Hakkasan Group’s prominence in the Las Vegas nightlife scene is obvious, but less apparent is how the mega-company is making serious inroads into the Strip dining scene. The simple strategy seems to be coupling each club with a complementary restaurant, something accomplished seamlessly at Hakkasan at MGM Grand, where the club is stacked above the restaurant. The venues blend into one another with similar vibes and decor.
This connection isn’t as clear with the newest endeavors at Caesars Palace, where Omnia Nightclub’s restaurant partner is Searsucker. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Omnia is a technological masterpiece bathed in cutting-edge lighting with an over-the-top sound system and a definitive mystique. Searsucker has more of an Oregon ranch feel, probably like the one where Top Chef alum Brian Malarkey grew up ... just a little more hip. It’s fitting that the space reflects his childhood, because the menu reflects his personality—laid-back and whimsical.
Malarkey is the celeb chef behind the Searsucker concept, while longtime local chef Jean Paul Labadie is his man in the trenches. Nothing is as it seems at Searsucker, which appears to be the way they want it. Duck-fat fries with chipotle ketchup ($10) aren’t actually fried in duck fat. They’re fried in the traditional manner and tossed in a combination of duck fat, prosciutto “dust” and Parmesan. While that might sound overwhelming, the result is seriously addictive.
“Cowboy caviar” ($11) has very little to do with caviar, but it does have a cowboy association. Lightly fried and adorned with a heap of flash-fried, julienned vegetables, the calf testicles offer a hint of resistance without being too chewy, a good gateway dish to other exotic animal parts.
Farm bird lollipops ($13) are actual lollipops—think Japanese tsukune on wooden sticks with accompanying blue cheese and hot sauce. More straightforward is the shrimp “spicy” and grits ($17). This rendition of barbecue shrimp mixes it up a bit with a base of bacon grits, but otherwise it’s fairly loyal to the New Orleans classic.
My favorite dish is the “mushrooms + burrata + toast” ($17). The creamy burrata and toasted brioche are superfluous complements to the umami-filled fungi, elevated by ample use of truffle butter. Other highlights include the eggs and pork belly ($16), a rich riff on eggs Benedict, and the cheddar puffers ($4), which no Searsucker (the restaurant also has locations in California and Texas) would be complete without. A play on the Southern favorite known as cheese straws, these have just the right hint of heat.
Save room for cookies and milk ($10), which might be the most irresistible chocolate chip cookies outside of your mom’s, with sea salt added for deeper flavor. Cookies and milk for the Omnia crowd? When the restaurant’s tagline is “everything from bulls’ balls to abalone,” you have to expect some bold twists.
Searsucker Caesars Palace, 702-866-1800. Daily, 5 p.m.-late.