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4 weeks ago

Michael Mina Opens Orla at Mandalay Bay

Restaurant of the Week: Lavish ingredients combine with authentic Mediterranean flavors to bring Mina’s menu to life.

By Kim Ayling

In Vegas, nothing is done by half. Its lights are brighter, its music louder, its celebs glitzier, its nights later and its hotels bigger. Among these larger-than-life hotels is Mandalay Bay which, with upwards of 3,200 rooms, is not only one of the biggest hotels in the city but also the world. Naturally, a hotel capable of welcoming so many guests must have a pretty serious restaurant offering to keep them all happy.

Mandalay Bay has well over 30 places to secure a good meal, covering everything from chains and easy eats to fancy fine dining destinations. The latest to join the cohort is Orla, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant by renowned restaurateur and award-winning chef Michael Mina.

“Orla is a culmination of my culinary evolution, a fusion of personal recipes that echo the flavors and aromas of my childhood in Egypt. It encapsulates the warmth, charm and vibrant hospitality of Mediterranean culture that has shaped my life and career,” said Mina. “I can’t wait for guests to experience a taste of what has influenced my life’s work.”

[See also: Fontainebleau Las Vegas: Inside Nevada’s New $3.7bn Mega Resort]

Chef

chef michael mina
Michael Mina / ©Anthony Mair

Born in Egypt and raised in Washington DC, Mina began his culinary career at Culinary Institute of America. While studying, he spent his weekends honing his skills at Aureole – Charlie Palmer’s now-shuttered, Michelin-starred icon – before making the move west to work under George Morrone in San Francisco.

In 1991 the duo opened their own SF restaurant, AQUA, which garnered critical acclaim – including a Best Chef title from the prestigious James Beard Awards. With his name firmly on the national stage, Mina went on to found MINA Group, which now operates 30 restaurants.

In his illustrious career, Mina has not only spearheaded some of the nation’s favorite restaurants but also cooked for some of its most famous figures including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

[See also: The Best Hotels and Suites in Las Vegas]

Menu

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Lavish ingredients combine with authentic Mediterranean and North African flavors and techniques to bring Orla’s menu to life. Designed to be shared (or not, if you prefer), dishes are elevated yet nourishing.

Hot and cold mezze – such as za’atar-cured king salmon served alongside warm pita bread, pickled red onion and lemon tzatziki – are followed by a selection of market-fresh fish (a charcoal grilled octopus served with a poached egg is fast becoming a signature) and vibrant kebab plates.

[See also: Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas Unveils Stunning Transformation]

The dessert menu is playful, with simple favorites such as frozen Greek yogurt given a lavish topping of 24K golden thyme honey and roasted pistachios.

Complementing Mina’s menu is a 1,600-label-strong wine list by Mina Group’s director of wine, Jeremy Shanker, which goes down as one of Las Vegas’s largest wine collections. Focusing on Mediterranean wine-making regions such as Lebanon, Santorini, Croatia, Sicily and Corsica, the list has vintages dating to the 1940s.

Wine not your thing? No problem. Orla also has a comprehensive cocktail program – stop at the bar pre-dinner for an aperitif.

[See also: The 6 Best Spas in Las Vegas]

Interiors

orla private dining room
Orla at Mandalay Bay has a 22-person private dining room / ©Anthony Mair

Designed by New York-based Parts and Labor Design, Orla at Mandalay Bay is vibrant, convivial and welcoming. First greeting guests as they enter the restaurant is a large statement bar that winds its way through to the main dining room.

Inspired by the color palette of Mediterranean spices, the cream- and white-washed restaurant is accented by shades of pink, gold and orange. Indoor olive trees add to the effect, as do three woven chandeliers. 

For more exclusive affairs, make use of the restaurant’s semi-private dining room, The Odyssey, which seats up to 22 and has several different configuration options. 

mandalaybay.mgmresorts.com

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