LAS VEGAS -- Entering the House of Lords is in many ways like a
taking step back in time, and yet any number of welcome components
connect it to the present.
In its elegant surroundings as well as its culinary approach,
this long-honored steakhouse at the Sahara Hotel and Casino treats
its guests to tradition with a twist.
The nostalgia aspect of the equation has been 40 years in the
making. The restaurant was born as the House of Lords, but in the
mid-1990s, in conjunction with a new hotel owner and major
renovations, the name was changed to the Sahara Steakhouse.
As of this spring, it once again is the House of Lords, and
helping preserve its treasured traditions is John Morocco, who
helmed the dining room in the mid-1970s and has now come out of
retirement to serve as the property's food and beverage
Morocco said the venue was well-known for its high-quality food,
and today, "It's still the high-quality food -- the prime beef ...
and the service is still there."
Morocco does find distinctions, though, between then and now.
"People would get dressed up back then," he said.
"And we'd have Buddy Hackett, Jerry Lewis, Johnny Carson, Tony
Bennett, Totie Fields, Shecky Greene. We had Rip Taylor, who was in
the lounge. They wouldn't go to the casino bar, they'd come to the
bar inside the House of Lords.
"Tony Curtis was here last week, and he was recalling nights in
here with Dean Martin and a whole group. They would be hangin' and
drinkin' and partying -- the electricity would just permeate the
Curtis and other old-time celebrities such as Charo, Ann-Margret
and Rich Little continue to add a colorful extra dimension to this
Moroccan-flavored tableau, where brightly hued wall decor is tamed
by soft lighting and relaxing water accents.
The room was remodeled as part of the original renovation
program, but the effect still is very much the best of old Vegas,
right down to the plush booths that welcome guests to stay a
There they'll find that old and new also meet and merge in the
menu, where executive chef Tim Emmert has overlaid culinary
classics with the innovations that regularly emerge from the
As a result, shrimp cocktail, porterhouse steaks and tableside
cherries jubilee coexist with such updated dishes as roasted crab
cakes, pesto-crusted seabass and Cajun-style prime rib.
"Cuts of meat that they used back then, like the bone-in ribeye,
the New York, the 22-oz. bone-in prime rib, I've made a little more
colorful, given them more eye appeal, added a lot of different
sauces," Emmert said.
Those steaks also turn back the clock with their Flintstones
proportions, even when the "smaller" size is ordered.
As another example, the steakhouse standby, spinach salad, has
been contemporized with Cajun-seasoned walnuts and a bacon
For many of these dishes, the chef said, people say, "Oh, I
remember that, but it didn't look like this."
On a recent evening, as music filled the room, a look at the
guests revealed a self-imposed dress code that's still a notch
And although it may not be the kind of crowd that pushes closing
time beyond the posted hour, as often happened way back when, there
does seem to be a tacit respect for this class act, and maybe even
more so now that it once again is the House of Lords.
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