There are and have been many great restaurants in Las Vegas but few true institutions. To earn that lofty status, a restaurant would need to become a darling destination for both locals and Vegas visitors and somehow find a way to stay hip, relevant and consistently delicious over the course of several years. Go ahead, make your list. We’d like to see it.
N9NE Steakhouse certainly fits the bill after 16 years of success at the Palms, always guided by executive chef Barry S. Dakake. It’s a testament to the restaurant’s stature that it’s the only dining space that will sort of survive Station Casinos’ sweeping upgrade and overhaul at the Palms, but Scotch 80 Prime is no mere renovation. It’s an entirely new restaurant with a drastically different footprint. The bar is much bigger and runs in a different direction, creating a dramatic corridor-like space from the entrance through an airy, swanky new lounge. At the end is a huge window looking out to Flamingo Road, and there’s a small patio space, too. The regal main dining room boasts artwork by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, the private room holds works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and that cool lounge has a colorful superhero-themed painting by Bronx graffiti artist John “Crash” Matos—lots of contrast here. Scotch 80 Prime is new classic Vegas.
Dakake remains at the helm, joined by some former Palms all-stars including executive sous chef Mark Purdy (formerly of Alizé) and director of fine dining Yassine Lyoubi (formerly of Bazaar Meat). The menu is stacked with Vegas steakhouse-standard over-the-top fare like the mesquite-fired crustacean tower ($125-$185) sautéed Dover Sole ($74) and a 26-ounce dry-aged heritage Porterhouse ($99), but the finely tuned flavor details of many dishes stand out among all that flash.
The bar offers a truly impressive whisky program curated by Scotch Master Cody Fredrickson, including exclusive offerings like the Macallan Fine & Rare Vintage collection. But we suggest you begin with a cocktail that pays homage to Vegas, just like the restaurant’s neighborhood-inspired name. The 15 to Charleston to Shadow ($18) blends Italicus Bergamot Liqueur with lavender-lemon sorbet and Prosecco for a fine summer sip.
If you’re not starting by sharing that hot seafood trophy with the table, there’s bigeye tuna crudo ($19) with black garlic soy and fresh wasabi or steak tartare ($23) served with truffle aioli and pretzel toast. There’s Bacon’s Best ($16), an indulgent bite of Nueske’s bacon with a chocolate-root beer glaze, and one of the all-time great steakhouse salads in The Spazz ($18) which takes a kitchen sink approach. But the most popular starter is definitely the rich ribeye ravioli ($19) served atop roasted bone marrow with braised Swiss chard and pickled mushrooms.
Recommended steaks include the juicy rib cap known as Chef Barry’s Steak ($52); a perfect 18-ounce, dry-aged, bone-in filet ($75) and still-hard-to-get A5 Japanese Kobe in a New York strip loin cut ($49 per ounce). Station has always put top priority on the best beef for the best steakhouse experience at its properties, and Scotch 80 Prime pushes the standard even higher. Bourbon peppercorn sauce is a must on the side, as are dishes of English spring peas with Chanterelle mushrooms and cipollini onions ($14) and baked aged cheddar mac and cheese ($14).
Save room for the Fire & Ice banana split ($36), a fun tableside preparation in which bananas are torched and vanilla bean ice cream is made before you add your own favorite toppings. It’s a good match with the roving classic cocktail cart, which will serve you an Old Fashioned or Manhattan to mix into whatever part of your meal you like.
SCOTCH 80 PRIME Palms, 702-942-7777. Sunday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 5 p.m.-midnight.