There’s no place like home – Delmonico Steakhouse (The Venetian, Las Vegas)

Is there anywhere more romantic than the grand canals of Venice for an evening meal?   This was a second visit for me to Delmonico but it meant so much more as my fiancé was experiencing the wonderful food that a Emril Lasagsse restaurant offers.  Not dissimilar to James Martin, Emril learnt his craft in pastry but swiftly moved on to become a world class chef, passionate about ingredients.

Delmonico Steakhouse opened in 1999 and whenever I speak to fellow foodies while on holiday in Vegas they always rave about this place.  It comes as no surprise that one of the best restaurants in Las Vegas is located it this stunning hotel.

We booked for 9pm and had a short walk from the Mirage and wandered through the beautiful italian styled casino.  We arrived slightly ahead of our reservation and joined other diners in the bar area while our table was prepared.

We ordered some pre-dinner drinks and within 5 minutes our hostess led us into the warmly lit dining room.  I often wondered why this function is needed as the young lady did not carry our drinks not really very hospitable.wp-1477429326702.jpg

We were seated in the first room in with a wonderful view of the main restaurant (the kitchens are tucked away here, so no viewings of the Chefs’ in full throttle). We were welcomed to our table by our waiter, Drew, who advised us of the house specialities for that evening and that Michael would be our Maitre’d guiding us through the menu until our order.

The wine list was the most extensive I have ever seen with plenty of choices for the high rollers.   We selected a reasonable priced Argentine Malbec Casarena Reserva 2012 for $45.00.  This wine is produced by Casarena in Mendoza, the largest region in Argentina for the Malbec grape and this wine is known for its big sweet black fruit flavours.

We moved onto the menu, which as you would expect was not as extensive, but offered an excellent selection to please any carnivore.  For us it was an easy choice, we’d come to a steakhouse and we were not going to take a different direction other than maybe a lighter starter.  wp-1486642771230.jpg

The Maitre’d, Michael returned to take our order of Vine Ripened Heirloom Tomato Salad ($18) to share followed by a glorious Chateaubriand with asparagus and smashed garlic potatoes.

Anyone with OCD look away now, as the sight of this cucumber being slightly right of centre might drive you nuts.   wp-1486634843901.jpgThe amouse-bouche (or if you prefer hors d’eouvre ,some say the former is for a bite size portion but I thought the latter was supposed to be bite sized too) was a slice of cucumber with a blackeye-pea humous; a welcome palate cleanser between our cocktails and malbec.

The bread served gave us a smile and a slight chuckle as their “Mushroom Bread” (as announced)  was indeed a Yorkshire Pwp-1486634780945.jpgudding, maybe not the norm but then we are in Vegas and this city anyting but normal.  The Mushroom Bread was served with a salted butter so possibly the most calorific bread basket I’ve ever been had.  I love butter, but even I draw the line at buttering Yorkshire Puddings!

The atmosphere of Delmonico is warm and cosy despite the size of the restaurant and the front of house team are well-balanced in their style between formal and friendly.  Diners ranged from large tables of men only (clearly on a stag celebration; or should I say bachelor) but not so that it interfered with the smaller tables or couples.  We were within one of the larger alcoves with two other couples and as the tables have good spacing you could hear soft conversation without feeling overlooked (unlike Gordon Ramsey Steak at Paris).

The Heirloom Tomato salad was served just in time to hold off our hunger for the main event.  Priced at $18 a plate I had high expectations for this salad with slices of burrata cheese, red onions, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and slithers of fresh basil. Burrata, meaning buttered, gives you a wonderfully creamier texture compared to mozzarella; a cheese often served with tomatoes, but don’t confuse the two as they are different.

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The salad was divine a fabulous mix of tart, sweet and creamy and a serving more than enough for us to share. I would not normally choose tomato based salads but Delominco’s changed my view and certainly set the bar very high.

We were cleared and waited for our Chateuabriand, a fillet which was raised naturally by Creekstones Farm in Kansas (the home of my favourite fictional heroine).  The term naturally raised is what we in the UK call organic, some cattle in North America can be fed growth hormones and feed which is genetically modified.

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Drew arrived centre stage and presented the Chateaubriand and as flambeau work commenced our fellow diners were drawn to the watch the gentle basting of those rich meat juices over our fillet.  I wondered if these diners, who had opted for the larger portioned creole steaks, looked on with intrigue or envy?

This Kansas reared fillet was as good as any I have ever eaten – no wonder Dorothy uttered those immortal words “there’s no place like home”

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The accompaniments were just perfect; the asparagus was crisp and perky in contrast to the smashed potatoes which oozed a salty butter and warm garlic flavour.  As I write this review a month on I swear I can recall every tender bite and flavour of this simple yet glorious meal.

Despite being tempted with a wonderful sweet menu we had no room for dessert and politely declined.  The team at Delmonico thought better and presented us with a complementary sorbet to cleanse our pallets, a lovely touch to end a fantastic dining experience.   The bill was $198 before a gratuity, about £150 at the time of the exchange rate and worth every penny.

I sit on my couch back in England on this cold autumn day dreaming of our return to this fabulous restaurant or to another Emeril Palace.  Just maybe, if I click my heels, I too can return to savour this fine Kansas beef.

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Happy eating

 

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Bèarnaise Sauce; it holds no fear anymore.

I made this delicious herby buttery sauce for the 3rd time last night for my Dad’s birthday meal.  Each time I have made this it has held some mystery to me – from when it has gone wrong and split –  to when it has worked.  The reason being I have not noted doing anything differently at each time which was probably down to rushing as I was trying to cook the sauce at the same time as the main. I have now learnt to take a breath and make the Bèarnaise in advance.

I first made Béarnaise for David as it’s his favourite sauce which had been ruined by a memory of an insipid and cold serving from the extremely expensive and disappointing RARE (which quelle surprise has since closed its restaurant) and we needed to erase this food memory.

I am a fan of James Martin’s, but for love nor money I can’t find in our selection of supermarkets Tarragon Vinegar which he recommends.  But this is not a problem as my second ever cook book, Nigel Slater’s Real Food has a recipe which uses White Wine Vinegar and Aspalls is a store cupboard staple in our house (two words, Rioja grapes).  If you are a foodie or enjoy a good blog I like Henry Chervallier Guild’s who some describe as an uppercrust hippy.  Its amazing what learning journey’s food takes us on.

What I love most about the Aspall brand is that their ciders have been made since 1728  and have remained in their family for 8 generations making them the 10th oldest family business in the UK – I always feel good supporting an independent business.

So what next…

The method is quite easy it just needs some speed and patience.

Do all your prep – get your bain-marie ready by placing the bowl over a good two inches of simmering water, separate your eggs, wash and chop the tarragon, peel and finely dice the shallot.

Ensuring you have everything ready makes this process less stressful.

Equipment essential to this dish:  ballon whisk, glass bowl (that sits comfortable on a pan to make a bain-marie), small non-stick milk pan, chopping board and a sharp knife.

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Ingredients

  • banana shallot – sliced and diced finely
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons of Aspall white wine vinegar
  • teaspoon of dried tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • teaspoon of Maille Dijon mustard
  • 150g almost melted butter (I personally use melted)
  • Handful chopped tarragon (use more or less to your taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Maldon Sea Salt.

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Fresh tarragon before getting the chop

  1. Place the shallot, whole peppercorns, dried tarragon,  white wine vinegar and water into the small pan
  2. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer to reduce this by half (it only takes about 2 minutes)
  3. Take the reduction off the heat.
  4. Put your two egg yolks into the glass bowl  and whisk quickly together then add the Dijon mustard and mix in.
  5. Next strain the reduction into the eggs leaving the solids behind.
  6. Mix and keep whisking then start adding the melted butter, quickly whisking, adding small amounts, regularly, whisking each addition of butter well.

    The sauce should start to thicken, looking smooth at all times and eventually looking like a rich custard

  7. Keep whisking thorough each addition of butter , until you have added it all; but leaving the milky residue behind (don’t panic if the butter does not separate clearly,  as I have never felt this has impacted on the Bèarnaise)
  8. Remove from the heat and take a spoon and fold in your fresh tarragon adding a good pinch of salt – taste and add more seasoning if required
  9. Add to a warmed bowl and serve20160828_185117.jpg

I recommend you make this in advance of your meal as it will stand nicely at room temperature.

We love this with any cut of steak and I made this on Sunday night to use up the tarragon. We had this with a delicious Ribeye steak from Farmer Copleys or why not do as Nigel Slater suggests and simply enjoy with chips as a dip.

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Louise xx

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Return to Ego (@Beverley Arms Ackworth)

We returned to Ego on Thursday as we  needed a pick-me-up and I really fancied a good steak.

Thankfully, Ego were able to accommodate us at short notice which was a surprise as they are incredibly popular mid-week which I attribute to their specialist offers.  Tonight was Kebab night, and before you ask I do not mean Donner, I could have been tempted to falter from my desire for steak.

We were  greeted cheerily by one of the hosts and were offered a choice of table by the window (I much prefer this area, as I am not a fan of some of other areas of the restaurant which have a little too much atmosphere).

We do rate Ego and the main reason is for the great staff, they are warm and friendly and when it counts bold and not afraid to deal with issues where so many hide or mismanage. The customer service skills of this team are a credit to the restaurant and their infrequent weakness in the kitchen are forgiven for deftness of the front of house team.

The food ordered was the chicken Liver and rosemary pate and deep fried brie for starters. Then for our mains I ordered the fillet steak with skin on chips and David ordered the lamb rump with risotto and green and spring onion pesto.

The starters we served, the pate was very chilled as before I wish the kitchen would hold this back and let it reach somewhere near room temperature.  Maybe if they made this in a terrine and served a slices this could achieved.  If you like me believe certain foods taste best at certain temperatures you might like this article .  The pate as it warmed tasted great, although the rosemary as not detectable –  I am assuming this rosemary was only present in the butter used to seal the pate.   The marmalade of chilli tomato as a side was left by me but it was very much enjoyed by David – he preferred this with his creamy brie over the orange and apricot marmalade he was served.

Our mains were served and the steak looked good. It was cooked to order medium-rare with a lovely rocket garnish a garlic dressed plum tomato and a dish of skin on chips.  The fillet had good crunch on the outside with a pink and rare centre. I get so fed up of being served overcooked steaks #Cowshed

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The only extra not welcome on this plate was the huge chip – which is not on my shoulder!  Shame  the chef let a meal leave his kitchen like this.

David’s dish of Lamb Rump was tender and cooked medium and sat on a rich and creamy risotto finished with zesty pesto (and no chips in sight).

Our bill came to £50 which included 3 drinks and after our Ego discount was applied.

The quality remains to be good at Ego one day I look forward to them having local produce on the menu.  We will continue to support our local restaurant and hope that the kitchen team can raise their game to mirror the A team working front of house.

If you’d like to read more of my food adventures your can follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

Louise

 

 

The Cow Shed (Northgate, Wakefield); meat me elsewhere

Our greeting upon arrival on a snowy Wednesday night in February was not the best.  I can only assume the waiter had just had some bad news.  The word “disengaged” is the best way of describing his demeanor.

We were shown to the seating  area on the first floor, as the table before us was running behind and about 15 minutes later we were at our table.  We ordered a glass of red (£6.25) and a bottle of Speckled Hen (£4.00)  which were served without so much a word, or a smile – I hoped this was not an omen of things to come.

The atmosphere was lacking on this snowy Thursday night especially after the early bird diners had gone us a’la carte diners were left quite alone.  The barn upstairs looks lovely on first impressions, but it needs a bit of TLC on the decor and a full rather draft cracks sealing up.

The starters we chose were Duck and Port Parfait with ginger marmalade and toasted ciabatta (£6.95) – the parfait was overpowered by the jam it was too sweet and sticky for this delicate and smooth parfait.    David ordered the Brie (£5.95) it was deep-fried, the story ends there, it was unmemorable which is a travesty for any piece of cheese.

The owners of the restaurant talk about local produce, however there is no reference to the provenance of the produce which is infuriating when we have some many great butchers and farms to be proud of within  a short distance.  Surely, you would be proud and publish your partnerships?

The fillet I had ordered (medium to rare) had good flavour, but this was undone as it had been overcooked.   As someone who cook’s a fillet or rump steak nearly every Saturday night I would say this had come straight off the grill without being rested; the meat was dry with no juice.  The Rib Eye with Blue Cheese again was flavoursome but too dry .  The side of peppercorn sauce (£1.55) which was so so.

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When I dine out I want to be wowed.  I expect a professional chef to be able to cook a steak to order and to know to let it rest.  It might have been the end of a busy service but there was no pressure from the dining room as it was now quiet so no excuses.

Total bill was £70.65 excluding service.

What is interesting is this restaurant continues to be a success in Wakefield where others have failed.  All I can think is that the good people of Wakefield have not had a great steak cooked to perfection.    For now we will continue to either eat steak at home or dine at Goucho in Leeds.