Sherman's Food Adventures: Craftsteak


Normally, I like to experience food that is devoid of any hype and/or celebrity influence.  That's why I love those little hidden gems or dives that might scare off most.  However, I do admit that I will dabble in the Triple D's phenomenon as well as celebrity chefs restaurants.  Hence, while in Vegas, we first ate at Todd English Pub and subsequently Jose Andres' Paleo.  Third up was Tom Coliccio's Craftsteak located in the MGM Grand.  We'd actually made a reservation long ago and pegged that as our highlight dinner of the trip.  Maybe I've been spoiled by some newer well-appointed restaurants of late, but something was missing from the decor of Craftsteak.  It was almost plain and uninspired.  Sure, the food should do the talking, but I was not really all that impressed with the dining room, especially the inset rooms.  Whatever the case, we weren't here to rate the interior design, we were here for some meat action!

First off, before our appies, we were presented with some fresh Dinner Rolls served in a cast iron pan with sea salt sprinkled on top.  There was nothing wrong with these puppies as they were soft, warm and only slightly crispy on the outside.  The sprinkle of salt really made the bun pop.  As for our appies, we got 2 orders of the Caesar Salad with whole anchovies on top.  Normally, this would be served with whole romaine hearts, but since we were sharing, they made it easier for us.  I found the dressing to be creamy, yet quite understated until I added a bite of the anchovy which predictably gave that salty kick I was looking for.  I personally would've preferred a touch more lemon.  Next was the Calamari which arrived with 3 tubes filled with chorizo, polenta and purslane.  I found the squid to be soft in texture with plenty of chew left.  The filling was mild with the right consistency.  Not an outstanding dish, but a solid one nevertheless.  However, the Hand-Cut Wagyu Beef Tartare was very impressive.  The meat was melt-in-our mouths tender with plenty of seasoning (topped with a raw quail's egg, chives and diced onion).  It bordered on salty, but was not overly so.  I would've liked to see a touch more acidity to balance out the saltiness.  Yet, that is all nitpicking, I'd gladly eat this dish over and over again.

For our mains, we had pizza...  No, of course not!  We're not Miss Y!  If she were here, she'd order the tuna or something like that. Anyways, Chill and I had to go for the 32 oz. Porterhouse to share.  It was impressive in size and thickness.  The double cut ensured the meat would be moist and tender (assuming we didn't request well-done!).  We actually requested medium-rare and it come out mostly medium with certain spots being right.  I know it is controversial for me taking it easy on steakhouses not nailing the doneness. However, a T-Bone and it's bigger cousin, the Porterhouse are difficult to cook uniformly because it consists of 2 different steaks (filet and striploin).  Therefore, although it wasn't perfect, the meat was still super tender and close enough to our specifications. Served on the same plate was roasted bone marrow and it was sinfully fatty.  Costanza ended up with the 22 oz. T-Bone and it was pretty similar to our porterhouse, being a smidgen past medium-rare.  Again, it was not a huge deal due to the quality of the meat.  Loved how all the steaks were cooked bone-in, which ensured moisture retention and added flavour. 

Snake went for the 18 oz. Ribeye and it was more or less a touch past medium-rare as well. Once again, that didn't really affect the overall tenderness and flavour of the meat.  Due to the fattiness of the cut, it was meaty to taste. Vandelay had the 16 oz. NY Striploin and what do you know, it was again a touch past medium-rare.  Big Apple had the striploin as well, requesting rare and it was more like medium-rare with some rare portions.  Yet once again, the steaks were still very good.  We also got some sides to share at the table and my favourite was the Braised Kale with bacon, white beans and Bordelaise sauce.  It was wilted but not mushy and flavoured nicely by the bacon and only a touch of sauce.  The Baby Spinach was wilted a touch too much in my opinion, yet was not mushy by any means.  It was simple made with only a touch of garlic oil. Vandelay was really looking forward in trying the Risotto because Tom Coliccio is very picky about the dish, especially on Top Chef.  This version was made with prosciutto, butternut squash and scallions.  We found it to be slightly underdone in most spots which made the rice quite al dente.  However, it's better than mushy I suppose.  It was creamy and lightly flavoured despite the addition of prosciutto.  It was a decent risotto but according to Vandelay, someone would need to pack their knives and go if it were on Top Chef.  I didn't think it was that bad though.  

Costanza insisted on some mushrooms, so we got the Baby Shiitake which were sauteed nicely with only just enough seasoning.  The mushrooms had an appealing texture and natural woodsiness.  Lastly, we got 2 orders of the French Fries with smoked paprika and sherry vinegar.  These were crispy and nicely made for fresh-cut fries.  They were peppery, smoky and uniquely balanced by the vinegar.  It helped cut through the fat.  Now, in the past, I've been accused of taking it easy on steakhouses when they mess up the doneness of their steaks.  That is absolutely true.  The reason?  Well, if the steaks are only a touch overdone, yet still is moist and delicious, am I going to send it back?  Unlikely.  I'm picky, but not that picky.  People who nitpick at everything have clearly never worked in a restaurant or have been exposed to how many variables exist in a kitchen.  With that being said, they still might want to look into the cooking consistency of their steaks.  Whatever the case, the food was good, service was fantastic and the price point was actually not bad considering the quality of the product.

The Good:
- High quality meat
- Excellent service
- Expensive, but not unreasonable

The Bad:
- Decor a bit drab in my books
- Steaks were all cooked a touch past our requested doneness

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