Esther’s Kitchen honors chef’s great aunt with indulgent fare

Esther, you did good.

The namesake of one of downtown’s hottest new restaurants was the great aunt of Las Vegas native James Trees. She made it possible for Trees to attend the Culinary Institute of America, and it’s her legacy that enabled him to honor her with Esther’s Kitchen. The potential Esther saw has manifested as a blessing for Las Vegas.

Tangible proof of Trees’ culinary prowess — gained toiling in the kitchens of celebrated names such as Michael Mina, Eric Ripert and Gordon Ramsay — is in his house-made levain bread. Levain’s sourdough flavor is mild with just a hint of fermentation. The crust is exceptional. The bread is hand-formed, its formidable surface is rough and craggy and a pleasure to sink your teeth into. Served with butter ($4) it’s a treat, but it becomes positively indulgent with burrata and basil oil (plus $5), the cream-infused mild cheese at its best with the brightly colored, flavored oil.

Knowing the pasta is made in-house, it was a little surprising to see the Abruzzo-region specialty chitarra on the menu. The labor-intensive chitarra isn’t rolled or extruded but pressed onto a multi-stringed device (the origin of the name, which means “guitar”), the freshly cut, squarish strands dropping to a platform below. It’s a particularly chewy cut that deserves a starring role, which made it perfect for Roman-style cacio e pepe ($16), in which the pasta is simply tossed with pecorino Romano cheese and ground black pepper (in this case tellicherry, which has larger grains that pack extra punch) with just some pasta water and a little olive oil. It’s the essence of Italian food, simple but high-quality elements that add up to a feast.

Carbonara ($17) is commonplace but seldom paired with the undervalued rigatoni, squat, sturdy tubes that define the term “al dente.” Simplicity again triumphed, the pasta simply graced with guanciale (cured pork jowl that’s more luxurious and less smoky than bacon) with egg yolk for richness and Grana Padana for earthy depth.

A pizza with lamb sausage and chopped clams ($15) stood out for its unusual combination that worked beautifully, the spicy sausage and chilis countering the shellfish’s pronounced flavor. This dough is made in-house as well, and the crust had an appealing stretchiness between its thickly rolled edges.

In a dessert of panna cotta ($8), the seldom seen and underrated rhubarb was a refreshing choice, though somewhat underplayed. The cool, creamy dish was an effectively neutral foil for a scattering of roasted strawberries and pistachio-cake cubes, but the few blobs of pureed rhubarb could have contributed much more.

One other small quibble was in the starter of polpette with tomato sugo, or meatball with tomato sauce ($12). Good flavor here, particularly from the basil ricotta, but the meatball was too dry.

Service was pleasant and efficient. Esther’s Kitchen, which opened in early January, has a funky vibe that’s appropriate for its location on the edge of the Arts District. An oversized photo mural of a pier dominates the dining room, and there are wooden tables, a mix of upholstered and metal chairs, artfully glazed floor pavers and al fresco seating overlooking either street or alley. Trees’ pride in his hometown and the artists around him shows in the use of pottery dishes by Clay Arts Las Vegas and retro silverware embossed with “Dunes Hotel.”

Considering the period, the silverware could have been Esther’s, and her spirit does indeed linger here. She made Trees’ career possible, and for that we can be grateful.

If you go

Esther’s Kitchen, 1130 S. Casino Center Blvd.; 702-570-7864 or estherslv.com

The essence: Tradition meets innovation, with disparate elements that meet in harmony.

Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella onTwitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
U2 in Vegas through the years
U2 in Vegas through the years
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Black Tap In Las Vegas Makes This Instagram-ready Golden Knights Shake (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre Premieres Until December
‘Until December’ debuts at ‘Ballet & Broadway’ season finale (Carol Cling Las Vegas
Celebrate The Golden Knights With Knights-inpired Latte Art (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single Ramsey, who shot to fame after a viral video of him yodeling at an Illinois Walmart surfaced, just debuted “Famous.” “If I'm gonna be famous for somethin'/I wanna be famous for lovin' you/If I'm gonna be known around the world/I wanna because of you, girl” Mason Ramsey, “Famous” It’s been quite the rush to stardom for the 11-year-old, who appeared on The Ellen Show and performed at Coachella earlier this month. “I’d been to Nashville a few times before, but never thought something like this would happen. It’s a dream to sign with Atlantic and Big Loud.” Mason Ramsey “I loved recording ‘Famous’ and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala. (Janna Karel Las Vegas review-Journal)
"Hamilton" Fans Line Up Overnight At Smith Center To Get Tickets
"Hamilton" fans line up overnight at Smith Center to get tickets. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 concerts to see in Las Vegas this week
You can visit the speakeasy in The Mob Museum's basement... if you know the password
6 new foods hitting movie theaters in 2018
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like