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CRUSH

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MGM Grand

3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702-891-3222

website

$40-$75

Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10:30pm

Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11:30pm

American

A-

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A foodie-focused restaurant from the same folks who run La Comida in Downtown Las Vegas.

Where is it?

At MGM Grand on the South Strip.

What kind of food is served?

A broad mix of continental cuisine; mostly American but with international influences.

What is the atmosphere like?

There are two rooms - a more casual front space with a big bar and the warm grotto back room that has a wine cellar vibe.

How is the service?

A very friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive staff.

What are the prices like?

Since most of the menu is small plates, it's easy to rack up quite a bill here.

What else do I need to know?

They have a full alternate menu with vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, and seafood/shellfish free options.

What's the bottom line?

Proof that fine food doesn't need to be intimidating.

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FULL REVIEW

Restaurateur Michael Morton, son of the legendary Arnie whose Morton's steakhouses are a worldwide favorite, has been bringing an interesting food experience to Vegas for years. He was behind most of the restaurants at The Palms when it first opened and more recently launched La Comida with his wife Jenna, a fantastic Downtown Las Vegas Mexican eatery.

Here at the MGM Grand he had the long-running Nob Hill but that restaurant has now been replaced with the Morton's new one, Crush. The difference is night and day. Whereas Nob Hill was a sea of gray in terms of decor and not much more interesting in terms of the cuisine it served, Crush is a sunny departure in both flavors and mood.

There are two main dining areas. In front is a more casual space with a big bar and open walls to the nearby casino. In back is a warm wine-cellar of a space with a funky LCD screen feature that runs along the ceiling and provides some interesting background wallpaper. At one point it looked like a long strip of bacon, so me and my friends automatically loved it. In any case, it's much more comfortable and inviting than Nob Hill was.

The menu is divided into four sections. Start out with the Soups, Salads, and Vegetables section, which is pretty much exactly what the name implies with what feels like warm weather, summery options such as a kale salad with fried artichokes, peasant soup with sausage and sage, and an arugula salad with fennel.

Next up is the pizzas, all of which are done in a 700 degree wood fired oven. Options here include grilled chicken, Italian sausage, curry shrimp, and more. We sampled the Nana D's meatballs pizza and were very pleased with our choice.

Small plates take up the bulk of the menu. The items here are range from whimsical to hearty, with things like a sea scallop "Benny" done with a sunny-side up quail egg and chorizo in the former category and veal Bolognese with a red wine sauce in the latter. We sampled a bunch of things from this section including the octopus ceviche, which came with pickled jalapenos and was not at all what you might expect octopus to be like (tender, not fishy, almost fruity); the ricotta gnocchi with braised short ribs that was a delightful blend of flavors; and the Angus mini-burgers, also done with a quail egg and buttermilk blue cheese. Those were my particular favorite but they came so late in the meal that I was too full to eat as much of them as I wanted. The only bum note we found in the small plates arena was the shrimp risotto, which was a little mushy and overdone for my tastes, but only a little and I'm kinda picky.

Finally the large plates include everything from half-roasted chicken to braised short ribs to steak and seafood and more. I sampled the lamb sirloin, which was perfectly prepared and cut-it-with-a-fork tender.

There's also a full alternate menu of vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free, and seafood/shellfish free versions of many of the same dishes on the main menu. That's really rare and quite commendable.

Desserts - can't forget about those. It's a short list of fairy ordinary items (sorbet, crème brûlée, etc.) but the cheesecake, served with strawberry compote and fresh whipped cream is amazing.

Prices add up quickly, especially if you are ordering multiple small plates (which you should, because they are, well, small). Salads and the like are all mostly around the $10 mark; pizzas are around $16; small plates also all around $16; and the full plats run from $26 on the low end all the way up to $65 for a 28 ounce ribeye.

Service was perfect from beginning to end with a very friendly staff that was quite patient with the large group of us and our inherent inability to make decisions when there are so many good options to choose from.

I was not really an admirer of Nob Hill but I have to admit that I have a bit of a Crush on this place.

(sorry - it had to be done)

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