Burger Bar at Mandalay Place – Las Vegas

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After venturing to the Hoover Dam in the morning, we made our way back to the Strip and decided to eat at Burger Bar in the Mandalay Place, the mall located between Mandalay Bay and Luxor. Burger Bar’s outer appearance is typical of restaurants found in many malls, the “store” front packed alongside other eateries. Upon entering however, Burger Bar has a very non mall-like vibe. A long dark cozy bar dominates the restaurant, the dark wood and old school neon lighting casting a cozy glow on the nearby tables and tall intimate booths. Burger Bar is the brainchild of acclaimed Chef Hubert Keller (of Top Chef Masters and PBS’s Secrets of a Chef fame) claims to the originator of the haute cuisine approach to burgers that currently is sweeping Las Vegas and the nation.

We were seated promptly and perused the deceptively simple menu. Burger Bar makes no bones about being all about burgers, as the few salads offered were relegated to the bottom quarter of the last page. Burgers are front and center, with the ten featured specialty burgers and the build your own burger options taking up the majority of the menu. Shakes (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and beer are prominently displayed as well.

Mrs. Nom and I were both feeling the effects of the desert heat from our early trip to the Hoover Dam, and found our appetites a bit limited so opted to each get a shake to help cool us down. Mrs Nom selected the Black and White shake, a classic vanilla ice cream based shake with cookie dough and chocolate syrup liberally mixed in and topped by a slightly bittersweet chocolate infused whipped cream.

I was tempted by the boozy shakes but decided that I had better stick with a conventional shjjake and save my drinking until later in the evening. I ordered the Salted Caramel, vanilla ice cream topped with English toffee, Fleur de sel and a salty sweet caramel sauce. The whipped cream topping was light and fluffy and completely free of sweetness, giving the shake a rich smooth balance to the sweet caramel.

Both shakes were served with huge 1/2 inch straws to allow the thick shakes to be easily slurped with out the typical weak straw collapse and resulting blackout inducing suction force / spoon usually required to drink a thick shake.

With our limited appetites, we opted to share the Hubert Keller Burger, a 1/3 pound buffalo burger, topped with blue cheese, caramelized onions and baby spinach greens atop a toasted ciabatta bun. Red wine shallot reduction, the usual red onion and dill pickle wedge, and a pile of fries sit along side the burger.

The burger arrived cooked a perfect medium, pink throughout with a nice sear on the outside to seal the burger. The buffalo was extremely tender and juicy with no trace of the grassy gaminess that buffalo can sometimes have. The blue cheese crumbles had a nice sharp bite that complimented the sweet and slightly dark notes of the onion. The red wine reduction was nice to drizzle on the burger, but tended to make it very messy. The ciabatta bun was firm and was difficult to cut, but when bit into was extremely soft with a nice al dente (can bread be al dente?) texture that held up to the juicy burger.

I felt the red wine reduction was good for dipping the fries in rather than the ketchup. I was surprised to see that Burger Bar did not offer a housemade ketchup, opting instead to only offer Heinz ketchup and mustard. Thankfully a housemade BBQ sauce was available and was an excellent alternative to the bland offerings.

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Overall, Burger Bar was a great place to catch the burger craze, good food, affordable (for Vegas) and a nice cozy atmosphere.

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