I’m not your average twenty-something, clubbing and partying were never my style. I always preferred the comfort of a chair, a frothy cold beer, and short lines for the restroom. I like low-key bars; even dive bars are okay in my book.
That said, you can imagine my surprise for being so fond of The Light Group’s restaurants. The Light Group is the leader in hospitality development, known for high-end nightlife and attracting A-list celebrities. They operate popular clubs and lounges such as Jet and Revolution at Mirage, The Bank inside Bellagio, and newcomers, Haze, Gold and Deuce Lounges at Aria. They have also partnered with Chef Brian Massie to create fun twists on classic American dishes served at STACK, FIX and BRAND. Additionally, The Light Group brought Yellowtail to Bellagio and Diablo’s Cantina to Monte Carlo, and most recently, UNION to Aria.
Despite being skeptical my husband and I tried STACK shortly after it opened. We were smitten by the beautiful woods that dress the walls mimicking canyons in Utah, as well as the warm ambience and great music selection – classic tunes, rock from the 90’s and today. However, it was the gracious staff and playful well-prepared dishes that brought us back again, and again.
We were such fans of STACK it was difficult to venture out and try The Light Group’s other dining options. Last fall, we finally broke out and tried Yellowtail during Restaurant Week . We sampled delicious dishes such as lettuce wraps, Kobe tacos, Scottish salmon and Kobe beef ribs. The dining room offers views of the Bellagio Fountains, and if I had known there was also an outdoor balcony I would’ve tried to reserve a table there beforehand. I’ll certainly try when we return to sample specialty rolls and sushi.
After dozens of great experiences at STACK and another at Yellowtail, we decided on BRAND inside Monte Carlo to celebrate a friend’s recent birthday. The restaurant is raised and open to the casino floor, it provides you with a bird’s eye view of the action all around. The décor is masculine with dark tones, warm lighting, and leather – everywhere. Our server, Brian, was accommodating and friendly.
We initially inquired about their current special available to local residents, which is a $59.99 three-course dinner for two. It offers your choice of mixed greens or Caesar salad, “Strip Iron” steak with gratin or spinach for sides, and dessert to share.
It sounded great, but we were swayed by the Ultimate Steak for two ($85), which is 40 ounces of porterhouse steak and it includes potato gratin. We split it among the three of us and also ordered three sides ($21 or $8 each): baked mac & cheese, hash browns, asparagus.
While we waited we snacked on buttery light buns baked in cast iron. We finished off one pan in a hurry; fortunately, Brian was quick to bring us another to enjoy.
Before long we were presented with our smorgasbord of goodies. The steak was sliced and prepared to a perfect medium temperature. It was tender with a nice fired taste. Peppercorn and red-wine sauces accompanied the steak. Each brought out unique flavors. The potato gratin was rich and buttery; I had to restrain myself from licking the pot clean. Meanwhile, the guys fought over the mac & cheese which was a wonderful blend of delicate shells, and melted cheese studded with peas. Those were the standout sides, but that’s not to say the hash browns and asparagus weren’t delicious, because they were. The asparagus is grilled and served with truffle fondue and the hash browns combine bacon & caramelized onion in each savory bite.
We were all much too full to try any dessert even though the Nutella crepes were awfully tempting. Next time, I must remember not to indulge in so many tasty buns in order to save room for sweets. Yes, there will be a next time.
I want to mention one other aspect that sets these restaurants apart from others, they take the time to be earnest and show appreciation. After a meal, at any of their restaurants, you are given a survey to rate your experience and provide feedback. I see these often, but it’s only from The Light Group that I receive a hand-written letter sent to my home thanking me for being their guest. It is small touches like these that speak volumes about the level of service they strive to provide.
Given such pleasant experiences I’m anxious to try FIX, UNION and Diablo’s Cantina to see what else The Light Group has to offer. And if I ever get an inkling to experience lavish nightlife, I would consider their lounges or clubs.