Once you get past the sign at the just-opened (last Friday) Ogden’s Hops & Harvest, you will enter a worthless and feng shui-challenged foyer that makes absolutely no sense:
This odd entryway will slightly annoy you, as it did the crowds who stayed away from the previous tenant (the without-a-clue Bottles & Burgers) in droves.
But pay no attention to this fatuous foyer, because fortunately, everything forward is familiar, fascinating and fantastic.
Beginning with the famous and flavorful blue corn muffins:
….a carbo and corn treat so fine you will fast forget the design failings. These muffins are so good, and so addictive, you will nonchalantly polish off a plate of them before you’re even done perusing the menu.
These muffins are so good, they ought to be charging five bucks a basket — but they don’t, so consider yourself ahead of the game here from your first bite.
From there you will notice the menu:
…again, everything a casual restaurant’s menu should be: short, descriptive, easy to read and mouth-watering.
Then, you’ll flip said menu and notice the superbly chosen beer list on the back:
…a list both familiar and obscure, that makes you want to try everything on it. (Btw: The wine list is equally short, but not quite as interesting and a bit pricey — but anyone who comes here to drink wine ought to be sentenced to a week at Marche Bacchus.)
From there, you should just close your eyes and dive in — to the best food suburban Las Vegas has ever seen.
Want examples? Then how about a fork-droppingly-delicious summer vegetable hash:
….or gorgeous mini-blue cheese souffles:
….so vivid with the pungency of Maytag bleu, you’ll be astonished with every bite.
Or, how about grilled artichokes with lemon, fresh mayonnaise and crispy capers:
…again as sharply flavored and pure as a vegetable dish can be. (The chefs at Poppy Den and Honey Salt could be taken to school by how perfectly seasoned everything is here.)
Carnivores will have nothing to carp about either, as the Ogdens (father and son Bradley and Bryan) have brought forth the H & H Burger:
….which may not be quite the equal of the famous one from Caesars (no wood-burning stove here (sigh)), but is a mighty fine hamburger by any standard. Pursuers of porcine profligacy will palpitate over the piggish perfection performed in the preparation of the crispy sweet and sour pork belly:
….again, a textbook version of how to make an ingredient sing.
Only one sweet was tried (those damn muffins can start to take their toll later in the meal, not that we’re complaining), but it was as superb as everything else we tried. Imagine if you will, a strawberry shortcake made with fresh, juicy, sweet berries, real shortcake, and luscious whipped cream:
…an idea most modern chefs eschew in favor of trying to gussy things up.
But great chefs — especially great chefs like the Ogdens — know when a classic needs no improvement, and you couldn’t find a better one if you exhumed the ghosts of a thousand Midwestern grandmas and asked them to whip one up.
It’s easy to go overboard with praise when you first taste food this good, but as we said yesterday, the proof is in the pudding — the pudding being how the kitchen will perform six months into its run, after all the press has been served and the hubbub has died down.
But anyone who knows Brad and Bryan, and experienced what they brought forth at Caesars Palace, know these guys can cook. Great American food is in their bones and in their blood.
And now it’s in our neighborhood.
ELV is well known to both the Ogdens and considers himself a friend to the family. But if the food was shitty, or the least bit underwhelming, he would tell you and them. His meal was comped and he left a $30 tip.
HOPS & HARVEST
450 South Rampart Blvd. #120
Las Vegas, NV 89145
(p.s. H & H opens tomorrow for lunch.)