Hickoryburger – House Sauce, Mayonnaise, Pickles, Lettuce, Tillamook Cheddar Cheese
Opened at 10801 West Pico Boulevard in the early 20th century, and under the “same ownership and management since April 11, 1947,” it was an odd set of circumstances that saw The Apple Pan serve two unexpected guests on Friday, yet despite a tumultuous twelve hours the persistently-packed diner managed to brighten spirits with fairly priced food and good service.
Built on legendary Burgers and a staff that has called The Apple Pan home for longer than many guests have been old enough to chew, it is from parking behind the building that diners enter to find a U-shaped counter, all two-dozen seats filled with at least ten folks waiting and limited time necessitating a to-go order.
Free of gimmicks, a well-culled menu of Sandwiches, Fries, Pies and Drinks offered from 11:00am until midnight or later on ever day but Monday, it was in exchange for $33.80 Cash that three bags were presented, everything prepared and packaged with care by a Hispanic gentleman who moved with efficiency.
In-and-out in fifteen minutes, time to soak in the nostalgia unavailable, it was atop newspaper boxes outside that dining took place, hand-cut Spuds impressively crisp beneath an 85-cent slice of melted Cheese and the Hickoryburger juicy with a fine grind plus plenty of smoke that plays well off thick Iceberg Lettuce, Pickles and House Sauce that is like Ketchup with added spices.
Remarkable without marketing, signage dating back decades, it is going back even farther that recipes for The Apple Pan’s Pies are dated, the eponymous Fruit less sweet than most even after adding a sidecar of cooking liquid while toasted Pecans on a bed of Georgia-style Jam offer good balance to Corn Syrup, Brown Sugar and Butter.
Ears – Crispy Pig’s Ears, Cilantro, Lime, Sea Salt
Burger – Parker House Roll, 10oz Beef Patty, Smoked Gouda Cheese, House Ketchup, Avocado Crème, Caramelized Onions, Bacon Jam with Duck Fat Fries and Habanero Garlic Pickles
Pasta – Wild Boar, San Marzano Tomatoes, Strozzapreti, Ricotta Cheese
Rocky Road Bread Pudding – Chocolate Croissants, Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate, Burnt Marshmallow, Chocolate Gelato / Cookies and Milk – Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies, Milk
Quietly surpassing four years serving Las Vegas in March, a 2018 transfer from Brian Malarkey to Hakkasan Group leaving the space mostly unchanged save for some menu adjustments, it was Sunday evening that Searsucker was found busy mere moments after opening.
Themed as a place to “Come Early, Stay Late,” its location inside Caesars’ Palace just steps from Omnia originally intended to catch club-goers both coming and going, modern times instead have seen the Restaurant serving “New American Classics” take a more serious turn, the Drinks less frou-frou and Food more focused on Meats, Sides and Salads.
Popular for both Sports fans and guests pre-revelry, a plethora of televisions on this night showing NBA Playoff action in an environment far more welcoming than Caesars’ Sports Book, it was after greetings at the hostess stand that two diners were led to a table near the kitchen, service proving competent yet rushed over the course of two hours.
Still bearing all the original design elements, even a hallway of relics selected by Malarkey en route to the restroom identical from a visit one month after opening, it was on-request that the 5:00p-7:00p menu typically offered at Searsucker’s Bar was presented, Dinner starting off with Pig Skins only available during Happy Hour at approximately $1 each with a thick yet crispy consistency and bold spicing with or without Chef’s Vinegar.
Moving next to a pair of Buffalo Chicken Sliders offered at $4 a piece, these too only available early at a counter which was already two-deep, both spicy Sandwiches were fine but largely inconsequential in comparison to housemade Pickles or bargain-priced Bone Marrow with accompanying Toast for spreading and dazzling Chili Glaze.
Unapologetically targeting a wide audience, Raw Plates including $4 Oysters (that are half-off early) passed over in favor of fragrant housemade Hummus, suffice it to say that Searsucker continues to impress with off-cuts in the form of sliced Pig’s Ears tinged in Citrus while the limited-edition Burger is worth every penny of its $24 tab thanks to a rich grind topped with plenty of smoked Cheese, mashed Avocado and Bacon Jam.
Equally happy with hand-cut Potatoes double-fried in Duck Fat, the housemade Bun also not lacking in effort or excellence, those seeking something sharable will be happy to know that in addition to Steaks ranging 8oz to two-pounds there is Lobster, Chicken and hand-made Strozzapreti served beneath a generous amount of Wild Boar Ragu.
Scaling back Sweets from day one, only four choices including Ice Cream and Cheesecake currently offered, it is fortunate that what is served ranks amongst the best city-wide in its genre – Bread Pudding made from Croissants steamy and rich beneath Burning Marshmallows while four Chocolate Chip Cookies served warm are bound to make a mess that most will be happy to lick off their fingers.
FOUR STARS: Although Searsucker’s original ownership fumbled the opening by not delivering on promises of items such as Rabbit and Duck to pair with Offal everyone knew would not last, four years of experience have seen the restaurant better find its purpose as an American eatery serving bold and well-developed plates with appeal to a broad demographic.
RECOMMENDED: Homemade Pig Skin Chicharrones, Bone Marrow, Ears, Burger, Rocky Road Bread Pudding, Cookies and Milk.
AVOID: With Bone Marrow heavily discounted at Happy Hour, Pig Skins not offered past 7:00pm and only twenty Burgers available daily a late-arrival is ill-advised.
TIP: According to Chris Conlon, Hakkasan’s Corporate Chef, Jessica Perlstein will be coming over to Searsucker from Stack starting May 23rd.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.
Opened early April of 2019, but a known entity near San Diego for forty years, The Broken Yolk Café promised to capture Las Vegas’ attention by offering “high quality, homemade Food in large portions,” and a visit on Sunday showed the locally-owned space already very successful with a thirty-five minute wait despite windy weather at 11:00am.
An expanding concept with over thirty locations across six states, Sin City’s first adjacent Total Wine at Town Square, it is after securing parking that guests approach a freshly built space capable of seating hundreds, though for a Restaurant so new and busy service is outstanding from the General Manager manning a digital waitlist to servers, bussers and even folks at the hostess stand.
Made (more) famous by an appearance on “Man vs Food,” a twelve-Egg Omelet weighing in at nearly 4,000 calories earning a free T-shirt and comped check for those who finish under an hour, it is from a five page menu that those desiring more variety are invited to make choices, a full-bar offered from open to close daily also provided to tempt those who desire more than just Mimosas and Bloody Marys.
Priced competitive to Cracked Egg or Babystacks, and approximately half the cost of other Las Vegas Boulevard Breakfasts, it was with bottomless Coffee and Cocktails ranging $8-10 each that things got underway, “Suit & Thai” proving a bit bitter but certainly not lacking for Booze while “Chai Little One” and “Pucker Up Strawberry Lemonade” each acted as light sippers that compliment The Broken Yolk Café’s fare nicely.
Opting to dine across three-courses, though in reality a check-average of approximately $18 will leave most over-sated, first bites came from extra-large Biscuits made from scratch with Butter, a gentle yeastiness amidst good rise attesting to quality with or without added Honey while Onion Rings and Hash Browns each cook up crispy as sides to a generous Fiesta Burrito smothered in Salsa and Sopes Benedict with Masa boats filled by seasoned Beef, carefully poached Eggs, housemade Ranchero Sauce and Avocado.
Focusing on items marked as “BYC Favorites,” many of these recipes dating back four decades, it was after splitting a warm Blueberry Muffin that attention turned to a Belgian Waffle halved and stacked around Bacon, Egg and Cheese, a touch of Real Maple Syrup from home pushing flavor even further while a $10.95 Acai Bowl takes the “Superfood” in a new direction by offering it as tangy Sorbet surrounded by Fresh Berries, Coconut and Granola.
Not about to pass on French Toast and Pancakes, the latter offered solo or stacked in seven varieties including Gluten Free, those unafraid to indulge are highly encouraged to order swirled Cinna-Cakes drizzled with Vanilla Icing, and although “Crunchy French Toast” looks better on the menu than it does as plated the flavor is still excellent – though not quite on the level of Tiki Toast that perfectly suit’s “The Ninth Island” with thick slices of Hawaiian Bread, Berries and Caramel Sauce.
FOUR STARS: Although Henderson continues to show-up the West side in terms of Breakfast and Brunch, The Broken Yolk Cafe’s recent arrival at Town Square gives those who don’t like to cross The Strip something to be excited about. Imported from San Diego, but locally owned, consider this a great alternative to Egg & I or Cracked Egg with more creativity and better service at a similar price-point.
In a city with no shortage of “destination” Restaurants it is assured that some will go overlooked, and with both Jean Georges Steakhouse as well as BARDOT Brasserie occupying Aria’s second floor Herringbone has had to endure the struggle since opening, though those who’ve had the opportunity to dine there almost universally sing its praises.
Originally created by Brian Malarkey in late-2015, a hasty transfer to Hakkasan Group shortly thereafter making the “Land. Meats. Sea.” concept an outlier inside a property owned by MGM Resorts International, it was recently announced that at the end of May Herringbone will be brought under control of the company, and with a new Spring menu recently launched now is as good a time as ever to visit.
Then and now one of Las Vegas’ most breezy environments, a dining room that continues outside rarely loud despite half of its walls being fabric, it is from a hostess stand that guests are led to the space toqued by Chef Marty Red DeLeon Lopez and colleague Nyko Christian, a focus on Ingredient quality including some of the region’s top farms and fisherman always guaranteeing something fresh while Marty’s Filipino heritage frequently emerges to build flavor profiles The Strip has rarely seen.
Anchored by great service led by Ceferin Oliva and Doug Solomon, two sharp-dressed men overseeing a staff that has seen less turnover than most, it is with sports playing on television and music overhead that guests are invited to select items from six sections, the “Salt & Brine Raw Bar” popular for good reason though this meal instead got started with a combination of Cocktails plus “Greens” and “Cold Fare.”
Focusing on seasonal plates, Chef Lopez’s Tiradito on this occasion offering Amberjack bathed in Citrus and Peppers with added brightness from blossoming Herbs, it was alongside this that locally-grown Vegetables from Desert Bloom Eco Farm shined amidst Hummus, imported Prosciutto served in two textures atop compressed Melon and Burrata also impressive though Herringbone’s recently changed Lobster & Hearts of Palm Salad managed to wrestle away the spotlight thanks to its base of pureed Salsify Root with savory qualities that play well off sweet Meat and Grapefruit.
Onward to “Hot Fare,” sliced Pork Belly painted by Black Garlic Adobo plus fried Shrimp along with their edible Shells and vibrant Dipping Sauce both examples of Marty’s ability to showcase ingredients amidst bold flavors, it may come as a surprise to some that Herringbone’s best dish this season is a riff on “Hot Chicken” with Asian inklings, the half-Bird from Mary’s Organic first brined 72-hours before being rolled in Oil with mixed Chilis and emerging crispy yet light alongside Pickles made on-site that go well beyond Dill.
Treating Soft Shell Crab to the same Rice Flour coating as Chicken, the results near-equal as Flesh and Carapace are carefully matched to Pomegranate Arils plus seasonal Vegetables, those favoring Red Meat will be happy to know that Steaks are offered in three sizes, though for the more adventurous Cattle is better tasted as Beef Carpaccio steered East by Fish Sauce or a reprise from Marty’s past in the form of Smoked Bone Marrow topped in shredded Short Rib and pickled Chilis.
Sated and bordering on stuffed, portions more than justifying Strip-pricing when sourcing is considered, round four included three Fish each taken out of their usual context, Branzino wrapped in Banana Leaves to concentrate flavors built upon by Panang Curry while meaty Chilean Seabass finds levity in Dashi, though neither managed to match the creativity or impact of Monk Fish “Osso Bucco” built by Prosciutto-wrapped filets swimming in the flavors of Puttanesca.
Not the sort of table to skip something sweet, though Herringbone’s Dessert offerings have not changed in ages, it is fortunate that both Mascarpone Cheesecake and the Chocolate Tart are small, and much like the rest of Herringbone’s Cuisine the flavors are impactful with Ingredients well thought out such that each compliments the others.
FIVE STARS: Although Herringbone has been an under-appreciated property ever since opening, the food has never been in question. Now, changing hands from Hakkasan to MGM at the end of May, one can only hope Aria management will put a little more PR behind the best Seafood restaurant in town. Always big on flavor, never lacking in ingredient quality and more creative by the day, Marty and Nyko’s new Spring Menu is nothing short of stunning.
RECOMMENDED: From the Garden, Lobster & Hearts of Palm, Crispy Shrimp, Mary’s Crispy Hot Chicken, Smoked Bone Marrow, Monk Fish “Osso Bucco,” Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart.
TIP: Bone Marrow, Soft Shell Crab, Prosciutto and Monk Fish were all nightly specials and subject to change.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.
#THECLOUD – White Chocolate Crémeux, Grand Marnier, Angel Food Cake, Strawberry Ice Cream, Cotton Candy Cloud
Last visited in 2016, shortly after Pastry Chef Brigette Contreras accepted an offer to re-imagine the Restaurant’s Dessert menu, it was on Wednesday night that STK was found predictably packed, an ongoing situation for the concept originating out of Los Angeles and now spread across the globe.
Serving Sin City since The Cosmopolitan’s grand opening, one of several Restaurants that has survived the property’s sale and most certainly the most successful, it is on the third floor that STK opens its doors at 4:30pm daily, Executive Chef Stephen Hopcraft manning stoves focused on Steaks and Sides while a good looking staff serves an even more attractive crowd.
As serious a Steakhouse as it needs to be, the “see and be seen” aspect of a place lit such that everyone appears a little sexier impossible to ignore, it is passing by a bar often three-deep that diners find banquettes built for small and large parties, the music loud enough to create a pulse and eventually best described as “thumping” once the place is full.
Energetic with servers to match, professionalism plus a bit of witty banter generating several laughs across the course of ninety-minutes, it was declining Cocktails that dinner began with the first of two Brioche Loaves, arguably Las Vegas’ best complimentary Carbohydrate thanks to soft morsels slathered in Blue Cheese Butter abut still greedy to sop up fragrant green Oil.
Unafraid to be creative, though luxury items frequently come with a price-tag to match, it was having already tasted several STK Signatures during a prior visit that Dinner began with Chef Hopcraft’s Foie Gras Pop Tart, the seared Liver inside still sporting a few veins but otherwise delicious inside crisp Pastry topped in housemade Jam and a equal drizzle of Icing.
Onward next to Entrees and additions, mixed seasonal Mushrooms and Cream under a golden dome still one of the best Steakhouse sides in town, it was in addition to crisp Tots with Remoulade that $100+ Market Price Lobster was presented, a generous two-pounds nicely poached in Butter and bolstered by Morels with a “Thermidor” feel, though the Croquettes were filled with King Crab as opposed to Potatoes.
Saving plenty of room for Dessert, a bottomless cup of hot Coffee cleansing the palate between bites, it is at $15 each and $20 for #THECLOUD that Chef Contreras’ work is offered, the hashtagged new addition torched tableside to reveal delicate Strawberry Shortcake imbued with a bit of Booze that plays well off wisps of Sugar while Sweet Potato Donuts dripping in Maple Glaze remain an STK signature for good reason.
Using Crémeux in place of Ganache to lighten Flourless Chocolate Cake, a clever maneuver that allows each layer its own identity and the dish as a whole unexpected levity, it is even creamier that guests will find Cheesecake splattered by Blueberries and perfumed by Lemon, though night’s sweetest bites came by way of “Banana Bread Pudding” served Sticky Toffee-style with a crisp Feuilletine and Vanilla Ice Cream helping to mellow locally-made Banana Whiskey.
FOUR STARS: In a city full of serious Steakhouses it may seem surprising that STK continues to pack ’em in nightly, yet despite being trendy before everyone had Instagram the brand has remained relevant by sticking to big flavors and fun presentations plus some of Las Vegas’ most under-discussed desserts from Pastry Chef Brigette Contreras.
RECOMMENDED: Brioche Pull-Apart, Foie Gras Pop Tart, Mushroom Pot Pie, STK Sweet Potato Donuts, Banana Bread Pudding, #THECLOUD.
AVOID: Listed as MP, the Lobster does not justify more than a Benjamin compared to other presentations in town.
TIP: The online menu posted by The Cosmopolitan is woefully out of date, as are desserts listed at www.stksteakhouse.com/venues/las-vegas.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.
Nutella Mousse – Passion Fruit Meringue, Pistachios
Bomba – Coconut Budino, Lime Sugar
Long supporting not much aside from chains (and Honey Salt) it was Tuesday night that residents of Summerlin again packed La Strega, the former home of Due Forni completely re-imagined with a lighter color palate sourcing the Italian coast and Cuisine to match from Gina Marinelli.
Translated as “The Witch,” a connotation which may escape locals unaware that tales of “good witches” outnumber evil overseas, it is immediately on entry that guests will find the old patio replaced by an indoor space featuring organic elements, turning right putting a full kitchen on display with Due Forni’s Wine bar removed and an ambiance far more welcoming.
A long-delayed project for several reasons, though Marinelli’s desire to cook in a kitchen where she calls the shots has been a long-time coming, it was seated in the parlor amongst affluent Summerland residents that skilled service took center stage, a female Valley-native proving well-informed about La Strega’s plates as well as the local dining scene.
Certainly an important Restaurant, Chef Marinelli’s former boss and television-star Scott Conant set to shutter nearby Masso Osteria after just two years, it is from a list of thirty items divided across seven categories that guests are asked to choose, drinks all named after Women joined by Beer and Wine available by the glass or bottle.
Opting for a dozen dishes despite just two diners, portions such that this would be too much for many, it was while the man across the table sipped his Gin and Tonic that first bites arrived, a daily special of Caviar Toast with lightly-applied Fish Sauce not as briny as it reads, and actually fairly mundane despite what would seem to be an intense combination of ingredients.
Focused on the menu henceforth, $14 Meatballs from the “Butcher” section overworked and dense amidst melted Cheese and Tomato Sauce, the evening’s first highlight arrived by way of Farroto featuring tender Grains and Mushrooms adrift in creamy Mascarpone while two “Pizzas” to follow were each well constructed, the version folded around Taleggio simple yet striking with or without a drizzle of Honey and a combination of imported Prosciutto plus Vegetables nicely balanced despite Crust not leavened long enough to develop much of a cornicione.
Opting for three Pastas and one “Main,” the former ranging $15 to $19 and slightly over-cooked Chicken $23, Bucatini Genovese seems destined to become a signature as a result of al dente Noodles mixed with contrasting textures and bright Herbs while Rigatoni Bolognese is also structurally peerless with tremendous depth of flavor that starts porky before developing a bit of heat that quickly dissipates to leave behind a lingering note of Tomatoes enriched with Wine.
Less fond of “Stracci,” the savory Stew of Beef Cheeks and Mushrooms marred by cut ribbons of Pasta that were at least 25% thicker than necessary, it was after finishing the last of Marinelli’s chunky Polenta that Coffee transitioned diners to Dessert, Pastry Chef Betty Park’s Bay Leaf Panna Cotta passed over in favor of Vanilla Gelato doused in sweetened Chianti, airy Nutella Mousse with inoffensive shards of Passion Fruit and La Strega’s “Bomba” featuring smooth Pudding at the center of soft Brioche that is best torn in half and dragged repeatedly through toasted Coconut shavings.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: Not always perfect, but assertive and fairly priced, La Strega will be a space worth watching as its audience evolves and if momentum can be sustained it could spark a cultural shift in Las Vegas’ wealthiest suburb.
Pistachio Macaron, Chocolate Macaron, Passion Fruit Macaron, Caramel Macaron, Vanilla Macaron, Raspberry Macaron, Blackberry Pate de Fruit, Pear Guimauve
Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Truffle, Powdered Sugar Dusted White Chocolate Truffle
Although Las Vegas did not lack for dining events during Uncorked weekend it was in celebration of one special woman that guests sat down at Le Cirque, and in their ever-impressive way General Manager Ivo Angelov, Chef Alan Mardonovich and the rest made it memorable.
Now in its twenty-first year of business, much of the Forbes 5-star front of house present from the start, it was just prior to 6:00pm that diners were greeted at Le Cirque’s hostess stand, a seat gazing out on Bellagio’s famous fountains found set with personalized menus and a Champagne toast arriving quickly, compliments of management.
Described as a “jewel box” by many, and on the night before Mother’s Day at capacity from open to close, it was while enjoying housemade Bread and imported Butter from Bordier that guests received course one, Le Crabe still magnificent as it was in its 2015 debut with Caviar breaking brisk and buttery atop hand-picked Crustacean sweetened by Apple Gelee.
Continuing with a timeless plate, Sirio Maccioni’s Lobster & Avocado Salad celebrating 35 years and dynamic as ever with seasonal Citrus countered by Black Truffle Vinaigrette, it was in addition to this that Langoustines and Duck Liver comprised round two, the former snappy and sweet atop Lemon Beurre Blanc dotted by Caviar while the latter presented something rich and luxurious with the sort of delicacy rarely seen outside the Michelin Guide’s top ranks.
Continuing seasonally with vibrant green Risotto, each Grain of Rice consistent and creamy in carrying the very essence of Spring, it was here that an off-menu addition arrived in the form of a 63-Degree Egg as “Breakfast,” the textural juxtaposition to Mushrooms and Asparagus pleasant while fermented flavors from Sauce Vin Jaune and aged Parmesan built depth around the edges.
Never missing a beat across three leisurely hours, other tables turning over more quickly en route to “O,” it was as the final savories that three plates arrived, fork-soft Veal Cheeks smartly complimented by bright vegetation and Banyuls Vinegar while Japanese Scallops and roasted Chicken were each upgraded beyond ubiquity by seasonal Mushrooms, the Morels particularly beautiful as a classic accoutrement to Poulet au Vin Jaune.
Cleansing the palate with Blood Orange Sorbet, just one bite then gone, it was while Birthday Cake was sliced that two Soufflés were presented, flaming Grand Marnier quickly extinguished by thick Cream and exquisite as ever while a seasonal Parfait with Strawberry and Rhubarb is also light and lovely with smoothness occasionally punctuated by Honeycomb.
FIVE STARS: Now toqued by Alan Mardonovich for over a year, and continuing to push forward in terms of flavors and elegance, Le Cirque remains one of Las Vegas’ very best Restaurants just as it has been for two decades.
RECOMMENDED: White Chocolate-Coffee Bread, Roasted Brittany Langoustine, Sauteed Foie Gras, Fava Beans and Spring Onion Risotto, Roasted Organic Jidori Chicken, Soufflé au Chocolat, Grand Marnier Soufflé.
AVOID: N/A – though admittedly the Passionfruit Macaron was eaten by others.
TIP: Although Walk-ins are accommodated as best possible Le Cirque’s small size and dedicated clientele make reservations strongly recommended, particularly when Alba Truffle season rolls around in late-September and October.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.