Robert Irvine’s Public House
French Onion Fondue – Gruyere, Caramelized Onion, Thyme, Toasted Ciabatta
Public House Poutine – Tater Tots, Pulled Pork and Shiitake-Onion Gravy, Peppered Goat Cheese, Red Vein Sorrel
Deviled Eggs – Pickled Jalapenos, Grain Mustard, Crispy Pork Belly, Capers
Hickory Smoked Chicken Wings – BBQ Rubbed, RI Signature Blue Flame Buffalo Sauce, Celery and Ranch Dressing, Toasted Bread
Mixed Heirloom Tomatoes and Grilled Ciabatta – Avocado Puree, Lemon Ricotta, Toasted Garlic, Basil, Tomato Vinaigrette
Roasted Vegetables – Farmer’s Market Vegetables, Fine Herbs, Lebanese Garlic and Lemon Sauce
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad – Salt Roasted Beets, Pickled Beets, Goat Cheese, Grapes, Arugula, Sherry and Honey Vinaigrette
Steak Tartare – Capers, Red Onion, Egg, Lemon Zest, Herb Potato Chips
F&K Fondue Sliders – Creekstone Farm Black Angus, Mushrooms, Onions, Crispy Smoked Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Brioche Bun
Bar Snack Fish & Chips – Beer Battered Cod, Malted Curry Aioli, Green Onion, Bacon, Feta, Green Cabbage Slaw
Stone Fired Shepherd’s Pie – Ground Lamb, Onion, English Peas, Mashed Potato Crust
Buttermilk Fried Duck Confit – Maple-Sherry Vinegar, Braised Kale and Chard, Buttery Sriracha Sauce
English Banoffee Pie – Banana, Toffee, Espresso Ice Cream
Dessert Shepherd’s Pie – Strawberries, Lemon Curd, Pound Cake, Toasted Meringue Crust
Spotted Dick – Traditional English Steamed Currant Pudding, Vanilla Custard Sauce
Skillet Baked Triple Chocolate Cookie – High Road Vanilla Fleur de Sel Ice Cream
Happy to wander the world seeking out great meals but not so fond of Food Television there was no real reason to know Robert Irvine before the Chef opened up shop at The Tropicana, and although the name Public House still seems terribly unoriginal with two additional Restaurants similarly dubbed less than 3/4 mile away it looks as though the Restaurant: Impossible star’s spot is doing quite well based on a visit Saturday evening.
Reportedly built at the request of Tropicana High Rollers in need of a place to use comps, the property certainly never considered a dining “destination” in a city filled with several Resorts that could legitimately make such a claim, Robert Irvine’s Public House officially opened its doors in July after significant hype including a daredevil stunt during which the TV-Star lept from the top of the white tower over a year prior, Chef Scott Green making his return to Las Vegas after a stint in Canada to head up a kitchen focused on upscale yet accessible fare and Irvine’s British upbringing.
Admittedly a first-timer at The Tropicana, its southerly location on The Strip and lack of dining venues never really a draw despite being one of the few places in town still offering free parking, it is upon entering the front doors that signs immediately point guests left towards the sprawling room with a bar and lounge up front plus several tables and banquets lining the space behind, a dinner rush of over 150 covers seeing the place slammed on a big football weekend but a party of four happy to wait until the assigned 8:00pm reservation time while sitting at a first come-first serve high top.
Doing a reasonable job of isolating itself from the gaming floor, a walkway between slot machines and Public House’s doors at least fifteen feet wide, it is only once diners make their way to the back that the full scope of design can be seen, varying shades of wood comprising floor and ceilings sandwiching comfortable orange leather seats, stone walls and an immense glass window facing Las Vegas Boulevard outside.
Dining with three frequent tablemates and thus able to sample a wide range of the menu it was after others had requested Mixed Drinks and Beers featuring flavors like Peanut Butter and Passion Fruit that Food was ordered, a total of twelve savories far more than would be recommended for even a group of six and beginning with Appetizers including Bar Menu Deviled Eggs atop Mustard alongside Tater Tot “Poutine” with Pulled Pork and Goat Cheese plus smoky Wings featuring Irvine’s own Buffalo Sauce and two styles of housemade Dressing.
By no means a bad way to begin, even those tired of “small plates” and “gastropubs” likely to find lots to love in the Tots that remain crispy beneath Mushroom Gravy and a bubbling dish of French Onion Fondue meant to be slathered on Toast, it was with some additional Bread requested and Gruyere still molten that a trio of Salads soon appeared, the Heirloom Tomatoes vibrant and acidic amidst fresh Herbs and Garlic while the ubiquitous Beet Salad outperformed many thanks to Grapes and lightly pickled flavors, the same sadly not to be said for a dish simply listed as “Roasted Vegetables” that featured good Produce but seemed poorly conceived as the Sauce was too thick to be considered ‘Soup’ and too runny to function as Dip without quickly getting messy.
Using a pair of bar items plus thick-cut Steak Tartare served with sizable housemade Potato Chips as a sort of mid-course, business finally beginning to dwindle around 9:30, suffice it to say that the much publicized F&K Burger smothered in Cheese is tasty but plenty in its smaller “Slider” format while the shrunk-down Fish & Chips unfortunately suffered from Cod being too bland, the bed of matchstick Fries showing far better amidst Bacon, Feta and thickened Malt Vinegar.
Rounding out savories with two items one won’t just find anywhere in Sin City, the Buttermilk fried Duck Confit (also offered as Chicken) crisp and intensely flavored but balanced by a Jean Georges-esque combination of braised Greens plus “buttery” Hot Sauce and Irvine’s signature “Stone Fired Shepherd’s Pie” achieving where many others fail by letting the Potatoes get a little bit crispy which adds texture to the classic Lamb filling, it was with most already stuffed that four Desserts arrived with each presentation proving at least enough to warrant a bite from each…and several more for others.
Part classic and part clever, items like Mason Jar Apple Pie and Blue Cheesecake saved for a later date, it was instead with bites of Robert’s famous Banoffee Pie that things got underway and taking a far lighter approach than most to the combination of Bananas and Toffee while mellowing sweetness with Espresso Ice Cream the presentation sets a high bar for the dish locally, the same to be said of traditional Spotted Dick served in warm Vanilla Sauce while the Dark Chocolate Skillet Cookie and “Dessert Shepherd’s Pie” are definitely best shared, the former as rich as it sounds while the item in cast iron riffs on Trifle with sliced Berries, Meringue and cubes of Pound Cake.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: While many, including the local papers, have criticized Chef Irvine for everything from high prices to Food that does not fit his healthy persona Robert Irvine’s Public House nevertheless succeeds in terms of providing guests with a good experience, the necessity of an “everything to everyone” menu undoubtedly offering up a few duds but the overall batting average strong and most plates sharable by at least two rendering prices far lower than they seem.
RECOMMENDED: French Onion Fondue, Public House Poutine, Steak Tartare, Stone Fired Shepherd’s Pie, Buttermilk Fried Duck Confit, English Banoffee Pie, Spotted Dick.
AVOID: Roasted Vegetables, Fish & Chips.
TIP: Open 11:00a to “Late Night” on Weekdays and 10:30a to “Late Night” on Saturdays and Sundays, reservations recommended for prime times but walk-ins at the Bar and High Tops encouraged where several menu items plus Bar Specials such as the Sliders and Deviled Eggs are offered.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.