Naked City Tavern
Butter poached warm Shrimp Cocktail, candied Lemon
Chicken Cordon Blue Croquettes, Naked City Aioli
Lobster Pot Pie
Braised Short Rib Stroganoff
Strawberry Short Cake
Having said several times in the past that there may be no restaurant more ‘essential’ to Las Vegas off-strip dining than Naked City Pizza, recent accolades from almost every publication in town continuing to offer praise for Christopher and Michael Palmeri’s Wings, Sandwiches and Pies that have now made their way into the Speedway and 51’s Games as Las Vegas’ slice of choice, it remains a fact that Naked City Tavern is the most unlikely space in town that one might find Lobster or Foie Gras on the menu, the most recent “Chef’s Menu” taking diners Under the Sea with re-imagined items focusing on the 1950’s.
Kicking off the new dishes with a Sock Hop in late March, work and travel unfortunately delaying a visit to see just what direction the sizable bar on South Pecos Road would veer next, it was mid-day on Saturday as the NHL Playoffs began that a seat was taken in front of one of the big screens to taste seven of the nine plates, the Jukebox again spinning a truly bizarre of tunes including Classic Rock and some F-Bomb-laden Rap.
Only about 1/5 full at the odd hour of 3:00pm on a holiday weekend, the majority of those patrons gathered around the bar, it was with service from Manager Robert Chaney that tasting-size portions of plates were rolled out one-by-one from the kitchen, the Butter-poached Shrimp Cocktail served warm in a fragrant Cocktail Sauce tinged in Horseradish with brightness added by Candied Lemon while a pair of $3 Oysters Rockefeller were served still bubbling in their Shell with a whole lot of Butter and Spinach plus a bright herbal finish.
Continuing to improve the ambiance, a handful of decorations and Shuffleboard table joining the Arcade Games and numerous TVs, Chef Palmeri’s Chicken Cordon Blue Croquette arrived next with piquant red Sauce atop the a crispy nugget stuffed with Chicken, Ham and Swiss, a big bowl of ribbon-thin Noodles taking Stroganoff up a notch by way of tender Short Ribs and Mushrooms, though the obvious limitations of a dish generally made by way of an old Russian recipe popularized by Betty Crocker only leaves so much room for interpretation.
Thankfully continuing to offer some luxury ingredients despite the environment, previous items such as the Foie-co unfortunately not a big seller amongst the restaurant’s typical clientele, Naked City Tavern sizes down the Michael Mina classic Lobster Pot Pie into an individual portion topped in flaky layers of Puff Pastry with plenty of Herbs, Root Vegetables and a light boozy finish, the duo of desserts featuring a pretty straight forward Strawberry Short Cake with good Poundcake and fresh Berries plus a Baked Alaska with Chocolate Cake and Gelato plus a touch of Mint and toasted Meringue that replicates the tableside torched effect without the fire hazard.
FOUR STARS: In some ways a step back from the adventurous prior menus, though the execution is on-point and the restaurant still continues to offer all the famous Naked City staples that fans have grown to love, it is good to see that continued excellence has yielded an expanded business model for Christopher, Michael and the team with a fourth location serving the Southwest while fans at local events can now eat something delicious and trustworthy instead of the typical minor league stadium food.
RECOMMENDED: Lobster Pot Pie, Chicken Cordon Blue Croquettes, Shrimp Cocktail.
AVOID: Nothing is particularly bad, it just feels like items such as the Shortcake and Stroganoff are a bit tame considering what fans know Chef Palmeri is capable of.
TIP: Open 24/7, the Chef’s Menu is now featured along with the classic Naked City offerings all day and night, the Breakfast/Brunch menu no longer offered though some items can be accommodated on Special Request.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.