First Dinner in Las Vegas: Michael Mina’s Cookbook

For the first real-deal meal, I decided to eat at Michael Mina’s namesake restaurant in the Bellagio hotel.

Here’s why:
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).

all you need is love

all you need is love

I mean, how could I not see the show with an entrance way like this:
enter if you're smart

enter if you're smart

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

everything your palate desires

everything your palate desires

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

I'm pretty

I'm pretty

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.
I am cooler than your best friend

I am cooler than your best friend

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

from the top

from the top

from the side

from the side

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

a little bit of this, a little bit of that

a little bit of this, a little bit of that

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.

so full and trying to hold it together - game face

so full and trying to hold it together - game face

Michael Mina (Bellagio) on Urbanspoon


2 responses to “First Dinner in Las Vegas: Michael Mina’s Cookbook

  1. Giovanni Weinstein

    Ms. Octosquid, first and foremost, thank you for keeping me entertained at work. Now to the good stuff. Apparently, you were withholding information when I previously recommended you eat at a Michael Mina restaurant. I see now you did. Cookbook menu looks incredible. Just to touch on the Tuna Tartare scenario. You like what you like, no food nerd can take that away from you. With that said, have you had tuna tartares at MF or Morimoto? I figure you would at least have eaten the MF Toro Tartare with Pine Nuts. Simple and yum. Morimoto is a little more complex, also a Toro Tartare, but with some sort of Shiso broth and a little Japanese berry, wish I knew which kind. Anyway… both great. Truffled Lobster Pot Pie I’ve been dreaming about, even before you made this post, but who doesn’t want the tail? That’s just crazy talk! Miso Cod is potentially as, or more, played out than Tuna Tartare. That being said, it is MY tuna tartare. I could eat it every day. As for the Dover Sole, I wouldn’t want that after delicious Cod, but he was trying to give you some delicious Steak, which I think would have created a near perfect menu. In short, sounds DELICIOUS.

    • Ha, you had me laughing with this one. I believe there was some confusion about the Michael Mina meal. I thought you were talking about one of his restaurants that was a pure steakhouse. My mistake! Tuna tartare – I have had the spicy tuna tartare at MF, but not the toro. Adding it to my list. Never been to Morimoto, one of many NY sushi establishments on my never-ending wish list. You have some excellent feedback Mr. W. and I love hearing from you! Thanks for reading my rants.

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