At first bite: Wolf in hipster's clothing
At Due & Proper and Whist Stove & Spirits, the video poker tavern is revamped for a younger crowd
I often half-joke that for an authentic Las Vegas meal, your best bet is to grab a bite at a 24-hour video poker tavern. It’s our city’s equivalent of a New York City coffee shop or a Portland food cart parking lot — the kind of destination where the eats aren’t necessarily stellar, but the overall experience is heavy on sense of place. Seriously, where else in the world can you pick at a plate of bruschetta while waiting to hit a royal flush?
At Due & Proper and Whist Stove & Spirits, a neighboring pub and restaurant in The District at Green Valley Ranch, the team behind Downtown’s Park on Fremont and Commonwealth aim to upgrade the conventional tavern concept with its signature style. However, after recent meals at both spots, it’s hard to say which of the two is better.
First is the issue of the food: Both establishments share a chef, a kitchen and even a few menu items. Dinner at Whist is a touch more formal (entrées include Spanish bass and double-cut pork chop), but both daytime menus offer steak and fries and a signature burger at the same price.
The decor is similar too, and not unlike the look and feel of their sister properties. Expect a maximalist mishmash of neo-Victorian furniture, industrial fixtures and artwork that would make a steampunk Etsy enthusiast swoon. Points for the unique aesthetic (at least relative to the ’burbs); demerits for recycling it between four different places.
Even the servers are the same. Imagine my embarrassment when, only 10 minutes after leaving lunch at Whist, the waitress who served my table walked into Due & Proper to deliver a plate of whiskey wings.
But oh, those wings! Even though they’re served with celery, carrots and blue cheese dressing, they’re closer to a plate of crunchy fried chicken than slimy-skinned Buffalo wings. Guests can graze on other bar snacks such as warm pretzel sticks, sliders and chili cheese fries, or fill up on a proper plate of skirt steak.
I can only imagine that it’s as good as the version at Whist, which is napped with a red wine demi-glace and topped with a single roasted cipollini onion. An off-the-menu special of seared ahi with rainbow cauliflower and mushrooms was also a hit. Aggressively spiced with togarashi (a Japanese spice blend) on the outside, it lent substance to what I otherwise consider a bland piece of fish.
However, there were also instances when the kitchen missed the mark. A kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts salad was really just an uninspired bowl of overdressed, pre-washed spinach. And the Daffy Duck sub, a kind of highbrow ode to Capriotti’s popular Bobbie sandwich, was a letdown. The generous heap of shredded duck confit, herb stuffing, and cranberry compote should have sung, but the meat was dry and the bread tasted stale.
The highlight of both meals was the drinks. At Due & Proper, The Dead Rabbit (Teeling Irish whiskey, Ancho Reyes Chile liqueur, carrot juice, cinnamon), garnished with a rabbit’s foot and a baby carrot, is a dramatic drink with fresh flavors — nothing you would ever expect to sip while smacking a “deal/draw” button. And The Pick Pocket at Whist, which involves a repeat performance of the ancho chile liqueur (only this time mixed with ginger beer), is pleasantly light.
The only discernible difference between Due & Proper and Whist is that the former feels a bit more party-friendly. While Whist’s most attractive feature is an outdoor wall of succulent plants, the pub’s focal point is a “Wheel of Fortune” style game with prizes that includes pitchers of beer and shots of something called Dirty Bong Water.
In other words, the food is not necessarily the draw. Both are essentially your standard Vegas pit stops for football and gaming, wrapped in prettier packaging. Still can’t decide which door to pick? In the spirit of our beloved city, you may as well flip a coin.
2235 Village Walk Drive, Henderson,
Open 24 hours
Due & Proper
2235 Village Walk Drive, Henderson, 702-307-2714
Open 24 hours