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Inside Todd English’s new downtown restaurant, The Pepper Club — PHOTOS

Updated March 3, 2022 - 7:32 am

In a milestone moment for Las Vegas’ burgeoning Arts District, The Pepper Club, the much-anticipated restaurant in the freshly minted English Hotel, 921 S. Main St., opened Wednesday afternoon.

The Pepper Club is the culinary vision of celebrity chef Todd English, whose name is on the hotel. English has been a fixture in Las Vegas’ dining scene for decades, notably with his venerable Olives and more recently opened Beast restaurants.

Tuesday at the upscale restaurant, with Pepper Club staff busy in their hectic final day of training, English shared a few thoughts on his new venture, accompanied by the enthusiastic, hand-clapping of camaraderie-building exercises in the background.

“The restaurant is a reflection of two kinds of cuisine that I love, Mediterranean and Japanese,” said English, on The Pepper Club’s front patio.

English said he brought the geographically distant food traditions together because they are both known for being healthy. He also noted that while, in decades past, the blending of Eastern and European cuisines was often written off as willy-nilly “fusion,” Mediterranean and Japanese gastronomic traditions are actually complementary, especially when it comes to umami flavors.

”What I’ve seen in cuisine now is that the world has changed,” English said. “It used to be ‘soy sauce and olive oil, oh my God,’ but now there are ways to mix it, ways to match it, ways to excite the palate.”

“We’re going to do a carbonara with dashi, so fun stuff like that,” English added, talking about a melding of a cheesy pasta dish originally from Rome with a broth that would be right at home in Tokyo.

“I’m really having fun,” he said.

The restaurant’s inaugural menu reflects English’s upbeat outlook with zingy titles like the Soba You Up Burger, which includes thick Japanese noodles as a topping along with white cheddar cheese, arugula, pickles, caramelized onions, sunny-side-up egg and truffle oil.

There’s a a trio of fried rice options on a menu, including a meaty oxtail version, one redolent of garlic, and the Funguyoption with a medley of mushrooms and vegetables.

The house soup is miso with tofu, wakame, scallion and shimeji mushrooms. Salad choices include cucumber with pickled plum and shiso leaves; watercress with a fried wonton bowl, snap peas, dehydrated citrus, shaved carrots and dried fruit; and kale-avocado with ume dressing, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, pickled radish and plum salt.

Shareable choices include spicy Brussel’s sprouts with kimchi sauce and rice pops; Midnight Tempura brings together shrimp and vegetables with shiso leaves and squid ink.

The dinner menu also features extensive sushi and sashimi selections, including less commonly seen fish like Japanese sea bream, fluke and golden eye snapper. More than a dozen specialty maki are rolled, including the striking Cover Girl with salmon, avocado, ume paste, shiso leaves, salmon roe, smoked guava salt, microgreens and spicy ponzu reduction in a cucumber wrap.

Hot robatayaki selections include shitake mushroom, tiger prawns, chicken thighs and pork belly. Additionally, a raw bar is replete with oysters on the half shell and tins of caviar.

Starting Thursday, The Pepper Club will serve breakfast, as well, with a sweet-and-spicy chicken and matcha waffle combo; a dragon fruit bowl; ube cream-stuffed French toast and a traditional American plating of eggs with bacon or sausage.

The Pepper Club is open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for breakfast and lunch. Dinner is served Monday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, dinner hours are 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

For more, go to theenglishhotel.com

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