Have you ever been in an abusive relationship? Loved something or someone that took advantage of you? Made you feel like less of yourself? Challenged your preconceptions about who you are? Made you question your common sense? Diminished your self-esteem?
Yes, we’re talking to you, Chicago Bears fans.
Have you ever had a restaurant that served lousy food that you loved anyway?
Yep, we’re talking to you, Golden Steer fans. Of which, over the years, we have counted ourselves.
Because that pretty much sums up our relationship with the Steer — a place that’s been in business since 1958, and has been serving us very good to horrible food since 1982.*
Truth be told, we’ve run hot and cold about the Steer for a good twenty years now. At various times, we’ve sung its praises, gotten it national attention, and even included it amongst our top Vegas steakhouses.
But time and again, just when we think it’s going to get better, or figure out a way to enhance, rather than exploit, its kitschy, old-Vegas vibe, we wander in, sit down, and have a meal that makes Fleming’s look like Joël Robuchon:
All of which has “inspired” us to file the following lament:
Oh Golden Steer, why do I continue to love you so? Especially when that love isn’t returned.
In exchange for years of loyalty, what do I get: an indifferent Caesar salad (tossed tableside with all of the enthusiasm of a Muzak orchestra playing “Strangers In The Night” for the 1,000th time), limp, tired asparagus, “hollandaise” sauce that tasted like warm, cheap mayonnaise, and potatoes Lyonnaise that were overcooked home fries suffocated by a mountain of grilled onions. The only redeeming feature of the meal was a decent t-bone steak (pictured above), that was cooked to a gray-brown medium rare, apparently on a 250 degree grill.
As to that Caesar: it seems to get smaller every year, and if the lettuce gets any paler, you’ll have to affix an “albino” moniker to it. We asked our waitron for extra anchovies, and he acknowledged our request and promptly ignored it. (Also, our $12 plate had exactly 3 small croutons on it, making us wonder if crouton futures had hit the roof recently, necessitating a cut-back on such an expensive item of inventory.)
All of which is a bloody shame, and makes me so sad, since there are so many things I love about you….starting with your super-cool sign that looks better than ever these days. (See, just like an abused spouse, I keep making excuses for your inexcusable behavior.)
No place in town comes close to your groovy vibe. Your walls, and booths and pictures echoes an era that will never be duplicated again…and couldn’t be re-done better with all the design talent in the world behind it.
Yet, instead of honoring and maintaining your history, you seem to be content to just milk the old cow for all she’s worth.
Your bar could be (with a few minor tweaks) one of the coolest in the city. Instead, it looks like a run-down Best Western lounge in Oklahoma City.
Your staff screams old school with their vests and tuxedos, but have none of the elan that should inform all of the service in such a venerated institution.
Your menu is perfect, but also a dinosaur. But that’s why it’s so wonderful. If I owned the joint, I wouldn’t change a thing. What I would change would be the cooking of everything on it — from the steaks to the veal Marsala to the veggies — all of it needs the attention of a chef who is taking pride in the retro cuisine, not just dishing it out nightly to a bunch of gullible tourists.
Ah, but there’s the rub. To get better, people must want to improve. There can be no progress without change. And it’s pretty darn clear to us, after eating maybe 50-60 meals here over the years, that your ownership (and staff) isn’t really interested in making things better anymore.
Sure, they may talk a good game, and whisper just enough sweet nothings in our ear to make us think they care about getting better, but deep down, they like things just the way they are.
And when it comes to dishing it out, just like all abusers, you expect your customers to take it.
ELV’s meal, including an overcharge (discovered after we got home) for glass of wine that was never ordered, came to $181.34.
GOLDEN STEER STEAKHOUSE
308 West Sahara Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89102
* For the record: of our 50+ meals in the joint, only one or two have been comped.