Amidst the sleeplessness and constant action of Las Vegas, a 24-hour restaurant can become a necessity. Luckily, nighthawks and day trippers alike need look no further than Studio Café in the MGM Grand, featuring Executive Chef Timothy Radigan’s sophisticated twists on classic American diner cuisine in gargantuan portions at all hours of the day or night. Whether seeking a hearty breakfast, a satisfying midday family meal, or fuel for the night, Studio Café is sure to satisfy a multitude of cravings and conquer any size appetite.
Studio Café’s décor balances the casual accessibility of a favorite neighborhood diner with Art Deco elegance suggestive of the golden era of Hollywood. Expansive circular booths, wood accents and artsy ad prints establish a comfortably stylish ambiance for diners and infuse the space with MGM-worthy class.
Our Studio Café feast begins with the Thai Chicken Salad and Chef’s Salad. These light options on the menu are by no means insubstantial: both plates arrive to the table piled high with vegetables and meats, cradled each in entire heads of iceberg lettuce. Inside its lettuce nest, the Thai Chicken Salad’s mixture of shredded cabbage, julienned carrots, bean sprouts, cilantro, chicken, golden wonton strips and peanuts presents a mouthwatering layering of refreshing flavors. Salty and spicy, with a citrusy tang and a crisp and crunchy texture, the salad promises to satisfy ravenous appetites and healthy concerns alike.
The Chef’s Salad cradles hardboiled egg sections, bacon bits, watercress and substantial slices of Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, turkey and ham in its halved iceberg heads, which are nearly bursting with the abundance of goodies. A generous drizzling of ranch dressing over the top increases the irresistibility of the dish. The salad is rich and hearty, dominated by the bold flavors of the meat, the sharp, creamy cheeses and zesty ranch, with a peppery freshness imparted by the watercress. It epitomizes the extravagance of Studio Café’s reinterpretations of classic American cuisine, inflating a common dish like a chef’s salad to deliciously epic proportions.
The Monster BLT lives up to its name: with a circumference nearly the size of a dinner plate, the sandwich is bursting with bacon, sprouts and lettuce, and is barely held together by the wood spike-speared rounds of toasted bread. The crunchy, smoky bacon mingles well with the creamy mayonnaise, crisp lettuce and juicy tomato, delivering the quintessential satisfaction of BLT comfort, but in an almost endless abundance.
Studio Café has garnered a considerable reputation for their burgers. The Boulevard Burger, for example, has developed an almost cultish following from word-of-mouth publicity (it is not yet listed on the menu). This $10 mammoth of a burger challenges the heartiest appetites with two 10 oz. beef patties, five different cheeses, three signature sauces and a generous sprinkling of crispy fried tobacco onions.
Although we pass on the infamous Boulevard Burger, the diverse selection of Studio Café burgers that we do sample are equally enticing and more than live up to the restaurant’s beefy renown . Each in-house ground beef patty is stacked high with an array of unique and flavorful toppings that give the traditional burger new and flavorful personalities. As the name suggests, Studio Café’s Lobster Burger infuses the American classic with the richness of shellfish. Sandwiched between two fluffy brioche buns, the large beef patty is crowned by a liberal amount of lobster meat and béarnaise sauce, in addition to the requisite lettuce, tomato, onions and pickle.The salty butteriness of the lobster meat plays off of the deep meaty flavors of the beef, infusing this sandwich with the same sense of indulgence exhibited by a traditional Surf and Turf special. Studio Café’s Lobster Burger is a skillful blend of two distinctively American culinary traditions: one representing the heights of culinary indulgence and excess while the other embodies a more accessible and ubiquitous comfort. Through this inspired combination, the Studio Café team manages to breathe new and playful life into these two iconic dishes.
The Chile Relleno Burger is a marked departure from the Lobster Burger, infusing the patties with the spicy zest of Mexican cuisine. Aside from the lettuce and tomato garnishes, this distinctive burger supports a thick, chunky salsa dominated by corn and chilies. The spicy kick of habanero and pasilla chilies assaults the palate first with a delicious, fruity heat, followed by a slightly pickled saltiness that melds well with the gamey beef patty.
The Mushroom and Gruyere Burger offers an expertly executed classic burger flavor pairing. The pungency of the melted gruyere and the earthiness of the sautéed mushrooms intensify the meatiness and juiciness of the beef and excellently complement its gameyness. Crowning the top of the succulent pile is a tangle of fried tobacco onions that impart a sweet, satisfying crunch to the burger. While not as experimental as the other burger interpretations, Studio Café’s take on this classic standby exhibits the same degree of appetizing artistry.
For more flavorful breaks with tradition, we are served Studio Café’s Patty Melt and Fried Chicken Burger. Sandwiched between thick slices of marble rye, another juicy beef patty nestles into the Patty Melt’s soft cushion of herby boursin and Velveeta cheeses and grilled onions. The Patty Melt seamlessly blends comfort food with culinary sophistications, mixing the nostalgic flavors of cheesy Velveeta and sour rye with the unexpected herby nuances of the boursin.
The Fried Chicken Burger is another incarnation of a classic dish, transformed and improved upon by the meticulous layering of different and unique ingredients. Two patties of tender fried chicken are enriched by pairings of sundried tomato jam and jalapeno ranch dressing, adding surprising notes of sweetness and spice. The signature application of tobacco onions to the sandwich accentuate the crispiness of the chicken and intensify the comforting fried flavors of the sandwich. It epitomizes Studio Café’s culinary philosophy: maintaining the integrity of approachable comfort food flavors while infusing them with subtle culinary distinctions that make each dish imminently memorable.
In addition to refinements to typical American diner fare, Studio Café offers several fine dining options. Resting in a pool of parsnip and potato puree, the Red Wine Braised Short Rib presents an elegant twist on the beef flavors that have dominated our meal up to this point. Impossibly tender, the hearty short rib blends well with the slightly spicy creaminess of the puree for true wintry satisfaction.
The Cajun Pasta is an infusion of Louisiana-style heat. Blackened chicken andouille sausage and plump shrimps snuggle into a Cajun cream sauce alongside penne pasta quills. Smoky and spicy, with a richness from the cream, the dish is an explosion of flavor.The parmesan and provolone “garlic bread” Panini is a clever take on the standard pasta accompaniment, combining the childhood comforts of a grilled cheese sandwich with the culinary artistry of skillful fusion cuisine.
A typical meal at Studio Café is anything but typical with gargantuan burgers, staggering salads, and surprising gourmet touches astounding and confounding expectations. While this may not be a run of the mill diner, it still manages to bring the same comfort, value, and familiarity of this American culinary classic.