Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Craftsteak: Las Vegas

While in Las Vegas I knew that we had to go to a steakhouse. But there are so many choices available, and so many opinions as to which are the best. In the end I decided on Craftsteak, one of Chef Tom Colicchio's restaurants.

I previously reviewed one of Chef Colicchio's cookbooks, Think Like A Chef, and it certainly helped to persuade me that I had made a good choice. His cookbook had impressed me and his restaurants certainly garnered much praise. And I liked what I saw on the menu on the restaurant website.

Located in the MGM Grand Hotel, Craftsteak presents an elegant but unpretentious ambiance. Like most steakhouses, the menu is primarily ala carte and they also have several tasting menu options. The options though are more varied than many traditional steak houses. In the end, the three of us opted for the Kobe Beef Tasting Menu ($130 per person). The restaurant carries American, Australian and Japanese Wagyu beef.

The menu is a bit misleading as to the tasting menus. For example, the Kobe Beef Tasting states it is "Three Courses." Many would assume you then get an appetizer, entree and dessert. But that was not the case. You actually get several appetizers, three entrees and around six or so desserts. It is all family style, so the entire table shares all of the food. All of the "Three Courses" references are actually for the number of entrees you receive. This certainly makes the tasting menus a better value than if they were the standard three course of appetizer, entree and dessert.

Of the appetizers, my favorite was the Kobe Beef Tartare. This large mound of diced Kobe Beef was perfectly spiced and topped by a raw egg. There were an ample portion of small toasts to smear the beef upon. This had to have been of one of the best tartares I can remember having in some time. Silky smooth with plenty of interesting flavors. We also had some good grilled prawns and roasted peppers. Everything was delicious and portions were good-sized.

Our three entrees were three different cuts of Kobe Beef, including a filet and strip streak. Each was simply cooked but they needed little extravagance. Each also had its own unique taste and texture, the consensus favorite being the silky filet. Each dish contained plenty of beef though we made sure to leave nothing remaining. One of my friends felt this was the best steakhouse he had ever been in. I certainly feel it is an impressive restaurant and near the top of my list for favorite steakhouses. Along with the beef, we had a large bowl of very creamy mashed potatoes, some asparagus and mushrooms. All were very good.

With our dinner, we did order a couple bottles of wine. The first was a 2005 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir, a kind of cult Pinot from California that is very difficult to find, and which can be expensive when you do. This was my first time having this wine and it certainly impressed me very much. Very Burgundian in style with lots of complexity, great flavor and a lingering finish. The second bottle was a Miguel Merino Rioja from Spain. Though this producer is not as famous as some, he makes fantastic wines and is definitely a name that will become more prominent with time. The Rioja was delicious.

I cannot remember all of the desserts that got served. It almost seemed endless. My favorite was the Brioche Bread Pudding, just an amazing dish of custardy heaven. There was a bowl of strawberries and pineapple, a liquid chocolate cake, a sample of ice cream and sorbet, and a tarte. And I could be missing at least one more. We were far too stuffed to finish all of the deserts but we did a good job of trying.

With dessert, I had a small glass of the Alvear Amontillado, a Sherry-like wine from Montilla-Moriles. We also had a flight of Scotch, the Highland Park. This included 16, 18 and 25 year old Scotches. They have an extensive Scotch selection with about ten flights available.

Service was exceptional, with all of the servers being personable and attentive without being obtrusive. The service went off without a hitch. They were clearly well trained professionals.

Overall, this was an excellent dining experience, and one I would highly recommend to others visiting Vegas. I also would have high hopes for Chef Colicchio's other restaurants around the country. The food was exceptional in taste and quality. Service was top notch and the wine list is extensive and interesting. My second dinner in Vegas had once again been a home run.

Craftsteak (MGM Grand) in Las Vegas


Anonymous said...

Wow, this sounds amazing. Actually sounds better than Craft in LA. I like the idea of the tasting menus a lot, and don't recall that being an option when I went to Craft LA.

Richard, nobody will ever mistake you for a guy who doesn't know how to enjoy the good life!

Richard Auffrey said...

:) Thanks Jill.

I love tasting menus as they give you the opportunity to try so many different dishes. And if you may only get to a certain, high-end restaurant once, a tasting menu really lets you experience the best of that restaurant.

I will have to try his Craft restaurants in NYC now and compare.