Red Rock’s Hearthstone is quintessentially American

How American, the name Hearthstone.

When used in reference to a restaurant, as it is here, it evokes home and comfort, back in the day and down on the farm, gingham and chickens and Mom rolling out the pie dough — stuff that’s cozy and homey and most of all quintessentially American.

Whoever named this restaurant at Red Rock Resort chose wisely. No, there’s no gingham or chickens (there’s a little bit of kitsch, but not that much), but Hearthstone fulfills the quintessentially American part with a menu that mixes small plates, shared plates and full-size entrees, a staff that’s welcoming and accommodating and a warm interior design and expansive outdoor patio with lights and heaters for these chilly spring evenings.

I’ve said many times how much I love small plates because of the flexibility they give the customer, to pick and choose to suit appetite and still try as many dishes as possible. And while Hearthstone’s entrees were tempting, we decided that the shared plates, “jars & toast” and “veggies & sides” were even more so.

We had to try FG&J ($18), which is a riff on the all-American PB&J and a dish that has intrigued me since it was featured elsewhere in this section. It brought to mind, then and now, a dish of scallops with white chocolate and mead, which a fellow restaurant critic dared me to try at a restaurant in Florida, and which was actually a creative, well-balanced combination of flavors, much to my surprise.

But I digress. In this case the letters stand for “foie gras and jelly,” and that isn’t as weird as the aforementioned scallops. Roasted foie grass has been whipped into a mousse, sprinkled with Virginia peanuts and served with house-made fruit jelly and triangles of toast. The smooth, creamy richness of the liver was accented quite nicely by the salty earthiness of the peanuts and shown to advantage by the sweet jelly, all which we piled onto the crisp toast triangles.

A side of lobster polenta ($11) was a rich, silken delight. Polenta is somewhat austere by nature, and in this dish the soft type had been rendered rich and creamy thanks to the mascarpone cheese that had been whipped into it, and from the generous use of lumps of lobster, some of them quite large.

Scallop tartare ($14) also was a little offbeat. We rarely see raw scallops on a menu and welcomed them here, and the meat was appropriately sweet, almost pristine. But the fiery sliced peppers with which it was dressed, while adding an appealing jolt of heat, came very close to overpowering the sweet seafood.

And stuffed dates ($13), which were a little different than those we usually encounter in that these had been stuffed with big chunks of chorizo, plumping them up better than Hans and Franz ever could.

Service throughout was exceptional. I don’t know what’s going on lately, but there seems to be a better-service initiative in the valley, to the point where I find myself wondering if I’ve happened upon a parallel universe, not that I’m complaining. Servers, assistants, everyone we encountered at Hearthstone was warm and welcoming.

And if that doesn’t seem quintessentially American, it should.

Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Email Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Find more of her stories at bestoflasvegas.com, and follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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