The British are Here

Gordon Ramsay Steak finally touches down and stands up to the hype

Gordon Ramsay swept into town this month with a TV-star attitude, bodyguards and a swagger rarely seen from anyone in his profession. Two of the most famous chefs in the world, Guy Savoy and Joël Robuchon, mentored him, not to mention the legendary English chef Marco Pierre White. So when a man like Ramsay opens a restaurant in your hood, he damn well better deliver.

I’m here to tell you he does.

Max’s Menu Picks

British ale onion soup, $17.

Fish and chips, $44.

New York strip steak, $63.

Spring succotash, $12.

Sticky toffee pudding, $13.

Besides Wolfgang Puck’s Cut—in my humble opinion, the barometer for a great Las Vegas steak house—only Gordon Ramsay Steak, new at Paris Las Vegas, offers so many surprises and delights.

As with Cut, this isn’t strictly a steak house. Ramsay, along with his executive chef Kevin Hee, has peppered the menu with an irresistible array of English touches and pub dishes. Sometimes, these dishes can be staggeringly expensive, such as the $44 fish and chips, or Ramsay’s $17 British ale onion soup. Are they the best examples of these dishes I have ever tasted? As a matter of fact, they are.

Unless you’ve been spending a lot of time in the Falklands, you must know about the “Chunnel,” the restaurant’s entrance tunnel modeled after the London Eurostar train station St. Pancras International. (Wink wink, nudge nudge—you’ve just gone from France to England.)

And if you don’t get the joke, look up. That’s the Union Jack plastered on the ceiling, and suspended from the fresco, a red neon light installation of Ramsay’s hands, an abstract, narcissistic idea that I’d call TMI.

But when an artist is as gifted as this chef, you’ll forgive him these transgressions. That onion soup is like a liquid Welsh rarebit, stocked with Boddingtons’ pub ale, and enough cheese to stand a spoon in. The Caesar salad has a beautifully emulsified dressing and Scotch eggs—in this case, sausage-wrapped quail eggs—an inspired gastropub trick.

Appetizers such as smoked beef tartare—delicious, but under-spiced and not as smoky as the menu implies—are served with grandiosity in a glass-domed bowl. I didn’t try the chorizo-stuffed Maine lobster starter, but I heard the “oohs” and “ahhs” across the dining room.

And a noisy dining room it is. There is great energy in this room, but if you insist on a quiet table, try to reserve one along the rail on a mezzanine perched over the main floor.

Steaks are presented on an eccentrically designed, mirrored trolley. I only tried one, a terrific bone-in New York aged 28 days by the famous New York City butcher, Pat LaFrieda. There’s also American Kobe for those who prefer more marbling. At $52 for an 8-ounce skirt steak, you’re not looking at a bargain.

Ramsay does beef Wellington, but like almost all his peers, mushroom duxelle stands between the pastry and the beef in this kitchen; no foie gras here. That fish and chips uses sea bass (called loup de mer on his menu), and is the lightest, crispiest version I’ve ever tasted, just like a first-rate tempura in Tokyo. Is it worth the hefty price tag? To me, it is.

Although the sticky toffee pudding with brown-butter ice cream is amazing, if there is one weak spot here, it is dessert. Service is competent and efficient. JP Teresi, an old pro, is running the front, and sommelier Jeff Eichelberger, aided by an interactive iPad wine list, is every bit as good as any of his colleagues in the city.

All I can say at the moment is, “Yes, chef!”

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Imperial Duck, Wing Lei

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Imperial Duck, Wing Lei

By Grace Bascos

Sometimes called Peking Duck, or Beijing Duck, this extravagant preparation is nothing less than imperial when it’s served at Wing Lei. The roasted duck, with its golden-brown skin, is transformed into two courses. First, it arrives at your table whole on a cart before a server expertly slices 16 pieces from it. These are tucked into fluffy white bao or thin crepes to make sandwiches with thinly sliced scallion and hoisin sauce, while the rest of the duck is whisked away to the kitchen to become the filling for lettuce cups.