MGM Grand (last visit: May 2008).
This seafood restaurant is part of the Michael Mina empire, which includes Michael Mina, Nobhill, and the newly opened Stripsteak.
There's seafood and then there's...well, there isn't much else. I don't recall many non-seafood entrees on the menu, although the sample menu on the MGM Grand web site lists one steak and one fettucine dish.
Seablue is an informal place, with a glazed brick floor, lots of wood, and lively music. Paper placemats serve in lieu of table cloths. The overall lighting level is low, but spots on the tables provide plenty of light. There's a fair amount of noise, but it's not overwhelming. Service is pleasant and fast paced, but not rushed. The bar, where full meals may be ordered, is located in the center of the dining room.
The bread of the evening was nan. This fried Indian offering was served with three dips: olive oil; eggplant spread; crumbled feta. The eggplant spread was especially good.
Seablue offers a number of appetizers. If you have trouble deciding, they offer several tastings consisting of small portions of three different appetizers. I chose a marinated trio: scallop ceviche, grilled octopus, and shrimp. All were good, but the octopus was the star. A piece of a tentacle, slightly spicy, firm but not chewy, with a decidedly smoky flavor; worth ordering on its own.
My entrée was Loup de Mer, a fish from the Mediterranean. Grilled, it was moist, somewhat firm, and mild flavored. A good amount of lemon juice enhanced its flavor. The fish was served skin on, but filleted; a nice touch. It was served with mashed potatoes strongly flavored with olive oil, plus asparagus and mushrooms. I thought it was very good, but some people might be turned off by the strong olive oil flavor of the potatoes.
Dessert was Pistachio Frangipane with Roasted Pineapple and Coconut Sorbet. Wow! I'm not sure how to describe it: kind of like a flat corn meal cake, loaded with chopped nuts and drenched in butter. The coconut sorbet was intensely flavored and very rich. If you like rich desserts, this is the one to get. If you don't like fat, stay away.
I ate at the bar this time. The bad news: grilled octopus was no longer available, nor was pistachio grangipane for dessert. Oh well, life goes on.
The bread of the evening again was very good nan, with three dips: baba ghanoush, tahini and some sort of cheese spread. All were good, but the strongly flavored baba ghanoush was a winner.
My entrée was Atlantic Cod Tagine. Tagine refers to a specialized Moroccan cooking vessel that kind of steams the food. The cod had a crust of chopped almonds, and was served with couscous, artichoke pieces, mushroom slices and olives, all in a lemon based broth. The fish was just barely cooked through - just right. The flavor was mild, the texture firm. The slightly sweet lemon broth was a good foil to the mild fish and salty olives. This is a dish that didn't really sound that appealing to me, but was quite satisfying.
Other than the Pistachio Frangipane dessert, nothing about this place knocked my socks off. However, everything was good, and had character. I liked the strong flavors, and thoroughly enjoyed my meals. Recommended to all.
Three course dinners run about $70, plus drinks, tax and tip. My second meal (entrée only) was $43 plus drinks, tax and tip.
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