Well, well, well. It seems as though I have finally returned to my post in front of the computer. I do realize that it has been quite some time since my last posting. Some of that was intentional, and some was not. I do apologize for the unintentional part of it, but I feel as though I will be able to make up my lost ground fairly easily.
You see, I was on vacation this past weekend, and I have some amazing food adventures to share. My title today is alluding to the fact that I went to Las Vegas…and technically, I’m not supposed to talk about what happened there. But I’m gonna. And I am excited to relive some of the most amazing food I have had in my life. I tried to take pictures of everything we ate. Some of it is not really worth posting, but I might do it anyway. And I plan on breaking this up into 3 different blogs. Both for your sanity and mine. This way, I can keep the topics relatively uniform for each post, instead of jumping around from topic to topic and making a gargantuan post that is tough to read.
The first post in this series (ooooh, a “series!” I sound so official and stuff) is going to be about one location that my wife and I hit. I have been awaiting coming to this place for the better part of 6 months or so, and I was not disappointed in the least. Our stop on Friday night, and the topic for which this post is based is our dinner at The Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay. As most of you should know by now, I love burgers, and this place was my Mecca. Let’s dig in. One warning though…This pictures came out really well. Prepare your keyboard for incoming drool. Furthermore, if you click the pictures, you will be greeted with the actual size image, which will grant you a better view.
The Burger Bar is an idea cooked up in the mind of celebrity chef Hubert Keller, and he allows the diner a myriad of options for their burgers. You can literally make it as fancy or as plain as you want, to suit your tastes. The first thing that sets this place apart from other burger joints is that the menu isn’t really a menu of burgers at all. Sure, there is a list of about 8 different burgers that are “chef recommended,” but that’s only 8. The real fun comes in looking at the left-hand side of the menu and there is literally just a list of ingredients, organized by type. You get to choose everything. The type of meat you want (Angus beef, Kobe beef, Bison etc…), cheeses (cheddar, bleu, provolone, monterey jack etc…), “the grill” (peppers, sliced zucchini, grilled asparagus etc…), the farm, the ocean, the pantry and the Earth. The link I provided above goes right to the menu, so you can see all the options for each category. You could build a $100 burger, if your heart (and stomache) desired so.
Being that I have a limited stomache, and a limited budget, I admit that I did not go as crazy as I had wanted originally. However, I did want to build a burger that was different enough from anything else I have had in the past, but also delicious. So, I had this burger, accompanied by sweet potato fries:
That is an Angus beef burger on an onion bun, with caramelized onions, thick-cut bacon, chipotle aioli (basically a spicy, smokey, garlicky mayo), provolone cheese and sauteed oyster mushrooms. And I had it cooked medium-rare.
Where to begin, though. There was so much going on with this burger, and it blew my mind. I wanted to take this burger out behind the middle school and get it pregnant is was so good. And, truth be told, the sweet potato fries were really amazing as well. But allow me to talk about the burger itself, since that’s the focal point here.
First off, the meat was cooked perfectly. I don’t think I have ever had a burger cooked to such a perfect medium rare. It was tender and juicy, and plenty of beef flavor. Here, I will admit that I should have gone with a more prominent cheese. The provolone was good, and added a degree of gooeyness…but it lacked a little in the flavor department. But maybe that was a good thing, because I had a lot of other flavors going on here. Moving up on the burger, was the bacon. It thick and hearty, and a really meaty piece of bacon; everything I expect from a good chunk of bacon. Then come the oyster mushrooms. Oysters are considered more of a “fancy” mushroom, especially when compared to the standard white button mushroom, so I had to have it. They were delicious, and added a lot to the burger, surprisingly. They were tender, slightly salty, and again, contributed a very nice texture to the party. Moving on still to the onions on the burger. I find it funny that on my plate, they put a leaf of lettuce and a slice of raw red onion. I had the caramelized onion on my burger! They added a very nice sweet flavor to everything and the slightest bit of texture. (Side note: Much like its’ cousin garlic, onions break down when cooked long enough and the natural sweetness comes out…big time). Then the mayo was on the bottom of the top bun. This was an explosion of flavor, and I found myself dipping my sweet potato fries in the remaining sauce. It was everything I was hoping it would be: not too spicy, not too sweet, just the right amount of well-balanced flavor. This topped off with the fresh-baked onion bun, which was probably the best onion roll I’ve ever had in my life. It soaked up all of the meat juice and the bottom was beautifully soggy. It was soft and yielding, but carried along a nice onion flavor, without being offensive. I literally could not put this burger down. Before too long, my burger was gone, and I was faced with something like this:
Yeah, I pretty much destroyed that. You can see my little dish of the onions in the top right, and the dish of the chipotle mayo on the left of the plate. Sadly, there was still some meat left on the plate, but I could not eat it for fear that it would rip me apart and leave me laying on the ground. Okay. That was a little dramatic. However, it was a smart decision to leave a little on the plate, because we had to save room for…
That’s right folks: dessert. What you are looking at here is the Dessert Burger that they offer; one of their three dessert dishes. Sure they offer a series of milkshakes and other delectables, but we’re at the Burger Bar for cryin’ out loud! I’m eating a dessert burger!
Okay, so there’s no actual meat involved, and it’s all very playful, but it was good, it was fresh, and it was fun. Wait. What’s that, you say? You want a closer look? The above picture isn’t good enough for you? Well, you’re lucky that I was prepared for you asking that!
I really, really hope you remembered to cover your keyboard. This was a playful mesh of ingredients making dessert look like an actual burger. Allow me to explain. The bun is a fresh baked and fresh glazed doughnut. It was soft and delicious, and not too sweet, either, which I appreciated. The “cheese” was a sheet of passion fruit, which reminded me of a fruit roll-up or something. Below that is the “tomatoes” which were fresh strawberries. The “meat” in this case was a ganache of Nutella spread and hazelnuts and was sinfully delicious. It was incredibly rich and chocolatey, and crunchy with the nuts in there. And, it was met well with the fruits and the doughnut. Below the “meat” was some slices of fresh kiwi, which look a little bit like lettuce. When eaten together, everything was in harmony. There was a blend of textures and flavors that I would never dream of, and we devoured it. The sauce dotted on the plate was a raspberry sauce, and there was a dollop of fresh whipped cream on the upper-left of the plate. Everything was amazing, and I would eat there daily if I could.
I hope you have enjoyed this loving tour of my dinner from Friday night in Vegas. I look forward to sharing with you the rest of my trip, and activating your salivating glands yet again.Stay positive, love your life, and play with your food 🙂