rice – niigata koshihikari, uni, salmon, reggiano cream
sausage – boudin blanc, apples, cider cream
pork – Berkshire belly, achara, nashi pear
noodles – lo mein, garlic, more garlic
chicken – organic, achiote, green chile, macaroni
shrimp – black tiger, corn, jicama, chorizo
potato – Yukon gold, garlic, ham hock
beef – tenderloin, sambal, balsamic, trumpet mushroom
lamb – t-bone, shishito, olive, muhammara
cheese – truffle gouda, fig, marcona almond
cheese – epoisse, quince, honey
brûlée – bailey’s irish cream, blueberries, espresso biscotti
fruit – sticky apricot love, vanilla cream, rum toffee
chocolate – crunchy praline, valrhona, tangerine
truffle – white chocolate, basil, pistachio
Setting aside givens such as skill, sourcing, setting, and service it is oftentimes commitment and confidence that separates a ‘great’ restaurant from one that is simply ‘good,’ and on Saturday night it was in fact those two factors that introduced myself and a friend to the greatness of David Clawson Restaurant. Eponymously named for the Chef who cut his teeth at any number of the nation’s finest resorts and located inside a former strip-mall sushi bar way out in Anthem the David Clawson Restaurant experience begins with warm welcomes at the door and quickly whisked away to a Chef’s Counter seats amidst modest décor as light alt-rock played overhead it would be mere moments before service began – a light amuse of tender salmon belly atop a salt rock whetting appetites even before a menu was in hand.
A surprisingly casual space with jovial, well informed service provided by a young man named Shawn, it was with wide eyes and large appetites that we perused the menu and although minor changes have already occurred from that presented online it was to no lack of options that we were tempted, the eventual order entailing 22 individual items with canapé, amuse, and mignardise presenting twenty-five plates at a total of just under $240 before gratuity – many of the plates far larger than one would expect and all together a tremendous amount of food, much of it exceptional in many ways.
Deferring to the kitchen on order of arrival it was a creamy tongue of urchin bathed in brine that started our meal and beginning light before transitioning heavy the progression was well crafted while pacing was perfect, the lightly sweet bread and soup that followed both impressive with a crab-stuffed roast tomato assertively speaking to the end of summer with eloquence that bridged nicely to the smoky-sweet mushroom toast that followed.
Treated next to tender scallops atop sushi grade rice with citrus up-front it was onward to a hamachi salad brightened by pomegranate vinaigrette that things progressed and although the foie gras was not quite as creamy as one would have hoped atop tender pears the crab cake and confit that followed provided quick recovery to say the least, the former at least eighty percent sweet crustacean with gentle spice while the later was absolutely textbook as crackling skin gave way to tender, gamey flesh.
Occasionally at lack for course descriptions as the team worked at frenetic pace to keep up with what was apparently their busiest night yet it would be a nearly impossible task to decide whether creamy rice, house made boudin, pork belly, or handmade lo mein were most impressive of the plates that followed and although chicken proved overcooked and overwhelmed by cilantro the dishes that followed were an immediate return to form, the creamy potatoes particularly beautiful while I marveled at how Chef Clawson allowed the lamb’s funk to shine whereas so many other chef’s in the city opt to rein it in and render it similar to beef, a protein equally well prepared at the chef’s counter as sambal plus balsamic played a point and counterpoint game of heat and sweet.
At this point well sated but happy to enjoy more it was in a duo of nicely aged cheeses that we indulged and although I’d have preferred more time before desserts arrived the pastry kitchen proved just as excellent as the savory line with a delicate crème brûlée tinged in booze starting things off before “sticky apricot love” offered itself up as a contender for 2014’s best dessert, the steamy English classic reinvented with aromatic nuances adding balance to the intensely sweet sauce I soon found myself scooping up with a spoon.
Completing the evening with a duo of chocolates, the first a milky ganache atop dark feuilletine while the complimentary truffle served with the bill tickled the palate with herbal notes amidst a creamy base, it was with big smiles and graciousness for feedback that the team bid us farewell and with a long drive back to Summerlin to discuss the experience suffice it to say that a return visit is already in the works, a seasonal change in the menu the only thing holding us back.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Open for only five weeks, and just now finding its audience, David Clawson Restaurant is one of those rare places firing on all cylinders fresh from the gate. Admittedly following a ‘career greatest hits’ format so far, according to our server, it will be intriguing to see how the cuisine develops over time and particularly how the various omakase options evolve as word spreads. Already impressive, particularly given the skeleton crew of just Clawson and a sous-chef working the line while pastry is managed by a very talented young woman in her own regard, one can only hope that the quality remains high while the menu undergoes frequent change – the forty-five minute drive easily justified for an experience of this quality at such a great price.
RECOMMENDED: Crab, Duck, Fruit, Rice, Lamb, Potato, Scallop, Soup, Sausage
AVOID: Chicken was not only dry, but also overwhelmed by cilantro while the liver was slightly grainy, likely the only ‘sourcing’ flaw of the entire meal. Those sensitive to garlic would be well advised to skip the noodles, though they are excellent for everyone else. Of the desserts, chocolate was chocolate…order a second fruit…and a third.
TIP: Having communicated with the restaurant both before and during the meal in order to determine the format of the “Omygodse” $195 menu the best I could gather was that it includes smaller portions of every menu course plus “a few extras,” not particularly a bargain when you consider the fact that two persons sharing every plate on the menu clocks in at less cost-per-person, though for solo diners with the appetite the concept seems ideal, particularly with 2oz or 5oz beverage pours offered to pair with each, any, or every course at the diner’s discretion.