We popped into Prime the other night, unannounced and unexpected, just to see what was going on with the menu.
It had been a couple of years since last we had been in, and we were eager to see what Executive Chef Sean Griffin and Executive Sous Chef Nazario Perales might be whipping up on a slow Monday evening.
Monday night, mind you, isn’t the slowest night of the week for Strip restaurants. That dubious distinction goes to Wednesday according to various general managers we’ve spoken to. (Our guess would’ve been Tuesday, but that’s not what they said.)
Monday generates more covers than its mid-week successors because of the weekend hangover — tourists and conventioneers who squeeze an extra 24 hours out of their woo-woo time in our humble burg. By Tuesday night they’ve decamped and the next week’s crop of sucker…uh…er…ah…we mean valuable, beloved tourists are moving in and setting up. Since Wednesday is the busiest convention day, it also gets the fewest diners — probably because they are busy with business meetings and aren’t yet ready to party like it’s 1999.
The point of all of this is, to get a good read on how a restaurant performs, a critic needs to visit on slow as well as slammed days. Of course, these entreaties fall on deaf ears in our journalistic backwater, since all the editors and publishers will pay for (if they pay for expenses at all) is a single visit, from which the critic is supposed to critique and rate the restaurant. Yelpers don’t care if they trash a place after a single bad experience….so in a sense, as with government, Las Vegas get the daily restaurant criticism it deserves.*
But you are not here for our kvetching about the tawdry state of our local food journalism, you are here for tales of ELV’s exotic, exciting alimentary adventures.
And we had one, on a Monday night, at Prime. We’ve already told you about how Sean and Naz are making a beet lover out of us, but they trotted out some New Zealand grass-fed, wagyu beef that was a revelation as well — with a bright, beefy essence we had not come across in any grass-fed steak before. It was clean and fresh and a tad chewy (as compared to the tenderness of corn-finished steer) but no worse for it.
As for Naz, he has been in the kitchen since Day 1. He’s been the guy behind the guy behind the guy through Wylie Dufresne, Kerry Simon, Rob Moore and now Griffin. Our staff is dying to hear the stories he has to tell, but for the time being, they’ll have to content themselves with the textbook-perfect steaks and vegetables (not to mention a nice take on “duck a la orange”) coming out of this kitchen.
“Pristine” was the word that kept popping in our mind as we polished off a few slices. Pristine, lean and luscious.
Pristine and luscious might also describe Prime — now one of our senior steakhouses — a beef emporium that hasn’t missed a beat in fourteen years. The decor has retained the ability to be both masculine and feminine, sexy and substantial at the same time. It should’ve received some kind of design award the year it opened, and probably didn’t because the designer — Michael DeSantis — died shortly afterwards. It was the only restaurant he ever designed, and it is as astonishing and beautiful today as it was in 1998.
Hummm…pristine is a synonym for “prime.” That sums it all up nicely.
ELV’s meal was comped, but he left a $60 tip.
In the Bellagio Hotel and Casino
3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
* Except from ELV of course — the only critic who puts his money where his mouth is, and who has been to every worthwhile place in town at least a dozen times.