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PUBLIC HOUSE (VENETIAN)

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Venetian/Palazzo

3325 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702-407-5310

website

$25-$50

Sun-Thu 11am-11pm

Fri-Sat 11am-12am

Gastropub

B+

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A "gastropub," a restaurant that mixes a long beer list with epicurean level food.

Where is it?

At The Venetian/Palazzo on the Center Strip.

What kind of food is served?

It seems a bit pretentious at first, but dig past what may appear like oddities and you have solid pub grub.

What is the atmosphere like?

Very loud if you're near the bar. Try to get a table in the back if you want to hear yourself think.

How is the service?

Very good and very knowledgeable about the long beer list.

What are the prices like?

Not bad - most entrees are under $30.

What else do I need to know?

They have their own cicerone, the beer equivalent of a wine sommelier.

What's the bottom line?

If all gastropubs were like this, there would be a lot more of them in Vegas.

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FULL REVIEW

The definition of a gastropub, at least according to the Washington Post, is a "bar and restaurant that serves high-end beer and food without pretension." The problem with many of the ones that have become all the rage in other cities, popping up like weeds on every trendy street corner, is that they are nothing but pretentious, serving food that tries to be cutting edge but winds up just being boring.

There are a few places in Vegas that could be categorized as gastropubs - Todd English PUB and the Pub at Monte Carlo spring to mind - but really those are more regular pubs than the gastro-version. Public House at The Venetian/Palazzo is really the first one to embrace the trend and it has set a very high bar for all the ones who may come after it. If all gastropubs were this good, I'd forgive them for their pretensions.

And there are certainly some here. The restaurant is home to Nevada's first cicerone, the equivalent of a wine sommelier, but you're going to be grateful they have one because the beer list is epic. They have more than 200 selections including 24 on tap, most of which are unknowns to all but the most dedicated of fans. I like beer but my tastes are pretty pedestrian so I was a bit unsure of how to explain my tastes to the expert. I needn't have been. He brought me a couple of different selections throughout the meal and each one was not only perfectly matched to what I like, but they also complimented the meal to a tee.

I will also admit that I was worried about the menu, which at first glance veers way into pretentious territory. French fries with duck confit and cheese curd gravy; roasted bone marrow with bacon marmalade; potted duck rillettes; shepherd's pie pierogies with lamb jus. It made me long for a Philly cheesesteak and a side of onion rings.

But then I actually started tasting the food and I got over it.

The blue cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon were a fantastic way to get the taste buds tingling, sweet and tangy and smoky all in one bite, which totally shouldn't work but did. The French onion soup was comfortingly traditional, served with gooey gruyere cheese.

The main courses is where things really took off. The pork loin was thick (that was one very sturdy pig) but insanely tender, lightly grilled so the juices were still flowing and flavorful. And the free range chicken... Southern California residents may know of Zankou, the chain of Mediterranean restaurants that serves what is widely considered to be the best roasted chicken anywhere. This was better. The person at the table who actually ordered it kept batting my fork away because as much as I loved the pork loin, I loved the chicken more.

Other main course options include things like short ribs, buttermilk fried quail, sea scallops in a red wine jus, and Scottish salmon with a couple of steaks thrown in for good measure.

Prices are reasonable with most starters, soups, and salads under $15 and all of the main courses (except for the big steaks) under $30. You can do a full meal here for $50 per person unless you go crazy with the beers (which you probably should).

We'll see if the gastropub trend hits Vegas as hard as it has other cities but it's hard to imagine how it can get any better than this.

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