Sunday, July 19, 2009

Michael Mina, Las Vegas

I went to Las Vegas for July 4th weekend with the H.o.P. (House of Pigges aka my family). It was a spur of the moment trip because I found out at the last minute that I would get Friday off. Root Canal Man loves to gamble so we high-tailed our generous booties out of LA to OC to pick up the matriarch and off to the sweltering Vegas heat. We stayed at Venetian which was a 1st for me. I dug the suite style accomodations and would love to stay here again. It ain't traveling H.o.P. style until someone asks "What/where are we gonna eat??!!" It's very likely that after we finish one meal, we will starting planning/anticipating the next. Sometimes even before the current meal table is cleared! With Vegas being an even foodier city than LA, what with the many celebrity chefs and Michellin star restaurants calling the city home, we definitely had our range of choices. We narrowed it down to Michael Mina @ Bellagio and Bouchon @ Venetian. I guess I choose Michael Mina, but maybe I regret my decision because I do love the Frenchie food.




The ambiance:




The tasting menu:

The 5 course cookbook tasting menu (on the left) was by far more appealing, aaaaaand $30 more expensive. I wondered if they placed an obviously more inferior menu next to the cookbook tasting menu so that patrons would be compelled to pick the "tastier" and coincidentally more expensive choice. I mean come on, lobster tail and kobe ribeye vs. duck and beef tenderloin? In addition to the tasting menu, we also ordered the sommelier wine pairing for 3. Being practical people, we figured that 3 x 5 glasses of wine served with each course would be 15 glasses divided by 5 people. So 3 glasses of wine seemed sufficient.




Being a fancy schmancy place, we were served an amuse-bouche of corn panna cotta topped with a tomato gelee? I forget, but it tasted like a savory and firmer corn cheesecake topped with a slightly tomato jelly. It was interesting.



The next dish of Tartare of Ahi Tuna had all the other components (pine nuts, sesame oil, garlic, mint) nicely arranged on the plate which they then mixed together table-side. Unfortunately, I only got a pic of the finished product. The bread served with the tartare seemed a bit pedestrian, like really good white toast. The tuna was certainly fresh, but there was something missing. The balance of flavors was off. I'm not sure I necessarily liked the pine nuts in there. But gosh darnit it was still tuna tartare and better than most things I can make at home. For this dish, the sommelier came by to talk to us about the wine that was paired. It felt very special since the subsequent wines were explained to us by the waiter. Somehow, I felt jipped. Anyways, I won't talk much about the wines since I don't know much. Suffice it to say, the wines went REALLY REALLY well with each course. Some wines didn't even taste that good alone, but when eaten with the food, enhanced all the flavors.


The main lobster potpie was served with the tops still on and then they carved them off tableside. The pie part was whatever, but man, the rest of it was delicious. The large black thing is a slice of truffle. I've tasted many truffle flavored things and I really like it. But actually eating a piece of truffle was new to me. It didn't taste like anything really. The sauce was deliciously delicate, the lobster was perfectly cooked, the mushrooms were a good accompaniment.


The miso black cod wasn't as as flavorful as expected, but it was a good break in the dishes since it was so light. The mushroom dashi broth was excellent and it would have been better if the fish could have picked up some of that flavor. I'm not a huge fan of soba noodles either.


I was certainly full when it came to the kobe ribeye with seared foie gras, but alas the piggy me ignored that fact and powered through. I haven't liked the foie gras dishes I tasted in the past, too livery. Shocking that I wouldn't want liver to taste like liver, huh? I'm a pate kinda girl. Something cold and smearable on a cracker. Anyways, this foie gras was just buttery, and the searing really enhanced the flavor. I suppose it coulda been a bit much with the kobe but I liked it!


The dessert trio was just ok. Mini root beer float tasted just like a root beer float. Too bad I don't like them too much. The cookie was good, something chocolate with nuts. We were so full that nobody could finish their cookies, so they made good snacks the next day. I don't like coconut so the coconut cheesecake was meh. The strawberry panna cotta was meh. I guess I don't like the texture of panna cotta. The first time I had panna cotta my friend made it and maybe I just like her panna cotta only.








Some freebies complements of the chef at the end of our meal. Some passion fruit jelly blob and macaroons. Both not so good.


Overall I was probably underwhelmed. For my first 1-star Michelin experience, it was good but I wouldn't go back. I think there are better fancy schmancy places to eat at and blow $$$$$$. Thank goodness dining H.o.P style doesn't require any money out of my pocket. For now anyways....

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

how very exciting. it felt like i was right there, eating with the h.o.p. i've always wondered this...but it doesn't feel weird pulling out your camera and taking a picture of the food, like you're some strange japanese tourist?

but man, you're hard to please. didn't seem like you enjoyed any of the dishes all that much.

Anonymous said...

and dang, your links on the top don't work!

Darius at July 22, 2009 at 10:39 AM said...

H.O.P. and Root Canal Man -- I'm digging the nicknames. Reminds me of "House of God" hehehe.... keep it up Shrubbsy.

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