This week, I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Microsoft Management Summit, which was held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Mandalay Bay, like many of the casino resorts in town, is utterly gigantic. It’s a shopping mall and entertainment complex that has a wide variety of on-resort dining options. If you’re vacationing there or are attending a conference in their convention center, there’s really no reason to leave the complex. In fact, once I arrived, I never left until I had to go home. Which I guess is the idea.
Because I was only there for 3 days, I only got to experience a small smattering of what was available. But oh what a smattering it was.
You can really eat well at Mandalay Bay. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link for more.
Mary-Sue Milliken of Iron Chef and Two Hot Tamales fame has an outpost of Border Grill onsite at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. As dining options go, it’s one of the most reasonably priced considering there’s a number of fine dining options at the complex. One of the things that is really nice about this place is that it has an outdoor patio seating area (heated during the time I was there) that overlooks the palm trees and man-made beach and water park at the resort.
Chips and various salsas.
This is a shrimp Baja-style ceviche which I thought was really good.
Chicken Poblano Enchiladas, one of their more popular entrees. The poblano sauce accented with strips of roasted poblano pepper and wild mushrooms and sweet corn was nice and spicy, but also smoky. Not a traditional Mexican preparation by any means but very enjoyable.
Rick Moonen RM Seafood
RM Seafood is a very high-end seafood bar that features both raw and cooked seafood dishes and sushi, as well as a selection of terrestrial offerings such as lamb and kobe beef. The beverage program at this place is extensive, and if you have to ask what anything costs to eat at this place, you probably shouldn’t be eating here.
The restaurant features an open kitchen in which you can watch the staff practice their art.
This is a “Kitchen Sink” raw and cooked seafood tower which includes New England lobster, Jumbo Shrimp, Pacific Northwest Dungeness Crab, Oysters, Clams, Mussels and Calamari. A bunch of us dug into this thing, and I am ashamed to admit I probably consumed the largest amount of it.
The tower before it was stacked.
This is an amuse of raw albacore with a sliver of almond, microgreens and lichi nut. Refreshing.
A braised lamb shank ordered by one of my colleagues.
A portion of Kobe beef strip steak.
An order of sashimi.
A specialty sushi roll ordered by a colleague.
Another specialty sushi roll, “Tsukemono” that I ordered.
On my final night just before heading to the airport I decided to treat myself to a really serious dining experience. Chef Charlie Palmer’s Aureole, with its extremely diverse wine offerings (and signature “tower” with “Wine Angels”) as well as a very foodie-oriented tasting menu called “Parallel” which pairs four flights of wine with four courses of “two-way” dishes piqued my interest.
Aureole is not cheap, but I happen to think it is an excellent dining value for the quality of cuisine you are getting, especially if this is a celebratory occasion. Like maybe you didn’t lose your shirt at the poker tables, something like that.
A view of the main dining room.
The “Parallel” tasting menu along with paired wines.
The wine tower as viewed from the main dining room.
The first wine was a Batic (pronounced Ba-teech) “Zaria” from Slovenia. This was a highly unusual blend of three old varietals which I had never tasted before. The closest thing I could describe this to would be a medium-dry sherry. Nice acid, heavy oak which gives it an orange color.
The first pairing was a tartare done two ways, one with beef and the other salmon. Both excellent but I felt that the salmon one paired better with the acidity of the wine.
Wine #2, A Louis Latour Chassagne Montrachet 2010. Can’t think of a better wine to pair with an all fish course.
The two-way theme on the second course was Zucchini. The diver scallop was cooked perfectly rare in the middle, just barely seared. However I was not crazy about the garlic sauce it was sitting on top of and I felt the zucchini & crab latke/pancake was a weird accompaniment and a bit oily.
The Sea Bass with the cannelini beans and the robust tomato sauce and zucchini flower, however, was perfectly executed and went very well with the white Burgundy/Chardonnay.
Sea Bass closeup.
Wine #3, Domaine du Joncier “Lirac” Cotes du Rhone 2008. Now we’re cooking with gas.
Veal two ways, a tenderloin herb encrusted with micro veg and a classic breaded cutlet milanese. Tenderloin was perfect, incredibly tender. No sous vide here, just plain old sear. The cutlet was nice, but it’s kind of hard for it to really shine when it is upstaged by the tenderloin preparation like this. Wine held up extremely well to both of these.
Wine #4, a Donnafugata “Ben Rye” Passito di Pantellaria. This is an extremely hard core dessert wine, made from an ancient varietal of Moscato that has been dried out almost to the point of becoming raisins and then juiced and fermented. So it has a lot of the characteristics of a late harvest and there’s definitely some botrytis there.
Final pair theme was chocolate. On the left, a white chocolate cheesecake ball that has been dipped in white chocolate making it into a gigantic white chocolate cheesecake truffle.
On the right, a classic dark chocolate ganache. The white chocolate cheesecake was nice, but a bit too sweet for my palate. Ganache was magnifique.
Petit Fours to finish a wonderful meal.
A quick peek inside the kitchen before my long flight home.