“And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul? Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul.” – Plato
I had planned to dine at Prime Steak House, at the Bellagio in Vegas, but my trip fell through because of a problem with my dog, Gracie. So to cheer me up, my consort invited me to join him at Steak 44, the newest Maestro upscale eatery, located in Arcadia at the site of the old Cork ‘N Cleaver.
Steak 44, seemed more causal and less expensive than Dominick’s at the Quarters, which cost a whopping $6 million to build. You won’t see palatial chandeliers or a retractable roof, but instead you’ll cast your eyes on the horse-shoe lined bar with overhead sexy lighting, tables with crisp, white linen cloths, polished rich wood everywhere, and a stunning collection of flasks and shakers which get lost in the soft lighting. What a coincidence because my consort has the world’s largest collection of cocktail shakers from the turn of the nineteenth century to the present. I know because they take up a great deal of space in my foyer.
Dinner began with two stiff Negroni’s and a choice of fresh baked garlic or sea salt rolls smothered in butter and served in cast iron skillets still steaming from the oven. After tasting the overly salted and garlicky bread, I opted for plain rolls with a side of butter. I took a few bites and began modeling the pretzel-like dough, like Play Doh, forming a smiley face. I would have preferred a crusty, rustic French or Italian loaf to the Pillsbury doughboy.
The appetizer selection took a while because of my aversion to fried foods. I choose the beet salad, small chunks of ruby and golden beets sprinkled with goat cheese peppered with pistachios. Within five minutes, my plate was empty. My consort ordered panko-breaded fried deviled eggs with a sriracha aioli. The crispy outer layer functioned as a fancy gift wrapping for a perfectly cooked farm fresh egg and the aioli served as the ribbons. My usual dislike for fried foods didn’t apply to this dish. In fact, when the waiter tried to clear the remains of the aioli we gave him a verbal hand-slap.
We split the main course, steak farina, the bone-in filet mignon, topped with a fried egg. It’s a steak house, so we anticipated a good piece of meat, but the main course surpassed our expectations. The menu includes options like Petite Filet, Delmonico, NY Strip, or Bone-in NY Strip. The kitchen controls the quality of the beef by cutting their own to fit their needs, including the unique bone-in filet. The chef, Geoff Baumberger, uses a spice rub for his steaks, cooks them at 1500 degrees, and serves the ordered cuts on a 500 degree platter. Our steak was cooked to perfection, medium as requested, with only one flaw—a little too much salt in the rub. This gorgeous butter-tender steak was accompanied by a pair of pathetic slices of grilled greasy toast.
Most steak houses offer a few a la carte sides, but at Steak 44, you have 18 to choose from. We selected the sautéed steamed spinach laden with garlic and Dominick’s potatoes, an au gratin with caramelized onion, Gouda, and mozzarella. The spinach bombed, but the potatoes were a smash and the leftovers even better the next night as a side dish with dinner.
We ordered an Oregon Pinot Noir to accompany the dinner which didn’t arrive until after our plates were cleared. Red faced and apologetic, the waiter comped us the vino. We studied the desert delights, but satisfied and full from our meal, we decided to pass. If you like sweets, white chocolate, s’mores, or chocolate peanut butter, you’ll enjoy the selections with your favorite, but pricey desert wines.
If you’re a health nut, you won’t be dining here more than once. If you like your meals rich and well-seasoned, then this might become your next go- to hangout.