Saino Indian Nepali Kitchen, Las Vegas NV

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Saino Indian Nepali Kitchen

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Papadum with Tamarind and Mint Chutney

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Vegetarian Pakora – Nepali appetizer prepared from mixture of different vegetables coated with spiced grain flour batter, and then deep-fried crispy

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Onion Bhajji – Free structural onion cake, deep-fried and served with chutney

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Garlic Naan

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Aaloo Jeeraa – Well steamed potatoes re-fried with light spices and cumin seeds

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Fry Chicken Momo – Fried Version of Nepali steamed dumplings, featuring spiced minced chicken, served with Sesame Sauce

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Dhindo – Made by boiling hot water and continuously mixing and stirring millet flour. Served with Ginger and Mango, Gundruk (pickled and dried Mustard Greens) and Goat Curry

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Tandoori Mixed Grill Platter – Mixture of chicken, lamb and shrimps cooked on skewers in tandoor, fashioned with Onion and Bell Peppers on a sizzling plate

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Tandori Roti – Whole-wheat flat traditional bread backed in clay oven with butter

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Paneer Kulcha – Cheese. Flat soft wheat bread stuffed with chopped cheese with mild spices

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Goat Bhootan – Special nepali dish where stomach, liver, intestine and lungs of goat will be fried along with nepali spices, fashioned with onions and cilantro

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Suji Haluwaa – Semolina is sauteed in the fat while a syrup is being made of the sweetener and water, the two are mixed carefully while hot, and finished with cashew nuts and other aromatic spices

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Kheer – Popular dessert rice pudding is a dish made from rice mixed with milk and other aromatic ingredients such as cinnamon, cashew and raisins

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Located on West Desert Inn Road, directly across from I-Naba which oddly features a South Decatur Boulevard address, Saino Indian Nepali Kitchen is not the sort of place patrons ‘stumble upon’ as the storefront is hidden well off both Streets behind a Sinclair Gas Station, yet claiming to be the first Nepalese/Himalayan Restaurant in all of Las Vegas the concept seemed worthy of investigation.

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Thus far gathering much of its attention for a $9.95 lunch buffet, the still-labeled hot and cold tables showing the selection to be “good, but mostly traditional Indian” by a friend familiar with such things, the decision to partake in dinner at Saino was driven largely by the staff’s inability to answer E-mails or explain by phone whether A la Carte options were offered from 11a-3p, the 6 o’clock arrival seeing five sat at a round table without a single other patron present until a quarter past seven.

No doubt a sizable menu, all items detailed with lengthy descriptions that often proved inaccurate as pictures of some helped guide choices both at the table and on the wall, those looking for attentive service are probably best to avoid Dinner at Saino as the waiters seem more intent on standing about chatting with colleagues or adjusting Indian Pop-Music than they are with refilling beverages or assuring accuracy to the tickets, water requiring repeated requests on more than one occasion while double charges were made for items not received – some sold out and another never requested.

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Not an expensive place, the waiter’s reference to Sysco and US Foods during a discussion not unexpected but at the same time not “brag-worthy” as he made it seem, the meal started off predictably with crisp Bread served alongside Tamarind and Mint Chutney, the first courses delayed due to difficulty firing the Tandoori despite an arrival almost an hour after opening, another odd statement as the crispy Pakora and Onion Bhajji were both fried, anyway.

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Ignoring the ubiquitous spelling mistakes on the menu, but more perplexed by the number of items with inconsistent pricing online versus the menu versus the bill, follow-ups to the tasty fried vegetables were delivered as a slow rollout with Garlic Naan that was typical, if not particularly memorable, a large plate of Aaloo Jeeraa providing the meal’s first ‘wow’ moment by way of texture and the complexity of the spice profile while Chicken “Mo-Mo” was served fried as opposed to boiled, as requested, though perusal of the menu after leaving would show the table was charged for both.

Told that the signature Dhindo would take an hour to prepare, high heat and constant stirring turning Millet into a sort of mashed Root Vegetable texture that may not look all that appealing but springs to life when mixed with Bone Marrow fortified Goat Curry and pickled Vegetables, the Mixed Grill of Tandoori skewered Meats was tender, moist and well flavored with sizzling Bell Peppers and Onions that made vaguely resembled Fajitas, a particularly amusing association as the arrival only shortly preceded a basket of soft Roti that had been ordered much earlier in the meal.

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Not served the Vegetarian Curry advertised with Dhindo, listed pickles omitted with several other plates, it was not really a shock that no rice arrived with the Goat Bhootan and although the very concept of this dish will likely be met by disgust by most diners the diversity of flavors and textures found amidst stewed Goat Offal was actually quite exemplary, the minerality of liver at times a touch harsh while alveolar tubes presented like well cooked calamari, all beneath a bold veil of spicing.

Particularly impressed by Paneer Kulcha, soft pockets of cheese baked right into the soft bread, desserts were a bit disappointing, particularly as Saino was “sold out” of Gajar Halva that the table was still charged for, the Suji Haluwaa something never seen prior but faintly resembling polenta in its texture while Rice Pudding was watery and just fair-to-middling.

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THREE AND A HALF STARS: A very worthwhile stop based only on the quality of cuisine, Saino Indian Nepali Kitchen’s failures by way of service even prove a challenge to those expecting nothing more than the basics. Not particularly ‘shocking’ in some ways, but at the same time not at all acceptable considering the omissions, overcharges and general lack of speed, one must assume the Lunch Buffet precludes some of these problems, though a la carte is the only way to order most of the more interesting and authentic Nepalese plates.

RECOMMENDED: Onion Bhajji, Aaloo Jeeraa, Dhindo, Goat Bhootan, Paneer Kulcha.

AVOID: Kheer, leaving without thoroughly perusing the bill.

TIP: Social Media offers 15% off discounts which just might cover all the overcharges. Dhindo should be requested in advance as the quoted cook time is 60 minutes, though given the general speed of service this should be fine provided a few plates are ordered at the same time.

WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.

http://sainohimalco.com/

Saino Indian Nepali Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, Saino, Saino Indian Nepali Kitchen

Due Forni [3,] Las Vegas NV

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Due Forni

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Chef’s Platter – Olli Fennel Salumi, Prosciutto di Parma, House Cured Pork Loin, Barely Buzzed, Sea Scape, Rogue Smokey Blue, Pickles, Crostini, Calabrian Pepper Spread

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Egg Panino with Spinach, Roasted Peppers, Goat Cheese, Potato Bun and a Side Salad

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Short Rib Lasagna with San Marzano Tomatoes, Onions, Ricotta, Mozzarella

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Brioche French Toast with Smoked Maple Syrup (+ Sweet Buffalo Milk Ricotta with Pistachios)

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Nutella Panino with Dulce De Leche Crème and Grated HeXX Chocolate

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Recently expanding an already impressive lunch and dinner menu to Sunday Brunch it was much to the surprise of the waiter when a request was made for the Brunch Menu on Saturday at 11:00AM, but confirming with Chef Carlos Buscaglia that the five extra items had indeed been promoted for both weekend days by Social Media another great afternoon was spent at the oft overlooked gem on Town Center Drive just South of Downtown Summerlin.

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Recently informed that Pizzas are made by gas ovens and not wood, something few would have ever guessed given the perfect crust on his Pies, those familiar with Chef Buscaglia’s history in Las Vegas kitchens will probably be surprised by the fact that Due Forni has now been open for over five years and, despite the small size of the kitchen, that the menu continues to evolve seasonally with the team going so far as to craft some of its own sausage and charcuterie.

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Unable to pass on the Chef’s Platter, on this day three Domestic Cheeses including a personal favorite in the Espresso-rubbed Barely Buzzed, Carlos’ House Smoked Pork Loin dazzled alongside imported Prosciutto and Salumi from Olli and whether eaten solo or stacking on grilled crostini the flavors of each ingredient met high expectations with a truly generous portion for just $20.

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Taking notes from the lunch menu by offering a new Sandwich at Brunch the Egg Panino shines by way of a tender Omelet of Spinach and Goat Cheese that seems to have smoky Peppers infused into it rather than being dotted with diced vegetables, and although a scalding cast-iron skillet of Lasagna is obviously a much more decadent concoction the result is perhaps even more impressive as the edges are charred dark and crunchy with vibrant Tomatoes more than capable of standing up to the shredded Beef and two Cheeses.

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Having seen Facebook posts of the French Toast, Brioche brought from Bon Bread, it was with delight that Chef Buscaglia also announced a new dessert offered by way of a Nutella Panino made from similar, the decision between them largely a matter of preference, and to which “both” is a perfectly acceptable answer as the Panino is rich with Hazelnut Spread and delicious when dipped in the creamy white side car while the former offers a good sear overlying soft custard center with even more intrigue added by adding a small order of Due Forni’s Sweet Ricotta in order to create a truly wholly desirable breakfast Cannoli.

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Continuing to evolve and improve in a space many seem to have forgotten as ‘newer,’ ‘fancier,’ or more trendy places have opened around town, Due Forni is that ‘neighborhood’ place that you always pass by but rarely think to visit…perhaps something worth considering next time you get hungry shopping up the street instead of spending more for less at some mediocre burger joint or imported ‘theme’ restaurant.

RECOMMENDED: French Toast, Lasagna, Chef’s Platter.

AVOID: That Calabrian Pepper Spread on the Chef’s platter is not for the weak of heart.

TIP: The Dessert Pizza previously offered has now been replaced by the Nutella Panino, but can still be requested as an off-menu special for those in the know. Brunch is 11a-3p Saturday/Sunday beginning June 25th.

WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.

http://dueforni.com/main/index.html

Due Forni Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Breakfast, Dessert, Due Forni, Food, French Toast, Italian, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork

The Frozen Frog, Las Vegas NV

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The Frozen Frog

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Samples – Salty Caramel, Birthday Cake Popcorn

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Child Size Dole-Whip – Pineapple Vanilla Twist

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Smores – White and Dark Chocolate, Marshmallow, Graham Cracker

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Avalanche Bar – White Chocolate, Nougat, Peanut Butter, Puffed Rice

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Cinnaroll and Cookies and Cream Popcorn Mix

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A source of intrigue since it opened on Fort Apache, across the street from ACE Donuts as well as Sweet Addiction and in the same cluster as Panera, Frozen Frog finally beckoned on Saturday and although not particularly fond of Shave Ice the addition of Dole Whip, Popcorn and Handmade Confections offers a rather solid diversity of options for guests of all ages.

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An oddly shaped space, perhaps a Fro-yo spot in a former life given its layout, Frozen Frog is a locally owned concept with friendly service and requisite IHeartRadio tunes playing a bit too loud given their target demographic and with samples of several items offered while a long list of choices warrants perusal the cost-per-item generally seems North of other similar spots speckled around the Valley, by no means ‘expensive,’ but better described as disproportionate to the quality.

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Spending approximately ten noisy minutes in the store, no other patrons present and the young server smiley with plenty of advice, it was after a few samples of well crafted popcorn plus a smooth Dolewhip blend that I emerged $14.59 lighter and taking the rest elsewhere to enjoy with coffee the results were both hit and miss, both styles of popcorn as tasty as expected while the S’Mores unfortunately highlighted an overall waxiness to the chocolate that was undetectable when wrapped around the airy kernels, the Avalanche Bar admittedly interesting but a bit too large a portion as neither Peanut Butter nor Puffed Rice did much to balance out a sweetness level that hovered between “too” and “cloying.”

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TWO AND A HALF STARS: Sort of a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ place, Frozen Frog is probably fine for families looking for a fast, affordable treat, but with places like Popcorn Girl doing their craft with more quality as well as variety and plenty of places for better chocolates the only real driving factor here is the Dole Whip, one of those “nostalgia” items that seems to have great appeal to many in Sin City.

RECOMMENDED: Dole Whip, Birthday Cake Popcorn, Cookies and Cream Popcorn.

AVOID: S’mores.

TIP: Customer Loyalty Cards, Social Media Check-Ins and several daily specials are offered.

WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.

http://thefrozenfroglv.com/

The Frozen Frog Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Dessert, Food, Frozen Frog, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, The Frozen Frog

Le Cirque [9,] Las Vegas NV

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Le Cirque

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Hemingway – Bacardi Rum, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Grapefruit Juice, Fresh Lime, Brandied Cherry

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Bread and Butter – White Chocolate Coffee, Rosemary. Bacon Cheese, Baguette, Pretzel

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Amuse – Hamachi, Thai Basil, Crispy Tapioca. Tangerine, Avocado Mousse, Hearts of Palm, Mirin-Yuzu Vinaigrette

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Crab – Apple, Dungeness, Osetra Caviar, Avocado, Gold

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Sweet Corn – Vanilla Snow, Soft Ricotta Mousse, Popcorn, Buckwheat, Trout Roe

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Foie Gras – Amaretto, Cherries, Almonds

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**Unphotographed Bonus** – Egg, Caviar, Crème Fraiche

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Risotto – Aged Parmesan, Australian Winter Truffles

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Line Caught Cod – Ratatouille, Pain de Mie, Chickpeas, Olives, Sauce Vierge

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Quail – Gold, Preserved Truffles, Foie Gras, Potatoes Mousseline, Summer Flowers

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Watermelon Mojito

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Raspberry – Parfait, Granite, Hibiscus, Lychee

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Double Espresso on Ice

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Chocolate Souffle – Vanilla Ice Cream, Crème Anglaise

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Petit Fours – Coffee, Vanilla, Lemon, Pistachio, Raspberry Macarons, Pate de Fruit, Marshmallows

Short in Spring, but lengthy in hot weather months, the concept of a truly ‘seasonal’ menu is at times obscured in Sin City, but with a menu that transitions with slow subtleties the best of the best continue evolve on a daily basis, Le Cirque having now done just that for nearly eighteen years.

No doubt a place where fine dining continues to be defined, Ivo Angelov and his team as close knit as Europe’s very best after all these years, Summer 2016 sees Chef Wilfried Bergerhausen continue to progress in terms of balancing classical flavors with an obvious flare for plating and although classics like “Le Crabe” are now indispensible signatures the menu continues to entice locals, high rollers and gasto-tourists to the small room where the Bellagio fountains can be enjoyed in the comfort of a plush seat without all the heat and craziness of the Strip.

Continuing to offer an impressive array of dining experiences, everything from a $300+ 10-course Degustation to the $72 Pre-theater steal treated with the utmost care, bar seating remains the best way to watch the service team function and treated to a total of twelve courses including Amuses and Mignardises the quality continues to impress even though some of what was served was described as a “work in progress.”

Dining with another talented Frenchman, the three and a half hours breezing by as Ivo, Gene and Wilfried all are consummate professionals and gracious hosts, Summer at Le Cirque began with a small amuse of Tuna bathed in Asian broth and with several winks to Robuchon presented including a bonus gift from the kitchen the word that continues to come up when describing the Chef’s hand is nuance, every ingredient discernible despite complexity and nothing really “extraneous,” except perhaps the Gold Leaf.

Still turning heads with the Crab and Quail, the former with its smoky tableside presentation and the later sprinkled with flower petals for the summer, Wilfried has again managed to create a seasonal soup worth seeking out in the Baby Corn Veloute poured tableside over creamy Ricotta and the earthy aromatics of Popcorn and Buckwheat, the Foie Gras with Black Cherries and Almonds and Truffle Risotto also standout in their own right.

Going light with summer’s fish, the Wild Cod topped in a thin cap of toasted bread with croutons bathed atop Ratatouille in a clean Olive Oil sauce desserts started creative before turning classic, the one-bite Watermelon and Mint Bon-Bon refreshing the palate before a Raspberry Parfait followed by Mignardises and the tall, proud and fluffy Chocolate Souffle.

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FIVE STARS: Seemingly recession-proof and completely unbothered by the “slow” season that leaves several restaurants empty Le Cirque remains Las Vegas’ crown jewel for fine dining, even a recent trip through every Michelin 3* restaurant in Belgium doing little to change my opinion that the place executes on par with places given far more attention by the worldwide dining community.

RECOMMENDED: Make a reservation. Sitting at the bar for the majority of my visits I’m always astounded how many folks show up looking for a last minute table despite the concierge and Opentable listing the restaurant as completely booked…

AVOID:…giving up too soon as I’m also frequently impressed by how often the team somehow manages to squeeze them in and still offer such an elegant experience to each and every guest.

TIP: Chef Bergerhausen will be taking over the Snack Cart at Harvest by Roy Ellamar in early July. Keep your eyes peeled.

WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.

https://www.bellagio.com/en/restaurants/le-cirque.html

Le Cirque Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Coffee, Crab, Dessert, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Le Cirque, Macaron, Macaroon, Nevada, Pork, Souffle, Tasting Menu, Truffles

Chef Series #5 at Elements, Las Vegas NV

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Chef Series 5 at Elements with Jon VanHusen

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Grilled Asparagus with aged Sartori Parmesan, Olive Oil Caviar, Barrel Aged Sherry Vinegar, Poached Egg

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Chicken Liver Mousse with Grilled Pita, Sea Salt, Cornichons

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Roasted Hatch Chili and Bacon Johnny Cakes with Butter Poached Lobster, Beet Chips, Foie Gras Confit, Salad of Asian Pear and Jicama

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Seared Duck Breast with Carrot Ginger Broth and Roasted Root Vegetables

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Macadamia Nut Blondie with Malted Vanilla Milkshake

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Stepping forward in the setting of a nearly cancelled event, the sense of “community” in Las Vegas’ food culture and integrity of other local Chefs questioned by a man who has admittedly achieved something admirable by making his own rules, Jon Vanhusen may not be a name on the radar of many local critics or ‘influencers,’ but judging from two meals plus his contributions to our Potluck there is no doubt of the young man’s passion and commitment to the scene.

Having originally met VanHusen when invited in to Elements, ironically similar to the manner in which our self-interested prior host had first chosen to showcase his food, suffice it to say that Chef Jon currently has his work cut out for him in reinventing a restaurant long seen as lacking an identity, the locals from across the street limited in number but seemingly happy to indulge in food falling under the “modern American“ umbrella and completely lacking in creativity or flare.

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Asking the Chef to craft a tasting menu for ten, new faces and old gathered at the table, it was with one Sous and a lone waitress that the dinner took place and creating every plate for the first time the results were by-and-by quite impressive, the lone flaw largely as relates to plating an opening Asparagus salad on slate with a poached egg in a porcelain cup, the question as to what purpose it served still undetermined as was how to use it since the texture made it unnecessary as a dip while the slate would have created quite a mess if used as a sauce.

Stepping up with course two, the creamy mousse of Chicken Liver and butter lacking any sign of minerality and instead presenting like a true “Foie Blonde” on par with the likes of Michel Richard or Daniel Boulud, course three saw VanHusen reach for Hatch Chilies and Bacon to further enrich his famous Cornbread by way of a stack of Johnny Cakes, the Butter Poached Lobster a bit difficult to extract from the shell without proper silverware but the flavor rich and succulent alongside confit Duck Liver beneath an Asian Pear and Jicama Slaw.

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Taking time with pacing, the meal lasting just over two hours with much conversation had as music turned down from last visit played overhead, savories wrapped by way of gently Seared Duck Breast with Root Vegetables in textures atop a splash of Carrot and Ginger Pan Sauce, the Macadamia Nut Blondie and Malted Vanilla Milkshake making for a delicious one-two combination of mellow flavors, though a previous visit would show that the Chef is certainly capable of doing much bolder sweet stuff.

FOUR STARS: For an impromptu sort of thing, stepping up to fill big shoes, Jon and his small team put together a great meal that only lacked in a missing narrative and small plating issues, the restaurant still in need of some work if it wants to reengage a community beyond its current clientele but a Chef that could undoubtedly do so if given creative license and marketed reasonably well.

RECOMMENDED: Chicken Liver Mousse was Best in Town and the Duck was textbook.

AVOID: Still not sure on that poached egg, but having just been in Brussels for a week I’m sad to say that most of America’s Asparagus seems like a cruel joke.

TIP: Elements new menu is promised soon, stay tuned.

WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.

Home 1

Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in #chefseries, Dessert, Elements, Elements Fine Casual Dining & Cocktails, Elements Fine Casual Dining and Cocktails, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, Las Vegas, Lobster, Nevada, Pancakes, Pork, Tasting Menu

Rosallie [3,] Las Vegas NV

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Rosallie

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Crème Brulee Latte

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Sourdough

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Quiche Lorraine, Quiche Chevre

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Pain au Chocolat

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Pain au Raisin

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Butter Croissant

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Almond Croissant

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Madeline

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Palmier

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Walnut Pie

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Paris Brest

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Profiteroles

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Raspberry Frangipane Tart

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Recently returning from Belgium, several incredible patisseries and boulangeries experienced from Brussels to Bruges to Gent, it was on the suggestion of a local Chef/Friend that Saturday breakfast was planned to show one talented young man the work of another – Rosallie Le French Café on South Rainbow, owned by Jonathan Pluvinet.

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Already a fan of the Frenchman, even having met his family during a great dinner at Bardot Brasserie, those who know me and my fondness for pastry are well aware that I consider Chef Pluvinet’s baked goods to be not only the best in Las Vegas, but also a reference standard Stateside, and treated to no less than a dozen items ranging sweet to savory the results were not diminished at all by recent experiences, rather they were validated to a significant degree.

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At this point upgraded a lot from humble beginnings, the brickwork along the bar and wine-room coming along nicely, Rosallie still sports a “Now Open” banner hanging over an outside patio and with several ‘post-morning-rush’ diners still present and lingering over coffee the temptations have expanded to match the interior, favorites like the Nutella or Almond Croissant already sold out by as early as 11:30.

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Beginning with warm viennoiserie, our arrival actually timed to when Jonathan was due to have a fresh batch of croissants, suffice it to say when it comes to laminated pastry there is no better place in Sin City than Rosallie and whether one chooses the Raisin Snail, Pain Au Chocolat, Almond Croissant or Butter version the shattering shell is guaranteed to make a flaky mess of everything surrounding, the Palmier equally prone to doing so by way of Sugar while the Madeline is a buttery textbook example that is unmatched aside from those served warm from the pan at restaurants where the cost is escalated dramatically.

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Impressed by Pluvinet’s “Crème Brulee” Latte, Instagram photos unable to do justice for smooth coffee tinged in cream beneath a lightly caramelized cloud, a taste of Pluvinet’s Quiche furthers Rosallie’s legacy as heads and tails above places like Baguette Café or even Bouchon in terms of texture, the clean edges of crust commented on by the Chef at the table while I personally was impressed by just how light the eggy pie ate despite the very obvious use of quite a bit of cheese.

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Moving to more “dessert-like” options, Jonathan’s Choux previously only seen in Éclairs now featured in a textbook Paris Brest that breaks to fork pressure without disrupting the cream, Profitteroles prove equally competent when paired to airy whipped cream and housemade Chocolate Sauce, the most impressive fact being that each half still maintained its crisp texture even as the ice cream slowly continued to melt.

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FIVE STARS: Adding a few Frangipane Tarts to a Walnut Pie that is not only delicious, but rarely seen anywhere else in America, any who have not visited Chef Pluvinet are doing themselves a serious disservice unless they really have no appreciation for great food from a local restaurant going above and beyond what is necessary to raise the bar for a city that has been waiting a long time for this sort of Café to come along.

RECOMMENDED: Quiche Chevre, Crème Brulee Latte, Almond Croissant, Palmier, Paris Brest, Walnut Pie.

AVOID: Arriving too late, if you want to be assured that all the good stuff is still there.

TIP: Soon to be offering later hours, a liquor license and extended menu it seems like Rosallie’s best days are yet to come. Stay tuned.

WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.

https://rosallie.com/

Rosallie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Breakfast, Coffee, Croissants, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Madeline, Nevada, Pork, Rosallie, Rosallie 'Le French Cafe', Tasting Menu

Carmine’s, Las Vegas NV

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Carmine’s

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Bread Basket – Focaccia, Rye, Tomato and Herb, Rustic Italian

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Cold Antipasto Platter – Mortadella, Prosciutto, Eggplant Caponata, Salmon Crostini, Seafood Salad, Mixed Olives, Panini and More

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Spicy Scarpariello Wings

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Eggplant Parmigiana

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Lasagna

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Double Espresso on Ice

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Bread Pudding

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Strawberry Shortcake

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Chocolate Cannoli

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Opened in the Forum Shops at Caesars’ by Artie Cutler and the team behind two New York City locations, one in Atlantic City, DC and even the Bahamas, Carmine’s is cut from the same Southern-Italy-by-way-of-NYC cloth as chains such as Bucca di Beppo or Maggiano’s Little Italy, yet by doing ‘the little things’ right the experience is upgraded at least two-fold while still maintaining its customer-friendly prices.

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Assuredly a tourist gathering point, though a fair share of locals have been heard to say they enjoyed their visits, Carmine’s Las Vegas location opened in Summer of 2013 and closing in on three years with Chef Michael Ingino involved since doors opened the very concept of a “scratch kitchen” feeding a room that seats up to eight hundred from 11:00AM to 11:00PM weekdays (and till Midnight on weekends) may seem exhausting, but in reality the attitude of everyone in the place remains not only pleasant but downright exuberant.

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Currently managed by Anthony Esparza, a pleasant man whose enthusiasm for a big job seems contagious to his staff, it was as part of a party of four that seats were taken under one of the colossal menus mounted amidst black & white photos not dissimilar to any number of Italian-American restaurants and with portions as outsized as the restaurant’s character the phrase “Family Style” rings true from the onset, our waiter warning that each plate was meant to serve anywhere from “two to four” guests.

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Skipping the grandeur of a place like Carbone, casting aside stereotyped Italian phrases and an absurd check in favor of a sort of “Sunday at Grandma’s” vibe, feasting at Carmine’s commences with an ample Bread Basket likely to tempt all but the most carbohydrate conscious and with Sinatra, Dean and Sammy playing overhead in not-too-loud fashion the question of where best to begin is a daunting one, the fact that nearly everything but Pasta and imported Charcuterie is made on-site further complicating the decision.

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Acknowledging from the start that over-ordering at Carmine’s is a virtual guarantee, “two to four” better translated as “four or more,” it was to a large platter of Antipasti that the table was soon treated and although the phrase “something for everyone” is often a dicey proposition it would be difficult to call the smorgasbord anything less as everything from simple meats and cheese to a complex seafood salad are presented elegantly with a price not dissimilar to what such a spread would cost from Whole Foods Market.

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Told that the Spicy Scarpariello Wings were something crave-worthy, two dozen plump pieces of Chicken cooked crisp before a bath in vibrant sauce teaming with garlic, lemon and peppers, suffice it t say that the housemade Blue Cheese Dressing alone would make this plate worth ordering instead of lesser versions at the local Sports Bar, a followup of Lasagna and Eggplant Ptarmigan showing the former to not be quite as crisp as one might hope across the top while the 9-layered latter outperforms any other version in town by a significant degree as each hand-sliced and stacked piece is baked soft without turning mushy around what could easily be a pound or more of Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese.

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Joking with the server about his description of Strawberry Shortcake, the desserts all tempting but that one sounding particularly odd when accidentally described as being served on Rye, it was in good humor that the actual dish was served complimentary alongside a block of Cinnamon and Chocolate Bread with fresh Whipped Cream and three filled-to-order Cannolis, the Bread Pudding actually almost *too*dense at the end of such a meal while Marble Cake beneath Cream and Strawberries was soft and light, the citrus-tinged Mascarpone filling each Chocolate-dipped Shell equally convincing of Carmine’s commitment to quality.

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FOUR STARS: Accounting for the fact that Carmine’s is positioned to compete for the ‘average’ tourist dollars and not those looking for an ‘event’ meal or fine dining there is little doubt that what Michael, Anthony and their team is doing at Carmine’s goes a step beyond to make the overall experience a worthwhile outing, and one that tourists as well as locals may equally be likely to enjoy.

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RECOMMENDED: Spicy Scarpariello Wings, Eggplant Parmigiana, Strawberry Shortcake.

AVOID: The Lasagna could have used a bit more time in the oven for my preference, but otherwise everything was as well executed as any other ‘red sauce’ joint in town with prices that compare favorably to many off-strip Mom n’ Pop places when taking portions into account.

TIP: Open 365 days a year, those looking for a real deal and far less work at Thanksgiving are encouraged to contact Carmine’s in November about their Family Feast – an 18-lb Turkey and all the fixings fully prepared and even offered for curbside pickup at the Caesars’ Valet.

WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.

http://www.carminesnyc.com/locations/las-vegas/

Carmine's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Bread Pudding, Carmine's, Carmine's Las Vegas, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Italian, Las Vegas, Nevada, Octopus, Pork

Laurent Gerbaud, Brussels BE

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Laurent Gerbaud

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Chocolates – Fig, Rhubarb, Pistachio, Hazelnut, Almond, Cocoa Nib, Speculoos

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Chocolate Almond Brioche, Brownie

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Kugelhopf

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Serving as a send-off to Belgium, plane set to leave just twelve hours later, Laurent Gerbaud was selected largely based on location and a reputation for excellence previously seen by way of Chocolate Speculoos at Maison Dandoy, an 18h10 arrival finding the staff in the midst of cleaning up with the café already closed but Chocolate Shop and Counter still open.

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One of Belgium’s new wave Chocolate Makers, his shop and Atelier at Rue Ravenstein a short walk from all the famous mass-market shops at Place de Grand Sablon, Laurent Gerbaud has become something of a celebrity in recent times due to his high standard of imported ingredients to pair with milk and dark cocoa made from some of the world’s finest beans and although prices trend slightly higher than the usual the texture is beyond compare, even the 76% cocoa tablet intensely creamy.

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Further upping the ante by way of pastries from Brian Joyeux, a late arrival finding the selection largely diminished but still with a Brioche and small Kugelhopf that was every bit as good as the medium one a day prior *despite having sat on the counter all day,* suffice it to say that the Brownie made from Gerbaud’s own cocoa is one of the best money can buy, the fact that Joyeux’s Fondant Cake filled with Caramel was so good further explained by the fact that it too was made from Gerbaud’s Dark Chocolate.

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www.chocolatsgerbaud.be/

Posted in Belgium, Brian Joyeux, Brussels, Dessert, Food, Laurent Gerbaud, Vacation

Chez Albert, Bruges BE

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Chez Albert

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Liege Waffle with Chantilly and Chocolate

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*The* go-to for Liege Waffles in Bruges, and perhaps Belgium as a whole, it was having passed Chez Albert in favor of Go.fre on Tuesday that I noted the small storefront’s location, the idea of saving the “best for last” paying off well as the texture of this Gaufre really is quite special.

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Now spreading its fanbase to Gent, the original at Breidelstraat 16 always seeming to have a line of at least one or two, Chez Albert’s space actually spreads quite a way back from the window at which customers are encouraged to ‘order by number’ and with as €2.50 invested one can walk away with a piping hot piece of dough with a perfectly crisp exterior and stretchy center pocked in Sugar Pearls.

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Deciding eventually on a few upgrades, melted Chocolate offered as Milk or Dark, it was at a cash-only cost of just €4.50 that the small cardboard tray was filled by the famous result of yeast, flour, eggs, salt and butter, a light Vanilla note detectable even beneath all the toppings as the silly little fork was cast aside in favor of making a mess of hands and pavement, eating straight from the liner.

https://www.facebook.com/chezalbert

Posted in Belgium, Breakfast, Bruges, Brussels, Chez Albert, Dessert, Food, Vacation, Waffle, Waffles

De Jonkman, Bruges BE

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De Jonkman

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Crisp Cannelloni with Carrots and 5-Spice, Beet Root with Tzatziki and Cucumber, Eel with Sour Cream and Peas

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Chicken Stew in Aspic on Toast with Fennel, Goose Liver Mousse with Cumin, Mushroom and Quail Egg Croquette

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Whole Seed Sourdough, Local Butter with Fleur de Sel

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Slow Cooked Beef with Soy Sauce, Honey, Cabbage / Whiting with Choron Sauce

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Marinated Mackerel – Radish, Lovage, Barbeque Sourdough

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Goose Liver Terrine – Brioche, Radishes, Apple, Crème Fraiche

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Barbeque Goose Liver – Onions, Beets, Coffee, Sweet n’ Sour

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Baked Goose Liver- Morels, Eggplant, Hazelnut, Artichoke, Mushroom Broth

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Haddock – Mousseline Potatoes, Onions, Grilled Gerkin, Carrots, Sandcrab Broth

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Crepe Normande – Apple, Vanilla Ice Cream, Calvados

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Strawberries – Lime, Rhubarb, Speculoos

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Trained at De Karameliet, where he met wife Sandra, Filip Claeys’ De Jonkman has held two Michelin Stars since 2011 and now poised to become Bruges top table when Geert Van Heecke closes the doors at year’s end the small restaurant at Maalse Steenweg 438 seemed a perfect way to finish a trek through the best of the best in Belgium, a lovely seat overlooking the courtyard offered for Saturday lunch.

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No doubt a skilled man, several years of training with some of Europe’s finest Chefs teaching Claeys a respect for the garden, soil and sea that is evident in plates where sizable proteins find themselves paired to the season in full bloom, De Jonkman is housed in a renovated home that sits far off the road and with whimsical art including such oddities as penguins with rocket packs the primary dining room looks outward where floor-to-ceiling windows bathe the space in light.

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Leisurely in pace, like most upscale restaurants located throughout Belgium, lunch at De Jonkman began with a total of six small bites followed by an amuse in two services, the Beef, Chicken Stew and Croquette all setting a high standard for the plates that followed while service was a little bit stiff, the younger staff members at least friendly and gracious while the woman later identified as the restaurant’s matriarch was rarely seen without a scowl on her face.

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Having opted for the “Market Menu” plus two supplements, the cost about €40 more than the restaurant’s longest degustation but turning into more courses by way of a three-part Goose Liver presentation, proper plates began with a meaty filet of Mackerel served alongside Lovage and Radishes with Sourdough from “a Big Green Egg,” the fish nicely balanced by way of the marinade while the bitter vegetables played well off smoky notes as between-bite refreshment.

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Nibbling on Bread while awaiting more, the music spanning Top-40 American tunes from recent years past, the supplementary course got started by way of Goose Liver Terrine served with a warm Brioche for spreading, the accoutrements ranging bitter, sweet and sour with the following Barbeque presentation continuing the concept by way of not only its Sauce but also Beets and Coffee while the generous baked lobe was smooth and rich alongside bold flavors of Morels, Artichokes and ‘Earth.’

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Ordering all fish from local purveyors, the Haddock line-caught just the night before, savories wrapped with another large filet accompanied by traditional flavors brought to new light by the broth of crushed Sand Crabs, the decision not to offer any sort of ‘pre-dessert’ or palate cleanser an unfortunate one as water did little to cleanse the lingering umami for the sweets that were soon to follow.

Told that De Jonkman’s ‘Pancake’ was something worth seeking out, the Crepe Normande crisp on the exterior with Apples caramelized into the buttery dough by way of cooking at a very high temperature, those looking for a boozy dessert will be glad to know that Claeys does not skimp when it comes to the addition of Calvados, the actual menu dessert of Garden Strawberries with Lime Sorbet and Speculoos cookies sweet yet nicely balanced by Rhubarb while the meal was sparred of any sort of Mignardises because “classic restaurants only offer them with coffee” according to Sandra…a strange comment considering her previous employer with Three Stars just down the road serves them to each and every diner.

www.dejonkman.be

Posted in Belgium, Bread Basket, Bruges, Brussels, Coffee, Crab, De Jonkman, Dessert, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, Ice Cream, Pancakes, Tasting Menu, Vacation

Chocolatier Dumon, Bruges BE

Dumon

Chocolatier Dumon

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Assorted Chocolates, Marzipan, Caramels, Truffles

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Located down a small staircase in the winding tourist streets of Bruges, Chocolatier Dumon finally answered the question of where was best to acquire gifts for friends back home after a relatively extensive look at Belgium’s artisan Chocolate scene, the range of Tablets, Pralines, Truffles and even Low-Sugar options really quite astounding.

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Started by Stephan Dumon in 1992, a small workshop outside Bruges slowly growing into a House with shops in three countries, Dumon ‘Eiermarkt’ occupies a medieval space set below the city streets and now cited by Gault & Millau since 2013 as one of Belgium’s true artisans the quality of the cocoa beans and fillings shows in every item while prices seem bargain basement compared to other internationally expanded places.

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Certainly not ADA friendly as relates to disability, but far moreso if discussing the American Diabetes Association, Dumon is one of the few spots seen overseas with a specialty line of low-sugar confections and tasting a few after discussion with the elderly woman who was surprisingly well-versed in medical jargon the taste is really no different from the more traditional treats which were purchased in greater numbers, though those paying attention to texture may notice an overall reduced degree of smoothness.

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Opting for Tablets and Truffles for friends back home, Pralines and a few more Truffles saved for a post-lunch treat, Dumon excels as relates to the smoothness of the exterior layers of its creations as much as it does by way of creams, marzipan or ganaches, the options trending a bit more traditional than The Chocolate Line or Darci’s with the Caramel, Pistachio Marzipan, Speculoos and Strawberry Cream particularly impressive.

www.chocolatierdumon.be

Posted in Belgium, Bruges, Brussels, Chocolatier Dumon, Dessert, Dumon, Food, Vacation

Patisserie Academie, Bruges BE

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Patisserie Academie

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Coffee

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Almond Croissant and Bread Pudding

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Chocolate Wrapped Éclair

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Mille Feuille

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Chocolate Apricot Tart

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Cherry Pastry

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Getting away from the tighter medieval part of Bruges, streets opening up and more populated by locals than travelers, Patisserie Academie at Academiestraat 4 serves as a sort of ‘melting pot’ in a city that occasionally seems rather rude, the service perhaps not quite as friendly as that found amongst Brussel’s greatest artisans when it comes to those speaking English, but more than good enough to warrant a look at the pastries natives have grown to love.

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Offering a sizable dining space, windows letting in the rare sunlight seen during Belgium’s late Spring, deciding where best to invest one’s appetite at Patisserie Academie is the sort of ‘first world’ problem that different sorts may fear or embrace, and with several items unlabeled with any number of exotic ingredients the Staff’s willingness to answer questions may seem a little brisk at times, yet for those persistent the answers come fluently as all three clerks on Saturday were sure-footed in French, Dutch and English.

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Eventually settling on a Double Espresso and three pastries to dine-in, an equal number boxed and kept at the counter to-go, suffice it to say that Patisserie Academie’s Bread Pudding rectangle fails to execute on par with most as nuance is lost in density while the Almond Croissant sets the bar high by way of open arches of butter beneath a golden exterior with light almond filling at its center.

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Pulling better shots than several, the Coffee roasted ‘nearby’ according to the clerk, those wondering about the oddly ‘wrapped’ Éclairs should rest assured that this is no ‘trick’ to make-up for lack of the Choux’s quality, the dark chocolate adding to the pastry’s crunch rather than masking it while Cocoa infusing the Custard base of an Apricot Flan was surprisingly restrained yet decadent.

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Laminating a pocket in which to pour and bake Stewed Cherries, the tartness here actually quite bracing yet enjoyable as it did not trend too sweet, final tastes from Patisserie Academie included a textbook Mille-Feuille that had actually just been finished minutes before, the crisp break and soft custard offering a brilliant juxtaposition undoubtedly benefitted by fresh stacking.

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http://patisserieacademie.be

Posted in Belgium, Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Bruges, Brussels, Coffee, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Patisserie Academie, Vacation

Le Funambule, Brussels BE

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Le Funambule

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Liege Waffle with Chantilly and Speculoos

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A quick-fire Gaufre and Pancake shop directly next to the unimpressive Manneken Pis, Le Funambule seems to be one of ‘those’ places tourists get lured into as a simple result of location, and taking the bait of “Fresh, Hot Waffles at 9h00 on Saturday the €1 Liege was a decent value on the money despite pricy toppings, but certainly the worst of its kind tasted in Belgium.

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At this point more than familiar with the street-food, dough with pearl sugar pre-made and pressed into hot irons, Le Funambule banks heavily on the Pissing Boy by way of decoration and featuring statues several-times the size of the original – eating ice cream – the simple fact is that the dough was overworked to the point of being too stretchy, the sugar lost amid the grid though the Cookie Butter from a Jar and premade Whip were themselves tasty.

https://www.facebook.com/Le-Funambule-251530311722431/

Posted in Belgium, Breakfast, Brussels, Dessert, Food, Le Funambule, Vacation, Waffle, Waffles

Aux Merveilleux de Fred, Brussels BE

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Aux Merveilleux de Fred

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The Incroyable – Meringue, speculoos biscuit, whipped cream coated with shaved white chocolate

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The Impensable – Meringue, coffee whipped cream coated with crystallized coffee meringue
The Merveilleux – Meringue, chocolate whipped cream coated with shavings of dark chocolate

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The Magnifique – Meringue, praline whipped cream coated with almond chips and caramelized hazelnuts
The Sans-Culotte – Meringue, caramel whipped cream coated with crystallized meringue

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The Excentrique – Meringue, cherry whipped cream coated with crystallized cherry meringue

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Off to a late start on Saturday, though still earlier than many places in Brussels business district open on weekends, it was through an unlocked door that entry was made to Aux Merveilleux de Fred, and although the two young women at the counter at first seemed shocked by my presence their confusion soon turned to smiles with the eventual agreement that they would sell some meringues 45 minutes prior to opening provided I “kept it a secret” and paid in cash since the credit card system had not yet been turned on.

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Walking away chuckling, the whole scene quite bizarre, a bit of background on Aux Merveilleux de Fred shows the house to have grown from the work of a young man based out of Hazebrouck in 1982 and now with several stores ranging from Europe to New York City the phrase “meringue” really does a disservice to the levity of Frederic Vaucamp’s creations, a box of six costing €9 with a total weight of perhaps 180g all inclusive.

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Truly a work of art, time and patience, any who have made meringue aware of how quickly soft peaks can turn stiff, Aux Merveilleux de Fred offers several flavors including classics and seasonal options, the eponymous creation turning Dark Chocolate into a ‘sense’ more than a simple flavor while the “Incroyable” takes Belgium’s signature cookie direct to the palate almost bypassing the teeth or tongue, a perfect sort of smoothness similarly noted whether featuring the flavor of Fruit, Coffee, Caramel or Nuts.

www.auxmerveilleux.com/

Posted in Aux Merveilleux de Fred, Belgium, Breakfast, Brussels, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Vacation

Maison Antoine, Brussels BE

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Maison Antoine

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Small Frites with House Tartare

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Fricadelle

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Shrimp Croquette / Cheese Croquette

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Beyond frustrated by Bouchery’s refusal to seat me due to a “mistake,” the name clearly in the online reservation system but not in the paper ledger despite a confirmation E-mail on my phone, it was with no other alternative offered that a trip was made to the most famous Friterie in all of Brussels, the queue at Maison Antoine only a dozen at each window, but still moving ever so slowly.

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Not particularly ‘sold’ on Belgian Frites being better than elsewhere after trips to Georgette and Tabora, one could not help but wonder if the historic kiosk at Place Jourdan in Etterbeek was doing something “special” to outpace the rest, and although the number of sauces and ‘snacks’ do indeed outnumber any other place in the city while the surrounding environment has grown to accommodate a “BYOF” economy the simple fact remains that these are merely fried potatoes made by teenagers in T-shirts.

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Waiting for perhaps thirty minutes, the rain having stopped for once with several patrons taking large orders to parties-in-waiting at nearby bars, the cash-only nature of Maison Antoine led to a somewhat truncated experience as there were limited Euros left in my pocket, yet making due with four items plus a sauce for just €8.90 the Fries, sampled first, were actually the least impressive item ordered – the texture of smaller pieces crunchy and preferable to larger slices while the thick white sauce was rich with herbs and actually pretty great.

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Now convinced that Belgian Frites are really just a delivery mechanism for Sauce, further bites from the 1948 hut included crispy fried Meat not quite as rich as that at Café Georgette, the two styles of Croquette actually much better with the Cheese version actually preferable to mild Shrimp flavors as the texture came across less runny, reminiscent an Italian Arancini with particularly creamy rice.

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www.maisonantoine.be/

Posted in Belgium, Brussels, Food, Maison Antoine, Pork, Vacation

Hof Van Cleve, Kruishoutem BE

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Hof Van Cleve

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Non-Alcoholic Infusion of Ginger, Rhubarb, Herbs

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Beer Bread, Baguette, Country, Focaccia, 100% Spelt with Local Farmhouse Butter and Salted Bordier Select

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Carrot Ginger Cappuccino

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Crisps – Grey Shrimp, Curry, Mimolette / Skate Wing, Benne, Herbs

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Wagyu Beef Tartare – Anchovy, Cream of Basil, Crostini

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Herring – Granite, Green Herbs

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Langoustine – Chicken Liver, Radish

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Gambero Rosso – Puffed Rice, Romesco

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Line Caught Seabass – Miso, Cucumber, Green Apple, Uni, Quinoa in two services

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King Crab – Mosseron, Cauliflower, Chicken Jus, Celery, Mushrooms

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Codfish “North Sea: – Leek, Buttermilk, Smoked Eel, Green Asparagus

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Lobster “Oosterschelde” – Morel, Green Pea, Dune Asparagus

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Milk Fed Veal Sweetbreads – Picadilly, Eggplant, Cevennes Onion / Veal Cheek – Mousseline, Marrow, Garlic Flower

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Strawberry Gariguette – Curd, Lemon, Rhubarb

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Chocolate Fleur de Cao 70% – Caramel, Hazelnut, Cheesecake, Green Apple

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Dessert Trolley – Rhubarb Pie, Lemon Cassis Pie, Pistachio Cherry Pie, Raspberry Yogurt Pie, Apricot Custard Pie, Cream Puffs, Éclairs, Baba Au Rhum, English Tea Cake, Chocolates, Macarons, Marshmallows, Canele
Madelines and Smoutebollen
Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Pralines

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The culinary home of Chef Peter Goossens, an old farmhouse in Kruishoutem not far from the Dutch border, Restaurant Hof Van Cleve holds an interesting history that saw Goossens join the kitchen staff in 1987 before eventually purchasing it after accumulating worldwide accolades and although the process of making an online reservation was perhaps one of the most rude and difficult of all those found in Europe, the Summer 2016 tasting menu could not have been finer as the kitchen sent out over fifteen courses all-inclusive of canapes and mignardises.

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All-in-all a very small restaurant, the L-Shaped space from front door to kitchen containing perhaps thirty seats, it was at the far end of the second room that a two top big enough for four was offered and after a quick perusal of two tastings plus a la carte options the decision was made to select the more intensive experience, one small substitution allowed for without a question by the Chef.

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Functioning like many of Michelin’s very best, the service “present but invisible” while dining, yet completely cordial and informative when called upon, the tasting began with a pricy glass of bubbly plus a €20 Mocktail in tune with the season, a small bowl of carrot veloute served as a frothy cappuccino along with in-house bread service that featured five varieties, unsalted butter brought from a nearby farm with the salted version procured from Bordier.

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Difficult to know, precisely, where the gifts end and tasting begins, two crisps topped with seafood were dynamic bites of texture as well as taste, and although the tartare featured a great composition of “surf and turf” by way of anchovy dressing the marinated Herring under vibrant granite was ever more compelling with the typically poignant fish lent a whole new degree of levity.

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Progressing steadily through several seafood courses, the snappy Langoustine standing out alongside Chicken Liver mousse and Radish while cubes of Red Shrimp next played off puffed Rice atop Romesco, a truly wowing course arrived next by way of two services of Seabass , the first a room temperature filet in textures of Green Apple and Cucumber while the later bathed in warm miso with Sea Urchin and crispy Quinoa.

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More bread requested, the Spelt particularly remarkable, King Crab next arrived gently steamed next to Cauliflower and Mushrooms, the Codfish and Eel continuing to show Belgium’s fondness for Asparagus, as did the sizable segment of Lobster “Oosterschelde” whose sauce competed with that from Sea Grill’s Silver Press for ‘best ever status’ alongside tender Morels, twice-shucked Peas and even more Asparagus.

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Having requested the Sweetbread in place of Veal, a simple change that saw only the protein changed while the accoutrements remained the same, a selection of custom knives made by a nearby artisan were offered in tune with artwork and cheers equally local, the plate itself reining rich meat in by way of Picadilly and Aubergine while a sidecar of Veal Cheek was a well composed counterpoint in reduced stock beneath a satiny cap of Bone Marrow fortified Mousseline.

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Passing on Cheeses, the selection smaller than some but appearing to be enjoyed by a table of businessmen who partook, it was with amusement that the table adjacent enjoyed a simple Dame Blanche after an attenuated a la carte lunch, the degustation instead finishing with elegantly plated Strawberry Rhubarb as well as Dark Chocolate compositions, the later made truly memorable by way of Green Apple juice added tableside while the Dessert Trolley offered even more temptation followed by warm Madelines, Dutch Donuts, Chocolates and Pralines.

www.hofvancleve.com/

Posted in Belgium, Brussels, Canele, Crab, Dessert, Food, Hof Van Cleve, Ice Cream, Kruishoutem, Lobster, Macaron, Macaroon, Madeline, Sweetbreads, Tasting Menu, Vacation

Brian Joyeux, Brussels BE

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Brian Joyeux

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Coffee Macaron

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Strawberry Financier

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Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookie

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Kugelhopf

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Vanilla Brioche Pudding

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Caramel Chocolate Fondant

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Apricot Tart

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Baba Au Rhum

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Located on upscale Congresstraat in Brussels, and home to pastries that many consider to be the best country wide, Brian Joyeux Patisserie could almost be passed by those unaware of the talent lying within its confines, a mere two stairs above street level seeing several European classics raised by a much greater degree.

Combining the storefront with the workshop, Chef Joyeux busy at work with a rolling pin during much of the time spent perusing options while speaking with the store clerk, an early arrival found the shop open just minutes at 09h05 and with a bevy of options already decorating glass shelves and the windowside the promise that even more would be available later did indeed prove quite tempting, though in reality a Baker’s Half-Dozen plus a gifted Macaron would prove a rather daunting amount of sweetness in a day that also included lunch at Hof Van Cleve.

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No doubt an impeccable array, some of the items already accounted for in outgoing orders later discovered to be sold at Laurent Gerbaud, it was with a few favorites immediately optioned that further decisions were deferred to the Chef and his Assistant, the Chocolate Fondant filled with liquid Caramel still mesmerizing nearly twelve hours later with a cup of Coffee back at the Hilton Hotel.

Pricey compared to others, though still a bargain when compared to Paris, London or many major Metros back in the United States, tastes following the delicate Macaron sampled in-store began with a buttery Financier dense with Almond Flour beneath poached Strawberries and progressed nicely into Vanilla Bread Pudding that somehow managed the rare feat of being completely soaked with Custard while still maintaining a bready texture with occasional pieces of dried fruit dotting the interior here and there.

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Admittedly a bit let down by a cookie, the Dark Chocolate nicely melted but the center cooked too hard, better bites were found in the elegant Apricot Tart whose light charring helped offset some of the sweetness, dried pieces of the same fruit found in a Kugelhopf that was actually still ‘wet’ within its wispy center despite a perfect golden exterior, the Baba au Rhum absolutely sopping with Simple Syrup and Booze beneath a cloud of Cream and Citrus shavings.

www.brianjoyeux.be/

Posted in Belgium, Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Brian Joyeux, Brussels, Dessert, Food, Macaron, Macaroon, Vacation

La Fleur du Pain, Ixelles BE

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La Fleur du Pain

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Triple Chocolate Bread

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Chocolate Snail

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Pear Tart

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Cherry Tart

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Apricot Cream Pastry

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Single Baked Almond Croissant

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Double Baked Almond Croissant

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Located on Place Eugene Flagey, a location more rapidly accessible by foot during the morning rush than it is by car, La Fleur du Pain is another of those ‘locals only’ sorts of bakeries where lines move fast and English is limited, a 7h00 Friday arrival finding a queue of about a dozen with the doors having just opened.

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Somewhere in the middle of the pack as relates to variety, the choices on all sides not ‘limited’ but alo not as vast as Patisserie de Baere or Le Saint Aulaye, those arriving at La Fleur du Pain during early morning hours are likely to find breads and viennoiserie still warm from the oven and although Pastry selections apparently expand by midday, there are still several including some larger format options ready for take-away.

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On par for price to other local artisans, the seven items purchased just under €17, paying attention proves beneficial at La Fleur du Pain as there are not one, but two, styles of Almond Croissant offered, the single baked version wispy like a traditional Croissant aux Beurre while the other was sliced and filled with almond paste with a crown of even more sliced nuts toasted on with frangipane, both great with the choice as to which was better really a personal sort of thing.

Showing a good degree of butter by way of the escargot coiled around melting bits of Dark Chocolate, La Fleur du Pain continues to shine when it comes to the use of Fresh Fruits over laminated all-butter pastry in any number of shapes, the Apricot version perhaps a bit soggy by way of cream while both Tarts were textbook with edges slightly charred.

Known for their breads, a whole loaf wasteful for just one with a few smaller sizes available, it was on the recommendation of a middle-aged woman standing in line that a small “Triple Chocolate” roll was selected, the texture something like that of a rustic country loaf speckled with Dark and Milk Chocolate pieces while the crumb itself infused with infused with unsweetened cocoa allowing bitter notes to balance the sweetness.

http://www.lafleurdupain.com

Posted in Belgium, Breakfast, Brussels, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Ixelles, La Fleur du Pain, Vacation

L’Air du Temps, Eghezee BE

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L’Air du Temps

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Onion cereal Crisp and Fennel water

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Bouquet from the Garden, Samjang, Hazelnut Butter

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Potato and Tarama / Mushrooms and Indian Cress

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Sourdough Cereal Bread with local butter and butter with ponzu

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Peas and Polenta, Granny Smith Juice

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Oyster kiwi

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Gambero Rosso, Spinach, Orange, Carrots

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Turnip and Belgian Caviar

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Liernu’s Garden served in the kitchen with fermented lactose, oil of lovage

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Lobster Flower with Geranium and Tomato jus

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Lobster Pie, Sate Juice, Meadowsweet, Lemon

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Leaf of Gin – Lovage sorbet

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Ground Beet as a Sesame Salad with Elderflower

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Kohlrabi Carbonara with Katsuobushi

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Lamb Shoulder slowly cooked 8 hours with soy, seaweed

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Oyster of lamb, oyster sauce, plankton

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Cheese ‘like a pastry’ – Beaufort alpage, Gingerbread, Maple Syrup

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Olive Oil ice cream, toffee, lemon meringue

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Wasabi leaf with burned white chocolate

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Rhubarb,accacia, elderflower

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Strawberry, milk chocolate,biscuit

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Lollipops – Orange Blossom, Coffee, Kalamansi, Pistachio, etc.

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Owned by Sang Hoon Degeimbre with a newer, larger location in the small town of Eghezee, L’Air du Temps has been posited by many to be Belgium’s next Three Star recipient from Bibendum, the current Two Stars probably a fair assessment of the restaurant’s current execution though the steady progression over time shows that the best is likely yet to come.

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Truly a work of passion, the Chef who came to Belgium by way of adoption at the age of five now one of its true culinary icons with his restaurant and style evolving since 1997, L’Air du Temps is now benefitted by a full culinary garden not unlike that of Hertog Jan and upping the ante by way of a more casual environment including “floating bread” hanging at each table on arrival the environment is as comfortable as it is classy, the naked wooden tables fitting the restaurant’s embrace of nature rather nicely.

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Offering just two tasting menus, though those truly interested can indeed request just a few plates a la carte, it seemed as though all present in the packed house opted for the longer degustation and adding €10 for a composed Cheese course the total number of plates topped twenty, open bites including bites from the garden highlighted by a Mushroom tart with Indian Cress, the first of several herbs rarely seen on menus elsewhere.

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Poured a glass of lightly sweetend Fennel Juice to pair with early plates, peas with hand-ground cornmeal brightened by apple before a juicy oyster kissed with kiwi, Bread at L’Air Du Temps is another elegant Cereal Sourdough served with butter from “a farmhouse just a kilometer that way” plus one tinged with Ponzu, the later dangerous in that it will quickly see the Bread plate empty.

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Bringing in an impressive array of seafood, the large Red Shrimp flattened on Toast with a surprising boost from Carrots fresh from the garden, the first ‘wow’ moment of many came by way of what appeared to be a grey-white Ravioli at the center of the plate, a cut with the fork actually showing it to be completely made of Radishes overlying Caviar that foiled bitter with briny.

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Taken to the kitchen to stand while enjoying Liernu’s Garden, the classic dish showing several Vegetables fresh from the earth in a fermented broth that helped to accentuate the freshness of each bite, return to the table saw Degeimbre launch into a one-two combination of lobster, the “Flower” served with Geranium and tomato juice while the signature pie is undoubtedly one of the most memorable dishes in all of Belgium with plenty of poached Crustacean off-set by frothy citrus cream.

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Refreshing mouths by way of a light leaf of sorbet charged tableside by gin, Ground Beets next found themselves crowned with Elderflower in a makeshift “Sesame Salad” and moving swiftly into ‘noodles’ comprised of Kohlrabi with an egg and shaved Tuna the palate was once again engaged to more savory elements, the lamb shoulder and ‘oyster’ both plated as beautifully as the courses before them with flavors that challenge conformity.

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No doubt a bargain for the Cheese Course, the sizable Mille-Feuille pairing soft cheese with Maple Syrup, Gingerbread Crisps and light Vanilla Cream, desserts at L’Air du Temps began with a dried Wasabi dusted in White Chocolate that ate like shaved Coconut, the Olive Oil and Lemon shards reminiscent of dessert number one at Hertog Jan while those that followed continued to show the kitchen’s love of Spring flowers, the Rhubarb Pie almost as memorable as the Lobster one earlier while the Chocolate and Strawberries were simple yet pleasant, as too were the take-home lollipops from a tableside trolley.

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http://airdutemps.be/

Posted in Belgium, Bread Basket, Brussels, Dessert, Eghezee, Food, Ice Cream, Lobster, L’Air du Temps, Tasting Menu, Vacation

Waffle Factory, Brussels BE

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Waffle Factory

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Liege with Melted Chocolate

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Brussels with Speculoos Ice Cream

Although the Brussels Waffle and Gaufre Liege can be found on any number of streets in most of Belgium’s major cities, it was Waffle Factory and its several location that seemed the most “chain-like” or “quick-casual” of all the shops visited during a recent trip, the process streamline by big boards and suggestions for customization while the results were actually on par with many others at a higher price.

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In this particular instance visiting the corner store at Rue du Lombard 30, a number of English speaking tourists just finishing up an order as the options were perused, a credit card friendly environment was a welcome change compared to places like Belgaufra or Le Funambule and taking the opportunity to double up on both styles of dough the process from entry to ordering to exit took less than ten minutes with the total tab just €7.50.

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Saying yes to Powdered Sugar, the dusting added before toppings including molten Dark Chocolate and a hefty scoop of Speculoos Ice Cream, opening bites of the Brussels version showed a good crunch over light malt with the Ice Cream unexpectedly high quality considering the low pricetag, a taste of the Liege Waffle proving to be even better with the Sugar Pearls melted to form a sticky caramelized base beneath a texture pillow-soft yet stretchy.

www.wafflefactory.com

Posted in Belgium, Brussels, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Vacation, Waffle, Waffle Factory, Waffles