Duck Fat Fries – Old-Bay/Mustard Remoulade, Garlic/Ketchup, Truffle/Truffle
Yellowtail Sashimi – Coconut Yuzu, Yamamomo Berries, Serrano Chili
Thai Calamari Ceviche – Shaved Carrots, Crushed Peanuts, Leche de Tigre
“Instant Bacon” – Five-Spice Pork Belly, Tempura Oyster, Green Cabbage Slaw
Spanish Octopus – Wilted Kale, Crisp Potatoes, Preserved Lemon
Black Olive Focaccia – Oil, Pesto
Hudson Valley Foie Gras – Apple Compote, French Toast, Whistle Pig Aged Maple Syrup
Roasted Bone Barrow – Chipotle-Chimichurri, Grilled Sourdough Bread
Dr. Joe’s Duck Breast – Confit Leg, Foie Gras, Black Rice, Pomegranate
Pacific Black Cod – Maine Lobster, Butternut Squash, Coconut Lime Broth
45-Day Dry-Aged Prime Rib Eye – Biscuit, Hot Sauce
Potatoes au Gratin – Smoked Gouda
Brussels Sprouts – Mulled Apples
Cauliflower – Hot & Sour
Beignets – Macallan Butterscotch Pudding, Vanilla Crème Brulee, Pumpkin Pot de Crème and Mousse
Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae – Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Brownie Bits, Salted Caramel
Spiced Carrot Cake – Vanilla Crème Anglaise, White Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse, Caramel Chocolate Cremeux
Caramel Roasted Apple – Cinnamon Croissant Fritter, Apple Cider Gelee, Green Apple Sorbet, Macallan Caramel
Rumored to be hurting for business since the events of October 1st, visits to Aureole and Border Grill since that time showing Mandalay Bay to be perfectly safe and the Resort’s dining options as good as – or better than – ever, it was for a party of three that reservations were made at Michael Mina’s STRIPSTEAK on Friday evening, some minor renovations having take place since a visit in October 2016 shortly after Chef Anthony Schutz had taken over the kitchen.
At this time one of four Las Vegas Restaurants for Mina, the pending retooling of his eponymous Bellagio flagship soon to make STRIPSTEAK the eldest unchanged concept of the quartet, it was upon approaching the hostess podium that reservations were confirmed, a four-top featuring full views of both bar and grill already set with a pre-arranged tasting menu laid out in five courses.
Now a bit more open than prior, the loss of a few dividing walls and slightly brighter lights giving the space a little more flow without compromising the sleek and sexy vibe, it was shortly after seating that a waitress heavy with superlatives appeared tableside to take drink orders, an all-new General Manager soon to follow and last, but not least, Chef Schutz confirming a lack of allergies or intolerances before the evening got underway.
Arriving at 7:00pm on a Friday to find the space less than an eighth full and never eclipsing 1/4 capacity over the course of 150 minutes, a significant change compared to a pair of prior visits and particularly noteworthy as the previously loud music could barely be heard even with such a small crowd, it was with $4 glasses of Iced Tea in hand that the night expectedly began with Chef Mina’s trio of Duck Fat Fries, the signature Appetizer unchanged for good reason even though the equally delicious warm Focaccia skillet has since been replaced by slightly less impressive but still good Black Olive Focaccia slices.
Presented family-style with good pacing and fresh settings for each course, the low volume seeing service improved compared to prior, it was riffing on familiar concepts that dinner began with a new preparation of STRIPSTEAK’s spicy Yellowtail Tuna paired to Japanese Bayberries and cooling Coconut-Yuzu Cream, the flavor pleasant but subject to “Strip pricing” at about $3.50 per bite while the “Thai Calamari Ceviche” put a new spin on an old idea by pairing snappy Squid ribbons with shaved Carrots, Mint, Peanuts and vibrant Vinaigrette.
Progressing from lighter to heavier flavors, a third encounter with “Instant Bacon” no more or less impressive than prior considering the $22 price-tag for slightly more Pork Belly than typically served on one of David Chang’s infamous Buns, it was once again a Cephalopod that stole the spotlight in Round 2, the Spanish Octopus cooked fork-tender despite a good bit of char amidst Potatoes, sautéed Kale and a touch of Citrus.
Not partaking in the STRIPSTEAK’s composed Foie Gras plate since 2014, though Mina’s cadre of Chefs have never failed in preparing great Duck Liver whether hot or cold, it was alongside rounds of French Toast and Apples that Chef Schutz presented another lovely specimen seared and soaked with Barrel-aged Maple Syrup, the Bone Marrow at its side unaltered over the years and amongst the city’s best when topped with smoky Chimichurri on a slice of grilled Bread.
No longer offering A5 Wagyu, the decision instead made to focus on Domestic and Foreign cuts better suited for STRIPSTEAK’s Butter-bath and high temperature grills, it was alongside flaky line-caught Cod on a bed of Squash ‘Noodles’ and Lobster that a 45-Day Dry Aged Rib Eye arrived, the thin crust and Medium-Rare center showing off a good depth of flavor while the accompanying Duck dish explored Breast, Leg and Offal atop toothsome Forbidden Rice with Pomegranate Seeds and Pan Jus.
Offering a bevy of a la carte sides, the Gouda Potatoes au Gratin one of the best Steakhouse Spuds in all of Sin City, it was a bit unfortunate that otherwise nicely cooked Brussels Sprouts were lost amidst Salt and Vinegar, the Cauliflower a far better use of Crucifers in an All-Clad pot with restrained spicing and gently cooked Raisins.
At this point turning things over to Pastry Chef Monica Delgadillo, several of her creations highlighting a previous visit, fans of Chef Mina’s Chocolate Chip Cookies will be interested to know that a larger version of the recipe now forms the base of a sharable Sundae also featuring Brownies and Caramel while other seasonal choices include light yet boldly spiced Carrot Cake and piping hot Apple Fritters, though the ‘go-to’ remains STRIPSTEAK’s world-class Beignets served with a choice of up to three great sides that are as good on their own as they are as toppings.
FOUR STARS: Not quite as extravagant as Jean Georges Steakhouse or Bazaar Meat, but still a great place for grilled Meat, creative Sides and particularly memorable Desserts, STRIPSTEAK is another worthy bearer of the Mina label here in Las Vegas and yet another reason locals and tourists alike should get back to showing Mandalay Bay the respect as a dining destination that it deserves.
RECOMMENDED: Thai Calamari Ceviche, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Roasted Bone Marrow, Dr. Joe’s Duck Breast. Potatoes au Gratin, Beignets, Caramel Roasted Apple.
AVOID: Brussels Sprouts were too salty and both the Instant Bacon as well as the Yellowtail are a bit excessively priced.
TIP: Bread service is now only offered on request as the previous iteration often (inexplicably) went uneaten per report. Tasting Menu also created via advanced request.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.