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Carpaccio gets a raw deal, but at Rare 120, it’s revered

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The dining room of Rare 120 at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Is it possible that eating carpaccio could ever be a transcendent experience? It’s already very nearly a translucent experience. But transcendent?? I say yes.

I can already hear some lips curling in disgust. But anyone who would compare a true carpaccio to cruise ship galley-quality beef tartar is as good as calling a Red Rock burro a thoroughbred. Agh, sorry for the mixed meat metaphors there. They are mistaking a cinder block for a gold bar.

The carpaccio at Rare 120—which feted its opening for the umpteenth time last Wednesday at the Hard Rock in the former AJ’s Steakhouse footprint—is divine. As someone who has sampled variants the raw meat dish world-wide—thanks to parents who love the stuff—I can say this with certainty.

Enjoy a little surf with your turf at Rare 120.

A blossom of delectable ruby-red, paper-thin carpaccio is fanned out on a large plate, drizzled with olive oil and strewn with petals of freshly-shaved truffle, parmesan and topped with a bitter, dressed arugula salad. Though light, this little appetizer (yours for a not-so-little $14) still has the spine to stand up (at the bar likely; seats are hard to come by) to a glass of red wine, as well as to prime you for one of Rare 120’s cocktails.

It’s a bit frustrating, however, trying to find a signature cocktail that pairs well with the carpaccio—most of them involve sluices of sour mix, OJ or cola; there’s even a $12 glorified Red Bull and vodka—but the Piña-Pirinha does good work here. With just three ingredients, this piña colada-meets-caipirinha (in name only, thank goodness) combines Cabana Cachaça (Brazilian rum) with a drop of Skyy Pineapple Infusion vodka and agave syrup.

Steak entree at Rare 120.

The combined smokiness of the cachaça and agave make up for the lack of heat ever having touched my carpaccio. Clean and simple, I simply clean my plate.

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