Bourbon Steak (Los Angeles, CA)

Bourbon Steak
Americana at Brand
237 S Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA 91204
Dining date: 7/24/14

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I first dined at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak in March during its opening. The meal was a unique one, hosted by Bon Appetit to promote the upcoming Vegas Uncork’d, where a custom tasting menu was served. I’ve been intending to return for a more ‘regular’ meal and to try more of the steaks; recently, I had the chance with a few coworkers.

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The menu at Bourbon Steak centers on the beef, of course, with a number of options under Certified Angus, Certified Angus Prime, and American, Australian and Japanese Wagyu. A wide array of other appetizers and entrees, including Mina’s signature tuna tartare and lobster pot pie, really round out the menu. Between the six of us, we were able to sample quite a bit of it.

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The Royce (Pasadena, CA)

The Royce
The Langham Huntington
1401 S Oak Knoll Ave
Pasadena, CA 91106
Dining date: 7/10/14

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The Langham Pasadena’s main restaurant has gone through a number of changes since I first dined on Craig Strong’s food at The Dining Room. Since then, Michael Voltaggio and David Feau have taken the helm for relatively short-lived chef-driven concepts (Voltaggio left to start ink. and Feau’s The Royce struggled to grasp its regular clientele). Early last year, The Royce was reborn as a steakhouse, a more conservative concept perhaps more reflecting the tastes of its primary customer base.

The Royce boasts USDA Prime cuts, as well as some international wagyu selections, all grilled over a wood fire. A largely seafood-based selection of appetizers and some seasonal side dishes round out the menu. I felt no urgency to try the new steakhouse concept, but being a steak lover I figured a visit was in order at some point. That point was just this past week.

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Carnevino (Las Vegas, NV)

Carnevino
The Palazzo
3325 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 6/28/14

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Many of the celebrity chefs with a presence in Las Vegas have a steakhouse (burger shops & pubs are also a common offshoot). Carnevino is the creation of Mario Batali & Joe Bastianich and one of their four LV restaurants (all within the Venetian/Palazzo complex). Always in the mood for a good steak, I’ve had an inkling to try Carnevino and finally had the chance during my last trip.

An Italian steakhouse, the focus at Carnevino is clearly on the beef. It’s very hard to differentiate oneself in this ‘upscale beef’ space, and Carnevino does it by partnering with meat man Adam Perry Lang who supposedly hand-selects the best USDA Prime cattle for the restaurant. It’s all aged in-house and simply prepared with sea salt, black pepper and rosemary. The Batali & Bastianich influence brings a host of Italian antipasti and pastas to round out a meal here.

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Chi Spacca (Los Angeles, CA)

Chi Spacca
6610 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dining date: 3/14/14

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Chi Spacca opened last year and is the latest restaurant to join the Mozza corner at Melrose & Highland. It replaced the Scuola di Pizza, yet in a way is a permanent extension of the restaurant. Chad Colby, who used to helm the Scuola kitchen, is also managing the Chi Spacca menu. The restaurant’s probably best known for its house salumi program and catering to a primal way of eating – large slabs of meat cooked over fire. Think 36 ounce veal racks and 42 ounce tomahawk pork chops and beef porterhouses. My kind of place.

I’ve been wanting to try Chi Spacca for some time, but it really felt like a place to try with a large group. We rounded up five for this evening and came hungry. A holdover from the Scuola di Pizza, a completely open kitchen offers visibility into all of the cooking being done between the large steaks on the grill and items coming out of the wood-burning oven.

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Gordon Ramsay Steak (Las Vegas, NV)

Gordon Ramsay Steak
Paris Hotel
3655 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 5/11/13

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Gordon Ramsay Steak has been high on my list of Las Vegas restaurants to try since it opened last year, when I sampled Ramsay’s delicious beef wellington at the Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting. Ramsay has more than two dozen restaurants around the world now, ranging from Michelin three-star to mediocre. However, his steakhouse has garnered consistently strong reviews over the past year, so I anticipated a meal closer to the former (not that this restaurant has 3-star ambitions though). My dad’s dined here before and enjoyed it, but this would be the first trip for the rest of our family.

Located just off the casino of the Paris Hotel, the restaurant’s entrance was inspired by the Channel Tunnel, transporting diners to the UK.

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The USDA Prime steaks are from noted butcher Pat LaFrieda, dry aged a minimum of 28 days in a Himalayan salt room. The marbling (and pricing) moves up from there with a selection of both American wagyu and true Japanese wagyu. Each cut is on display at the onset of the meal, with the exception of the Japanese wagyu. If asked though, they will bring out the beautifully-marbled piece of cow.

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Sous Vide Steak

Dining date: 4/13/13

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While the most profound sous vide application may best represented in long-duration braises of the tougher cuts, breaking down connective tissues while keeping meat a medium-rare temperature, its applications for “simpler” cooking can be just as rewarding. For example, a steak can be prepared very well either on the stove top or seared and finished In the oven/broiler, but I often like to prepare one sous vide. There are a few reasons why.

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