If you just happened to walk into Hell’s Kitchen, the new Las Vegas restaurant from Gordon Ramsay and Caesars Entertainment located right on the Strip in front of Caesars Palace, and had no knowledge of the show it was based on, you’d immediately know something was up. First of all, a life-size projection of Ramsay shouts (yes, shouts) greetings of welcome to guests as they enter, and lighting and decorations over the large open kitchen divide the space into red and blue “teams,” just like on the long-running Ramsay-hosted competition show. Even though the connection with Ramsay and his popular show would easily be enough to keeps guests in the seats for years to come, a recent visit at the invitation of the restaurant revealed that this restaurant has a lot more going for it than that.
Because Hell’s Kitchen, which opened earlier this year, is a standalone restaurant (instead of one that’s ensconced inside a casino), there are plenty of windows offering natural light and unobstructed views of the Strip. The high-ceilinged space is sleek and shiny, with a slight Art Deco feel and plenty of the show’s signature pitchforks hidden throughout (including in the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. There’s a long bar and a comfortable lounge area (below), and the dining room is spacious and airy. The red-and-blue open kitchen is the centerpiece of the restaurant, and while promotional materials ominously proclaim that it will make guests “feel like they are on the studio set,” it thankfully isn’t overly distracting.
We visited for lunch, when the 300-seat restaurant was filled to the brim and sunlight streamed through the large windows. We started with pan-seared scallops (with English pea purée, braised bacon lardons, and pickled fennel) and a red quinoa salad (with honeycrisp apples, dried apricots, goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts, and honey vinaigrette); for our entrées we ordered the signature Hell’s Kitchen Burger (with bacon, avocado, Fresno pepper jam, crispy onion, and ghost pepper jack cheese) and a short rib grilled cheese (braised short rib, caramelized onion, and white Cheddar on sourdough).
The scallops were sliced in half lengthwise, which led to them being overcooked, but they were nicely seared to golden brown and an accompanying sauce (which wasn’t mentioned on the menu) added a sweet umami kick. Bacon and scallops is a classic pairing, so that was nice to see as well.
The quinoa salad was amply portioned, and just enough honey vinaigrette was mixed in to give a sweet and tangy flavor; the other add-ons also brought a lot to the party, especially the apricots. This dish was definitely a winner.
The burger was perfectly cooked, and the soft bun held all the components together nicely. It had a pleasant heat from the pepper jam and cheese, and bacon, avocado, and crispy onions are always smart burger additions. Seasoned fries on the side were crispy, and chipotle aïoli was a welcome dipping sauce.
The grilled cheese was nicely toasted, super-melty, and filled with tasty short rib, and will certainly hits the spot if you’re in the mood for something decadent.
Other lunchtime offerings include a shellfish tower, hot wings, avocado toast, pizzas, steaks, and eggs in purgatory; a $60 three-course menu offers Caesar salad or white asparagus soup to start, beef Wellington, and sticky toffee pudding. Dinnertime offerings include scampi prawn flambé, seared foie gras, roasted rack of lamb, and a dry-aged tomahawk ribeye for two, so it takes on a decidedly more upscale angle once the sun sets.
At least judging by our meal, Hell’s Kitchen has a lot going for it (none other than Nicholas Cage himself stopped in for a meal while we were there, so there’s also that). It could easily coast by on its namesake brand, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns into a chain of sorts in the coming years, but all signs point to it being a well-planned, well-executed concept with no glaring faults. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal there, and would certainly return for dinner.
The meal that was the subject of this review was provided at no cost to the writer.