Thursday, March 1, 2012

Escape from Douchery, Part 13: Public House at The Venetian

With the arrival of Public House at The Venetian, craft beer culture has truly arrived in Las Vegas... and at one of the most popular resorts in the middle of The Strip, no less.

Gastropubs serving upscale bar food and rotating craft beer selections have become all the rage in LA. What started as a trend for Eastsiders looking for something more flavorful than Budweiser to pair with their burgers has become a hot trend all over the city. Now even a square patch of the greater LA area like Studio City boasts Boneyard Bistro, a funky yet upscale joint that serves Kobe Beef Chili-filled Donuts, taps kegs of Russian River Brewery's legendary Pliny the Younger (a beer-geek obsession released just once a year that's so perfect it's worth murdering everyone you've ever loved to score a pint), and plays obscure indie bands like Woods in the background.

And now Vegas is getting in on the act, in the most mainstream of venues. While microbreweries are not a new trend in Vegas, Public House at The Venetian is one of the first high profile Gastropubs on The Strip. And it stacks up nicely against the many similar joints in Los Angeles.

Public House Venetian has an upscale yet loose and relaxed vibe, with low tables in the bar area and plush leather booths in the main dining room. Rich brown woods line the walls and flooring, while funky art hangs all over the space. The Pub-House can get pretty loud at night, with crowds of excited patrons drowning out the chilled-out background music. The food is awesome; I shared a few small plates, including Roasted Bone Marrow (a delicious taste adventure if you're willing to take the journey) and tried their Pub Burger, which compared favorably to the legendary offerings from LA's Father's Office and The Lazy Ox Canteen.

But the beer is the main attraction of a good Gastropbub, and Public House at The Venetian has no shortage of great suds on tap at a place with the motto "united we stand, pint in hand" (which is incredibly stupid but I secretly love rhymes, so I'll allow it). The restaurant offers hundreds of Beers, served out of taps, bottles, and casks, sourced from some of the best breweries in the country. I'm a big fan of Dogfish Head Beers (as is anyone who is "into beer" in a real way), so I started with their famous 90-Minute IPA. But then I found out that Public House had puled out the big guns by employing the first Cicerone (a fancy-pants job that is basically the Beer-version of a Sommelier) in the state of Nevada. I flagged the guy down to pick his brain/ prove what I knew (because I'm horribly insecure and was seeking validation of any kind). He clearly knew his stuff and I ended up getting talked into a delicious Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, which has also become somewhat legendary in Beer Advocate reading circles.  Like any great Gastropub, the owners of Public House are always swapping out what they have on Tap and in their Casks.

Public House at The Venetian is just a part of a trend that's spreading quickly through Las Vegas. Todd English P.U.B. at Aria has already tapped into the craze, while The Luxor is opening their own restaurant called Public House that's totally unrelated to the gem in The Venetian. The Cosmopolitan has Holstein's, while The Pub at Monte Carlo has a pretty decent selection of beers on tap. But The Venetian's Public House is your best bet if you want to experience an LA-style gastropub, with a menu of delicious upscale bar food, a funky-cool atmosphere, and a brew selection that will make even the most pretentious beer geeks swoon.

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