THE SIDES STORY
John Schenk, Executive Chef of Strip House at Planet Hollywood knows a thing or two-hundred about prime cuts of beef charred to perfection. Apparently he knows something about 24 Layer Chocolate Cake, too. When I arrived, Chef Schenk said he needed a minute to change — his white chef coat was stained from butchering steaks. It was then I knew: I was about to witness a true Meat Master. Watch Schenk & Potatoes to see Chef Schenk perfectly char a New York Strip Steak and make some deceivingly simple Ripped Potatoes!
Strip House was awarded Two Stars from restaurant critic Sam Sifton of The New York Times in March 2010. Sifton declared the New York Strip Steak (above), “the restaurant’s signature steak: beefy and rich, tender, with the kind of giant, mineral-tinged flavor that puts elbows on the table and calls as much for martinis as for wine.” In other words, yum.
With plating reminiscent of Lincoln Logs, the Roasted Golden Beets and Grilled Asparagus with Stilton Cheese, Fresh Red Beet, Sherry Vinaigrette (left) was spotted leaving the kitchen many times.
Creative food styling and a plethora of flavorful sides set Strip House apart from other steakhouses. No basket of stale, overly buttered garlic bread here. The Strip House serves up Warm, Garlic Bread with Gorgonzola Fondue, which is the Stonehenge of garlic, bread and cheese.
In addition to the perfectly-charred-on-the-outside-melt-in-your-mouth-on-the-inside Strip Steak Chef Schenk also shares one of his newest creations, Ripped Potatoes. Always looking for a way to use leftover potatoes, Chef Schenk calls this plate of fried potato heaven, “a free form steak-fry.” Watch the Schenk & Potatoes Video to see Chef Schenk make Ripped Potatoes.
A side dish with a near cult following, Schenk calls his Black Truffle Creamed Spinach the “best creamed spinach in America” and proudly declares he “will put [it] up against anybody.” I don’t know about you, but I feel a Throwdown coming on. Just a word of advice for Team Schenk: Make sure this blogger doesn’t get a seat on the judges panel. You can get the recipe for Chef Schenk’s Black Truffle Creamed Spinach here.
It happens to the best of us. Sometimes you end up at a steak house and you don’t feel like steak. Not to worry, the Maine Lobster Linguine with Lemon Cream and Lobster Bordelaise (left) is sure to satisfy.
Strip House also offers a Veal T-Bone, which Sam Sifton calls, “a glorious reminder why we love grilled veal.” There is also a Colorado Lamb Rack served with “beans that melt in their sauce,” according to Sifton.
As proud of his sides as he is of his Prime meat, Schenk shares another leftover potato creation that’s “greater than the sum of its parts,” the Potatoes Romanoff his Mom prepared one fateful Fourth of July weekend. Leftover Bakers combine with sour cream, shallots and cheddar cheese to create a silky pillow of potatoey goodness. You can get the recipe for Potatoes Romanoff here. And yet another classic, Creamed Corn with Pancetta is taken up a notch with the addition of polenta, which Chef Schenk explains provides “suspension” and keeps his Creamed Corn from being “too liquidy or too creamy.” You can get the recipe for Creamed Corn with Pancetta here.
Part of the Strip House experience is the seduction of the rich red and plush decor, soft lighting and vintage black and white photographs from the original 1900’s Studio Manasse collection. A favorite of celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Katy Perry’s grandmother (who celebrated her 90th Birthday here), Chef Schenk explains that they have Ranch Dressing available because Sylvester Stallone’s wife requests it. And after being in the business for thirty years, Chef Schenk gives people what they want, even if it requires grilling a steak well-done. Sigh.
So next time you’re in the mood for a perfectly charred steak and an abundant offering of succulent sides, visit one of the six Strip House locations across the US.
Special thanks to Chef John Schenk, Strip House, Lindsey Rathjen, Emily Wofford and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for making this cooking demonstration possible.