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CARSON KITCHEN

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Downtown

124 S. Sixth St., Suite 100

Las Vegas, NV 89101

702-473-9523

website

$20-$35

Sun-Thu 11am-10pm

Fri-Sat 11am-11pm

American

A

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A small gastropub concept from the late Chef Kerry Simon.

Where is it?

In Downtown Las Vegas, about a block from the Fremont Street Experience.

What kind of food is served?

A lot of different types of food from small plates to large of different flavors and tastes - but all great!

What is the atmosphere like?

Casual and a bit cramped - it's a very small space.

How is the service?

Very good - we were well taken care of.

What are the prices like?

More expensive than what you may be used to paying Downtown but still cheaper than The Strip.

What else do I need to know?

Despite the address, the restaurant faces Carson Ave.

What's the bottom line?

A great legacy for Chef Kerry Simon.

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FULL REVIEW

Chef Kerry Simon was a fixture in Las Vegas since the late 1990s when he helped open the restaurants at Bellagio. He went on to create eponymously named restaurants at The Hard Rock and The Palms and his fantastic burger joint KGB at Harrah's. Then with this restaurant he moved into a space where few celebrity chefs have dared to tread: Downtown Las Vegas.

Carson Kitchen is located in the former John E Carson motel building, which was revamped in 2014 to contain a bunch of small businesses in the former motel room spaces. Although the address is 6th Street, the restaurant actually faces Carson Avenue and there isn't much in the way of signage so forgive yourself if you can't find it immediately.

Inside you'll find a warm space that feels like how a hipster would do a club room - exposed concrete and ceiling joists with brick, wood, and substantial furnishings in between. There are only a handful of tables (some of which are communal so you may be eating with strangers but maybe they'll let you share what's on their plate), a bar, and an open kitchen. You can get maybe four dozen people in there if you try really hard.

There is also a full patio on the roof that offers full food service and a full bar where a similar amount of people as downstairs can sit.

The menu doesn't have an overarching theme - it feels a little pub grub, a little foodie indulgent, and a lot farm-to-table fresh. Start with the social plates with things like bacon jam with baked brie on a toasted baguette or a Beef Wellington empanada with tenderloin and duxelle. We sampled a bunch of things from this section of the menu including the "Devil's" Eggs - hard boiled with pancetta and caviar; the veal meatballs with a sherry foie gras cream; and the gyro tacos, with lamb, tzatziki sauce, and diced cucumber and tomato in a soft taco tortilla. The latter was amazing and took me back immediately to my vacation in Greece a million years ago, with an insanely flavorful punch. The only disappointment we had from here was the crispy chicken skins, which were a little too heavily breaded and crunchy for my tastes. Kudos on the smoked honey dipping sauce, though.

Sandwiches include a burger, a fried green tomato with crab, a jerk turkey burger with mango chutney slaw, and short rib sliders. We tried the latter and they were fantastic, both sweet and tangy with a root beer glaze and topped with crispy onion straws.

Farm and garden selections including some veggies along with a couple of pasta and risotta dishes. We sampled the tomato stack, made with goat cheese and a balsamic reduction that was hard to deconstruct but delicious to eat, and the baked mac and chees, which is a secret chef family recipe that even our server has tried to get and failed. It was creamy perfection so I don't blame her for asking.

A couple of flat breads plus some larger entrees like swordfish, chicken, and a cocoa and espresso rubbed NY strip steak round out the offerings. We were so stuffed from all of the small plate things that we just didn't have room for any of that - we'll sample those the next time around, and there will be a next time.

Of course you have to leave room for dessert. The bourbon fudge brownie with brown butter bacon ice cream was just as decadent as it sounds and the glazed donut bread pudding with rum caramel and vanilla creme was so rich it almost defied belief. Both were things you're going to want seconds of.

Prices a bit deceptive - at first glance they seem almost insanely cheap. There is nothing on the menu over $18 and most items hover in the $8-$12 range. But remember that since many of these are meant to be shared, small plates you'll need to order a couple per person to get a full meal. While this may make the final check a little higher than you may be used to paying at a Downtown Las Vegas restaurant, it is still probably half of what you'd pay for a similar meal on The Strip so stop your complaining.

The service was great - the people helping us at our table were friendly, fun, and energetic and it wasn't just because I was there to review the restaurant.

Saldy, Chef Simon passed away in September of 2015 from Multiple System Atrophy, a rare neurological disease that causes a slow degeneration of nerve cells in the brain resulting in symptoms that are similar to Parkinson's disease. He leaves behind a long legacy of amazing culinary creations and Carson Kitchen is one of them.

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