John Curtas is …

STK – Speaking of Stephen (Hopcraft, that is…)

Normally, ELV gets about as excited by the words “trendy steakhouse” as he does by the words “music awards show.” Which is to say both genres are tired and true ways to get the slack-jawed hordes beating down your door of mediocrity.

But damned if Stephen Hopcraft isn’t putting his spin on a place that spins some tunes, and some plates, that even a curmudgeon like us can get behind.

He does it with a menu that knows what it wants to do — keep the hip hoppers happy — and does it with enough flair to satisfy the occasional fussy gourmand or picky critic…or maybe just someone who wanders in looking for a good steak — unaware that this is “…not your daddy’s steakhouse.”

If there was any doubt, one bite of Hopcraft’s foie gras french toast will tell them they’re no longer in Fleming’s-land. Whoever had the idea of putting a nice, seared slab of foie with sweet, breakfast-y brioche, surrounded by a sweet sherry gastrique (sauce), ought to have a permanent place in the pantheon of un-passable, perfidious platelets. (Meaning: It’s that bad for you and it’s that good.)

Just as unique and tasty is his shrimp rice krispies — tiger prawns sitting in yes, rice krispies, over which is poured an intensely shrimp-y bisque — causing the table to crack up over its snap, crackle and pop. Speaking of shrimp, the spiced, pickled prawns are another good idea — sort of like a deep, sweet, crustacean ceviche that suffered only from there not being more of them.

As you can see, this is steakhouse food being dressed up for the party-as-a-verb crowd. All the usual suspects are here: salads, shellfish, steaks, short-ribs, chops and fish, but Hopcraft is tweaking the menu — a brown butter squash angolotti here, delicate dungeness crab on organic mache there — to appease, if not exactly excite, the appetites of those coming to or from whatever drinking venue they’re headed.

Fussier customers will find nothing wrong with his roasted Dover sole — a good fish treated with classical respect — or his organic chicken breast that tasted like chicken used to taste. We wish we could say the same for the lamb chops, but they were the same old de-nuded lamb chops that our staff has come to abhor…and could’ve been any old meat. Any old, perfectly cooked meat that is, sitting in a tart/sweet pomegranate vinaigrette (nice touch that). Those looking for the real deal in lamb, need only walk ten paces across the hall to Milos.

As for the rest of the meat, STK has a gimmick that works. All steaks are classified as small, medium or large — meaning you can spend as little as $19 for a 6 oz. skirt steak, or $79 for the cowboy rib steak. ELV found the $42 sirloin requisite-ly beefy, and nicely charred — about all we could ask of a steak from a place that turns into a nightclub.

As for the…ahem…nightclub atmosphere, we actually found ourselves liking the music being played by the d-j during our early evening meal. Things might get more raucous later, but the volume was tolerable, and the noise level quite conducive to conversation (unlike N9NE, Palm, et al). Everything from Oasis to Every Mother’s Son was spun, along with a bunch of quirky hits from just about every decade, that even made an old music hater like ELV tap his foot a few times….and give lie to the old axiom that music in restaurants ruins both the music and the food.

ELV’s meal was comped.

STK

In The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino

3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702.698.7990

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