Las Vegas has some of the best bars and some of the best restaurants in the world but no matter how much talent and desire to be the best ... most are good at one or the other, not both. During a visit last night to Libertine Social inside of Mandalay Bay, I was treated to an experience that frankly I wasn't expecting based on the relatively unassuming entrance.
Appearances can be everything and so when I showed up at Libertine Social, I saw some tables, a jukebox and some comfy seats around a bar and prepared myself for a nice "bar food" experience. After a few minutes talking with our waiter, it was clear that this place was something special.
For instance - Tony Abou-Ganim not only created the cocktail program here but it is currently a location where he can actually be seen doing hands-on work several times per week. Anyone who has had a chance to meet Tony or enjoy one of the cocktails that he has created knows that he doesn't mess around. Whether that's searching for the perfect ice or egg whites, there's no facet that goes unrefined.
The concept here for Libertine Social is that it assists guests on their journey to embrace their deep desire to break free from a day-to-day routine and begin to play by their own rules. To that goal, both the cocktails as well as food are extremely innovative ... but still approachable. You'll find familiar items such as fresh oysters, but they are accompanied by a tequila mignonette and topped with a dollop of Tabasco gel or a King Crab Salad that comes in little cups that you pour a watercress vichyssoise into.
Dining is a little different here compared to other restaurants as it is truly designed to be a shared social exploration. Similar to a tasting menu, guests are encouraged to order several small plates, toasts & dips, local favorites, or flatbreads to share with the table.
Of course, while as amazing as the cocktails and small plates are, this is a dinner after all!
While one could absolutely end the experience more than satisfied after sampling several small plates, that would be a mistake. Despite being nearly full, we forced ourselves to continue ... for science! What we foudn was like the rest of the items - simply amazing! In fact, the Wagyu Beef Shoulder with Enoki mushrooms on a bed of Spaetzle was probably the best steak I've had in a LONG TIME. Once again, it was because everything fit together masterfully. The attention to detail across not just one aspect of the dining experience, but literally every facet makes Libertine Social one that I look forward to returning to again during future visits to Las Vegas. In fact, just two days after our hosted dinner experience I went back with some friends and paid with my own money.
There's something to be said for saying great things about a fancy experience when it's free - but Libertine Social is SO GOOD that I can still enjoy it when it's my money being spent!
Libertine Social can be found on Mandalay Bay Resort's "Restaurant Row" and it is perfect for everything from cocktails to a full dinner.