Charlie Palmer Steak500 E. Second St.
Reno, NV 89502
A $423 dinner check divided by five is roughly $80-something a person. I feebly tried to do the math leaving the Grand Sierra Resort last Saturday evening, but after a meal like that, I couldn’t be bothered. No, I’ll not be endorsing the casino’s buffet, but instead raving about Charlie Palmer Steak—a calm, inviting place amid the general casino lunacy. I’ve never before considered spending so much for dinner and figured I’d be sick with myself, or disgustingly rich, if I ever did. However, it takes a special kind of world class restaurant to make chalking up a month’s rent for cooked beef seem OK.
From the moment I checked in—next to a man in tank top and hat who was upset to learn tank tops and hats won’t fly here—my mom, dad, wife Kat and mother-in-law Pam, received prompt, patient, engaging service that was nothing short of exceptional. The assistant sommelier spearheading this effort deserves special recognition. During our two-hour dining experience, six different people did a fantastic job shaping our experience.
Though comfortable, the restaurant’s décor isn’t anything mind-blowing. However, there are two eye-catching pieces of hanging artwork, one of which looks like a large sirocco floating in the center of the dining area, and casting menacing shadows on the ceiling.
The list of food we devoured is impressive. Everything, aside from the dinner rolls, is made in house. Furthermore, all the meat is aged for no less than 28 days, producing powerful flavors and steaks so tender an infant could gum them down. We started with the fresh mozzarella and prosciutto ($15): a plate of mozzarella rolled around basil and prosciutto, sliced heirloom tomatoes, and an arugula salad tossed with a thick vinaigrette dressing and a tiny dollop of 18-year-old balsamic vinegar. We also shared the Dungeness crab ravioli ($16): several large raviolis stuffed with shredded crab, topped with a lemon white sauce and plated alongside tomato compote. For entrees, my mom had the filet mignon ($38) and my dad the highly recommended bone-in Kansas City ribeye ($42). Kat and her mom each had the petite filet mignon ($28), while I went for the dry-aged New York Strip ($45). The steaks come with three silver tureens filled with béarnaise, chimichurri, and Charlie Palmer signature steak sauce. Of the three, we all thought the chimichurri’s citric flavor best complemented the meat, which was grilled exactly as requested.
The steaks are served alone on large white platters and gently secrete their wonderful juices. Although the steaks needed no accompaniment, we ordered a few sides. We decided upon the Yukon Gold puree ($7), creamed spinach ($8), assorted mushrooms ($8), and mac and goat cheese ($8). The sides, especially the puree and creamed spinach, which contained little bits of crispy cheese, were all fantastic. However, the mac and cheese didn’t have a strong cheese flavor, and my dad thought the sautéed mushrooms tasted like dirt. I chose to call the taste “organic,” and chalked it up to the mushrooms being varieties that we’d never eaten before.
I don’t think I’ll ever eat at Charlie Palmer Steak again. The food competes with the best restaurants in town, but they don’t have a private restroom. How are you supposed to sit through a multi-hour meal, with wine and course after course of decadent, luxurious food, only to have to come down off your high by sharing a restroom with a guy named Walt who’s smoking a cigarette, swilling down Bud Light and pissed he lost $60 dollars at the Pai Gow table?
Really I’m just coping with the idea that my broke ass will be eating rice and beans for the next two weeks.