Nick and I treated ourselves to an amazing dinner at Michael Mina’s STRIPSTEAK at Mandalay Bay (while also working on our 101 list item of eating at 18 different restaurants on the Strip).

Our meal started with duck fat fries (as a ‘contemporary’ replacement to a steakhouse’s standard bread basket) served 3 ways:

  1. Old bay dusted with whole grain mustard sauce
  2. Garlic and herb with ketchup
  3. Truffle dusted with truffle aioli

In case you couldn’t tell from Nick’s thumbs up, we liked them. Now, on to the really good stuff. We each ordered an appetizer. Nick had the Caesar salad.

I was slightly more adventurous with the Maryland Blue crab cakes with lemon bearnaise mousseline that was listed on the menu as coming with an asparagus salad and ended up coming out with a frisee, but I wasn’t complaining. The crab cakes were so incredibly light.

For our entree, we each ordered steak and shared two sides.  The bacon roasted mushrooms proved to me that there exists a food containing bacon that can end up being not delicious. Would not order again. They had an odd texture and were overly seasoned, masking the awesomeness that is edible fungi.

The potato puree trio, on the other hand, was delicious. Nick’s favorite potato form is extra smooth and creamy (i.e pureed or whipped) so it was already a win. From left to right, they are: sour cream & onion, lobster, and horseradish.

I had the 10oz filet. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned. It was incredibly tender. My knife cut through it like hot butter.

However, Nick let me try a piece of his 30oz Porterhouse (whoa big daddy!) and it was AMAZING. We both agreed it was the best steak we’d ever had.

Cows beware – Nick will end you! This is the aftermath:

We took a gander at the dessert menu and as soon as Nick saw “Bittersweet Chocolate Cake” it was over.

That’s a cherry-port compote on the side, along with a little quenelled vanilla ice cream, and the richest, fudgiest chocolate cake I’ve ever tried. It may have looked like a cake, but that thing tasted like a fudge bar. Nick liked it so much, he actually tried to savor it. It was the slowest I have ever seen him eat anything.

Museum Day!

Nick and I hit out some more items on our 101 list on his latest off day. The forecast was for 100+ degree weather and over 25% humidity, so we decided to take care of some indoor items – Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Bodies…The Exhibition and Shark Reef Aquarium.

The Natural History Museum was…underwhelming. Nick and I are completely spoiled when it comes to museums since we grew up by Chicago and had access to The Field Museum, The Museum of Science and Industry (our first date!), Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium. Las Vegas isn’t exactly a cultured city, but we still had fun.

There was a traveling exhibit titled, “EWW! What’s Eating You?” that focused on parasites. It was incredibly disappointing as each section was narrated by Carrot Top (Who thought that was a good idea?); it was poorly executed as each section only had these video narrations for information (not too many signs to read) and it was difficult to hear the information since the sections were too close to one another and the volume was far too loud so it just became a bumbling Carrot Top mess whenever any of the other guests activated a video near us. The only highlights were Parasite Pinball (which wasn’t calibrated correctly):

and the Colon Crawl (that’s exactly where this whole exhibit should have gone):

There was a marine life section that included this gross looking frogfish:

and these cute Red Ear Slider Turtles (I have some experience with this species from my fishing days and I’ve entered a few in Hebron’s 4th of July Turtle Race. Alas, I never achieved my Uncle’s feat of having the Grand Master Champion turtle winner):

Nick got excited over a Narwhal tusk:

We saw the remains of the Dino Croc v Mega Shark Battle:

There were two pythons that I’m pretty sure were mating. Those pics are too hot for this blog.

Next was the dinosaur area, where we learned the Ichthyosaur Shonisaurus is Nevada’s state fossil (the fossil, not surprisingly, is not at this museum). Nick called this Deinonychus a “Nightmare Turkey”

Then he demonstrated how the dinosaurs became extinct. Scientists, you can stop theorizing how that happened:

We traveled to Africa via magic elevator – way cheaper than a flight to Capetown or something:

We “learned” lions make leaping takedowns on a variety of animals,

Rhino racist stereotypes are still a problem,

and Nick and a Cape Buffalo had beef, so he took care of it.

Then we went back in time to ancient Egypt where I walked like an Egyptian,

Tried to make my hair Giorgio Tsoukalos-esque to explain weird depictions of people with elongated skulls were due to ALIENS:

Nick demonstrated how to be a good Egyptian worker (those buckets were actually kind of heavy!)

Here’s a bonus pic while we were on our way out. Moose Nick is Moose-y:

Our next stop was Bodies…The Exhibition at Luxor, where photos weren’t allowed, but here’s a blurb from the website in case you don’t know what it is:

BODIES…The Exhibition provides an intimate and informative view into the human body. Using an innovative preservation process, the Exhibition allows you to see and celebrate your body’s inner beauty in ways you never dreamed possible. Over 200 actual human bodies and specimens, meticulously dissected and respectfully displayed, offer an unprecedented and wholly unique look into your amazing body. Come explore, experience and celebrate the wonder of the human form.

We really enjoyed the exhibit. The preserved bodies were so interesting – Nick even considered breaking the rules and sneaking a picture!! In case you were unaware, Nick is the biggest rule follower EVER.

Then it was a quick walk over to Mandalay Bay and their Shark Reef Aquarium. The first section was reptiles. There was this lonely looking Golden Crocodile

a sleepy python:

a Komodo Dragon that appeared to be napping when we walked up. Then Nick walked up to the glass stating, “Whatever, I could take that thing.” At that point, the Komodo Dragon stood up and looked right at Nick, prompting him to say “Come at me, bro,” entertaining the people around us. Goofy

There was a touching pond that had various rays and some horseshoe crabs (Did you know horseshoe crabs are used to manufacture sutures for burn victims?) Nick said they felt, “Weird.” – eloquent

There was an octopus that was housed with some giant starfish:

Jellyfish were displayed in a huge cylindrical tank. The jellyfish lifecycle is interesting.

Of course, there are sharks:

There is a Swim with the Sharks program here that might just inspire me to get SCUBA certified.

Then we had some fun with the Shark Reef promo posters outside:

 (Nick’s arm looks mega beast mode in that pic, right?!)

We ended our day at STRIPSTEAK, but that’s a whole other blog post.