Flashback dining at Summerlin’s Carmel
Far from the Strip, you’ll find a menu stocked with Vegas classics circa 1965
Tue, Nov 3, 2009 (5:58 p.m.)
Photo: Beverly Poppe
When it opened 10 years ago, it was a golf-and-spa resort known as the Resort at Summerlin, and later the Regent. Today, it’s a combination of the Rampart Casino, operated by the Cannery Group, and the still-luxurious JW Marriott hotel. There have been changes through the years, but the place has stood through the openings of the Suncoast and Red Rock Resort, carving out a niche with Summerlin-area gamblers and the abundant senior crowd.
While the Rampart hosts a buffet, an Irish pub and upscale Italian and Japanese restaurants, the Carmel Room stands out. First, it’s the only dining option in the main casino, with a swanky, subtle entrance typical of the classic Vegas gourmet room it tries to be. The restaurant is appointed with wooden moldings lined around its paneled walls, and intimate nooks with two- and four-tops add to the vintage ambiance. There simply aren’t many restaurants that look and feel like this in Las Vegas anymore, and it’s kinda funny to find one just off Summerlin Parkway. It’s very common to be seated next to families with small children here, so there will be plenty of reminders that you’re not on the Strip in 1965.
- At Rampart Casino
- 221 N. Rampart Blvd., 507-5955.
- Sunday-Thursday, 5-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 5-10 p.m.
- Suggested dishes: Three-onion soup gratinee, $8; Carmel Bibb Salad, $8; veal Oscar, $28; 6-ounce filet mignon with Roquefort cheese, $32.
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If you’re looking for flashbacks, you’ll find them on the Carmel Room’s menu. Appetizers include crab cakes, shrimp cocktail and oysters Rockefeller. A superb onion soup swimming with melted Gruyere and salty broth-soaked croutons feels like a throwback, too. And then there are salads prepared tableside, Dover sole, rack of lamb and the mostly retired beef Wellington, in all its pastry and Perigourdine glory.
The onion gratinee is great, and escargot Bourguignon with little puff pastry discs is fun, too, but a citrus-marinated lobster and crab salad with cous cous shows some modern direction. From the “classic” entrée options, veal Oscar is a winner, tender loins topped with plenty of creamy crab meat and a lightened-up Hollandaise. You might go for a 32-ounce Porterhouse for two served with horseradish and cheddar potato pudding ($69), or, if that’s too much beef, a nice 6-ounce filet crowned with asparagus and rich Roquefort. Tack on a lobster tail, or augment your already decadent meal with maple-butter sweet potatoes or smoked creamed corn.
It’s not all heavy. Crab-stuffed shrimp employ a light white-wine sauce over angel hair. That Colorado rack of lamb is the same price as the braised lamb shank with wild mushroom risotto ($32). Bottom line: It’s fun to eat in a place like this, and you’ll get solid food and save a little on the price. The service is just as fun, VIP treatment without being stuffy. The location and audience demand the low-pressure approach, and they get that here. The wine list is casual, too, with by-the-glass options.
Somehow, the Carmel Room has managed to maintain its status as an interesting little jewel in the Summerlin dining landscape. It might not be a neighborhood favorite on the level of Marche Bacchus or Rosemary’s, but it offers fun foodie nostalgia that’s all but extinct. That should count for something.