Yonaka Modern Japanese, Las Vegas NV

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Yonaka Modern Japanese

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Cucumber Basil Martini – Sake, Basil, Cucumber, Lemon

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Compressed Cucumber, Tomato, Salmon Eggs, Micro-basil

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Crispy Brussel Sprouts – Lemon, Chili, Mint, Puffed Rice

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Beet Fries – Rosemary, Sea Salt, Housemade Kewpie-style mayo

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Karaage – Fried Chicken, Jalapeno, Mint, Basil, Onion

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Sake Orenji – Scottish Salmon, Orange Supreme, Yuzu Tobiko, Orange Oil, Maldon

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Nana Iro – Yellowtail, Grapefruit, Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Fennel, Chili Sauce

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Suika Saka – Lean Tuna, Watermelon, Jalapeno, Mint, Cilantro, Basil Oil

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Palate Cleanser – Winter melon, apple, mango, mint, micro-basil, strawberry water

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Meat Candy – Twice Cooked Caramel Glazed Pork Belly, Kimchee Apple, Cilantro

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Niku Berry – Wagyu, Strawberries, Enoki, King’s Trumpet Mushroom, Fennel Fronds, Fried Egg Puree, Thai Chimichurri

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Sakana Yaki – Grilled Black Bass, Raibow Cauliflower, Cauliflower Dashi, Cucumber, Crème Fraiche

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Age Maki – Baby Yellowtail, Avocado, Yuzu Kosho, Cilantro, Tempura

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Foie Gras Nigiri – Liver, cous-cous

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Corn Urchin – Grilled Corn, Uni-miso Butter, Uni, Negi

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Greenies – Green Tea Brownie, Strawberry, Mint, White Chocolate

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Chokobeets – Chocolate, Beet Ice Cream, Cocoa Nib

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Kanmi-O – Peanut, Strawberry, Maple, Bacon, Banana

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Mango Cotta – Mango, Pistachio, Coconut

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Reinvigorated in my interests for Modern Japanese ‘fusion’ by a March experience with the Beard Award winning cuisine of Chef Tyson Cole at Uchi it was with guarded optimism that I assented to a friend’s suggestion to finally visit Yonaka; a three hour and sixteen course tasting of dynamic flavors and pristine balance proving the best I’ve experienced in Las Vegas this calendar year. Located in a typical strip mall on West Flamingo and featuring a concept self described as ‘Japanese tapas’ the evening began with the simple decision of bar versus table and opting for the later amidst a warm yet stark interior it was to the tune of a shared $95 omakase plus several supplements that the meal unfolded – an invigorating paco-jet concentrated cucumber amuse setting the stage for what would follow. Beginning first with a trio of fried happy hour bar-snacks from which the ‘best’ would be impossible to select and then transitioning into several amply portioned plates both cold and hot it was early on that a consistent pattern of superlative proteins over bright citrus and subtle aromatics emerged, the Suika Saka and Sakana Yaki particularly enthralling while the slightly overcooked Niku Berry’s beef proved that a mélange of mushrooms can truly save a plate, particularly served point/counterpoint with tart early-season strawberries. Rounding out savories with the crunchy Age Maki, an inspired take on Mexican Street corn dressed with briny uni, plus a $9 bite of slightly overseared foie gras cribbed direct from Austin it was at long last that we transitioned to sweets, a trio ordered but four delivered and all amongst the best I’ve experienced from Eastern influenced cuisine – the mango ‘yolk’ of the panna cotta and banana pudding-come-crème brulee Kanmi-O both on par with the pastry at Robuchon or Twist at half the price.

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FIVE STARS: Michelin quality Japanese Fusion just off the strip. A sharable Omakase plus most items a la carte under $15 delivered with superlative service make Yonaka perhaps the best “fine dining” value in Sin City.

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RECOMMENDED: Omakase and every single dessert.

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AVOID: Seared items trended weaker than those fried or raw, the foie gras and Wagyu both suffering slightly from the heat but not ‘bad’ by any means.

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TIP: The happy hour menu is ONLY offered at the bar, however they’ll happily serve you the beet fries at the table if you ask nicely.

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

http://www.yonakajapaneserestaurant.com/

Posted in Dessert, Foie, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Sushi, Tasting Menu, Yonaka, Yonaka Modern Japanese

The Cupcakery, Las Vegas NV

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The Cupcakery

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Southern Belle – Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Bugsy – Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Kir Royale – Raspberry Cake with Champagne Frosting

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El Rolo – Rich Chocolate Cake piped with Dulce de Leche with Chocolate Ganache

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Zoolander – Zucchini Cake with pecans, chocolate chips, pineapple and Cream Cheese Frosting

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Sweet & Salty – Caramel Cake with Swirled Cream Cheese Frosting, Caramel, Himalayan Pink Salt

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Formerly with several locations spread across the valley but recently supplanted on the Strip by Corner Cakes it was a brief meeting that brought me to Lake Meade Boulevard’s “The Cupcakery” and with smiling staff serving up several novel interpretations of their eponymous treat it seems unthinkable to me that anyone would eschew such a place in favor of its abhorrent substitute. Featuring no less than eighteen varieties on my Saturday visit with all selections made in-house of largely organic ingredients, pure butter, and no preservatives each $3.25 creation of owner Pamela Jenkins begins with an impressively moist base featuring light sweetness and a supple crumb before building upward to a variety of frostings, the majority cream cheese, ready to serve the sweet tooth but never to overwhelm – the result a series of balanced bites with subtlety and nuance at the fore, In many ways overwhelming in options given cakes both traditional and trendy it was with the dainty Kir Royale that my tasting began and progressing light to heavy it was next the appropriately titled “Sweet & Salty” that wowed, the pink crystals a textural masterstroke and veritable palate cleanser to slightly under-spiced carrot cake and the inspired chocolate freckled Zoolander instantly rousing memories of Autumn in Ohio. Tasting bites throughout the afternoon interspersed with sips of La Colombe’s Corsica it was perhaps an effect of my coffee predilections that my final two tastes of The Cupcakery would prove most memorable and as good as the prototypical Red Velvet was in delivering light cocoa beneath aggressive tang it was the seasonal “El Rolo” that stole the spotlight, an Amedei-like smokiness to the dark chocolate proving an ample foil to intensely sweet liquid caramel.

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FOUR STARS: Excellent quality cupcakes in unique flavors with an eye on balance, texture, and ingredients.

RECOMMENDED: Chocolate anything.

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AVOID: Carrot Cake – it is not bad, but in a city where great carrot cakes exist you’d be better off with the Zoolander to satisfy vegetal interests.

TIP: They offer samples at the register and cupcakes on par with Sprinkles for $1 less.

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

http://www.thecupcakery.com

Posted in cupcakes, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, The Cupcakery

District One Kitchen & Bar, Las Vegas NV

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District One Kitchen & Bar

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Tamarind Chicken Wings

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Green Papaya Salad – Shrimp, Pork, Mint, Crushed Roasted Peanut

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Fish Tacos – Yellowtail, Avocado, Cilantro, Cherry Tomato

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Oxtail Pho

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The Big Bone Soup – Bone and Marrow Soup

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Slow Braised Pork Belly in Young Coconut Juice – Boiled Egg, Steamed Jasmine Rice

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1lb Shrimp D1 Goodness, Medium Heat

Occupying the former home of Cravin’ Cajun and serving up modern Vietnamese cuisine in a room one part hipster-industrial and one part sports bar it was with a group of five that I sat down at District One Kitchen & Bar just minutes after noon and focusing our order on variety the results proved ‘variable’ at best. Clearly untrained and understaffed to handle a restaurant nearly 3/4 full by 12:30 it was with a trio of appetizers that our meal began and with beverage refills scarce as servers ran in circles perhaps it was fortuitous that none of the first round proved remotely spicy, the hamachi tacos bright and crisp at $3 each while dull, limp wings and the vinegar tinged salad proved entirely forgettable…and not particularly ‘Vietnamese’ at all. Moving next to larger scale items, a duo of pho dishes would prove respectable if not particularly well presented; the supple oxtail imbuing long rice noodles with a meaty sapor while an enormous proximal femur laced its broth with fat to balance ample scallions, though heat remained mute even in the presence of sliced jalapenos. Moving finally to the items that showed the kitchen’s promise, suffice it to say that tender pork belly first braised then rendered soft in coconut milk proved by far the most complex option of the afternoon despite its unexpected sweetness and although a seemingly odd choice, the throwback ‘get down n’ dirty’ shrimp finally delivered in the spice department, a pound of the snappy shell-ons again leaving my water-glass empty while wondering why we hadn’t just gone to Crab Corner or Hot n’ Juicy instead.

TWO STARS: An “everything to everyone” menu that seems to dumb down tradition in order to target a larger audience.

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RECOMMENDED: Fish tacos, pork belly.

AVOID: Papaya salad, chicken wings, expectations that anything will be particularly funky or interesting.

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TIP: Service is perfunctory and reactionary with little regard for assisting one another. Anticipate your needs and ask for items like knives, sharing plates, and refills early/repeatedly or be prepared to wait.

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

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http://www.facebook.com/DistrictOneLV

Posted in District One, District One Kitchen & Bar, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork

Wake Up Coffee Cafe, Las Vegas NV

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Wake Up Coffee Café

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Fig Strudel

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Bird’s Nest Pastry

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Chocolate Chip Blondie

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Walnut Roll

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Cannoli

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Baklava

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Phyllo Napoleon

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Honeymoon Cake

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Baba Rum

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Having driven past the small Charleston storefront daily for nearly five months it was finally this Saturday that I decided to stop in at Wake Up Coffee Café, the husband-and-wife owned Armenian bakery greeting myself and a pair of local police officers with hot beverages and breakfast savorires alongside a tempting display of cakes, cookies, and pastries ranging several continents and cultures. Allowing the cops to go first as I browsed the options with the enviable task of spending a $20 gift certificate I was immediately taken aback by the low prices displayed below each item and fortunately en route to a brief morning meeting my selections ran a nine item gamut, the total bill a mere $21.45 and only a soggy cannoli and overly sweet baba proving anything less than impressive. Admittedly a touch slow in service as the owner tended to both the café and drive-thru it was with a warm fig strudel that my Wake Up tasting began and with shattering layers around sweet fruit my hopes for the rest soared, the boxed options experienced two hours later with much sharing and praise from my two colleagues but the glut of the bounty left to me. Trending light to rich alongside bold coffee both the macaroon-crisp walnut roll and reinterpreted napoleon offered serious textural contrast overlying mild flavors while traditional takes on the chocolate chip strewn blondie and dense baklava rivaled the city’s best – a sentiment I can only assume to be true of the novel cream-meets-crunch Bird’s Nest and a condensed milk sweetened graham and walnut butter “Honeymoon Cake” similar to the more appropriately titled “Dream” Cake at Manan.

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THREE AND A HALF STARS: A first generation Armenian immigrant couple turning out excellent ethnic pastries in a cozy room with a convenient drive-thru at bargain basement prices. The “American Dream” in a city full of dreamers.

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RECOMMENDED: Honeymoon Cake, Bird’s Nest, Baklava.

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AVOID: Cream filled selections like the cannoli or baba as they are made the night prior and prone to ‘sog.’

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TIP: Currently offering $10 restaurant.com certificates (must spend $20) and soon to launch a Groupon, though low prices for good quality should not dissuade a full price visit.

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

https://www.facebook.com/WakeUpCoffeeCafe

Posted in Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, Wake Up Coffee Cafe

Roxy’s Diner, Las Vegas NV

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Roxy’s Diner

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Coffee

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Cinnamon Roll French Toast

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French Toast Breakfast Sandwich – Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Cheddar, Biscuit, Maple Syrup, Jelly, Honey

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Butter Pecan Bread Pudding

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Carrot Cake

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Located in the lobby of The Stratosphere and operating 24/7 since its inception Roxy’s Diner had always struck me as the sort of restaurant targeting the hotel’s drunken late nights but with a recent menu update and a fresh coat of paint I suddenly found the place calling my name, a 6:00am breakfast proving well worth the trek. Large in size and copious in choices from the ‘all-day’ menu as Marilyn Monroe films and 50s décor flourish beneath an era appropriate soundtrack it was to smiling service that my arrival was met and although coffee refills occasionally required reminder nothing about kitschy cuisine lacked in the least. Beginning first with a duo of French Toasts, one part savory and one thoroughly sweet, suffice it to say that when compared to central-strip 24/7s like Central or Carnegie Roxy’s portions trend large for the price and although the sandwich was quite good with crispy bacon and fluffy eggs between supple bread it paled in comparison to the cinnamon roll’s gluttonous spiral complete with frosting and further gilded with a warm maple sidecar. Setting aside parts of the first course “to-go” (a ridiculous $1 surcharge for the box on my bill) and turning attention to desserts it was to another duo that I was treated and although I’m rather certain the bread pudding suffered a delay en route given the lukewarm temperature and melted ice cream the flavors were quite pleasant, a compliment equally offered to a sizable $6 carrot cake rife with cinnamon and thickly frosted with citrus-tinged cream cheese.

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THREE STARS: A 50’s styled diner executing at the level expected for a diner with some clever twists and big portions at low prices compared to the central strip.

RECOMMENDED: Cinnamon Roll French Toast, Carrot Cake

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AVOID: Taking items “to-go,” as even leftovers will carry a $1 surcharge.

TIP: There are waitresses and ‘coffee servers’ – these are two independent roles and they don’t always seem to communicate. Identify your coffee server early on if you’re the sort to drain a pot in the course of a meal.

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

http://www.stratospherehotel.com/Casino/Dining/Roxy-s-diner

Posted in Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Roxy's, Roxy's Diner

Yusho, Las Vegas NV

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Yusho

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Last Word – London Dry Gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino, Lime, Egg White

Rapid Descent – Genever, Orange Curacao, Lemon, Eau De Vie (not photographed)

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Shigoku Oysters

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2xFried Chicken – Kanzuri, Green Tea Lime

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Octopus – Haricot Vert, Egg Yolk, Enoki Mushroom

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Duck Breast – Shitake Marmalade, Scallion

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Veggie Tempura – Seasonal Selection, Daikon Ponzu

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Charred Eggplant – Japanese Mint, Plum, Peanuts

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Duck Leg – Plum BBQ, Herbs, Steam Buns

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Japanese Griddle Cake – Squid, Green Papaya, Thai Basil (Okonomiyaki)

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NY Aged Strip Steak – Wagyu, Nori, Mushroom, Peppercorn

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Pork Shoulder – Kimchi, Cilantro

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Doughnuts – Tofu, Sweet Potato, Rosemary

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Soft Serve – Coffee, Fernet Caramel, Pop Rocks, Nori

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In a city full of displaced Chicagoans longing for their beef, dogs, and deep dish it would seem odd to some that one of the most exciting Windy City imports to Sin City in years has arrived in the form of Japanese Street food but having been lucky enough to attend the soft opening this Saturday suffice it to say that Yusho is poised to buck the trend of “celebrity chef” Strip-side dining. Owned by Matthias Merges and nothing short of stellar in its Avondale location where service, sourcing, and skills befitting his Michelin starred past found new footing in reinterpreted yakitori, a visit to Yusho at the Monte Carlo begins with the space, a jazzed up version of the original with a long floorplan plus eye-popping colors juxtaposing the gleaming open kitchen and with knowledgeable servers brought in from icons like Savoy and Robuchon without any pomp or pretense the ‘experience’ unfolds like few others – casually refined and a whole lot of fun, the kitchen and front of house doing each other justice even on day one. Speaking to the cuisine itself, having already visited the original twice a few selections were made while allowing the kitchen carte blanche otherwise and beginning with pristine oysters each of the eleven courses that followed proved superlative, the signature 2xChicken as good as ever while eggplant, pork shoulder, and crispy duck served with bao all served notice that that Fat Choy is no longer the only game in town. Surprised by the nutty, acid kissed octopus before being wowed by both the umami-laden wrapped Wagyu and a fluffy okonomiyaki serving up funk and heat tempered by fruit it was finally with a duo of desserts that we concluded and although the softserve remains a worthy staple it was the doughnuts that stole the show, an unexpected lightness from the tofu beneath sophisticated herbal notes and crystallized ginger, just barely sweet. Admittedly a fan of Chef Merges dating back to a meal partly responsible for stoking my love of fine dining during his tenure at Charlie Trotter’s only time will tell whether such a radical departure from the Vegas ‘norm’ will yield success, but with a great team already in place and a dynamic cocktail menu including several draught options alongside the sort of food this city has not yet seen I know I’ll be back soon because whether for drinks, bites, or a full meal Yusho is the sort of restaurant Las Vegas Boulevard needs.

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http://montecarlo.com/restaurants/yusho.aspx

Posted in Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Octopus, Pork, Yusho

Carlo’s Bakery, Las Vegas NV

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Carlo’s Bakery

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Chocolate Cannoli and Cannoli

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Chocolate dipped Pecan Wedge

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Butter Crumb Danish

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Red Velvet Cupcake

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Carrot Cake Cupcake

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Napoleon

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Chocolate Meringue

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7-Layer Cookie

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Admittedly surprised by the passionate service of red sauce classics at Buddy V’s and Chef Valastro’s hands on approach to business during an early walkthrough of his imported Hoboken storefront it was with seemingly appropriate expectations that I approached the newly minted Carlo’s Bakery during its first official Saturday at The Venetian but with high prices, meager portions, and pedestrian pastry besmirched by long lines and paltry service suffice it to say the “cake boss” has a lot to learn. Clever in design and diverse in craft with cakes, cannoli, cookies by the pound and more sold in the Italian tradition of tickets and hand bills Carlo’s problems begin at the door where several starry eyed customers forget tickets in the face of photo-ops and proceeding to the counter the issue is multiplied by mislabeled product, the fledgling staff all the more confused with items frequently forgotten by many early reports – in my case a $3 creampuff for which I was charged but never received. Moving next to the product, prices not substantially different from the east coast flagship but still dramatically inflated given the name on the door, my tasting began with a pair of pre-filled cannolis and with sog already setting in suffice it to say better can be had at Montesano’s for half the price, any true Italian realizing filled-to-order is the only way to go. Admittedly disappointed but moving on to more, a duo of $3.50 cupcakes smaller and far less inspiring than Sprinkles or Bouchon would follow and proceeding to a duo of forgettable cookies I was thankful when three forms of puff pastry finally proved memorable – the fresh-cut Napoleon I’d watched the team layer, frost, and cut in the kitchen a flaky masterpiece and the still-warm cinnamon strudel danish a pastry well worth the five bucks. Obviously new and clearly capable of sustaining a few bumps in the road on the backs of adoring fans it will be interesting to see just how long Buddy and team can ride the initial wave of hype, but featuring the only legitimate Italian Bakery on the strip I’m sure they’ll be around long enough to justify waiting to visit unless one is a true fan – and even then I’d suggest checking out Freed’s or Montesano’s first.

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TWO AND A HALF STARS: Paying a premium for the location and celebrity chef ‘experience.’

RECOMMENDED: Puff pastry, specifically items you watch them make fresh.

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AVOID: Anything filled and left to sit.

TIP: Get there early and grab a ticket or be prepared to wait; check your order before you leave.

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

http://www.carlosbakery.com/

Posted in Breakfast, Carlo's Bakery, Dessert, Food, Italian, Las Vegas, Nevada

Cathay House Restaurant, Las Vegas NV

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Cathay House Restaurant

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XLB

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Shu Mai

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Steamed BBQ Pork Buns

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Lobster Special with Ginger Noodles

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Egg Custard Tarts

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Baked Egg Yolk Buns

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Baked BBQ Pork Buns

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Crispy Garlic Smelt

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Baked Coconut Buns

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Crispy Duck

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Sticky Pork Ribs

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Shrimp and Crab Balls

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Having found KJ Seafood and Dim Sum at the Rio a good value for high quality cart service as a packed dining room assured freshly circulating plates throughout our ninety minute stay it was with a group of five that I sat down at Spring Mountain staple Cathay House hoping to further dispel rumors of Sin City’s subpar dim sum but with slipshod service and too few patrons even on Saturday at noon the results were, at best, mixed. Starting at the door where hasty greetings lead us to the back room it would be less that thirty seconds after seating that the blitzkrieg began – baskets and steamers that had clearly been propped against the wall shoved in our faces with several selections requiring an unannounced trip to the kitchen microwave – and kicking off with a trio of steamed options it was only BBQ Pork buns that proved competent as rubbery XLB and Shu Mai skins undermined otherwise juicy contents. Still frenetic in pace as a $16 lobster special with slippery noodles swimming in ginger found its way to the table alongside a trio of excellent baked pastries it would unfortunately not be long before these gems were lost amidst overly salted garlic smelt and a dry coconut sponge, the duo immediately leaving me parched as beverage refills lagged. Admittedly underwhelmed at this point but willing to go one more round it was at long last (actually only 40 minutes) that Cathay House would rally with a strong finish from a duo of kitchen fresh carts – the crispy duck, sticky pork ribs, and supple shrimp balls all piping hot and reference standard leaving me to wonder what could have been had everything else been delivered fresh.

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TWO STARS: Cheap and quick or Affordable and rushed; glass half full or glass half empty?

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RECOMMENDED: Baked Egg Yolk Buns, Crispy Duck, Shrimp Balls

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AVOID: Anything they suggest needs to be rewarmed, anything wrapped and streamed.

 

TIP: Request a seat in the main room and pay attention to the kitchen door, only order what is truly fresh.

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

 

http://www.yelp.com/biz/cathay-house-restaurant-las-vegas

Posted in Cathay House, Cathay House Restaurant, Crab, Food, Las Vegas, Lobster, Nevada, Pork

Terrace Point Cafe and Drugstore Cafe, Las Vegas NV

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Drugstore Café and Terrace Point Café

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Magic Cookie Bar – Coconut, Caramel, Shortbread, Chocolate, Pretzels

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Almond Croissant

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Frosted Cinnamon Roll

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Maine Lobster Benedict – Poached Eggs, Lobster, Roasted Corn, Asparagus, Bacon Waffles, Béarnaise, Skillet Red Potatoes

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Chicken and Waffles – two fried chicken breasts, poached egg, bacon-scallion waffle, spiced maple syrup

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Red Velvet Pancakes – White Chocolate Shavings, Chocolate Chip Nibs, Vanilla Cream Glaze

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Captain Crunch Coated Brioche French Toast – Salted Buttered Pecans, Caramelized Banana, Toffee, Maple Syrup

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Located in The Wynn overlooking the resort’s lush gardens and pools Terrace Point Café had long been on my breakfast ‘to-do’ list and with a Saturday morning meeting behind me our 9:00am arrival found myself and a friend squarely in the middle of the restaurant’s morning bustle, a friendly but overburdened server named Hector providing service for the subsequent two hours. Open for breakfast and lunch featuring a well culled ‘all-day’ menu of novel takes on staples from each it was with minimal delay that options were perused and opting for one course savory and a second sweet it would not be long before plates arrived, each surprisingly well portioned and pristinely prepared to justify an admittedly high tariff. Beginning with butter-poached lobster atop savory waffles and a bed of fresh vegetables liberally topped with creamy béarnaise alongside two crispy fried chicken breasts stacked amidst supple waffles crowned with an egg and Crystal infused maple syrup suffice it to say that both ingredient sourcing and preparation technique proved every bit worthy of Steve Wynn’s reputation and yet as good as these were the sweets that followed were even better, the crunch-yields-custard French Toast among the nation’s best even before adding pure maple syrup while the mountain of fluffy pancakes sandwiching layers of vanilla tinged cream cheese resembled a true Red Velvet cake big enough to share…amongst four. Truly an enjoyable morning bathed in the warm sunshine of immense windows and high ceilings it was admittedly with some regret that we neglected to taste any of Terrace Point’s pastries but returning later that day after a bit of Fashion Show shopping I opted to make amends at grab-and-go sister, Drugstore Café – a trio of three items proving equally competent to that served in the dining room with both a decadent brioche cinnamon roll and rich “magic” cookie bar proving delicious and slightly superior to the twice-baked almond croissant; a shattering shell and great texture marred by just a bit too much sweet frangipane; a good choice for the strip but a far cry from Bonjour or Sugar Bee’s for city’s best.

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http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/Restaurants/CasualDining/TerracePointCafe

Posted in Breakfast, Croissant, Dessert, Drugstore Cafe, Food, French Toast, Las Vegas, Lobster, Nevada, Pancakes, Pork, Terrace Point Cafe, Waffles

Rollin’ Smoke Barbeque, Las Vegas NV

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Rollin Smoke Barbeque

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AYCE Plate 1 – Brisket, Pulled Pork, Spare Ribs, Corn Nuggets, Hush Puppies

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Banana Pudding

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Corn Bread

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AYCE Plate 2 – Beef Rib, Smoked Chicken, Smoked Meatloaf, Loaded Mashed Potato, Fried Onion Strings

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Peach Cobbler with Blue Bell Ice Cream

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Having recently returned from a Lone Star State tour of smoked meat Meccas ranging from Black’s and Snow’s to Pecan Lodge and Franklin it was with modest expectations but high hopes that I approached Rollin Smoke, a space many locals and critics have hailed as the best barbeque in Las Vegas, and opting to explore the menu through a generous $24.99 all-you-can eat program I must say I walked away a (very full) believer. Located on South Highland where outdoor smokers and burning hickory alert the senses to something more than industrial surroundings Rollin Smoke is as small and homey as many a’ Texas or Kansas City ‘cue spots and staffed by Razorback pitmaster Trey Holland plus a dedicated team of enthusiasts the service is every bit on par with that down south – a true love of the art noted in lengthy answers to questions about woods, temperatures, and process while simultaneously making sure every guest is content. Featuring a diverse menu with spices and rubs harkening the style of BBQ found across the south but a bit more aggressively sweet than that in Texas it was with a trio of smoked meats, two must-order sides, and buttery cornbread that I began and although brisket was a bit drier than I’d prefer the smoke was prominent and flavor was on point – a trend extending to fatty ribs and supple pulled pork that lacked not for juices, the latter falling just short of KC’s Oklahoma Joe’s reference standard. Still nibbling at the creamy corn nuggets as plate two arrived it was here that I sampled Holland’s two most raved items and with a blackened caramelized crust overlying tender flesh and melted collagen the beef rib wowed just as much as the signature meatloaf, absolutely rife with hickory notes and light heat amidst a delicately packed beef. Ignoring decent but mundane chicken and mac n’ cheese I found inedibly bland compared to the rich potatoes and previous fried sides it was with a duo of desserts that I rounded out the tasting and suffice it to say that while banana pudding tastes straight from a box the focus should instead be directed to the cobbler, a bubbling bowl of soft peaches with buttery pie crust crowned with Texas’ own Blue Bell vanilla – a perfect end to a pretty damned good meal by any standard.

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http://rollinsmokebarbeque.com

Posted in Bread Basket, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Rollin Smoke, Rollin' Smoke Barbeque

Sprinkles, Las Vegas NV

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Sprinkles

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Red Velvet – Cream Cheese Frosting

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Cuban Coffee – Light Chocolate Cake, Coffee Frosting, Cinnamon, Cocoa

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Triple Cinnamon – Buttermilk Cake, Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, Cinnamon Sugar

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Chocolate Chip Cookie

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Peanut Butter Pretzel Chip Cookie

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Salted Oatmeal Cornflake Cookie / Salty Caramel Ice Cream – House Made Caramel, Fleur de Sel

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Snickerdoodle

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Having first visited Sprinkles when it was a single shop in Beverley Hills as far back as January 2007 and watching the brand, its portfolio, and its prices grow while portions have shrunk I was admittedly curious to see how the hour-long waits of old would translate to a supersized store in The Linq, a Saturday morning visit just after opening mitigating any queue and a sizable order proving that the brand has actually aged well. Friendly in service and large in footprint with ice cream to the right, cupcakes to the left, and the ever popular (and hilariously confusing to Euro-tourists looking for cash) ATM outdoors it was to the tune of $27 that an order of three cakes, four cookies, and a scoop of ice cream…plus several tastes…were procured and taking a wobbly seat beneath the boom of Beyonce followed by Bee-Gee’s the indulgence began. Starting off with a cookie sandwich, crafted carefully with intense caramel ice cream flecked with crunchy salt between two subtly spiced cookies, and then moving to the stunning peanut butter/pretzel amalgam plus a slightly oversalted chocolate chip it was with an early sugar buzz that attention next turned to Sprinkles’ mainstays; each of the $4.25 cupcakes featuring a moist yet light base with subtlety serving to balance intense frostings – the triple cinnamon particularly impressive even if it was the Red Velvet that spawned an empire. Typically favoring a more dense crumb and higher frosting-to-cake ratio suffice it to say that although originally a skeptic I’ve little doubt that this will not be my last stop at Sprinkles and while still not the best in the city (or even on the strip) both the Carrot Cake and a “Sprinkles Sundae” are calling my name.

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http://www.sprinkles.com/

Posted in Breakfast, cupcakes, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Sprinkles

Flour & Barley, Las Vegas NV

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Flour & Barley

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Sesame Bread Sticks

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Meatballs – Beef, Veal, Pork with Tomato Sauce, Parmesan, Salsa Verde

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Mozzarella en Carozza – Italian Bread, Mozzarella, Prosciutto, Basil, Tomato Sauce

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Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich – Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Arugula on Ciabatini

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Margherita – Mozzarella and Basil

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Calabrese – Meatball, Sausage, Prosciutto Cotto, Mozzarella, Calabrian Chili, Salsa Verde

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Carbonara – Mozzarella, Pancetta, Cauliflower, Cracked Black Pepper, Farm Egg (added Sottocenere Truffle Cheese)

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Located in The Linq and part of a relentless wave of new artisan pizzerias throughout Las Vegas, Block 16’s “Flour & Barley” seems, at first glance, to be just another “me too” restaurant concept but with a well culled menu of Southern Italian plates to round out an interesting collection of wood fired pizzas it was with modestly high expectations that I sat down to lunch with four others on Saturday. Originally seated outside but later transitioning indoors as thumping music and debris from a nearby palm tree made the former unpleasant it should first be said that the interior of the restaurant warrants a look even for those opting for a ‘slice’ at the Linqside window as design flourishes such as repurposed barstools and lighting are built to wow and moving past expected freshman service mistakes to the meal that transpired, most of it was good – no more and no less. Beginning with appetizers, expectedly suffering from on-strip pricing much like the pies, a trio of plates arrived after rather forgettable breadsticks and with the meatballs and whole-milk mozzarella ham sandwiches both pleasant enough only the eggplant really shined; the breading harkening panko and the meaty vegetable supple without being oily in the least. Focusing next on Pizza, one white and two red, a quick look at the crust shows a good char begetting a crisp chew to mixed flours imbued with either semolina or corn, and moving on to ingredients both meats and cheeses shined – a truffled addition to the Carbonara adding great depth to a pie that easily stole the show from overly sugared San Marzanos hampering the simple Margherita and spicy Calabrese. Passing on desserts based on a complete lack of creativity and the presence of Sprinkles next door it was to the tune of $125 after taxes and tip that we settled the tab and while I’m rarely one to quibble prices suffice it to say there are better pizzas and superior red sauce Italian values to be found throughout the Valley…even on strip I can name at least five.

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http://www.flourandbarley.com/

Posted in Bread Basket, Flour & Barley, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pizza, Pork, Truffle

Bonjour Bakery, Las Vegas NV

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Bonjour Bakery

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Brioche French Toast with fresh whipped cream, ice cream, raspberry sauce

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Almond Croissant

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Chocolate Brioche

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Baba au Rhum

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Pear Star

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Consistently on a mission to find quality French pastry regardless of locale I was admittedly a bit surprised I’d not heard of Bonjour Bakery until just last week, the small strip-mall shop located just off Rainbow Boulevard suggested by a former Las Vegan during a conversation about things he missed most about Sin City. Easily overlooked by those not looking but featuring friendly service and a consistent stream of locals throughout my hour long visit a trip to Bonjour begins with the nose as the fragrance of butter beckons at fifty feet and with a small kitchen menu plus two long cases filled with viennoiserie and entrements plus a wall full of bread difficult decisions abound, my eventual order entailing four pastries and a plate for less than the cost of five Sprinkles cupcakes or an equal number of croissants at Bouchon. Beginning first with pastry as the kitchen went to work it was with regard to the warm almond croissant that I first exclaimed ‘wow’ as a sugar sweetened shell shattered to tooth giving way to subtle nuttiness and a wispy interior awash with butter, all of it Parisian standard without a hint of sticky frangipane. Moving next to a plump baba that could have used just a touch more booze and then to a fruited pastry harkening a kouign amann in its laminated edges but more a galette at its custard core the second ‘wow’ of the morning arrived in the form of swirled brioche – a warm coil of eggy batter with great stretch wrapped around dark chocolate that had me lusting for the cinnamon raisin version just as the ‘piece de resistance’ arrived featuring that same brioche starter sliced and soaked in custard with a caramelized surface topped with berries, cream, and a dollop of slowly melting vanilla bean ice cream – the whole of it and of the restaurant both unexpected and ‘incroyable.’

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http://www.bonjourbakerylasvegas.com/

Posted in Bonjour Bakery, Breakfast, Croissant, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada

Brooklyn Bowl, Las Vegas NV

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Brooklyn Bowl

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The Classic – Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil

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The Theresa – Butternut Squash, Mushrooms, Roasted Garlic

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Basket of Smoked BBQ Wings

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Fried Chicken Platter – 8 Mixed

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Mac & Cheese – Baked with Bread Crumbs

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Veggie Buster – Roasted Butternut Squash, Mushrooms, Red Peppers, Artichokes, Eggplant, Olive, Arugula, Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Vinaigrette

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Bourbon Street Shake with Nutella and Bourbon

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Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Fudge

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Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes

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Knowing full well that testing a restaurant during its early days is always a risky proposition the visit from three friends, all music fans and two vegetarians, made Brooklyn Bowl an irresistible destination for Saturday Night; a night not without mistakes – but not a single one of them involving the food. Over 80,000 square feet and opening nearly 20 minutes late as staff scrambled and soundcheck overran it must be said that the new Linq locale is beautiful, the dining area, stage, and lanes all up a gleaming escalator and with clever bowling-hip décor used to divide but not occlude each area from the next both the energy and the volume were high, even with the lanes not opened for “unexpected” reasons. Settling into our seats, five of us in total, and provided the Blue Ribbon crafted menu service was decidedly rough around the edges – dishes misdescribed, crib notes clearly used, tickets incorrect, and delays plus dropped plates common – but with grace and humor plus a good environment most was forgivable…at least for now. Moving on to food and beverage, a total of four beers and two milkshakes complimented six plates plus two desserts and with the Bourbon Street Shake and Cookie Dough disguised as French Toast “bread pudding” shining brightly amongst the sweets it was the savories that all wowed; ‘bar’ or ‘bowling-alley’ food only in spirit. Beginning first with toasty pizzas featuring immaculate produce over thick toasted bread and moving on to smoked chicken wings so moist as to fall off the bone without a hint of grease it was what followed that most diners will come for, and with good reason. Considered by some to be the “best” fried chicken they’ve ever tasted an 8 piece mixed plate was ordered and delivered alongside breadcrumb crusted macaroni that could certainly generate similar praise the matzo-crusted, brined bird truly was remarkable – just enough spice and salinity in the golden coat plus a chicharone-esque crunch to each bite bringing the quality of the moist bird to the fore. Already running an impressive kitchen in a venue primed to make a big impact in the local music scene it should only be assumed that service and timing will improve and while the ‘best’ debates will surely continue I know for a fact this was not my last visit to Brooklyn Bowl – gutter-balls and Black Label Society followed by a Banana Split and Molten Chocolate Brownie anyone?

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http://vegas.brooklynbowl.com/

Posted in Bread Pudding, Brooklyn Bowl, cupcakes, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pizza

Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, Las Vegas NV

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Gordon Ramsay

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Warm Salty Pretzels with Cheese Sauce – Bacon and Parmesan, Green Garlic, and Plain

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Yorkshire Ale Batter Fish & Chips – Cod with Tartar and Lemon

(not photographed) Red Wine Braised Short Rib – Horseradish Mashed Potatoes with Onions, Carrots, Parsnips, Red Wine Jus

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Trio of Pies – Chicken Pot Pie with Bechamel, Vegetables, Bacon / Steak & Ale Pie with Root Vegetables and Mushrooms / Shepherd’s Pie with Root Vegetables and Cheddar Mash Potatoes

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Sauteed Forest Mushrooms – Poached Farm Egg

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Spotted DIC – Steamed Bread Pudding with Raisins and Cream Sauce

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Sticky Toffee Pudding – Sweet Cream Ice Cream

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Having come away from a late-2013 visit to Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Steakhouse at The Paris quite impressed by both the quality and the brand I knew a visit to casual sibling “Pub & Grill” was only a matter of time – friends and fans of chef’s shows and celebrity frequent to visit Sin City. Housed in Caesars in a sizable space renovated from Bradley Ogden featuring plenty of wood, kegs, television, and Brit-kitsch it was just after noon when I sat down with two old friends and greeted by friendly, though pushy, service orders were expedited to the tune of an appetizer, a side, three mains, and two desserts – high prices and small portions tempered by a Total Rewards card…at least slightly. Focusing mostly on signatures and favorites present since the menu’s inception dining began with three small but lovely seasoned pretzels paired with cheese and mustard for $8 and progressing to plates proper another trio arrived in the $21 trio of small ramekin-pies, all well prepared but only the lamb loaded Shepherd living up to the high standards set by the exemplary golden cod selected by my friend, soggy ‘chips’ notwithstanding. Ignoring the shortrib and what I’m told were vastly overseasoned potatoes while wishing some form of seasoning had graced the flavorless mushrooms it was with sweet redemption that desserts both shined, the rustic Sticky Toffee Pudding every bit as good as the fancy version at Steak and the “DIC” a bowl of buttery custard hefty with raisins and aromatics that I’d gladly return for along with a cup of coffee – breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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http://www.caesarspalace.com/restaurants/gordon-ramsay-pub-and-grill.html#.Uyufv-lOWzk

Posted in Bread Pudding, Dessert, Food, Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada

Max Brenner, Las Vegas NV

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Max Brenner

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White Corn Croquettes – Paprika dusted white corn and manchego cheese in panko

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Cinnamon Apple and White Chocolate French Toast – Brown Sugar Spiced Pecans, Warm Toffee Sauce

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Crispy Bacon

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Salted Caramel Milkshake – Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Ganache, Caramel, Sea Salt, Milk, Whipped Cream

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“OMG” Chocolate Chunk Cookie – Chocolate Chip Cookie with Walnuts served with whipped cream, fresh berries, pure melted chocolate

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Having experienced “The Bald Man’s” chocolates in New York many years back and quite familiar with The Forum Shops at Caesars I really cannot explain why my substantial sweet tooth had never indulged at Max Brenner’s eponymous Las Vegas restaurant, but a chance mention by a friend of the space’s pending closure or relocation quickly set me to mend the oversight. Two stories in size and featuring many things chocolate plus a collection of overpriced comfort foods it was just after 10:00am when we sat down at a cozy two top near the base of the stairs and treated to pleasant “everything is good” service typical to such places a five part order was hatched as the restaurant bustled, leaving one to ponder the reasons for any pending change. With service swift it was only a matter of minutes before selections began to arrive, the first a superlative $8 milkshake thick with caramel and rife with vanilla but topped with copious whipped cream to mask what I’d guess to be an 8oz serving, a trend carried over to each plate that followed as large prices met small portions thankfully bolstered by bold flavors. Starting sweet and following with savory due to a kitchen miscalculation it should be noted that each of Brenner’s pure chocolates are well sourced, smooth, and complex by the bar and as such both white and milk versions only served to improve the Custard French toast and Soft Cookie, the later on par with that of New York’s fabled Levain Bakery in terms of taste and texture (though at 2.5x the price) and while I think everyone would have been happier to see the Croquettes first I’d be lying if I didn’t say they were my favorite bite of the meal – the paprika and manchego working smoky, savory magic on the lightly fried kernels.

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http://maxbrenner.com/

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Max Brenner, Nevada, Pork

Stewart + Ogden, Las Vegas NV

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Stewart + Ogden

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Country Biscuits & Gravy – two country style biscuits with house made sausage gravy

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“The Best” Carrot Cake with Sugared Cream Cheese Icing

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Carrot Cake Pancakes – Country Style Carrot Cake Recipe, Cream Cheese Frosting

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Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Whipped Butter

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Cinnamon Roll Waffles – Cinnamon Dough, Waffle Press, Sugar Glaze

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Sticky Bun Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce, Caramelized Pecans, Whipped Cream

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Hawaiian French Toast – Toasted Coconut & Pina Colada Crusted Brioche, Berry Compote, Cookie Butter

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Located in the Downtown Grand and named in homage to immigrants Archibald Stewart and Peter Ogden, the appropriately named “Stewart + Ogden” Café has been the source of decidedly mixed reactions since its 2013 opening but having recently retooled the concept and the menu under the direction of Michel Richard protégé Todd Harrington I finally decided to see the restaurant for myself, an old friend in town coming along for a five plate jaunt through the restaurant’s sweet breakfast selections plus a pair of desserts. Served by Scott as trendy tunes floated overhead amidst a deluge of chandeliers it was to great coffee and friendly service that we were greeted just after the restaurant’s 7am opening and seated close to the bar the it was with a simple request that courses were paced out in decadent progression, none less than good and a few truly exemplary over the course of an hour with coffee never less than half-full. Beginning with a single savory before for moving to sweets, homemade biscuits would prove fluffy yet well-buttered beneath thick spiced gravy and although perhaps an odd pairing with a slice of “The Best” carrot cake, I actually preferred the biscuits as the cake itself was excellent while the frosting was just a bit too sweet. Moving next to a far better use of the carrot cake batter, cast-iron skilled pancakes with light cream cheese drizzle would prove light and every bit on par with those at MTO Café while the similarly topped Red Velvet stack would prove the best I’ve had to date with light cocoa tones filling the a fluffy batter bronzed by the griddle. At this point already impressed but expecting great things from what would follow given Harrington’s Crème Brulee French toast at Central it was with a trio that the meal wrapped up and with the waffles truly harkening a crunchy yeasted cinnamon roll it was the nearly molten bread-pudding and complex, custard style French toast impressed most – the later begging for a little umbrella given its island influence and crispy coconut topping juxtaposing creamy cookie butter and bursting berries.

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http://www.downtowngrand.com/savor/las-vegas-restaurants.html

Posted in Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes, Stewart + Ogden, Waffles

Odd Duck, Austin TX

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Odd Duck

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Southport – Tawny Port, Ransom Gin, Cherry, Cava

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Parker House Rolls, Pig Head, Mustard Seed

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Shiitake Doughnut, Popcorn, Mushroom Cream, Balsamic

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Baked Sweet Potato, Yogurt, Peanuts, Cilantro

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Chicken Fried Chicken Egg, Mushrooms, Hot Sauce

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Andouille, Cornmeal Pancake, Coffee Mayonnaise

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Bread Pudding, Malted Ice Cream, Beer Caramel

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Brownie, Milk Chocolate, Sweet Potato, Sorghum

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The brick and mortar iteration of Chef Bryce Gilmore’s Farm-to-Trailer truck and a relative newcomer to the local dining scene it was a foregone conclusion after Thursday’s dinner at Barley Swine that a visit to Odd Duck would find its way into my Austin agenda – a late night walk-in seat at the bar mine for the taking as a nightcap after a great meal at Uchi. Larger in size and far more casual than its older brother but no less innovative in cuisine or effusive in service it was under the watchful eye of two bartenders that my meal took place and quickly making friends with a pair of locals seated next to me it would not be long before drinks and several small plates would arrive. Featuring a large list of local vendors and a slick yet rustic style as great tunes played over the din of the crowd it was first with a cocktail that my Odd Duck experience began and balancing the heft of port with cava’s dry bubbles plus notes both sweet and herbal the Southport shined – its bold but diverse flavor profile effortlessly pairing with the all but the most mild of the savories much to my delight. Moving on to the food, a pair of breads began my tasting and featuring a pair of yeasty Parker rolls stuffed with tete de cochon tinged with dijon the meal kicked off with a blast to the tastebuds only to find even more oomph in an umami-laden doughnut complete with smoky popcorn and rich mushroom cream kept in check with just a touch of acid. Starting plates proper lightly with sweet potato in textures and flavors that would not have been out of place at Barley Swine before moving into two of the restaurant’s headstrong signatures suffice it to say that both the crunchy poached egg with house made hot sauce and the spicy sausage with light chicory cream over soft hoecakes are ‘must orders’ – a sentiment shared equally by a pair of decadent desserts, each better than any of the sweets at Barley Swine and the buttery bread pudding with toasty marshmallows, salty caramel, candied nuts, and hoppy top notes a veritable essay on balancing discrepant, complex flavors into something far better than the sum of already impressive parts.

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http://oddduckaustin.com/

Posted in Austin, Bread Basket, Bread Pudding, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Odd Duck, Pork, Texas, Vacation

Uchi, Austin TX

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Uchi

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Pomegranate Tea

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Beet Sorbet with Candied Lemon

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Ume Jiso Roll – Cucumber and Japanese Plum

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Tempura Kabocha

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Bacon Steakie – Pork Belly, Watermelon, Radish, Citrus, Thai Basil

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Mustang Makimono – Freshwater Eel, Yellowtail, Tobiko, Avocado

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Machi Cure – Smoked Baby Yellowtail, Yucca Crisp, Asian Pear, Marcona Almond, Garlic Brittle

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Ankimo

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Tempura Anago

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Brie Ringo – Tempura Fried Brie, Apple Chutney, Sweet Potato Crisp

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Foie Nigiri – Quinoa

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Jizake Crème Caramel – Brown Butter Sorbet, Ginger

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Feeling a bit flat on Austin ‘fusion’ after my trip to Sway and the Paul Qui experiment it was with guarded optimism that I pulled up to the counter at Uchi hoping to reverse a trend – the Beard Award winning cuisine of Chef Tyson Cole proving to be every bit as elegant as I’d hoped, his young team executing at a very high level on nearly a dozen plates spanning the globe in influence and the palate in innovation. Ever the ‘hot’ space, a reservation on Friday a necessity even at 5:00pm for the sushi counter, it was at a corner seat with full vantage of the room that I was treated and with the chef before me acting as server and adviser as Cole circulated the kitchen and instructed not a single item ordered was anything less than that of quality ingredients prepared by skilled hands with insight to unlikely combinations that would astound. Beginning with a palate cleansing sorbet and house-brew tea it was to the flavors of a few items from the happy hour menu that things commenced, the simple plum roll with tender rice and crisp cucumber and lightly breaded squash a pleasant vegetal volley leading to the signature ‘steakie’ and texturally masterful “mustang” with briny roe balancing supple fish and avocado – the most impressive roll I’ve had in years and an absolute must for first timers and regulars alike. Allowing the chef to send out plates as he felt fit, complexity peaked in the smoky sweet Machi cure before stepping back for the rich 1-2 combination of soft monkfish liver and fatty fried eel – the latter rousing memories of my grandmother’s fried yellow perch…a moment I’ll not forget. At this point sated and smiling, a ‘cheese course’ of creamy fried brie transitioned to the sublime sapor of creamy caramelized foie gras before finishing in true caramel, the light sake-laced take on a traditional French custard renewing my faith in ‘fusion’ once more.

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http://uchiaustin.com/

Posted in Austin, Dessert, Foie, Food, Ice Cream, Pork, Sushi, Texas, Uchi, Vacation

Irie Bean Coffee Bar, Austin TX

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Irie Bean Coffee Bar

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Double Espresso over Ice

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Sugarbombed by Gourdough’s and having walked a four mile stretch of 1st and Lamar while taking in the local galleries it came as no surprise that I found my caffeine gauge running on empty nearly two hours before dinner – my fuel soon found at Rasta themed Irie Bean Coffee Bar. Apparently translating to “the ultimate positive” and committed to all things community, local, and fair trade with a committed local clientele it was just after 5:30 that I entered the cozy space and with reggae remixed Radiohead playing from above and utter hipster indifference from the barista my order was prepared – a hightop in the corner, free WiFi, and headphones playing actual Radiohead my entertainment for the next hour and a half. Generally unfussed by disinterested service, particularly in the setting of well roasted beans the quality of that served at Irie, but in this case catching the occasional ‘glare’ from the bearded and spectacled young man behind the bar despite several empty seats suffice it to say that despite good espresso I most certainly did not find my “irie” at Irie, though I did find two things – the first a much needed pick-me-up…and that I still hate Reggae.

052 - Irie Bean (2)

http://www.iriebean.com/

Posted in Austin, Coffee, Irie Bean Coffee Bar, Texas, Vacation