While most know Palm Springs California for its Native American past, mountainous terrain and outdoor recreational activities including hiking, golfing as well as heavy day drinking it was after a lengthy drive in the dark through Mojave National Preserve that sustenance was sought at Swiss Donut, an early arrival finding shelves stocked with several hot selections while both indoor and outdoor seating allowed for a pleasant vantage of the sun rising in the distance.
Locally owned and considered by many to be the be the best place for Donuts within city limits for several years, the relative lack of competition and friendly clerks earning a steady stream of traffic beginning at 6:15am with patrons often greeted by name and departing with a “see you tomorrow,” it was more than an hour after the store’s 5am opening that five dollars was exchanged for an order of four classics, the two complimentary Donut Holes showing a good base with fairly standard Glaze and yeastiness.
Located at 555 South Sunrise Way, a five minute car ride or twenty minutes by foot from the major tourist area assuring a strongly local clientele including the occasional post-party/pre-sleep reveler, it was as many came and went with orders as large as three-dozen that selections were enjoyed in the cool morning air, the Cruller light and eggy in contrast to the sweet Frosting while the Buttermilk Bar was slightly disappointing as the oil had not been given enough time to cook it through, thus resulting in a slightly doughy interior.
Completely old-school, no “cronuts” or novelties save for a jumbo Pecan Roll and a Maple Bar topped with a thin strip of Bacon, it was setting aside most of the Buttermilk Bar that the tasting progressed to a straight forward Old Fashioned with a creamy base and good tanginess followed by an Apple Fritter that was nothing short of textbook, the center soft with Fruit and Cinnamon while the rim was extra crisp without any residual oiliness.
Bombolini – Apple Cranberry Conserva, Vanilla Gelato
Having recently engaged in two lengthy debates about the quality of USDA “Prime” Beef versus other domestic Small-Farm or European Grass-fed Cattle it was undeterred in beliefs that there is nothing quite like the aged Steaks at Carnevino that a party of five made reservations inside the Palazzo’s ode to Meat and Wine to celebrate, the birthday of out-of-town twins proving as good a reason as any to sit down for a four-course feast overseen by Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group’s culinary director Nicole Brisson.
Now standing as one of Las Vegas’ top Steakhouses for nearly a decade, the ten year anniversary that few survive to see coming in January and the restaurant still doing big numbers even on an otherwise inconsequential Monday in October, it was just 45-minutes prior to a big rush at seven o’clock that the group of first timers arrived from a delayed flight out of Chicago, the trio of hostesses collecting the reservation and quickly escorting the group to a large table in the center of the main dining room.
One of Sin City’s most lively restaurants, the overhead music turned down on this particular occasion but still assisting the bustling atmosphere by way of Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and Amy Winehouse, it was after quick confirmation of allergies and intolerances that three Mocktails were ordered, each seasonal concoction praised by those who partook while Iced Tea or Water was the Beverages of choice for the others.
In many ways an interesting choice for a birthday meal as two of the five diners were Pescetarian, though any who have dined at Carnevino likely know that the restaurant’s Appetizers, Pastas and Salads are also worth the price of admission, it was after mere moments that the meal got underway with two of the restaurant’s signatures offered to every guest, the Gougeres unfortunately a bit cool to touch and without the creamy center usually experienced while the Rosemary Foaccia and duo of Butter and Lardo once again tempted throughout the meal, even though staff twice took away the empty small plates mistakenly assuming that diners had their fill.
Offering two additional Cicchetti as an amuse, two receiving Vegetarian-friendly bites while the rest enjoyed imported Prosciutto wrapped around fried Dough and Toast topped in aged-Beef Tartare, it was shortly after this that course one of the meal arrived, Batali’s charred Octopus every bit as good as usual with a good Char on tender flesh while the Crudo was unfortunately fairly flavorless, far better bites found in the Cheese-stuffed Squash Blossoms atop coarse Tomatoes and the crispy Potato wedges served with a requested side of the Restaurant’s funky Gorgonzola Mascarpone “Steak Sauce.”
Always doing an impeccable job with meal pacing, an impressive feat for a high-volume Restaurant that focuses so heavily on tableside presentations and lengthy prep-times for some of the heavier cuts, it was shortly after appetizers were finished that the team once again presented tableside with three Pescetarian-friendly Pastas plus Mario’s legendary Beef Cheek Ravioli, the Egg Raviolos divided tableside with deep yellow Yolk pouring forth soon to be sopped up with Bread while the Spaghetti Nero was mildly spiced with a good bite and plenty of Crab, the Agnolotti unfortunately very one dimensional as the Butter and Corn overwhelmed any semblance of Mushrooms or Watercress.
Happy to see others thus far impressed by the meal, the best certainly yet to come, it was after another brief respite that carts were wheeled tableside, a $150 Bone-In Ribeye and $110 9-Month Dry-Aged Riserva sliced tableside and presented with all the bold favors fans have come to expect while two portions of tender Red Snapper were served atop spicy Romesco along with four seasonal sides.
Quite literally cleaning the Bones and nearly every bite of the sides in addition to both plates of Fish, the Squash Agrodolce, citrusy Corn and Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes both with and without Guanciale all highly recommended, it was after a brief visit from Pastry Chef Ashley Costa that the meal reached its end, three seasonal riffs on old favorites highlighted by both the Banana Pudding served in a Sfogliatella cup and the Bombolini atop a bed of Autumnal Conserva while the off-menu Special of Pumpkin Bread Pudding was steamy, soft and well-spiced with Salty Caramel and a ball of slowly melting Gelato on top.
FOUR STARS: Not quite as landmark a meal as previous visits, the Bread issue frustrating but forgivable while two plates that should have been better are difficult to ignore from a restaurant that is almost invariably on-point from beginning to end, Carnevino nonetheless remains a top-tier Steakhouse more than capable of feeding a wide-range of guests from Vegetarian and Gluten-Free straight through to the “Meat and Potatoes” sort.
Butter Burger – Boursin, Cheddar, Lettuce, Tomato served with Spicy Tots
Secret Sunday Chicken – Spicy Pickle Aioli served with Spicy Tots
Bourbon Fudge Brownie – Brown Butter Bacon Ice Cream
Glazed Donut Bread Pudding – Three Rum Caramel, Vanilla Crème Anglaise
Berry Hand Pies – Blueberry, Ginger, Gin
Although Carson Kitchen is always the best reason to be in DTLV it is infrequent that more than one visit is made throughout the course of a menu, yet with a half-day off due to out of town guests and the Restaurant having recently undergone major renovations it was as a party of two that lunch was enjoyed at the new Chef’s Counter, Cory Harwell and his staff once again presenting a wonderful product across four courses of old classics plus a few soon-to-be-retired favorites.
Now old enough to be said to have “withstood the test of time,” a somewhat nebulous definition in Las Vegas where Restaurants occasionally shutter within three months of opening, Carson Kitchen as of 10/9/17 now features two-dozen additional seats in addition to a new entrance, the former Tattoo Parlor next door now demolished and replaced by a proper Bar area while the former space has been opened up to the West without losing any of its intimacy and charm, the only other major difference being new countertops replacing wood with slick stone surfaces.
Given a brief tour and rundown of the changes before sitting down, Chef Harwell appropriately excited when talking about this project and his upcoming “Ally Cat” slated for 2018, it was with tunes from U2 playing that Iced Tea was requested before the meal began, the opening act consisting of Carson Kitchen’s day-one combo of “Devil’s Eggs” with crispy Pork and a bit of Caviar plus the oft-imitated but not yet improved upon Bacon Jam.
Moving along from appetizers to Salads, every last drop of Bacon and Brie slathered on toasted Bread, it was along with an order of Cory’s simple but splendid Tempura Green Beans that the soon-to-disappear BLTA was served next to Watermelon and crumbled Feta tossed with Onions, Citrus and Tajin spice, everything about each of these still speaking of Summer and both hopefully returning when the weather begins to turn hot once again.
Rounding out savories with two classic Sandwiches and Carson Kitchen’s “Secret” Macaroni and Cheese, the latter even better than usual as not-quite-melted cubes of White Cheddar offered a textural contrast and big pockets of flavor besides the Noodles, it was without a second thought that “all three” Desserts finished things off, the fudgy Brownie still among the city’s best while the soon-disappearing Hand Pies were crisp and flaky with even more herbal flavor than last time…oh, yeah, and the Donut Bread Pudding…that is still just as sweet and sticky as ever.
FIVE STARS: Now bigger but without losing its charm, the Dinner crowd likely to only wait half as long for a table while those simply looking for a Drink can pop-in and turn right, Carson Kitchen continues to hum along on the strength of its Kitchen and Mixology as well as its price-point, an unmitigated success that compares favorably to any such place in Manhattan, Chicago, Los Angeles or even overseas.
RECOMMENDED: Bacon Jam, Tempura Green Beans, Watermelon and Feta, Secret Sunday Chicken, Glazed Donut Bread Pudding, Bourbon Fudge Brownie.
AVOID: The disappointment you are likely to feel when you enter the new bathroom and realize the kitschy pig mirror was broken during construction…the search for its replacement ongoing.
TIP: New Menu coming early-mid November.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.
Strawberry Pavlova – Strawberry-Verbena Compote, Crème Fraiche, Rose Wine Sorbet
Apple Tarte Tatin – Warm Caramelized Apple Tart, Puff Pastry, Vanilla Ice Cream
Licorice Marshmallows – Dried Fennel Fronds
Shortly after opening in January of 2015 it was obvious to anyone with any dining experience that Bardot Brasserie had a ton of potential, the space itself a gorgeous renovation from the eye-catching bar right down to the Brasserie-detailed plates and Chef Josh Smith, a local, showing lots of skill across a menu of French Classics featuring good technique and just enough whimsy to keep things interesting during both brunch and dinner service.
Immediately supplanting Bouchon as the best mid-priced French Restaurant in town and later taking home a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist nod for Best New Restaurant, an award later won by New York’s Le Coucou which features neither equivalent French Cuisine nor quality of design, it was nevertheless that the Michael Mina space on Aria’s second floor continued to evolve, even launching sister Margeaux Brasserie in Chicago earlier this year.
Now approaching year number three and still doing good business, the menu having born several signatures but continuing to evolve with each new season in directions often classic and frequently exciting, it was with two friends that a reservation was made for Friday night to take a look at Chef Smith’s new Autumn offerings, an unexpected closure of Jean George’s Steakhouse seeing Bardot pick up several covers but both the kitchen and service firing on all cylinders to turn out a meal that far exceeded already high expectations.
Checking in at just past Six o’clock, the restaurant soon starting to fill and completely packed within an hour, it was at a spacious four-top just past the threshold of the Bar that the party was sat and beginning with a glass of particularly fruity Champagne it was not long before dinner got started, two styles of Bread including Bardot’s best-in-Las Vegas Baguette joined by a disc of imported Beurre d’echire soon to be followed by seventeen menu items spread across four courses and nearly three hours.
Always featuring top-quality service, this visit no exception and the young Female server actually outperforming all those in the past in terms of both her knowledge of the menu and an ability to balance professionalism with personality, it was after a brief greeting from Chef Smith that three plates were presented including a vibrant Salad of ripe Pears and Plums with smooth Blue Cheese Mousse and candied Nuts alongside the always wonderful Foie Gras Parfait, one of the menu’s newest additions seeing the Paris Brest migrated from Dessert to Appetizer and presented with a silky drape of house-cured Salmon, Caviar and Mascarpone infused with Chives.
Already impressed, the fact that the meal would feature thirteen all-new items speaking volumes in a city where Restaurants like Picasso and several others have barely changed a garnish in years, it was once again showing a great understanding of Choux that course two offered plump Parisian Gnocchi served alongside flowers of Tete de Moine and Chanterelles beneath shavings of Black Truffles, a second serving of Duck Liver every bit as worthwhile as the first in a savory preparation atop tender Lentils while the pot of Lobster Bisque raises the bar for everyone else in town by several feet thanks to the fragrant linger of Brandy that plays well off of both the Tarragon and buttery lattice of Puff Pastry.
At this point already well-sated, the heft of French Cuisine and the inherent need to sop up all Sauces with good Bread not to be taken lightly, it was after brief respite that the meal marched on to entrees, two limited-availability specials featuring Beef joined by Bardot’s famous upright Macaroni and Cheese and five plump Scallops amidst earthy and briny bites, the Prime Rib simply better than the average thanks to better quality Meat and gentle treatment to render it fork-tender while the Beef Wellington was not only gorgeous but thoroughly delicious and exceptional in terms of the golden Crust which Chef Smith protects from becoming soggy by placing a thin layer of Prosciutto between it and the Duxelle.
Very happy with the L’Aubrac-referencing Croquettes before sopping up the rest of the Foie Gras Sauce as well as more melted Marrow with pieces of toasted Bread it was with the arrival of a Double Espresso and a large Glass of Ice that the meal transitioned to Sweets, a Cheese plate featuring several raw varieties plus a particularly sharp Mimolette saved towards the end while dishes more temperature sensitive were focused on first, the Apple Tarte Tatin as good as ever while the soft-centered Pavlova was light, refreshing and unparalleled locally, a similar statement safe to be applied to the Spiced Pear Clafoutis that was served piping hot and Pudding-soft beneath slowly melting Armagnac Ice Cream.
Rounding out the night with the Espresso Crème Brulee, even those not particularly fond of Coffee complimenting both the soft Custard and pillowy Beignets, it was alongside the check that three Toasted Marshmallows were presented on the ends of dried Fennel Fronds, a light bit of Licorice up front slow to dissipate and even more evidence of Bardot’s continued evolution into not just one of Las Vegas’ best Restaurants but a truly world-class Brasserie.
FIVE STARS: Having said several times in the past that on a good night Bardot Brasserie can compete with the best Bistros and Brasseries in Paris or Lyon Autumn 2017 has finally seen Chef Smith and his team turn out a menu that rivals any in the city in terms of quality and craftsmanship, the Proteins and Produce all well sourced and Sauces frequently on par with what one would expect at Le Cirque or Guy Savoy even as the restaurant does nearly five-times the volume on any given night.
RECOMMENDED: Smoked Salmon Paris Brest, Foie Gras Parfait, Parisian Gnocchi, Lobster Bisque, Beef Wellington, Apple Tarte Tatin, Spiced Pear Clafoutis.
AVOID: N/A, though I personally avoided the small dollops of Passion Fruit on the Pavlova.
TIP: The Online menu is not currently up-to-date, so see photos for current options and for those in a hurry be sure to check out happy-hour at the bar which offers some really great bargains on both food and drink.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.
Pastrami Knish Sandwich – Cavallas Pastry stuffed with Mashed Potato Onions, Hot Hand-Carved Pastrami
The Franklyn – Steamed Brisket, Grilled and Raw Onions, American Cheese, Over Easy Egg on an Onion Bagel with Sweet Potato Fries
Black & White Cookie
Open on Fairfax since 1931 Canter’s Deli was serving Los Angeles before Las Vegas’ population cracked 10,000 and although a previous attempt to expand into Sin City at Treasure Island in 2003 apparently did not go so well a recent re-launch at Tivoli Village in Summerlin sees the new space from Celebrity Brands Restaurants making a lot of good choices, though there is a lot of room for improvement as well.
Long considered to be Los Angeles ‘other’ place for Pastrami, Langer’s house-made version considered by most to be superior to that of Canter’s which is still brought in from New York, it was with one other that lunch was enjoyed on Friday inside the restaurant officially opened on September 28th and having already adjusted prices due to myriad complaints early-on about being “More expensive than Los Angeles” and even “Strip Priced” the new menu reads very much like a truncated version of the original with prices not so different from The Bagel Café just a few miles away.
Still doing some marketing by way of its Los Angeles legend, stories of the fourth-generation owned and operated Original told by both signage and a wait-staff that is universally pleasant and welcoming, though still quite green, it was immediately on entering that every guest was greeted with a big smile and “Welcome to Canters,” the seating spacious and laid out over the left side of the Restaurant while the right features a Take Out counter plus cases of Desserts, Bagels and Salads.
Mostly filled just prior to noon and completely packed by 12:30, the average diner sporting white or grey hair though several 30-something suits were seen in the midst, it was by a middle-age woman with great manners that the table beneath a continuously blowing vent was served, the offer of Doctor Brown’s Soda declined in favor of Iced Tea and Water and several Jewish Deli classics selected in addition to “The Franklyn” which appears to have been created specifically for the Las Vegas market.
Serve housemade Pickles prior to the meal, both Cucumbers and Green Tomatoes showing well and working nicely to refresh the palate between plates, it was after the first of two mis-deliveries from a younger waitress that all four plates arrived with a big smile and complete description, the Latkes suggested on the menu to be served as a duo in fact offered as three crisp and hot Pancakes with almost no residual Oil while the split-Knish stacked with Pastrami was a best-of-both-worlds way to experience each item without filling up, the beef appropriately fatty with a modest amount of seasoning while the mixture of Mashed Potatoes and Onions was creamy and comforting without being too dense.
Chatting while eating, the continuous blow of cold air admittedly uncomfortable after a while and not something that was able to be addressed during the course a nearly ninety minute visit, it was after enjoying the lightly sweetened rolled Pancake that the fork and knife Sandwich was approached, the toasted Bagel providing a good chew around steamed Brisket, Cheese, a soft Egg and two styles of Onions served next to Sweet Potato Fries that can be subbed for housemade Coleslaw, Steakhouse Spuds or Potato Salad.
Making both the Bagels and several styles of Cakes and Cheesecakes in-house, the Muffins and several styles of Cookies outsourced to locally-owned Freed’s, it was focusing on Canter’s own creations that four desserts were ordered, the $8 slices of Cheesecake a bit spendy but absolutely on-point in terms of taste as well as their velvety texture while the $5 Carrot Cake and $2 Black & White Cookie were both generously portioned, the latter not quite as fluffy as Weiss Deli but using far better frosting while the Carrot Cake was moist and dense with a lot of chopped Nuts and plenty of tangy Cream Cheese Icing.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: Thus far making a big error at launch in terms of pricing and still not up-to-speed with service it will be interesting to see how Canter’s at Tivoli Village evolves with time, the property already notorious for shuttering several restaurants not really a place where starting off on a bad foot seems well advised but the food, at least what was tasted, so far good enough that it can hopefully keep the place afloat as they work the kinks out.
AVOID: Those expected smoked Brisket will be disappointed by the fact that Canter’s is steamed, so read the menu. Also avoid sitting in the back half of the room near the restrooms as it is approximately 10-15°F cooler than the rest of the space.
TIP: Breakfast not currently offered but reportedly “coming soon,” as is a second location set to open at The Linq before year’s end.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.
Basil Fried Rice – Shrimp, Chicken, Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic, Basil, Green Beans, Bell Pepper, Egg
Beef with Green Curry – Green Beans, Bell Peppers, Basil, Coconut Milk served with Jasmine Rice
Duck with Red Curry – Pumpkin, Chinese Eggplant, Grapes, Cashews, Bell Peppers, Basil, Coconut Milk served with Jasmine Rice
Beef with Panang Curry – Green Beans, Bell Peppers, Basil, Coconut Milk with Jasmine Rice
Tucked away in a tiny shopping plaza on South Durango Drive it is likely that many have driven past David Wong’s Pan Asian dozens of times without even noticing the Restaurant is there, and yet in reality the kitchen has been serving the West Side of Las Vegas for over six years while also amassing a fairly large number of Chefs and industry folks who consider it a part of their regular dining rotation.
A Husband and Wife operation, he the business end while she does the cooking, it was as part of a group of nine including two children that several smaller tables were combined to form one large space on Saturday night just past 7:00pm, the arrangement accounting for more than half of Pan Asian’s Covers on this particular night though at least three-fold as many came and went over the course of ninety minutes with call-in or online orders.
Called Pan Asian based on an embrace of several styles of cooking ranging from Vietnamese to Malaysian to Thai, the menu having undergone many changes over the years based on old pictures and reviews found via Social Media, Autumn 2017 continues to see David and Lisa largely focused on Thai dishes such as Drunken Noodles and several styles of Curry, a chalk board of specials hanging overhead adding another five or six choices to a double-sided laminate with prices so low that one wonders how the place continues to offer such large portions without having raised prices more than a few cents over the last few years.
Employing one additional server in addition to the Husband and Wife in the kitchen, her demeanor exceedingly pleasant as she kept up with water and share-plate requests effortlessly while also packaging and acting as cashier for numerous take-out orders, it was after a lengthy perusal of the options and accounting for two guests deferral of Pork that a two-course order of nine plates was requested, five Thai Tea’s and three additional orders of Rice pushing the total bill to just $22 per adult including tax and tip.
Using good ingredients and working as a very small team, Mr. Wong joining Lisa at the stove to make sure everything came out as requested in a short amount of time, it was after no more than fifteen minutes of talk as one of the youngsters watched College Football on the television that the first five plates were delivered 2-2-1, the Green Papaya Salad starting things off with a good bit of heat at “Level 6” while the Vietnamese Chicken Ravioli felt a little one-dimensional with Celery blunting the flavor of both finely ground Chicken and Shiitakes.
Immediately happy that someone had suggested Thai Tea to begin, the Sugar and Cream helping to quell bold spicing when transitioning from plate to plate, it was immediately on the heels of the Ravioli that two plates of Flat Noodles were presented next, the Pad See Yew recommended by Carson Kitchen Chef John Courtney packing a lot of funkiness thanks to the fermented Black Beans but still letting the thin Beef show while the Drunken Noodles bested World Famous Lotus of Siam in terms of not only flavor, but also by possessing less oil and a lower price.
Rounding out the Noodles with thin “Linguini” stir-fried similar to the Pad Kee Mao but with Asparagus Tips in place of Green Beans it was with share plates refreshed that a trio of Curries plus a generous portion of Basil Fried Rice were next presented, the Rice an all-around crowd pleaser with plump Shrimp and chunks of Chicken Breast hidden amidst Grains that were generally fluffy but occasionally crisp plus plenty of spices and good Produce.
With many at this point already starting to get full and family-style helpings decreasing dramatically for some it was nonetheless with wide-eyes that all took in the golden Duck resting in a pool of creamy Pumpkin Curry, the $21.95 daily special $6 cheaper than Lotus of Siam and far better executed with plenty of crispy skin and supple Flesh to go around, the sliced Beef in both Green and Panang Curries also very good though fairly similar to one another save for the fact that the Green version was a bit more spicy while the Panang was subtly nutty.
Finishing off the remaining Jasmine Rice with residual Red Curry, only a few spoonfuls of the Green returning the kitchen at meal’s end, it was with most too full for Dessert that the check was requested, a shock to all when everything rang-up at just over twenty-dollars each including tax and a 20% tip for a lot of good food, attentive service and such a pleasant evening.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Called by two independent local Chefs “a hidden gem” while several at the table lamented having either never known about the place or having not been back in so long there is no doubt David Wong’s Pan Asian belongs on the short-list of Las Vegas’ best bargain dining in addition to receiving some “Best Thai” nods, though obviously both the size of the space and the menu indicate David and Lisa have no interest in challenging the likes of Lotus or Chada in terms of breadth or creativity.
RECOMMENDED: Duck in Red Curry, Beef Pad See Yew, Basil Fried Rice, Beef in Panang Curry.
AVOID: Vietnamese Chicken Ravioli.
TIP: Online ordering and phone-ins available, Open 11a-9:30p Monday through Saturday even though the website suggests they are open Sunday.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.
Lobster ME 50/50 – Maine Lobster and Maryland Crab, Celery, Mayo, Special Seasoning on a Buttered, Toasted Split-Top Roll with Waffle Fries, Coleslaw and a Pickle
Taco Trio – Lobster with Citrus Slaw, Pico de Gallo and Sriracha Aioli / Crispy Sweet Chili Shrimp with Citrus Slaw and Sriracha Aioli / Battered Fish with Citrus Slaw, Pico de Gallo and Chipotle Aioli
Fried Lobster Mac n’ Cheese Balls – Lobster Cheese Sauce
Originally opened at The Grand Canal Shoppes in 2014, the location inside Miracle Mile dating back some three years prior, it was just past noon that a seat was taken at Lobster ME on Saturday, the Venetian Food Court even more packed than usual with several conventioneers and the Restaurant understaffed due to a manager being stuck behind a traffic incident on the I-15.
Embracing the quick-casual concept of places like Panera or Chipotle but said to offer only the best Lobsters out of Maine and Crab from Maryland, a bold claim for a food court counter in the middle of a city known for World Class Dining, Lobster ME is located just steps from the Grand Canal en route from the Parking Garage to the rest of the Resort and with hard to miss signage including a luminous Menu there is little to dislike about the layout featuring both reclaimed wood and buoys familiar to any who’ve been fortunate enough to dine at an actual Northeastern Lobster, Clam or Oyster Shack.
Greeted by a young man named AJ, he and another young woman doing their best to keep up with a heavy lunch surge including a couple who felt the need to ask at least three questions clearly explained on the menu overhead, it was after listening to him answer patiently for what felt like five minutes that the line finally advanced, a total of four items plus a bottle of water requested at a total charge of just over $50 including tax.
Giving each guest a number, seating at both the counter and nearby chairs occupied by visitors not necessarily eating Lobster ME’s food, it was after less than ten minutes wait that AJ presented with the first of two handfuls of cardboard baskets, a first look at the 50/50 Lobster and Crab Roll showing it to be every bit as large as those in Connecticut or Maine and similar in price, the fresh Meat lightly tossed in Mayonnaise clean and sweet while the split, buttered and toasted Roll rivaled any found from Portland to Kittery and on down.
Doing an admirable job covering a lot of choices despite minimal space, the menu recently renovated and doing away with Desserts plus the “Deep Fried Clam Chowder” in favor of several new choices featuring Crab, it was most of the Roll gone that lunch moved on to Lobster ME’s crispy Waffle Fries topped in Cheese, Crab Meat, Bacon, Green Onion and Ranch ‘drizzle,’ the last item completely unnecessary as it distracted from the quality of the Meat while the areas spared from it were entirely delicious.
Criticized for its value by some, the laid-back environment likely leading many to make false assumptions as not one item on the menu is more expensive than one would expect to pay on either coast, it was with three Tacos charged at about $6 each that taste buds were once again treated to fresh ingredients including Battered Shrimp and Fish that both overflowed their Shells beneath housemade spicy Aioli before finally finishing up with three “Fried Lobster Mac n’ Cheese Balls,” the golden orbs each nearly twice the size of a Golf ball and absolutely packed with picked Meat alongside tender pasta in Lobster Cheese Sauce with more on the side for dipping.
FOUR STARS: Recently upgrading the menu and presentation but doing away with Desserts, a decision likely made due to slow sales but nevertheless misguided as every Seafood Shack from Connecticut to Maine offers at least Soft Serve and Whoopie Pies, Lobster ME does an otherwise excellent job of replicating their signature item while also offering several additional novelties intended to appeal to diverse tastes.
Originally opened in Las Vegas in 2015, though the family of owners has been committed to serving traditional Ethiopian Cuisine to both immigrants and the community around them since 1992, it was partially in preparation for an upcoming trip and also out of curiosity that a party of three sat down inside Lucy Ethiopian on Friday for dinner, the apparently early hour of 6pm finding the main dining room otherwise empty though there was a small private group enjoying dinner in the private room tucked behind a curtain.
Fortunate enough to have been involved in the care of many sons and daughters of Ethiopia during the course of training as well as practice, the city of Columbus containing one of the nation’s most dense populations while Las Vegas also employs a fair share of individuals in the hospitality industry, it was on the word of a father of four that Lucy was “the only Ethiopian food I’ll eat besides my wife’s” that recommendations had been sought prior to sitting down, the choice of two combination platters providing enough food for nearly twice as many at an all-inclusive cost of just over $40.
A surprisingly large space at 4850 West Flamingo Road, the storefront itself a little difficult to see from the street but in reality not all that far from the Strip, diners approaching Lucy Ethiopian will first notice that the restaurant’s windows are covered with blinds as well as laminate to protect against the early day sun and although the inside may appear a little drab thanks to grey tile and old ceilings there is no questions of the space’s cleanliness, everything including the bathrooms and 21-and-older Bar spotless with servers seen polishing glasses shortly after arrival and quickly wiping up as soon as the private party was finished.
Playing mellow traditional music overhead and sports on several televisions, a combination of Soccer, NCAA Football and the Golden Knights’ first game on this particular evening, it was with waters filled for the first of several times that approximately twenty minutes passed between order and food delivery, both plates arriving almost simultaneously and quickly flooding the table with a vast array of shapes, smells and colors.
Totaling twelve individual menu items across the two trays, eight spongy rolls of Injera made with the authentic Teff-based recipe offered as the only form of ‘utensils,’ it was with a focus on things served warm that dining commenced, the Misir Wot featuring heavily spiced Red Lentil with a top-notes of Garlic and Onion an immediate favorite as was the Doro Wot featuring a similar list of ingredients served around a hard-boiled Egg and Chicken Drumstick.
Attempting to avoid filling up too much on the Wraps, the three lighter rolls a bit more sour than the dark rolls served both beneath and alongside the ingredients, it was with hands immediately covered in sauce that large spears of tender Beets and Carrots were enjoyed in a smear of Garlic and spices including Basil, Turmeric and Cardamom, the Vegan Combo’s Collard Greens a bit too bitter to be enjoyed on their own while those served as a special request with Goat Meat as part of the Special Combo were better cooked and drained with more of the expected deep cruciferous flavor.
Receiving the Kitfo lightly seared, though by tradition it seems a dish typically served raw, it was with a lot of spice that the finely ground Tartare again ignited the palate before being cooled off by a bit dry Aybe, the taste not dissimilar from Dry-Curd Cottage Cheese and tasty on its own, though even better with the Lenga Tibs as a sort of Ethiopian Fajita.
Far too full for Dessert, the menu of sweets appearing fairly straight-forward and apparently not made in house, it was with the Yellow Pea-based Kik Alicha and a few more bites of Kitfo that the meal was finished, a lot of Injera plus some Greens still leftover but the staff apparently quite impressed by the table’s willingness to try everything and the waitress even going so far as to give the 10-year-old dining with the group a big hug before leaving.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: With no basis for comparison it is hard to say whether Lucy serves really good Ethiopian Cusine or just a fair representation of the genre, but willing to trust both my own palate as well as that of a man born overseas it seems safe to say that this is the real deal with good ingredients and a price that almost seems too low for a generous portion size of something so healthy.
RECOMMENDED: Misir Wot, Kik Alicha, Lenga Tibs, Kitfo, Doro Wot.
AVOID: Gomen Wot.
TIP: Open 7am-4am daily with a full bar, the restaurant no longer accepts $15 off $30 coupons from Restaurant.com and states they have contacted the company about this several times.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.
Dal Makhani, Palak Paneer, Vegetable Chow Mein, Iddli with Tamarind
Sambar, Navaratan Korma, Chana Masala
Gulab Jamun, Gajar Halwa, Kheer
Tucked away in a large shopping plaza next to the Best Buy on Maryland Parkway Delhi Indian Cuisine originally opened its doors on January 1st 2014, and although the area around it may not be the most glamorous with vagrants roving both parking lots and nearby streets those in the neighborhood around noon would still do well to stop in for the all-you-can eat Buffet lunch.
Stacked against a lot of competition in Las Vegas but more than once voted Sin City’s Best Indian Restaurant, the 11a-3p daily Buffet complimented by a large a la carte menu offered both day and night, guests entering Delhi Indian Cuisine will likely first be struck by the impressive size of a restaurant easily capable of accommodating more than one-hundred diners and although many may criticize Steam Tray food for one reason or another those arriving early can rest assured that everything offered is quite fresh while service is also very attentive.
Offering a full bar in addition to Beer and Wine, the ability to order off the menu at lunch also not typical of most Indian Lunch Buffets, it was after checking in at the hostess stand that a seat was offered along the right wall in a plush booth, both drinks and the full menu declined before selecting Garlic Naan and walking up to gather the first of five plates of Food.
Playing soothing music without video throughout the Restaurant, a significant departure from the loud volume and flashing Bollywood of Mount Everest or Paradise India on the West Side, it was shortly after returning to the table that a puffy round of Bread with lightly blistered edges emerged from the kitchen and with the smell of Garlic quickly filling the air it would be hard to name a better version of the dish found anywhere in the city, the opening quartet of Chicken all proving very well made with the Tandoori Leg and Wing both moist with good color while the Chili Chicken brought a lot of heat, but not so much that it was unpleasant.
Clearly labeling Vegetarian versus Omnivorous options, a large family of visiting Indians from London soon entering and speaking loudly about how good much of Dehli’s Buffet was in comparison to those back home, it was with the faint linger of Curry on the lips that a second trip was made to the lengthy Buffet, a small bowl of Goat Curry as usual made difficult to eat by splintered Bones but otherwise funky and Fragrant while the Pakora and Samosa were fairly run of the mill, thus leaving room for the tender Turmeric-heavy Cauliflower and Potatoes as well as generous cubes of Chicken Breast served in Rice perfumed with Nutmeg, Cardamom and Bay Leaf.
Moving right to left and incidentally from Meat to Vegetables and Legumes, more than 50% of the buffet focused on the latter, fans of heat would do well to focus on Delhi’s Navratan Korma with “three types of Chiles” according to the waitress while those looking for something a bit more subtle will be better off with Dal Makhani or Chana Masala, the former a fragrant Black Lentil Porridge while the later outperformed the Chicken version by being a bit thicker and a little more focused in flavor around tender Chickpeas.
Using creamy Palak Paneer as a topping to for the Naan after discovering a lack of Chutney on the Cold Bar, the Cheese about 3/4 melted and thus a nice consistency, it was as the meal neared its end that an inquiry was made about the Gajar Halwa seen in many pictures online, the apparently “not every day” Buffet item nonetheless prepared special at no extra charge and served piping hot with plenty of Cardamom but not a lot of extra sweetness, that side of dessert instead left to chilled Rice Pudding with subtle Saffron notes and globes of Gulab Jamun soaked in sugary Syrup.
FOUR STARS: Offering the Buffet for just $12.99 and full a la carte menu throughout the day it would be difficult to name a more accommodating Indian Restaurant in Las Vegas than Delhi Indian Cuisine, an early arrival assuring that everything is fresh while the staff easily outperforms even the Grand Buffets of the Strip in terms of friendliness and attention to guest’s needs.
RECCOMENDED: Chicken Biryani, Dal Makhani, Palak Paneer, Chana Masala, Garlic Naan, Gajar Halwa.
AVOID: The Iddli was exceedingly bland and Chicken Tikka Masala a bit too salty to be enjoyed past a few bites.
TIP: The Buffet is offered 7-days per week from 11a-3p with the full menu available open to close.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.