The Dish: MGM’s Holy Trinity

by Catherine Trifiletti

Menu favorites from celebrity chefs at the newly opened resort and casino

Owners of the MGM National Harbor didn’t want to play roulette with their dining options. Suffice it to say Marcus Samuelsson, the Voltaggio brothers and José Andrés were safe bets, all successful restaurant moguls in their own rights. Andrés centered his menu around seafood, while Samuelsson opted for a Southern comfort angle and the Voltaggio brothers put a contemporary spin on steakhouse favorites. We asked the celebrity chefs to highlight the menu must-trys that best embody their carefully- crafted concepts. Our take: These bites alone make a visit to MGM worthwhile.

MARCUS by Marcus Samuelsson

DISH: Helga’s Meatballs & Maya’s Warm Beef Tartare

Helga’s Meatballs (Photo by Tony Brown)

The NewYork chef who brought his Ethiopian cooking to Harlem with the famed Red Rooster was excited to be part of a large project that created jobs in a predominantly African American community. At the MGM,his menu centers around comfort food. In addition to his signature Whole Bird Royale (a fried chicken party, as he calls it), Samuelsson is excited for guests to sample Helga’s Meatballs and Pasta – an homage to his grandmother, who taught him how to cook at a young age. Meatballs made of foïe gras, beef and veal are served alongside pasta shells in a savory tomato sauce flecked with chopped olives and capers – similar to a puttanesca. Samuelsson also plugs his warm beef tartare appetizer laced with the East-African spice berbere, a variation of his wife Maya’s recipe of the traditional Ethiopian raw beef dish called kitfo. Like the tartare, many dishes are inspired by Samuelsson’s heritage, but tweaked to fit the tastes of the demographic at hand.

FISH by Jose Andres

DISH: Golden Trout & Seafood Sausage

Seafood Sausage (Photo by Tony Brown)

Perhaps no local chef is more trusted than the household name José Andrés. Beyond being a magician in the kitchen, Andrés understands his Washington audience. He is not afraid to experiment because he knows his biggest fans are willing to take the culinary journey alongside him. At Fish, he and his team experimented with a seafood sausage, testing many variations before achieving the desired texture and flavor by filling it with grouper and pork fat. Served with mustard, sauerkraut and homemade rolls, it appeals with the familiarity of a traditional sausage. For less adventurous diners, Andrés recommends the no-frills grilled Golden Trout, calling it the“perfect example of what we are doing at Fish,” giving credit to both the local waters of the Chesapeake Bay and his simpler side.

VOLTAGGIO BROTHERS STEAK HOUSE by Bryan and Michael Voltaggio

DISH: Wedge Salad & Bone-in Ribeye

Wedge Salad (Photo by Tony Brown)

For fans the sixth season of “Top Chef,” this restaurant is a long overdue partnership for the brothers who have separately found restaurant success – Bryan in Frederick, Md. with Volt and Michael with his popular on-trend eatery Ink in Los Angeles. Bryan says the new concept “puts modern takes on steakhouse classics.” One such example is the highly Instagram-able and Boomerang-able wedge salad topped with pickled onions, tomato jam and a generous sprinkle of Gorgonzola snow (a powerhouse blend of tart, sweet and savory). Michael would like to direct diners’ attention to the dry-aged steaks, citing the hearth as the soul behind bold and flavorful cuts of beef. Coal made in-house elevates tender ribeyes to new heights and speaks volumes about the restaurant for which there are no neglected details.

This article appeared in the January/ February issue of Washington Life. 

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