Gumbo Hidden in the back of a Dirty Casino

Oyster Bar
Palace Station Hotel & Casino
2418 W Sahara Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89102

Dinner #1 in Vegas!  So in my search for something delicious and uniquely Vegas (as in one where they don’t have a sister restaurant in NYC… almost all the good ones do!), I found Oyster Bar, a restaurant tucked in the back of the Palace Station Hotel & Casino.  I had never been to Palace Station nor heard of it so did not know what to expect…   Palace sounds grandiose enough and the restaurant is rated so ridiculously well everywhere that in my mind, I pictured somewhat of a decent looking place.  I was very wrong.  The Palace Station is a smokey, dingy casino filled with unattractive drunks.  I was very skeptical that we had been taken to the right place… until I stumbled upon a huge line starting at… some bar.

The Oyster Bar is literally, a bar.  It is TINY.  Fits about 15 people around the bar and is right next to the slot machines.  It was about 10:00pm when we got there and we did not order until 11:30.  Craziness!  What could all the fuss be about…

    
    

They specialize in southern seafood dishes like Gumbo, Pan Roasts, and Chowders.  They have a really neat cooking machine (see bottom left and right) where they cook each dish to order (very impressive and unexpected for dishes like gumbo) in these attached metal bowls that heat up very quickly and swing down to speed the serving process.  By the time we got to sit down and order, I was miserably hungry.  And I really do mean miserable.

I wolfed down the sad warm little sourdough roll and ordered two huge dishes: one gumbo and one pan roast.  I had never had pan roast before and only knew of it as a method of searing meats…

A seafood pan roast is actually a shellfish based soupy dish where a variety of shellfish (in this case shrimp, lobster, and crab) are tossed together with lots of butter, cream, and tomato paste.  We ordered ours ($19.99) with pasta noodles and the gumbo with rice so we could try both carbs.  This pan roast was so flavorful, creamy, and delicious.  The seafood was clearly very fresh as you could still taste its natural sweetness.  Texture of the seafood was also not tough at all… very easy to chew.  The noodles made the dish taste like an overly-sauced pasta dish.  We asked for a spice level of 4/10 (which I thought would be too weak but we had been warned before…) and it was actually pretty spicy!  Just spicy enough so that I could taste it without needing to rest my tongue.  Overall, this was a very well flavored, warm, hearty stew.  I’ve never tasted anything quite like it but at the same time, feel that it is homey and familiar.  Think vodka pasta sauce with more spice and lots of good seafood…

The gumbo ($19.99), also with shrimp, crab, and lobster, was a mistake.  We shouldn’t even have ordered the gumbo in the first place because the pan roast was sooooo large and we were incredibly tired from the long wait.  We also shouldn’t have ordered the gumbo because it did not taste very good at all… especially compared to the pan roast.  For some reason, the seasonings just didn’t complement each other… it was ridiculously salty as well, unlike the creamy tomatoey pan roast.

Unfortunately, because we were so tired from the line and the travelling (we had just gotten into Vegas that day), LAW and I were both eager to get back to our hotel asap.  The salty gumbo dampened our mood and the sheer volume of food in front of us feel a little sick.  It’s hard for me to make a jugement of how good the food actually was because of the circumstances… but I probably wouldn’t ever wait in line for that long again.  If the wait is under 30 minutes (which it is sometimes… it’s a 24 hour place), sure, I’ll order just the pan roast to share and more bread on the side to soak up all the saucy goodness.

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