Hope for some winning hands of poker if you're going to dine at 630 Park Steakhouse in the new Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park — it's pricey.
But it's good. Every attempt is made to give you a nicely designed room, attentive wait staff, pretty hostesses, a wine list designed to support a plateful of good beef, and predominantly well-made sides and appetizers from chef Jerrett Davis, who's a veteran of casino kitchens at Lake Tahoe and in Las Vegas.
Most of the beef at 630 Park is from Buedel, a Chicago-based, high-end meat supplier; Niman Ranch, known for its high-quality, naturally-raised beef; Greater Omaha Packing Company, another ultra-quality beef supplier; and Paso Prime Meats, which sells grass-fed and sustainable beef. Steaks are dry-aged for 21 to 28 days and/or wet-aged for four to 21 days. Dry-aged beef is hung in a cold case and gains a great intensity of flavor. Wet-aged beef is shrink-wrapped in plastic, and while some enzymatic action helps tenderize the meat, it doesn't have the silky tenderness or focused flavor of dry-aged beef.
Given that this is a steakhouse, my dinner companion and I looked over the red wine list very carefully. A vintage 2006 Verit?red Bordeaux blend from the Chalk Hill appellation of Sonoma County was selling for a cool $1,200 a bottle, some Napa cult wines for nearly that much, and many other reds for three figures. A Barbaresco at $75 sounded appealing, but there was also a 2011 Louis Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon for $38, the least expensive red on the list. As that wine aired out and opened up, it was magnificent company for the beef.
The 20-ounce prime, bone-in, grilled Buedel Rib-Eye ($54 ***) was ordered (and served) medium-rare, and for an extra $6, given sauce au poivre. It had been wet-aged for 14 days and dry-aged for 28 days, according to the menu, so I was expecting it to have acquired that nutty flavor of aged meat. But it had held its freshness, and some firmness that made it chewy.
The Paso grass-fed, half-pound Filet Mignon ($45 ***?), was wet-aged for 21 days and served medium-rare as ordered. The all-grass diet yielded a filet with enough substance to avoid the distasteful mushiness and lack of flavor that feedlot-finished filets often show. It was perfectly grilled, and the lightly charred surface added to the flavor.
Side dishes cost extra. French fries are $9. Hash browns are $12. A dish of Potatoes au Gratin ($9 *?) used good ingredients (Hobbs bacon, Springhill cheddar), but was a squishy mess. The potato dish was an anomaly, though, as most of the rest of our tour through the menu was excellent.
An Asian Pear Salad ($14 ***) was given a Japanese-style presentation. Spears of Belgian endive were sunk vertically into creamy Humboldt Fog cheese, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and candied pecan halves, set about with slices of Asian pear, and drizzled with pomegranate vinaigrette. Delicious —and pretty.
Two Crab Cakes ($15 ***?) were plump with Dungeness crab, spicy from a Cajun remoulade, gussied up with baby fris?, and topped with a Meyer lemon segment.
We knew that chef Davis could cook when we tried the French Onion Soup ($9 ****), a perfect rendition of this tried-and-true favorite, made with a balanced broth of Texas sweet onions, with a cap of Swiss, Gruyere and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses laid over a slice of Italian bread and bubbled brown in a hot oven. The chef's restraint with the salt shaker in all his dishes is admirable.