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Taste

Mina elevates Strip seafood at American Fish

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Surf and turf upgrade: diver scallops and foie gras with blue corn pancakes, blackberries and candied pecans.
Photo: Beverly Poppe

Seablue at MGM Grand closed recently, and it really is a shame. Seafood-focused casino restaurants might be an endangered species, getting gobbled up by the forceful, shark-like cuisines of the Strip—steakhouse, Italian, fine French and the newest top-of-the-chainer, the gastropub. (Rumor has it Seablue will become a pub concept, still under the command of chef Michael Mina.)

But fear not, little fish. Mina, always a champion of edible ocean treasure, still has four other restaurants on the Strip. All do seafood well, but none as dynamic as the stunningly designed if sleepily named American Fish. It’s at Aria, in case you missed it, up on the second floor with a steakhouse (Jean Georges) and Italian restaurant (Sirio). Always swimming in dangerous waters.

The Details

American Fish
Aria, (877) 230-2742.
Tuesday-Sunday, 5-10:30 p.m.

Hopefully American Fish is here to stay, because it’s a tremendous place to eat and drink. The sleek bar, framed by a mirrored art installation that makes you feel lost in a forest of birch trees, is packing a great classic cocktail program, not to mention drool-inducing happy hour snacks like fresh oysters with Bloody Mary granité and lobster rolls on buttery buns.

At dinner, choose your fish in one of four preparations: poached, wood-grilled, salt-baked or cast iron-griddled. Deviating from the a-la-carte madness found at all those steakhouses, each plate comes with generous mini-sides. So a bountiful mixed grill plate, featuring wonderfully smoky chorizo, shrimp, squid, salmon and Mediterranean seabass on my visit, comes with tiny roasted potatoes, creamed corn and a grilled peach panzanella salad. Cornmeal-crusted rainbow trout is accompanied by pickled ramps and a chunk of smoked pork shoulder.

If Mina is around, he’d probably recommend the fish baked in a sea salt crust, currently a choice of that seabass (branzino), wild sturgeon from Oregon or juicy blue prawns. There are three amazing small-plate surf-and-turf options, too, including diver scallops and foie gras with blue corn pancakes, blackberries and candied pecans. How do you not order that?

American Fish hasn’t missed a beat in recently transitioning to new executive chef Josh Crain, from Mina’s restaurant Nobhill at MGM Grand. It seems the leader of this dining dynasty has an unending army of kitchen talent, which explains the consistency of his Vegas venues. This one is my favorite of the bunch.

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Brock Radke is Las Vegas Weekly's food editor and author of the Strip-focused column The Incidental Tourist. He has written ...

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