A night of gluttony at Hell’s Kitchen during sneak preview; Restaurant opens today (Opinion) (Video)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Walking to my table, I could almost picture Gordon Ramsay yelling at staff and throwing raw salmon against one of the colorfully tiled walls.

The famous chef opened his third Hell’s Kitchen restaurant this week, this one at Harveys on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore, and it features the same blue and red color scheme and menu as Fox’s hit TV show.

I was lucky in that my wife subscribes to the Tahoe Chamber newsletter and was randomly emailed an invitation to dine at Hell’s Kitchen, for a free preview, while restaurant personnel worked out the kinks in lead up to the grand opening on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

We jumped at the chance. And full disclosure, I got hooked on Hell’s Kitchen since the first season, so for me it was a little like winning the lottery.

The restaurant, located by the casino’s main gaming area, was stuffed full. It seems everybody jumped at the chance to enjoy amazing food for the cost of a tip — and that’s no small amount at Hell’s Kitchen, but we’ll get to that.

We started off with a pair of house cocktails. My wife tried the Meet Your Maker ($16). I sampled it and that bourbon smacked me right in the mouth. My head spun sideways before the mint, apple, strawberry and cinnamon stopped it from doing a 360.

I tried the Desolation ($16), which was basically a tasty, hyperactive margarita done martini style.

After numbing the taste buds, it was time to put the Ramsay “R” engraved goldware to use.

We started off with hot and cold appetizers, the well-known Lobster Risotto and the Grand Shellfish Tower for Two. That could’ve been a full meal right there.

The risotto ($24) was every bit as good as it looks on TV and the chilled shellfish tower ($85) was about 3 feet tall. The show stopper was loaded on three levels with stacks of oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, king crab and lobster.

We were already approaching full when our server, Fabrizio, took away the shelly remains of our tower and we still had Beef Wellington ($49) and Filet Mignon ($48) ahead of us, not to mention dessert. And I almost forgot our side dish of Mac & Cheese ($9).

We weren’t served, nor did we order, anything green and leafy, except for the mint leaf in the cocktail. It just didn’t seem like a salad-type of night.

Beef Wellington was a food bucket list item of mine after watching the show for years. And while it was spectacular, for me, there’s nothing like a well cooked filet.

We might have thought we were getting full, but we powered right through those main dishes, up until the last couple of bites.

After eating the better part of a small cow, Fabrizio just laughed when he came to collect our dishes, seeing that we were captured by food comas.

Then he chirps in with his heavy accent, “I’ll bring the dessert menu right out.”

What? … Ok. There’s always room for dessert in my world.

I had Ramsay’s legendary Sticky Toffee Pudding ($9) and Jill tried the Salted Caramel Apple ($9).

The toffee dessert was nothing short of phenomenal and definitely made to share, but the caramel apple concoction stole the show. The deconstructed dessert could have served four and the smoking theatrics put a cool capper on our evening.

The Salted Caramel Apple dessert at Hell’s Kitchen

We sat back for a few minutes, I adjusted my belt, and watched Hell’s Kitchen season 10 winner Christina Wilson dish out directions to restaurant staff, and just took in the whole scene.

I don’t know how many calories were consumed, and maybe I shouldn’t think about the gluttony. I woke up the next morning not interested in breakfast, and as I write this, I think I may skip lunch.

Maybe the best part of the evening was when the bill arrived and all we had to do was sign the receipt and not hand over the bank card.

Our bill was (Yikes!) $283.82. Since it was complimentary, we hooked up Fabrizio with a healthy tip.

Anticipation for the Hell’s Kitchen opening has been off the charts, with 12,000 reservations having already been made, according to Harveys.

For more information on Hell’s Kitchen, visit and search for the restaurant or call 775-586-6868.

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