Editor's Note: This visit occurred three weeks prior to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Please see the note below for updates.
The culinary industry is a beast of mammoth proportions. It is an industry that is not only cutthroat for survival but demands adaptability and innovation to stay relevant. At the top of the echelon of culinary greatness are chefs that thrive on pushing the boundaries to provide patrons with an unmatched dining experience.
More often than not, these chefs go on to either receive recommendations and sometimes win the highest accolades in the culinary arts: the James Beard Award or the more prestigious Michelin Star. But the road to greatness is not always the smoothest and can be at the result of sacrificing what you are most passionate about.
Hell’s Master Chef
That is precisely the trek celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay made before becoming one of the world’s top chefs with a restaurant empire that has not only garnered him sixteen Michelin stars -- he still holds three of those -- but spans the far reaches of the globe.
But would you believe that Ramsay originally sought to be a professional footballer in his native UK? Due to an unfortunate turn of events with an injury, he sustained at a young age playing, his physician’s orders effectively ended his football career well before it even started.
Yet, my purpose today is not to provide a biopic on the rise of Gordon Ramsay. Moreover, I am here to document my experience at one of his many restaurants.
I would have been ecstatic to secure a table at either of his flagship concepts, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay or Petrus. I would have jumped on a plane just for the dining experience alone. Trying to secure a reservation inside of a three-month window at either restaurant was nigh on impossible. On the same token, that speaks immense volumes of how many people want to try his food.
My journey would not end there! Chef Ramsay has expressed an evolving interest in the Vegas food scene many times in the past. Because of this, he has established five restaurants within the various resorts of the Strip: Gordon Ramsay Burger, Gordon Ramsay Steak, Gordon Ramsay Fish and Chips, Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill, and Hell’s Kitchen.
Wait… Hell’s Kitchen is an ACTUAL restaurant?
Yes, indeed it is! Furthermore, its concept was the central theme and ultimate prize for the winner of season 17 of the namesake television series. Being such a huge fan of the tv show, I jumped on the first flight I could to Las Vegas to see if the high expectations Chef Ramsay expects on screen carry over to a restaurant tied to his name.
Before I even arrived, I made sure to book a table well in advance to make sure I could have the dining time I wanted. The logistics of booking a table at Hell’s Kitchen were nowhere near as difficult as reserving a table at the Michelin Starred Petrus or Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Through OpenTable, you select your date and desired time and if it is available then secured in two simple clicks! Simplicity at its best, yeah? And if you need to cancel, no worries. Two clicks will cancel the reservation, or if you need to move your time, call the restaurant and they will happily assist. My best recommendation would be to make a reservation at least two weeks in advance. Seating does fill up quickly.
Entering the Gates of Hell
Upon my arrival, I was immediately treated to what many would imagine the glitz and glamour of Hell’s Kitchen to encompass.
The blazing letters and pitchfork accent the subdued exterior. The interior is, by all means, a literal transportation to the Hell’s Kitchen soundstage. Everything is meticulously designed to be reminiscent of the show, from the division of red and blue teams in the kitchen to a dining room that oozes sexy and affluence. Chef Ramsay might not be present spewing insults to the culinary teams but there is a life-size projection of him waiting to greet you and call you "an idiot sandwich" upon your entrance into his realm of culinary excellence and decadence.
This is true fan service but executed with finesse and without the kitsch.
From there, the most important time is at hand: choosing what is to be my first meal at such a highly regarded restaurant. For those familiar with Chef Ramsay’s repertoire, all his signature dishes are available for order. From pan-seared scallops to the world-famous beef wellington. Guests who want to experience a meal most closely to the dishes served on the television series, my recommendation is to opt-in for the prix-fixe menu. This comes with a choice of salad or pan-seared scallops as an appetizer, beef wellington for the entrée, and sticky toffee pudding for the dessert. The menu was crafted to include only the most ordered items from the television show.
While I am extremely endeared to that level of fan service, I wanted to branch out and get the most bang for the buck.
For my trip, I opted for an appetizer of wagyu meatballs for the table and a main of a prime tomahawk steak with a side of potato puree.
The meatballs arrived quickly and nailed the two cornerstones of a good meatball exquisitely: moisture and flavor. Accompanying them was a house-made tomato sauce and polenta croutons. The portion size was more than adequate for a table of three allowing us two meatballs and polenta croutons each to whet our appetites.
The main course, a monstrous bone-in prime tomahawk steak with potato puree, arrived within a reasonable twenty-minute timeframe after the appetizer. With such a large cut, I was more than willing to wait at least forty minutes or longer to ensure the proper cook. Much to our surprise was the fact that steak came to the table fully sliced and elegantly presented with some wild mushrooms alongside blistered cherry tomatoes on the vine and rosemary.
The steak is definitely a meal to share and can easily feed two or three depending on the appetites of those dining. When it comes to the flavor of the steak itself, the most important thing is being able to taste the meat. An adequate amount of fat remained on the cut for the purpose of cooking but was easily trimmed at the table and the inclusion of this fat helped elevate the flavor. Of course, my main worry with ordering a steak at any restaurant is its tenderness (or lack thereof).
Hell’s Kitchen serves one of the most tender cuts I’ve had the pleasure of trying with Mesa Grill and Nusr-et Steakhouse narrowly edging ahead. For a steak of this quality, please do NOT order doneness of anything greater than medium. This ensures the steak retains its moisture (and for steak connoisseurs, they know the moisture comprises almost the full flavor profile of the steak).
With all the regalia on the steak, it’s hard to not wonder how tasty that potato puree is. Simplicity is key for this side, and Chef Ramsay knocks it out of the park with a puree that is not only silky smooth but subtlely flavored with chives folded in the puree.
Being such a big fan of the show, I was thrilled at the level of finesse that went into each of the dishes, and rightfully so. Gordon Ramsay has among the highest standards of excellence at his restaurants. A special note should be made of the service as well as every interaction was not only of the highest level of professionalism but felt genuine and warm at the same time. This served as a special occasion dinner for my mother, and I could not help to be taken aback in the best way possible when my mother accidentally dropped her napkin and within seconds our server came and placed a clean napkin on her lap and took the one that fell. Such small touches in service help elevate the experience one would come to expect from one of the most decorated chefs on the planet.
Hell At A Price
You might be wondering by now that such levels of excellence and flavor must come at a very hefty price. Well, you would be somewhat reasonable in that assertation.
At the time of my visit, the entire dinner before tip totaled $225.
Keep in mind, visiting Hell’s Kitchen is not something one would typically do every single day while in Vegas unless Lady Luck graciously handed you a mountain of winnings. At the very least, my dinner at Hell’s Kitchen served as a moment I could spend with my family at a restaurant from a chef we admire.
And while many would say my mental faculties have gone off the deep end for spending an astronomical amount of money for food, the quality and overall experience make every dollar spent worth it. It should go without saying that any fan of Gordon Ramsay or the
television show should make the trip to Las Vegas for this once in a lifetime experience.
In fact, it was well beyond my expectations that I went back again to sample the lunch offerings! More on that is to come in a future BrewBite!
Been to Hell’s Kitchen and want to share your experience with us? Give us the lamb sauce in the comments below. More Gordon Ramsay restaurants will be shared on Brewhoppin in future BrewBites! Have another recommendation for a fantastic meal in your favorite city or your hometown? Reach out to us and we might just make the trip there!
NOTE: Due to the ongoing pandemic, seating arrangements as well as menu items may still be modified at the time of publication or at the time of reader viewing due to COVID-19. For current COVID-19 measures as well as current menu offerings, please visit Caesar’s Entertainment website.