Mr. Big – St George Citrus Vodka, Liquor 43, Fresh Lemon & Cranberry, Spiced Pear Liqueur, Bitter Truth Celery, Peychaud’s Bitters
Black Mussels – ‘nduja, Shallot, White Wine
Tempura Green Beans – Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese
Green Goddess Caesar – Cream Cheese Crouton
Sunday Kind of Love – Whistling Andy Pink Peppercorn & Pear Gin, Fresh Lemon, Orange Liqueur, Pernod, Contratto Bianco
Young Beets – Pistachio, Mandarin Orange, Honey, Goat Cheese
Poached Pear & Bleu – Candied Walnut, Passion Fruit Vin
Red Snapper – Panang Curry, Rice Noodle
42 Bridges – Flor de Cana Aged Rum, Copa de Oro Coffee Liqueur, Contratto Apertif, Chocolate & Cardamom Bitters
Rainbow Cauliflower – Garlic, Lemon Juice
Caramel Creamed Corn – Truffled Popcorn
Veal Meatballs – Sherry Foie Gras Cream
Chicken Thighs – Pumpkin Puree, Sherry Jus
Secret Sunday Chicken – Spicy Pickle Aioli, Spicy Tots
Bourbon Fudge Brownie – Brown Butter Bacon Ice Cream
Glazed Donut Bread Pudding – Three Rum Caramel, Vanilla Crème Anglaise
Banoffee Pie – Bailey’s Whipped Cream, Chocolate Biscotti
Recently undergoing a change in the kitchen, Kerry Simon’s brother Scott returning to Las Vegas after years at Simon’s restaurant in the rebranding Hard Rock Chicago, it was with two others that seats were taken at Carson Kitchen on Saturday, the current late-Fall/Winter menu featuring seven new food items from Cory and team plus three new Cocktails from the mind of Matthew Harwell.
Decorating the expanded space festively, steel stools less comfortable than backed-chairs at the kitchen counter but creating substantially more room and thus shorter wait times during a rush, it was to an expectedly warm welcome that guests were greeted and led to a table in the center of the dining room, a familiar young man in vintage Guns n’ Roses apparel quickly filling Water as well as Iced Tea before starting the show.
Busier than most Restaurants during Sin City’s slow season, the original part of Carson Kitchen about 2/3 full at noon while the bar contained three additional patrons, it was from that area that tasting started off with a pink drink called Mr. Big that Matt claims he did not name, the Alcohol here taking a backseat to Citrus and Herbs which paired nicely to the bold spice profile of Mussels amidst spicy Calabrian Sausage in Wine plus day one staple Tempura Green Beans that remain a best seller thanks to light Batter plus the Red Pepper Cream Cheese made for dipping.
Rounding out the first course with a Green Goddess Caesar Salad, the accompanying ‘Crouton’ an interesting trio of bites while the rest was fairly predictable, it was as a reprise of last year’s Pair of Pears that Matthew presented “Sunday Kind of Love” featuring Whistling Andy Gin and White Wine used to poach Pears for a new Salad, the pairing obviously excellent though the Orange also lent well to a recently updated Young Beet dish with Honey and Goat Cheese while the overall freshness helped tame flaky Red Snapper in Curry broth with crispy Noodles.
Progressing at a good pace, four courses served in less than two hours as Credence Clear Water Revival and The Rolling Stones entertained overhead, it was in an attempt to lure Whiskey drinkers over to Rum that Matthew says he created 42 Bridges, the poignant bitterness slowly dissipating and revealing complexity but still too spirit-forward for most, though it did admittedly pair nicely with Carson Kitchen’s new Chicken Thighs atop sweet Pumpkin Puree as well as “Caramel Creamed Corn” that plays off the idea of caramelizing Kernels in the skillet before adding cream, the result far more subtle but just as delicious as the name makes it sound.
Plenty familiar with Rainbow Cauliflower and Cory’s Veal Meatballs in Sherry Foie Gras Cream, a Secret Sunday Chicken Sandwich added on for those who had never had the pleasure, it was deferring Coffee for once that lunch came to a close with three old pals, two of them ever present for good reason while the Banoffee Pie represents the first Dessert ever to make a return, though this time rumor suggests it may stick around.
FIVE STARS: In an industry of constantly changing faces on the line December 2017 represents a homecoming for Chef Scott Simon to the place his brother helped create, and with the larger space now offering shorter wait times during peak times the Winter Menu shows everything as good as ever in terms of Food and Drink.
RECOMMENDED: Sunday Kind of Love, Black Mussels, Tempura Green Beans, Poached Pear & Bleu, Red Snapper, Caramel Creamed Corn, Secret Sunday Chicken, Banoffee Pie, Bourbon Fudge Brownie.
AVOID: Lightweights need not cross 42 Bridges.
TIP: It was Cory who suggested Banoffee Pie *might* stick around, but I’ll just state it as fact until it becomes impossible to assume otherwise. : )
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.