High steaks

All up in your grill: The Mixed Grill from the Western Village Steakhouse.

All up in your grill: The Mixed Grill from the Western Village Steakhouse.

Photo by AMY BECK

Western Village Steakhouse takes reservations from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.westernvillagesparks.com.

One of the finest beef houses in Northern Nevada sits behind Sierra Sid’s off McCarran Boulevard and I-80. This hidden treasure is located in the far northwest corner of the casino. There’s a small bar outside, but when you walk in, you immediately get the feeling you’re in an old New York City-style supper club. Subdued lighting, paintings on the wall, padded booths separated by tasteful plants, black linen table cloths, and a table set for an elegant dinning experience with a wait staff well trained in customer attention.

It’s a reasonably priced ($17-$34), please-everyone menu. Chef Jennifer Pagni suggested the Mixed Grill ($33) to me. She’s from Reno and graduated from the Art Institute of California-Los Angeles with a degree in Culinary Management. She worked as the sous chef at the Bimini Steakhouse in the Peppermill before moving to Western Village. She has a passion for her art, and her mantra is “farm fresh to table.”

Dianne Charvat is a diva of dining. She has been the maître d’ at the steakhouse for more than 20 years and always makes the experience memorable. She does tableside preparation of salads and desserts, a throw-back to the golden days of dining when that kind of showmanship kept customers loyal forever.

The meals are complete with soup de jour or a salad. I went with the soup: pumpkin-potato curry. This was a bowl, not a cup, and the presentation was classy. A warmed bowl with fresh Parmesan and parsley in the bottom was set in front of me. The server poured the soup—piping hot—from a metal pitcher. The aroma of the curry hit my nose immediately. It was not spicy, but distinct with a fennel, cumin, ginger, coriander flavor combination—salty, a little peppery, tart, and a hint of sweet. The creamy, light, orange-colored, pumpkin-potato puree base made this hearty and an excellent fall starter.

The Mixed Grill was simple, plentiful and full of flavor. Two four-ounce Harris Ranch petite filets with steakhouse butter, grilled; three large shrimp, scampi style, and two Colorado lamb chops, eight ounces, grilled with a simple au jus reduction atop. These chops were marinated for 48 hours in Chef Pagni’s marinade. The meats were a perfect medium-rare, with juicy, hearty, grilled flavors. The butter on the steak gave a garlic essence, and the reduction on the lamb delivered thyme, rosemary and a hint of garlic. The scampi in a white wine and butter reduction is superb. For the potatoes, au gratin and these were not boring Cheddar. They were a blend of Gruyère, Parmesan and blue cheese—creamy with a rich texture and a slightly tart, nutty-savory flavor and fresh, seasonal veggies to complete the plate.

For dessert, Dianne’s Steakhouse Chocolate Cake ($7). Twelve layers of Ghirardelli decadence cause chocoholic bliss. Worth mentioning, the coffee—individual pots and the cream is steam-heated to temperature.

Charvat introduced me to Meiomi, a Pinot noir from Bella Glos ($12). Bucking tradition, this Pinot noir is a blend of multiple vineyards along the California coast—Meiomi is a Native American word for “coast”—from Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara. Bright, deep garnet color fills the mouth with a velvety richness. A sensational nose, and then the wine unloads with flavors of bright cherry, cola, vanilla, leather and moderate, toasty oak. The wine list is respectable with by-the-glass wines starting at $5. If you ever had that Indiana Jones urge to discover something, the Western Village Steakhouse is like finding the jewel of the Truckee.