Communication Breakdown – Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Fresh Sour, Bar Keep Lavender Bitters, Domaine De Canton, Ginger, Contratto Bitter Liqueurs
Tempura Green Beans, Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese
Crispy Chicken Skins, Smoked Honey
Bacon Jam, Baked Brie, Toasted Baguette
Zyzzyva – Novo Fogo Chameleon Cachaça, Dolin Genepy Des Alpes, Fresh Lime, Luxardo Maraschino
Chicken Liver Mousse, Cherry Fernet Compote
Endive Chopped, Apricot, Candied Almond, Chipotle Vin
Brussels Sprout Caesar, Black Kale, Bacon Lardon
Afternoon Delight – Barsol Pisco, Sugar Island Coconut Rum, Licor 43, Ancho Reyes Verde, Pineapple, Fresh Lime, Celery Bitters
B.L.T. Flatbread, Bacon, Leek, Truffle Béchamel
Meatloaf Patty Melt, Ginger BBQ, Raclette with Spicy Tots, Ketchup
Just The Tip – George Dickel Rye, Grand Marnier, Mint, Fresh Lemon, Vanilla, Apricot Preserves
“Pasta” Puttanesca, Calamari Noodle, Anchovy
Jerk Turkey Burger, Mango Chutney Slaw with Spicy Tots, Ketchup
The Magarian – Aviation Gin, Thyme & Honey Syrup, Fresh Lemon, Mr. Q Cumber Soda
Chicken Thighs, Tagine Spice, Apricot Relish
Tahini Carrots, Garbanzo, Crispy Quinoa
Sea Bass, Cauliflower Tabbouleh, Chili Oil
Pork Katsu, Gochujang, Tonkatsu
Bourbon Fudge Brownie, Brown Butter Bacon Ice Cream
Glazed Donut Bread Pudding, Three Rum Caramel, Vanilla Crème Anglaise
Peanut Butter Banana Cheesecake, Strawberry Créme De Cacao
While exploring new Eateries remains essential to an understanding of dining culture there comes a point where one invariably develops favorites, and when guests from out of town want to see Las Vegas’ best it is these Restaurants that can be counted on to offer a memorable meal, something that Carson Kitchen has been doing for almost five years without once showing any signs of slowing.
Walking a tightrope of accessible and innovative, no small feat in an era where social media has blurred the line separating what is good and that which is trendy, it is immediately upon entry to 124 South 6th Street that guests are greeted by hostesses, bar to the right and dining room left both typically buzzing while outdoor seating is also offered when the weather is agreeable.
Still the king of DTLV, contenders for Kerry Simon and Cory Harwell’s crown coming and going but few showing any staying-power in and industry of constant change, it was seated as six at a table in front of the Chef’s counter that Spring 2019’s menu was encountered, a few old favorites starting things off including Tempura Green Beans given a southern slant plus oft-copied Chicken Skins and blistering hot Bacon Jam ready to be slathered on Crostini.
Pouring seasonal Cocktails alongside new items and perennial favorites with the classics, Matthew Harwell’s imagination often referencing music while updating something familiar, it is rethinking the “Last Word” with Merriam-Webster’s literal version that Brazilian Cachaça highlights “Zyzzyva,” the addition of Citrus and Luxardo pairing well to creamy Chicken Liver that sees its minerality balanced by Cherry-Fernet Jam while an all new Salad of chopped Endives dressed sweet and smoky challenges last season’s Brussels Sprout Caesar in terms of its ability to make an otherwise polarizing Vegetable desirable to the masses.
Next taking Tiki Drinks in new directions with Pisco and Peppers, the vegetal finish unexpected but far more “Food-friendly” than the usual spicy Cocktail, it is using just three ingredients that Spring’s Flatbread sees melted Leeks accented by Béchamel and Bacon, a touch of Truffle Oil unnecessary but not unpleasant while Kerry Simon’s legendary Meatloaf is reborn as Carson Kitchen’s new Patty Melt which trends a bit sweet thanks to Barbecue Sauce carried atop gooey Raclette and caramelized Onions.
Continuing with “Just The Tip,” a Whisky-based Beverage for those who never knew they liked the stuff, it is with unexpected smoothness that Vanilla and Grand Marnier blend with Apricot, a minty linger helping to cool Cory’s Jerk Turkey as well as “Pasta” Puttanesca that sees Squid sliced, tenderized and cooked like Noodles before being tossed in Sauce invigorated by Red Pepper Flakes and Anchovies.
Not missing The Magarian, a smooth every-day sipper and must for first-timers, savories concluded with Sea Bass topped in finely-chopped Cauliflower alongside Chili Oil streaks, a dish certainly not suited for everyone while global-inspirations from Cory and Executive Chef Scott Simon feature boldly across tangy Tahini Carrots, crispy Pork dressed in fermented Chilis and juicy Chicken Thighs coated in Herbs and piled with pickled Fruit.
Not feeling like Coffee, small pours of Amaro instead accompanying Dessert, it should go without saying that after fifty-nine months both Carson Kitchen’s Bourbon Fudge Brownie as well as the Donut Bread Pudding have reached iconic status, and taking on Cheesecake for just the second time it is equally safe to assume Peanut Butter, Bananas and Strawberry with a bit of booze is just as good as it sounds.
FIVE STARS: Although Las Vegas’ resident curmudgeon recently suggested Carson Kitchen “may have lost its edge, but can still stun you with an occasional special,” endoedibles has attended every menu change across three years and rarely found any item less than tasty, many outright delicious including several from the recently-debuted Spring 2019 collection. From old favorites like Chicken Skins and The Magarian to brand new stars such as Chicken Liver Mousse, “Pasta” Puttanesca, Pork Katsu and Just The Tip these folks have never had to rely on “secret” menus or blue-plates to impress because the concept has always been something special.
RECOMMENDED: Zyzzyva, Just The Tip, The Magarian, Tempura Green Beans, Crispy Chicken Skins, Bacon Jam, Chicken Liver Mousse, “Pasta” Puttanesca, Chicken Thighs, Bourbon Fudge Brownie, Peanut Butter Banana Cheesecake.
AVOID: Two at the table felt Meatloaf was too sweet while four raved it, but all agreed the Sea Bass was better off without Chili Oil (though the plating graciously allows guests the opportunity to make that decision for themselves.)
TIP: 11:30a-10:00p Sunday through Thursday and till 11:00pm on Friday as well as Saturday.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.