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A famed chef opens his 6th restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip

Updated June 17, 2024 - 8:27 pm

Even if you are chef Michael Mina.

Even if your goblet runneth over with Michelin stars and James Beard Awards.

Even if you’ve cooked for three U.S. presidents and lead a global hospitality group with more than 30 restaurants (including five in Las Vegas).

Even if all this is yours, it’s still possible to have kitchen jitters.

In late August, Mina will open an outpost of Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons, just off the lobby. Charlie Palmer Steak occupied the space for more than 20 years before closing during the pandemic. Mina began his career in New York City at the old Aureole, Palmer’s flagship restaurant. Now, Mina is set to take over a room that once bore his mentor’s name.

“I’m completely honored,” Mina said of coming full circle. “Chef Palmer has had the biggest influence on my career. He gave me my first break to cook at Aureole, and my whole career, he was the person who was two steps ahead of what I wanted to do next.

“I will have butterflies in my stomach when I cook for him when we open Bourbon Steak.”

Las Vegas marks the eighth Bourbon Steak for Mina, and like its sister restaurants, the Strip outpost combines elements distinct to its home city (more on that in a moment) with the chef’s continuing exploration of what a steakhouse means today.

“There is a magic in steakhouses, but there is still a lot of room to grow,” Mina said. “Taking all of the items that you want to find at a steakhouse and then modernizing them with great product and technique and bringing a more modern tableside presentation. To me, that feels so Vegas.”

Not the usual creamed spinach

Mina shared some highlights from the Bourbon Steak menu still very much under construction.

Steaks slip into a 120-degree bath of clarified butter before they hit the grill — “We’re never getting rid of that,” the chef said of the signature technique.

Seafood trolleys circulate in the dining room, delivering “the most pristine and perfectly seasoned shellfish to your table,” Mina said. Trolleys provisioned with chocolate fondue or the fixings for classic cocktails also make their appointed rounds.

Salt, sweet, rich and fatty commune in bacon-wrapped scallops with cherries and foie gras emulsion. Creamed spinach is expected at a steakhouse, but here it’s given a lighter spin as spinach soufflé. Lobster pot pie and phyllo-crusted Dover sole also have a place on the menu.

Crab within crab; Champagne lift

Soft shell crab stuffed with Dungeness crab, which is served at the new Bourbon Steak in New York City, will also make a Strip debut. “It’s like a crab cake with a soft-shell crab crust on it,” Mina said. “It takes the idea of a crab cake, moving it forward.”

One dish newly fashioned for Vegas emerged from the chef musing on a fish fry (something he had been doing, among other things, for Orla, his splendid new Mediterranean restaurant in Mandalay Bay). Fry batter often includes beer, but why not Champagne, the chef wondered.

The batter he developed is sprayed through an aeration tool onto the scallop, which is fried, then plated with cauliflower crème fraîche and a dollop of caviar.

“I couldn’t believe how light and crispy it was; you can really taste the Champagne,” Mina said. “Why did we never use Champagne in the batter before?”

A room with good juju

The new Bourbon Steak will be thoroughly renovated, the chef said. Those renovations include an installation piece at the entrance, opening up the flow between the front lounge and the main dining room, elevated seats in the dining room with a view into the lounge, and a larger private dining room. A stage keeps with the supper-club feel that Mina hopes to create.

This restaurant, his sixth in Vegas, was always going to be a Bourbon Steak, Mina said. The success of earlier partnerships with the Four Seasons contributed to the decision. But so did finding a space with a personal connection, a space suited to the next incarnation of Bourbon Steak.

“This is the restaurant I always went to. Everyone always asked to go there,” Mina said of the Charlie Palmer days. “I want to pay homage to that and to what chef Palmer started. We have so much more we want to do with Bourbon Steak. I have so many friends here, I really wanted a restaurant locals could come to.”

For the past four years, chef Mina and his family have made their home in Vegas. So he’s a local now, too.

Contact Johnathan L. Wright at jwright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @JLWTaste on Instagram.

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