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Feb 11, 2007 04:17 AM

My Planned Trip to Vegas

I will be heading out to Vegas at the beginning of March for a convention. I have set up reservations at Bartolotta at the Wynn and Michael Mina's new place, StripSteak, at Mandalay. Are there any hits/misses at either place that I should try/avoid?
Also, what is everyone's favorite combination at the Burger Bar at Mandalay Place? I will be heading there at least once during my trip. Thanks!

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  1. My favorite combination at Burger Bar is Angus beef, whole wheat bun, mozzarella cheese, jalapeno bacon (soaked in jalapeno pickling brine, yum), avocado. The whole wheat bun isn't assertive in flavor but it holds together better than the sesame bun and it's not overly chewy like the ciabatta bun. Get the meat medium rare, it will be very red and juicy as I think they tend to under-do the meat slightly. Toppings are so personal, just get what you like. Absolutely try the onion rings - fantastic! If you're going for lunch be prepared to wait awhile unless you get there early, but the bar seats are first-come first-served and there isn't smoking at the bar anymore (yay!).

    We didn't love StripSteak on a recent visit but we didn't actually have steak so maybe I'm not being fair. We did enjoy the foie gras sliders and the "Kobe" steak tartare and the butterscotch pudding (a lot).

    Bartolotta is lovely and I don't think you can go wrong with anything. Try to have a pasta and a fresh fish. The pasta portions are true primi portions, not overwhelming.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Debbie W

      What was your beef with Stripsteak?

      1. re: elrushbo

        Also, you have to have a shake or malt at Burger Bar. The carmelized onions weren't good, I'd avoid them. The peppered bacon was excellent. I don't see much difference in taste between the various burgers, I wouldn't spend the extra for Kobe, not for a burger, anyway.

        1. re: elrushbo

          Very funny! This is what I wrote here: - I think we would give it another shot as we are generally fond of Michael Mina's restaurants - we'd had a superb dinner at Nobhill the night before our visit to Stripsteak, and we've enjoyed SeaBlue a few times, and also Michael Mina at the Bellagio. In fact I just booked Michael Mina for our next trip - will be there on Sunday March 4th, and trying Craftsteak for a second time on March 3rd. Anyway, here's what I posted a few weeks ago relative to Stripsteak, the post itself was really lengthy incorporating all our restaurant visits that trip.

          "I liked the décor, and it was crowded with a lively, fun vibe. The food – not so great overall. We had already decided to skip the steaks in favor of trying a few appetizers. We had: tuna “rolls,” romaine salad, foie gras sliders, Kobe tartare, macaroni and cheese, and beignets with butterscotch pudding. The best non-dessert dishes were the foie sliders and the Kobe tartare – I would definitely have both of these again. I liked the presentation of the tartare – the waiter or runner mixed in all the accompaniments and then put it into a cone-shaped glass which fit into a larger bowl of ice. I think a lot has been written on the foie sliders here and don’t think I can add anything except they were real tasty. The “tuna rolls” were actually different fish (tuna, hamachi, think that’s it) on tiny fried rice cakes – one bite each, maybe six to the order. I think they were actually a special. These were executed with substantially less skill than the spicy tuna on rice cakes is done at my local neighborhood sushi bar – the rice cakes were underdone and greasy and the fish tasted none too fresh. The romaine salad was dressed with sort of a green olive pesto which was tasty but the lettuce itself was under-fresh. The macaroni and cheese was exactly the same, component-wise, as we’d had at Nobhill the night before – elbows, truffled, with broccoli. Whereas the rendition at Nobhill was rich perfection, the version at Stripsteak was oversalted, less creamy, and less crispy on the edges. It was like a pale imitation of the Nobhill version – and if you’ve got the same item on the menu at two Michael Mina restaurants, then I think they’d better taste the same. To me, this was probably the most disappointing factor about Stripsteak – not the food itself, but the insufficient execution. For dessert, the beignets themselves were blah, but the butterscotch pudding, made with Macallan 12-year I think, was superb. I could really taste the Scotch, and the texture was thick and smooth. I could easily have eaten another order of the pudding itself. We managed to eat relatively frugally, I think, because all of the food plus two cocktails plus one soda and one coffee totaled $126 including tax but before tip. I think I would try Stripsteak again, maybe try a steak next time, but I don’t think I’m exactly rushing back except now that I think about it, maybe I’ll rush back for some more of the butterscotch pudding."

          1. re: Debbie W

            So you liked Craftsteak better, then? I've been to the original Aqua in SF, Aqua at Bellagio, Michael Mina in SF, Nobhill twice. All have been enjoyable, Nobhill was a bit off in 02 but better the next time in 04. I have heard nothing but good things about Nobhill the last couple years, and I noticed they did get a new chef a couple years ago, so I'm seriously thinking of giving it another try. They do make the best Mojitos anywhere, and yes, the Cable Car is soooo good! I think I'd try a non fish thing if I went there again. Michael Mina(Aqua) was stunning. I'll be very interested in hearing your report, would like to know if Michael Mina is still at the top of its' game. And we'll probably stay at MGM, and we'd like to go to one restaurant there.

            1. re: elrushbo

              Actually, we've only been to Craftsteak once and we didn't love it but that didn't particularly have to do with the food. I think I had a problem navigating the menu in terms of figuring out what and how much to order, and the way the menu was written didn't make things abundantly clear in terms of details, and our server wasn't especially helpful so I got somewhat irritated and that cast a pall over the experience. I don't even remember what we had, other than we definitely had steaks. This was a couple years back, and having read so many good things here we've decided to give it another shot since we're staying at the MGM this time.

              I went to Aqua at Bellagio a few years ago with my parents, and my husband and I went to Michael Mina at Bellagio last May. Of the two meals I liked the most recent meal better, in fact it was truly delicious, but we'd had too much food the prior couple of nights and we weren't quite 100%. Really looking forward to the upcoming dinner there, I'm already salivating over the online menu. Trio of Kurobota prosciutto...mmm.

              1. re: Debbie W

                Thinking about Michael Mina, if we see "O." We've been to Prime and none of the other places in Bellagio seem like places I want to spend that kind of money on. Will have to go look at that menu now...

              2. re: elrushbo

                I'm a huge fan of Craftsteak and I've eaten at StripSteak as well. Yes, there are a few things at SS that I think are worthy of a repeat trip but overall -- CS is the hands down winner. I've said it many times before and I'll say it again ... Craftsteak is my favorite restaurant in the city and I think they do a terrific job on all accounts. I will go back and try StripSteak again ( perhaps in the next couple days ) but as it stands, they can't outdo Craft ... IMO.

        2. i've commented on stripsteak several times, what i thought were the +/- i find it interesting that several comment on the place without trying the's a steakhouse !!!! unfortunately, i haven't hit the big jackpot yet, so i haven't been able to try the kobe beef...someday....i'm trying to remember where i recently read about the process they use in cooking the may have been in bon sounded somewhat unique ...i believe they either poach the steaks or brine memory sure is fading...still call me crazy but when you go to a steak house, the true measure they make a good/great steak...i thought it was good...but not great and i've preached's diificult to distinquish the high-end steakhouses.. the key is consistency yet i do not frequent any one specific place enough to comment on this crucual issue ( just too many new places to try ! )

          4 Replies
          1. re: kjs

            You're right, of course...but I also think the starters, sides and desserts are important in a restaurant like Stripsteak where these are intended to be imaginative or unusual (as opposed to, let's say, a more traditional steakhouse where it's really all about the steak and everything else is sort of an afterthought - a couple national chains come to mind). I took care to mention that we didn't have steak, but if we had had steak and it was the best steak ever, the dishes I thought needed improvement would still have needed improvement.

            1. re: Debbie W

              Just read your review of Nobhill...makes me want to go again. My wife's sisters' husband loved fish, but has a bad shellfish allergy, so his wife might not let him go to a place like Seablue, but Nobhill might fit the bill. Depends...we usually like to try new places, we'll see. Nobhill does have very intimate ambience, and the service was flawless.

              1. re: elrushbo

                Yes, we were very positively impressed with Nobhill and kicking ourselves for not having tried it sooner since we stay at the MGM so often. You went to Fiamma, right? I think I remember that from one of your prior posts. We tried that for the first time in November and really liked it. We haven't had dinner at SeaBlue for around a year, but we had appetizers there in November. Do you definitely want to eat at the MGM?

                1. re: Debbie W

                  We pretty much decided on staying at MGM, so we'll want to eat there once. Could always hit the casual places at MGM and go for fine dining elsewhere. Fiamma was great, I was pleasantly suprised. Everything about it was fantastic. Thinking about Le Atelier, might be more than what my group will want to spend, but people who I really trust rave about it. If I hit it big we're going to Joel Robuchon

          2. I really liked Michael Mina at the Bellagio, it was the second best meal I had when visiting back in December. Best was Joel Robuchon at the MGM, but hardly inexpensive.

            I say to avoid Delmonico at the Venetian. Worst steak I've had in some time. My parents really enjoyed Prime at the Bellagio when they were visiting Vegas.

            I haven't made it to Burger Bar so can't help you there. Let me know what's good. I may be heading back down in April for a conference.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lisaf

              Bravo for your negative comments on Delmonico. I was beginning to think I was the only one who dislikes it. I've had so many better steaks and meals in general in Vegas. Good to see that at least one other person shares my sentiments.

            2. One of my never miss recommendations is breakfast at The Verandah in the Four Seasons. Specifically the Huevos Rancheros. It is, IMHO the best breakfast in Las Vegas.