Consistency is everything, and it isn’t easy. Chef Barry S. Dakake and his crew have been running one of the top steakhouses in steakhouse city for 12 years now. N9NE debuted with the Palms in late 2001, right as George Maloof was about to pull off the magic trick of turning an off-Strip casino with a locals’ following into the hottest spot in Las Vegas. N9NE Steakhouse was the place the celebs and wannabes flocked to in those halcyon days. Today, the Palms is between identities, and certainly many other venues—even loud, sexy steakhouses—have popped up to usurp the title. You may have heard the imitable N9NE is not as cool as it once was, but no one’s ever said the food has fallen off, because it hasn’t. It’s an impressive feat.
The restaurant recently received a well-deserved makeover, though the changes are subtle. All-new finishes make for a slick purple-silver coating, with clean tile work on the walls and shimmering disco-ball mirrors covering two central pillars. There’s high-top seating in the ever-bustling bar and a semi-private table in the center of the sunken dining room shrouded in sheer drapes and topped with its very own chandelier.
Dakake has all-new gear in the kitchen, too, and is putting it to good use with several menu additions. Intended for two but certainly capable of feeding many more, the 48-ounce prime ribeye tomahawk steak ($145) is the show-off showpiece, a marbled model of beef supremacy served with roasted bone marrow, root vegetables and baby Dutch potatoes. Other new arrivals include horseradish-crusted Kobe short ribs ($59) and a three-pound Maine lobster thermidor ($89) drenched in Gruyère cheese sauce.
Those plates are alluring, but you’ll find your way back to favorites. “Barry’s Steak” ($42) is a simply grilled, luscious and juicy prime rib cap, packed with beefy flavor and served with roasted onions and peppers. There are dry-aged, bone-in ribeyes and sirloins, and the seasonal scallop dish is a big winner right now, sautéed over acorn squash risotto with marinated shrimp, melted leeks and toasted pumpkin seeds ($39). Of course, N9NE still serves one of our very favorite burgers ($28), with crisp pancetta, truffled cheese and balsamic onions, the perfect meal for that beloved bar.
Complementary dishes you should check out, if you haven’t already: the sashimi starter ($22), slices of fresh fish and sweet shrimp topped with tobiko and Fresno chili; the sirloin carpaccio ($19), unctuous and earthy with arugula and a funny little cup of potato salad; a terrific hearts of palm salad ($15) with goat cheese and pickled onions; and the whimsical s’mores for dessert, where you get to toast your own Grand Marnier, hazelnut and strawberry marshmallows.
N9NE Steakhouse Palms, 933-9900. Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 5:30-11 p.m.