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A Tour of Two of Las Vegas' Finest Steakhouses

by Darrell O'Rourke

Vintage and classic are terms which define a great steakhouse. Las Vegas is home to two such world class steakhouses.  Rosewood Grille's classic elegance is always comfortably in style.  Alan Albert's Vintage Steakhouse embraces a more nostalgic approach that pays tribute to some of the early icons of Las Vegas.

Alan Albert's creates this vintage ambience with wonderful black and white photos of Las Vegas landmarks and celebrities going back to the 1940s. Like Vegas, many of these pictures have great stories. Rich, dark woods, high backed booths and dim candlelight create a feeling of intimacy rarely found in the type of restaurant being built today.  This place has personality! You know, the type of place you'd expect to see Frank, Sammy and Dino.

A feature of Alan Albert's are their thick 14 ounce Filet Mignons dedicated to the visionaries who helped to shape Las Vegas. Ben (don't call him Bugsy) Siegel set the stage with the Flamingo. Wilbur Clark defined elegance with the Desert Inn.  Jay Sarno helped create our first themed resorts, Circus Circus and Caesar's Palace.

The Clark features a rich, yet vibrant sauce. The chef deglazes the meat juices in the pan with red wine then quickly adds a demi-glace to retain the red berry flavors, while adding richness. After reducing the sauce, a cognac flambe is used to add additional complexity and texture. Served with a pepper spiked potato confetti, the result is a bright, seamless explosion of flavors. When pairing a wine with this dish, it is important to have ripe fruit flavors that won't be overpowered by the lively flavors of the sauce. The Delas Cote Rotie 1990 is ideal. With ripe black cherry aromas and flavors, hints of spicy oak and subtle notes of ripe black olives, this wine is similarly rich, bright and complex. Northern Rhone, red wines, made from the syrah grape, often display this black olive characteristic, which especially complements charred meat.

The Sarno features a sauce with plump mushrooms, caramelized onions, red wine and demi-glace.  The end result is very harmonious and elegant. These round flavors require a more youthful selection like Anne Gros' 1995 Bourgogne Rouge (Pinot Noir) which cuts through the fullness with tart cherry, mineral and slightly leafy elements. In addition, the drying tannins provide additional structure and focus to the dish.

Rosewood Grille offers a very sophisticated warmth, that makes one feel Iike they're in the lap of luxury.  Considered a landmark on the Strip, Rosewood is a favorite for many reasons. Aficionados of cognac and single malts often make a special trip to relax in their quiet lounge. 0ther patrons come from all over the world to feast on their gigantic Live Maine Lobsters.  In fact they are so famous for the lobster, many people do not even realize this is a steak house with ten incredible steaks on the menu. They are first aged, then hand trimmed on premise, by Chef Sam Cuzela, a 25 year veteran at this location. My favorite is the Grande Steak. It is a giant, bone on steak cut from the Prime Rib, after three weeks of aging, then simply grilled with coarsely crushed peppercorns for seasoning. The complexity of flavor is fantastic.  With one of the best stocked wine cellars in the west, they offer a wide variety of mature wine unrivaled in Las Vegas. Do you want one of the top Merlots ever produced in California, exhibiting lush dark cherry flavors, with a creamy chocolate finish that lasts and lasts? Have the Beringer Merlot Bancroft Ranch 1991. You prefer a mature cabernet based wine from Bordeaux with a cedary/oaky finish? By all means, select the Chateau Leoville Las Cases 1970. Wondering how the Guigal Cote Rotie la Mouline 1990 is developing (rated 98 by the Wine Spectator)?  That too is in this treasure chest of a restaurant.

Mr. O' Rourke is a retired developer and a connoisseur of fine food and wine.


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