Tuesday, September 4, 2012

So Dumb It's Brilliant: Oscar's Beef, Booze, and Broads

During Oscar Goodman's 12 year run as Mayor of Las Vegas, he was brash, colorful, controversial, outspoken, and rarely seen in public without minimally-clothed showgirls. Basically, he was the perfect public face for Sin City, a politician who could have not have been elected in any other city but thrived for over a decade and only left office due to term limit laws. So popular was Goodman as mayor that his wife was elected to succeed him. Described as "the happiest mayor" in the country, he clearly enjoyed the eff out of every moment of his tenure.

So what's a former mayor who once defended mobsters in court and openly supported legalization of prostitution to do as his next act? Open a steakhouse, of course. The most ridiculous and Las Vegas-y Steakhouse I've ever been to.

I've been chronicling the recent classing-up of Downtown Las Vegas, but Oscar's Beef, Booze, and Broads at The Plaza on Fremont Street seems to be a conscious attempt to create a business that's the complete opposite of the trend in the neighborhood, as Goodman has masterminded a place so transcendentally stupid it's borderline heroic.

Located in The Plaza's famous glass dome, the restaurant features excellent views of the bright and flashy video canopy of The Fremont Street Experience. Crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and blue leather booths give the place some extra color. Photographs of the famous owner line the walls, depicting the former mayor glad-handing with celebrities and politicians. No one has ever accused Mr. Goodman of having a small ego, and no one would want it any other way.

Behind the bar (where mixologists mix a helluva classic Martini) is Goodman's office, where he may or may not actually visit. But Goodman's desk did feature a stuffed horse's head, an unapologetic nod to the days he spent getting mob goons out of legal trouble. Live jazz musicians add to the vibe.

The Steaks are really good. The menu leans towards classic Steakhouse fare over nouveau trendy. No Truffle-oil here, and I like that just fine. The meat was cooked perfectly in their 600 degree grill. Their glass Wine Cellar was filled with good choices.

All of that is normal and pretty boilerplate at this point, I know. So what makes Oscar's so completely ridiculously silly? The "Broads," of course.

As I said at the top, Mayor Goodman loves the ladies, and the restaurant is as about showcasing beautiful women as anything else. The restaurant employs a group of classy ladies to mingle with the guests, in the spirit of Japanese hostess bars. The women are trained to talk to patrons about politics, wine, sports, Las Vegas history, etc. Patrons pay for the privilege of spending time with these ladies, usually in booze and food. Liking steak must be a requirement for the job.

The whole concept is very strange, and because I'm not a lonely old man I wasn't interested in paying to have a lady sit and talk to me. I probably would have started making up confessions for fake crimes just to make things interesting if I had, but that's just me. I observed the "broads" doing an admirable job pretending to flirt and act interested in the things that rich older gentlemen paying them for their time had to say. The spectacle provided some of the most epic people watching I've ever had the joy to experience.

Oscar's Beef, Booze, and Broads is insanely stupid, in name and execution, and antiquated in its attitude towards gender in the middle of a neighborhood that grows more progressive every day. And I kind of love it. Just like former Mayor Goodman himself, the restaurant is a brash, silly, and unsubtle oddity that could only thrive in a city as strange as Las Vegas, and that makes it worth a visit.

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