Opening a new restaurant in Las Vegas is like entering the lion’s den. The competition is fierce and you might get eaten alive. International Smoke, inside of MGM Grand, quickly appears to have made its mark as the powerhouse combination of Chef Michael Mina and best-selling author Ayesha Curry have combined to create a menu that lives up to the restaurants name.
The name International Smoke conjures up thoughts of a menu filled with wonderfully smoky and flavorful meats and you would be correct. The ribs from the smoker are certainly a highlight of the menu as they are cooked in the classic St. Louis ribs style. International Smoke doesn’t leave you with a simply tender and meaty rib, they bring out unique flavors for you to choose from. You can select the classic American Barbeque, a little bit more sweet but balanced with a nice bit of acid, they you can go a little more international with Vietnamese chili-lemongrass or Korean sesame-gochujang, which is bit of the spicier side, but not overly hot and brings a hint of sweetness. The Korean version if you are looking for a very unique and different rib than what you typically will find in the United States, this is definately worth a try.
International Smoke, took over the location that was previously Pub 1842, also from Michael Mina. The two things that you will find similarity to are that they kept the majority of the incredible staff and the wonderful wood-fired grill. The lineup of steaks are simply as good as it gets and the flavor from the wood-fired grill offers up that smokiness and slight char that equates to steak perfection. International Smoke has a cut for everyone including: center-cut filet, prime flat iron, New York strip and the ultimate in beef, the Delmoncio rib eye. If that wasn’t quite enough beef selection for you, the double patty cheeseburger can be put up against any burger on the Las Vegas strip.
Your eyes might not be able to venture off the beef portion of the menu, but if that is the case you might be missing the best thing on the entire menu, the whole Mediterranean branzino. The branzino is a beautiful fish and grilled allowing it to remain a very delicate and flaky fish that does not need a lot done to it to make it enjoyable, but the warm tomato vinaigrette really takes it to a whole new level. They do a great job of adding lemon potatoes and garlic swish chard to help enhance the flavor. If you have never experienced branzino before, it is the one fish that once you try it you will be hooked. The unique flavor profiles continue with the “Sinaloan” style Mary’s chicken, which is very juicy and tender chicken that has that Mexican street flare with achiote, chilli and avocado.
Tasty food is in store for you throughout the menu, but the wow factor certainly comes at you when you reach for a cocktail at International Smoke. The restaurant lives up to its name with signature cocktail “Smoke Signals”. This drink will make you the center of attention as the smoke follows this smoked filled glass box to your table and when it opens you get the smokey cocktail that is all cocktail, consisting of Basil Hayden Bourbon, Cardamom and Carazon Bitters. Along those lines they also have the “Cold Smoked Old Fashion”, a smoky take on the popular classic cocktail. The classic lineup continues with the “Lilikoi Mai Tai” and while this is a great version, the true fun part is that is is served in a spam tin. In terms of beer, maybe thinking back to Pub 1842 and their vast selection, that is one area that could use a little improvement.
To get even more insight into the creativity of Chef Michael and Ayesha, the starters menu offers some wonderful options. Ayesha’s fresh baked cornbread is simply a flawless cornbread which would enjoyable enough when you sit down, but adding the flavorful Thai red curry butter really sets this apart. The gulf shrimp is brought to life with a miso butter and the Tokyo fried chicken is layered with flavors, as is marinated a ginger soy sauce and then topped off with furikake and sriacha mayo to give it some nice heat.
To be honest I had my doubts coming into International Smoke, was this a true collaboration, was it a marketing idea and how would these come together? I was pleasantly surprised and the menu itself had great surprises and flavor combinations you might not expect. If you are looking for a great Las Vegas dining experience, International Smoke has everything that you would expect of such a setting on the Las Vegas and few more that are surprisingly unexpected.
For more information, visit: International Smoke