I’ve been a fan of reality cooking shows for, wow, over a decade now! Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen were always my favorites because they chronicle lengthy and intense competitions using a spectrum of challenges which allows us viewers to learn from. Side note, I’d love to see a competition between Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen winners to see how the quality/experience levels of each set of contestants
Stacy joined me in watching Hell’s Kitchen last season (Season 18) and really enjoyed it. So much so, that she landed us reservations at the Las Vegas restaurant for an upcoming trip we had. Our trip was after the winner was announced, so we were stoked to be there so soon after the winner (Ariel Contreras-Fox) was to take over. Who knows, maybe she’d even be there!
Turns out she wasn’t there, and according to the hostess we talked to, she never actually took the job due to personal reasons. Regardless, the experience was of the highest quality and extremely memorable!
The food was spot on, one of the best Celebrity Chef meals I’ve ever had. I highly recommend that you treat yourself to a meal at HK if it is in your budget. Let’s go inside and see what happened…
We arrived 30 minutes before our reservation to make sure we had time to have a drink at the bar. We were extremely fortunate that at the moment we approached the bar, a couple was getting up to leave so we were able to immediately sit down. The specialty drinks are cutesy and the bartenders take great pride in crafting them.
A huge turnoff was that there was a fly hopping from glass to glass behind the bar, walking around the rims at will. He was very high up so nobody could get to him. Look, it’s Vegas, it’s hot, people hold doors open, these things happen. I only mention it because I know that scene would unfold on any of GR’s TV shows, better or worse.
HERE’S A TIP! – We were originally going to each get the three-course Prix Fix with wine pairing for a total of $260, but we wanted a better variety/sampling of the dishes so instead opted to build our own adventure and were able to do it a bit more cheaply.
Pan Seared Scallops – These were very good, I wouldn’t say they were the best that I’ve ever had. And yes, seared on just one side. The puree each scallop was set into could have been served in a bowl with a spoon, it was AMAZING.
Lobster Risotto – This was absolutely the best risotto that’s ever touched my lips. I’ve been watching the show for years, so I could not pass this up. The lobster was perfectly cooked, something I may not have ever experienced before, either. This is the dish that caused us to *not* get the Prix Fix because it isn’t offered as a part of that and it was a must have for us.
Beef Wellington – It was better than you can image, and enough has been written about it that there is nothing more I can add aside from, you gotta try it!
Baked Mac & Cheese – BOOYA, amazing. Of all the macs and all the cheeses, Hell’s Kitchen has the best combination of creamy, tasty, and crispy…crispy as in crispy prosciutto, prosciutto as in the best addition to any mac and cheese, period.
Brussel Sprouts – Once again, the best version of a given dish that I’ve ever had. I now know how sprouts should be cooked and the glaze was remarkable. This one sort of got lost because we were getting full and c’mon, veggies get last priority in a meal like this! 😉
Sticky Toffee Pudding – I’ve never had it before and was blown away by the flavor. Perfect ending to a perfect meal!
We each had two glasses of wine at dinner (on top of the one we had at the bar). The Jermann Pinot Grigio was in great balance with our appetizers and our waiter recommended a red to pair with our Wellington entree and two sides. The Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine that I will never forget and brought the entree and sides together in perfect harmony.
Our meal consisted of two apps, one entree, two sides, one desert, and four glasses of wine. This was as much as the two of us needed and were happy with the variety we enjoyed.
We got all of this for $251.14, so the higher price of the Jordan wine sorta bridged the expense gap closer to what the Prix Fix with Wine Pairing would’ve cost us, but we were both fat and happy at the end of an amazing experience. You can do better, if budget is critical.
Every staff member was top notch, professional, and acknowledged our presence. Hell’s Kitchen is really cognizant of the fact that regular people are coming in for the experience they see on TV and do their best to exceed expectations.
The most puzzling part of the entire evening is trivial, but I just can’t imagine this is how GR rolls – The menus were made of flimsy and torn paper-stock!?! I included some pictures showing how the coloring had worn away and edges ripped. Bizarre and not at all in line with the rest of the experience that I know everyone works so hard to achieve, so I’d love to know the reasoning/methodology behind this for my own knowledge.
YOU MUST TRY HELL’S KITCHEN!
Full Disclosure: Most of the images presented were not taken by me. I generally don’t enjoy setting up shots and disrupting our flow while immersed in such unique moments. Photos that are not mine came from my fellow reviewers on Google, as can be referenced here.