By Amy Abdelsayed for What’s On on September 6, 2013.
As a child, I remember playing “grown up” from time to time with my friends or other kids in the neighborhood. This week, I had the pleasure of pretending to be a kid again—at least for a couple meals. KGB at Harrah’s and Culinary Dropout at Hard Rock Hotel are two very different restaurants that both offer some nostalgic cuisine with new twists that are guaranteed to make your inner child giddy.
For the Good Kid: Milkshakes and Burgers at KGB
KGB: Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers is run by celebrity chef Kerry Simon and is a casual eatery with a modern interior design. The menu includes everything from mac & cheese sticks to unique burgers and milkshakes. Unable to resist the temptation of deep-fried macaroni and cheese, I order the mac & cheese sticks as an appetizer. They come with a creamy white cheddar dipping sauce if macaroni and cheese alone is not cheesy enough for you. Of course, they are delicious, in the way that you would expect an already wonderful food to be if you deep fried it and added cheese.
For dinner, I order the cheddar cheeseburger and my friend orders the foot-long hot dog. My cheeseburger does not come with lettuce or tomatoes or onions, none of those pesky vegetables. It is simply a burger with four slices of melted, crispy cheddar cheese on a white bun. My inner child has never felt so content. There are more adventurous burgers on the menu, such as the Thanksgiving turkey burger or the lamb burger. And a good portion of the menu is dedicated to BYB@KGB, a build your own burger section. The hot dog is ridiculously long, 12 inches as the name suggests, and is served on a white bun with a side of kraut, caramelized onion and relish. Both meals come with French fries, but if you are really feeling sentimental they offer tater tots and sweet potato tots as sides as well.
Dessert time. On the menu is “made fresh to order” cotton candy and KGB’s s’mores, but we order the red velvet whoopie pie instead. It comes out perfect for sharing. The plate consists of three mini pies drizzled with chocolate and filled with a whipped cream cheesecake. There is a chocolate sauce for dipping, too.
All in all, my experience at KGB is a positive one. The menu is fun and creative. Through the end of the year, KGB is offering a new burger and shake combo each month. September’s combo is a turkey burger paired with a limeade milkshake. Ordered separately, the burgers are $14 and the shakes are $6, while the burger and shake of the month combo is $18.
KGB: Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers | Sun.-Thur., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-midnight | Harrah’s | 702-369-5065
For the Bad Kid: Monkey Bread and an After School Special at Culinary Dropout
My favorite meal, hands down, was at Culinary Dropout. Best described as a “little rebel child,” the trendy gastropub lives up to its reputation with a casual but hip atmosphere. The staff does not wear uniforms and two-thirds of the menu is dedicated to beer, wine and cocktails. I look over the cocktail menu and order an After School Special. The drink is a combination of raspberry tea-infused tequila and Modelo, and as I drink my cocktail I am told to continue to add more Modelo to it for full effect.
Choosing the appetizers is easy. Immediately we are drawn to the soft pretzels & provolone fondue. We also order the grilled cheese sliders even though they are technically not on the appetizer list. I mean, who didn’t love grilled cheese sandwiches as a kid? We can’t resist. Our first round comes out and the sliders are delicious, with tomato and bacon to give the classic meal an adult spin. But really it’s the pretzel bites and provolone fondue that steal the show. The soft pretzel and warm, melted cheese combination sent my tastebuds to heaven.
For dinner, I order the 36-hour pork ribs and my companion orders the fried chicken. The meat on my ribs is so tender I don’t even need to use my knife, they fall right off the bone with just my fork. I guess that’s what happens to ribs when they are specially cooked for 36 hours. And, oh my, are they delicious! Covered in a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce, the ribs melt in my mouth. The fried chicken is just as wonderful as the ribs with a pleasantly surprising, slightly sweet, honey batter. The chicken meal comes with a buttermilk biscuit drizzled in honey, mash potatoes and gravy.
Dessert at Culinary Dropout doesn’t disappoint. We order the monkey bread, though it is a tough choice between that and the peanut butter & chocolate tart. In the end, we don’t doubt our decision. The monkey bread is baked to order and comes out warm with a side of vanilla ice cream.
Culinary Dropout | Mon.-Thur., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri., 11 a.m.-midnight; Sat., 10 a.m.-midnight; and Sun., 10 a.m.-11 p.m. | Hard Rock Hotel | 702-522-8100