The New and the Refreshed in Las Vegas

A Sin City institution gets a facelift and Robert Irvine opens his first spot on the Strip

The Front Yard rendering

Out with the old and in with the new seems to be a perennial theme for Las Vegas restaurants, and there have been a bevy of transitions and newcomers lately. Most recently, a Food Network star is throwing his chef’s hat into the ring. Starting with a look at the new, we met with chef Robert Irvine for a menu preview of Robert Irvine’s Public House at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino, and then we snuck a peek at the much-awaited makeover of the Vegas icon hotel and brewery, Ellis Island.

Elaine and Scott Harris

Grilled chops forthcoming at Robert Irvine's new restaurant

Known for his grand entrances, chef Robert Irvine swept into town by rappelling 22 stories off the Tropicana to make everyone aware he means business. The former host of Dinner: Impossible and Restaurant: Impossible is finally bringing his time and attention in bringing his expertise to the Las Vegas Strip. Robert Irvine’s Public House will be showcasing his comfort classic menu highlighting items like buttermilk fried chicken, fork and knife burger, and good old chicken wings with house barbecue sauce and moonshine glaze. In Irvine’s opinion, “This will be comfort food with a twist.” The familiar will be mixed with the freshest and most sustainable ingredients while also paying tribute to the men and women in the military with specials and discounts for those who have served. (Irvine is a veteran of the U.K.’s Royal Navy himself.) Irvine has a genuine interest in helping people through his TV shows and charitable organizations that embrace healthy living, and he has a special focus on the nutritional needs of our military. Look for the new Robert Irvine’s Public House to open at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in late July 2017.

Around the corner from the Tropicana is a Las Vegas institution for gaming and dining that doesn’t devour every dime to cover the cost of a cocktail or a bet at the tables. The family-owned Ellis Island Casino Hotel and Brewery has been a Vegas institution for more than four decades. Although the owners added a brewery in 1998, the hotel is now undergoing a makeover to bring in a little more swagger and shine. Construction began in early July on a $10 million two-story dining, entertainment, and gaming facility.

Elaine and Scott Harris

The much-anticipated renovation will be deemed the Front Yard. “This is an exciting addition to the property that will offer something new and engaging to the guests while retaining the inviting, family-oriented feeling that Ellis Island is known for,” says Christina Ellis, the property’s director of marketing. The Front Yard will have a unique garden atrium that adds a lighter and brighter atmosphere to the front of the house. A two-story restaurant with live entertainment will be available. Guests can sip fresh seasonal beers from the adjacent micro-brewery and or cocktails made from house-made vodka from the forthcoming distillery. An elevated bar menu will be offered alongside the famous Ellis Island old-school steak specials.

The hotel’s rooms will also be completely remodeled with modern decor including silver accents, leather sofas, and premium bedding — all the rooms will be completed by the end of 2018. “This is a big project for us, and we are very proud of this,” owner Gary Ellis said at a recent press conference. “This is taking it to a whole other level.” The casino will continue to offer hundreds of gaming opportunities in the midst of the construction. For more information on Ellis Island go to its website.