Remembrance of a steakhouse past


(The Sahara closed its mighty doors on Monday, and with it a substantial chunk of Vegas history. I felt it apropos to run this homage to the classic Vegas steak house, which House of Lords surely was. Here’s my tome, written back in 2003, with a few timely changes.)

When the Sahara opened in 1952, Las Vegas was a small town where Frank, Dean and Sammy ruled the roost. In 1960, the hotel opened a steak house, House of Lords, modeled after the actual House of Lords in England, with burgundy colored, high backed velvet chairs, and tables hewn from solid oak.

That restaurant is gone, but the House of Lords has been reborn with a Moorish motif, and the same cuisine, albeit with a few embellishments, that once brought the Rat Pack in for dinner at all hours.

The chronology is basically this. In 1995, the hotel’s late owner, Bill Bennett, (not the video poker player, drug czar and Christian moralist), decided to put one hundred million dollars into a remodel of the hotel.

In doing so, he completely redid the House of Lords, changing it to Sahara Steakhouse, decorating it ornately, the way it looks today.

Then, the Sahara decided to rename their once celebrated steakhouse, giving back the old name, and tweaking things with an array of specials created by Chef Rick Giffen, (now at the Stratosphere.)

Sitting in one of the Moroccan themed booths, it is hard to imagine Sinatra chowing down on a dish like Giffen’s ahi tuna with soy ginger sauce and wasabi ginger mashed potatoes. (That’s a dish I remember from Café Wasabi, where Giffen was formerly the chef.)

Read more of Max Jacobson’s reminisces about the House of Lords at