What’s not to love about the name of this new Las Vegas restaurant? When I heard Hard Rock Hotel was opening a dining establishment called Culinary Dropout, I was smitten.
Here’s the thing: I’m not really a foodie. I know when I’ve eaten something that I enjoy, and I know when I’ve eaten something that is just “meh” to me. I don’t really know how to appreciate food; I just know when I do. That’s why I love places like Culinary Dropout. As the name implies to me, it features awesome but casual food that is not the norm but the specialty. It’s as if a Las Vegas celebrity chef said, “Forget the stuffiness. I’m making what I want to eat.”
My husband calls it a gastro pub. I call it inviting and friendly to the non-foodie.
The Culinary Dropout experience begins with the environment. There is indoor and outdoor seating, and the entire restaurant works seamlessly from the outside in. You don’t walk through a door to get outside; there just isn’t a wall separating the two spaces. It’s open and spacious, directly next to the pool, which emphasizes it’s breeziness. It also features an open kitchen, which is all the rage in Las Vegas right now, so you can watch your food being prepared. The bar — half indoors and half outdoors — is manned by plaid-clad bartenders who can serve up a serious number of drinks in a short period of time.We took a corner table outside and sunk into the booth for a leisurely, well-needed break.
The dining experience at Culinary Dropout begins with an antipasti selection of meats, cheeses and vegetables/snacks, which are ordered in the traditional sushi style, so making up your own plate ensures you get exactly what you’d like to eat. Several other appetizers and a raw bar are also available as pre-dining options. Though the menu is very user friendly in allowing diners to choose what they’d like on an appetizer plate, this can become quite costly very quickly. Beware of how much you order in this piecemeal manner. The drink menu (appropriately labeled as “vices”) features several fun, creative drinks for $10-$15. Beer and wine are also available, though fruit, wheat and berry beer is also a bit on the pricey side ($6-$14).
Sandwiches and salads take up a third of the food menu and feature fun twists on the classics — grilled cheese sliders, prime rib dip and turkey pastrami. Entrees, which generally range from $16-$30 include beer battered fish and chips, meatloaf, sweet corn cannelloni and chicken curry as well as a few seafood dishes. I had the prime rib dip, which was amazing, served with onion soup and big enough so that I could take home half for lunch the next day. My husband opted for salmon, which can be a bit of a hit-or-miss dish, and in this case, it was served a bit salty, though the addition of roasted apples in the dish was a nice touch.
We received one tip about eating at Culinary Dropout, and that was this: Do not overstuff. Do not pass go. Do not, under any circumstances, proceed to the exit without trying the monkey bread dessert. This was excellent advice, and the hot, cinnamon-y, fresh pull-apart dessert was perfectly matched with vanilla gelato served on the side.
Overall, Culinary Dropout comes highly recommended as much for its food as for its atmosphere. It’s fun and relaxing, and, best of all, you don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy it.
Our meal at Culinary Dropout was compensated, but all opinions are my own.
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