Hello Harlo...Las Vegas has been waiting for you.
2021 is almost over and we are now approaching year three of this global pandemic. But don’t worry, there is also some good news and a sure sign of improvement for our Las Vegas community. This promise comes in the form of a new first-class steakhouse called Harlo, which just opened its doors in Downtown Summerlin.
The new restaurant by Lev Group and Chef Gina Marinelli (from La Strega), replaced Andiron. While the location is the same, a lot has changed and for the better. Not only does Harlo offer an entirely new identity, but the space has been revamped to create a more enticing and full experience. The dining room has been opened up with a style that invokes both LA and Napa Valley. The intimate lighting and color scheme is transportive and the bar—now positioned up against the wall aligned with the center of the dining room—creates a sense of synthesis throughout the restaurant. And of course, the bar is where we started our OverRye adventure. Joining us as our guest judges included:
WELCOME TO HARLO The bartenders were confident but not pretentious and the drink options were generously accommodating. The restaurant even had a bottle of the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. This hard-to-find whiskey became one of our all-time favorites during a visit to Bavette's Steakhouse at Park MGM in 2018. We've asked for it at every restaurant since, finding it only at Scotch 80 Prime (now closed) for $70 a pour. But tonight was different and Harlo was able to deliver on the request at just $40 a pour. Jarrad ordered his on the rocks and Hayim and I ordered ours with a large ice cube (which to our delight had an “H” for Harlo engraved on top). A standard order of a vodka mule also proved to be remarkable. There’s something to be said about watching the bartender fuse together fresh ingredients with perfect timing. This happened drink-after-drink, which set the stage for the evening.
AT THE TABLE The service from the moment we sat down at our table to the moment we left was exceptional. That’s not an easy accomplishment in today’s world of staffing shortages and COVID-induced deficiencies. But for Harlo, the quality of service seemed to come easy. Leading the charge was our server, Jason, who was fun, witty, knowledgeable, and theatric in a way. He described himself as our “Sherpa” which was fitting considering the culinary tour and mountain of a meal we were about to embark on. But first, more drinks! The Juleps were interesting to the extent they have them on the menu and so many of them. We tried the Brown Derby and Triple Crown. Both were just good. The old fashioneds that followed were much better. Sydney ordered the Harry’s in Paris cocktail, which is a take on the French 75. It was exceptional. The wine during dinner was also a winner. We first ordered the magnum bottle of the 2003 Palm Terrace at the sommelier’s recommendation. It didn’t last long. We then tried a bottle of the 2013 Smoking Gun, another Napa Valley Cabernet. It too was great but remained in second place.
We were hungry so we were quick to order a few appetizers while we continued to explore the menu. The Oysters on the Half Shell are served by the half dozen. Our waiter said they were so good he wouldn’t mind a couple on his pillow before he went to bed each night. We doubled our order based on his remark and we were not disappointed. Fresh. Clean. And accompanied by yuzu-soy mignonette and cocktail sauce. Amy and Danielle said they were the best they ever had.
We also tried the Roasted Bone Marrow, Chilled Maine Lobster, and Hamachi Crudo. The marrow was decorated with three sides: an oxtail jam, port wine onions, and a scallion chimichurri. They all paired well but the oxtail jam was out of this world. The lobster, served with a Cajun remoulade and a charred shallot mignonette was also fantastic. The crudo was what you would expect…nothing more and nothing less.
TIME TO GET FANCY It's hard to ignore the urge of ordering caviar service, especially when it's featured as a key section on the menu. It has also been a while since we've done a review and we were committed to making our return to the steak and whiskey scene extra special. So, we ordered all three of the Harlo Caviar collations: the taco, egg, and macaron!
Starting with the Caviar Taco. This one-bite wonder might just hold all the answers to the secrets of the universe. At least that’s the feeling you get as it travels from the delicate grasp of your fingers to the unyielding mastication of your mouth. Delightful.
And now, the Caviar Egg. An intriguing micro-feast for the eyes that does not disappoint. Starting from the top down, the flawless shell of an egg is layered with caviar, Alaskan king crab, and a white truffle custard. You can mix the three layers to balance out each bite or navigate through each profile separately, leaving the custard to the end.
Finally, the Caviar Macaron. Jason counseled us, this is one of those items that sparks some undeniable love or leaves you entirely confused about what you just ate. And that was the collective sentiment after biting in. For the pallets at the table that are sweet forward this one was a mess. For the rest of us it was a hell-yes.
A TRUE KITCHEN PASS Before the salad course, the VP of Operations, Ivo Angelov offered us a special invitation to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen. A rare opportunity, especially for a new restaurant that would normally need more time to work out the kinks in their operation. But there were no kinks, at least none that we could see. The kitchen was clean and well organized. The staff was welcoming but also focused. The chef, Adam Rios spoke passionately about the setup and like a true master of his lab, he proudly decreed “there is where we make our steaks. We call her Cruella de Grill!” Adam pointed to the wood burning grill, a center piece of the kitchen that gives Harlo’s steaks that extra flavor.
We were greeted by our salad order shortly after returning to the table. Several of us tried the Classic Caesar, which was surprisingly served with a bread-crusted egg on top. The egg was fantastic. It could almost stand on its own as a separate appetizer. The rest of the Caesar was far less impressive, especially compared to Chef Gina’s Caesar Salad at La Strega. The lettuce lacked in quality and the anchovy croutons and dressing were overly fishy for our taste.
The Mediterranean Beet was another salad dish that fell short on this night. The beets served with curious coalition of chimichurri, labneh, and sunflower seeds were tough on the chew.
But, fortunately, the salad round was not a complete loss. To save the day, the Pastrami Wedge was excellent. Imagine a traditional wedge with all the typical ingredients but with smoked pastrami cubes instead of bacon. The pastrami cubes are made in house over a seven-day process. It was delicious and a clever modification that made the wedge stand-out.
Oh, and how could we forget the bread that came out with our salads. Marcus Aurelius once said, “the measure of a man is the worth of the things he cares about." Well, at OverRye.com we like to think the measure of a good restaurant is linked to how much we care about the bread. And we cared a lot. It was warm, perfectly portioned, and tasty. The butter was only half-salted accommodating both those who enjoy salted butter and those who don’t. It was another classy detail.
GOT STEAK? What came next was the reason we started Overrye.com. Steak! The 10oz Ribeye Cap at Harlo was one of the best steaks we've ever had and that says a lot. We ordered it medium charred, to enjoy a bit of the charbroiled taste without sacrificing too much of the natural flavor of a good steak. The 12oz bone-in filet was also excellent. Thick and filled with so much flavor that it makes you wonder if they should even offer its boneless cousins on the menu. We also tried two of the steak sauces, the Bearnaise and Peppercorn. The latter stood out but neither were needed.
Our entrée excursion would not have been complete without ordering some non-steak options. The Steelhead Trout was served with roasted squash, sauce verte, pepitas, and a spicy sherry vinaigrette. The Rigatoni was served in a spicy puttanesca. Both were great and fair competition to the red meat.
Of course, we also loaded our table with sides. The roasted carrots with pesto, wild mushrooms, mashed potatoes with European butter, green beans with almond romesco, and two orders of the molten lava potatoes—one with bacon and one without. All the sides delivered beyond expectations. The potato lava was the star and loved by all at our table. The carrots were also special. It's just not easy making carrots taste good, let alone different, and Harlo nails both of these benchmarks.
SWEET CHILD OF MINE From there, it was time to wrap things up with some desserts and in the spirit of being thorough, we ordered one of everything. The carrot cake with salted walnuts and candied pineapple was legit. The pumpkin patch with pumpkin mouse and toasted papetes was delectable. The chocolate cake was also great and not just because the flavors were on point but because it was interactive. Yep…interactive, which means caramel slowly seeps out from the top and around the sides by tapping on the hard chocolate shell. But the best dessert was the Orange soufflé. Light and bold with flavor. No doubt a testimony of the skills by the pastry chef, Alberto Rodriguez.
Finally, some after-dinner drinks to truly conclude our culinary journey at Harlo. A bit of Braulio Bormio Amaro for Hayim, which was good if you like Italian herbal liquor. And a 20-year port that was perfectly strong and sweet for the rest of us.
At the end, our experience at Harlo exceeded all expectations. The atmosphere was disarming and fun. The service was superb. And the food was extraordinary. Maybe we were lucky. Or maybe this new Vegas steakhouse is just in it to win it.
What’s the OverRye.com over/under on going back? (Date-Night Edition)
Hayim Mizrachi: “Over. I already went back! This menu is like Disneyland. You could come back 3-4 times and have completely difference experiences."
Danielle Mizrachi: "Over. The oysters and rib cap were incredible and well worth coming back for!"
Jarrad Katz: "Over. The service was exceptional, which made the food taste even better."
Amy Katz: "Over. I cannot wait to go back and order the Oysters on the Half Shell! The sommelier's recommendations on wine were also excellent and another reason to return."
Dori Koren: "Over. Harlo is the remedy. The atmosphere is transportive, the drink options are ample and intriguing, and the right food order is bound to improve just about any disposition."
Sydney Murdock: "Over. Between the ambiance, caviar tacos and rib cap, this restaurant is quickly becoming an all-time favorite!"