If we skip the difficulty in getting Oscar's on the horn, our first impressions were wow. The area just outside the restaurant entrance featured a three-piece jazz band and three blackjack tables for those that do show up without a reservation and are willing to wait. The entryway features big Oscar on the right and many Oscars to the left: caricatures and pics of the Good-man with dignitaries and celebs. The bar area dropped the jaws of everyone in our dining party. Oscar's is classic Vegas with an updated, luxurious feel. If the food was anywhere in the vicinity of decent, we already knew we'd be back again and again.
Behind the bar is yet another Oscar mug and his "office". Hizzoner's desk wasn't as fishbowl as expected but behind a glass door sat his royal desk and a horse's head, presumably a gift from a former client in hiz lawyering days. Guests can eat on a first come, first served basis in the bar area on bar stools, high top tables, or in a couple booths. The dining area is separated by a wall of silver, however, keeping bar-goers guessing what's behind the curtain and saving the best feature of Oscar's for the tables: the view of Fremont Street.
With the best downtown dining view, it's no wonder the restaurant was packed. But, while our eyes frequently caught the lights of Fremont Street, they were equally drawn to the beautiful decor around us. Three chandeliers hang from the center of the dome over two levels of dinner tables. Curved booths face out from the inner circle leading to a debate if those were the restaurant's most sought over tables over those that lined the windows to Fremont. The verdict is still out, but you can't go wrong with either. In fact, our table nearest the busing station was probably the worst table in the room but didn't hamper the view or experience. And yes, that was the table we reserved a week in advance.
apples Homesteads to Oscars, we started with the same dish as our last steakhouse outing: Vinnie's Lobster Bisque with cream and brandy flambé ($8). Evidently, our reputation for slurping preceded us as the bowl came carefully wrapped in a napkin. The bisque oddly resembled no bisque we've had before as it had the look and texture of split pea soup with a couple bites of real lobster. As unappealing as that sounds it was so unique we found it fantastic.
For the main event, plenty tempted our palate but being our first visit we went with Sally's 12 ounce New York Strip ($40, pictured above). Our waiter raved, ironically enough, of the Oscar add-on (Lump crab, asparagus and Béarnaise sauce for $9). As firm believers a steak can stand on its own, especially when we're reviewing it, we passed. Sally was perfectly cooked and simply presented. She doesn't break into our top five pieces of Vegas beef, but ranks herself well above our Vegas worst.
Our dining companions thought Nicky's Roasted Chicken and Artichokes entree ($24) was slightly bland but raved about the Spilotro-Style Skirt Steak ($26) and Prime Rib (Carolyn's Cut for $29). For sides, we paired the unlisted but always available Lobster Smashed Potatoes ($15) with Shmuley’s Extraordinary Mac & Cheese ($7) for maximum starch. Both needed some salt and pepper except for the smashed portions we found lobster in. If there was a lobster bite in every forkful for the perfect taste, the lobster smashed be worth returning for alone.
Given the Mayor's affinity for oversized martinis and the fact the restaurant is technically named Oscar's Beef, Booze, and Broads, we were surprised a cocktail menu not only didn't feature Hizzoner's Martini, but it didn't exist at all. Missing also despite Oscar's website advertising delicious, hand-crafted cocktails, including legendary martinis. Our mouth-crafted Ketel One martinis, sized at a fraction of Oscar's preference, ran $13.
Much has been made of Oscar's broads, hired
cougars women whose sole purpose is to mingle with the customers. Prior to our visit we read Yelp reviews claiming that on slower nights ponying up for a broad was required to get seated quickly. The pony ranged from paying for drinks to a full dinner ride. Perhaps, due to dining on a busy night, we never even saw a single broad. Oscar's Top Broad tweets that reservations are recommended for her companionship so we're sorry to report we didn't get to ask her how many propositions she gets or how many T-Bones she's been offered in a single night.
The broads must've gotten all the training in personal attention as Oscar's biggest shortcoming is its service. After being told there would be a short wait, we were directed to the bar. Another hostess approached presumably to ask if we would like to order cocktails but instead barked "What are you doing here"? Ummmkay. Luckily, our table was ready at that moment sparing her from a colorful version of the same question. Our waiter nicely highlighted the menu, but after taking our order was barely heard from until the check came. He nearly pulled a Henry Hynoski when we tried to tackle him for a second round of cocktails. While Oscar's talks like a royal duck, its lackluster service and inability to answer the phone before (and sometimes after) 4 p.m. means it fails to walk like a five-star duck. We did like the cheesy sounding, but well done mobster uniforms worn by the staff, though.
The decor, view, and live piano music in the bar make for the perfect buzz in the room that begs our return. Sally didn't knock our socks off so we'd check out the Skirt Steak again or more likely try Oscar's Mayor "Weiner" Schnitzel (Grilled bone-in veal chop paillard topped with radicchio arugula, and endive salad for $42). With appetizers, soups, salads, and sides all reasonably priced, if Oscar's can perfect the seasoning, improve the service, and
lose clarify the Broad situation, we can picture being frequent diners. The view and decor were that amazing and the food just good enough to warrant another visit.
Oscar's lounge opens daily at 4 p.m., its steakhouse at 5 p.m. Call (702) 38-OSCAR for reservations. And, baby don't lose that number because you may need to call it multiple times.