I’m not a gambler and never will be. Sure, I liked playing Texas Hold’em on my Blackberry, but it didn’t matter when I made a stupid bet and lost all my “money.” I seem to be unable to find the same app on my new Droid, but that’s another story. Casinos kind of give me anxiety. There are people everywhere, the noise level makes me feel like I’m at a rock concert, I know there are germs covering every surface, and here in Michigan the air is so smoky you could cut it with a knife. Plus the couple of times I did play the slots, I lost every penny quickly. Mom has had more luck, but not a whole lot. It’s just not fun for me. But we all like different things; that’s what makes the world an interesting and exciting place.
Yet, a few times a year I find myself spending an evening out at one of Detroit’s casinos, usually the MGM Grand. Why, you ask? That’s easy. For the restaurants. While Wolfgang Puck Grill closed not too long ago, Saltwater and Bourbon Steak, both owned by Michael Mina, are still up and running and have some of the best food in the metro Detroit area. While we enjoyed Saltwater, Bourbon Steak is just fantastic, it’s actually Dad’s favorite restaurant, so we went back for our second visit this past weekend.
The deafening noise level throughout the entire casino would lead you to believe it would also be unpleasantly loud in this restaurant, but this is not the case. It is an oasis in the middle of all the gaming. The restaurant is also beautiful with light colored wood and an open kitchen. The bar, where people can order from the burger menu, is almost always packed, but walking to the back of the restaurant, one finds well-spaced tables in the dining room and then a maze of tiny rooms with one table. This is where we were seated on this trip. It was nice to be secluded in our own room, though I don’t mind hearing and seeing the hustle and bustle of the restaurant. Dining with Mom, Dad, and me were Linda and Dick, family friends who I’ve known my whole life and are two of my favorite people. They were great dining companions, as always, with plenty of lively conversation.
But let’s get to the food. Well, drinks first. Mom ordered an appletini, which was excellent, and I tried to order a strawberry martini before being told the menu was out of date (bummer) and instead was steered toward a new blackberry one. It was fine, but nothing to brag about. Beer, wine, and vodka with lemonade rounded out the drink orders and were all hits.
Now to the food. They serve a trio of French fries pretty much as soon as you sit down. They are Rosemary-Garlic, French Onion, and Barbeque flavored with accompanying sauces. I thought they were all good, even the Barbeque, when I typically detest anything Barbeque flavored. However, I ordered plain fries to eat with my entrée and they were far superior to the flavored ones. I found them to be crispier, with incredible flavor. Did I mention they’re fried in duck fat?
Then, they bring out a crazy hot cast iron skillet in which cornbread has been baked. I like that they serve fries, but I prefer them with dinner, but this cornbread? It is out of this world good. The exterior is slightly crunchy, with a soft, moist, crumbly interior and incredible corn flavor. I’ve had dreams about that cornbread.
The appetizers are great too. We ordered the Kobe lettuce wraps and the Gulf Shrimp Fritters. I thought the Kobe meat was slightly chewy, but it was a big hit at the table. The sauces served with it are tasty, with the Thai chili being the best by far. The fritters are just amazing. Tender, flavorful shrimp, wrapped in crispy bacon (the bacon is actually crispy as opposed to the chewy almost raw bacon that tends to be wrapped around seafood), with a basil leaf all enrobed in fluffy, crispy batter. It’s the best appetizer I’ve had in a restaurant. Though we didn’t order them this time, the Lobster Corn Dogs are not very yummy. We had them last time and the table was unanimous in disliking them. Dick also ordered the wedge salad which he enjoyed.
Entrées are up next. Ordering them began with a disappointment. Dick wanted the short ribs, but they did not have them. I can say with virtual certainty that they weren’t out as it was six and the restaurant was relatively empty and had only been open an hour. It was disappointing. If they aren’t going to make and have the short ribs, then they should not be on the menu. Linda and I both ordered the halibut, Mom and Dad the Kobe filets, and Dick the USDA Choice filet. Dick enjoyed his steak, but I don’t understand why restaurants who charge a great deal of money for a piece of meat can’t serve USDA Prime. So I don’t order Choice meat when I’m out, even if it’s “the highest grade of Choice.” I’m sure it was still tasty, but in the era of steakhouses bragging about their USDA Prime meat, I’m shocked a restaurant all about steak wouldn’t want to compete. Moving on. The Kobe filets were amazing. I tasted Mom’s a couple of times, and shared my halibut with her, and it was incredibly tender with a rich, beef flavor. The crust and flavor from the grill was amazing. I am not sure if poaching them in butter and olive oil prior to putting them on the grill is necessary, however. The halibut was equally excellent, with more of the grill flavor. Everything was cooked spot-on. As for sides, the mushrooms and onions were very enjoyable, the salt baked potato impressive, and the macaroni and cheese without truffle (just for Dad!) and with broccoli was a big hit with Dad. It did look amazing.
Then it was time for everyone’s favorite part of the meal, or at least mine: dessert. I can’t ever imagine going there without getting the beignets with crème brulee. The beignets were my favorite part of the meal. They were light, fluffy, and tender with a mild spice donut flavor, all dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Their companion crème brulee is no slouch either. It’s pretty traditional, but there are tons of vanilla beans in it. We also had the cornbread pudding. Made with the amazing cornbread they serve, it was rich and incredibly moist, served with popcorn ice cream, lime segments, and lime foam. The lime foam was my favorite, tasting just like the inside of a key lime pie. I would have preferred the pudding served more like a traditional bread pudding, but it was very enjoyable.
Pretty much everything I put in my mouth was outstanding. It was an amazing night of food, conversation, and fun. I highly recommend Bourbon Steak the next time you’re looking for an evening out. I couldn’t ask for more, except perhaps Mom having a little more luck on the slots. Maybe next time.