John Curtas is …

Getting Gruntled at CRAFTSTEAK

Not much going on the Sin City restaurant world these days food fans, so ELV thought he’d revisit a golden oldie…and check out recent reports of less than perfect steaks and inattentive service.

How does someone as well known as ELV accomplish such an undercover mission in such a well known place? Why, by sitting at the bar of course, and squeezing himself into a salad, three vegetable dishes and a hangar steak, amidst the cacophony of a Friday night. All was going according to plan for the first twenty minutes: we were seated promptly, the waitron at the bar was most pleasant and attentive, and we were reasonably sure no one knew who we were. Then, sudddenly, we suddenly felt the warm breath and smiling visage of Executive Chef Matt Seeber over our right shoulder, and before you could say “busted over a beefsteak” our cover was blown.

How Seeber spotted us in the middle of a crowded bar on a slammed night is anyone’s guess, but his super-sleuthing led to phenomenal arugula salad with Pecorino Romano cheese and fresh pine nuts being brought to the table…and to an interesting converstion.

It seems Matt and his staff took the time to track down the ticket of the Letter of the Week author who complained of terribly-cooked steaks and a less than stellar $400 experience. Seeber personally called the disgruntled customer, discussed his complaints, and promised to make things right by him on a return visit, i.e. promised to turn him from disgruntled to gruntled, the next time they dined there.

ELV can’t think of a more conscientious and customer-friendly effort from any restaurant in recent memory, and Seeber and staff are to be applauded for caring so much, and putting their money where their mouth is.

As for our $36 hangar (from Brandt Beef in L.A.) was all that this beefy, juicy, mineral-rich cut could ever be. It’s also the best bargain on the menu, as one steak is plenty for two hungry adults. Of course it was perfectly cooked — that was ensured as soon as they figured out who we were — but looking around at other pieces of prime being paraded past, we didn’t see a leathery, overcooked one in the bunch.

As for those vegetables, they just don’t get any better in our humble burg. Nantes carrots, snow peas with fresh horseradish, roasted, sweet Maui onions dressed with Minus 8 vinegar — they were a meal in themselves and reaffirmed ELV’s oft-quoted statement that Craftsteak is a steakhouse that even a picky vegetarian can love.

Maybe our mission was a bit compromised, but nothing about our meal made us doubt that Craftsteak can bring the goods as well as any meat emporium around. If you go, even if  incognito, it’s a fair bet you’ll leave more gruntled than when you arrived.

ELV’s dinner for two pictured above came t0 $124 + a $26 tip.

CRAFTSTEAK

In the MGM Hotel and Casino

3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702.891.7318

http://www.mgmgrand.com/restaurants/craftsteak-steak-house.aspx

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11 Responses to Getting Gruntled at CRAFTSTEAK

  • You need to rock a wig and some different nerd glasses and maybe a dress next time…oh and some hoter shoes

  • hotter shoes. . .

  • Not a comment specifically about Craftsteak, but based on a very limited data set I’ve noticed serious unevenness in the Las Vegas high-end steak houses. Sometimes they’re great (which, IMHO, they need to be to justify their prices), sometimes they’re very mediocre. I find this variability much more pronounced among the high-end steak joints than with other restaurants in town.

    I don’t know why this should be the case. What is it about cooking a steak that is more difficult to do consistently right than other types of cuisine? I don’t see or hear about these sorts of problems of quality control with, say, Nobu, Bouchon, or Guy Savoy. While every business will have off nights, from what I hear, they tend to deliver a pretty consistent product from night to night, and from year to year. Could it be that “the general public” is better able to detect an off night from a steakhouse than from other restaurant types? I don’t know, but I’m open to theories about this, especially from those with more experience than I. In any case, this uncertainty makes me reluctant to recommend local high-end steak houses, at least without serious caveats.

    That said, I appreciate the effort exerted to “make things right” for dissatisfied customers. For cuisine at this level, that sort of commitment to customer satisfaction should be de rigeur, but it’s nice to see it actually happen. At the same time, as everyone here knows, ELV is good at and for many things, but because of his noteriety he is probably a poor barometer of restaurant quality control.

  • Nice to see the follow up here John. I made a comment about the letter that precipitated this visit. This is still my favorite steak house in town and like you said the garden produce tabled here are absolutely first rate.

    With regard to NPC comments about inconsistancy, if the comment is about the beef I think one needs to look at the product steak houses are serving. Dead steer flesh is just not the same from every animal.

    As I said before my dad raised pure bred Angus cattle for 40 years shipping some breeding stock (cows) to Japan in the early 80′s to help them build their kobe program.

    STEER? why is steer meat the best. They knock the nuts off the males to make them docile and lazy. When they are docile and lazy they eat lots, lay around and get fat (keep the mirror away from me) This fatty, non exercised flesh is what we are looking for to make a perfect steak.

    Now just like most of the fat guys I hang out with some of us still move around a bit more than others. Some of them even try and play sports which sometimes involves chasing their significant others around the bedroom.

    On the ranch some of the steers even though they had no testicles still acted like bulls running after cows. Some spent their days fighting one another. Some though just sat and watched the goings on. Those animals that were more active ultimately end up with more muscle and tougher flesh.

    The point is that even though these high end steak places procure their meat from the finest ranches the steak still starts out as a live animal. Even though they are fed and handled exactly the same the meat from one animal to another is often different. This is something the restaurants just cannot control.

    Thanks again for the follow up on CS John keep up the good work. BTW They sure have a nice bourbon selection there don’t they?

  • Doesn’t ELV have some trusted *incognito* friends who would be willing from time to time to be a mystery reviewer at some of these pricey spots where the quality is questioned?

    There were more than a few ‘disgruntled’ commenters in the Craftsteak thread. That the original poster gets a comped return visit, and Vegas’ most recognizable foodie got a great meal, may not persuade many others to return.

    I’ll stick with Cut myself.

  • ELV responds: Great comments all! We agree with npc that we are not (and never can be) a good barometer of quality control. As to VivaLA’s point about trusted “incognito friends”: We have a number of them, but coordinating schedules and getting people to put their money where our mouth is is not as easy as it sounds.

    As it is, the best we can hope for is for our legion of followers to do just what happened in this case: go to a well known joint and post a letter about their experiences that ELV and his readers can react to.

    Lawboy Chris’s sartorial statement is equally well-taken. All we at ELV can ever do is hope to emulate the One Great Corey.

  • i have some gripes about these side menu items – Alot of that looks over cooked a.k.a – roached, masked under flavors. Flavors like minus 8 vin, honey and shaved horse radish. And monkey bread, why the hell would I want to eat some horridly sweet shit that is served at bunko parties and family holiday dinners. Its a restaurant for christsakes not a family dining room CHEFS. For those prices, think you can step up your game and serve shit that cant be had at home. Ohh, and it has to taste good. Is the pastry matrket that thin for solid talent?

    And minus 8 vin is so 2003, Fucking are the onions not good enough to be glorified on their own or something, that you have to ruin its natural flavors with that over hyped vinegar.

  • And whats a fresh pinenut as opposed to the shit that comes in the 2lb bag that most restaurants are using. Is the shit being foraged by indians in the grand canyon national park?

  • Craftsteak is the most consistent high end steakhouse around. Hands down. Their Kobe skirt steak is the most amazing piece of meat in town. To think that it is seasoned with salt and pepper only blows the mind. If you’ve never had that steak, get one (or two) as fast as you can. Worth every penny.

  • Chef Matt Seeber went above and beyond to make the situation right with the author of the recent Letter of the Week. I can’t think of another chef or restaurant in town that would do the same.

    As for my experience with Craftsteak, I have had the best meal of my life here… on three different occasions. Steaks (I’ve sampled several grades and cuts) are always done to perfection. Sides are worth the meal alone. If you’ve been fortunate enough to try the Farro, you know exactly what I mean. Additionally, the atmosphere is excellent. The staff always make my wife and I feel at ease. I enjoy knowing I am at a premier restaurant without feeling like a snob. Also, the music here is perfect (this may not a such a big deal to some).

    When the time comes for my last meal… no competition. Craftsteak all the way.

  • Company sponsored dinner at Craft – best bonus I’ve had in years. Everthing and I mean everything was excellent. Kobe tartar, chilled romaine, and a sampling of several cuts of beef – dessert never had a chance.
    BTW – disgruntled is the condition a pig is in when it loses it’s voice.

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