Robert Irvine’s Public House
At a Glance
What is it?
A casual pub grub restaurant from celebrity chef Robert Irvine.
Where is it?
At Tropicana on the South Strip.
What kind of food is served?
Mostly American comfort food with a dash of celebrity chef showmanship.
What is the atmosphere like?
Elegantly casual with big windows bringing in lots of sunlight.
How is the service?
A little overwhelmed on the day we visited.
What are the prices like?
For a regular restaurant a bit high but for a Strip restaurant fairly typical.
What else do I need to know?
As with most celebrity chef restaurants, the celebrity is not in the kitchen.
What’s the bottom line?
A good addition to the moderately priced restaurant selections in Vegas.
Food Network fans know Robert Irvine from his roughly one billion different shows that have aired such as Diner: Impossible, Restaurant: Impossible, and Chopped: Impossible to name an impossibly few. Although he isn’t on that network anymore, he’s still a TV presence with a daytime show on The CW, The Robert Irvine Show. He has built a reputation as a can-do guy whose passion for food is matched by his passion for fitness, hence the impossibly buff physique he likes to show off.
Although not his first restaurant, Public House at The Tropicana is currently his only restaurant, which doesn’t mean he’s in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove. But it does mean that he was very involved in developing the menu and creating the space itself, which is quite nice. Warm woods, an open kitchen, and big windows give the space a sunny feel and although the tables are pretty crammed in there, you don’t feel like you are sitting on top of your neighboring diners.
The menus is mostly pub grub fare given a bit of a celebrity chef spin. Lunch has a bunch of appetizers that range from chicken wings to steak tartare with a few stops at things like poutine (fries in gravy) and Japanese yellowtail Poke. Salads and soups, burgers and fries, pizzas, sandwiches, and some breakfast items like chicken and waffles benedict round out the offerings. Dinner is similar but with an entree section featuring items like fried chicken, fish and chips, pork chops, and traditional UK-style “pies” (shepherds, rabbit, veggie, and so on).
We started with the French onion fondue appetizers, which is basically French onion soup but with cheese instead of broth. It’s served with crusty, toasted ciabatta bread and it’s simply delicious and, I’m sure, very low in cholesterol. The cheese and the onions mixed perfectly with the garlicky bread to create a perfect combination that was almost impossible to stop eating.
For our main courses we sampled items from the burgers and sandwiches sections. The FK Fondue burger comes with bacon, onions, and a side of the fondue to dip it in. The Angus beef patty was juicy and flavorful but some of the toppings had a tendency to overwhelm the meat. That’s okay – just take off a few things and soak it in the cheese and it’ll all be just fine. The pastrami, done traditional with sauerkraut on rye, was much better balanced between the flavors and so enormous that no one human being should be able to finish it in one sitting.
As a side note, that’s pretty typical of most of the dishes – expect leftovers.
Finally we sampled the breakfast burger, which came on French toast with a side of syrup (kinda genius), cheese, sweet tomato jam, bacon, and a fried egg plus tater tots on the side. In presentation and concept alone it won the meal even if it had a lot going on in execution.
Prices are what you’d expect from a Strip restaurant these days. Appetizers are $12-$20; salads and soups mostly $10-$15; sandwiches and burgers $16-$23; pizzas $12-$15; and dinner entrees and pies $21-$34. Figure about $30 per person with tax and tip for lunch and probably $40 per person for dinner. Yes, that’s a lot of money for a fancy burger, but if you’ve dined at any sit-down Strip restaurant lately you’ll know that it’s not out of line.
Service on the day we visited was a little overwhelmed but they had a large event in attendance and had just opened so I don’t think that will be typical. The staff was unfailingly good natured and friendly so that helped.
There are lots of restaurants in Vegas doing similar things (heck, there are two others called Public House on The Strip) at similar price points and, if I’m being honest, a few that I like better (Citizen’s Kitchen, Culinary Dropout, and Tom’s Urban all come to mind). But if you like a little celebrity with your restaurant explorations, this is one of the few that comes in at a relatively moderate price point so put it on your list.