Las Vegas's new restaurant Libertine Social, at the Mandalay Bay Resort, is helmed by celebrity chef Shawn McClain.

Next-Gen Gastropub

Familiar dishes, unfamiliar tastes

BY DON NICHOLS

Bite into traditional American bar food given edgy modern interpretations at the recently opened Libertine Social at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, celebrity chef Shawn McClain's third restaurant in the country's gaming capital. Two not-what-you-expect starters the James Beard Award-winning chef counts among his personal favorites:

• The Modern Fried Egg, in which he combines corn juice, a whipped egg, and caviar inside an eggshell and serves with a crispy brioche.

• The Strawberry Gazpacho, which he makes a culinary indulgence by adding avocado, hearts of palm, and king crab.

Other tasty menu items served up with twists include toasts and dips, artisanal sausages, and flatbreads - all good for sharing. For a heartier appetite, how about a 10-ounce Wagyu skirt steak or a whole roasted fish?

A whimsical, eclectic design inspired by the funky Abbot Kinney neighborhood in Venice, Calif., features a layout that offers multiple settings for varying moods. If you're feeling social, sip cocktails created by mixologist extraordinaire Tony Abou-Ganim and nosh in the Voyeur Lounge, with its cushy sofas and chairs and community tables perfect for getting chatty. Duck into the adjacent, more intimate Arcade Bar to savor classic drinks from the 19th and 20th centuries. To eyeball the culinary action, pull up a chair at the chef's table, and interact with the kitchen pros as they perform their culinary magic. For a more traditional experience, opt for the dining room. Or escape all the lively action inside by requesting a table on the outdoor patio.

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