One of the best things about living in Vegas is that it has become a “dining destination” city over the past 10 years. People come here with dining agendas and a list of places they want to try out. They read food mags, reviews, check the internet and do the research to make sure they are making the most of their dining hours. True foodies have eschewed the buffets and are willing to shell out some serious dollars to be pampered and have a spectacular dining experience. The image of Vegas being a city of excess is still alive and well, but it is mostly not for true food lovers.
A plethora of celeb chefs have restaurants here, and for the most part they are pretty decent (think Bobby Flay, Rick Moonen, Emeril Lagasse, Guy Savoy, Hubert Keller, etc). I feel that JUST because a celeb’s name is on the door is NOT a reason to go anywhere, but when I hear about decent food, celeb or not, I have to go. In fact, if I hear super-hyped food is NOT decent, I still have to go to see if I concur. And if there are mixed reviews, all the more reason for me to show up and dine. Whether a well known name is on the door or not! I am NOT considered a pro by anyone in any area of the food realm, but I know what I like and WHY I like it.
So, let’s talk about my Sister Nancy’s favorite celeb chef, Gordon Ramsay. He’s mean as hell on TV and I can’t even bear to watch his shows due in part to the way he talks to and treats people. I found it very difficult to justify spending any cash in any of his places until I learned that he is REALLY a nice guy and that the “Screaming Gordon” is a TV persona only. He has three places here in Vegas and I have eaten at two of them and sampled from the third. When he opened Gordon Ramsay Steak, Vegas Uncork’d was hot on the heels of the opening and he had a presence at the event. He served Beef Wellington, and while the beef itself was good, the pastry crust was a gummy mess and the mushroom duxelles was tasteless, so I couldn’t figure out why Nancy was so enthralled with this guy.
After mixed reviews from food writers and diners alike, Friend Lynn and I went to Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. Other than a nice chatty bartender (which, if you have been following along, you know I adore) we were wholly underwhelmed. Everything was just OK – nothing spectacular. Everything was adequate, but not outstanding. Still, I was left wondering what all the hype was about. Why do people revere and love this guy? I couldn’t figure it out.
That changed last week when Friend Al Mancini invited me to check out Gordon Ramsay BurGR with him. Now of course, as I have mentioned before, eating with Al is not like eating with just anyone else. He is a local food writer and host of a soon to be aired Travel Channel Show (All Forked Up), so people in the industry know who he is. I chuckled to myself when I told the hostess I was meet my friend Al and they visibly became giddy and nearly tripped over themselves to take care of me (Moment of Truth – I was early for the first time in my life). We have exemplary service and tasted some really good things. NOW I know why Nancy likes this guy Gordon!
To be fair, we ordered MORE than we could possibly eat because we wanted to try several things on the menu, in fact the manager told us to order one of everything (we did NOT). So here are the pics from the big lunch and my comments are the captions for each item. I can safely say this – I would go back there just to eat that hot dog again. It was so pretty on the plate, and spicy and beefy and it really made my mouth happy. I went in excited about a great burger with clever toppings and came out in love with a Sabrett hot dog. Go figure! BONUS: Gordon Ramsay BurGR is one of more than 80 participating restaurants in our semi annual Restaurant Week Three Suare Food Bank Fundraiser. For more info and a complete list of participating restos click here.
And finally dessert…Chef Ramsay has a version of Sticky Toffee Pudding on all of his menus. This one is done in Push Up Pop style layered with peanut butter ice cream (not my fave) and the shake was Caramel Pudding and Chocolate, no I am not kidding. Downer here? The whipped cream wasn’t the best.
So Nancy, I promise I will take you here when you come out to visit the next time…