Step into Alder & Birch and you might not believe you’re at the Orleans. The modern steakhouse, which opened in February, is an unexpectedly polished respite in a largely locals casino.
Start with the interior. There’s a sophisticated dining room outfitted in hardwood, private booths lit with chandeliers, and a cozy lounge area with fireplace views. The latter is an ideal spot for first dates and pre-gaming with friends. Sink into a Chesterfield sofa while sipping on a signature Alder & Birch maple Manhattan ($10)—the candied-bacon garnish is predictable and trendy, but it’s also an undeniable match for the smoked Knob Creek in your glass. An even better option is to visit during social hour (4 to 6 p.m. daily) for a menu of small bites ($8-$12), craft beers ($7) and specialty cocktails ($10).
Those in search of a proper steak dinner will find a menu that’s approachable, well-executed and fairly priced. A recent meal began with a crock of French onion soup ($7), made a touch sweet with cider and finished with a proper cap of oozy, cheese-covered bread, followed by a chilled plate of thinly sliced beef carpaccio. A simple shower of capers and arugula makes it a light alternative to the dressing-smothered tartares that currently dominate menus.
Steaks fall into one of two categories: prime or house dry-aged. A 14-ounce prime New York Strip ($41) was cooked exactly to order (mid-rare always, please) and did a fine job of satisfying my inner caveman—despite my refusal to pay a $2 surcharge for sauce. You’re better off saving the calories for sides, anyway. The classics (baked potatoes, creamed corn) are supplemented with more “foodie-friendly” options like fried quinoa and roasted bone marrow with huckleberry jam. My only quibble is the noticeable absence of a burger. It’s an option I expect from any restaurant that celebrates bovine flesh, and one I hope to see and devour on a return visit.
Adhering to a personal philosophy that one has not properly dined at a steakhouse if she still has room for sweets, I’m unfortunately unable to comment on dessert. The menu appears to be a smart mix of classic (crème brulee) and creative (boozy ice cream float made with double bock), however.
At the end of the day, one could compare Alder & Birch to T-Bones (Red Rock) or Twin Creeks (Silverton): a date-friendly destination for when your pockets have a little extra padding and you don’t want to be on the Strip. As for the fate of the Prime Rib Loft, the Orleans’ older, second-floor steakhouse, loyal patrons need not worry—the property is hedging its bets by having both restaurants co-exist. It’s a conservative but sensible play that should attract new guests without alienating the old.
Alder & Birch Orleans, 702-365-7111. Sunday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 5-11 p.m.