RM UPSTAIRS -The Best Deal In Town

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We’ll say this for Rick Moonen, Adam Sobel and Gerald Chin— they’ve set a mighty high bar at a mighty reasonable price with their $65 – five course menu at RM Upstairs.

It might be the perfect coming out menu for this reincarnation of this sleek and sweet space at Mandalay Place.

Or it might be food that, we fear, is too hip for the room.

Technically, the Grand Re-opening of RM Upstairs is next Weds. between 6-9pm, when there will also be a viewing party for Moonen’s debut on Top Chef Masters.

Practically speaking, these three amigos have been test driving menu items and ideas on their customers for months — searching for the right blend of taste, value and dazzle factor for their prix fixe dinner. If you judge the success of such things by plate pirouettes, then you’ll find no fault with their marinated tuna atop a pineapple confit, octopus with paper thin bacon and an Andraki egg (so named for uber-egg farmer and M.D. Steven Andraki), foie gras a la Japonne with sea urchin croquant (whatever that is), or the walu (aka escolar) in an earthy-yet-tangy white soy emulsion, topped with a crispy shitake in panko crumbs. They also hit us with some perfect lamb in a nicely intense jus.

We thought the urchin with foie might be trying too hard, but somehow it worked (mainly because the urchin was as urchin-y as it can be), and the Utah lamb came with a combination of fresh and wasabi peas, spring ‘shrooms and ramps that was a garden-fresh and crunchy delight.

The issue we have with this food isn’t with its technical conception, flavors or flawless execution, it’s with whether or not the dining out public needs food this inventive and challenging. Because no matter how much a fussy critic (or foodie) may swoon over foie gras and sea urchin, “spider” crab with sunchokes and grapefruit or California squab with stuffed pasta, ultimately, there’s something fussy about these preparations, and maybe, just maybe, Vegas has enough restaurants doing food of this kind.

But let’s give credit where credit is due. No one is doing 5 courses of food this exacting, ingenious and lip-smacking for a tariff this small. Forget our fussiness. If there’s one thing we can say unequivocally it is this: RM Upstairs is, by far, the best deal in fine dining on the Las Vegas Strip.

Our dinner for two, with wine pairings ($55 each) came to $297 + a $65 tip.


In the Mandalay Place Shoppes

3930 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89119-1010




p.s. Can you pick out the famous chefs (only rising stars at the time) from Rick Moonen’s late ’80’s photo album?

10 thoughts on “RM UPSTAIRS -The Best Deal In Town

  1. RM Upstairs is a restaurant with true soul, a relatively rare thing in Las Vegas with so many “outpost” restaurants. As for the tasting menu being “fussy”, isn’t that the province of tasting menus? What is his current a la carte menu like? I’m glad to see that they are back with a vengeance. I can’t wait to return.

  2. Chefs Adam, Rick, Gerald, CJ and the rest of the culinary team are doing things upstars at RM that are worthy of at least one Michelin star now – and maybe two once they hammer out all of the finer points (and if Michelin decides to publish in Vegas again). Some call it fussy, some call it brilliant. Either way I think I just figured out where we’ll be dining on Friday night.

  3. fussy is a terrible discription of this caliber of cuisine. RM Upstairs speaks its own language and not in anyway a comparison to another strip joint. It demonstrates techinque and care of ingredients and it shows spirit for the industry. And truthfully there isnt enough of it in this town.

    Something charlie trotter could not vibe in the Vegas scene.

    Eating lv – your simply simply blog had decent perspective. In this one, your being speculative and just looking to nitpick. RM Seafood is in a progessive state and maybe you should focus on that.

    “it’s with whether or not the dining out public needs food this inventive and challenging” are you kidding me – its food like this that inspires menus all over the country and world. This is what dining is all about. If you expected VEG, PROTEIN, STARCH then you should have reviewed that kind of house.

  4. That whisky with maple syrup looks interesting …. What’s the verdict on that on ELV?

  5. Damn tasty….tastes just like what it is…with the maple flavor cutting some of the whiskey’s harshness. almost more brandy-like. almost made a Canadian whiskey drinker out of me…

  6. Beyond a doubt, we had a terrible meal here years ago. The beet salad contained a few julienned strips of canned beets. The dressing was 95% acid. The size of my halibut entree was one half a deck of cards. The mac and cheese contained way too much butter. The rhubarb tart needed a tad more sugar. The chef in charge that night should have been ashamed at himself.

  7. Tom Colicchio 1st shot…second page im lost…3rd Charlie Palmer last Thomas keller smoking a stoggie in the back … and of course Moonen

  8. Last night was our first time at RM Upstairs and it was fantastic. Beautiful room, nice table. The service from checking in with the hostess, the bartender, to the table staff was the best we have had in the city. Part of it was there was only 5 other tables but all the staff took the time to speak to us by name. A first for us in Vegas.

    When we go to a place for the first time we usually have the tasting menu to get an idea of what the kitchen can do. It was a real treat, amazing flavors and textures. My wife is a sucker for well prepared foie gras and she said last nights was the best she ever had. I had green eggs and ham, they did Dr Seuss proud. The staff did an excellent job explaining the wine parings and the food preparation.

    Rick was there and he came to our table when we were finished to see how we liked our experience. He was very gracious and thanked us for coming in.

    While watching the staff scurry around this beautiful room I could not help thinking that this place needs to be full to really see the action out of the kitchen. Seemed to be like a bunch of Ferrari’s idling up and down the strip wanting to cut loose.

    Amazing, we can’t wait to go back.

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