At first bite: Orders of magnitude
The menu at the city’s newest steakhouse boldly traverses the globe — and pushes the boundaries on Las Vegas fine dining
Upon my arrival at Andiron Steak & Sea, the new fine dining restaurant at Downtown Summerlin, the first question I had was not about the source of its meat or the breadth of its wine list. I wanted to know where our hostess bought her dress. Studying the short, form-fitting floral number, I couldn’t decide if she was wearing a designer garment or an off-the-rack knock-off.
And then I realized it was a uniform. The bold rose print that covered the young woman from neck to knee wasn’t the work of a textile designer — it was a design motif that reappeared on the lining of our handsome hardcover menus. Such attention to detail is exactly what I would expect from Andiron’s restaurateur, Elizabeth Blau. In the last two years, her classed-up casual eateries (Honey Salt, Made LV) have been welcome contributions to an otherwise stale dining scene.
Andiron is a different animal, and perhaps what Blau considers the crown jewel in her neighborhood restaurant trifecta. It’s billed as an “homage to all things grilled, roasted, shucked and seared,” which is just pretty prose for saying they make food. But that kind of vagueness is fine, since it allows Chef Kim Canteenwalla (Blau’s husband and partner) to develop and oversee a diverse menu that traverses the globe.
Andiron's sea urchin toast
Mac & cheese waffles
Madagascar vanilla bean cheesecake
Order the sea urchin toast and make Thailand your point of departure. The funky orange blobs rest on a plank of white bread and are topped with shaved radishes for a picture-perfect starter. A squeeze of kaffir lime oil takes it over the top — I dragged every bite through the bright, verdant sauce.
Another option is to throw down with rabbis everywhere with a bowl of matzoh balls wrapped in Neuske’s bacon. The golf ball-sized dumplings are slightly bland on their own, but a sinus-clearing horseradish crème fraîche adds the perfect zing. Skip the grass-fed steak tartare, though; the sinewy bits of tenderloin are okay when slathered on slices of garlicky grilled bread, but you’ll be better off rationing your meat consumption for the main event.
The steakhouse, of course, is the core of their concept. Andiron offers nine cuts of beef that are charred over an apricot wood-burning grill. An eight-ounce ribeye cap — nicely crusted on the outside and a perfect medium rare within — is served with a flavorful Argentinian chimichurri sauce. However, it looks lonely on the plate. Comfort food enthusiasts should skip the standard sides (baked potato, creamed spinach) and supplement their steak with the mac and cheese waffle, which is exactly what it sounds like. The savory wedges are piled high and served alongside a gravy boat brimming with Velveeta-like cheese sauce.
Vegetarians are granted their own section on the menu, and the dishes are designed with consideration for sophisticated palates. I sampled the Andiron Spicy Grains — an upscale take on Korean bibimbap, or mixed rice. Made with brown rice, quinoa, and market vegetables, it’s not exactly authentic, but the composition and flavors are more than satisfying for a meatless entrée. In my case, it also made up for an order of grilled and chopped vegetables, which is really nothing more than an ordinary (and slightly overdressed) side salad.
By the time you reach dessert, you’ll be back on familiar territory with old-fashioned American classics. I enjoyed the warm pecan carrot cake with bourbon cream cheese; it had just the right amount of sweetness, much of it provided by a pineapple and currant compote. But a Madagascar vanilla bean cheesecake with Cara Cara orange marmalade is the stuff of dreams. Its chiffon-like texture puts every other version to shame.
Make no mistake. Andiron may have donuts and tater tots on the menu, but they don’t come cheap. The bespoke uniforms, professional service and massive interior (courtesy of New York’s Design Bureaux, Inc.) are features you don’t find off the Strip, and the bill after my first visit reflects that. However, if anyone can command $200 for dinner in a suburban shopping mall, Blau and her team are in the best position to try.
Andiron Steak & SeaDowntown Summerlin