Old Vegas lives on at Golden Steer Steakhouse

Updated April 14, 2017 - 3:27 pm

‘Have you been in before?” asked the waiter.

“Yes, but it’s been a while.”

“It hasn’t changed.”

That would be a short route to oblivion for most restaurants, but the people behind the Golden Steer Steakhouse know what has served it well since 1958 and kept it going until its old Vegas cred made it cool again.

It was an old haunt of Frank and the Rat Pack in the days when they performed on the Strip a few blocks away. The restaurant has taken down the nameplate that used to mark Sinatra’s booth because of light-fingered guests but you can sit there if you ask and it’s available. It hardly seems necessary, though, in a place where the dining rooms are filled with old-school button-tufted circular booths and portraits of Pack contemporaries, and the Chairman of the Board dominates the soundtrack.

The Rat Pack booth is one of the most popular seating options at the Golden Steer Steakhouse. Benjamin Hager Las Vegas Review-Journal

Order Dino’s favorite martini and you can get it with modern-standard blue-cheese olives but in a glass that would hold two of today’s cocktails ($15). Wines by the glass may be Strip-level pricey but again, the pours are generous.

Frank’s favorite clams casino is nowhere to be seen but the tableside Caesar salad ($12 per person) is not only a throwback but a very good one. The process, complete with narration, produced a salad that was cold and crisp and pungent with Parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce, with subtle undercurrents from lemon and anchovy paste.

Legend has it, Frank was fond of the New York strip and that’s here in all its 16-ounce glory ($50), thoroughly seared on the exterior, pink within and carrying the depth of flavor that aging provides.

Golden Steer Steakhouse

Alaskan salmon ($32) is on the menu, too, baked, poached or blackened, the latter of which was decent enough but reminded us that everybody’s forgotten (and quenched) the fire of blackened fish in its heyday.

Creamed spinach ($9) was by far the weakest link, a surprisingly runny interpretation that did no justice to fine steakhouse tradition.

Although the bananas Foster ($15) did, even more so because the dish, and especially the tableside preparation, are so rare. The waiter suggested splitting bananas for one and it was just enough, the flaming rum-brown-sugar-banana sauce reaching dramatic heights (positively fascinating a nearby table of 30-somethings) before it was carefully poured over vanilla ice cream.

The dining area at the Golden Steer Steakhouse. Benjamin Hager Las Vegas Review-Journal

Service throughout was elegant and polished, the kind that’s no longer in favor but still appreciated.

There’s a tendency to romanticize Old Las Vegas, which was a period of racism, rampant misogyny and other forms of ignorance, but some aspects were wholly positive, and at the Golden Steer they live on.

Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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