My name is Jim Begley and I like offal. I like mineral-y, chewy bits of meat from strange parts of even stranger animals. I love obscure beers and cocktails even more, and I’m happiest when I can get both in a single sitting, which is why I’m somewhat disappointed with a recent trend in Strip dining.
With the openings of Public House (the Venetian one), Gordon Ramsay Pub and Rx Boiler Room, the Valley appears to be in the midst of a gastropub onslaught. (They’re popping up so often, you’d think Oprah was giving them away: “… and you get a gastropub, and you get a gastropub!”) Only problem is, these are less adventurous than the gastropub title suggests, safer versions built to succeed on the Strip.
Take Pub 1842—Michael Mina’s newest offering at MGM Grand. It’s a welcoming space; everything from the entertaining décor and soundtrack to the intriguing food and drink selections beckons you. I’m just not sure it’s really a gastropub.
Not that I don’t like 1842. The avocado kale Caesar ($14) might be the best salad in town—a creamy, sharp riff on the classic—while the green chili with heritage pork ($12) is an homage to swine. With its ample heat, it’s certainly among the Valley’s best. Both make the march through MGM Grand worthwhile.
I’d suggest bypassing the Frickles ($8)—while the breading is good and the pickles are brined in-house, I prefer the umami-packed tempura maitake mushrooms ($12) instead. And the controlled substance-inspired Peanut Butter Crunch Burger ($17), an amalgamation of peanut butter, pimento cheese, bacon jam and potato chips, needs to be tried to be believed.
The highlight of 1842? It’s undoubtedly the cocktail program, where they’re rolling out barrel-aged cocktails (at $24, the Six-Shooter is a cost-effective way to sample them all, including an outstanding Spanish Harlem), infusions, punches and even house-carbonated libations. While lengthy, the beer selection isn’t nearly as adventurous.
If the cuisine were anywhere near as challenging as the cocktails, we might’ve had our first true Las Vegas gastropub along the lines of Chicago’s Publican or Atlanta’s Holeman and Finch. Instead, 1842 is a perfectly fine place to pass some time. Even without the offal.
Pub 1842 MGM Grand, 891-3922. Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-12 a.m, Friday & Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m.