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Desert Companion

At first bite: Gordon Ramsay BurGR

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Photo credit: Christopher Smith

Gordon Ramsay likes to play around with us. His TV reputation may be that of a fiery, demanding kitchen commander, but he’s got restaurants in Las Vegas now and that’s all about fun. And the first bite at his BurGR joint is pretty playful: jalapeño poppers set in their own little shot glass full of cheesy ranch dipping sauce. One of these peppers/poppers has seeds intact, meaning one is way hotter than the rest, our server tells us when setting down the plate. One man’s spicy pleasure is another’s frivolous lawsuit, no?

This whole place is a playground, a futuristic cafeteria done in colors of ketchup and mustard. The service, from young, well-trained and energetic people in odd, too-tight outfits, is as overwhelming as the environment. It feels like a foreign McDonald’s on growth hormones. But the food is much better. “Honey Pig Bao Buns” are a tastier appetizer than those danger poppers, a thick chunk of tender pork belly with hoisin sauce in a nicely steamed bun. The fries, made from less starchy Kennebec potatoes, are thrice-fried, which could mean ultimate crispiness or crusty dryness. Mine were fine.

Burgers are more than respectable, thick patties of a semi-fatty, very flavorful beef blend grilled over applewood. But I detected zero smoky flavor in the Farm Burger, with English cheddar, a fried egg and duck breast bacon, nor in the most popular Hell’s Kitchen Burger, with salty Mexican asadero cheese, roasted tomatoes and jalapeños (no seeds) and creamy avocado. But clearly, there’s enough juicy flavor in both burgers without an extra grilling step. For dessert, Ramsay’s outstanding sticky toffee pudding dessert is presented in push-pop form, and thick milkshakes get thicker with crazy custard combinations.

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So they’re having fun, but are we? At $12 to $15 per a la carte burger, you can complain about celeb chef prices all you want. But the cost at other fancy burger joints on the Strip are similar. At least you’re assured some tasty stuff here, and you certainly don’t have to buy a souvenir cookbook on the way out.

Inside Planet Hollywood, planethollywoodresort.com

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