Las Vegas Restaurants that Redefine Excellence in
STRIPSTEAK’s talented chef Benjamin
Jenkins, the knowledgeable sommelier Joshua Lieberman,
lovely server Alexis, and charming manager Tony
Even the Most Sophisticated Diners
There’s not enough ink or
adjectives in the dictionary to adequately describe or capture how
truly extraordinary the STRIPSTEAK Restaurant is (located at the
fabulous Mandalay Hotel and Casino)! It succeeds in raising the bar
in dining perfection. There is certainly no shortage of steak houses
in the world, but there are few (IF ANY) that can begin to compare
From the moment you enter this modern,
sleek, beautifully appointed establishment you will know you have
walked into a celebration of fine dining. The ambience is warm, hip,
trendy, contemporary, open and airy. You will enjoy the highest
standard of gourmet cuisine in a relaxed, inviting and comfortable,
YET TRENDY, atmosphere that will stimulate all of your senses! I
love this place! STRIPSTEAK is part of the Mina group and has only
been opened for three months. I must extend MAJOR kudos for the
accomplishment of fine tuning EVERYTHING in such a short amount of
I must go into a little detail about the culinary
brilliance of the prestigiously awarded Chef Michael Mina founder of
the Mina Group, along with tennis legend Andre Agassi as his
partner. (Now if that isn’t a winning team!) With many award-winning
restaurants already under his belt, Michael Mina is a man with a
mission: to bring the best flavor combinations to his diners. I SAY
“MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, MR. MINA!” Among other things, Michael is
known for his trio concepts, three flavor variations of one dish. I
must say it is quite fun to indulge in this style. Along Mina’s
culinary journey, he has learned to take great pride in seeking out
the best of everything and go the extra distance to create a special
environment for his guests. He examines the dining experience from
every angle, not just in terms of food and service, but from the
décor and perspective as well. “You never know which specifics are
going to blow people away, so the safest thing to do is to make sure
every detail is covered and that the overall style of the restaurant
comes together as a complete package,” states Mina.
are two large, dry-aging rooms at STRIPSTEAK, which is where they
age their own beef. Since they are adamant about cooking beef over
wood, they have two large mesquite grills visible from the dining
room for all to see as well as your food being prepared.
That said, it takes the input of many to create the
perfection at STRIPSTEAK, and all involved have managed to create it
beautifully. For instance, the charming, knowledgeable and gracious
General Manager, Tony Fisher makes sure every guest at all times is
attended to in style. His eyes are everywhere making sure everything
is on target and operating smoothly. Believe me he misses nothing!
For the serious wine enthusiast, Rajatt Parr, the wine director of
Mina Group, along with Bernie Deluna and Sommelier Joshua Liberman,
have collected 1,000 of the most impressive variety and selections
of wines from all around the world. Make sure you get with Josh, as
he is remarkable at pairing your wine to better enhance your food
Furthermore, I cannot say enough about
STRIPSTEAK’s gifted Executive Chef Benjamin Jenkins talents and
execution of every dish I devoured. BRAVO, BENJAMIN! He is ONE with
My very lovely, bubbly, and delightful server,
Alexis, elegantly guided me through the diversified menu selections.
Let’s start! To begin, if you order from the tasting menu
(pairing wines can be added as well), you will also receive Michael
Mina’s amazing new cookbook. It is a great deal and I highly
recommend it. Fear not, you may also purchase the book if you order
off the menu.
When you are served the tasty bread, although
it is DIFFICULT to resist, you must save room for your dinner, as I
promise you won’t want to miss a single bite. Every course is
presented as beautiful as the flavors themselves.
starters, if you love shellfish, I highly recommend that you try
anyone of the ice cold shellfish and or caviar selections. You can
also treat yourself to a shellfish platter as well. The Caviar is
out of this world and elegantly served in traditional style. The
fresh, cold, sweet, East Coast Oysters are also a delightful choice.
If you love liver, you MUST without question order the Foie Gras
Sliders with pear chutney and basil. This is the ultimate delicacy,
full of luxury and romance, versatile, sensual flavor and creamy
texture. A word to the wise, you cannot leave STRIPSTEAK without
enjoying the “Shabu Shabu” Matsutake Mushroom Broth Specialty. The
American Kobe Beef is presented on the side, awaiting the diner to
cook it themselves in the mushroom broth. Innovative, delicious,
assertive flavors that will melt in your mouth! On the lighter side,
you can start with the very yummy and inviting “Louis” lettuce cup
and avocado crab. So great and creative!
For your entrée, I
suggest the Japanese “As” Kobe Ribeye. The finest beef dish that you
will FOREVER remember! Stunning! This steak is like butter. What a
rare treat! It is beef-candy! I also suggest the best Filet Mignon I
have ever had. Not only are you being served the finest quality
beef, it is masterfully cooked to your taste. Compliment your steak
with the most fabulous and original Potato Puree Trio- Lobster, Sour
cream and onion, and Horseradish. This is a MUST! Indulge further
and order the Truffled Mac & Cheese and or the Spinach Soufflé,
parmesan cream. I didn’t know where to start, it was all so
sensational. Every morsel you eat at this wonderful restaurant will
be filled with many flavor combinations, textures, soul, all
conceived with the special touch and the result of much experience
from a gifted chef.
Let me help you with some TERRIFIC wine
selections as well, all hand picked by Sommelier Joshua Liberman.
1996 IRON HORSE BLANC DE BLANCS CUVÉE MICHAEL
MINA SPARKLING WINE, SONOMA
1998 F.X. PICHLER ‘UNENDLICH’
SMARAGD, WACHAU, AUSTRIA
1990 PONIATOWSKI VOUVRAY ‘AIGLE BLANC’
MOELLEUX, LOIRE, FRANCE
2003 DOG POINT PINOT
NOIR, MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND
2003 SHAFER MERLOT, NAPA VALLEY
Course 3: 2004 KRACHER CUVEE BA, ILLMITZ, AUSTRIA. THIS WAS
As for the desserts, “just …forget about it!”
They are absolutely decadent and totally unique. Go for it and treat
yourself to the Bananas Foster, spiced Rum sauce, cinnamon ice-cream
served with a homemade doughnut or the Chocolate Pot de crème served
with classic Beignets or heck have both, have them all! I can only
say, WOW! After dinner, stay, relax and enjoy any one of the
restaurant’s 118 single malt scotch selections.
alone, is worth traveling to Las Vegas for! It is among my favorite
restaurants in the world, and I know you will feel the same. From
the décor and ambience to the impeccable service, endless wine
selections, and delectable foods, dining just DOESN’T get better
than this! STRIPSTEAK is simply superior, unparalleled and
unforgettable! I rate this stellar restaurant an absolute A+. RUN
and experience this almost sensual food experience! A personal THANK
YOU TO CHEF MICHAEL MINA!
Don’t forget to get your cookbook
and their caramel and chocolate-covered popcorn to take home!
Be sure to make reservations: 702-632-7414.
Social House: Not Just a Sushi Restaurant
Talk about exciting and
new restaurant concepts, Social House has cornered the market on it.
It is young, cool, hip, trendy, with a night-club atmosphere meets
fine dining. There is even a D.J. nightly playing music. Just
stepping into Social House, located inside the Treasure Island Hotel
and Casino (located above Tangerine and owned by PURE Management
Group), you immediately feel the charming, sophisticated Japanese
Lifestyle, and modern atmosphere. Inside you will also see a bank of
safe deposit boxes which signify good luck and a good omen for
gamblers. Whether you are looking for a full blown dining or just a
late night snack, Social House is your place. They open at 5pm and
close at 4am. If you wish, you can also go out on the balcony and
catch the siren show pirate battle that is in front of the hotel.
You will never have a better view of it!
Since the premise
here is that dining should be social experience, this brand new
restaurant has brought this concept full circle, hence its name!
They serve in portions where everyone at the table can share and
party together on the family style tables!
I want to begin
by telling you about the absolutely stellar (and adorable) acting
General Manager Mark Steele. He really knows his business and you
can see all around you why he is so proud of Social House. He is so
jazzed about it that it rubs off on everyone in the restaurant. What
a delightful man and a joy to be around. Furthermore, they are
amazingly lucky to have Chef Joseph Elevado, who previously working
at Nobu. He is now enjoying the creative freedom of his own kitchen
and says, “I’m into a broad range of Asian flavors and am influenced
by Thai, Filipino, and Indonesian food.” Well, I promise you that
Elevado has nailed it by the taste of his innovative fusion of
amazing creations at the Social House. I love his unique,
beautifully presented and perfectly executed range of flavors and
textures. He is so serious about the freshness of his seafood, that
they fly it in daily from Japan, the East Coast, and the Pacific
Northwest. Joseph also works along with Executive Sushi Chef Kouji
Yamanashi and pastry chef Ralph Perrazzo as they combine forces to
create the very best experience they can give their diners. You will
also be treated to the most cared after service as well.
Allow me to brag to you, on behalf of the Social House,
about some of their unbelievable dishes. To begin with, you must try
the mini-Kobe burgers, made with Joseph’s secret ingredients that
make up succulent bites of beef with roasted garlic and onions. YUM!
If you are looking for Sushi, simply choose your favorite. It is all
wonderful, including the Spicy Tuna and the Kalbi Beef roll. I
totally recommend the out-of-this-world Lobster Curry with Tamarind
Dressing Salad. They don’t play here; there are huge pieces of
lobster. This dish is heaven because there many flavors and textures
that create one amazing dish. For a hot appetizer, go ahead and
devour the Shrimp Tempura with a Sweet Sesame Sauce. Another amazing
dish is the luscious Citrus Peel Miso Cod. I don’t even like Cod and
I ate EVERY morsel. Any of these would be nice for a light dinner as
well. For you entrée I suggest, WITH ALL MY HEART, the Black Angus
Beef Bone in Rib Eye Teriyaki. They present it to you perfectly
sliced. Another winning choice is the Black Angus Beef Bone in Filet
Mignon with three dipping sauces. This is the beef lover’s dream
come true. No matter what you order, it will be the best you ever
had. I also suggest you add the Pancit stir fried egg noodles with
vegetable for a unique change of pace. I am going to be perfectly
frank with you reader, I ate so much here that I even embarrassed
myself. IT WAS WORTH IT, THOUGH!
As for dessert, it is
totally worth spending the day in the gym to immerse your self in
the velvety Warm Chocolate Cake. I need to have this dessert again
in my lifetime. Also, the Yogurt Pancakes and Ice Cream Sandwiches
are a royal treat!
I cannot tell you how great this
restaurant is, with its artistic food and creative blends of
flavors. THE BEST! By the way, as this is now one of the happening
“IN” spots, you never know what celebrity might be hanging at the
table next to you!
Call for reservations: 702-874-7111.
Joe’s: Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crabs
I mean, let’s be
real, who doesn’t love Joe’s? Here is the place to come and “PIG
OUT.” It is so yummy, you won’t even feel the guilt because it will
be worth it! You can just listen to the sound of, “CRACK, CRACK,
CRACK” and already taste the best stone crabs in the world! I know
there is a Joe’s in many cities, but I want to be totally honest and
say, the Las Vegas Joe’s in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace is my
NUMBER ONE FAVORITE!
To begin with, they care so much. For
example, the restaurant manager Jason Caparelli (the hunk with the
perfectly gorgeous hair), is always on hand, looking out for his
guests, as is general manager, the delightful Dave Quillen. With
these two guys looking out for you, you will have it made! The
service is friendly and on target. Your servers fly around taking
care of all their guests and never stopping. My server Suzanne Witt
was so energetic, adorable, fun, and helpful. She loves her job and,
who could blame her, she works at JOE’S? You can either sit in the
main dining room for a more formal dining atmosphere or a more
casual dining out on the patio and watch the hustle bustle of Las
Vegas visitors running about while you lay back and eat the best
seafood around. You never know who you might see here. No matter
where you sit, you will have a blast, as this is a FUN restaurant!
Okay, let’s dish! To start, I mean yeah right, STONE CRABS,
OF COURSE! (You can have this as an appetizer or an entrée).
However, if you are not a fan of stone crabs (how is this
possible?), dive into the Oysters Rockefeller. Rockefeller himself
would be impressed! I also recommend the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake; not
your typical cake as this one is LOADED with crab meat and little
breading. No matter what you order for your entrée, their world
famous Hashed Brown Potatoes and Joe’s Cole Slaw is a must. If you
are coming for a light lunch, all the salads and sandwiches are
unreal! For an entrée, I would suggest any of their wonderful prime
steaks especially the ones on the bone. If you are in the mood for
fish, the Blackened Mahi-Mahi and the Grilled Florida Grouper are
sensational. Another great dish and a nice change is the Calf’s
liver with bacon and onions. I also loved the Veal Cutlets and
Teriyaki Chicken. If you are not a seafood or meat lover, don’t
fret. Joe’s has you covered, too! You can enjoy an array of
delectable vegetables, salads and sides such as the Garlic Creamed
To finish this perfect dining event, kick it up a
notch and order from the extravaganza of pies made in-house daily.
Everyone, of them is a treat…But…I would get my favorites the Peanut
Butter with hot fudge or the Chocolate Fudge Pies. Also, wonderful
are the Coconut Cream, the Key Lime, the Pumpkin Chiffon, the Sweet
Potato Pecan and the Boston Cream Pies. For a guaranteed food party,
RUN TO JOE’S! YOU WILL THANK ME! Call for reservations:
Little Buddha Restaurant and Sushi Bar
for the Art of Dining
The first and
only Little Buddha restaurant from Paris and Paris’ most successful
restaurants has now made its American debut at the Palms Casino
Resort. This hot and happening spot is a real celebrity hang-out!
So, I extend this little tip, look around you! (Yes, Paris, Jay-Z,
Beyonce, and Leonardo have all dined here).
restaurant’s setting is elaborate. It is romantic, exquisite, dimly
lit, exotic yet friendly. As you enter the Little Buddha’s rotunda,
you will be entering into a different land of luxury. You will be
quite relaxed in the warm, rich red, velvet seats. You can look up
and see the famous Little Buddha wishing you luck from wherever you
General Manager Shelly Galloway and Manager Erik Franke
are a huge part of what makes Little Buddha so amazing. They run
this fine restaurant with grace, precision, and finesse.
combinations that stimulate all of the senses, I can only say,
Little Buddha! If you are looking for a relaxed, intimate, and
unique dining experience, serving tantalizing Asian-French fusion
cuisine and a fabulous sushi bar, you have landed in paradise.
Little Buddha offers dishes that range from light to a distinctive
complexity of foods with heightened depths of flavor. Allow me to
give you a few ordering pointers.
Order any one of the many
Sake drinks to enhance your meal. Now, to start with an absolute
explosion of flavors, go for the Little Buddha Roll and the George’s
Lobster Roll. OH, SOOO good! A tasty way to experience a variety of
the appetizers is to share them, so try to order a tasting of all of
the following: the fantastic Crispy Chicken Spring Rolls with sweet
Thai chili, the yummy Hawaiian Smoked Pork Pot-Stickers, the superb
Chinese BBQ Rib, the Jumbo Fried Lump Crab Wonton with sweet and
sour sauce (to-die-for) and the delicate Crispy Spun Tiger Shrimp
with coconut and basil sauce. Everything was truly sensational!
Next, don’t forget to order any one of the rice dishes, I
suggest the House Fried Rice. I can still remember it now! For your
entrée, one of the best food memories of my life is the Boneless
Domestic Kobe Short Ribs with mushroom risotto. This dish was so
artistically delicious, it melts-in-your mouth. Tender beyond words!
Another wonderful intriguing entrée is the Miso Glazed Black Cod. It
will spark and wake up your palate.
Dessert lovers will not
be neglected at the Little Buddha! Immerse yourself in the Liquid
Center Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream and do ask to add some fresh
fruit on top. Can we say, BEYOND AWESOME! For the non-chocoholics
(how is this possible), the Buddha Brulee and the Trio of Baby
Cheesecake are both outstanding. Whether you are looking for
romance, a business dinner or dinner with friends, you will love the
food, service, and ambience at Little Buddha!
Tintoretto: A Simple
Taste of the Old Country
traditional Italian restaurant in the heart of the Venetian Hotel
shops captures the essence of Italy. Here you will enjoy gourmet
authentic Italian dishes in a very relaxed, informal, cozy
atmosphere and I might add, deliciously affordable. This is one of
my favorite little places to hang, especially while shopping!
I have to start by telling you about the precious, charming,
hospitable, and warm Italian woman Maria Rosa that makes Tintoretto
come to life. Her big, lovely, welcoming smile is infectious and she
shares it freely with all her guests. Once you enter Tintoretto and
meet Maria, she will take such good care of you that you will feel
as though you are entering her own Italian Villa. BRAVA!
This isn’t your normal restaurant; Tintoretto is open for
breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. It remains open until 1am. They
are there whenever you want to join them. From 12 to 8, you can
enjoy street music and real people statues, which are lots of fun if
you have children with you.
All the food at Tintoretto is
fresh and made on the premises, including the bread, pastas, sauces,
pastries, as well as the mozzarella. By the way, ask for Juan Garcia
and Modesto to be your servers, as they are so charismatic.
I would love to share with you some of my favorite dishes.
Start with the Insalata Caprese with mozzarella, tomato and basil.
Being homemade makes it delicate and the perfect texture. I also
enjoyed the Insalate di Patate di Salmone. The salmon was lovely.
The soup of the day is always a winner. If you love Caesar Salad,
they serve it fresh, cold and tasty. All of the pizza selections are
awesome, as the bread and cheese are made on the premises. The
pastas are all a taste of authentic Italian cooking, from the sauces
to the perfectly cooked pasta. I recommend them all, just choose
For your main dish, this is tough as there
are so many I love here. The flavors are so authentic and divine.
Let me offer a few to try. The Veal Cutlet topped with ham and
cheese is delicious, the Eggplant or Veal Parmigiana is classic, the
Barbecue Shrimp served with rice and black beans is lovely, the Pan
seared Pork Chop with Vermentino wine is heavenly. I think my
favorite of all was the spectacular Baked Lasagna because it was the
most perfect tasting lasagna I had ever tasted. The flavor was a
bold blend of tastes yet light and delicious. No matter what you
order, it will be a pure Italian MANGA-FEST… SOO WONDERFUL!
SAVE ROOM for desserts, as there is an ocean from which to
choose. Tintoretto has an entire case filled with the most amazing
cookies, cakes, tarts, mousse, and pastries, including the best
chocolate covered strawberries. You will want to take them all home,
and YOU CAN. They sell all their desserts to go and believe me when
I tell you they are all among the best desserts I have ever known,
and that is saying something. DO TAKE THEM HOME or you will be
sorry! For a casual, gourmet, AUTHENTIC, Italian dinner with a
European flair and class, run to Tintoretto. Please say hi to Maria
Rosa for me!
Call for reservations: 702-414-3400.
Japonais: A Special Memory
into Japonais, with its free-flowing, relaxing, serene, classy, and
open décor, you immediately feel as though you have been transported
into modern day Japan. Subdued in style, with its dramatic European
elegance and its distinctive approach to ambiance is stunning yet
unpretentious and will instantly charm diners. Japonais, one of
Chicago and New York City’s most adored and critically acclaimed
restaurants, comes to Las Vegas in the beautiful Mirage Hotel and
Casino. Renowned restaurateurs and partners in all three Japonais
properties, Miae Lim, Rick Wahlstedt and Jeffrey Beers (also the
restaurant’s designer), have joined forces with The Mirage to open a
Japonais outpost in one the country’s most thriving culinary
Chef/partner Gene Kato, in charge of hot appetizers and entrees,
along with Sushi Chef/partner Jun Ichikawa, combine their culinary
genius to offer something for every palate and craving with their
contemporary cuisine. Japonais intermingles traditional cuisine with
contemporary accents and seamlessly fuses innovative presentations,
flavors, Japanese ingredients, textures, French techniques, and
pairings with each selection. With the highest concern for
freshness, Japonais buys its fish from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, the
world’s largest fish market.
I cannot tell you how excited
General Manager Julio Burbano is about his newly opened restaurant.
Hearing him describe each dish on the menu was like an experience
in-and-of-itself. He knows his business! My stunningly beautiful
server Yayoi, from Tokyo, made dining at Japonais even more
wonderful, if that is possible. Some of the dishes you must NOT miss
include Japonais’ popular “The Rock,” thinly sliced marinated New
York strip steak cooked on a hot rock right on the table. The Yuzu
Sweet Shrimp is also lovely with a quite intensive blend of citrus
tastes, which makes for a very imaginative dish. For a lighter
appetizer, the lobster spring rolls are delicate and light. For your
main course, the House Smoked American Kobe Rib Eye is truly
fantastic. The MUST try entrée, hands down, is the Kurobuta Pork
Chop, a pineapple marinated grilled pork chop with manila clams and
sweet potato croquettes in a garlic clam sauce. Folks, the
presentation alone is like NOTHING you have ever seen before. Can I
say, a resounding, “YUMMY!” For sushi lovers, I recommend the Kani
Nigiri, the Bin Cho and or the Spicy Mono. A Sushi dream!
Moving on, Chef Gene’s decadent and marvelous desserts make
it a ‘food happening’ to try. They include a triple chocolate
indulgence of chocolate ginger mousse cake, the chocolate chawan
mushi with wild berry soup, and the chocolate truffle beignet rolled
in sugar and cinnamon. In you are not into chocolate (???), then try
the outstanding apple pie, Toban yaki, with oatmeal clusters and
honey vanilla ice cream. OH MY!
Readers, on your next visit
to the city of lights, stop in for a memorable and delicious dinner
Call for reservations: 702-792-7979.
There you have it, readers, six of the most unique, original
and outstanding MUST DINE restaurants in Las Vegas. Tell them the
Blonde sent you! Bon Appetite!
Heavenly Liver Foie Gras Sliders at STRIPSTEAK
2. Social House’s
outstanding manager Mark Steele and brilliant chef Joseph Elevado
3. Best in the world Black Angus Beef Rib Eye Teriyaki at Social
4. Joe’s manager Jason Caparelli and server Suzanne Witt
show off Joe’s amazing pies
5. The Joe’s delicious Bone In Filet
6. Little Buddha’s gifted and handsome chef Scott Green
Tastings of appetizers at Little Buddha
one-in-a-million Maria Rosa
11. Fabulous Pasta with Mozzarella
Japonais’ charismatic manager Julio Burbano and server
The heavenly Pork Chop served at Japonais
Photos by Robin Roth