Executive chef Stephen Hopcraft frequently uses the word “sexy” when describing the cuisine at STK Las Vegas, the Sin City outpost of this upscale steakhouse chain.
So what exactly is sexy food?
“We have a lot of beautiful people come to the restaurant,” Hopcraft says. “They don’t want to eat clunky, heavy food.”
Sexy food is “lady friendly,” says Hopcraft, who was a “Top Chef” contender during his tenure at Michael Mina’s Seablue.
The ladies apparently love the red meat, as steak is at the heart of STK Las Vegas’ menu, although there’s a short list of (mostly) poultry, fish and seafood entrées as well.
In a smart move, this high-energy restaurant — which prides itself on its body-moving, DJ-mixed dance soundtrack — offers three size cuts of its signature steaks. The smallest portions are targeted at women: a seven-ounce skirt ($25); a seven-ounce filet medallion ($29) and an eight-ounce loin strip ($27).
And “where the ladies go, the men quickly follow,” Hopcraft says. So medium cuts — gauged for male-sized appetites — are also available and include a range of options from a 10-ounce filet ($44) all the way up to a 20-ounce bone-in rib steak ($49).
(The restaurant also offers two large cuts — a 24-ounce porterhouse ($65) and a 34-ounce cowboy ribeye ($85) — which are meant for sharing.)
Steaks can be ordered naked. (How’s that for sexy?) Or, for an additional charge, they can be dressed with one of Hopcraft’s toppings.
“I like to play on the classics,” says Hopcraft of his beef toppers. Black truffles, for example, are a riff on steakhouse mushrooms ($15), while feisty jalapenos stand in for green peppers in his sautéed peppers and onions.
Hopcraft also presents some classic preparations such as peppercorn-encrusted ($6) or crab Oscar-topped meats.
These “just go so well with steak,” he says. “They’re things that have been offered with steak since steak has been offered.”
Although our group of four — a vacationing Midwestern mom, dad and two teens with early bird reservations — wasn’t necessarily this loud and sensuous eatery’s target audience, we were graciously welcomed into the glamorous dining room and greeted with a skillet of blue cheese butter-topped fresh-baked rolls and chive oil.
Hopcraft likes to add seasonal specials to the mix. So we started our meal with his late-summer heirloom tomato salad, a perfectly ripened mix of red and yellow tomatoes served with gooey burrata cheese and garlicky pesto. We also sampled the garden salad ($11), a mix of greens, melty oven-roasted tomatoes, crisp haricot verts, sharp feta and brioche croutons.
Hopcraft offers a nontraditional appetizer list for a steakhouse, including starters such as foie gras French toast ($24) with green apple, almond brioche and sherry gastrique as well as shrimp Rice Krispies ($19) with tiger prawns, shrimp bisque and cilantro.
“We’re the only steakhouse where you won’t walk in and find a crab cake on the menu,” he says. “We don’t want to do what’s been done a million times before.”
Unfortunately, not being on a high roller’s budget, The Fam skipped over the appetizers and moved directly into the meats.
Surprisingly, our generally divergent group all selected petite filets, save for The Connoisseur, who, fresh from the woods of Michigan, indulged in a medium ($44). (I admittedly was glad The Eating Machine was not with us on this leg of our trip, as I’m sure he would have pressed for the 34-ounce cowboy rib.) We compensated for our lack of variety by choosing different toppings and sauces for these expertly seasoned and grilled steaks. The Husband and The Girl went with the classic peppercorn crusted. The Connoisseur chose garlic- and parsley-laden chimichurri sauce ($2), while I opted for the creamy, pepper-spiked au poivre ($2).
We also went crazy on the sides (each $10), going for Hopcraft’s light version of creamed spinach, simple lemon-laced asparagus stalks, lobster mac and cheese in a creamy gruyère-white cheddar sauce and a standout mushroom pot pie. A meal in itself, the pie featured a mix of mushrooms, truffles and pearl onions in a decadent sherry-cream broth.
As Hopcraft does on the restaurant’s main menu, pastry chef Mona Umbhau recrafts classics ($12) and puts her own imprint on them. Bread pudding lovers all, we tried Umbhau’s sweet and salty version with English toffee, salted caramel and Cap’n Crunch. Also being custard fiends, we sampled the house trio, which featured vanilla bean-flecked panna cotta, butterscotch brulée and an oh-so-sexy Godiva chocolate mousse.
Hopcraft says his menu is designed so guests can feel comfortable heading to the dance floor throughout the evening. “It’s a meal that, while you’re eating it, you can get up and shake your butt.”
Our decidedly unsexy group never got up and shook our butts. But we left sated and happy all the same.
STK Las Vegas
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South (P3 Commons)
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109