In the U.S., Ramsay is perhaps better known for his bleep-heavy tirades on his shows Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares and Masterchef (and Hotel Hell) than his actual cooking, but his restaurant at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel has received nearly universal praise since its opening in May 2012, and reservations are tough to snag. Thus, with high expectations for our official anniversary dinner, we headed to GR Steak to celebrate...and feast.
The GR Steak experience began before we even entered the restaurant with an architecturally unique entrance built as a tribute to the "Chunnel," the underwater tunnel connecting the UK to France.
Of course, the architectural intrigue didn't stop at the entrance. A light feature (crafted to recreate Ramsay's hand movements as he cooks) set inside a domed Union Jack cast a hip, red glow throughout the space, whose open kitchen and wave-like upper level reminded me of the Hell's Kitchen set.
The GR Steak Menu
Ramsay seems especially hands-on with this eponymous spot and has selected executive chef Kevin Hee and head chef Christina Wilson, winner of season 10 of Hell's Kitchen, to head the kitchen.
HK winner Christina put her touch on GR Steak with a limited edition Tasting Menu, spotlighting Hell's Kitchen staples (and banes of the contestants' existences) such as Scotch eggs and risotto. As we've attended a couple of Hell's Kitchen tapings/dinners, however, we decided to pass on the Tasting Menu and the autographed photo that accompanied it. I'm sure that "Where's my f*cking risotto?!" haunts those contestants' dreams.
In addition to both menus, we were presented with an iPad on which we perused wine, beer and cocktails and info about the restaurant.
As we were considering our options, our server wheeled a mirrored cart of meat to our table. The meat cart served as an extension of the menu, providing a visual reference for the different cuts and types of Pat LaFrieda meat as our server explained each to us in impressive detail.
To toast to our anniversary, I ordered the Southside, a tall glass of Perrier Jouet champagne, Plymouth gin, lime and mint ($14.00). While perfectly enjoyable, the Southside wasn't altogether different than your standard mojito.
Justin selected the English Garden, a smooth, dainty-sounding cocktail of Hendrick's gin, basil-infused rock candy, lemon, basil, cucumber and celery bitter, whose strength was actually far from delicate and lady-like ($14.00).
Our meal kicked off with an bread plate served with butter topped with sea salt. While I normally avoid devoting any precious stomach space to bread, Justin had heard rave reviews of the bread plate, boasting a walnut and stilton baguette, chocolate and mushroom brioche, and lemon thyme and olive oil focaccia. Each bite was unique and more impressive than the last.
When celebrating, turf calls for surf. In our Maine Lobster appetizer ($28.00), a plump morsel of butter-poached lobster was stuffed with chorizo, nestled atop a bed of butternut squash and finished with a brandied lobster cream sauce. Even Justin, a seasoned East Coast lobster lover, had to admit that this dish was pretty darn close to perfection.
Despite the seeming omnipresence of pork belly these days, GR Steak's unique preparation of its Kurobuta Pork Belly made it feel fresh rather than overplayed ($19.00). The mile-high, tender and decadently fatty piece of pork belly soaked up the smoky Southern flavors of the candied chiles, baked bean cassoulet and braised Swiss chard that accompanied it.
We felt it almost sacrilegious to visit a Gordon Ramsay restaurant without ordering a Beef Wellington ($56.00), his signature dish that has confounded many a Hell's Kitchen contestant. Served with a potato puree and a red wine demi glace, the "Welly" featured a medium rare filet mignon surrounded by earthy duxelles and enrobed by a flaky puff pastry. The classic, well-executed dish delivered and highlighted just why sub-par preparations bring out the bleeping in Ramsay.
If we were impressed by the Beef Wellington, we were blown away by the American Rib Cap ($60.00), an 8 oz. boneless cut with the fatty flavor and juiciness of a ribeye and the tenderness of a tenderloin. The seriously marbled rib cap was tender, juicy, buttery and fatty--arguably one of the best pieces of meat I've eaten and an absolute must-order.
For our beef fixings, we selected the Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Corned Bacon ($12.00) and the much raved about Mac & Cheese ($13.00). The Brussels Sprouts were perfectly tasty, but the Mac & Cheese with blue cheese, cheddar, parmesan and truffle exceeded even our high expectations. I love me some mac & cheese, and this creamy, rich and umami-laden preparation was one of the best I've ever tasted.
One of the most anticipated dishes of our whole weekend was the Sticky Toffee Pudding ($14.00), the restaurant's signature dessert--served with a candle for our anniversary. In this classic British dish, toffee drizzles coated a dense, incredibly moist sweet pudding cake, served alongside brown butter ice cream made to look like a stick of butter. Despite how full Justin and I were from the rest of our meal, we refused to let any of this go to waste!
Despite some hiccups in service, the food at GR Steak not only lived up to our high expectations but also exceeded them. Our food-focused Vegas visit--and our visit to GR Steak, in particular-- has caused me to reconsider my previous distaste for Sin City. What can I say? The place has some great eating!
Gordon Ramsay Steak
Paris Las Vegas
3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109