If there’s one thing you can depend on at a Strip restaurant, it is finding a great piece of beef.
Two of our major casinos have rethought their steak options. One is Caesars Palace, where the recently shuttered Nero’s will be replaced by Old Homestead, a New York City restaurant, in early December. The other is the Hard Rock, where a new concept, 35 Steaks + Martinis, is rocking everyone’s world at the moment.
But hold on. Where do we get steak at Caesars until Old Homestead opens its doors? The new champion is Bradley Ogden (731-7110), where executive chef Michael Gill has redone his menu with a large number of prime steaks to complement signature Ogden’s dishes such as the great blue-cheese soufflé or his seminal pan-roasted chicken.
As ever, you’ll start a dinner here with those amazing blue corn dill muffins, hidden in a bread basket also stocked with great sourdough and foccaccia. One of the best appetizers is a birdbath-size bowlful of Prince Edward Island mussels, buoyed up by buttery lemon broth.
The meat here is top drawer. I had a bone-in filet, perfectly charred and topped with watercress and tiny homemade Yukon Gold potatoes in thumbnail-size chip form, while a friend worked on a mammoth New York strip, loaded with beefy intensity.
The side dishes have become more steak-friendly, as well. The crunchy-topped, creamed corn mac and cheese is brilliant, served in a big ceramic crock. I’d also give high marks to the simply prepared organic broccoli, and the impossibly rich crème fraiche mashed potatoes. Desserts are by the talented Courtney Williams. Her huckleberry cheesecake is spectacular.
Ownership changes at the Hard Rock required the resort to replace the Rare 120 steak house, thus 35 Steaks + Martinis (693-5585) was born. The name refers to its 35-day-aged prime beef, and indeed, these steaks have the rich flavor we always hope for when ordering.
The room has been simplified and sleeked up. I sat on the mezzanine, which has a white brick wall, a parquet floor and framed deco black-and-white photos. Below me, the white tableclothed main dining room boasts a symphony of overhead Diva lights and lots of space in which to stretch out.
My meal was exemplary, thanks to chef de cuisine Chris Noble, an alum of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon. After being plied with breads, including a pretzel roll and an expertly crafted mini-baguette, hot house chips with a French onion dip were proffered.
The one misstep was the chopped salad, based on too much lettuce, but my 14-ounce New York steak had the perfect amount of char, served with a marrow-filled bone—a nice touch—and the side dish of apple wood-smoked bacon creamed spinach had a bacon-y edge to every bite.
The 35 Gimlet, a refreshing cocktail made with Hendricks gin, hand-squeezed lime and cucumber essence, anchors a short but sweet list of interesting cocktails. Everyone shouts about the “King of Desserts,” with caramelized bananas, peanut butter ice cream and chocolate-covered bacon, but I ran out of gas before I could get to it.