>> Monday, June 6, 2011
I love watching the food network. Whenever the TV is on at my house, it’s usually on the food network channel, I often wonder why I even need a remote control in the first place since I never need to change the channels (ok, maybe for the volume and power controls…but you know what I mean). It’s gotten to the point where my husband makes it a priority to watch other TV channels when I’m not at home. Apparently I overtake the tube when I’m home. One of my favourite shows on the food network is Top Chef, whether it’s Top Chef Canada, Masters or the original Top Chef. So you could imagine how excited I was when I found out that Tom Colicchio had a restaurant in Vegas and literally across the street from my hotel called Craftsteak at the MGM Grand.
Atmosphere: Edgy and modern with a simple rustic sophistication. The color palette creates a comfortable and warm dining area, where one can settle for the entire evening.
Price Range: Mid $10s - $40+
Food and Wine: Right after I made the reservations online, I proceeded to ogle over the menu at Craftsteak, so it really didn’t take too long to decide what I was going to have for the evening. Since my companions also decided on the same entrée as me, we figured it would be best to share everything again (story of the trip). I have to mention the delicious sweet buns that were offered to start the meal. They were served in a group of 6, with each glazed and shining under the restaurant lights. The bread was fluffy and doughy, delicious with butter or even on its own.
We decided on the Hand Cut Waygu Tartare Crostini as our appetizer, which was a lightly seasoned creamy beef tartare served with crispy baguette slices. Waygu beef is cattle that’s been raised to have a higher than average percentage of unsaturated fat, which provided the dish with additional flavour. Since we all know that fat = flavour. So this tartare was creamier than what I’m accustomed to, the only suggestion would have been to add a bit more acid to enhance the flavour contrast and cut through that fattiness.
As our entrees we all shared the Surf and Turf and the Colorado Rack of Lamb with sides of Crispy Sunchokes and Mushroom Risotto. The Surf and Turf Entrée came with a 6oz filet mignon and a choice of a Half Maine Lobster or Diver Sea Scallops. We decided on the Scallops, however, since the waiter got our order wrong we were complimented the scallops as well and I’m glad because we all preferred the scallops over the half lobster. Each scallop was seared perfectly (they came in 3’s), where the inside is still slightly raw and topped with a light buttery sauce. The lobster wasn’t bad by any means, it was nice and juicy, but we all agreed that the scallops were better flavoured. The turf portion of the plate was equally amazing. We ordered the steak rare and I’m glad we did, each bite was tender, juicy and moist. There wasn’t much chewing required and the roasted garlic on the side was a very nice touch.
Our lamb was cooked to a medium rare and came with a pleasant vinegar based sauce with juniper berries (I believe). However, I found the lamb itself to lack flavour. It was tender, but when compared to the steak it didn’t stand out in anyway. For those that enjoy the gaminess of lamb meat, there wasn’t much in this dish (not like I’m complaining since I’m not a fan of gaminess). I would pass if I had to choice to order it again and instead look more towards the braised short ribs or veal shank.
Both my companions really enjoyed the crispy sunchokes, but found them to be a bit over salted. We seemed to have solved the problem after mixing the dish around a bit to even out the salt sprinkled over the top. The sunchokes reminded me of a lighter version of potato hashbrowns. The risotto was a bit disappointing. There was a good amount of mushroom flavour, but the rice was overcooked. Even though the risotto was creamy the mushiness of the rice took away from the overall texture of the dish which was disappointing because if you watched last season of Top Chef you’ll know why (they let two people go because of bad risotto).
We couldn’t end the evening without a bit of dessert and after seeing the Cinnamon Monkey Bread online for the last couple of months, I couldn’t wait to try it. I was definitely not disappointed. The monkey bread was like little tiny bites of cinnamon buns smothered in a gooey pecan toffee sauce coupled with cinnamon ice cream. Even though the pecan toffee sauce sounds really rich and decadent it wasn’t. It wasn’t overly sweet, but instead gave the chewy little dough balls an extra oomph (that’s really the only word I can think of) that they craved. Ice cream never hurt a dessert either.
To cleanse our palettes we also ordered a duo of the Grapefruit Prosecco and Cucumber Mint Sorbets. The grapefruit was very light and the fizzy prosecco complimented it well, definitely cleansed our palates between the bites of monkey bread. The cucumber mint however tasted a bit artificial. You could taste the cucumber, which was refreshing but the mint tasted simulated, add to that too much sugar and the sorbet just fell flat with us, instead we just dug back in to the monkey bread.
After some hard decisions on the wine (it took a while for me to flip through the wine novel provided) we ended up with the Vignamaggio 2006 Chianti Classico. It was a medium bodied red with very light berry tones. Since we were having both steak and seafood, it was hard to pick something that wouldn’t overwhelm the seafood dishes. On the whole the bottle went fairly well with the meal; the surprise was it complimented the lamb very well. I would definitely order this bottle again if I was having another lamb dish.
My Picks: Surf and Turf Entrée, Cinnamon Monkey Bread
Overall: It was a treat being able to say that I’ve had a meal at one of the “Top Chef’s” kitchens. Experiencing the concept for each dish was a pleasure and I greatly enjoyed the food we sampled at Craftsteak. I would even go as far as to say it was probably the best meal we had during our whole trip and I did until I found that we had some issues afterwards. All three of us experienced stomach ‘pains’ afterwards and it sadly affected our final evaluation of the restaurant. However, it wouldn’t stop me from paying Craftsteak another visit the next time I’m in Vegas, but maybe I’ll stay away from the tartare.
3799 Las Vegas Boulevard S
Las Vegas, 89109