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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

King Of The Steaks Rules At Wynn

At some point during an evening at SW Steakhouse, it becomes apparent that this is a dining experience quite unlike any other. Of course, at a resort where owner Steve Wynn’s initials hang over the dining room door, you expect things to be out of the ordinary. And while spectacular puppets appear from behind a waterfall and subtle lights change the mood – and appear to change the seasons – on the outdoor lanai, it’s in the smallest details that this stunning restaurant shines. From the pace at which general manager Bradley Brown sorts through reservations, handles unexpected requests and finds tables for guest where none appear to exist, to the execution of a menu filled with steak-house classics, SW is a restaurant you should not miss then next time Vegas calls. Because while other cities have great chefs, beautiful dining rooms, fresh fish and forage-fed beef, SW has something no one else does: David Walzog.

You may have heard of Walzog. He’s the guy responsible for creating several of the best steakhouses in New York City. He battled Cat Cora on Iron Chef and he’s a three-time James Beard Award recipient. He’s also dedicated to taking a new approach to dishes that have been part of steakhouse culture for decades.

“There are certain things that people expect when they come to a steakhouse,” he says. “Our job is to take those dishes and make them better.”

But Walzog doesn’t just make them better, he transforms them and makes them into nearly unrecognizable visions of their former selves. Vibrant creamed spinach, charred bone-in New York strip, silken au gratin potatoes and sautéed wild field mushrooms are so perfectly prepared that you literally don’t want the meal to end. A baby wedge of iceberg smothered in rich bleu cheese and ripe grape tomatoes comes with a thick slab of bacon propped on one side of the crisp, cold greens. In a basket, bacon-cheese bread rests beside plump, soft, salty, warm pretzels that are so good it makes you question why anyone would even want to eat them hard and cold.

Not one to usually order foie gras – and often one to scrape it uneaten off my plate when no one is looking – I devoured SW’s perfectly sautéed foie gras with huck-leberry chutney on brioche topped with Asian pear, and would happily have ordered more.

Walzog is the king of the American grill, and wherever he goes – The Steakhouse at Monkey Grillin New York, Red Sage In Washington, Striphouse in New York and Michael Jordan’s The Steak House, also in New York – critical acclaim follows. It’s not by chance that SW has been named as Best Steak House in Las Vegas.

Walzog authored The New American Steak House in 2005. In conversation, he has that easy, effortless way that makes you think that great grilling is as simple as firing up the Weber and reading a few of his recipes. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.

One of the most popular dishes on the SW menu is a chili-rubbed double rib eye. The seared, spiced exterior of the 40-ounce cut and its tender, pink inner pieces come to the table as a study in culinary counterpoint.

And that’s just the food. If you can tear yourself away from the menu and the wine list, there’s an entire evening of entertainment all around.

Clever, contemporary and charged with a perfectionism that only can be achieved when someone dedicated to the details is in the kitchen, SW is surely one of our greatest American restaurants. Walzog, for all his humility and charm, has taken on the decades-old concept of the classic American steakhouse and turned it on its head. In doing so, he’s raised the bar to astonishing heights.

May all great steakhouses follow his lead. Happy eating!

Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, Nev., 89109

(702) 770-3325

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