You will not see it advertised in blinking lights or on a billboard above the Strip. There will be no chef's face atop a cab. You will not wade through a casino and climb escalators of cologne and miniskirts to find it. It feels like a secret -- and it's one of the best new bang-for-buck meals in town.
Squatting in a sad-looking hotel just yards from the Strip (near The Encore & Wynn properties), The Barrymore is exactly what you'd expect in Rat-Pack era Vegas, even though the restaurant is barely a year old. The lighting is low, Sinatra's on the stereo, and the bartender knows what he's doing.
Vegas is a town filled with football stadium steakhouses but this dining room seats only 50, in horseshoe-shaped booths beneath Edison bulbs and a ceiling built with old film canisters. It's intimate. It's sultry. The lighting makes you look good. It's a place you want to be before the city corrupts you.
Among the appetizers are tart fried artichokes, arancini in a beefy ragu, grilled octopus and a handful of elegant salads. The steaks are man-sized, well-sourced, well-cooked cuts of beef at nearly half the cost of Strip steakhouses -- both the Filet Mignon and the NY Strip are under forty bucks. While side dishes tend to the typical (except for a creamed corn-bacon-lobster concoction that would be like Nana's corn pudding if Nana were high), there's a nice selection of non-steak entrees including sea bass, fat scallops and a vegetable curry.
I'm suspicious of a $58 Lobster Thermidor -- more than double the cost of pretty much everything else -- but hey, maybe buttery land-locked crustacean is your thing. And you probably don't find many places to sate that particular craving. If you're a Californian jonesin' for some goose-liver you're also in luck: they've got foie gras as an appetizer and as a pairing option with your beef.
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A trip to Vegas is usually a full-scale assault on both wallet and liver. The Barrymore will be kinder. You'll get some swank before your skank. Some class before your trash. And because every dollar counts in this town (hello, airport slot machines!) they've got 2 pages of wine bottles under $50.
The Barrymore: 99 Convention Center Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89109; (702) 407-5303.
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