The name Hamptons may evoke the Long Island shore, but the Tivoli Village restaurant is pure California.
If the definition of California cuisine seems more contextual than clearly defined, it’s widely considered to revolve around fresh seasonal produce and abundant creativity. And yes, Hamptons delivers on both counts, the latter in the form of unexpected twists.
Bruschetta ($12) may be the artichoke-and-spinach dip of our era, but Hamptons chef Jay Bogsinske veers from the typical tomato-and-basil path. He starts with a spread of lemon-infused ricotta and tops it with crisp slices of tart Granny Smith apple, a drizzle of brandy-apple syrup, toasted pecans for crunch and a bit of basil for accent, or maybe a nod to tradition. The result was surprisingly sweet and a refreshing touch of spring on a drab winter day.
Chefs are doing a lot with avocados these days, including avocado fries ($9). Not like this, though; not only did the batons carry a nice, light crunch that contrasted effectively with the creamy interiors, they were served with two excellent house-made dipping sauces, an earthy smoked-tomato ketchup and a sprightly Green Goddess, which complemented the buttery fruit.
The diversions continued with Wild Isles Salmon Mignon ($22), farm-raised in the open ocean off the Shetland Isles, an environment that boosted the flavor to muscular but not overwhelming. The “mignon” cut (mirroring the shape of the familiar beef but not the original definition of dainty and cute) was a new treatment that used the fish to advantage, the thickness allowing the medallion to be caramelized on the exterior while remaining medium-rare and moist within. The fish was accompanied by a few florets of roasted cauliflower and some heirloom carrots braised with honey.
Things didn’t proceed as smoothly with the pork prime rib ($34), where a substitution felt like a misstep. With the accompanying Brussels sprouts unavailable, it was suggested we choose two sides, and the garlic spinach (tender fresh leaves with copious amounts of garlic) and apple-cabbage slaw with cider vinaigrette (crisp and pleasantly astringent) were interesting and appealing. But the bacon, poached apples, cinnamon butter, cranberries and scallions that were to have been served with the pork — and for which it has a natural affinity — were missing, presumably because of a potential clash with the side dishes. It probably would’ve been better to 86 the whole thing until the sprouts returned.
And a dessert, Bananas Foster Split ($9), was a good idea but overly ambitious. The dish started with caramelized bananas and included ice cream, salted caramel, blueberries and bourbon whipped cream. The bananas were deftly prepared but there was a lot going on here that distracted from them; Bananas Foster has survived the decades because of its pure simplicity.
Hamptons isn’t a plant-based restaurant, but it shines most when its focus is on fruits and vegetables.
Hamptons, Tivoli Village; 702-916-1482 or hamptonslv.com
The essence: Skilled interpretation of California cuisine, especially when focus is on fruits and vegetables.
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 on Twitter.