Downtown Treasure

Golden Nugget steak house rivals some of the best on the Strip

Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse isn’t part of the renaissance in the downtown dining scene, because it’s been at the Golden Nugget for almost five years. But it’s the best steak house down there, bar none. It even rivals most of the big-shot steak joints on the Strip for ambiance, quality and service.

This is a swank, retro room with a stained-glass skylight, amber-colored chandeliers shaped like giant starfish, tall leather-backed chairs and a gallery’s worth of snapshots of old Vegas, such as the one of Elvis with Liberace. Dino was singing “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” as we were headed to our table. No kidding.

Vic & Anthony’s main course: a 24-ounce bone-in rib-eye

Vic & Anthony’s maple-roasted quail appetizer

The room has a main floor and mezzanine, just a few steps up from it, where the noise level is slightly more subdued. My wife and I asked to be seated there, and wound up next to a couple on their honeymoon, eating a split grilled lobster. “The Strip casinos are too commercial for us,” said the groom. For those who agree, you’ll be happier here.

The cooking is a real surprise, and the menu has a few nonstandard steak-house items than can’t be ignored. I love to start a meal here with an appetizer of maple-glazed quail, two beautifully roasted birds basted with maple syrup and Sriracha sauce that I eat bones and all.

Another of my favorite dishes is the jumbo lump crab cake, loosely packed back-fin crabmeat with a few breadcrumbs binding it, topped with buttery chunks of more crab slathered with a chive beurre blanc. The restaurant, it should be noted, is part of Landry’s seafood empire, so you can order almost anything from the sea with confidence.

There is a shrimp remoulade, with a spicy pink sauce that ramps up the briny, sweet flavors of the large prawns. My wife was disappointed with her sweet and spicy calamari, heavy with breading, and weighed down with too many caramelized onions and sweet peppers. I liked my chopped salad, though, with its finely chopped field greens, cucumbers and a hint of tomato, salami and a microscopic amount of cheese.

And there are no letdowns with main courses. Steaks are wet-aged, USDA Prime and extremely flavorful. We split a 24-ounce bone-in rib-eye, which had exquisite marbling and a perfect char, while staying reddish pink in the center.

We also had a huge baked potato loaded with chives, butter, sour cream, real bacon bits and shards of cheddar cheese, and a dish of creamed corn so thick that my spoon stood up in it. There are healthier choices, such as broccoli or green beans, but who comes to a steak house for their health? As Dino might say, ain’t that a hole in the boat?

Save room for one of my favorite desserts in the city: a buttery brioche bread pudding—two mammoth, warm, egg-rich slices alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream, served in a pastry tuile.

And by all means, peruse the restaurant’s leather-bound, 800-bottle wine list. Wines are stored in a temperature-controlled room just adjacent to the dining room, and the prices, while not retro, are fair.

In the Golden Nugget, 129 Fremont St., open 5-11 p.m. daily; dinner for two, $79-$136 (there’s a three-course meal available for $46.95); 386-8399.

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