Chef Barry S. Dakake talks about his soon-to-open downtown Las Vegas restaurant
Las Vegas star chef Barry S. Dakake brings his culinary talents to new downtown hotel Circa through his new steakhouse, Barry’s Downtown Prime, opening Oct. 28. With Dakake’s big personality, big dreams and big flavors, his restaurant is poised to be a shining star of the property—and the chef couldn’t be more excited to share it with everyone. Las Vegas Magazine’s Kiko Miyasato recently sat down with Dakake to talk about his new endeavor.
How does it feel to be opening a restaurant in the first brand-new downtown hotel built from the ground up in four decades?
It feels amazing. I feel blessed. It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of this new project. To work with Derek Stevens, who pioneered this whole deal, is simply amazing. I feel blessed. That’s the real word: blessed.
Out of all the types of restaurants you could choose to build, why a classic steakhouse?
America. Meat and potatoes. But let’s take it to the next level. Everyone feels comfort in a steakhouse. Most of the people know they can go into a steakhouse and the menu is going to be great. My steakhouse—there’s something for everyone on my menu, from a child to an adult, to whatever flavor you’re looking for. From meat, fish, vegetarian, gluten-free, pastries. If you come into my restaurant and you can’t find something that you don’t like, shame on me! And, if you can’t find it, you can ask and I can make it!
You’re doing a classic steakhouse where the focus is meat, so why even bring a vegan menu into that?
The reason why is because I respect vegans. Some chefs get mad, pissed, and like, “Oh, here’s a vegan and I have to cook a special dish.” Well, hey, guess what? Vegans are human beings. I love everyone. I want to make people happy when they come to my restaurant. I want them to experience Barry’s Downtown Prime, a steakhouse, and let them leave saying, “Wow, I just had the best vegan meal I’ve ever had in a restaurant.” You have to take care of everybody. It’s important that people leave a restaurant happy.
Back to the meat. Tell me about the steaks.
All my dry aging is being done by West Coast Prime Meats in Los Angeles. The type of cuts we have are filet mignon, bone-in ribeye, spinalis rib cap muscle, 40-day dry-aged tomahawk steak, fresh bison—just so much to choose from. Specials we’ll do include prime rib, Berkshire pork chop, and veal chop that’s naturally raised. All the beef is USDA Prime. We’re also going to have American wagyu from Seattle, which is my favorite from Mishima Reserve; and we’re going to have Japanese wagyu. We’ve got a variety of meats and selections. I cook with the seasons, so every season I’m always changing things up. It’s going to be exciting. Every once in a while, I’ll do a prime rib special. I’ll take a whole ribeye and roast it slowly and serve it with peppered popovers, and it’s gonna be great.
You worked with Chef Patrick Hodge at the iconic N9NE Steakhouse at Palms. How’d you lure him back to Las Vegas and your new restaurant?
I originally worked with Patrick at Charlie Palmer in 1998. Patrick came from Philadelphia and I came from Rhode Island. We hit it off great. When I had the opportunity to open up at the Palms with the Maloofs, I wanted Patrick to come aboard. I needed a strong, right-hand man. He’s been my executive sous chef from day one, and then he went to Boston after he left N9NE Steakhouse. But when we were doing this project, this new restaurant, I needed a chef de cuisine. ’Cause I’ll be in the dining room most of the night checking on people, saying hello to people, doing some tableside with the guests. So, I was in Boston and I decided to go talk to Pat. … He knows how I work. I know how he works. Our minds think alike. He’s the only guy I can trust in my restaurant. He’s my ears and eyes. If he’s in the restaurant, I can be off. I trust him. He’s the guy.
Are there any recipes that you’ve been holding onto for a while that you can now bring to the people?
We’re going to be doing some tableside cooking—those are all new recipes, classics. But I’m doing a twist on them. It’s bringing back that classic steakhouse experience. What would a classic steakhouse be without some tableside cooking? We’re doing a lobster flambé with some pink vodka sauce with some rigatoni. We’re going to be doing some bananas flambé. Baked Alaska, tableside. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
You’ve run some of Vegas’ best restaurants—but how does it feel to now have one of your very own?
I’ve always wanted to open my own restaurant before I turned 50 years old. I’m going to be 50 Oct. 20. To be an owner. To call the shots. To make the dishes that I want to make. I wanted to be able to hire who I wanted. I wanted to be able to fire up what I wanted to cook. Understand? I have three other great partners: Marco (Cicione), Yassine (Lyoubi) and Donnie (Rihn). Anything we do, we all talk to each other—from the menu change, to the type of Xerox machine we’re gonna buy. (Laughs). But I’m very blessed to have my own restaurant and work with Derek Stevens. I’m putting together a dream team that I never thought possible. To bring back these guys that I’ve worked with in the past and put them all in the same place and cook together, amazing. It’s such a blessing.
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