Vegas history can be divided into two distinct eras, pre/post Bellagio. Post-Bellagio Vegas easily lured celebrity chefs to the desert, where they met unparalleled success in a city whose dining scene was formerly limited to all-you-can-eat budget buffets. This good fortune urged others, like Kornick and DeGraff, to jump on the hip dining roulette wheel.
To my husband, nothing declares decadence, Vegas-style, like dining in a sophisticated steak and chop joint. To satisfy his craving, we decided to take a gamble on the new kids in town, N9ne.
Restauranteurs Michael Kornick and Scott DeGraff have recreated their exceptionally popular Chicago signature establishment in Vegas and given it a trendy single word title. Like Cher or Oprah, some things need no explanation, right?
Surely you understand the significance in the name N9ne? Well, neither did I.
I learned that nine represents the age at which the two life-long friends met and seemed destined to open some of America’s best eateries. It’s likely in the genes, as Michael’s father, Arnie Morton, is synonymous with sizzling steaks, while his brother achieved fame by presenting Hard Rock Cafes to the world.
Expect great meat at N9ne, but don’t expect the deep, plush booths; dark lighting; and heavy draperies found at your father’s dinner club. Instead, hipsters lolligag amid haute-Zen decor, walls of water, ultra-suede seating, subdued indirect lighting, and precisely spaced tables. The result is a surprisingly comfortable ambiance.
A touch of Vegas sits smack in the middle of the minimalist dining room with a champagne and caviar bar fashioned from gleaming stainless steel and glowing with 300 colors of computerized neon lighting. It is as much a work of art as the paintings or decked out 30-something’s who prowl the room dressed to the N9nes.
On the bar menu is a unique appetizer of cones served in a specially constructed stainless steel holder; one filled with lobster salad and the other with tuna tartar. Although the presentation and flavors were stunning, eating a cone of seafood while drinking a cocktail proved perilous to my attempts at being cool. I’d suggest ordering one of the more staid offerings, a shrimp cocktail perhaps.
A glance at the main menu left little doubt that we’d get what we came for-great steaks.
Although the menu boasts temptations from lobster to chops, try the giant rib eyes, so delectable you may find yourself recollecting the meal weeks later as you try to button your mini-skirt. Served on a sizzling platter swimming with natural juices, they are easily the most mouth-watering steaks ever served outside a Texas patio. Side orders of mushrooms, onions, and wilted spinach round out the classic bill of fare, with portions so large you will wish you’d have brought along a friend or five.
Perhaps you’ll want to invite a few of the ladies sipping martinis at the bar. In classic beauty scale rating alone, N9ne is definitely a ten.