There are only three places on earth, where ELV orders the same thing every time he goes: the double-double (animal style) at In-N-Out Burger, the jarret de porc a la choucroute at Brasserie Lipp in Paris (France, not Texas), and a Caesar salad, New York strip, and toasted ravioli at the Golden Steer Steak House. When we do, in a small, personal, bizarre little way, we feel for a few minutes like everything is right with the world.
ELV has eaten at the Steer at least twice a year since the 1980’s. It doesn’t have the best, dry-aged steaks in town,* nor does it make the best Caesar Salad.** It hasn’t any eye- or palate-popping items on its menu, and the kitschy decor has never been able to make up its mind whether it wants to be a bordello, the Long Branch Saloon, or an ode to the Rat Pack.
What it does have is a soul. An inner essence that comes from being in the same spot since ELV was in the first grade (1958); from having a team of older, skillful waiters who seem to like their jobs, and from working off a menu that waltzes with the steakhouse genre like a reliable old hoofer, even though it’s as dated as a Cook E. Jarr punchline.
You come here for steaks, even though Italian items — veal and chicken in predictable guises — are given equal billing on the right side of the menu and are, on the whole, reliable if unexciting. In the past we’ve also found the pastas serviceable (if decidedly old school). We can even remember having ordered a huge Dover sole once, and trout almandine — neither of which had us kicking ourselves for ordering fish in a place that screams at you (with its name, signage, and all the large caliber firearms on display), that it hates fish.
Those steaks are always impeccably cooked — the 16 oz. strip butchered the way it’s supposed to be — not like some pristine, prissy, unrecognizable rectangle of meat. Priced at $40, it represents something of a beef bargain these days. The peppercorn sauce they serve with it has a nice, deep-heat, black pepper kick, and the kitchen does equally well with bearnaise and hollandaise — both of which they provide in copious portions at no extra charge. Take that, celebrity chef steakhouses!
The other cool thing ELV gets here are good, old fashioned, St. Louis toasted (really deep fried) ravioli, which are great for soaking up two pre-prandial Beefeater martinis — which he also gets.*** The marinara sauce served with them may not be house-made, but somehow, once we settle into one of the black, faux-leather booths in the front room (don’t even think of sitting in the back with all the conventioneers), none of that seems to matter. We’re dining in the shoes of Sammy, Dino and Frank. Their ghosts, along with those of Bobby Darin, Louis Prima and countless others, still haunt this joint, and if you listen closely, you can almost hear “Beyond The Sea” playing amidst the tinkling of highballs and whiffs of cigarette smoke.
ELV’s standard issue meal here runs about $100 (including tip), and is more than enough for two adults — which also describes how much he drinks in these historic, booze-soaked environs.
GOLDEN STEER STEAK HOUSE
308 W. Sahara Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89102
* Because of the ambiance, history, friendliness, comfort level and price (and the fact that the steaks are plenty beefy, well-trimmed and well-cooked), this is one place ELV doesn’t give a Hoot (Gibson) about how the beef is aged.
** ELV wishes the lettuce were better trimmed, the cheese was of better quality, and the bowls were well-seasoned and wooden. On the plus side, they make them to order, will fine tune the dressing to your liking, and give you all the anchovies and croutons you want — either in the salad or on the side.
*** ELV is reminded of W.C. Field’s explanation for why he always kept a flagon of whisky on his person: “I keep a flask handy in case I see a snake….which I also keep handy.”