“Who spends Christmas in Vegas anyway?” many of our friends exclaimed. Well, when you’re spontaneous like Martin and I are, and an offer for three free nights of hotel lodging pops up in our inbox, you can bet we will welcome the opportunity for a short getaway to Sin City. Las Vegas has really established itself as a food destination, with many of the world’s renowned chefs opening up restaurants on the Strip. But we decided to save the Robuchons and the Gordon Ramsays for another time. Instead, we had our Christmas dinner at an underrated gastropub (our favorite kind of joint) with Executive Chef Anthony Meidenbauer at the helm — Public House.
Public House is not just any gastropub. With a selection of literally hundreds of beers in bottles, cans, and draft, no server could possibly rattle them all off for every customer. Instead, we were seated and immediately presented with our menus and… an iPad. That’s right, folks. There really is “an app for that.”
Perhaps I was in a less adventurous mood drink-wise or perhaps I was so overwhelmed by all the choices, but I ended up selecting a tried and true favorite: Lindeman’s Peche Lambic. (Fun fact — I love this sweet, fruity ale so much that I have a pair of the branded flutes at home; we also have a pair of branded chalices in which to serve Martin’s favorite, Chimay.)
The entire menu looked awesome and suited to our taste, so we had a difficult time choosing just a few dishes. I had, however, been eyeing the roasted bone marrow appetizer since we first decided to make our reservation here, so that was a definite starter. The bones, still piping hot from having been roasted to order in a (probably) 400 degree oven, smelled incredible. The mere sight of this appetizer made me salivate.
It is admittedly hard to mess up roasting bone marrow (we even did it ourselves at home), and the bones at Public House were made extra special by resting alongside thick, grilled slices of a rustic bread and a heaping pile of bacon marmalade. Bacon. Marmalade. Reminiscent of the onion compote I made for our copycat Father’s Office burgers, it tasted delicious although the flavor was a bit overpowering for the delicate marrow decadence. The marrow itself melted like nature’s butter, smearing effortlessly over the charred bread. Sinking our teeth into that was like a bite of heaven. A great way to start our evening.
We also ordered a second appetizer to maximize our exposure to the menu’s offerings. Torn between the grilled octopus and the crispy pig tails, we decided to go with the land critter. I was a bit surprised to find that the “tail” was really more like hunks of pork belly lacquered in a sweet & sour glaze. Definitely not the curly bits of offal I had in mind. The flavors were interestingly Asian-inspired, but as the fatty layers were still quite heavy and not fully rendered, this was not my favorite dish of the night.
Martin and I were both in a carnivorous mood. He selected the 8 ounce filet mignon of natural angus beef, simply as it is – topped with a generous dollop of maitre d’hotel butter (a homemade herbed butter) and served alongside greens. The steak was wonderfully tender and cooked perfectly rare as requested; the butter melting over the seared crust added an appreciated touch of fat. The frisee and arugula salad was a bit heavily salted and the vinaigrette was more acidic than we’d prefer, but seeing as how Martin is not a fan of salad anyway, no harm, no foul.
Since it was Christmas after all, I gravitated toward the Christmas Specials, a small insert that our server placed on top of the regular dinner menu. My family often celebrated Christmas with prime rib, so I decided to go with that for old times’ sake. It being a whole rib roast, I knew it would be difficult to get a cut that was just right, but I asked for the kitchen to provide the rarest they could. I was very pleased with the generous slab of medium rare (to rare) that was placed in front of me. With its peppery crust and a dousing of au jus, the prime rib was incredibly satisfying. The creamy truffled spinach was a pleasant side dish to add a bit of greens in my life, and the yorkshire pudding soaked up the jus the way it should. However, with the portion being unexpectedly humongous, I am ashamed to admit that this entree bested me and I could not finish it.
But, as they say, there is always room for dessert. The selection of homemade ice cream and sorbet caught my eye, in particular the pear balsamic sorbet. We asked if we could substitute this for the milk chocolate sorbet that usually tops the creme brulee and it was easily accommodated. The giant crepe dentelle made for an impressive presentation and the creme brulee was the perfect texture — crunchy caramelized sugar giving way to a dense custard filled with vanilla bean. I was very happy with the sorbet, which balanced the sweetness of the pears with the tartness of the balsamic to yield a frozen treat that danced on my palate. I think Martin was most pleased with the feuilletine crumble; we love crepes dentelles and especially appreciate their buttery fragility after having made (or tried to make…) a batch at home. This crumble was tossed in chocolate and were reminiscent of Nestle’s Buncha Crunch candy, one of our favorite movie theater splurges.
All in all, we had a great dinner and were very grateful for all of the people who were working on Christmas Day so we could have somewhere to go. If you find yourself wandering the Strip and end up in the Grande Canal Shoppes at The Venetian, I definitely recommend seeking out Public House for a pint of beer and tasty gastropub bites. And if you were hesitant about vacationing here during the winter holidays, check out this festive scene just outside the hotel. It certainly felt more Christmas-y there than the 80-degree day they were having in our beloved City of Angels!
Check out Public House: publichouselv.com
The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
See their Yelp reviews here!