Sourdough Brioche, Kalamata Olive Ciabatta Bread, Pretzel Bread, Cheese Onion Bread, Crispy Flatbread – Roasted Red Pepper Garlic Hummus, Oil and Vinegar, Unsalted Butter
Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes – Apple Fennel Slaw, Apple Mustard Vinaigrette
Shrimp and Grits – Cheddar and Bacon Grits, Cajun Beurre Blanc
PB&J – Blackberry Jam Bread Pudding, Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Fresh Baked Cookies – Dark Chocolate Chip, Milk Chocolate Walnut, White Chocolate Pistachio, Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream
Not a fan of Restaurant Week, the opinion that a donation can be made to one’s favorite charity anonymously without suffering a plug and chug menu for the masses apparently uncommon in modern society, it was largely a result of longtime curiosity that led to dinner at The House of Blues Foundation Room on Saturday night.
Famously known as the lone occupant of Mandalay Bay’s 63rd Floor, a Restaurant-slash-Nightclub that remains one of Sin City’s lone proponents of a dress-code demanding Business Casual or better, it is within the hotel lobby that guests will find elevators behind a velvet rope, the ascent fairly quick to a space designed to impress and staff clearly hired as much for their looks as abilities to seat and serve.
One of eight such venues across America, the recent hiring of Chef Corey Miller from Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak at MGM promising upcoming menu changes per a middle-aged male waiter, it is after passing by statues of Buddha and other Deities that guests are seated in a room of polished wood with a balcony offering a panoramic view of Las Vegas Boulevard, a “guest-list” and/or cover charge apparently the only way to assure admission after dark on busier nights.
Priced significantly higher than House of Blues Restaurant or recently introduced B-Side, Happy Hour in the spacious Bar offering some good deals Sunday through Thursday while the current Restaurant Week three-course offers over 25% off a collection of longtime signatures, it was with Strip-priced Cocktails deferred that a Bread Basket appeared featuring five options alongside three Dips or Spreads, the fact that some were still warm a nice touch though only the Ciabatta lightly speckled with Olives and Crisps spread with Red Pepper Hummus proved worth more than a single taste.
Playing mid-tempo Pop overhead, the lack of Blues or even Rock telling as much about Foundation Room’s target audience as a menu loosely rooted in the South but otherwise nondescript American ‘Steakhouse,’ it was with “Salmon and a Salad with Dressing on the side” tourists seated on both sides that Foundation Room’s “Jumbo” Lump Crabcakes were presented, the adjective in reference not to portion but the chunks of sweet Crustacean that showed well without much binder beneath a fairly basic Apple and Fennel Salad.
Decidedly curious about $40 Shrimp and Grits, “My Cousin Vinny” quotes about *Magic* Grits seemingly the only explanation for such a price, it was perhaps predictable that neither portion nor presentation outperformed what one gets at Yardbird for $28 or down South for $15, the fact that Shrimp were well cooked but largely overwhelmed by spices and salinity also worth noting.
Excellent in terms of service, both the Waiter and Runners present without being obtrusive and always quick to clear plates or refill Water, it was after Chef Miller toured the room checking in on guests that Dessert was presented, a small ramekin with bubbling Berries at the base and Custard-soaked Cubes of Bread beneath melting Peanut Butter Ice Cream definitely the night’s highlight while “fresh baked” Cookies that arrived no more than five minutes after ordering were probably better described as “warmed-to-order,” the flavors just fine but texture medium-crisp from edge to center and none as noteworthy as the Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream that is sweet yet subtle and one of the better scoops in Sin City.
TWO AND A HALF STARS: Undeniably a concept more about the scene than its cuisine The House of Blues Foundation Room offers an experience well-suited to tourists and something ‘fancy’ but accessible, though with so many great Restaurants at Mandalay Bay and Rivea offering better views at a similar pricepoint there seems little reason to book a table rather than just stopping in for Ice Cream or a Drink at the Bar.
RECOMMENDED: Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream, Bread Pudding (PB&J Special for Restaurant Week Only with Apple Calvados the classic preparation.)
AVOID: Nothing was ‘bad,’ but neither the Shrimp & Grits nor Cookies justify their price.
TIP: Dress Code Policy: All attire is welcome with the exception of shorts, sandals, hats, t shirts, sweatshirts, sports apparel, tank tops, sneakers and athletic shoes. Design and logo collared shirts, dress shoes, jeans and blazers are encouraged as long as the design is tactful and any markings are intentional from the designer
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.