Apr 2022

45 Hours in Las Vegas: The Forty-Year-Old Version


Luscious Liana and I spent a weekend in Las Vegas a few months back in celebration of our 40th birthdays. While I’d initially hoped to wrap up this monster story by the time the trip rolled around, final edits stretched longer than anticipated, so I needed a strong drink upon arriving on The Strip.

NoMad Bar - Las Vegas

After dropping off our bags at Park MGM and changing into our evening attire, Luscious and I headed downstairs to NoMad Bar so that I could get my head in the right space. I ordered my go-to Old Fashioned and it worked like a charm — I didn’t think about work the entire weekend. God bless you, whiskey.

Joël Robuchon - MGM Grand Las Vegas

Our first dinner of the trip was at Joël Robuchon inside the MGM Grand and it was nothing short of splendid. Read the dish-by-dish play-by-play right here.

Spago - Las Vegas

We woke up the next morning to sunny skies and mild desert temperatures. After sipping tea in our room (one of my favorite pandemic-era joys is bringing an electric kettle, tea bags, and a mug on road trips for easy access to caffeine in the AM), we strolled to Bellagio for lunch at Spago.

Spago - Las Vegas

While the original Spago in Beverly Hills is lovely and all, I prefer the one in Las Vegas for its superior views overlooking Bellagio’s fountains and warm service.

Spago - Las Vegas

The best way to start a meal here is with an order of the Big Eye tuna tartare with avocado, yuzu ponzu, and marinated cucumber in a nori rice crisp cone. They are as tasty as they are fun.

Spago - Las Vegas

While I adore Spago’s greatest culinary hits like the smoked salmon pizza and veal wiener schnitzel, I was in the mood to try some new-to-me dishes at lunch, including the seared salmon salad, crab omelette, avocado toast, and best of all, the fra diavolo linguine with lobster, crab, and Thai basil in a perfectly spicy tomato sauce.

Spago - Las Vegas

I couldn’t leave the restaurant without introducing Liana to Spago’s spectacular spiked lemon. From its dramatic gold-flecked presentation to the balanced layers of yuzu cream, chiffon cake, and citrus mousse inside, the spiked lemon was as swoonable as I remembered.

Bellagio - Las Vegas

We took a long walk to following brunch to see the sites and to take in some fine Vegas energy. Many of the casinos on the strip were decked out in Lunar New Year decor given the time of year, including Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.

Moon Palace - Las Vegas

We eventually made our way to David Chang’s smash burger concept Moon Palace at The Venetian. I was most interested in tasting the honey butter hot chips. They made for a fine enough snack, especially the clumped ‘tato stacks that were both crisp and chewy.

Michael Mina - Las Vegas

For dinner on Saturday night, we reserved a table at Michael Mina’s flagship restaurant at Bellagio. Though I’ve eaten at a few of the chef’s other concepts over the years (American Fish, Bourbon Steak, Bardot Brasserie), this was my first meal at his namesake flagship. We were informed by our server that Chef Mina recently relocated from San Francisco to Las Vegas and brought his flagship with him to the desert.

Michael Mina - Las Vegas

The evening’s tasting menu included some of Chef Mina’s signature dishes, like the ahi tuna tartare with pine nuts, Asian pear, sesame oil, and mint, and the caviar parfait — layers of Osetra caviar, smoked salmon, egg salad, horseradish crème fraîche, and a potato cake base.

Michael Mina - Las Vegas

A few dishes from executive chef Raj Dixit also made an appearance, like this supple potato gnocchi with snails and black truffles that was nothing short of perfect.

The Mayfair Supper Club - Las Vegas

We stopped into The Mayfair Supper Club for a nightcap to close out the night.

Catch - Las Vegas

The following morning, we brunched at hotspot Catch inside Aria before hitting the road to Los Angeles.

Catch - Las Vegas

The only beverage other than water that sounded good this morning was a cool shot of ginger, lime, turmeric, and cayenne. This pick-me-up did wonders to pep me up for the long drive home.

Catch - Las Vegas

Our brunch spread included the restaurant’s signature truffle sashimi with tuna and hamachi, a terrific grilled Spanish octopus, and a petite spicy tuna roll.

Catch - Las Vegas

We also couldn’t resist the sweet and rich cinnamon roll pancakes with candied almonds and cream cheese frosting.

Turning 40 was a significant milestone (as far as aging goes) and it was wonderful to mark the occasion with amazing food and drinks in one of my favorite culinary cities. Nobody does fine dining quite like fabulous Las Vegas.

One year ago: Slacker
Two years ago: One Bird, Two Dinners: Roasted Chicken and Slow Cooker Pho Ga
Three year ago: {swoon} Green Tea Crepe Cake at Lady M
Four years ago: Maestro – Pasadena
Five years ago: 
Mint Leaf Cuisine – Pasadena
Six years ago: 
Here’s Looking at You – Los Angeles (Koreatown)
Seven years ago: 
{swoon} Blueberry Doughnut at M&M Donuts
Eight year ago: 
Glazed and Infused Doughnuts – Chicago
Nine years ago: 
Saw’s Soul Kitchen – Birmingham
Ten years ago: Braised Rabbit with Pappardelle
Eleven years ago: Le Bon Garçon Gourmet Caramels
Twelve years ago: Just Married!
Thirteen years ago: The French Laundry Garden & Young Inglewood Wineries
Fourteen years ago: Bánh Hỏi Thịt Nướng
Fifteen years ago: Ajia Japanese Fusion – Philadelphia

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