Restaurant Week 2010. Unlike other RW menus where you choose one option for each of the three courses, at Craftsteak they give you everything and serve it family style. That makes it one of the better values for RW, in my opinion.

The first course consisted of four dishes. The best of the group was the Italian Buffalo Mozzarella with Hazelnuts. The Vermont Farm Quail wasn’t far behind. I’m no quail connoisseur, but I thought the gaminess of it was pretty mild. The cucumber salad with arugula, watercress and ginger was pretty good and the fourth dish — the shaved fennel — was largely forgettable. Despite a citrusy taste, it was a little bland.

The entrees were two cast iron dishes of grilled angus skirt steak and a flat iron steak, both cooked medium rare. I realize that neither is a great cut of beef to start with and it definitely showed. While the flavor and seasoning was spot on, the texture was a little tough, especially with the flat iron steak. It was so tough that we couldn’t finish either one (plus there was so much other food). But we did take home the leftovers as a treat for my two dogs. There probably aren’t too many canines who can say they dined on some of Tom Colicchio’s dishes. The third entree that they brought out was a dish with 2 huge scallops topped with fennel. They were perfectly seared and delicious.

There were three side dishes that accompanied the meal — sweet corn with green onions, organic baby shiitake mushrooms, and a Yukon gold potato puree. All were amazing, although the potatoes were a bit too runny for me. My biggest complaint about the sides — and all the food in general — is that everything’s cooked with so much oil and butter that it feels really heavy. Paula Dean would be in heaven, but for someone who tries to eat marginally healthy (ok, minus all the desserts I eat) it was a shock to the system.

Rounding out the dinner were two desserts. The first was a peach sorbet with sliced peaches and meringue. I’m not a huge fan of meringues, but theirs was light and airy and the sorbet was refreshing. I typically prefer chocolate desserts, so the peach sorbet wasn’t my favorite. The second dessert was a molten chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream. Now, that dessert was a home run. Rich and chocolatey with an ooey gooey center that spills out when you cut into it. I’ve tried numerous versions of molten chocolate cakes at other restaurants and this version was one of the better ones I’ve had.

To drink, we ordered two wine flights with our dinner, each centered around a single vineyard and featuring different varietals. Both the Quintessa flight ($75) and Duckhorn flight ($55) paired nicely with the food. Their wine list is fairly extensive and most bottles have a ridiculously high mark-up.

We had two servers during our meal and both were attentive and professional without being pretentious or snooty. The food was brought out quickly, although the pace of the meal was very comfortable. Water glasses were constantly being refilled and the servers stopped by often to check in on us.

Even though I wasn’t crazy about the cuts of beef we had, I’d gladly come back to try a filet or ribeye. Their wagyu menu looks amazing, albeit expensive. If you come here, come hungry and with a fat wallet.

3.5 Stars

— Updated below: 9/22/12 —

My first visit to Craftsteak was two years ago during restaurant week. I left underwhelmed and didn’t think I’d be back. But, I returned recently and the experience was so good that I came back for a third visit a couple weeks later. On my two most recent visits I dined in their lounge where the service was impeccable, the atmosphere was relaxed, and the food flawless.

If you go to Craftsteak splurge for their domestic wagyu at the very least (they also have Australian Wagyu and recently received real wagyu from Japan). The wagyu skirt steak (14 oz) will give you a new appreciation for that cut of beef. It’s so tender that you can cut it with a butter knife. It has the tenderness of a filet with the flavor of a rib eye.

There are plenty of other items that shouldn’t be missed. The brown butter in the sweet corn intensifies the dish’s flavors, making it a highly addictive side dish. One that I’ve been craving ever since. The potato puree was incredibly rich and creamy, the avocado salad was perfectly balanced with its acidity and sweetness, and the roasted beets feature a variety of the vegetable that will turn you into an instant fan.

The sea scallops feature three beautifully seared scallops surrounding a mound of shaved fennel served in a sauce pan. The hand-cut wagyu tartare is a delicious rendition with plenty of seasoning, red onions, and chives topped with an egg to make a flavorful mix for the plateful of crostinis. The cheese grits were as creamy as expected and the bacon added a nice savory and crunchy texture.

As for other entrees we’ve sampled, the 24 hour short rib is a hearty portion of beef served on the bone in a sauce pan with cipollini onions, chives, red onions and carrots. The Maine lobster entree comes in a copper pot with large chunks of the meaty crustacean waiting to be devoured. The meat from the tail was still sitting in its shell but the rest was de-shelled.

The real showstopper (besides the skirt steak) is the cinnamon monkey bread. I’ve heard others rave about it and now I know why. It’s like the most delicious bread pudding you can have that has been topped with a sinfully sweet pecan toffee accompanied by brown sugar sour cream ice cream. The cheesecake, while not as amazing as the monkey bread, was a fairly light and creamy dessert perfect for those who want a more subtle end to their meal. A recent addition to the dessert menu is a tantalizing peanut butter mouse topped with caramel popcorn and sea salt with a side of ice cream.

After two amazing meals this place is back up there with my other favorite steakhouses. Yeah, it’s pricey, but it’s in line with pricing at similar spots around town. Because of the way most dishes are plated, it’s ideal for those who want to share. Although the food is so good it may be difficult to do so, especially with that monkey bread.

5 Stars

MGM Grand
3799 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 891-7318

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