Slow-braised prime short rib. Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Hawthorn Grill Elevates the Classic American Steakhouse

Gorgeous renovations, attentive service and a menu that celebrates modern American classics are at the heart of Hawthorn Grill. Situated inside the JW Marriott in Summerlin, Hawthorn was once the Carmel Room, which then became Ceres, until consultants Blau + Associates took west-side dining to the next level.

A resort hallway leads guests to Hawthorn Grill, passing a private dining room and an impressive 1,100-bottle wall of wine. Once inside, a hip and spacious bar provides a convivial vibe for after-work and pre-dinner libations, along with an adjoining grand living room for conversation and lounging. The dining room is spacious, and it’s where executive chef Joseph Swan, formerly of Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris Las Vegas, showcases his ability to strike a balance of classic steakhouse and modern American fare.

The Setting

Imagine a contemporary alpine lodge in which dark-walnut A-frame beams and cozy dining nooks await guests with hearty appetites. Hawthorn Grill provides an escape from the daily bustle with a nature-driven setting: 180 degrees of windows overlooking the outdoors provide views of rushing waterfalls, streams and mature pines and palms. There are five distinct patios for cocktails and dining that feature three fire pits, which simultaneously impart calmness and invigoration. Inside, modern spherical light fixtures made of metal, wood and shimmering crystal prisms add energy to the room.

Cauliflower au gratin. Photo: Krystal Ramirez

The Chef

The menu is reflective of Hawthorn Grill’s timeless surroundings, with Swan’s commitment to upscale flavor and sustainable approach to the traditional steakhouse. He draws his inspiration from “the constant opportunity to inherit with the profession—there is always something to learn, improve upon and challenge yourself with.” As a child, when other kids were making PB&Js, Midwestern boy-next-door Swan was cooking alongside his grandmother. His official start in the food world began at the famed New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. Over the years he has spent time with chefs including Michael Symon and Alex Stratta.

Swan claims that his formula for success starts with respect. “A workforce that is willing to communicate their opinions, ideas and techniques will always be more successful than forcing your team into working only the way you see it.”

The Menu

Swan puts his spin on each dish by offering a bit of the unexpected, whether it’s the celery root puree under the crab cake or the generous slice of grilled bacon on the BLT wedge salad. To fully explore the chef and his team’s culinary expression, try the beef carpaccio with shaved fennel, crispy capers, pine nuts and Parmesan; roasted beets and burrata served with prosciutto, toasted pistachios and arugula; and the onion soup, made with veal stock and topped with a cheesy brioche crouton for a sweet and savory flavor profile. The prime short rib is a decadent option—slow-braised and set on top of parsnip puree, roasted brussels sprouts and crispy shallots. Or go for the simply grilled, such as the chili-rubbed Kurobuta pork chop. Sides are served separately and are a boon for those seeking comfort food with just a touch of finesse, from mashed potatoes, cauliflower au gratin and mojito fries to roasted broccolini.

To accompany it all, there are 35 wines by the glass from which to choose. Better yet, order a bottle (or two) for the table. Classic and signature cocktails entice any palate that’s open to exploration, from the salted caramel martini to the honey and bourbon French 75.

Very early birds are rewarded at Hawthorn Grill. Morning and brunch gatherings provide hearty sustenance for any day and a perfect setting to take in the natural surroundings. Get the gears going with jelly doughnut pancakes, cage-free egg dishes and specialties such as confit chicken hash, and steak and eggs.

Sweet Endings

When the aromas of freshly baked goods fill the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort Pastry Kitchen, it’s a good bet that executive pastry chef Jeremy Choo is the culprit. For Hawthorn Grill, he delivers s’mores churros—handcrafted toasted vanilla marshmallows that accompany warm cinnamon-sugar churros, served with milk chocolate ganache. (The chocolate is Valrhona, natch.) “Multiple textures with different temperatures are going on in the dessert,” Choo says. “That’s why it is one of my favorite desserts. Plus, fried churros! Who can say no to that?”

You’ve come this far—no need to stop there. The banana split sundae is made with house-made vanilla ice cream, brûlée bananas, dark chocolate ganache, raspberry meringue sticks and crunchy peanut brittle. There’s also an apple tart tatin made with caramelized Granny Smith apples on an almond puff pastry. Served warm with salty caramel sauce, candied almonds and vanilla ice cream, it’s a classic way to end a meal.