The State of the Steak in Las Vegas

It's hard to beat the taste of steak. Steak stacks up not only in taste but versatility. From sizzling sirloins to succulent strips, steak is America's favorite meat. It is known for its preparation diversity and it can be paired with many different types of food and beverages. And while steak has never gone out of style, recently it has become meat in demand as evidenced by the steakhouse explosion across the country.

Steakhouses evolved from the traditional "Chop Houses" in the late 1700's and 1800's and today they are more popular than ever. People love to go out for steak, and their insatiable appetite for this beefy delicacy makes it the most ordered item on the menu. The diners of today want mouth-watering flavor, superior quality and an overall great dining experience and they are willing to pay top dollar for it. Selling steak greatly impacts the bottom line. It yields a higher selling price than most meat and that increases the overall profitability of a restaurant's operation.

I spoke with the chefs and general managers of several successful Vegas steakhouses and they explained the difference between a good steak and a great steak. While they all bring their own individuality, creativity and special flair to the menu, basically they have not changed the way they prepare their steaks because there's no need to … less is more … the less you do to the steak, The more flavorful it is.

AJ's, inside the Hard Rock Hotel, will take you back in time. It offers a bit of Las Vegas nostalgia. I spoke with Executive Chef Tom McGrath who contributed the success of his restaurant to 'being part of the Hard Rock Hotel experience'. "We draw a hip young crowd that fits into the theme, and we offer a great menu. Our steaks are dry-aged and 100% Prime. We season them with our own special seasoning season and then they're charbroiled to perfection. Signature dish is two perfectly grilled 4 oz. Filets served with garlic whipped potatoes, caramelized onions and black demiglaze.If you like generous portions of mouth-watering steaks, AJ's is the place. "

ENVY, at The Renaissance Las Vegas, is the definition of a steakhouse with sophistication; Featuring a menu that is tailor to those who truly appreciate steak. Chef Bradley Manchester says the key to their successful menu is in the seasoning. "It's all about the ingredients, knowing where those ingredients come from and knowing how to use them in the most efficient way. All of our steaks are Prime. We have our own company who ages our steaks for us. 18 oz. New York and the 22 oz. Bone-in Rib Eye. We use French Sea Salt and toasted Telacherry Peppercorn to season the steaks. The Telacherry Peppercorn gives it the flavor of black pepper but not the heat that comes from black pepper. We cook our steaks on both sides at a high temperature. Basically we set the steaks on the grill over an open flame and we leave them there. We do not do a lot of poking or turning. We also serve killer seafood and desserts with An 'adult' twist. We're all about creating good food for good people. "

GALLAGHER'S STEAKHOUSE, in the New York-New York Hotel, is one of America's great steakhouses. A recreation of the original legendary steakhouse that opened in New York City in 1927, this warm inviting restaurant is the perfect place for carnivores. "We really have not changed the way we prepare our steaks," said Damien McEvoy, Executive Chef of Ark Restaurants. "We do not need to because the way we prepare them works. We wet-age our meat for 90-120 days in a Cryovac, then the meat is taken out and dry-aged for 18-20 days. The muscle tissue and intensifies the flavor of the steak. It's tender and delicious and there's no need to change it! "

LES ARTISTES STEAK HOUSE, at the Paris Hotel. This fine dining French influenced restaurant is "big on steak" said former Chef Ken Bozzo. "Les Artistes prides themselves on Prime steaks, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic and then grilled to perfection. The signature steaks are a 16 oz. Bone-in Filet Mignon, bone-in New York Strips and the salt-crusted Prime Rib. Big and bone-in, that's the way to go ". General Manager Maitre'd, James Valdez said, "Les Artistes is one of the few high volume fine dining steakhouses that specializes in a French California style. We also do the traditional sauces as well as Oscar style steaks and filets." The steaks at Les Artistes are big and tender with a French twist.

THE PALM, at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace, is a favorite of the locals and tourists alike, and often hosts Las Vegas' Who's Who. When I called my long-time friend, Steve Schirripa (aka Bobby Bacala, The Sopranos), to wish him a happy birthday, ironically he planned to celebrate that evening at The Palm. "The Palm is one of my favorite restaurants," said Schirripa. "I like the atmosphere. The food is always good and they serve a killer steak. The portion is big and it's delicious. I can always count on it to be consistent." General Manager, Larry Close, explained the reason why their steaks are always delicious and consistent. "Our steaks are corn fed Midwestern Prime. First, they are wet-aged and then dry-aged for a minimum of 35 days. We flavor our steaks with a little olive oil and Kosher salt. Need to over-flavor it. "

NERO'S, inside Caesar's Palace Hotel, recently completed a renovation in both the dining room and the kitchen. "Weave the restaurant a face lift, giving it a more contemporary look and feel," said Executive Chef Sean Griffin who prepares a succulent feast of steaks fit for an emperor. Nero's is synonymous with incredible steaks and Chef Sean explains why. "I have a passion and respect for food and everything about it, and I surround myself with a great team who feels the same way. We offer the highest quality meat, seafood and produce at the peak of their season. Incredible product, it keeps its integrity. The finished result is a beautiful thing. Our steaks are Prime, and we dry-age them on the promise and t hat gives us complete control of the aging process. Different toppings and sauces for our steaks from Point Reyes Blue Cheese and Bone Marrow Crusts to Chimichuri and 3 Peppercorn Sauces. For those who are looking for something incredibly decadent, I suggest the Liquid Foie Gras sauce; it's over the top! Our signature steak is The Rib Eye "Lollipop"; a 32 oz. Steak with a bone attached that is reminiscent of something you would have for dinner at The Flinstones.It's a big topic of conversation when we bring it to the table. " Nero's Restaurant, with their exceptional selection of superior steaks, caters to the steak lover in all of us.

N9NE Steakhouse, inside The Palms Hotel, has been a "trendy hotspot" for locals and tourists since it opened in November 2001. This hip and hugely popular steakhouse offers a delicious menu of Chicago-style steaks that reflect the culinary talents of Executive Chef Barry Dakake and his team. Chef Barry contends the success of his restaurant to two reasons: "Number one is consistency and two, great leadership in both the front of the house and the back of the house. This comes from our owners. It's a whole package. " I asked Chef Barry about the preparation of his steaks. "Our steaks are USDA Prime and wet-aged only. We do not dry-age them or marinate them. We season them with salt and pepper and broil them
in 600-degree ovens. In double Rib Eye. It's delicious. " I asked him about new trends with his menu. "We get 'intimate' with our customers; we always want to know what they like. LaTely we've been featuring a 16 oz. Bone-in Filet. The bone-in adds flavor. I also spoke with Chef Michael Kornick, who opened the first N9NE restaurant in Chicago in April of 2000. "Steakhouses are a huge draw for people who seek food on impulse and for pleasure. Great steak with the finest ingredients. We have a great reputation in town because we have a commitment to quality. "

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