Red Square Restaurant & Vodka Lounge
White Ruskie – Stoli Vanil Vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Frangelico, Marie Brizardd Chocolat Royal
KGB – Ketel One Vodka, Fresh Cucumber, Watermelon, Chili
Caviar Tasting – Buckwheat Blini, Trout Roe, Crème Fraiche, Chives / Potato Blini, Vodka Berry Sabayon, Crème Fraiche, Siberian Sturgeon Caviar / Potato Taco, Golden Osetra Caviar, Crème Fraiche, Chives
Russian Fingerlings – Tomato Chutney, Dill Sour Cream
Heritage Charcuterie – Beef and Pork from Troyanka, Berry Jam, Honey, Olives, Toasted Bread
Meatballs – Cabbage-wrapped, Roasted Tomato, Bulgarian Feta
Scallop – Lightly Cured, Buttermilk, Dill, Tarragon
Chop Salad – Tomato, Cucumber, Radish, Fennel, Housemade Russian Dressing
Vareniki – Wild Mushroom Dumplings, Stroganoff Sauce
Georgian Cheese Bread – Bulgarian Feta, Farmer’s Cheese, Farm Egg
Pelmmeni – Veal Dumplings, Tarragon, Dill, Lemon Butter
Pierogi – Potato and Cheese Dumplings, Chives, Crispy Onions
Salmon Kulebyaka – Mushroom, Spinach, Dill Butter, Puff Pastry
“Gorba” Chop – 14oz Berkshire Pork Chop, Carrot, Dill
Stroganoff – Braised Short Rib, Mushroom, Egg Noodle, Herbs
Brussels Sprouts – Bacon, Grain Mustard, Honey
Braised Red Cabbage – Apple, Caraway, Brown Sugar
Mushroom Julienne – Cheese, Cream
Double Espresso – Ice
Toffee Bread Pudding – Croissant, Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Toffee Sauce
Sweet Pierogies – Harry’s Berries Jam, Juniper, Cream, Brown Butter
Vatrushka – Sweet Bread, Quark, Orange, Almond
Formerly part of Light Group, a location next to the nightclub no accident, it was shortly after Red Square Restaurant & Vodka Lounge’s transfer to Hakkasan that Christian Concepcion took over fresh from Portofino, the young Chef with time at noma under his belt reinventing a boring Steakhouse menu into something rooted in the traditions of Eastern Europe that still remains modern and accessible.
Always something of an outlier in the Las Vegas culinary scene, its Vodka Lounge clearly an impetus to place a Restaurant themed on the former Soviet Union near Mandalay Bay’s primary entrance, guests will easily recognize Red Square as the Restaurant harboring a headless statue outside, the likeness of V.I. Lenin decapitated in 1999 amidst controversy but in the process creating another “Vegas” moment whereby visitors can don furs and do shots off the head in sub-zero temperatures.
Situated just off the Casino floor en route to a dining collection that remains one of Sin City’s best, Mandalay Bay’s numbers unfortunately still lagging some six months after the tragic events of October, it was shortly after checking in at the hostess stand that a table for six was readied beneath a sizable chandelier at room’s center, music as well as lights subdued with a red hue making the latter a challenge for amateur Food photographers.
Presenting a one-sheet bill of fare in print that may see older patrons pulling out lighted magnifiers, a much thicker list suggesting a collection of Wines, Cocktails and Spirits, it was abiding to the theme that drinks such as a Moscow Mule, KGB and White Ruskie were requested, each well crafted from top-shelf liquor but at the same time subject to “Strip pricing” at a base of $18.
Ordering broadly from various sections, a request for plates to be coursed out flanked by two surprises attempting to create a true ‘tasting menu’ experience, it was with a trio of Caviar bites that dinner began, housemade Blinis as well as a crispy Potato Chip offering delicate support for everything from Trout to Golden Osetra with each distinct, delicious and also available in traditional by-the-ounce service.
Allowing the kitchen to dictate the pace, a pre-theater surge dying down by eight o’clock allowing Chef Concepcion to spend time describing his extensive research in recreating the concept, it was to the benefit of two children that crunchy Fingerlings with dipping Sauces joined a collection of imported Charcuterie for round one, the chunky Pate of Pork and Beef amongst many highlights but Troyanka’s spin on Finochietta stealing the show with big notes of Paprika showing where Fennel often overwhelms.
Moving on to a collection of Starters and Salads, most surprisingly well portioned at prices that range $14-$16, it is not even in the simple Chop Salad that Concepcion goes low-effort as a pile of Vegetables is enlivened by housemade ‘pickled’ Vinaigrette, the use of Dill prominent but restrained just as it is with Scallop Crudo that even the Kids found enjoyable as their parents focused on what can best be described as “Grandma’s” Stuffed Cabbage without any Rice and superior quality ground Meat.
Happy to see a collection of Dumplings given their own headline, the lack of Chicken Paprikash forgivable even though it would seem better-suited as an entrée than Chicken under a Brick, the decision of where best to invest another $15-$17 comes down to one’s personal preferences though those dining as a group would be well-served to order all three, the Vareniki probably ‘safest’ as Christian’s Pasta making skills are exhibited in Mushroom Ravioli though the Pierogies should be prioritized by those familiar as they are as good as what one will find in the ‘ethnic’ shops of Pittsburgh or Cleveland.
Further impressed by Khachapuri, the Georgian boat of bubbling Cheese cooking an Egg added tableside into a gooey Fondue eaten like Pizza, it was by way of three Entrees and an equal number of sides that savories came to a conclusion, Escoffier’s model for Beef Wellington serving Salmon inside delicate Puff Pastry for just $29 while the Stroganoff and tongue-in-cheek “Gorba” Chop were both highlight reel dishes priced affordably for sharable portions, the former brightened by Carrots and Dill while the Bone-in Short Rib eats like Portofino’s Osso Bucco amidst springy Egg Noodles.
Slowing down at this point, Brussels Sprouts gone and only a few spoonfuls of sweet Cabbage or Mushrooms n’ Cheese remaining, it was with palates cleansed by Coffee that three Desserts were offered, this part of the experience still “a work in progress” according to Chef Concepcion and only the buttery Bread Pudding currently on the menu, though with any luck the flaky Pastry filled with fresh Cheese, Fruit and Nuts as well as pan-seared Dumplings full of Juniper-perfumed Berries will be quick to join it.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Swiftly modernizing a nearly twenty year old space, the “Russianesque” Steakhouse menu replaced by dishes that often taste like those from an Eastern European Grandmother’s kitchen, much credit is due to Chef Concepcion and his team for doing the research and getting this one right…now if only MGM’s marketing gurus will work as diligently to make sure everyone is paying attention to both Red Square and the rest of Mandalay Bay’s wonderful offerings.
RECOMMENDED: Heritage Charcuterie, Meatballls, Vareniki, Pierogi, Gorba Chop, Stroganoff, Brussels Sprouts, Bread Pudding, Off Menu Desserts if/when they become available.
AVOID: Alcohol is expectedly spendy and Mushrooms Julienne were a bit too briny for many, Desserts not served due to being too “American” are left to other’s opinions.
TIP: Open 4:00p to 11:00p daily with Dinner Service starting at 5:00pm and Happy Hour in the Lounge from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Check Groupon for occasional discounts.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.