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EMERIL'S NEW ORLEANS FISH HOUSE

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MGM Grand

3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702-891-7374

website

$50-$75

Daily 11am-10pm

Seafood

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AT A GLANCE

What is it?

An upscale seafood restaurant from famed chef Emeril Lagasse.

Where is it?

At MGM Grand on the South Strip.

What kind of food is served?

The menu is dominated by seafood, much of which has a New Orleans/Cajun/Creole spin to things, but there are a few dishes for those who aren't fans of fish.

What is the atmosphere like?

Elegant and definitely upscale in the wood trimmed dining room and slightly more casual on the "patio" which is located alongside the MGM Grand shopping promenade.

How is the service?

YDefinitely top of the class, with an attentive and friendly touch.

What are the prices like?

It isn't cheap but when compared to some of the other upscale seafood houses in town it comes off feeling like a relative bargain.

What else do I need to know?

If you don't have Emeril's famous Banana Cream Pie for desert you have failed miserably.

What's the bottom line?

For the price, atmosphere, and food quality, you'd have a hard time doing better.

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FULL REVIEW

In a town that loves to reinvent, revise, revamp, and reimagine every few years, it's not going too far to say that something that has lasted for 20 years has officially achieved landmark status. Such is the case with Emeril's New Orleans Fish House, which celebrates two decades at the MGM Grand acting as one of Vegas' premier seafood restaurants in the fall of 2015.

Things have both changed and stayed the same at Emeril's, with tweaks to the menu and a remodel of the décor keeping things fresh while holding on to a level of quality and service that have made it such a popular destination. What's most interesting, I think, is how the restaurant, which once was one of the most expensive in town, now feels like a relative bargain by comparison to some of the other upscale fish joints in Vegas.

The space has a warm, modern flair with "patio" seating toward the front along a busy indoor shopping promenade, a big bar, and a more sedate main dining room done in rich woods and vibrant colors. A huge walk in wine room will cause some drooling for oenophiles.

Owing to Emeril's heritage and the name of the restaurant, much of the menu has a laissez les bon temps roulez flair, with Creole influences obvious in starters like a boiled shrimp cocktail, seafood and andouille pork sausage gumbo, barbeque shrimp, and crawfish etouffee. We went for a deep dive with what they call their "swamp platter" - alligator meatballs and frog legs. The former were like spicy versions of the Italian classics, with enough of a bite (pardon the pun) to keep things interesting. The latter were a little rubbery but I understand that's par for the course for this particular dish - I don't eat a lot of frog legs in my daily life so hard for me to judge, really.

By the way, you may be tempted to save room and pass over the cornbread that comes to the table with fresh butter but don't. It's fantastic.

They have a few salads including a seafood variety with shrimp, Maine lobster, and blue crab but this is an area you can probably overlook to get to the really good stuff.

We sampled several of the Emeril's signature dishes including the seared sea scallops, a halibut served on a bed of grits, lobster, and a New York flat steak just to step away from the Ocean for a minute. It was all good but if I had to declare a winner it would be the scallops, done with smoked bacon and a corn and black-eyed peas succotash. They were tender, succulent pieces of meat and who could possibly complain about bacon and corn accompaniments? It was perfect. Like the frog legs the steak was a little tough, but it had an amazing, smoky flavor so it worked in the long run. You want a great steak, try the filet or rib eye, which are similar to the ones done at Emeril's fantastic Delmonico up the street.

Other entrée options including a few sandwiches such as a shrimp po-boy, pecan crusted redfish, barbecue Atlantic salmon, crispy seared chicken, and a double-cut pork chop.

Sides include more of the jambalaya, braised collared greens, pepperjack cheese grits, ratatouille, and bourbon and brown sugar sweet potatoes. We should have specifically asked for the latter since they sound amazing but were in a food coma and forgot.

Of course that food overload didn't stop us from sampling dessert and it shouldn't stop you either. If you walk out of this restaurant without having a piece of Emeril's famous banana cream pie, you have made a terrible error. It is probably the best example of that particular bit of sweetness that exists.

A lunch menu has similar offerings and a happy hour menu has a variety of snacks from the starters section of the main meals. It's worth noting that they are running happy hour both in the afternoon and in the evening with some bargain-priced drink specials so if you're in a cocktail mood, this is definitely a place to consider.

Speaking of prices, this is where things get really noteworthy. When the restaurant opened in 1995, it was one of the most expensive in town but this was long before hotels like Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas, The Venetian, and others kicked what was considered expensive up a few notches (to use one of Emeril's favorite catchphrases). Although prices have risen here over the last 20 years, they haven't gone up to the insane levels that the really high-end fish places are charging. Starters, soups, salads, and sandwiches are all under $20 and main courses mostly fall into the $30-$45 range. There may be some specials that will go a few bucks above that, but when you have upscale seafood restaurants regularly charging upwards of $80 or $100 for an entrée this comes across as a bargain without sacrificing quality.

The service was first rate throughout the meal - this is one of those places where they make you feel special.

Even after 20 years, Emeril's should remain at the top of your list when considering seafood restaurants in Las Vegas.

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