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HomeRestaurantsChef Marty Lopez Brings Great Steak to Hard Rock Las Vegas

Chef Marty Lopez Brings Great Steak to Hard Rock Las Vegas

Located in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, directly down the hall from the Paradise Garage and across the way from John Varvatos, 35 Steaks + Martinis is a restaurant I had walked by dozens of times without giving much thought until a well-respected local Chef and a friend began to speak fondly of it, the former actually a past employee and graciously agreeing to sit down with me for a meal.

Toqued by Marty Red DeLeon Lopez, with Michael Van Staden no less important to the kitchen while General Manager Mario Gonzalez runs a stylish room that stretches from lounge to the edge of the Hard Rock Pool, those entering 35 Steaks + Martinis are first greeted by the smiling faces of gorgeous hostesses and whether the choice is made for a full dinner or merely bar bites the menu offers no lack of options, a few ‘signatures’ and steakhouse staples joined by items as intriguing as they are well-crafted.

Obviously dining with a friend of the house, paired wines offered by Mr. Gonzalez including some top tier bottles served via Coravin, it was at the transition of Fall/Winter to Spring that our tasting took place and as the first to see several of the plates there is no doubt that Hard Rock honchos have given Marty and Michael a green light to compete with the best of the Strip’s Steakhouses, the amuse served under a glass dome delivering a smoky dry ice show as thin slices of scallop sang amidst a salad of citrus with just a touch of heat and black truffle.

Never purporting to be a wine snob, but happy to say that each pairing was exquisite with a special nod to the funky White Burgundy, 2009 Dolce and 2012 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the tasting officially began with buttery Brioche Monkey Bread before launching into a Beet Salad that avoided ennui by enlivening Tri-colored Beets with Banyuls and crunchy Kataifi Wrapped Goat Cheese, the follow-up of Charred Octopus and Black Angus Filet Carpaccio looking a lot like that served at Artisanal Foods Café a few weeks prior but adding spice with a porky Pine Nut Tapenade while reduced Sherry helped invigorate the cephalopod’s more subtle taste.

Special requesting Five Onion Soup Gratine, the brine of bacon mixing with rich beef stock in a non-traditional broth that came across sweeter than most and therefore well suited to my tastes, the official menu resumed with slotted porcelain filled by “Lobster Escargot” where shell stock and diced claws wer used to fortify Burgundy Snails bathed in garlic butter, nearly every drop soaked up with a side of yeasty Parker House Rolls.

Cleansing the palate with a fragrant sorbet that thankfully found most of its flavor in Strawberries rather than the cloying sweetness of Passion Fruit, it was here that Lopez and Van Staden’s heavier plates would make their appearance, Foie Gras a L’Orange an idea ironically seen at Beverly Hills’ Avec Nous just one week prior but here in a far larger portion – and several degrees better – not only in terms of texture but also as relates to accoutrements, the team essentially reading my mind with bread pudding seared into French Toast surrounded by a crunchy Almond crust bathed in bittersweet Marmalade.

Sipping the Dolce slowly as possible, thoughts of asking for more restrained by recalling a thirty minute drive back home, entrees were introduced via 4-Way Colorado Lamb Mixed Grill, a combination of T-Bone, Rack and Belly plus housemade Merguez Sausage given an African accent via Vadouvan while the subsequent Australian Wagyu was almost as well marbled as its Japanese counterpart yet more capable of standing up to some grilling, a good crust found on the exterior while the inside was just past rare.

Impressed by sides, the Black Truffle Potatoes and Foie Gras enriched Mushrooms particularly impressive as part of a wooden service tray newly introduced to show off Marty and Michael’s premium Steaks, it was with introductions to the property dining director and Pastry Chef Mickey Harden that introductions were made, the later sending out four new options to be paired with 40-Year Tawny Port – the fact that he is also responsible for much of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’s baking really no surprise as everything from the “Sticky Pig” to a Cookie Plate was across-the-board excellent, those looking for something light strongly encouraged to check out the Lemon Meringue Pot du Crème that arrives with a delicious slice of Almond cake.

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Perhaps the most under regarded Steakhouse in Las Vegas, the formerly red hot Hard Rock having predictably cooled with age, 35 Steaks + Martinis is nothing short of a dining destination for those willing to venture off-strip, the slightly lower prices not to be mistaken as a drop-off in quality but rather a reason to order more with assurance that there will be just as much quality and creativity on the plate.

RECOMMENDED: Lobster Escargot, Foie Gras a L’Orange, Mushroom Casserole, Sticky Pig, Lemon Meringue.

AVOID: Seating in the lounge, or even the front half of the room, trends quite loud as a result of bar noise and live music. If one were to offer a critique of the food, Merguez Sausage on the Lamb Mixed Grill was a bit dry while the Onion Soup is unlikely to be embraced by purists.

TIP: Open from 5p until as late as Midnight with live Music in the Lounge intermittently, those looking for something light pre-show or prior to a club are encouraged to check out the bar menu where several serious deals can be found.

WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.

Michael Uzmann
Michael is a local Vegas Food Nerd, who is known for his support of local chefs and restaurants doing things right. His extensive knowledge about the restaurant industry both from a customer and insider standpoint provides unique insight into the best restaurants in Vegas. When he is not eating, he is a Endocrinologist.

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