Desert Companion

Table for two: A couple of steak holders


Shrimp with shishito peppers and sriracha cream sauce.
Photography by Brent Holmes

Shrimp with shishito peppers and sriracha cream sauce.

Our diners kick it east-side style in Sam’s Town’s new flagship dining spot, The Angry Butcher Steakhouse

Feeling starvacious — Andrew’s word, and a hint of the tasty linguistic mignon ahead — we roll into the recently opened Angry Butcher Steakhouse in Sam’s Town, ready for a serious meat-up. Seems like a nice place, all things considered, and by “all things considered” we mean the off-off-off-Strip location. “Driving down Boulder Highway just puts your mind in a low-expectation state, you know?” Andrew muses. “So I’m pleasantly surprised.” The ambience is reserved but easy going, the menu is expansive and reasonably priced.

We secure an “outside” table on a terrace overlooking Mystic Falls, an atrium attraction bursting with plants, trees and animatronic creatures, some of which zap lasers from their eyes during a periodic show. “If your steak’s not cooked enough,” Andrew promises, “the laser eyes of the cougar should finish it off.”

Scott: I wonder if the Butcher is angry in part because he’s read some of the Yelp reviews. The overall rating is pretty high, but there are a couple of negative reviews. One gave it no stars, though that sounds like someone who’s on their own hyperbolic fantasy ride.

Support comes from

Andrew: I think you just described every Yelp review. I’ve never heard the phrase, “So I read this thoughtful, even-handed Yelp review ...” But I’m just glad the east side has something approaching a nice restaurant. At random times throughout the night, because I’m glad the east side has some purportedly fine dining, I may go (affects a falsetto while throwing a three-fingered E sign with his right hand) “east side!”

(We order an appetizer of batter-fried rock shrimp with peppers.)

Scott: We could have ordered the “Fat Oysters,” but I’m not comfortable body-shaming the bivalves.

Andrew: Mmm, maybe we will have oysters. I love oysters. (Some are added to the order — half-shell, not “Fat.”)

Andrew: I think The Angry Butcher is going to be a great addition to this national conservation area, Mystic Falls.

Scott: I hope Obama uses his executive powers to preserve this before he leaves office.

Andrew: I hope the Bundys don’t take it over in a standoff with federal officials. I have to say, even though this environment is completely artificial, this feels al fresco. I think they pump in al fresco scent.

Scott: It does have a gardeny feel.

Andrew: Can I hold your hand?

Scott: Maybe later, after the oysters.

Filet mignon with classic Oscar and Tuscan potatoes.

Filet mignon with classic Oscar and Tuscan potatoes.


Hot shishito!

Scott: What cut of steak are you going for?

Andrew: I dunno. I don’t know much about the different cuts. I might get the filet mignon — that’s the most tender, murderlicious cut, right?

(Jonathan, our server, brings cocktails and the rock shrimp appetizer.)

Jonathan: The green peppers are shishito peppers, not really spicy at all. And the sauce is sriracha cream.

Andrew: Amen, expense account! Have you had shishito peppers before?

Scott: At Chow, where they grill them.

Andrew: They present as though they’re really spicy, but they’re more smoky. (Eats one.) These actually have a little kick.

Scott: At Chow, you can get a bowl of them as an appetizer. They’re great.

Andrew (in “east-side” falsetto): These have a kick! (Sips cocktail.) Ah, but this Angry Butcher cocktail! Distilled from the sweat of the Angry Butcher himself! It bathes my burning taste buds.

(Sound of Andrew’s taste buds screaming like little babies.)

Andrew: For me, sriracha will never jump the shark. Put it on anything, and I would eat it.

Scott: I doubt these shrimp were made to appeal to foodies, but they’re good eatin’. Someone put thought into these flavor combinations.

Andrew: Oh, my God — my nose is running from the shishito peppers!

Scott: I think you just wrote the headline for this story.

Andrew: Sorry, is the cataract of snot running down my lip grossing you out?

Scott (lying): Happens to me all the time.

Andrew: Ah, that feels good! Purgative! Cathartic! Angry! Those are the hottest shishito peppers I’ve ever had! How are you doing? You seem to be doing okay.

Scott: Yeah. (Gestures to Mystic Falls.) I wonder if they grow these peppers fresh in their garden.

(Jonathan takes our order: a 7-ounce filet for Andrew, with the “classic Oscar” treatment — crabmeat, hollandaise and asparagus— plus Steak au Poivre for Scott, with shared sides of Tuscan fried potatoes and more asparagus. The oysters arrive.)

Andrew (falsetto): East side!

Scott: You should probably contain your enthusiasm until you try them.

Andrew: East-side oysters — I think that’s something you can get on Boulder Highway.

(With a mighty slurp, oysters are consumed.)

Andrew: Ahhh ... I love oysters, and what better place to eat them than the middle of the desert? It’s hard to judge oysters, but these taste fresh and vibrant. I’m gonna be like, “For dessert, I’d like some oysters.”

Steak au Poivre

Steak au Poivre

We get the meats

(Andrew is talking about the drama of chess when the entrees arrive. Scott is disappointed that the “classic Oscar” bears little resemblance to former Mayor Goodman. It’s a scoop of crabmeat atop the filet.)

Andrew: Here we go!

Scott: So, first thing: There’s a lot here. Lotta steak.

Andrew (trying filet and wine): Ooh! Ooh! The yin-yang! “Andrew was just transported to a planet of transcendent meat- and wine-based pleasure.” You know what’s nice? My steak seems to be pretty ably and nicely done. But the fact that it’s in such an unpretentious locals setting kind of takes this quanta of “I have to enjoy this pleasure” off, and I can just enjoy it.

Scott: It shows how important setting is.

Andrew: You don’t feel that weird social-anxiety vibration. And yet, there’s the great view of this national conservation area. Soon to be taken over by the Bundys.

Scott (chewing): Definite aggressive beefiness to the steak, which I like.

Andrew: Whats the “au Poivre”? Pepper? (Yes, crusted on pan-roasted flat-iron steak. Andrew tries a sample.) Mmm, peppery crunch ... yeah, yours definitely has a lot more meaty heft. It’s got a nice bite to it.

Scott: You have to like the peppercorn, and I do, because it builds over the course of the meal. And I love the crust on these potatoes.

Andrew: I hate it when potatoes come out limp-ass, like 2 a.m. Wendy’s drive-through fries — it’s the saddest thing in the world. But these actually have some life. You know why? ’Cause they’re from the (falsetto) east-side! My one small criticism is that they should maybe come with a kind of sauce. I want to dip them. Not because they’re dry; it’s that you want to have fun with it. Would it be uncouth to ask for a side of ketchup? Wait — I’m at Sam’s Town. I could ask for a side of motor oil, and it would be fine. So, what’s the last steak house you went to?

Scott: Maybe the steak house at Circus Circus? Talk about your unpretentious settings! The fact that you’re at Circus Circus informs the whole experience in some weird way. Good food, though.

Andrew: It’s not that steaks are hard to do, but they’re easy to get lazy about doing. My impression of this place — and maybe this is the penumbra of them being so new and on their game — is that they’re paying attention. To the service, to the food.

(Music wells.)

Andrew: Looks like they’re about to start Mystic Falls. Tell me, have you crowd-surfed before?

(Music soars, lights flare, a child is sacrificed to the laser-eyed wolf, the show ends. Dessert arrives.)

Andrew (seeing his bread pudding): It’s a work of art!

Scott: That’s huge. Maybe that’s sriracha caramel. That would jump the shark.

Andrew: I’m going to be here eating this until midnight.

(We finish before midnight. Time for a thoughtful digestif to wrap it up. Andrew?)

Andrew: Here’s the thing. This is the east side — (falsetto) east side! — it’s Sam’s Town, and people who don’t frequent Sam’s Town probably have some notion of what it’s like. But I gotta say, they do a pretty good job.

This has been edited, condensed, chopped and lightly fried for length and clarity.


The Angry Butcher

Inside Sam’s Town



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