Choice offering

$40 prix-fixe menu puts Final Cut’s excellence within easy reach

A new three-course dinner offering at the Final Cut steakhouse gives patrons a taste of the high life at a reasonable price.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, the restaurant tucked inside Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races offers a special prix-fixe menu that includes an appetizer, entree and dessert for $39.99. Nearly $40 a person isn’t cheap, but it is well worth it.

The deal also is a pretty good bargain for those who want to give the best steakhouse in Charles Town a try, given that a strip steak – one of the dinner courses available to choose from – normally costs $43 a la carte.

I will tell you up front that I am not a connoisseur, but I thought that every item of Chef John Harder’s menu was top-notch.

Harder took over Final Cut earlier this year, having slowly worked his way up through the culinary ranks. He got his start working at restaurants in California, and came to West Virginia to work as a sous-chef at the casino’s Skybox Lounge. After “bouncing around” through a variety of positions at Hollywood’s restaurants, he won a position as the executive sous chef at Final Cut. When the chef de cuisine left to manage all the restaurants at the casino, Harder moved up to Final Cut’s top spot.

For the first course, guests choose between a light field green salad or a hearty, earthy broccoli bisque. The salad, drizzled with a bright, subtle vinaigrette, features grilled artichoke hearts, marinated cucumbers, red onion and the sweetest cherry tomatoes I have ever tasted.

Even better, in my opinion, was the broccoli bisque with rogue cheddar accompanied by caramelized onion and a pancetta biscuit – the perfect blend of upscale and down-home.

Next, diners select from three possible main courses: an excellent 14-ounce strip steak, perfectly caramelized scallops or free-range chicken.

The steak, topped with crunchy fried onions and bordelaise, was absolutely phenomenal. Extremely well marbled for a normally lean strip and very well aged, the steak delivered a concentrated, meaty flavor.

Harder explained that the Final Cut uses a 1,600-degree radiant broiler to achieve a sizzling, seared exterior without drying the steaks out. He said the restaurant only serves USDA Prime rated beef, and season it simply, with just salt and pepper. “We are sourcing the top one percent of the industry, as far as beef goes,” he said.

The scallops were equally good. Slightly crunchy and well caramelized on top and bottom, they were perfectly cooked in the middle – a feat which, as I gather from cooking shows, is quite difficult to master. Accompanied by a vegetable puree, leeks and wilted greens, these were the best scallops I have ever had.

Although I did not have a chance to try the chicken with heirloom tomato sauce, oregano and parmesan cheese, it certainly sounded excellent as well.

All entrees come with two side dishes. Guests may choose among creamed corn, pan-roasted mushrooms, roasted fingerling potatoes and horseradish mashed potatoes.

Another dining option adds wine pairings to the prix fixe menu. Each guest is served two four-ounce glasses of wine, with three whites and three reds to choose from. Final Cut’s wine list totals some 300 bottles, with both Old World and New World selections.

Wine included in the $49.99 prix-fixe menu hails from Argentina, Germany and Oregon (for the whites) and from California, Oregon and Argentina (for the reds).

And then there’s Final Cut’s final course, which will put diners in a real pickle. The choice here is between two absolutely delicious sweet endings.

On the one hand: the lemon curd miniature cheesecake, served with a taste of chocolate-dipped almond brittle, raspberry purée and blueberry compote.

Wow.

Or guests may choose the Chocolate Bombe, a dome of heaven with honey-marinated strawberries surrounded by chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache.

This dessert is so good I can imagine wars starting over it.

 

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