Hell’s Kitchen serves up superior fare in a bustling setting

Extreme — maybe even obsessive — attention to detail is a requirement for success in the restaurant business, and it’s certainly worked for Gordon Ramsay. The celebrity chef’s fiery reputation stems from his penchant for perfection, and like its local forebears, his Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace hits almost all high notes.

There’s some drama there, which is only appropriate and which extends to the food. The Scampi Prawn Flambe ($24) brought a platform stacked with three intertwined crustaceans, which at the touch of a server’s lighter, burst into a column of flame that echoed the incendiary images decorating the dining room. The prawns were firm and sweet in their bath of garlic and white wine, and the cup of drawn butter, an offbeat touch, both complemented and elevated them.

Less flamboyant dishes shone in their excellence, such as the thoroughly caramelized sweet, tender pan-seared scallops ($22) perched on smudges of pea puree, festooned with chives and centered by a pile of peas tossed with bacon lardons braised to mute their flavor and bits of fennel pickled to highlight theirs, topped with pea shoots.

Among Ramsay’s signature entrees, the beef Wellington ($49) remains a crowd-pleaser for its divergent elements of tender, medium-rare beef fillet, earthy mushroom paste and crisp pastry, a cross-section of it a visual treat in addition to the flavors and textures. The plate was finished with a shallow pool of ultra-creamy mashed potatoes, carrots and a red-wine demiglace.

Roasted lamb chops ($39) were excellent in their simplicity because of the top quality of the meat, with its appealing, slightly gamy edge. Vegetables complete the plates here, with lightly steamed spinach and whole carrots with the lamb.

Accordingly, veggies provided the special touches for a plate of chicken scallops ($29), simply sauteed and adorned with truffle jus. With them was a melange of roasted Pee Wee potatoes — like fingerlings but more round than long — with chunks of delicate artichoke and leaves of pungent lacinato kale.

And baked macaroni and cheese ($9) was comfort food-turned-tour de force, with the smoldering depths of smoked Gouda and salty, hammy notes of prosciutto, plus a crowning layer of caramelized cheese for layers of flavor.

For dessert another Ramsay classic, sticky toffee pudding ($9), warm and only slightly sweet and topped with a scoop of speculoos ice cream, which had the familiar caramel flavor of Biscoff or windmill cookies.

Service throughout was excellent. As for the atmosphere, there’s a qualifier on the high notes mentioned in the first paragraph. That’s because this is a sprawling, noisy place. Beyond the framed photos of the show’s winners and merchandise in the vestibule, the only things evoking the show are the red- or blue-trimmed uniforms on the kitchen staff, some faux TV production reflector lights and clips on continuous loops on the big screens.

If you’re looking for an intensive “Hell’s Kitchen” experience, this may not be your place. But if you’re in search of the stratospheric standards that Ramsay mandates in all of his restaurants, it most definitely is.

Hell’s Kitchen, Caesars Palace; 702-731-7373 or caesars.com

The essence: Perfection in food and service, amid lots of hustle and bustle.

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.

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