It didn’t come as much of a surprise to most people in the industry when the news broke that Simon at Palms Place (702-944-3292) will close its doors when the restaurant’s lease expires in May. The fact that chef Kerry Simon’s hamburger restaurant KGB (in Harrah’s, 702-369-5065) will also be closing at the end of its lease was a bit more unexpected. But Simon’s fans and friends should not view the news as being related to the chef’s failing health. Shortly after I reposted the story on my Facebook page and mentioned his incredible legacy in the Las Vegas food scene, Simon’s business partner Cory Harwell replied, thanking people for their kind words and reminding us all that “these two restaurants are only closing because their contract has ended.” He continued, “Just don’t want anyone to think Kerry is retiring or anything. Carson Kitchen here in Las Vegas, Simon Kitchen in Palm Springs, Chuck’s in Chicago and the Simon Mansion in Punta Cana are still representing the Simon brand proudly.” And in a follow-up post, he stated there is “still more to come.” A few hours later, a press release was issued making the same points. Having personally seen Kerry at the Palms Place locale just a few weeks ago, I can vouch for the fact that, despite his illness, the man’s spirit is as vibrant as ever.
I should know better than to try to sneak into Yardbird Southern Table & Bar (in the Venetian, 702) 297-6541) for a drink. Before I could down a shot and a beer on a recent evening, chef Todd Harrington cornered me at the bar, insisting I try some new menu items. When I objected, he made me promise to try just one: his Swine Burger 2.0. It was inspired by a burger served at Yardbird’s Miami sister restaurant, Swine, but Todd has made it even more decadent. The two patties are a combination of ground brisket, short rib and chuck. They’re bound together by a melted pork smear (can we just admit it’s lard?) and topped with barbecue bacon, yellow frisee salad, spicy aioli and house-made pickles and served with fries and house-made tomato jam for $19. I generally try not to clog my arteries that quickly, but this is definitely the best burger I’ve had in the past year—possibly the best ever.
Finally, leave it to the folks at the Westgate to turn the announcement of their upcoming Elvis exhibition into a way to pimp out the entire hotel. But this writer, who cares more about food than Elvis, isn’t complaining. The event gave me the chance to sample some dishes from their new restaurants. I’ll save my opinions for some future reviews, but there were certainly some interesting items. The Asian restaurant, Silk Road Noodle Bar, offered guests General Tso’s chicken lollipops, pork belly buns with hoisin sauce, vegetarian spring rolls, and shrimp and pork summer rolls. But I was more intrigued by the offerings from Sid’s Café. The 24-hour coffee shop is serving pastrami burgers, lobster rolls, miniature meatloaf and tomato basil soup. But its signature item, in keeping with the day’s theme, is Elvis’ Special Sandwich, made with peanut butter, bananas, bacon and chocolate sauce. Once the new Elvis attraction opens, that’s virtually guaranteed to become the go-to dish for devotees of the King.