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Posts Tagged ‘top restaurants’

STRIPSTEAK merits prime spot on any “Top Las Vegas Steakhouses” list

Friday, October 9th, 2009
In-house aging is one key to the juicy tender steaks at STRIPSTEAK LV.

In-house aging is one key to the juicy tender steaks at STRIPSTEAK LV.

I recently had lunch with a friend of mine (a professional food writer and guest reviewer here) who made the most spot-on comment I’ve ever heard when it comes to Chef Michael Mina’s food: “The man is a wizard with potatoes!” So, you’re thinking if this is a review on STRIPSTEAK LV, why do I care what the chef does with potatoes? It’s the meat that matters not the sides. Well, in this case, while the steaks are more than worthy, it is definitely the spuds that make for a memorable meal. And, did we mention that said spuds are free? No kidding, these crisp crunchy beauties come courtesy of the chef… au gratis… n/c.

First, the restaurant itself: Located at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas, the space is sleek and edgy with enough hard surfaces to make sound somewhat of an issue if you were hoping for an intimate dinner for two.* But keep in mind, the sound bouncing from walls to ceiling comes from people having fun! This is a great spot for celebrations like bachelor/bachelorette parties, birthday bashes and other group events or for couples looking to dine in a high-energy atmosphere. (We had a terrific time chatting away with the couple at the table next to us who also happened to be from Phoenix. Yeah, it’s that kind of place.)

This trio of spectacular fries is presented au gratis with dinner at STRIPSTEAK.

This trio of spectacular fries is presented au gratis with dinner at the winning STRIPSTEAK LV.

The fries: Okay, back to those marvelous complimentary potatoes. After ordering drinks (wine for P.B., a draft for me) and dinner, the server brought out this very cool serving stand filled with three tubs of perfectly cooked-in-duck-fat fries – herb-flecked, paprika-dusted and saffron garlic – along with three dipping sauces: housemade ketchup, perky BBQ sauce and our hands-down favorite, a luxurious truffle cream sauce I would’ve eaten with a spoon! The serving is so large we couldn’t finish it but, oh, how we tried.

Dinner: For an appetizer, we chose to share the Maine lobster fritters, a dish we unfortunately wouldn’t order again. The batter was too heavy for the delicate seafood flavor to come through and the bacon mentioned in the menu description seemed to be AWOL from our dish. In hindsight, we would have merrily munched on the fries with our drinks and ordered a salad to share with the yummy warm potato focaccia (served in a cast iron skillet) before the main course. For our steaks, we chose the American Kobe beef – the Rib Eye ($64) for P.B. and the Rib Cap ($65) for me. (STRIPSTEAK also offers Japanese A5 Wagyu beef at Market Price.) Chef Mina’s steaks are heralded for their cooking method which entails a long slow-poach in clarified butter and then a quick turn on a high heat (think 1,000 degrees!) grill. The process renders a steak that is meltingly tender inside with a beautifully crusty exterior. As we expected, our steaks were superb. As a side, we shared a de-lish mountain of creamed spinach topped with crumbled bacon bits. (Note to self: next time we eat here, we walk back to our room at the Bellagio.)

Well-marbled and perfectly cooked -- the rib cap American Kobe steak.

Well-marbled and perfectly cooked, the rib cap American Kobe steak is a terrific menu choice.

Dessert: Overkill for sure but the “Beignets with Macallan 18-Year Butterscotch Pudding” were just way too tempting to resist and we’re so glad we didn’t. Plump, fluffy pillows of warm donut dipped in scotch-flavored caramel pudding…uh, what’s not to like? (Do be aware that the liquor really comes through in this decidedly “adult-flavored” dessert.)

Service and other highlights:

Excellent, attentive service even on a busy Saturday night during prime time dining hours of 8 – 10 pm.

Another freebie courtesy of STRIPSTEAK — A bag of gourmet dark-chocolate-drizzled caramel corn made in-house sends you out the door.

I have to say that I knew we were in for a great meal when Las Vegas local, UNLV professor and famed foodie, Patti Shock, highly recommended the place to me via Twitter. (If you are interested in food and Las Vegas you should follow her.  @PattiShock)

The best: We used a $25 certificate purchased for $2 at Restaurant.com (use coupon code “FOUR” and the link below) to pay for part of the meal.  At the restautant, be sure to present it early on so they have time to validate the certificate before the check comes.

STRIPSTEAK
definitely merits a top spot on our list of “Best Las Vegas Steakhouses.”

(*Looking for a romantic spot to dine? Try Fleur De Lys or Mix In Las Vegas, both located at Mandalay Bay and both participate in the Restaurant.com certificate program.)

Save 80% off on every $25 Gift Certificate order. Use code “FOUR” and pay just $2 through 10/12/09 only at Restaurant.com.

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Masterful cooking stars at Keller’s Fleur de Lys at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

A dedicated wine room overlooks the main dining area at the contemporary French gem, Fleur de Lys at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas.  (All photos and content property of www.royallyflushed.com)

A dedicated wine room overlooks the main dining area at the contemporary French gem, Fleur de Lys at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas. (All photos and content property of www.royallyflushed.com)

In honor of this week’s episode of “Top Chef Masters” on Bravo TV, we give you our review of chef/competitor Hubert Keller’s splendid Fleur de Lys at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. (Warning: gushing ahead!)

This last trip to Las Vegas was memorable for a number of reasons not the least of which was not only did we enjoy a superb dinner at contemporary French restaurant, Fleur de Lys, but also because we had the unique opportunity to meet the chef. (We have been fans of Chef Hubert Keller’s food for years after having dined at his original San Francisco outpost several times over the years so meeting him was a real treat.)

But, more on that later: first, we’ll highlight the food and atmosphere of  Fleur De Lys at Mandalay Bay. (By the way, we used one of our fav dining discounts – a $25 certificate (our cost $5) from Restaurant.com toward our check. See details at the end of the post.)

The space: This is a romantic Las Vegas restaurant perfect for couples and it seems especially designed for those celebrating special occasions. In addition to the low-lighting, lush smoky velvet drapes, widely-spaced tables and hushed atmosphere, the compact space somehow fits in several private, curtained tables for the ultimate in cozy dining. Although compact in floor-space, the room is easily two or more stories high and features a second-floor wine room overlooking the main dining area. (The night of our visit, a private table for two was in use in the glass-fronted, candle-lit space so you may be able to book a table there in advance.)

The focal point of the room is a huge leaf-shaped wall sculpture made entirely of hundreds of fresh peachy-pink rosebuds. When we remarked on it, our server shared that a local floral company came in daily to replace any spent blossoms.

The food: For a chef who has been re-interpreting French classics for decades, Chef Keller’s dishes are as fresh and imaginative as they were twenty years ago. While looking over the inventive wine list – a menu of specialty cocktails is also available – the kitchen sent out an amuse bouche of a tiny bite of cod paired with a creamy smidge of warm potato salad and a spicy aioli sauce.

Tender monkfish, clams and mussels served atop flavorful barley is a winning entree.

Tender monkfish, clams and mussels served atop flavorful barley is a winning entree.

Having settled on a bottle of the Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($75,) we indulged in the chewy pretzel bread while deciding on the night’s meal. We began the meal by splitting a light salad of organic greens and heirloom tomatoes in a perky herb vinaigrette.

For entrees, we chose the citrus-glazed monkfish ($43) with clams, mussels and chorizo sausage and the “gently heated” Alaskan King salmon filet ($39.) The generous monkfish plate was a riot of color, flavors and textures with the lobster-like sweetness and meatiness of the fish playing off the briny taste of petite mussels and clams and all set off by a risotto-like side of creamy barley festooned with bits of oven-roasted tomatoes, baby broccoli florets and a smoky dice of chorizo.

Though simpler in presentation and number of ingredients, the Alaskan King salmon filet was a master’s example of how to treat a scrumptious piece of fresh fish. Oven-roasted at just 200 degrees, the fish emerges from cooking with a silky, melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and clean, smooth flavor. The accompanying julienne of beets and surprisingly mellow apple rosemary puree and horseradish chive bouillon served to accent rather than overwhelm the pearly filets. We would most definitely order both dishes should they be on the menu on our next trip.

Even though both entrees were more than generous, we specifically went light on the first course so that we could indulge in something sweet post-entrees.  While chocolate and Grand Marnier soufflés are available (order early in the evening to ensure ample time for prep) and we saw several tables sharing the airy confections, we chose the appealing carrot cake ice cream sandwich ($12) and finished every bite. Luscious cream cheese-flavored ice cream was fitted between two slabs of moist carrot cake, the whole sprinkled with candied walnuts and served with a decadent scoop of pineapple coconut ice cream.

Fleur de Lys (Mandalay Bay) on Urbanspoon

The service:  Excellent service with attentive yet non-intrusive servers.

Back to meeting the chef: While we were sipping our wine and relaxing before the first course, out from behind the long velvet drapes that line the front of the restaurant, pops Chef Keller himself – sort of like a culinary Wizard of Oz.  It was so cool to see him in Las Vegas and according to our server, he visits Mandalay Bay for at least one week each month.  Table to table he went, greeting diners and making small talk. Once he reached our table we couldn’t help but ask about his “Top Chef Masters’” experience (he enjoyed it immensely) and compliment him on the many dinners we’ve enjoyed throughout the years at his restaurants.  (For a “foodie” like me, meeting Chef Keller is like coming face-to-face with a rock star you’ve listened to for years!)

More reviews at urbanspoon.

More info:  Save money while dining at some of the best spots in Las Vegas! Save 80% Off w/every $25 Gift Cert. order. Use code PORTION. Pay $2 thru 8/13/09 at Restaurant.com.

Mandalay Bay Resort is a fabulous place to stay while in Las Vegas (have you seen the extensive pool area and “beachside casino?”) plus you can’t beat the great online rates right now.  Check out  Special Online Promotions at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas

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Botero Steak at Encore Las Vegas Has “Sole”

Sunday, March 1st, 2009
The marquee at Botero Steak restaurant at Wynn Encore in Las Vegas.

Stylish dining at Botero Steak at Wynn Encore in Las Vegas.

A lot of special occasions are celebrated by going to Las Vegas.  Birthdays, anniversaries, bachelor and bachelorette parties, “the-divorce-was finalized-and-it’s-time-to-party”-party.  You name it; we celebrate it by taking a jaunt to the Nevada desert.  So on a recent trip to Las Vegas, when it was time to pick a restaurant for a birthday dinner for P.B., we chose the new Botero Steak restaurant at Wynn Encore.

Being huge fans of SW Steakhouse at Wynn Las Vegas, we were curious to see how the newest steak-centric Wynn restaurant would stack up.  It’s a real pleasure to report that this newest eatery is firing on all cylinders – and that’s just a few weeks after opening.

Botero – named for the South American painter, sculptor, and artist who is a favorite of Steve Wynn’s – is striking in its design and lay-out no doubt in part to nightlife impresario and Botero partner, Victor Drai.


Botero (Encore) on Urbanspoon
(more…)

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Got Big Bucks? Las Vegas for the High-Roller by Conde Nast Traveler

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Let’s say it’s Friday night in Vegas and you find yourself with a pocketful of cash and an urge for a drink and only one with a 24-karat-gold and diamond-studded straw will do.  Well, oh, thirsty one,  you’re in luck because Tryst, the ultra-hip nightspot at Wynn, has just the thing for you.  The “Menage a Trois” is a $3,000 cocktail – yes, I said $3,000 – featuring Hennessy Ellipse cognac, Cristal Rose champagne, and Grand Marnier and, yes, it is served with the aforementioned gold and diamond straw for leisurely sipping.   

To find out more about the ultimate in Vegas luxuries, check out Conde Nast Traveler ‘s recent special report called “The Seven Deadly Sins Guide to Las Vegas.”   How apropos that it is an envy-inducing collection of the best Las Vegas has to offer including where to stay, eat, shop, drink and more – if you have the cash.  Make that plenty of cash.

It really is a fun look at what gobs of money can buy you in Las Vegas.  Everything from the $40,000 a night Hugh Hefner Sky Villa at the Palms to diamond jewelry galore to a trio of buttery steak samples at Wolfgang Puck’s Cut at the Palazzo

In addition to the nose-bleed-inducing luxuries there are several items in the “culinary tour of Sin City” that sound luscious and are actually in a less stratospheric budget-range.  My own recommendation for an affordable splurge?  Try a scoop of any of the superbly rich, smooth and luscious ice creams at “Sugar and Ice” cafe at Wynn.

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