Have some fun with Culinary Dropout
Sure, it’s got a playful name. But the food at Culinary Dropout is seriously good. And under new head chef Joe Godell, that fun cuisine has gotten even better than before. In a way, the restaurant is a perfect representation of where it’s located—The Hard Rock Hotel—in that this is fun food for adults that gives one a sense of being a kid again.
Charcuterie boards can be intimidating to diners who haven’t experienced them, but this version, which lets guests mix and match items, is a good introduction to that. The deviled eggs’ creamy yolks pair perfectly with crispy prosciutto on top; the salty meat sets off a touch of truffle. Another winner is pimento cheese and almonds. This cheesy spread, often called “the caviar of the South,” is filled with cheddar and cherry pepper goodness, a savory delight with the almonds adding a nice crunch to create what Culinary Dropout founder Sam Fox describes as his elevated version of Cheez-Its.
The most popular appetizer may be soft pretzels and provolone fondue. The pillowy pretzel logs are presented simply with a sprinkle of salt, making them ideal vessels to soak up the gooey fondue.
While dining on early courses, grab a Pistols At Dawn to wash it all down. This craft cocktail from the “Copper-less Mules” section features bourbon, Ancho Reyes, ginger agave and a splash of wine. It brings both the heat and the sweet and is nicely balanced. The seared tuna salad is big enough to share and a wonderful palate cleanser before heading into main courses. The ahi is seared quickly, keeping its gorgeous red center. Crunchy cashews add a welcome component. The ginger vinaigrette is both light and distinct, and wasabi peas tie the entire dish together.
Main courses, like much of the menu, are riffs on American classics. One of the most unique items is the Korean-style ribeye cap, with the meat sliced thin and topped with an assortment of veggies like bean sprouts and zucchini. Everything pops with familiar Asian flavors—sambal, garlic, ginger, cilantro. While it’s pretty easy to get a good steak in Las Vegas, it can be harder to find something that stands out, and this dish—both in the way the meat is cut and in the taste—does.
No dinner at Culinary Dropout would be complete without the excellent fried chicken—crunchy skin on the outside, juicy meat inside. The addition of brown sugar to the marinade makes this a memorable iteration of a well-known dish.
That bit of sweetness is a nice gateway to dessert. Salted caramel custard delivers on both the caramel flavor, and the lovely accent of salt ups the whole shebang. Topped with caramel corn, it’s another texture and taste to play with. Bourbon black bottom pie features a chocolate ganache center that is both ooey and gooey, a perfect foil for the familiar graham cracker crust. The bourbon shines through, but at this point, one is likely to be more drunk on delicious food than anything else.
Hard Rock Hotel, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-midnight Fri., 10 a.m.-midnight Sat. 702.522.8100