Denise Truscello / WireImage / DeniseTruscello.net
Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Celebrity chef Kerry Simon is so determined not to let his continuing battle against the brain disease Multiple System Atrophy affect his career that he’s continuing with plans to open another restaurant. Returning from a nearly monthlong series of stem cell implants at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Kerry gave me the news first that he will open the downtown restaurant Carson Kitchen next month.
Kerry has taken over the old John E. Carson Hotel for his innovative cuisine: “I have long wanted to open a true neighborhood restaurant, and, as downtown is now the social center for locals, it is the perfect spot for this concept. I want this restaurant to feel like dinners I’ve prepared for friends in my own home, and I have developed the menu and design with those friends in mind.”
His new American gastro-lounge will feature an ingredient-driven, shared-plates menu with flavors that pay tribute to his mentor Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his hip Mercer Kitchen in New York City’s SoHo that Kerry helped open. True to his signature style, Kerry elevates classics with contemporary twists — from “Devil’s Eggs,” made with crispy pancetta and caviar, to a cocoa-espresso New York strip steak served with red wine demi.
With business partner Cory Harwell, Kerry is working alongside Tony Hsieh and the Downtown Project to embrace the developing culture of Fremont East. Kerry has kept much of the character and bones of the original Carson. “It’s a fun project to develop a restaurant that from menu to design feels like being in someone’s home.”
The 1,800-square-foot dining room will seat 90 guests with a design inspired by Kerry’s loft-style home here. His chef’s table borders the kitchen and doubles as an expo counter, while the stone oven gives the appearance of an old-school wood-burning hearth. Additionally, there will be a 910-square-foot garden-style rooftop patio for music, DJs and dining space with a lush, 6-foot-tall living wall of herbs and plants.
The menu, with an emphasis on sharing, includes social plates, sandwiches, entrees and stone-oven flatbreads. Social plates, from $6 to $10, include tempura green beans made with pepper jelly and cream cheese and bacon jam served with baked brie and toasted baguette.
The “Between Bread” sandwich section, from $10 to $14, includes short rib sliders made with root beer glaze; grilled cheese with apple slices and caramelized onion; and a butter burger topped with boursin and taleggio cheeses, lettuce and tomato.
Stone-oven flatbreads are $8 to $10 and include duck confit made with black mission figs and gorgonzola cheese; merguez sausage topped with fennel, broccolini and ricotta cheese; and wild mushroom complemented with caramelized onions and cabrales bleu cheese.
The sustainable selections from the farm and garden are $8 to $14 and include rabbit ragu with spaghetti squash and parmesan; kale and apple served with pancetta croutons and lemon vinaigrette; and black rice and oxtail risotto with a parmesan cream.
Fresh fish selections, at $10 to $14, include steelhead trout cake served with mustard cream; swordfish topped with lemon, mint and basil; and mussels made with chorizo, saffron and fennel.
Meats, from $14 to $18, include cocoa-espresso New York strip steak served with red wine demi; chicken roulade with chorizo and manchego cheeses; and roasted pork loin topped with apple cider glaze.
Desserts are highlighted by a bourbon fudge brownie served with brown butter bacon ice cream; glazed donut bread pudding made with three rum caramel and vanilla creme anglaise; and “Not Your Father’s” Twinkies.
The drink menu will feature more mom-and-pop-style selections to support smaller businesses, such as Jones Soda, Virgil’s and Tommy Knockers. The cocktail menu will offer handcrafted selections with an urban, masculine influence and will use organic spirit options from U.S. craft distilleries.
Selections include the “Old Wooden Shed,” made with No. 209 Gin, XTA Liqueur, fresh lemon and angostura bitters, and the “Brewers Fix,” made with Hophead Vodka, Bonne Maman Apricot Preserves, fresh lemon, simple syrup and prosecco. For beer and wine, Carson Kitchen will have a diverse selection of small-batch American craft beers and wines from boutique U.S. vineyards.
Kerry and Cory’s Simon Hospitality Group was formed last May and owns and operates Simon Mansion in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Chuck’s: A Kerry Simon Kitchen, in Chicago; and now Carson Kitchen. The company also manages Kerry’s previously established restaurants, including KGB: Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers at Harrah’s and Simon at Palms Place.
Deemed the “The Rock ’n’ Roll Chef” by Rolling Stone, Kerry won “Iron Chef America” and starred on “Hell’s Kitchen.” My story about his extraordinary fight against MSA and his courage and indomitable spirit was posted Dec. 12. He has undergone a series of stem cell harvesting and two spinal implants and awaits medical results.
Dr. Ryan Walsh, his physician at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health downtown, is organizing the first-ever global symposium of MSA experts to meet in Las Vegas in November to share information and trials and seek government funding.
MSA remains a mystery. It is not hereditary, nor is it infectious. There is no cure, and there is no known way to prevent the disease from getting worse until the brain disorder leads to a breakdown of the body’s muscles. Drug treatments, rehab workouts and stem cells try to curb the effect of the worsening condition and control the systems in an attempt to improve movement and balance.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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