MB Steak

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The culinary landscape of Las Vegas is dotted with steakhouses. Some are classic and old-school, some are slick and modern. Some are tremendously pricey, others affordable. A few of them are celebrity chef owned, many are not. And most of them are very good. I found MB Steak to be exceptional.

Located inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, MB Steak is the creation of David and Michael Morton, who bring with them three generations of experience in the food and beverage industry - their great-grandfather owned a small tavern in Iron Mountain, Michigan, their grandfather opened a tavern on Chicago’s South Side, and their father was the founder of Morton’s famous steakhouse in Chicago, a restaurant empire that’s now some 74 locations strong.

The brothers themselves boast impressive credentials, as well. David has 12 restaurants in Chicago, and Michael has created a slew of eateries and nightclubs in Las Vegas, including N9NE Steakhouse and NOVE Italiano at the Palms Casino & Resort, and Crush, a social dining enclave at the MGM Grand. MB Steak is their first collaboration.

I waited at the bar for my friend to join me, and chatted with Michelle, the pretty, young bartender, and Mark, the Wine Director/Manager. The space seemed a study in dichotomy - with dark wood everywhere, the room was rich and masculine, yet it felt like a womb, shielding us from the noise of the casino outside. The modern chandelier, like an obsidian starburst, had arms that were beautiful, yet a bit dangerous-looking, like ancient weapons. And while this was definitely a fine dining establishment, the dress code seemed fairly relaxed. Duality everywhere.

My friend arrived and we ordered cocktails at the bar; the Beet Writer for me - a mix of vodka, beet juice, strawberry bitters, housemade grenadine, lemon juice and sage. The sweetness of the beets shone through, and the grenadine, lemon and sage mellowed out their earthiness. My friend tried the Spicy Cucumber Margarita - habanero and jalapeño infused tequila, cucumber, lime, and mint. Spicy and fresh, the cool flavors of cucumber and mint balanced out the heat of the peppers. A stunningly good cocktail!

With so many tempting selections on the menu, we ordered a few appetizers ourselves and took some suggestions from our server. We began with the Crispy Rock Shrimp - sweet, tiny popcorn shrimp in a golden brown batter, served in a McDonald’s-style french fry box, and accompanied by a mildly spicy cherry pepper aioli, and a sweet chili cilantro sauce - my friend preferred the aioli, while the other sauce reminded me of an excellent sweet & sour. The Charred Spanish Octopus, was beautifully tender, having been braised, rested, then braised again in a pot containing wine corks (!) and finished off on the grill. Garnished with broccolini and stewed tomatoes, and finished with a touch of port wine, the octopus had a lovely smoky quality, and the garnishes countered with mildly sweet and bitter undertones, creating a harmonious dish. The Maple Glazed Bacon was a winner, with three thick slices of irresistibly sweet/salty bacon, and a soft, runny poached egg. Like breakfast for dinner! The only misstep for us, were the American Caviar Sliders - tiny blinis, a dab of chive créme fraiche, and a dollop of American sturgeon caviar. We were both expecting a more deeply oceanic flavor from the caviar, but it was perhaps a bit too subtle, slightly overpowered by the herbs in the blini and créme fraiche. Good, but not up to par with the other appetizers. As a special treat, however, we were served flutes of Lanson Black Label Champagne to accompany the caviar. I’m not a fan of champagne, but this was light and fruity, with a slightly dry finish, and absolutely delightful. One final appetizer, the Seared Sonoma Foie Gras, was quite possibly the best foie dish either of us had tried!  Delicately seared, resting on brioche French toast, softly cooked strawberries, and drizzled with a ridiculously good sherry reduction, the interplay between the foie’s mildly livery flavor, and the sweetness of the brioche and strawberries was positively fabulous, with the reduction bringing all the elements together for a perfect bite!

MB is, of course, a steakhouse, so we decided to forgo the more conventional entrees like the Colorado Lamb Chops, Shrimp Risotto, or Mary’s Half Chicken, and simply have STEAK! I chose the Hanger Au Poivre - tender slices of flavorful hanger steak, grilled perfectly, with a nice smoky char on the outside. Surrounding a delicious pool of peppercorn cream, the meat needed no extra seasoning, although their signature MB Spice Blend and a house-made steak sauce were provided. My dinner guest went with the Rib Eye - heartier, beefier, with a more substantial bite, it was juicy, satisfying, and expertly grilled.

We had decided to sample only one side dish; the Grilled Asparagus with crispy garlic and olive oil. Delicious, with just a touch of heat, they were fresh and tender. And although we hadn’t ordered it, our server felt we just had to try the Lobster Mac & Cheese. Wow, was he right! Now, rather than just plunking a few pieces of lobster into an ordinary mac & cheese, the chef begins with a creamy cheese sauce, to which sweet lobster meat is added. This fabulous mixture is combined with par boiled cavatappi pasta, and the three elements are finished off together. The result was that every bite was loaded with luscious, cheesy, lobster-y goodness! This was a true “Wow” moment!

The desserts are listed on the menu as Sweets For Two. Well, there were only two of us, but we each wanted to try something different. I chose the Layered Carrot Cake - thin layers of moist, yummy, carrot cake, separated by layers of cream cheese icing. The carrot’s natural sweetness was offset nicely by a scrumptious cinnamon flavor, while spiced roasted pineapple and candied pecans added texture and crunch. My guest ordered the Triple Chocolate Truffle Cake - fluffy white chocolate mousse atop a layer of dark chocolate mousse, all covered in a chocolate fudge sauce, and dotted with fresh raspberries. Though it looked quite substantial, it was actually light, airy, and decadently chocolatey!

Though it’s only been open a few months, MB Steak already appears to be a hit - when we first sat down, the place was fairly empty, but within an hour, it was packed. And for the most part, the service was excellent, with the exception of one little glitch. Our server suddenly got a large party upstairs in the Garden Bar & Lounge, and though he told us we’d be taken care of by other servers, we sat there unattended for quite some time at the end of the meal. But again, it was at the end of our evening, and we understood. Still, the food was fantastic, and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

MB Steak, keep that grill fired up, because I’ll be back!

Michael Barbieri

Food & Entertainment Writer