The New Old School

Old Homestead moves into Caesars, and ‘steaks’ its claim with colossal proportions.

Everything is about branding these days. Perhaps that’s why Caesars Palace joined forces with the Sherry Brothers, New York restaurateurs, to bring their venerable meatpacking district steak house, Old Homestead, to Las Vegas.

Truth be known, I was perfectly happy with the former occupant, Neros, but that’s no knock on the latest tenant. Across Cleopatra’s Way, the casino is readying the Nobu Tower, and it seemed obvious that they wanted to rebrand the entire neighborhood. So what’s the difference?

Well, at first look, more of the space is exposed to passers-by than was the case at Neros. A large plastic cow embossed with the words “We’re the king of beef” flanks the entrance. Cute, but so what?

Inside, it’s clubby and masculine: high-back leather chairs, red leather banquettes, chandeliers composed of amber balls that look like space crafts, a series of black-and-white shots of bridge girders in the Big Apple and gilded pillars of faux brick. Waiters wear black vests and long white aprons. Does this feel like Manhattan? Not on your life.

However, the meat you eat here is procured there, from Pat LaFrieda, a meatpacking district legend that sells to more than 600 restaurants, and the quality is unimpeachable. Steaks are dry-aged a minimum of 30 days, a number of them on the bone. You’ll pay for this luxury. At $46, an 8-ounce petite filet mignon is the least expensive steak option on the menu.

Chef Tim Henderson is manning the broiler, and he’d like you to start with an appetizer, salad or raw-bar item from the left half of the menu. If you do, you can’t go wrong with beefy, cheese-topped French onion soup, or delicious vine ripened tomatoes with mozzarella cheese and fresh basil.

I liked the “thick cut” apple-wood smoked bacon, which feels like a bargain at $5 a slice, but it’s assertively salty. Old Homestead Special Garlic Bread is another possibility, but at $9, I don’t see the point. The complementary breadbasket is too well stocked with addictive bacon-cheese rolls and the crusty pumpernickel bread I can’t get enough of.

Now, about those steaks … I’m partial to meat on the bone, and the big hitter here is a “lollipop” rib eye, a 32-ounce monster that would impress anybody. The meat is just about perfectly beefy, intense, tender, and juicy—steak-lover nirvana. I’ll be happy with that petite filet mignon anytime as well, but a 16-ounce version of it on the bone feels like a better deal for $12 more.

Steak isn’t the only thing for dinner. Petaluma chicken is a real meal. It’s a broiled breast with part of the wing bone attached, drizzled with a pine-nut pesto, presented on top of a delicious Tuscan bread salad. If you like Dover sole, there is a classic version, filleted at table.

Side dishes are classic, too, but a few stand out. Tater Tots with “Fat Boy” sauce—a mix of things you put on a baked potato—is a pure indulgence. The seemingly bionic crispy onion rings are pretty awesome, too.

The brushed metal-covered wine list is heavy on reds, and wines marked with a green leaf—like a delicious 2007 Clos LaChance pinot noir from California, reasonable at $65—are organic or biodynamic.

If by some feat you have the room, for dessert, the best choice might be a multilayered carrot cake, tres California, if you don’t mind. Hey, I told you this wasn’t New York.

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