Kerry Simon’s new spot, Carson Kitchen, serves some of the most innovative fare yet from the “rock ’n’ roll chef.”
The Devil’s Eggs at Carson Kitchen combine pancetta and caviar for a creamy wower of an appetizer.
Sitting on the massive butcher-block bar that separates a few lucky diners from the open kitchen at Kerry Simon’s new Carson Kitchen in Downtown is a colorfully labeled “swear jar.” It’s a cute touch, you might think—as I naïvely did. And then you dip your toasted slice of baguette into the cast-iron skillet of sizzling bacon jam—sweet, vinegary, and smoky, with just a little lingering heat—and suddenly understand its purpose.
Simon’s “Rock ’n’ Roll Chef” moniker has stuck since Rolling Stone administered it years ago, and with his dedicated following, he and partner Cory Harwell didn’t have to go small with their next venture. But the 60-seat restaurant with its 40-seat rooftop patio is precisely what this pre-gentrifying stretch of Carson Street was crying out for. Occupying the newly renovated John E. Carson building, a stark white former flophouse, it is the kind of cozy neighborhood joint that Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh likely envisioned when he infused the Downtown economy with $350 million.
You’ll have to wait for a seat (reservations are taken only for parties of six or more), but it’s well worth standing on line for serious winners—nothing over $20—like the addictively crispy fried chicken skins with smoked honey, the veal meatballs in silky foie gras sherry cream, and a rabbit ragu whose slight peppery flavor doesn’t stop where the natural pepperiness of its spaghetti squash base begins. The secret of the mac and cheese is evident the moment you pierce its crunchy crust (we’re not telling).
Order both the glazed doughnut bread pudding, made from day-old doughnuts from next door’s O Face Doughnuts and soaked in three-rum caramel and vanilla crème anglaise, and the criminally dense bourbon fudge brownie, with its brown butter bacon ice cream and candied bacon on top. We have it on good authority that Hsieh, here five nights a week, sometimes douses his with a shot of Pappy Van Winkle. Now, where’s that jar? You’ll be donating. 124 S. Sixth St., 702-473-9523