MacauEats: Steve's Chopped Salad at SW Steakhouse
While in Macau a few weeks ago, the gang (Hunter, John, Mike) invited our dear friend @linolens for a dinner date at SW Steakhouse inside of the still-smells-new Wynn Palace. The meal, from cuisine to service to atmosphere was stellar - including the series of truly bizarre dinner-theater-meets-wtf animatronic interludes that jumped out from behind retracting wall every 30 minutes.
But this piece isn't about the fisherman, a flying donkey or gorilla/banana, it is about Steve Wynn, the man behind the initials on the door.
Immediately upon being seated and perusing the menu, I spotted a curious item amongst the offerings - "Steve's Chopped Salad." I'm generally salad-averse, particularly when I'm in a steakhouse, but there is no way I'm going to let the opportunity to eat like the king slip through my fingers.
Folks who followed my 2007 Macau adventure blog may remember the review I wrote of a meal at Wynn Macau's Cafe Esplanada, wherein I dined on the delicious "Elaine Wynn Salad." Since that time, Steve and Elaine have gotten divorced, but Cafe Esplanada still carries the torch for Elanie's delicacy, under the nom de plume of "Wynn Mediterranean Salad."
The waiter arrives and goes around the table taking orders for starters, entrees and a smattering of sides... lots of steaks. When it was my time to order, I sat up straight and in crisp-yet-husky tone said "I'll have 'Steve's Chopped Salad'." The table erupted in giggles. Frankly, I'm surprised they all didn't order it.
A few minutes and a tiger vase show later, our starters arrived. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Steve's Chopped Salad.
A ring of expertly diced tomatoes encircles a mold of chopped weinberg lettuce, avocado, shaved red onions tossed in a tangy vinaigrette dressing and topped with a wayward afro made of shoestring potato fries.
A member of the staff came over and brought a pepper grinder... "would you like pepper?" "I'll have it exactly as Steve has it," I responded. "Yes sir, no pepper. You'll need a spoon, then." Staff scurried away and returned shortly thereafter with a polished spoon. I was told that to properly dine like the king, my thumb was required to act as a bumper when loading up the spoon. "I'm left handed, can I swap hands and use my right thumb?" I asked.
I've traveled half way around the planet, twice, and once thwarted, just to visit Wynn Palace Cotai. Now, I'm here, with dear friends and fellow fans of The Steve, eating his salad at the restaurant that bears his name. With a polished spoon, no pepper and a thumb bumper. This is obviously a sickness. I don't like salad that much. I'm not even sure I like Steve Wynn (the guy) a helluva lot either... but he is the driving force who built this and a bunch of other hotels that have changed the way I look at and live my life. For that, I raise my spoon, say a small prayer (not really) and dig in to Steve's Chopped Salad.
Water into wine. Rocks into bread. Fish into many. Tassels into dollars. Let the transubstantiation begin.
Honestly, this salad looks ridiculous. It reminds me of a Duncan Hines birthday cake my mother made me when I was five years old, yellow cake with vanilla frosting topped with six Life Saver candies, holes doing double duty as birthday candle mounts. Ta-dah!
When Steve tells his underlings in the villa or boardroom or office that he wants a salad, this is what they bring him. This is probably what he's been chomping on while flirting with UBS' Robin Farley during the quarterly earnings calls. This is, presumably, how he likes it. Chopped into teeny tiny, easy-to-chew bits, topped with crunchy fries and ringed by tomato cubes. Caesar, Waldorf, or Elaine Wynn it is not. Alas, everyday he gets a birthday cake. Make a wish.
The salad was unremarkable, infinitely less interesting than the man it was named for. It chewed easily, and was reasonably flavorful, at least as much as a primarily water leaf lettuce salad could be. Pairing hot shoestring fries with a salad is certainly a bold choice, and in and of themselves tasted fine, but in context of the salad lent a potato-chips-tucked-in-a-peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwich feel to the proceedings. I loved smuggling chips in my PBJ... when I was 5.
As for the rest of the meal, it was great. My entree - red snapper - was stellar. My dining partners raved about their steaks - Filet Mignon and New York steaks and strips - all of which were cooked to pink perfection. The sides, other than a severely under-cooked asparagus, were exquisite. Service was spectacular and the animatronic intermezzos were a delightfully strange distraction that tickled my funny bone and the avant-garde performance art brain lobe.
Happy Birthday Steve. I got you a