While I was in Las Vegas earlier this year with some colleagues to attend EXPLORE 22 — which was a major conference that was hosted by Expedia Group for its travel partners in the Aria Resort & Casino hotel complex in Las Vegas on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 and Thursday, May 5, 2022 — we walked south on Las Vegas Boulevard to get to the famous sign which welcomes visitors to Las Vegas when at least one person was hungry and needed to eat.
This Celebrity Chef Should Be Embarrassed By His Restaurant.
I was not really in the mood to eat anything at that particular moment; but we saw a sign advertising a restaurant by a celebrity chef named Robert Irvine called Robert Irvine’s Public House. Although I begrudgingly agreed to dine there for lunch during the middle of the day, I was curious as to what the food was like.
“There is no greater happiness than a full pint and a full plate”, according to the message at the top of the entrance to this eatery.
“Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine redefines the dining experience with Robert Irvine’s Public House restaurant. Boasting nearly 9,000 square feet, the restaurant features a 275-seat dining room complete with a wraparound bar, open kitchen design, private dining room and views of The Strip. Robert Irvine’s Public House offers a range of comfort food options inspired by Chef Irvine’s culinary travels from around the world — all in a pub-like atmosphere”, according to the official Internet web site of the restaurant, which is located inside of the Tropicana Las Vegas, a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel property. “The menu is full of one-of-a-kind, unique food items created by Chef Irvine himself and is like nothing you can get now on the strip. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
Well, okay then: we walked in to try out what the restaurant has to offer. Both the dining area and the area by the bar were large, with several large flat screen televisions and an array of drink options — including a wide assortment of beers and ales, wines, and signature cocktails…
…but not only was the overall ambiance of the restaurant dark, it was also rather spartan, dated, and — dare I even say — depressing despite numerous large windows at the far end of the restaurant, which gave the only indication that the early afternoon sun was shining brightly outside.
I suppose the atmosphere of the eatery was to purposely emulate the definition of a “public house”, which is generally an establishment that provides alcoholic beverages to be consumed on the premises. This restaurant could sorely use a renovation by the television series Restaurant Impossible — except that the host of that program is none other than…
We looked over the menu, which was somewhat limited in terms of the number of food items which were offered. We then placed our orders for lunch.
We started with an appetizer called the Bang Bang Shrimp Tempura with spicy aïoli and Asian slaw, which cost $18.00. The flavor was good overall; but the tempura crust was neither crispy nor crunchy. Rather, it was somewhat soggy. Although a couple of the shrimp were already eaten when this photograph was taken, the portion size was basically only enough for one person and not really shareable. Each slice of lemon was larger than any of the shrimp. The slaw was crunchy but rather tasteless — even with the sauce and the lemon.
The quality of this dish was consistent with what one would find at a chain restaurant — except that it was significantly more expensive.
I ordered the Prime Beef Burger on a brioche bun with Public House sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles, which cost $19.00. I asked for the aged Cheddar cheese to be left off of the hamburger, as I do not like cheese — plus, I wanted to experience the flavor of this hamburger, which is supposedly comprised of prime beef.
The hamburger was decent but tasted underwhelmingly bland, as it had little char and was not what I would call excellent and of a gourmet caliber. I have had superior hamburgers elsewhere which would put this one to shame. Too much raw onion and not enough pickles were included on the hamburger; and the brioche bun was nothing special…
…not to mention that the small hamburger appeared to be dwarfed by the side of French fries, which were ordinary at best in terms of flavor, texture, and appearance. Despite its smaller size, the brioche bun failed to give the hamburger patty itself the illusion of a larger size.
The fancy long toothpick and the shape of the plate are the only items which actually helped to elevate the appearance of this otherwise ordinary dish — and only minimally at that.
Another person at the table ordered the Ultimate BLT, which is a sandwich comprised of bacon, lemon mayonnaise, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, tomato, and onion on toasted bread and cost $17.00. The good news is that there was plenty of crispy bacon on at least one side of the sandwich; but the bad news is that the toasted bread was droopy — despite the thickness of the slices — because it was significantly drenched in what was described at the table as “fake” butter. I could smell the awful aroma of that butter — or whatever spread was used to grill the sandwich — from where I was sitting. Perhaps the butter was supposed to add unctuousness to the sandwich — but it failed miserably.
Despite the restaurant basically being empty with six tables at the most being occupied, the server did not return to the table until almost 15 minutes later to find out how we were doing. The Ultimate BLT sandwich was sent back and reordered — this time, without being grilled in butter and without the lemon mayonnaise. The bacon was undercooked for the second attempt at the sandwich. The tomatoes were not ripe; and the lettuce resembled the shredded iceberg lettuce one would find either in a prepared bag at the supermarket or on a menu item at a fast food restaurant.
The “tater tots” were everything one would expect in a “tater tot” — but nothing more. They were no better than the variety commonly found in the frozen food section of a grocery store.
As with my hamburger, the sandwich also contained a surfeit of raw onion.
Final Boarding Call
Although I certainly do not have what anyone would consider a sophisticated gourmet palate, we all agreed that the meals we had at Robert Irvine’s Public House were ordinary at best — which meant that each item was grossly overpriced, as all of the prices which were mentioned in this article did not include tax or gratuity. I did eat all of my small hamburger but not all of the French fries; and despite the small portions, no one completely finished their meals.
The lackluster service — when it was not non-existent altogether — did not help matters in the least. Simply attempting to get the check so that we could pay for this expensive mess and leave was an effort in and of itself. We had better things to do that day than to stare at a table of half-eaten mediocre food.
Just because an eatery sports the name of a celebrity chef does not guarantee that the food will be excellent — or even very good. In this case, the name is the only reason why the food was expensive. Robert Irvine — or, at least, whoever prepared our meals — ruined what should have been simple delicious food by trying to elevate it to another level. The attempt failed miserably.
My impression from this experience overall suggests that if Robert Irvine was indeed a great chef at one time, he simply gave up and sold out. We expected a lot more from what became a dining debacle.
Save your money and stay away from Robert Irvine’s Public House, as even eating at a fast-food restaurant — if only to satisfy your hunger just enough — will be substantially less expensive…
…until you are able to get to any of the plethora of better restaurants which are located in Las Vegas, where your chances of experiencing a “greater happiness” — and getting a much better value for your money — are excellent.
Robert Irvine’s Public House
Located inside of the Tropicana Las Vegas, a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel property
3801 South Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
The operating hours are seven days per week from 7:00 in the morning through 10:00 in the evening.
All photographs ©2022 by Brian Cohen.