One final brunch at Simon: Musing on a rock-star chef’s legacy

Rock on, chef: In Kerry we have always trusted.
Andy Wang

The day after the madness of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight and all the events surrounding it, I headed over, as I’ve done on many Sundays, to brunch at Simon in Palms Place. My friends and I filled plates with cupcakes, sushi, brisket and colossal shrimp before we ordered Frosted Flakes-crusted brioche French toast, the McSimon (the best egg sandwich I’ve ever eaten, with sausage, bacon and American cheese) and biscuits and gravy. A dining companion hit the Bloody Mary bar while I kept things mellow with iced tea and green juices. Then we ordered another McSimon and some chicken and waffles before closing our meal with cotton candy, cookies and more cupcakes.

We were there for more than two hours, in our own world, in a calm and happy and whimsical place unlike every other spot we had visited on this ridiculous weekend. Which is to say, I had a typical experience at Simon, and I’m thankful I got to do this one more time.

Kerry Simon is sick, stricken with multiple system atrophy, for which there is no known cure. His Palms Place restaurant will close May 22, and it will be remembered for a lot more than its legendary brunch. The chef, of course, was ahead of all the comfort-cuisine and junk-food-dessert trends that have been sweeping the nation. He moved Simon from the Hard Rock Hotel to Palms Place, reopening it on May 31, 2008, and started brunch—the ultimate hangover cure or the ultimate bender continuation, depending on what kind of day you wanted—on January 1, 2009.

There have been days when Simon was where I ate a quick dinner of meatloaf or chicken curry or even the off-menu “Iron Chef burger” (which did indeed have the chef reigning supreme on the Food Network) or where I sat for long, meandering late-night conversations, not unlike so many touring rock legends, world-famous chefs, partying pro athletes and porn stars looking to unwind have had here.

They’ve all visited because they adore Kerry Simon, as a friend, as a chef, as a source of nourishment for the mind, body and soul. The word “legacy” is overused, but it no doubt applies to Kerry. More than anyone in Vegas, he’s made dining fun. And don’t forget: He’s not finished. His legacy lives on at Downtown’s buzzing Carson Kitchen.

He’s seriously ill, let’s be frank, but he’s still Kerry Simon, a man who had an early 60th birthday party this week so he could enjoy one more memorable night at his unparalleled restaurant. You’ve got another week to do the same.

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