Rx Boiler Room’s Bacon-Wrapped Bacon-n-Egg may be the quintessential dish for our times.
First, there’s the bacon — bacon! — which is basically bacon-wrapped pork belly, or, you know, bacon-wrapped bacon, and we don’t know many carnivores who would argue with that. Then there are the little quail eggs, sunny-side-up and perched on top, that give the small-plate dish a decided air of whimsy, just in case the idea of bacon-wrapped bacon in this bacon-obsessed era isn’t enough.
But what really makes this dish ($12) a success is that an abundance of imagination and execution led to a creation that transcends all of the bacon obsession and isn’t-it-cute whimsy with fresh, bright flavors and wonderful contrasts in both taste and texture. The six cubes of bacon-wrapped bacon were served perched atop a rectangle of lightly toasted brioche, each crowned with one of the diminutive eggs and accompanied by a dab of lime-tinged avocado puree and a smear of tomato jam. There was a lot going on there, but it was just enough.
And the dish could serve as a metaphor for the totality of Rx Boiler Room, which is from the noted chef Rick Moonen and which some months ago replaced the upstairs, fine-dining part of his RM Seafood (although a more casual RM Seafood continues downstairs). It has a steampunk theme; if you’re not familiar with the term, I guess I’d best describe it as a sort of Victorian-cum-tech marriage that evokes images of Jules Verne’s life and times. The theme is carried out, both brilliantly and effectively, with rich reds and deep blacks, a bit of something shiny here and there, an apothecary-heavy bar area and employees whose clothing wouldn’t look out of place in a revival of “Around the World in 80 Days.” But, true to that metaphor, while the atmosphere is entertaining and unique (in Las Vegas, anyway), the menu somewhat whimsical, both the creativity and quality of the food are clearly foremost on Moonen’s mind.
Our next exhibit would be the Buffalo Fried Oysters ($24), which were pretty much true to the “Buffalo” moniker. They were served on the half-shell, each bivalve coated with a crisp, peppery coating that tasted just like every (good) Buffalo wing we’ve ever had, except that when we got to the center, there was the creamy, briny oyster instead of bony chicken.
Moonen Tater Tots ($5) were unlike any other tater tots we’ve ever had, even taking into account those at the “updated-comfort-food” places. These, which were in the “trimmings” section of the menu, were amazing little mounds, the shredded potatoes still on the crisp-tender side, with a very light crust. With the potatoes that crisp, and without any discernible binder, we wondered just what held them together. House-made tartar sauce and ketchup on the side gilded the lily.
We actually were a little surprised when we were served the Shellfish Shepherd’s Pie ($34), because the little pan in which it arrived was about the same size as our starters. That turned out to be the wisest course, though, because all that shellfish (generous amounts of scallops, shrimp and crabmeat) under the blanket of chive-flecked, lightly browned mashed potatoes would have been overly rich otherwise.
And, well, speaking or rich, although not overly so: Tiramisu ($9) was classic, the layers of ladyfinger, mascarpone, cocoa and everything else both individually discernible and nicely melded. Our server said the recipe was Moonen’s mother’s, and that was reflected in the classicism.
And speaking of our server: She was apparently new, and extremely nervous, but even a few bits of slightly confused descriptions were overshadowed by her pleasant, earnest delivery, and the waiter who appeared to be training her was polished and personable, even funny at times.
All in all, a true pleasure. Rx Boiler Room is strongly appealing just on the face of its theme and decor, but the creative and well-prepared food put the tune in the steampunk whistle.
Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0474.
Rx Boiler Room, Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 702-632-7200
Pluses: Creative, well-executed food.
Minuses: An overly sweet Negroni.