Bavette’s, a 10 month-old steakhouse inside the recently-refurbished Park MGM (formerly Monte Carlo) in Las Vegas, keeps a relatively low profile. Its entrance is a simple door located right off the casino floor, and looking at it from the outside reveals nothing about what’s going on inside. But once you walk in, pass the hostess stand, and enter the main dining room, you’re transported to a different universe. The restaurant, an offshoot of the Chicago original (which we’ve consistently ranked one of America’s 50 best steakhouses), is sexy, stylish, and a whole lot of fun, and a meal we recently had there at the invitation of the restaurant was pretty spectacular.
The cavernous dining room is dim, primarily lit by Tiffany-style lamps, and divided into different sections so each area is cozy but not cramped. The walls are of dark wood and are covered with antique paintings and knickknacks, the seats are leather banquettes, and the music is jazz. There’s a lively bar in the center of the dining room, and the clink of glassware combined with the feeling of luxury and the dim yellow lighting is transporting and intoxicating.
After taking our seats (by this point feeling fully detached from the bustling casino just yards away), we perused the cocktail menu, which is as timeless as you’d expect. There’s a variety of martinis (try the Old Raj Classic, with Old Raj gin, Dolin dry vermouth, and orange bitters), several old fashioneds, and underappreciated classics like the Lion’s Tail (bourbon, allspice, lime); Champagne Smash (prosecco, gin, mint, lemon, and lime); and Pago Pago (Mount Gay rum, green Chartreuse, and pineapple). There’s also a massive selection of bourbon, whiskey, and scotch — this is a brown liquor kind of place, after all.
The menu is chock-full of the big, brash steakhouse classics that you’d expect from a restaurant like this: grand seafood plateaux; steak tartare; wedge salad; 16-ounce fillets, rib-eyes, and bone-in strips with béarnaise; a 22-ounce bone-in rib-eye; roasted bone marrow with onion jam; thick-cut bacon, loaded baked potato. But there are also some surprises: a crab-stuffed avocado, a French dip, fried chicken, short rib stroganoff. A small vegetarian menu is also available, but it’s comprised mostly of meat-free appetizers and sides as well as fettucine with red sauce and mushroom stroganoff for entrees.
We started with a couple of the restaurant’s classic appetizers, baked goat cheese and garlic shrimp de Jonghe.
The goat cheese was a meatball-sized puck, served in a cast-iron ramekin topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano and surrounded by a pool of bubbling red sauce and slices of garlic bread. It was rich and delicious, and the warm goat cheese comingled with the sauce and garlicky butter to create a perfect Italian-American app.
The garlic shrimp were equally rich and tasty, six big shrimp swimming in a buttery sauce with garlic, herbs, and sherry.
Our main courses of bone-in fillet and 42-day dry-aged New York strip were perfectly cooked and given a nice crust by the ripping-hot broiler; the fillet was tender and juicy (and given a flavor kick from the addition of roasted garlic) and the strip picked up an ideal amount of funkiness and minerality from its time in the dry-aging room.
Especially in Las Vegas, a steakhouse is much more than just a place to eat steak; it’s an experience. The folks behind Bavette’s clearly know this — it’s easily one of the best new steakhouses in town.
The meal that was the subject of this review was provided at a discounted rate to the author.