For the first real-deal meal, I decided to eat at Michael Mina’s namesake restaurant in the Bellagio hotel.
1. Ran up and down the boiling, hot strip all day long and was exhausted.
2. Had tickets to Cirque Du Soleil’s “O” at 10:30PM at the Bellagio. (total snooze fest, should have seen LOVE).
I mean, how could I not see the show with an entrance way like this:
3. No interest in trying a steakhouse or meat-centric restaurant.
We were running late because when traveling the Las Vegas strip everything appears closer than it actually is. After sprinting back to the hotel to change, and then running through a crowd to the Bellagio, Lauren and I split up to save time. I went to pick up the Cirque Du Soleil tickets while she searched for the restaurant to secure our table. When I finally arrived at the restaurant, Lauren (who had already read the menu) suggested we opt in for the Cookbook Tasting Menu. I didn’t originally plan to go all out on my first dinner since I knew what meals were in my future. So, I thought about it for approximately 3 seconds before I excitedly agreed. For some reason, other people’s excitement and fervor for food rubs off on me very quickly.
On to the meal.
First course: Tartare of Ahi Tuna (page 171)
Sesame Oil, Toasted Pine Nuts, Garlic, Chiffonade of Mint
Each of the ingredients were presented in small piles outlining the large, white plate. The servers set the plates downs and then expertly mixed it all up to create the tartare table side. To this day, the tartare was the best I have ever eaten. Perfect amount of spice, nuttiness, and texture contrast. I order tuna tartare at almost every restaurant that offers it (as long as it’s not a chain). Even though it is viewed as played out in the food-nerd world, it could never be played out on me. I love that I can eat it with a spoon, fork, cracker, or toast point as is served at Michael Mina. If there are a few cubes of tuna left on my plate, you better believe that I’ll be grabbing the tasty nuggets with my fingers. No tuna left behind. Tuna tartare is my spinach/artichoke dip – comforting, heartwarming, and flavorful.
Second course: Maine Lobster Pot Pie (page 189)
Baby Carrots, Fingerling Potatoes, Black Truffles
What a stunner! This was clearly Mina’s signature dish, as I spotted almost every table had a pie. We got the single serving versions, while some of the larger tables had immense, crust covered pots dissembled amongst the wide-eyed patrons. Again, the servers masterfully presented the dish as they cut the top crust off and displayed the pie innards.
You can see the large black truffle slices and the chunky lobster meat at first glance. I think it’s safe to say that this was amazing. Perfectly cooked lobster is an understatement. I am used to a whole, steamed lobster after a day at the beach. Simple and messy. This dish taught me how to enjoy lobster with class and without getting my hands filthy. I normally don’t even bother with the tail meat and focus on the claws, roe, tomalley, and other lobster organs/intestines. The meat served in the pot pie was as tender as can be, coated with a creamy sauce that did not overpower. It made me want to go back in time and eat every lobster tail I had ever disregarded, in the hope it would taste like Michael Mina’s version.
The top crust was made to take a dive and swim with the potatoes and carrots. Accompanying vegetables served as constant companions to the star protein. Being my first pot pie consumed, it will be difficult for any future pie to compare.
Third course: Miso-Glazed Black Cod (page 203)
Baby Bok Choy, Chuka Soba, Mushroom Dashi
My kinda dish. Buttery, soft cod with a healthy glaze of salty sweetness. Light and mild broth with just the right amount of noodles and veggies. I could eat this for dinner a few nights a week and live happily ever after.
Fourth course:Phyllo – Dusted Dover Sole
Dungeness Crab Brandade, Sauce Dijon, Haricots Verts
No picture of this one may come from the fact that I did not enjoy this dish. Far too rich and heavy, especially when included in a tasting menu. The flavoring was too much butter, not enough dijon. Only savory plate that was not cleared.
Disclaimer: this dish was not included in the Cookbook Tasting Menu, but was substituted for a beefy plate of food.
Fifth Course:Tasting Of MICHAEL MINA Signature Desserts (page 152)
Mini Root Beer Float, Coconut Cheesecake, Chocolate Pot De Créme
The description of the dessert tasting is sufficient for explanation purposes. Nothing blew me away, but it was sweet and satisfying.
Fantastic way to start the trip, even if I did fall asleep during “O” immediately following dinner.