The Charcoal Room
Located in the Hacienda Hotel and casino was one of the most quaint steak houses that ever existed in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was named the Charcoal Room. A name that has been recently “borrowed” by the Santa Fe Hotel and Casino for its “new” steak house built a few years back. I have not been to the new Charcoal room so I can not inform you as to the quality of food or to its ambiance. The previous steak house, located in the Santa Fe, was named the Klondike and had a big stuffed grizzly bear located inside the eating area which detracted from the “tough” steak as you tried to eat your meal while seated on picnic benches. I cannot tell you about the new Charcoal Room since I have not been there nor do I care to go.
If I were to just tell you I miss the original Charcoal Room, you would glance over my comment and not give it much merit. It was one of those places you would have to experience yourself to do justice to the tale I am going to tell you. The year was somewhere between 1971-1975. The Hacienda was owned by the Argent Corporation. My wife at that time Carol and I decided to go the Charcoal Room for dinner. We had not been inside the Hacienda and figured it would be a good time to see the Hotel & Casino as well as enjoy a meal we heard by the locals was second to none.
I made a reservation for 7:00pm the only open time available for the evening. I believe it was Tuesday but really can’t remember what day. I parked the car valet and we went into the Hacienda. I asked a dealer in the pit area where the Charcoal Room was located. He motioned to the back of the casino and we proceeded to follow the walkway towards the back area. We arrived at what appeared to be a Spanish motif double door way with one of the two doors closed. I entered the doorway and immediately saw the maître de speaking with a table of four individuals. He noticed me standing at the entrance and excused himself from the table and proceeded to come over to where I was standing.
Reservation Sir? Yes I replied 7:00pm Perlowski for two. He said the table will be ready in a few moments and I will call you. Carol was outside looking at the menu encased in glass located within the top of a wooden podium. The prices appeared reasonable. We both sat down in the Keno area located right outside the doorway to the restaurant. We sat maybe for ten minutes and a voice came over the loud speaker “Perlowski to the Charcoal Room”.
The maître de seated us within a booth located right next to the booth of the four individuals he was speaking with when we arrived earlier. They were a little loud and I wondered if we could change booths. I walked over to the maitre de and inquired whether we could be moved to the one empty booth that was located on the other side of the room. There appeared to be only eight or ten booths in the entire restaurant. The maitre de stated that the booth was previously reserved for a “very good customer” and asked what the problem was. I stated that the individuals next to us were a little loud and we didn’t want the “noise” to detract from our meal. He broke out in a very quite laughter and said that is Mr. Rosenthal and they will be leaving shortly. I returned to my seat and our waiter returned with a bottle of wine and said compliments of Mr. Rosenthal’s party.
I said thank you...Marty Kane then proceeded to introduce each person at their table. I’m Marty Kane, this Joey Boston, this is Geri and this is Frank Rosenthal. I said this is my wife Carol and I’m Jim Perlowski. It is nice to meet you. Have you ever eaten here before? No this is our first time. Well, you guys are in for a treat. Have the New York strip steak but first the black bean soup. It is the best, not only in Las Vegas, but the world! Enjoy yourselves…you will not eat a finer meal.
They all got up and stated their goodbyes and off they left. The maitre de came over and said your meal is a “comp” from Mr. Rosenthal. Order whatever you wish and enjoy. I must say the meal was OUTSTANDING. The black bean soup was served with a slice of hardboiled egg and a little wine vinegar on the side. The New York strip steaks, both cooked medium rare, were absolutely delicious. The sides of fresh baby asparagus and twice baked potatoes were a very nice addition. We couldn’t eat dessert but we both had an after dinner drink of B&B.
After dinner I requested the check and explained to the maitre de that we could not accept Mr. Rosenthal’s generosity, without going into any detail, because of our employment. The maitre de explained to me that if he allowed us to pay the check he could lose his job. The fire from the mesquite wood grill crackled in the background with sparks jumping in the air. My wife and I slid out from the booth leaving for the waiter the entire amount of the bill save $50.00 that I handed to the maitre de on the way out.
As I handed the claim check to the valet I turned to my wife and said “what a great meal” now how am I going to explain this to my boss and your boss tomorrow?
However, that’s another story that I someday will share…rest assured neither “boss” was very happy but what is one to do? Life in Las Vegas never has a dull moment!