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6 restaurants in, Gordon Ramsay still excited by Strip

Updated November 8, 2022 - 7:00 am

You could be forgiven for thinking that after five restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip, chef Gordon Ramsay would think he’d received his just deserts. But you would be wrong.

And so it was the other morning that a small group of invited guests gathered at Ramsay’s Kitchen, his sixth restaurant on the Strip, ahead of its debut in Harrah’s Las Vegas. Members of the Ramsay retinue delivered tasting samples: flatbread and maitake mushrooms and spoons adorned with savory crab cake baubles.

Like many who work in the top tier of the restaurant world, they had the knack of describing ingredients like an invocation. And then the chef arrived, in a white kitchen coat, with a signature upswoosh of hair, sounding as enthusiastic as if Ramsay’s Kitchen were his first Strip spot, not his sixth.

“Vegas is one of the most competitive food cities on the planet. The pressure makes it exciting for me. When you open, you need to open with a bang.”

Dishes served only in Vegas

But it’s a considered bang.

With five Ramsay restaurants already in town, the newest place can’t rely on dishes customers can find at the chef’s other locations. Nor can the menu from the first Ramsay’s Kitchen, opened this year in Boston, simply be imported to Vegas; Back Bay isn’t the Strip.

“How do you differentiate the style, the offerings?” the chef asked. “We need to come in with a difference.”

Vegas-only dishes help create that difference at Ramsay’s Kitchen. Like wagyu carpaccio, say. Or Parmesan panna cotta (“beautiful melt-in-your mouth moments,” the chef said). Or surf-and-turf with Japanese scallops (“they caramelize like no other scallops”).

The scallops testify to what Ramsay called the power of Vegas.

“Those scallops — I couldn’t source those in London,” home of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, his three-star Michelin flagship. “Vegas gives you that platform. Everything needs to be Premier League status, nothing junior,” the chef added, referring to the top level of English football.

Beef rendang, the rich beef and coconut stew of Southeast Asia, reflects Ramsay’s travels.

“I thought I had conquered it until I went to Indonesia. A chef showed me how to make the perfect rendang. That rendang is coming to Vegas.”

Design details; what’s next?

The palette at the new Ramsay’s Kitchen runs to gray and admiral blue and copper. Marble floors gleam in the foyer. To the left, there’s a long bar faced with a fretwork of interlaced copper arches. An ornamental screen composed of half circles in gray, copper and white rises behind the host stand.

Copper torchères lead into the dining room, populated with capacious curving booths and tables paired with circular lounge chairs in latte leather. A step-down dining area with soaring ceilings, where the tasting took place, opens onto the kitchen.

After the tasting, seated in a booth for a one-on-one chat with the Review-Journal, Ramsay paid tribute to the first generation of celebrated chefs to open restaurants in Vegas: Wolfgang Puck, Guy Savoy, Joël Robuchon and others.

As one of their inheritors, “I can’t just fly the flag,” the chef  said. “I’ve got to continue developing talent.”

Ramsay didn’t reveal where he might develop that talent next in Vegas, but he said he was ready for the project.

“There’s a lot of go in the old dog yet. I’m 55. I’m not done with Vegas. I’m a f-----g well-oiled machine.”

On size 15 feet.

Contact Johnathan L. Wright at jwright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ItsJLW on Twitter.

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