Celebrity chef Robert Irvine and his team at the Tropicana have their work cut out. The pressure is on at their huge new gastropub, a major leadoff piece of another wave of renovations at the 60-year-old resort. More importantly, it’s positioned right on the Strip—a pedestrian thoroughfare leads straight into the restaurant—so Vegas visitors can find and feast with convenience.
So far, Irvine’s fare has proven to be satisfying and hearty, a menu of seemingly simple food with some explosive flavor twists. We skipped past tasty appetizers like hickory smoked wings and steak tartare, fresh salads and delicious pizzas, to zoom in on three irresistible entrées that qualify as must-orders.
1. FISH AND CHIPS
It’s only natural the U.K.-born Irvine would drop a killer version of this classic, especially considering a solid plate of fish and chips hasn’t always been easy to find on Las Vegas Boulevard. This golden-crisp rendition stakes its claim as one of the best in the city—remarkably ungreasy and beautifully flaky beer-battered cod mounted on a mound of shoestring fries. The potatoes are decorated with bacon, feta cheese, green onions and a malted curry aioli, a carefully crafted combination of savory goodies that sets the dish apart. The fries are fabulous on their own, but the fish is perfect. ($24)
2. F&K FONDUE BURGER
This messy masterpiece began life on Irvine’s menu as sliders, then evolved into a solitary stack of Creekstone Farms Black Angus beef, Camembert cheese, grilled mushrooms and onions, smoky bacon, lettuce and tomato. “F&K” stands for fork and knife, and while you might be opposed to taking down a beefy burger with utensils, it’s the best way to preserve your shirt once the rich, creamy fondue finds its rightful home over the top of this brioche bun. Just when you thought Vegas burgers couldn’t possibly get more decadent. ($21)
3. CHICKEN FRIED DUCK CONFIT
Considering whose kitchen this is, you might be tempted to order the traditional lamb shepherd’s pie, the huge braised lamb shank speckled with
Calabrian chile or even the skirt steak frites. But if you really want to kick the tires on this joint, the duck confit is for you—luscious meat slowly poached in its own fat before getting some quality time in the fryer. The crunchy-to-tender quotient is on the money, and the dish gets sweet, sour and spicy with maple, sherry vinegar, and a butter-sriracha sauce you’ll want on your chicken wings from here on out. ($24)
Robert Irvine's Public House Tropicana, 702-739-2307. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.