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At Mandarin Oriental's Pool, It's The Menu That Makes A Splash

June 21, 2013 at 8:18 PM | by | Comments (0)

Execs at Mandarin Oriental have been busy refreshing their pool this year, from new colors in the cabanas to updating non-hotel guest policies. The private cabanas surrounding the pool offer a nice reprieve from the Vegas heat, of course, but are also furnished with Playstation 3, 42-inch flat panel TVs, a fridge full of non-alcoholic beverages, sun tan lotion and even plush robes. And, each comes with a complimentary bottle of champagne. All in all, it's a pretty slick setup for the eighth floor pool for those that want to enjoy a more relaxing scene over the dayclub parties dotting most the Strip, these days.

One noteworthy change to the pool policy is that non-hotel guests can now buy their way in. NHGs are welcome to visit and dine in the Pool Cafe anytime, but renting a cabana for the day grants access to the pool itself, too. Full-day cabana rentals, since let's admit it, it's going to take all day to plow through those amenities, start at $350 during the week and $550 on the weekends.

The hotel has also revamped its Pool Cafe menu, adding more poolside friendly dishes that still have a signature Mandarin Oriental twist. Since we forgot to pack a mankini for our visit, we laser-focused in on the food and drink over showing off the Pappagiorgio pecs. A decision that probably worked out for everyone involved, including our hosts.

Rule number one for any Vegas pool is to stay hydrated. We can live with that rule so our first action was to order a Spa Water. Made with watermelon, cucumber, fresh lemon and lime juice, it's easy to see why this is a popular poolside drink. Oh, and it has Crop cucumber vodka. This writer isn't a big fan of watermelon, but the hint of it in this cocktail complimented the stronger cucumber flavors very nicely. We could easily order several of these perfect summer and, seemingly, healthy cocktails over the course of a couple hours day. And, since it's just 'Spa Water' no one has to know we're getting just as relaxed as refreshed.

While we didn't sample them, the Pineapple Mojito and Stawberry & Basil Margarita were calling our name for future visits. All Cocktails are $16.

One of the newest menu items is the Grilled Filet Mignon Sandwich with portobello mushroom, caramelized onions, watercress & Bearnaise aioli on an artisinal baguette ($28). This is a hearty sandwich. Seriously, come hungry for this one. We couldn't put down the first half of the sandwich until we finished the last bite. It was so delish, but it would've taken some effort to finish the second. We suggest saving the other half for later (oh, you're going to want it again later) or making it a $14 sandwich by splitting it with a pool buddy. The steak was just the right amount of tender so that a knife wasn't needed. Good thing since this is a sandwich. If we concentrate hard enough now, we can still taste that Bearnaise... mmmm.

Mandarin Oriental chefs have also kicked up traditional fish tacos a notch with the addition of their Black Seabass Tacos served with guacamole, chipotle aioli, cabbage slaw, créme fraiche and cilantro in flour tortillas ($22). When's the last time the fish in your taco was sea bass? The fish is lightly fried, but goes nearly unnoticed if not for the visual and keeps the delicateness of the sea bass sealed inside for a perfect bite. This a light enough dish that if you follow our advice and only eat half the filet sandwich, you may just find yourself finishing all three of these tacos.

Swimmers looking for more of a snack should look to Crispy Brussel Sprouts & Fried Cauliflower served with Vadouvan aioli ($14). Before you say ewwwww at veggies, this may have just been the surprise hit of our afternoon. Once again these are lightly coated before fried to provide a nice thin crunch before enjoying the softer brussels or cauliflower. There's a slight saltiness that kept us coming back for more and forgetting that we were going cuckoo for vegetables. The curry base of the aioli made for a unique dipping sauce and kept tempting us to lick the bowl.

The Tuna Tartar made of big eye tuna, pickled cucumber, yuzu cream & herb lavash ($18) is worth ordering for the presentation alone. And, it's highlighted as a healthy option on the menu so that you don't ruin that bikini figure before the day's out.

Lunch is available from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., but a breakfast menu is available until 11 a.m. for early bird pool-goers. In order to provide a thorough report to our readers, we sampled the homemade Golden Waffle with Frangelico caramel sauce, fresh berries & Nutella Vacherin ($17). Since we were visiting during lunch hours, the chef added vanilla bean and strawberry gelato to twist it into more of a dessert. The caramel and nutella are the stars of this dish, but the gelato (available separately for $12) would be a soft and creamy spoonful of poolside luxury on their own.

The Mandarin Oriental pool is open daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. To reserve a cabana, call 702.590.8888 or email molas-reservations@mohg.com.

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