Many of the historic hotels in San Francisco were built after the great earthquake 100 years ago, and the bedrooms of that era have a tendency of being long and narrow, and the same holds true for many of the neighborhood bistros, restaurants and bars, thus giving more properties a street frontage in a city where space is at a premium.




Nobhill Restaurant & Bar at
the MGM Grand Hotel in Vegas.

That neighborhood tradition inspired the design for the Nobhill restaurant inside the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. I really enjoyed the intimate nature of the restaurant, especially the leather seat booths that gave the place a privat salon feel.

The 125-seat restaurant is run by the Michael Mina Group and Mina has brought San Francisco to Las Vegas with authentic dishes from a unique Bay Area menu — both classic and contemporary.

Nobhill restaurant is located near the KA Theater between the High Limit Slots salon and the exclusive Baccarat salon, certain to capture a well heeled clientele. In San Francisco Nobhill looks down on the rest of society from its lofty perch and I believe Mina’s attitude was to create something above and beyond the ordinary — creating a hoi polloi dining extravaganza.

The bar opens at 5 p.m. and the restaurant a half hour later (except weekends when it also opens at 5 p.m.). Once seated in my private salon, I was immediately delivered the restaurant signature namesake cocktail — a Cable Car.  William, the Irish-born (Cork) bartender informed me that the drink has won the best cocktail on the Strip award for the last two years, so of course I had to order a second.  I noticed many business casual types stopping in for just a cocktail without ordering off the menu, but the bar does serve the full menu, too.




A cocktail with jazz at the bar.

I was amazed by the diversity of the wine list, now with over 600 hand selected varietals from around the world, and each dish is expertly matched by the staff, under the wine tutelage of Steve Hua, Nobhill’s professional Advanced Sommelier (Las Vegas Life’s Best Sommelier of 2005). The staff seemed to absorb Hua’s corkage knowledge and talent through osmosis, but I knew his eye was always prevalent.

Mina suggests for single entrée choices the Signature Lobster Pot Pie, Sautéed Monterey Bay Abalone, or the Kobe Style Beef.  The best way to experience Nobhill (give yourself 90 minutes to 120 minutes for dining) is with the tasting menus - there are four choices.

Why settle for one entrée when you can try a selection? suggested Chris, my waiter.

Nobhill is certainly a style of modern American cuisine, focusing on fresh seasonal ingredients, seafood, meats, game, and poultry, which you find on these tasting menus: Note that these are individual tasting menus but you can also order an entire table tasting as a group menu, and note also that wine pairing is extra.




Private dining booths all in a row.

The restaurant ambiance is refined and elegant, but not stuffy or highbrow as you would expect if you lived on the real Nobhill in San Francisco. Pod-like light fixtures directed light where only needed. There is a cheery staff in the earth toned eaterie and seated on rich leather makes you feel elegant. The row of banquet booths are supported by seeded glass paneling to create a private dining experience. There is also a semi-private dining area upon request.

During my tasting triumph, Executive Chef, Sven Mede made an appearance and I had an opportunity to download from his mind all the wonderful picayune aspects of the presentations. Mede is formerly from Raymond Blac, Charlie Trotters, and Bradley Ogden restaurants, all top notch, or rather, of Nob Nobbin' Nobhill standards.




Sample the best from the menus.

The Tasting Menus:

Nobhill Tasting Menu I — $85 — Choose one each from the three tiered menu.

Salads: "Palace" Green Goddess Salad; Organic Watercress, Cucumber; Classic Caesar Salad; Shaved Parmesan, Crostini; Seasonal Mixed Green Salad; Prosciutto Ham with Balsamic.

Entrées: Seared Diver Scallops; Cucumber Beurre Blanc with American Caviar; Roasted Breast of Chicken; Fava Beans, Sage Gnocchi; Filet of Beef; Baby Spinach, Pinot Noir Reduction.

Desserts: Caramel Apples; Green Apple Sorbet; Molten Chocolate; Peanut Butter Cake; Milk Chocolate Milkshake.

Nobhill Tasting Menu II — $100 — Choose one each from the four tiered menu.

Appetizers: Hors d'Oeuvres Sampler; Classic Cheese Fondue.




Cheese fondue.

Salads: "Palace" Green Goddess Salad; Organic Watercress with Aged Parmesan; Sweet Corn Soup; Dungeness Crab Salad.

Entrées: Pan Roasted Salmon; Tomato Risotto with Arugula; Chicken Tetrazzini; Truffled Macaroni and Cheese; Grilled Kobe Flat Iron – all entrees served with Seasonal Roasted Vegetables and Homemade Worcestershire.

Dessert: Chocolate Tasting.

Nobhill Classics Tasting Menu — $90 — Choose one each from the tiers.

Salads: "Palace" Green Goddess Salad; Organic Watercress with Aged Parmesan; "Solari's Grill" Dungeness Crab Louie; Baby Hearts of Romaine with Avocado and Classic Louie Dressing.

Entreés: Chicken Tetrazzini; Truffled Macaroni and Cheese; North Beach Cioppino; Assorted Seasonal Shellfish in Tomato Broth with Sweet Basil; Filet "Rossini"; Seared Foie Gras in a Pinot Noir Reduction.

Dessert: Grand Marnier Soufflé or White Chocolate Ice Cream.




Exquisite decor and exceptional cusine.

I opted into the popular top line Nobhill Tasting Menu, $115, with added wine pairings ($55), but I ordered it with a slight variation so that I could same the Bigeye Tuna and the Wild Salmon that Chris suggested. All Nobhill’s seafood is caught in an environmentally sound manner to protect the species. Bigeye Tuna swims deeper than most tuna, except probably Blue Fin Tuna, thus it has a higher fat content.

My selections, along with the Kobe Beef, Bigeye Tuna  included:

Citrus Smoked Salmon; Spiced Jicama with Meyer Lemon Gastrique; Sweet Corn Soup, a superb Fennel Salad; Seared Diver Scallops; Cucumber Beurre Blanc, Truffled Macaroni and Cheese; Steak Rossini; Seared Foie Gras, Shallot-Potato Cake and coffee..


The Cable Car

The best drink in Vegas
The Cable Car at Nobhill.
Click photo for the recipe.

Like I stated, my tasting menu was slightly modified, and in fact the real tasting has even more great gustatory tidbits.

If watching the wallet, the tasting menus are certainly the way to go, but if going a la carte the price per person runs about $12-$36 for appetizers, with entreés ranging from $32 to $71, and desserts from $13-$19. Wines by the bottle run from $55 to a whopping $10,000.

For taste delights as a Group Tasting (for the entire table only) you can enjoy:

Greens (Salads and appetizers): "Solari's Grill" Dungeness Crab Louie with Avocado and  Classic Louie Dressing; Seared Scallop; Endive with Caviar-Créme Fraiche; "Palace" Green Goddess Salad; Watercress with Red Onion Marmalade; or Sashimi.

Entrées: Bigeye Tuna with Hearts of Palm; Honey-Lime Wild Salmon; Avocado with Green Apple Ponzu; Hamachi; Scallion and Mushroom-Yuzu.

Poultry: Quail Breast with Panzanella, Plums and Ginger; Sonoma Chicken "Tetrazzini" with Truffled Macaroni and Cheese; Hot & Sour Duck with Shiitake Mushrooms and  Duck Confit-Potato Hash.



Nobhill
MGM Grand Hotel
Las Vegas
Dinner: Sun - Thurs,
5 - 10:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 5 - 10:30 p.m.
Reservations: 702/891-7337
Groups (6+): 702/891-7433

Tenderloins:

Beef with Seared Foie Gras with Shallot-Potato Cake.

Pork with Summer Beans and Sage Gnocchiu.

Lamb with Stuffed Peppers, Olive Vinaigrette.

For main course a la carte treats check these out:

Wild Alaskan Salmon with Tomato Risotto, Summer Onions, Arugula Foam; Hawaiian Bigeye Tuna with Stuffed Squash Blossom, Sunchoke, Orange-Ginger Glazed Carrots ; Hot & Sour Liberty Duck Breast; Duck Confit-Potato Hash, Shiitake Mushrooms, Five Spice Grilled Pork Tenderloin; Sage Gnocchi with Summer Beans in a Sarawak Pepper Jus; Herb-Crusted Lamb Chops; Stuffed Peppers, with an Artichoke Puree and Olive Vinaigrette; Steak "Rossini" with Seared Foie Gras, Shallot-Potato Cakes in a Pinot Noir Reduction; North Beach Cioppino; Clams, Mussels and  Dungeness Crab in a Tomato Broth; Michael’s Lobster Pot Pie; Two Pound Maine Lobster with Fingerling Potatoes and Brandy Cream; "Whole-Fried" Sonoma Chicken "Tetrazzini" (for two); Truffled Macaroni and Cheese with a Caramelized Sweet Onion Sauce.


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MGM Grand hotel features,
entertainments & restaurants.

Seasonal Desserts:  Molten Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake; Crunchy Peanut Butter Center;  Milk Chocolate Milkshake; Butterscotch Pudding Duet; Bread Pudding; Oatmeal Lace Cookie; Valhona Chocolate Mousse; Raspberries;  Ice Cream Sandwich; Vanilla - Cherry Cheesecake; Sour Cherries; Sorbet; Rosé Champagne Berry Trio; Mascarpone Meringue; Buttermilk Biscuit.

Nobhill Classic Desserts: Peach Tarte Tatin; Lemon Verbena Ice Cream; Grand Marnier Soufflé; White Chocolate Ice Cream; Tasting of Artisan Cheeses.

Feature by Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine.




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