5-16-16 / Carson Kitchen / Las Vegas, NV

Now that I’m all caught up with the memorable meals I’ve had in Pittsburgh recently, I’m going to head back to Vegas and finish up those meals (there’s approximately 4 more including this one). The meal at Carson Kitchen was excellent, truly a special evening, and was even recommended to me by a local (thanks Steve!). Easily one of the best meals we had as an entire group the whole trip. The service was outstanding and it was evident the small menu played to the kitchen’s strengths without any fluff. Kudos to the entire staff.

Two of the cocktails we enjoyed were the Super Tuesday (barsol pisco, rhubarb, lychee, fresh lime, egg white) and the Daaaammmmnn, Daniel! (new amsterdam vodka, sage, fresh lemon, ginger simple syrup, fresh and muddled mint, powdered sugar). The Super Tuesday was nice and creamy but still light, very crisp with the citrus bite, like a strawberry lemonade spiked at a fancy-ass party. The DD was like a beautifully drinkable Moscow Mule, nice mint and ginger spice, with the kick of that vodka, freezing cold and refreshing.

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Shut Up and Jam!

We shared a lot of appetizers at the table (the crispy chicken skins with smoked honey were like chicken pork rinds times 100) and the bacon jam (pictured above) was sweet smokey magnificence. The gooey strip down the middle is baked brie, which worked to mellow out the sugary sweet bbq bacon jam, as we piled spoonful upon spoonful on those wonderful little toasted baguette pieces. If I had any complaint (goodness me) it would be that there was SO MUCH BACON JAM. If we’d asked for more bread, I’m positive they would have brought it, but as it was, we just overloaded those poor little discs until the jam was falling over the sides. It was decadent, it was delicious, it was smoky porky magic.

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It’s not often, when you go out to eat, that you get to eat something “fun”. The Hot Oysters, were for me, a very whimsical, adventurous dish. I apologize for the discoloration in the remoulade, as I quickly ate one without thinking and dipped it in the creamy, herby, light sauce. It was like a less garlicky, fresher ranch than a tartar sauce, and worked with the habanero kick of the deep fried “oysters”. I say “oysters” because in that lovely silver cylinder were not just deep fried and hot sauce tossed traditional oysters, but also pork oysters (cut from the eye, no fat, pure meat) and chicken oysters (arguably the best part of the chicken, these oysters are oval pieces of dark meat that lay on either part of the chicken’s backbone). You didn’t know what you were going to get before you picked them up, so to the rest of the table that meant “they’re all yours, Dave”. It wasn’t until I’d bitten into them and revealed the protein that I could know what I’d be eating. It was a nice mixture, not relying too heavily on the cheaper, traditional oyster to fill out the bucket. The hot sauce was bold and full-bodied, far from the vinegar snap one gets with Frank’s Red Hot or cayenne. Perfect, fun, bar food.

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Their “standard” baked mac and cheese was listed as being a secret on the menu, which didn’t really come up as a red flag, until we dug in. Intermixed between the al dente noodles, the rich, creamy mixture of cheeses, the sharp tangs of the cheddar and smooth mellow of the fontina, was the unmistakable flavor of truffle. Expertly mixed throughout, this homestyle baked mac and cheese was anything but. Superb mastery and talent of flavor, this was like going to take a bite of your favorite cupcake only to realize there was another, smaller cupcake already inside of it. Kraft can kiss this dish’s ass.

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My entree was the bone-in lamb chops (you can see the curve along the top of the rightmost chop), topped with a crunchy pecan crust, and served over a mint chimichurri. These gorgeous chops were butchered beautifully, with hardly any fat other than the gorgeous charred crust around the entire pieces of meat. The crust was beautifully broiled and added a wonderfully nuttiness to compliment the chimichurri almost like a meat pesto, with the smoky lamb singing through. Perfectly cooked to a medium rare, this was the best lamb I had the entire trip.

Finally, but certainly not least, oh god nowhere near least, were the unbelievable desserts. We decided on the Bourbon Fudge Brownie, served with a brown butter bacon maple ice cream and a slice of bacon on it as well as the Rhubarb Sammy, a stunning rhubarb macaron filled with rhubarb sorbet, and elderflower whipped cream. Unbeknownst to us, we had ordered to perfectly complimentary desserts. The first, the brownie sundae, was like diving head first (toddler style) into a chocolate cake. Fudge layers packed with butter packed with chocolate brownie, topped with a crust that was out of this world, mixed with bourbon, next to melty, sweet, salty brown butter bacon ice cream. It was rich, it was decadent, it was ALMOST too much. Almost, I say, because of the tart, sharp, crisp citrus bite of the rhubarb macaron and sorbet and that soft, pillowy bridge between the two, the elderflower whipped cream. Smooth and herbal and lusciously creamy, the whipped cream was the key to unlocking that dish. Perfect ends to a perfect meal.

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