Many things get better with age.
Wine, cheese, steak . .. people?
It's not unusual for high end steak houses to dry age their steaks for several weeks before serving it to you. Dry aging involves hanging up pieces of meat under very controlled temperatures and humidity levels and . . . basically letting it sit there for awhile.
As time goes by, the steak loses moisture, which concentrates the beefy flavors. Enzymes also break down connective tissue, therefore increasing the tenderness of the entire steak. The longer you dry age, theoretically, the better the flavor.
Typically it takes at least eleven days of dry aging before you can notice a difference. It's hard to find dry aged steak in supermarkets because it's almost prohibitively expensive to sell it that way. Having said that, I've purchased 2-week dry aged steaks at Whole Foods Market (over $20/lb!!), and it was delicious. Smith & Wollensky dry ages their steaks for 28 days, and I presume most high-end steakhouses also do for a similar length of time.
Well, except for one.
Carnevino is really in its own camp here. They have a riserva steak that they dry age for 8-11 months. Yes, you heard me right - almost a year!
These steaks are notoriously hard to land. In fact, the last few times we've gone, we've inquired about it but never was able to get one. The rules are as such: you can't reserve these steaks weeks ahead of time. Instead, you have to call the morning of your reservation and ask whether any are available. Sometimes you may be lucky, but more often than not, there are none. Couple that uncertainty with the fact that we only go to Las Vegas once or twice a year, the odds of landing a riserva steak are close to none.
So how in the world did we get to try one?
Bryan dined there earlier in the week during his business trip. While chatting with the staff, he told them that I was flying in especially to celebrate our 10th anniversary. After some back and forth with the chef, we found out that yes, there would be riserva steak waiting for us for our anniversary dinner.
We always love dining at Carnevino for a number of reasons. First of all, we are Mario Batali fans (HUGE fans of his other restaurant), and we love having access to his amazing pasta dishes as sides. Seriously, what steak house can compete on the side dish front?
We ordered two of our favorites: black fettucine with crab, jalapenos, and shallots (above) and bucatini all'amatriciana with caramelized onion, guanciale, and tomatoes (below).
As always, the pastas were excellent, though the portions are small for the price (the above half servings are $17 each).
The waiter highly recommended the mashed potatoes and I have to agree - these are among the best mashed potatoes I've ever had. How can you go wrong when you add bacon and a poached egg on top?
Here is the waiter, breaking up the egg for us. YUMMMM . . . .
We were also intrigued by the fresh summer corn with lime and mint. These was fantastic as well.
But wait, what about the steak?
Oh right, ha ha, how could I forget? The steak is priced around $100 per "inch" cut. This basically means you'll get a nice 18-20 ounce steak (including the bone) for that price. Bryan ordered the Riserva steak while I decided just to get a "normal" 60-day dry aged New York Strip.
The steak itself was cooked beautifully, a lovely rare interior with a perfect, super thin char.
They recommended simply drizzling the pieces with some extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt.
And the flavor? It was intense and truly like no steak we had ever tried in our entire lives. Over the course of 8 months, the beef flavor had intensified immensely. Not only that, the steak also had strong notes of an aged, pungent essence not unlike blue cheese. Bryan, who loves blue cheese, thought it was fantastic and enjoyed every single morsel of his $100 steak. I thought it was interesting, but was quite content eating my "normal" 60-day dry aged New York Strip.
Is it worth it?
That really depends. For someone who like the intense, inherent "beefiness" of steak and the slight "stinkyness" of aged cheeses and the like, you may very well love it. It's seriously very, very different from any steak we'd ever tried. Now, if you're not a huge meat person to begin with (like me), and you don't love the stinky smell of blue cheese and such, maybe it's not quite worth the $100+ price tag for this unusual steak.
I'm still glad I tried it, but I probably won't be trying super hard to land another one anytime in the near future. 🙂
This is part 6 of a larger Series The Vegas Anniversary. Other posts in this series:
Lotus of Siam
Bouchon Bistro (lunch)
3325 Las Vegas Blvd
S Las Vegas, NV 89109
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