The noise level was deafening as we were led to our table at STK, the new steak house at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. I’m not normally that tolerant of noisy restaurants, but this one has a good energy, and the crowd is young and voracious. As to the noise, no one seems to care.
The restaurant comes to Vegas from New York via the UK. The owner, named Jonathan Segal, is clearly aiming for a young demographic. Not your Daddy’s steak house, is the motto here. Amen to that.
Segal is apparently quite successful with this formula. He’s a London born New Yorker, and his company, The Modern Group, already has a chain of STK’s from the Meatpacking District in the Big Apple to one in Turks & Caicos, a current Caribbean hotspot. He’s also an extremely charming, urbane fellow. I wish him, and his concept, well.
So Vegas has been a natural expansion point for Segal, who chatted with me briefly over cocktails before my dinner arrived. The decor, by the way, is sleek and modern. Curved white panels frame the entrance and there are plush, semi-circular booths in the mezzanine-like dining area. Lighting is dim, without being dark, actually quite sexy. Some of the tables are literally elbow-to-elbow. No one seems to care.
The kitchen is being run by Craftsteak veteran and Bravo “Top Chef” contestant Stephen Hopcraft, who cooks with confidence, considering that the quality of the steaks here could be improved.
I say this because my bone-in ribeye was definitely second rate, although our Colorado lamb chops were impeccable. No one seemed to care.
Things would have gotten off to a bang-up start, had we been brought our delicious pan bread, which I requested three times, before it came midway through our entree course. I had heard that the barman didn’t know how to mix a martini, so I didn’t test the theory. My Macallan-18 was just fine, brought promptly, and finished quickly. Another followed swiftly.
The first courses were delicious. One was something called spiced pickled shrimp, which I loved. The shrimp were briny, fresh and quite pungent, served with a tangy, cocktail-like dipping sauce. I had asked my server, who was quite a rake, and a pleasant guy, for pan bread, in a metal skillet, which had arrived at an adjacent table just as they had been seated. No such luck.
We also had a specialty appetizer of the restaurant, Rice Krispie shrimp, a little like sizzling rice shrimp in a Chinese restaurant, which was also delicious, and even a little addictive.
These are a pair of big Tiger prawns, served with the cereal suspended in a shrimp bisque with Sriracha chili sauce, fresh lime and micro cilantro. It’s really a treat. Meanwhile, the two boys at the next table were eating a gorgeous, 2 and 1/2 ounce hunk of foie gras, on a piece of what looked like French toast. They did not seem to care.
Something they call the Parmesan wedge served as our salad, and proved the evening’s best course. This is really a sneaky Caesar, with fat croutons and a wonderfully creamy, intense dressing. I asked for bread a second time. “The chef is preparing it special for you,” said our server, “to make sure it is hot and fresh.” Yeah, riiiight.
Our main courses came promptly, along with two glasses of a Pinot I cannot remember, and a few first-rate sides, such as a terrific pudding made from sweet corn, and perfectly cooked green beans. But when a steak house can’t give you a great steak, the evening is a failure. This T-bone was flaccid, flavorless and gristly. Maybe we just caught them on a bad night.
The bread finally arrived, and it was amazing; yeasty, crusty, and as fragrant as a grandmother’s oven. We gobbled it up frenetically. The desserts, s’mores and a creme brulee, felt like an afterthought.
But by this time, we didn’t care.
STK at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. 698-7990. Open daily, from 5 pm to midnight. Later on weekends.
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