(Five stars, going on seven. Read below.)
I’m not sure how I haven’t reviewed N9NE yet. This is inexcusable. I thought I had.
I’ve only eaten here once earlier this year. However, this was the greatest meal of my life. And folks, I’m 29, I’ve got a food blog, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about it. I’d give it six—nay. SEVEN stars if I could.
One may say that it may have been the company of folks I had at the table may have added unfairly to the experience (We went to N9NE as one of the stops during my epic Vegas bachelor party experience in March 2012). Or, admittedly, I wasn’t expecting N9NE to be as awesome as it was. But I don’t think so on any of these accounts… The food was just incredible. And Chef Barry was awesome. More on that later.
We started off at the bar, where we had a couple of drinks and waited for our table. the place was PACKED and it was clear that it wouldn’t e easy to get a table… However, we had a reservation.
As we were seated, the folks in my party immediately made a few observations of the folks sitting around us. We had a number of famous folks sitting around us… for some reason on that evening, they were mostly sports players–everything from UFC fighters to retired hockey players.
While all this is nice, on to the food. We had a bunch of appetizers and the house bread (I remember specifically the pretzel-roll style house bread and the thinly-sliced Sashimi appetizer. Both were excellent. I was advised by one of my hosts that the Lobster Bisque soup was to die for. However, I don’t particularly care for lobster. I decided to go (against his advice) for the Onion soup.
Perhaps as foreshadowing of the awesome within, the soup was presented to me in a beautiful All-Clad pan. Classy. Everyone else started on their Lobster Bisque, and I dug in on my solo onion soup.
Two words – Holy crap. It was the best soup I had in my life. I warn you–you’ll never like any other kind of onion soup ever again. Perhaps you shouldn’t get it… It will spoil you for anything else. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I ultimately did try the Lobster Bisque. It was damn good, also. And I’ll re-iterate–I don’t really care for lobster. But it was still damn good. I let my host that was raving about the lobster bisque try the onion soup. He (who doesn’t normally care for onion soup) actually changed his mind and said that he liked the onion soup a bit better.
On to the main course. I ordered the 8 ounce filet. It was of the top 5 steaks I’ve ever had. Be sure to get a nice steak sauce to go with it… I think I either had the peppercorn or the horseradish. But yes, the steak was cooked perfectly and outstanding.
Finally, on to dessert! We had two dessert dishes that we sampled–the S’mores and the Donuts. They were both awesome… I especially loved the presentation of the S’mores. In a nutshell, dessert was just as impressive as the courses that came before it.
After the meal, I only had one request. I wanted to meet the chef. Luckily, my host happened to know Chef Barry and was able to pull him away for a couple of minutes. As icing on the cake, let me tell you–Chef Barry’s one in a million. He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. I had an opportunity to take my picture with him and his famous “door.” (If you have the means–it’s an awesome photo opp…) I wish I had thought to ask Chef Barry for his autograph.
In short, this is the kind of restaurant which I’d consider taking a vacation contingent upon eating here again. Sure, it’s quite expensive, but it is OUT of this WORLD. You’ll get your money’s worth… And you were probably going to go blow all that cash in a slot machine anyway. Skip it and savor the flavors of N9NE. Shame on you if you go to Vegas and don’t eat there. Make your reservations as far in advance as possible.
I’d probably give Mandalay Bay 3 and a half stars. I’m going to review the hotel and resort all as one here. I stayed here for my bachelor party. Let’s break things down:
The rooms are pretty nice by Vegas strip standards. (Note that Vegas strip standards are pretty darn high.)
The food’s a-ok here. The Noodle restaurant is pretty good. (I had the Pad Thai). The buffet is pretty much your standard Vegas buffet. You can probably save on food by looking for a buffet pass at the cheap tickets booths on the strip.
It’s nice, though the rules aren’t very liberal. Minimums are higher. Put simply, I probably wouldn’t gamble a bunch here. But I’m cheap, and I also don’t like to lose a lot of money.
“Out of the box”, they seem to be on the high side of reasonable. However, a friend of mind got me a discounted rate once. I’m not sure how he did that. I feel like you can get comparable rates at other strip hotel / casinos that offer the same quality of room at about the same cost.
Location on the Strip:
Put on your walking shoes… it’s located on the very end of the strip. The monorail that goes between Mandalay Bay and the Excalibur helps a bit, but if you want to get to the main monorail, your closest stop is the MGM grand. That’s a looooong walk. Actually, I measured–one way, it’s at LEAST a .65 mile walk, making it an even 1.3 miles round trip if you decide to wait for the monorail to Excalibur. If you decide you don’t want to wait for the monorail, double the distance (if you walk inside–that’s exactly .65 more one way, 1.3 miles round trip) or shave off .02 miles one way if you walk outside. (Inside’s nicer.)
It’s also kind of crazy that you have to walk through what seems to be the most non-direct way through the MGM casino to get to the stop… gee I wonder why. However, the mall that’s attached to Mandalay bay (that connects it with the Luxor) is actually pretty nice.
It’s a very nice hotel, though my main gripe is the location. It’s awful far south to get the full strip “experience” easily. I’d say there’s less of a plethora of those jerks sitting there bugging you with “GET A GIRL TO YOUR ROOM” cards in the area, which is nice, but if it means that I don’t have to take a taxi to get to the monorail or walk for over a mile (round trip), then it’s not the best location.