ENVY The Steakhouse, an off-Strip location inside the Renaissance Las Vegas on Paradise Road, has a cute name (think "N" and "V" -- get it?). Too bad it is under the radar screens of most locals -- it's a terrific restaurant.
ENVY wears a second hat as the hotel's breakfast room. At lunch and dinner, it assumes the mantle of a classic steak house and displays it with considerable pride.
For a hotel restaurant, it is quite a handsome room, with abundant stonework, high-backed cloth chairs and a soothing red color scheme offset by large, cylindrical off-white lanterns that descend from the ceiling like alien spacecraft. Sheer yellow curtains drape panoramic windows facing the monorail just outside.
Entrée salads include Romaine leaves tossed with salt-and-pepper fried calamari; chopped chicken salad with roasted peppers, walnuts and balsamic vinegar; and lobster and shrimp salad made with Bibb lettuce, hearts of palm and a tangy, sherry-based dressing. You just cannot miss.
Steaks are just fine, especially the Black Angus filet. Good chops include apple-cured pork chops with cabbage braised in apple cider; a Tuscan veal chop with lemon, garlic, olives, roast tomatoes and capers; and lamb chops with a balsamic vinegar and rosemary glaze.
Seafood isn't neglected. The arctic char is sautéed skin side down, then brushed with an orange-truffle glaze and paired with a delicious wild rice risotto. Butter-poached king crab legs are just about perfect. Seared diver scallops with wild mushroom mac and cheese is a grown-up version of a classic American dish.
Lots of restaurants serve great beef, but what distinguishes ENVY is the host of good side dishes. Bourbon creamed corn ranks up there with the meatloaf as an example: sweet, complex, completely great. Truffle Reggiano fries are a mountain of crisp French fries, dusted with cheese and then drizzled with truffle oil. Green beans are tossed with apple-wood smoked bacon; it's a dish that will make you wonder why you've never thought of doing this at home. Even the lowly carrot is treated royally, sliced and sauced in butter shot though with a subtle hint of orange.
Desserts show equal creativity such as the crème fraiche crème brûlée.
ENVY is one of the most exciting off-Strip restaurants to surface in a long time, but for now it is largely unknown and underappreciated. It won't be for long.