When my good friend Claire Herminjard, founder of Mindful Meats, suggested I check out a new restaurant in Las Vegas, I could have sworn she said Bizarre Meat. No matter, I thought to myself, I’ll try anything once. Thankfully, it turns out she was proposing I dine at Bazaar Meat, the hot new spot for carnivores in the swanky SLS Hotel right at the end of The Strip.
The reason for her recommendation was not only that the James Beard award-winning chef has been gathering accolades as effortlessly as cutting butter, but because her non-GMO verified beef features heavily on the menu. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to gather a group of friends to join me in sampling the finest meat in this “it” place, ignoring the fact that Sin City is my least favorite place on the planet.
First of all, this restaurant has its very own casino, something that escaped my attention on the way in, but was pointed out by one of my more observant dining companions. Second of all, the first thing I noticed is the giant, showcase kitchen – as it turns out there are five kitchens serving this restaurant. The meat kitchen has numerous cases for aging meat, multiple grills, ranges, and a gorgeous wood-burning oven clad in hand painted rustic tiles. The rooms of the dining room itself are adorned floor to ceiling with canvases depicting old hunting and pastoral scenes.
We were seated in the prime (pardon the pun) spot, right next to the kitchen. And then we were handed giant, (I mean really, really big) menus mounted on black perspex. They are unwieldy and prohibit conversation with your fellow diners. In fact, if you’re really hungry, be careful, because just holding them will sap your last ounces of strength. Happily we all survived the menu test unharmed. Our wonderful waiter walked us through the highlights and let us know that because the kitchens don’t speak to each other (hopefully not because of some bitter feud) our food might not arrive in any particular order. At least he was upfront about it.
There are numerous little bites and mini sandwiches, as well as appetizers, cured meats and more. And thankfully, for the one vegetarian amongst (yes, I strong-armed her into joining us) there was more than enough for her to choose from too: tomato tartare ($18), cauliflower steaks ($12), and Brussel sprouts petals ($12). The latter was a masterpiece in taste, complete with lemon “air”.
We started with delicious jamon balls, croquetas de pollo (served in a glass sneaker), smoked oysters – with the smoke captured under a glass dome which is theatrically removed allowing the smoke to escape, and bagels and lox cones (everything was priced between $6-18). But wait, there’s more, the mini sloppy joe and reuben sandwich were too good to resist and we all had a bite. Everything was prepared to perfection and because we were full after all these appetizers, we called it a day and went home. Not. We just had to sample Mindful Meats’ delights.
The waiters waxed lyrical about this beef, and my guess is that they know their beef. Here the origin of the beef is revealed and proudly shared, just as you might chose a top shelf whiskey or vintage bottle of wine. You choose your cut, age of the animal and the producer. I don’t know about you, but I refuse industrially farmed meat whenever I can, and I just love this level of transparency. Let’s hope it spreads like a wild fever through the restaurant world. I digress.
The steak tartare ($24) comes from Mindful Meats. We ordered the Classic and the wonderful thing is that they make it at your table. If you’re really keen to see how this is done, you can watch a video I recorded here. I can’t find the words to describe it: tender, creamy, rich, more-ish. It comes with mini Parker House rolls and apparently the two together is unbeatable. I skipped the gluten.
For the main event (as if everything else before it was incidental), we selected Mindful Meats’ beef rib steak, which is priced at $75/lb and sold at a minimum weight of 2lbs. Gulp. Garnished simply with rosemary and sea salt, it comes to the table sliced and off the bone. Medium rare was pretty blue in the middle – perfect for me. To accompany it, we ordered Pommes Paillaison ($13), a potato cake with bacon. Enough said.
Now, just writing this story is making me full, so you’d think that by this stage of the night we’d be ready to throw in the fork, but not so. All of a sudden a red patisserie box (cute) filled with sweet delights landed on our table. Bite-sized treats, perfectly formed. Sugary perfection. Exactly the right way to end a divine evening of food theater.
The bottom line on Bazaar Meat? Be there or be square. It might even be enough to entice me back to Vegas.