Porridge & Puffs at Field Trip, Los Angeles CA

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Porridge & Puffs

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Verve Cold Brew

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Cabbage Slaw + Rau Ram, Peanuts

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Purple Haze + Cosmic Carrots, Curry Aioli, Pomegranate

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Naked Puffs

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Short Rib – Kokuho Heirloom Rice, Braised Beef Short Ribs, Lacto Fermented Mustard Greens, Pickled Egg, Pickled Pears, Herbs

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Pork! Pork! Pork! – Black Rice, Ham Hock Stock, Crispy Ham, Loin Roulade with Shiso + Mushrooms, Turmeric Pickled Onions, Crispy Shallots, Herbs

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Chicken + Mushrooms – Kokuho Heirloom Rice, Chicken + Mushrooms Braised in Black Pepper Molasses, Soft Egg, Roasted Carrots, Pickled Celery, Crispy Shallots, Herbs

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Diver Scallop in XO Sauce – Kokuho Heirloom Rice, Prickly Ash-Makrut Butter, Herbs

Cold Teff Oatmeal + Rye – Teff, Oatmeal, Millet, Amaranth, Rye Stout, Roasted Champagne Grapes, Rosemary, Hazelnuts, Cream

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Autumn Velvet + Winter Melon – Roasted Kabocho, Blue Hubbard, Butternut Squashes with Numbing Spice Braised Winter Melon, Mochi, Herbs

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Brown Butter Mochi + Miso Caramel

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Essentially a permanent dinner-time pop-up inside Field Trip, with an entrance off Selma Avenue at the corner of Morningside Court despite the 1555 Vine Street Address, it was literally seconds after reading Jonathan Gold’s review that an adjustment in schedule was made to the Los Angeles agenda in order to afford a visit to Porridge & Puffs and although the irony of visiting three ampersand joints in a row is not lost on someone who finds the whole trend hilarious it can only be said that the team in the kitchen isn’t just here to make a quick buck from the hipster trust-fund kids, these ladies and gentlemen are serious about their sourcing, preparation, and craft.

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Transitioning substantially from the morning and afternoon menu to a well-culled selection of vegetables, puffs, and porridges as well as purees beginning at 5:30 it was just as the doors opened that we entered the small space and first sitting at a table but later moving to the bar in order to watch the kitchen while ordering two counter-exclusive ‘flights’ it would not be long before a complimentary starter of snappy and savory slaw arrived and, fast on its heels, a plate of heirloom carrots with seemingly impossible natural sweetness enhanced by brown butter and pomegranate seeds that found its foil in vegan curry aioli that was both up-front and delicate, the sort of thing rarely achieved in even a fine dining establishment charging double the menu price.

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A bit concerned by the porridge preparation as the made-to-order flights unfortunately necessitated some bowls resting idly while others were cooked and blended it was just after 6:05pm that the sextet of bowls arrived and paired to a trio of golden puffs – free on Fridays – the only ‘problem’ that arose was deciding where to start – a decision made a bit easier when the Chef suggested we start with a silky risotto rich with butter and topped with lightly seared scallops, my dining companion’s favorite taste of the night while the best was yet to come for myself.

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Moving next to creamy squash puree with marshmallow-soft mocha and winter melon tinged with numbing spice adding all sorts of textures and sensations it was on to the teff that the tasting progressed and although the cold creaminess was interesting compared to the rest a hefty amount of booze and acid simply did not mix well with the rest of the options, a few bites proving enough before moving on to the second trio where both the short rib and chicken were impressive in their balance of light sweetness with pickling flavors while the pork!pork!pork! was s savory slap to the tastebuds with so much salinity and umami that it was almost too much, the mushrooms and turmeric thankfully adding just enough earthiness to keep the broth grounded, though it was still best when sopped up with the puffs.

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Finishing up the evening with Verve’s Cold Brew poured over ice, served next to chewy strips of mochi seared in a pan with brown butter and topped with a sweetened miso glaze, it was with a modest bill of $31 per person after tax and tip that we made our exit and with the dining room now more than 3/4 full I only hope the concept continues to thrive so I can return during a new season to see what the team thinks up next.

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http://www.fieldtripla.com/porridge/

Field Trip at The Farmer's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Posted in California, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Los Angeles, Pork, Porridge & Puffs, Porridge & Puffs at Field Trip, Vacation, Verve Coffee

Salt & Straw, Los Angeles CA

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Salt & Straw

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Happy Birthday Elvis – Banana pudding ice cream, Marionberry Jam from Oregon Hill Farms along with homemade peanut butter-bacon butterfingers

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Salted, Malted, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

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Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache

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Black Olive Brittle & Goat Cheese

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Located on Larchmont and imported from Portland it was largely a lack of time that prevented a visit to Salt & Straw during a late-2014 trip to Los Angeles but unwilling to repeat the mistake this time around it was just after lunch at Barrel & Ashes that I approached the equally ampersanded spot and with smiling service from the moment of entry to the very last bite it was a pleasure to find rumors of lessened quality entirely false as each of the LA Signatures, as well as the seasonal specials, shined.

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Reportedly marred by increased prices and a lower quality base by those obsessed with all things Portlandia, but featuring the same satin texture and innovative flavors to my own Salt & Straw-experienced tongue it was with no less than six samples that my experience began and with both the Stumptown Coffee & Compartes Love Nuts and Santa Ynez Valley Walnut Oil proving quite exemplary the eventual choice of four flavors to fill a $10 ‘flight’ was a difficult one to say the least.

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Opting to invest in options spreading the palate it was with savories progressing to intensely sweet that the tasting evolved and with the characteristic salinity of olives juxtaposing lightly funky goat cheese subtle transitioning to Almond Brittle and Salted Ganache the opening duo was almost as elegant as a plated cheese course, the follow-up of crispy cookie dough in a light vanilla base an abrupt transition to sweetness just barely reined in by the malt while “Happy Birthday Elvis” proved to be one of the most complex and delicious Ice Creams I’ve had to date – the base indistinguishable from its namesake Southern dessert with diverse textures and flavors ranging from tart berries to the briny sapor of bacon adding all sorts of intrigue until I was scraping the bowl clean.

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http://saltandstraw.com/

Salt & Straw on Urbanspoon

Posted in California, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Los Angeles, Pork, Salt & Straw, Salt and Straw, Vacation

Barrel & Ashes, Los Angeles CA

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Barrel & Ashes

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Smoked Chicken Wings with Garden Vegetables and Blue Cheese

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Spicy Pork Rinds with Malt Vinegar Mayonnaise

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Hoe Cake with Maple Butter

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Half Rack of Salmon Creek Farms Spare Ribs

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Brisket Sandwich with Swiss

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Pulled Pork Sandwich with Coleslaw and Vinegar Sauce

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The Best Damn Chick’n Sandwich Ya Ever Had – Pimento Cheese, Jalapeno Coleslaw on Milk Roll

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Open Faced Santa Maria Tri Tip with romaine, Pico de Gallo, Rosemary Aioli on Sourdough

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Banana Pudding with Toasted Meringue and Nilla Wafers

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Turtle Ice Cream Cake with Pecans, Salted Caramel, Chocolate

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Apple Cobbler with Malted Vanilla Ice Cream

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Lemon Pudding Cake with Heavily Whipped Cream

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Toqued by a former Michelin 3* Chef and several Thomas Keller alumni one would be hard-pressed to name a more prestigious Barbeque joint than red-hot Barrel & Ashes, and with early reviews mixed, some including claims of ‘money grab’ or ‘waste of talent’ a visit with four others at lunch certainly lived up the rumors – both good and bad.

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Located in Studio City, and decorated in an almost paint-by-numbers way obviously intended to reference more established smokehouses down south, our party’s arrival at Barrel & Ashes began with five-persons being shoehorned into a four-top despite having reservations and greeted by a truncated menu lacking brisket aside from last-night’s leftovers reappropriated to a sandwich suffice it to say things were off to a bad start – the disinterested-hipster ‘everything is good’ service also not entirely befitting a theme of “Southern Hospitality” in any way, shape, or form.

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Eventually moved to a shared, 8-seat high-top where service would subsequently improve it was with questions answered regarding both portions and preparation that the order progressed and eventually settling on eight savories to be shared it was not long before the first course arrived, the pork rinds trending a bit oily and oversalted while both the smoky, richly spiced wings and lightly sauced ribs showed signs of promise for the ‘cue…a still-sizzling, toothsome hoecake saturated with what very well may have been a stick of butter rounding out the quartet.

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Subjected to sandwiches as much of the nightly smoked meats are not offered at lunch, though some can be had as part of a platter, the second course of food progressed through four more selections with the chicken sandwich moist and pleasant, though falling far short of its billing while the tri-tip was a bit more chewy than I’d have preferred – the brined brisket faring a bit better beneath the unnecessary cheese while the pulled pork was Carolina quality, a must order for those fancying that sort of barbeque.

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Greeted at this point by the pastry chef, manager, and afternoon’s chef de partie, all offering compliments regarding our order, it was with a somewhat awkward exchange that the table was offered a complimentary selection of each of the restaurant’s desserts and while thankful for the gesture I still question the motivations considering the fact that only the banana pudding was supposedly available for lunch – a damned shame, really, as the mason-jar presentation was not really all that impressive compared to the refreshingly tart baked pudding, molten hot cobbler, or outstanding ice-cream cake that managed the tough task of offering a new and delicious take on something tried and true.

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http://barrelandashes.com/

Barrel & Ashes on Urbanspoon

Posted in Barrel & Ashes, California, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Los Angeles, Pork, Vacation

Steampunk CoffeeBar & Kitchen, Valley Village CA

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Steampunk CoffeeBar & Kitchen

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Cinnamon Crumble Coffee Cake

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The Stack – Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Bacon, Egg, Belgian Waffle with Cayenne Maple Aioli served with sautéed Kale and Onions

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French Toast – Thick Cut Sweet Bread, Oven-Baked, with Blackberry Jam and Goat Cheese Glaze

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Located in Valley Village, and decked out with the work of local artists beneath the gleam of natural lighting from overhead skylights, Steampunk Coffee Bar is one of those places that always sparked curiosity, and without much to do between breakfast and lunch it was just after 9am that I entered to find smiling servers, gearworks amidst wood, and a small menu of reinterpreted brunch classics.

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Far less trendy than the name would suggest, with patrons ranging from a small tech-group brainstorming in the corner to an elderly man and his dog, it was to mellow tunes that the mid-morning meal was set and opting to go with items designated as ‘signatures’ as well as a personal favorites the three courses that followed were, at best, a mixed bag.

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Marred by artificial maple syrup despite price-to-portion ratios that could have easily afforded the real thing, it was shortly following a smallish wedge of unmemorable coffee cake that the proper part of the meal began and although one is forced to admit that the kale is as good as the rumors neither the under-crisped chicken nor the flaccid waffle were particularly remarkable in the least – a sweet/savory ‘signature’ done better at dozens of other spots and thus not really warranting the John Hancock designation at all.

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Wandering the web via Free Wi-Fi during a requested wait between plates it was just shy of 10:15 when the French Toast arrived, and this time entirely eschewing syrup to instead focus on nuance suffice it to say that although a bit dry in the middle the thick slice of Hawaiian bread shined – each bite a toasty juxtaposition of yeast and sugar beneath a lacquer of jam and subtly funky cream.

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http://www.steampunkla.com/

SteamPunk Coffeebar + Kitchen​ on Urbanspoon

Posted in Breakfast, California, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Los Angeles, Pork, Steampunk, Steampunk Coffee Bar, Steampunk CoffeeBar & Kitchen, Vacation, Valley Village, Waffles

Bea Bea’s, Burbank CA

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Bea Bea’s

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Coffee

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Uh-Oh Oreo Pancakes – Oreo, Marshmallow, Walnut on Buttermilk Pancakes

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Peaches & Crunch French Toast – Hawaiian Bread French Toast dipped in Corn Flakes and Almonds, topped with Caramelized Peaches and Whipped Cream with Sweet Cinnamon Honey Butter

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Pain Perdu – Apples & Walnuts topped on an egg-dipped Croissant, Baked ‘beyond perfection’

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Located in a Burbank Shopping plaza, humorously adjacent to Jenny Craig, the slogan of “Breakfast is Everything” immediately sold me on Bea Bea’s as the first stop after arriving in town and with 21-types of Pancakes and 19-styles of French Toast the only real questions were which sounded best and how much appetite I wanted to invest in the experience.

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A bustling space, with diners of all ages and ethnicities quickly filling seats to capacity just one hour after the 7am opening, the décor at Bea Bea’s can best be described as ‘stripped-down’ and although creature comforts are few and far between the service is the sort to which most breakfast and brunch spots should aspire to be – friendly, efficient, full of recommendations, and quick to fill a cup…time and time again.

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Unable to trim the abundant options to fewer than three, even after full descriptions and suggestions from the staff, it was eventually in two rounds of food that the meal took place and with each plate carrying a $10.95 charge and take-home boxes already in hand the tasting kicked off with a duo; the “Uh-Oh Oreo” Pancakes proving doughy and underwhelming as toppings were relegated to only the top cake while two thick wedges of custard-soaked yet crunchy French Toast fared far better beneath steamy stonefruit and whipped cream – a combination making the artificial maple syrup entirely unnecessary as house-blended cinnamon-honey better slowly melted into a tan, fragrant stream.

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Saving the pure maple syrup from home as an accoutrement to the 25-minute prep-time finale it was almost like clockwork that the third plate arrived, and billed as the restaurant’s signature suffice it to say that the words on the menu present only the slightest of mistakes as buttery croissants arrived melded to fresh apples, walnuts, eggs, and custard forming something that harkens both bread pudding and Original Pancake House’s Famous Apple Pancake…all of it perfect, and not one bit ‘beyond.’

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http://beabeas.net/

Bea Bea's on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bea Bea's, Breakfast, Burbank, California, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Los Angeles, Pancakes, Vacation

Inyo Asian Variety Restaurant, Las Vegas NV

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Inyo Asian Variety Restaurant

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Oolong Tea

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Oshinko – Assorted Japanese Pickles, Nori, Kimchee

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Salmon Belly Tartare – Caviar, Chives, Dashi Soy with crispy Lotus Root

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Suomono – Cucumber and Seaweed with Vinegar Sauce

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Hirame Carpaccio with citrus nam pla

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Hiya Yakko Tofu – Chilled Tofu with Lemon Ginger Ponzu

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Yaki Hama – Miso Butter Baked Clams

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Buta No Kakuni – 5-hour Braised Pork Belly and Whole Daikon

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Inyo Chicken Wings – Twice Fried Trio of Japanese Tebasaki, Thai Chile Nam Pla, Korean Gochugaru

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Japanese Tebasaki Wings – Sweet Ginger Soy and Black Pepper

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Thai Chile Nam Pla Wings – Chile, Lemongrass, Fresh Herbs

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Korean Gochugaru Wings – Korean Chile Flake and Sesame Seeds

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Kushi Skewers – Binchotan Charcoal Grilled Okra, Mushroom, Japanese Eggplant, Tomato Bacon, Chicken Skin, Pork Cheek

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Saikoro Steak – Cubed Steak with Grated Daikon and Garlic

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Crab Fried Rice – Snow Crab, Maitake Mushroom, Egg

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Castella Cake – Green Tea Ice Cream, Black Honey, Mochi

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Shiso Berries – Lychee Sorbet and Pocky Stick

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Newly inhabiting the short-lived Buldogi Café space, and featuring the kitchen talents of Little Buddha/Blue Ribbon veteran Gregg Fortunato while owner Peter Chen runs the front of house, it was just after 7:00pm that a friend and I sat down to dinner at Inyo Asian Variety and allowing the chef to serve us omakase it was nearly three hours later that we emerged – a total of fifteen plates featuring nearly two-dozen impressive items enjoyed at a grand total of $116 before tax and tip.

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Wide ranging in scope, with a menu still in flux, the overall concept behind Inyo is best described as ‘tapas’ and without a single item ringing in at more than $9.95, with several less than five bucks, it seems almost impossible that the quality of produce, protein, and technique is as impressive as a first look would indicate – the chef clearly using the knowledge gleaned in fine dining environs to select local producers and sources allowing the cuisine to shine while offering a veritable bargain to those finding their way through Inyo’s front door.

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Starting off with one of several styles of tea, repeatedly filled throughout the evening by Mr. Chen who proved to be a perfect host, it was in a selection of pickles ranging from Japan to Korea that the meal began and quickly transitioning to  a quartet of cold plates one would be hard pressed to decide which of the options was most impressive, the shredded tartare melting on the tongue with fried lotus chips offered for texture while both the thinly sliced Hirame and silken tofu were enlivened by acid as opposed to getting lost in it, a similar statement applicable to crispy Suomono served to cleanse the palate between fish.

Transitioning next to warm tapas it was unfortunate that a few of the smaller clams served as part of Yaki Hama were a bit dried out when compared to larger specimens, but moving on to a course of braised pork belly paired to a large cut of daikon cooked nearly as tender the small gaff was almost immediately forgotten, a follow-up sampling of each of the restaurant’s three styles of wings proving an abrupt textural change-of-pace with crispy skin overlying juicy flesh and spice profiles that challenged my Midwestern palate with the heated Gochugaru while dialing it back and slapping the tastebuds with umami and sweetness in the Japanese Tebasaki style quartet.

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At this point opting to show off his skills with the Binchotan charcoal grill it was to six skewers that the table was treated and paired with three different salts, the best flecked with Toagarashi, it would again be a challenge to name a ‘best of,’ though all things being equal none were quite as impressive as the items served at Raku just a few weeks prior – even though they did tally a significantly lower charge.

Entering the home stretch with a low bowl filled with tender cubed steak topped by crispy garlic alongside what is perhaps the best $6.95 one can spend on Spring Mountain in the form of a large bowl of glistening fried rice teaming with picked crab beneath a crown of fried egg it was suddenly here that we found ourselves the only patrons left in the place and although desserts would prove light and elegant, if not particularly ‘memorable,’ the overall experience is one I’ll not wait long to revisit – a skilled chef and passionate owner already showing promise to do big things.

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FOUR STARS:  Already impressive in their first week of service, while operating with a skeleton crew, suffice it to say that with a few menu tweaks Inyo truly could be Chinatown’s “Next Big Thing,” a phrase often trumpeted for far less qualified kitchens dotted up and down Spring Mountain as well as Las Vegas Blvd South that charge upwards of twice the price.

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RECOMMENDED:  Crab Fried Rice, Buta No Kakuni, Salmon Belly Tartare

AVOID: Yaki Hama

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TIP:  BYOB with no corkage until they receive their pending liquor license; now open at 5pm until at least 1am Tuesday through Sunday, 2am on Friday and Saturday.

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

http://www.inyolv.com/

Inyo Asian Variety Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Posted in Crab, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Inyo, Inyo Asian Variety, Inyo Asian Variety Restaurant, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Sushi, Tasting Menu

Urban Turban, Las Vegas NV

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Urban Turban

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Papadum with mint and mango chutney

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Samosa Chat – Deep Fried Filo Packets filled with Spiced Potato Mash Filling drizzled with Yogurt and Green Chutney

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Dry Fruit Whole Wheat Bread – Flat bread stuffed with Cashews, Almonds, Raisins, and brushed with butter

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Lamb Kheema Pav – Traditional Masala Lamb with Toasted Buns

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Paneer Tikka – Oven Grilled Tandoori Sauce Marinated Cottage Cheese Cubes

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Pav Bhaji – Mixed Sauce of Mashed Vegetables garnished with Butter and Cilantro with Toasted Buns

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Bombay Butter Chicken with Butter Naan and Basmati Rice – Tandoori Chicken cooked in Tomato blended Sauces with Chilies, Honey, Cashew, Cream

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Bombay Lamb Masala with Butter Naan and Basmati Rice – Tender cooked Lamb Bites cooked in famous curry sauces

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Five Herb Noodles – Wok Tossed Egg Noodles

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Paan Shot – Betel Leaf thickened with Milk

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Chocolate Samosa – Crispy Filo Pastry filled with dark chocolate

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Admittedly entering New Zealand one-off Urban Turban with mixed feelings based on the tardiness of a tablemate and previous experiences with below average Indian cuisine outside of hot spots in BC or DC it was just after 5:15 when the owner/operator stopped by the table at Urban Turban to explain the concept of ‘tapas’ and having already perused the menu through the assistance of Yelp pictures, as the restaurant apparently cannot update a simple website, a large order was soon crafted – our server not really offering much aside from the occasional water refill and dropping-off of plates.

Located in a small plaza off Paradise, just a minute from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino by car, Urban Turban is the sort of place one wants to like on entering, and with largely benign décor aside from the whimsical rickshaw sitting beside the hostess podium the focus seems to be on the food moreso than the scene – a wide view of a gleaming kitchen flanked by chalkboards revealing a number of Chef’s working diligently on plates whose results would unfortunately prove average, at best.

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Starting off with appetizers before progressing to proper plates and curries it was with a trio of free Papadum that the meal began and with the flavor mostly that of oil it was thankfully the mango chutney that made the crisp pastry far more interesting, though the green ‘mint’ version was flavored much like bile – overly heated, viciously acidic, and not particularly something one should strive for in any sort of cuisine.

Next served a quintet of plates that quickly covered the table it was with some confusion that I looked upon a menu item described as “Dry Fruit Whole Wheat Bread” and with neither fruit nor nuts evident I attest to this moment we were simply served the wrong thing, though the server assured us this was indeed the correct item.

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Largely ignoring the lack of fruit and instead using the ‘whole wheat’ Naan to scoop up the first bites of a duo of Pav, suffice it to say that unless one is vegetarian the Lamb version shows far superior to a more traditional take that serves as little more than muddled vegetable mush meant to be served on bread and turning attention to an impressive Paneer Tikka presentation with tangy cubes amidst earthy aromatics it was a thankful circumstance that the Samosa Chat was only lightly drizzled with green chutney, thus allowing one to augment the largely flavorless pocket with the red version instead.

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Investing the rest of our appetites in bottomless curries that featured excellent basmati rice and par-for-the-course buttered Naan alongside bowls containing less than two ounces of protein each, it can only be said that at prices ranging $10-$17 the better bet is to visit one of the many local Indian buffets if one is merely looking for a ‘fill up’ and partaking lightly in the dirty tastingLamb Masala as well as overly sweet Buttered Chicken a bit of credit is due to the owner for suggesting the seemingly out-of-place noodles – a show stopper of well-tuned aromatics that at least gives one hope that the kitchen could improve the rest of the recipes as time goes on.

Ordering three Paan Shots that again saw the kitchen offer up something balanced and refined it was largely the lack of traditional Indian desserts that led to the final selection of Chocolate Samosas, but having experienced a similarly underwhelming dessert at Nosh & Swig just a few months prior it can only be said that this one was slightly better – the house made ice cream and melted chocolate at least helping to offset the same oily taste that had marred the papadum, though the $7.95 price tag seemed rather excessive for something so underwhelming and small.

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TWO STARS:  Suggested as ‘urban tapas,’ and thus seeming to purport a modern take on tradition, Urban Turban really only seems to shine when sticking to simpler plates and with ingredients that really seem no better than the typical Indian Buffet in an environment that does little to wow there seems very little reason to return, let alone support another restaurant import when places like Mint seem to be satisfying locals just fine.

RECOMMENDED:  Paneer Tikka, Lamb Kheema Pav, Five Herb Noodles

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AVOID:  Green Chutney, Bombay Lamb Masala, Pav Bhaj

TIP:  Having not been to any of the Vegas Indian buffets but noting their prices to range $12-$20 depending on date and time it seems worth noting that the total bill was $42 per person after tax and a modest tip, not exactly a deal considering the quality of the food or the ingredients contained.

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

http://www.utlasvegas.com/

Urban Turban on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Urban Turban

Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar [3,] Las Vegas NV

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Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar

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Lavazza Coffee

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Half Grapefruit – Brown Sugar Brulee

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Cinnamon Sticky Bun

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Hash Browns – Apple Butter + Sour Cream

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Rotisserie Pork Poutine – Crispy Potatoes + Cheddar Curds + Gravy

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Brie & Truffle Georgian – Soft Poached Eggs + Truffles + Smoked Potatoes

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Porchetta & Eggs for 2 – Cheesy Eggs + Hatch Green Chili Sauce + Tortillas + Onions + Cilantro

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Pancakes – Blueberry Compote + Sweet Ricotta + Biscotti Crumbs + Maple Syrup

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Duck & Waffles – Crispy Duck Confit + Whole Wheat & Rye Waffles + Maple Bourbon Syrup

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Salted Caramel French Toast – Cinnamon Sticky Bun + Hazelnuts + Banana Maple Syrup

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Twice impressed by Redrock Hotel and Casino’s Hearthstone while also finding some exquisite dishes on Chef Brian Massie’s menus at Citizens and FIX it was with high expectations that myself and two friends approached Summerlin’s newest weekend brunch and arriving to find the room far more laid back in the early afternoon hours as light flooded the elongated space it can only be said that as good as dinners have been, the nine items experienced at brunch were perhaps even better.

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Still featuring a soundtrack that ranges from Snoop Dogg to Johnny Cash, with volume switching to the game once the NFL divisional playoffs began, it was at one of the elevated curved booths that our party sat and with the menu already showing a few tweaks from the one sent regarding a PR event on January 17th a feast was quickly assembled, the amicable servers deciding to send plates out in four rounds with Chef Massie stopping by more than once to discuss the concepts and show-off a few of his more prized creations.

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Serving Lavazza coffee, with refills never left for want, it was with a light start that our meal began and although generally not one to order grapefruit the brown sugar bruleed half was far better than the usual while also proving an excellent counterpart to what may just be the city’s best sticky bun – a flower adorned pull-apart with a slightly crunchy exterior overlying a springy center as notes of yeast peaked through ample cinnamon and frosting that managed the tough act of being sweet without overwhelming the rest.

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Moving next to a duo of brunch specific side dishes, along with a lightly charred boat-shaped bread listed under the section titled “Breakfast Georgians,” suffice it to say that although many are likely unfamiliar with Khachapurri, in general, Chef Massie’s upscale take on the Eastern European tradition was outstanding with smoke, salt, cream, and crunch all well represented while both the onion tinged hash and slow-roasted potato ‘poutine’ were equally impressive reinventions – the later featuring 3-step potatoes that are first roasted and then allowed to rest below pork-fat dripping from the spit before finally being crisped and paired to squeaky curds – a bit more pork and gravy putting the whole plate over the top.

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Opting next for the $50 ‘for two’ Porchetta, and in fact that first table to ever order the dish, it was with a special presentation from the chef that I was allowed to crack the skin with a brisk tap from a knife and returning the round to the kitchen for plating and presentation the flavors proved no less impressive than the shatter, each mouthful of flavorful loin loaded with spices and texture while warm tortillas and lightly spiced sauce proved a perfect accoutrement not only to the pork but to a large bowl of eggs that my friend dubbed “the Robuchon potatoes of eggs – 50% cheese and 50% egg,” give or take some cream.

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Rounding out the experience with ‘desserts,’ that would equally impress as entrees it was with another trio of plates that we were presented and although the duck confit was not quite as flavorful as the similarly themed plate at FIX the toothsome waffle was a perfect delivery mechanism for tastes both sweet and savory, the pancakes and French Toast each leaning far further towards the former with surprising complexity offered in the lightness of each base with all sorts of texture offered by accoutrements ranging from creamy ricotta and cream cheese frosting to crumbled cookies and crushed nuts, all beneath the sheen of syrup and bursting berries.

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FIVE STARS:  At this point having experienced no less than thirty different items from the Hearthstone kitchen, and becoming more enamored by the spot with each and every bite, I finally feel comfortable in saying that there is perhaps no better “American” restaurant in the city of Las Vegas and with menu changes set to occur in the coming months I simply cannot wait to return – a ‘destination’ less than a half mile from my door.

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RECOMMENDED:  Porchetta & Eggs for 2, Cinnamon Sticky Bun (or even better upgraded into the Salted Caramel French Toast,) Rotisserie Pork Poutine.

AVOID:  If you’ve had the Duck and Waffles at FIX it is a pass at Hearthstone, though if you’ve not it is still quite good.  Also, although I’ll drink it I remain underwhelmed by Lavazza.

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TIP:  Featuring several cocktails, a bloody Mary bar, and the full charcuterie and cheese menu plus the ability to hang out in the lounge for as long as one likes this isn’t the sort of brunch you rush through, particularly with the NFL playoffs ongoing and March Madness soon to come.

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

http://hearthstonelv.com/

Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Basket, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Hearthstone, Hearthstone Kitchen, Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes, Pizza, Pork, Truffle, Waffles

Wonderland Bakery, Las Vegas NV

 

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Wonderland Bakery

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PB&J Bar Sample

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Turtle Brownie – Fudgy Brownie, Caramel, Pecan

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Southern Princess Cupcake – Red Velvet Cake, Cream Cheese Buttercream

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookie

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Sassy Snickerdoodle

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Imported by Southern California and newly opened at Downtown Summerlin it was a mid-morning snack that led to a stop at Wonderland Bakery and with the sort of saccharine service meant to appeal to children and their soccer moms paired to overpriced low-quality sweets one only ‘wonders’ how long Wonderland will last.

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Cutesy in décor with a selection of fused-glass plates, cupcake purses, and princess-themed items clearly targeting an audience around six-years old it was to a tic-tac sized taste of overly sweet Peanut Butter and Jelly that I was greeted near the door and thankful that the bite would prevent me from investing $4.50 in that item it was with wide eyes that the rest of the items were perused – the prices harkening Bouchon, Jean-Phillipe, or Payard with presentations closer to that of Von’s or Albertson’s…certainly not Whole Foods, while one must also wonder if the ingredients are even held to the same standards.

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Figuring it was best to taste before judging it was to “Ohmygod, everything is so yummy” recommendations that questions about specific items were met and eventually giving up in trying to cull the options it was in old-standbys that a tasting was invested – a dense hockey puck feigning as a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie tasted shortly after leaving the store while the rest was held over for a few hours later.

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Finding the $3.75 Snickerdoodle slightly more palatable than the aforementioned disc, though far harder than usual despite ample butter beneath a lot of sugar and less cinnamon than one would hope, it was onward to a small cupcake that the tasting progressed and ringing in at the same price as each cookie for a rather small sample the cake was virtually flavorless beneath smooth and sweet frosting, another disappointment since the retailer purported that the Red Velvet was just being made when I arrived, forcing me to stand around waiting as a tiny train circled the ceiling while giving me time to take a look at the small Sprinkle Bar party room at the store’s back.

Finishing the quartet with a $4.50 Brownie that was undoubtedly the best bite of the bunch, as rich dark chocolate proved more than capable of standing up to substantial caramel drizzle, it was just moments prior to halftime of the Patriots vs. Ravens playoff game that nearly half of the rest found its way to the trash and out nearly $16 for what would amount perhaps a dozen bites of food were one actually inclined to eat it all suffice it to say there are better ways to invest both cash and calories whether you are six, sixteen, or sixty.

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ONE AND A HALF STARS:  High prices and low quality have never really made good business partners and no matter how sweet Wonderland Bakery tries to be everything from the cheap clamshell packages to the generic purple bags to lack of branding on the products in-store indicates that this is a place looking only to make a quick buck – something they may do once, but certainly not repeatedly.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice…

RECOMMENDED:  Skipping this place, or, if you must – order a brownie.

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AVOID:  Cookies, Cupcakes, asking questions that the staff will simply smile mindlessly through.

TIP:  Located next to the soon-to-open Gelato Messina and across from Its Sugar those with children are advised to avoid this stretch of Downtown Summerlin unless they plan to argue with or ignore the “I want, I want” outburst likely to follow.

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

http://wonderlandbakery.com

Posted in Breakfast, cupcakes, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, Wonderland Bakery

Distill – A Local Bar, Las Vegas NV

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Distill – A Local Bar

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Mashed Potato Bites – Creamy House Made Mashed Potatoes with cheddar, pepper jack, and parmesan, spices.  Served with chipotle sour cream and ranch.

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Croque Madame – Swiss, Ham, Bechamel, Eggs, Hash Browns

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Chicken and Waffles – Fried Chicken drizzled with caramel chipotle sauce, waffles

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French Toast – Bread Pudding with Banana Foster Sauce

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Coffee

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Located just a mile from my front door, and recently offering brunch as only a 24/7 ‘Local Bar’ in Las Vegas can, it was just after 8am that I entered Distill and with the crew mopping floors as a few locals sat playing video slots beneath the echoes of KISS’s “Shout it Out Loud” it was to a Please Seat Yourself sign that I was greeted – a seat in the upper rim selected with a young woman named Chrissy interrupting her duties of setting up the Bloody Mary Bar to procure me a menu, water, and the first of several cups of surprisingly good coffee.

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Offering a 24/7 menu of items ranging from snacks, sandwiches, and salads to entrees and even hearty breakfasts it was largely for the weekend-only 8a-2p brunch that I’d scheduled my first visit to Distill and ordering in two rounds with every item recommended as a good choice by both my server and Assistant GM Kristyne, who stopped by to chat no less than three times, the meal unfolded in four plates that all showed surprising creativity and execution one would generally see reserved for far more ‘fancy’ spots.

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Beginning savory, it was with a paper-lined cone full of tender cheesy potatoes beneath a golden topcoat that the meal began, and paired with a duo of sauces from which the smoky sour cream was undoubtedly a standout the flavors were up front without a bit of the greasiness oft associated with fried potatoes – the hashbrowns served next to a competent croquet madame for example, though the sandwich itself was little more than ham, egg, and cheese on toast as the Bechamel was a touch too thick and unfortunately under-flavored.

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Moving on to two more brunch-specific selections, as the soundtrack shifted briefly to Pink and copious coffee refills continued, round two saw the arrival of two substantially larger entrees and although the chicken tenders proved no better than the sort one would expect at a decent pub the waffle was executed beautifully with a crunchy exterior and springy crumb, the spicy sauce keeping sweet caramel in check – a sense of balance equally achieved by three thick slices of custard-soaked breaded seared crisp with sticky bananas foster finding its foil in a toasty layer of nuts.

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THREE AND A HALF STARS:  Far exceeding modest expectations in terms of food, scene, and customer service with prices trending far lower than several other spots in the city it is only a matter of time before I return to Distill and although I’m certainly not the bar’s target audience for booze and games I also look forward to seeing whether the quality carries over to Elixir and Remedy’s, the Henderson based members of their growing 24/7 family.

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RECOMMENDED:  Bread Pudding French Toast (weekends only,) and Mashed Potato Bites.

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AVOID:  While not ‘bad,’ the Croque was marred by mediocre Bechamel – though I credit Distill for trying such a thing when even places twice its price point cannot make a competent version.

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TIP:  With a soundtrack ranging from Led Zeppelin to Gn’R and The Doors plus no smoking aside from a few folks at the bar and free Wi-Fi a breakfast or brunch at Distill is perhaps the perfect alternative to similar 24/7 spots on the strip where a meal will set you back nearly 2-fold, not to mention the ‘resort fees’ and blasting Britney Spears.

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

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http://distillbar.com/

Distill - A Local Bar on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Distill, Distill - a Local Bar, Food, French Toast, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Waffles

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire [5,] Las Vegas NV

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Twist by Pierre Gagnaire

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AMUSE – Curried Goat Cheese Tartlett, Guiness and Whisky Gelee

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Brioche, Baguette, Cranberry Walnut Bread with salted and unsalted butter

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SEA URCHIN MOUSSELINE WITH CAVIAR – Gelée of Bonito and Grilled Onion Infusion, Olive Oil Infused Salsify Spaghettini

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LOBSTER FRICASSEE WITH KAFFIR LIME AND ENOKI MUSHROOMS – Baby Carrot Stew, Sweet Wine and Green Tea Butter, Nasturtium Leaves and Flowers

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WHITE TRUFFLE RISOTTO – Pine Nut, Globe Artichoke

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PALATE CLEANSER – Rhubarb and Espelette Pepper Mousse, Grapefruit Granite, Pineapple Kirsch Liquor and Cucumber

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ROASTED FOIE GRAS – Coffee and Chestnut Velouté, Prunes and Porcini, Shaved Black Truffles

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ORGANIC FREE RANGE CHICKEN WITH TRUFFLE – Shimizu Chicken Breast and Sautéed Squid, Celery Root and Artichoke Purée; Sauce Perigueux, Shaved Black Truffles

image652 image654MILLE-FEUILLE – Puff Pastry, Praline Cream, Cassis Compote Blackberry Sorbet

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GRAND DESSERT PIERRE GAGNAIRE

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Cassis: Sorbet, Wurtz, Marmalade with Cane Sugar, Pink Peppercorn Opaline

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Honey Orange Gelée, Shortbread, Mango and Passion Fruit, Fromage Blanc Ice Cream

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Chocolate Gateau with Golden Raisins and Amarena Cherries

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MIGNARDISES – Lemon Meringue, Candied Blueberries

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TANZANIAN CHOCOLATE – Tanzanian Chocolate Parfait, Coffee Granité, Caramelized Hazelnuts

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DOUBLE ESPRESSO ON ICE

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TAKE HOME BISCOTTI – Chocolate Praline, Pistachio Cranberry

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At this point on a first name basis with a reservationist at The Mandarin Oriental who keeps me abreast of when Chef Gagnaire will be visiting his Forbes 5-Starred Twist, it was with somewhat sad news that I was informed my favorite chef would be in town the first weekend of 2015 to see off current Chef de Cuisine, Ryuki Kawasaki – a man soon to rightfully toque his own project in Bangkok, and someone whose cooking myself and two others were lucky enough to experience one more time over the course of three-hours from the 23rd floor room overlooking the dazzling lights below.

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Written about four times prior, thrice under the care of Chef Kawasaki whose interpretation and execution of Gagnaire’s signature style is undoubtedly the best I’ve seen, the fifth visit to Twist found the room largely unchanged as lighted baubles hung overhead and with a slight change in the soundtrack offering a mix of French tunes and mid-70s American classics a sizable four-top along the “cracked egg” wall served as our table throughout the course a night filled with superlative service and cuisine  most akin to that which was experienced at Le Rue Balzac in 2011, still the best meal of my life.

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Starting with a truncated amuse consisting of two bites – salt and earth followed by bitter and sweet – to awaken the palate, it was not long after selecting a slightly augmented version of the evening’s tasting menu that plated bread arrived, and paired with two butters from Normandy all three fresh-baked selections were as good as ever, the crunchy baguette a showstopper with the salted butter while the buttery brioche proved an amicable sponge for several sauces as the meal progressed.

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Wasting little time in getting started it was perhaps ten minutes after seating that plate one of the six-course menu arrived and with a spiral of thinly sliced salsify riffing on spaghetti the umami-laden sauce of creamed urchin topped with briny bubbles and hints of onion proved absolutely ethereal on its own, but all the better when blended with the ‘pasta’ and a base of consommé-clear gelee teaming with flavors of the ocean – a beautiful opening act on which a subsequent plate of snappy lobster enlivened with sweet wine and light bitters would expound before turning to things far more earthy, aromatic, and luxurious to say the least.

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At this point departing briefly from the night’s grand tasting it was in a silver domed supplement that we all indulged and with each plate uncovered simultaneously the unmistakable scent of white truffles soon perfumed the air, each of us breathing in deeply before taking a spoonful of creamy risotto dotted with butter poached artichokes that proved an adept delivery mechanism for the sort of flavor one eats slowly to savor, and only wishes was available year round.

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Provided with an intermezzo to refresh the palate in preparation for things yet to come it seemed most improbable that anything following the risotto would prove a more memorable dish on the night and yet as luck, as well as fresh black truffles, would have it there were two superior plates to follow – the juicy chicken atop sliced cephalopod as complex as it was impressive while the soup proved to be amongst the best dishes to grace my palate in recent memory – a tender float of foie gras atop brioche finding its foil in a base that was at once sweet and savory with a toasty base-note lurking beneath a generous truffle crown.

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Opting to order the Mille-Feuille in addition to the included “Grande Dessert” it would be difficult to decide which of the four sweets was the most impressive of the night but with frozen grapes adding an unexpected degree of nuance to the small bowl titled Cassis the scaled back finale was without a doubt the most well conceptualized in my Twist experiences to date – a complimentary taste of the feather-light Tanzanian Chocolate capping the evening alongside fruity mignardises while autographed menus and duos of biscotti were offered as bonus gifts for the road.

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS:  Perhaps the most ‘straight forward’ meal enjoyed at Twist to-date in terms of a diminished selection of amuses, canapés, mignardises, satellite plates, and components to the Grand Dessert it seems that a transition is already underway in the Kitchen as Ryuki Kawasaki plans his departure, but with each dish an absolute gem of taste and presentation with service that remains the most professional and least ‘stuffy’ of all the formal French dining rooms in the city it seems safe to assume that the future is in good hands – a return visit already in its planning stages, once the new Chef is named.

RECOMMENDED:  Every single time I’ve experienced foie gras, fowl, or poultry at any of Pierre Gagnaire’s restaurants I have been impressed and the same can also be said of his treatment of uni and crustaceans, particularly langoustines and lobster.

AVOID:  Served at a $50 surcharge and still aromatic despite the late season the risotto was simply ‘good’ when compared to the savory courses that followed, a case of ‘first world problems’ to be sure, but a retrospective disappointment none the less.

TIP:  Chef Kawasaki will be departing for warmer environs as of 1/10/15 with a new Chef de Cuisine to be named in the coming weeks; Chef Gagnaire is set to return for training in late February.

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

http://www.mandarinoriental.com/lasvegas/fine-dining/twist-by-pierre-gagnaire/

Twist on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Basket, Coffee, Dessert, Foie, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Lobster, Nevada, Tasting Menu, Truffle, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire

Sporting Life Bar, Las Vegas NV

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Sporting Life Bar

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Warm Pretzel Bites – Beer Cheese Dip

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Cracklin’ Jacks – Pork Rinds, Chipotle-Honey Roasted Peanuts

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Duck Confit Flatbread – Medjool Dates, Goat Cheese, Sweet and Savory Moustarda

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Bourbon Bread Pudding – Salted Caramel Ice Cream

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Located on South Jones and long on my radar as a place to watch The Buckeyes it was finally for Saturday NFL action that I stopped in to The Sporting Life, and setting aside an early service gaff that left me entirely ignored for nearly ten minutes the subsequent hundred minutes and four plates passed during the course of a Panthers victory over Atlanta was a mix of the expected, impressive, and truly surprising.

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Open 24/7 with packages for all the major sports allowing them to cater to all varieties of interests, it was just after 3pm that I entered the windowless tavern and with Christmas decorations still lit juxtaposing a central bar plus a few rounded booths and several tables it was suggested I seat myself – a hightop in the back with views of NBA, NHL, and playoff football action in full display as servers dressed in Scarlet and Grey and Cleveland Browns polos made me feel right at home – the lack of an annoying bar-tunes soundtrack an added bonus, though I’m told it plays on other nights when trivia or darts crowds fill the room.

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Treated to complimentary WiFi while sticking to water as my drink of choice it was to a wide ranging menu of bar-food staples and intriguing upscale options that I focused my attention and opting to sample a little of each a four part order was crafted, the kitchen expedient while service improved dramatically after bonding over Ohio State’s New Years Day win.

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Starting with competent $5 Happy Hour Pretzel bites paired with hoppy melted cheese served alongside a Cracker Jack-riffing composition of pork-rinds and peanuts that tasted every bit as ludicrous and decadent as it sounds it was at a deliberately slow pace that savored each bite and eventually finding the tilted bowl empty the second part of the order was sent out, a crisp flatbread somewhat uninspired in its lightly charred crust but exponentially upgraded by toppings that walked a fine line between sweet and savory, the confit surprisingly moist while well-chopped dates and poignant goat cheese each found a willing dance partner in acid forward moustarda far more nuanced than one would ever expect in a ‘bar.’

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Admittedly biased in my love of desserts it was still to the server that I deferred when asking which sweet ending he thought was best and although it would have been ordered anyway his strong support of the bread pudding should not go without notice, the half-melted-on-arrival ice cream a bit of a turn off, but the texture and flavor of the amalgam of butter, caramel, and flan-soft brioche truly transcendent and on par with that at Truffles n’ Bacon for the best of this style served in the valley.

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THREE AND A HALF STARS:  With 24/7 bars featuring video poker, cheap drinks, smoking, and weekday party games as much a staple of Las Vegas culture as the 24/7 diner is to that of The Big Apple it is more than a little impressive to see a place like Sporting Life willing to take chances with the menu and although not everything here is perfect, particularly the smell of smoke in the air, one would be hard pressed to name another place turning out a duck confit pizza at 6am – no less a top notch bread pudding available at all hours of the day.

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RECOMMENDED:  Bread Pudding, Cracklin Jacks

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AVOID:  Pretzel Bites were mundane and those calories could be better invested in something more interesting, though those desiring a good pretzel will likely be satisfied.

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TIP:  Check out the daily specials board to the left on entry, an item I only noticed on exiting that featured stuffed dates, a gnocchi of the day, and an apple pie as well as several drink specials.

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

http://sportinglifebar.com/

Sporting Life Bar on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Pudding, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pizza, Pork, Sporting Life Bar

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar [2,] Las Vegas NV

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Yardbird at the Venetian

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Maple Glazed Bacon Doughnut

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Cinnamon Apple Hand Pies – Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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Buttermilk Biscuits – Honey Butter, Jam

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Low & Slow Smoked Chicken Salad – Haas Avocado, Warm Fried Cornbread, Yogurt Dressing

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’77 Elvis Pancakes – Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Banana Compote, Bourbon Maple Syrup, Peanut Butter

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Shrimp n’ Grits – Florida Shrimp, Crisp Virginia Ham, Adluh South Carolina Stone Ground Grits

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Skillet Cornbread – Poppyseed, Gouda, Bacon, Maple Butter

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Macaroni and Cheese – Torchio Pasta, Five Artisinal Cheeses, Crispy Herb Crust

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Treated to a Friends and Family smorgasbord on New Year’s Day and vowing a prompt return it was just after eleven o’clock that another well traveled diner and myself sat down to Brunch at the Venetian’s newest spot and ordering with a focus on mid-day specific menu items as we both had already tried the legendary chicken an eight plate feast soon followed, only a couple miscues from a single food runner and a couple menu inconsistencies beleaguering an otherwise superlative service.

Having already written of the first meal at Yardbird, the scene at midday proved far more laid back than that bustling evening before yet from the moment of entering the vibe remained pleasant and upscale, much like the Miami original and the sort of service propagated by heralded spots throughout Charleston or Atlanta, certainly leagues above the Sin City ‘norm.’

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Starting off sweet, much to the amusement of my tablemate, it was with a quartet of buttermilk biscuits served piping hot, flaky, and rich with buttermilk beneath lightly sweet notes that the meal began and topping each with a slather of house blended butter and rich preserves there was immediate agreement that no better biscuit exists in Las Vegas, the follow-up hand pies equally impressive with a golden buttered exterior surrounding soft, cinnamon apples as a ball of house-churned ice cream slowly melted at their side.

Largely underwhelmed by a doughy doughnut despite the excellent thick-cut bacon atop a layer of rich maple and admittedly off-put by the $9 pricetag I’d have sooner spent on more pork, round two began with the Low and Slow, a dish almost destined to become a restaurant signature, and hot on its heels the pairing of stick-a-spoon-up-straight grits beneath plump shrimp and the ’77 Elvis Pancakes – a deceptively light dish with rich buttermilk finding its foil amidst boozy maple, bananas, dark chocolate, and peanut butter infused with a porky sapor that could probably improve anything on which it was spread.

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Not particularly impressed by the mac n’ cheese during my first visit it was with a wink from the kitchen that a second serving was sent to our table and admitting that I was perhaps too full to truly enjoy it the first time the flavors were certainly more prominent this time around, the sour notes of cream cheese peaking through sharp cheddar as the torch shaped pasta proved an exceptional mechanism of delivery – a similar compliment due for the low skillet of cornbread, an exceptionally toothsome version of the classic that was complex and moist on its own but all the more delicious when soaked through with the liberally applied maple infused butter.

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Having now tasted twenty plates from Chef Harrington and the Yardbird team plus several at the Miami flagship with only the doughnut and first crock of macaroni and cheese proving less than exemplary it would be an understatement to say that Yardbird is quickly emerging as a personal favorite on the Strip and with several ideas brewing for cuisine that is sorely underrepresented in Las Vegas one can only hope that tourists and locals are willing to stop in – the prices admittedly high compared to other ‘southern’ spots, but the ingredients and execution almost invariably justifying the cost.

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RECOMMENDED: Low and Slow, Biscuits, Skillet Cornbread, ’77 Elvis Pancakes

AVOID: Maple Glazed Bacon Doughnut.

TIP: Offering brunch from 9:30-4:00 Friday-Sunday, Dinner starting at 4:30 all week long.

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

http://www.venetian.com/restaurants/american/yardbird.html

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Basket, Breakfast, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes, Pork, Yardbird, Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Yardbird Southern Table and Bar

Bakery King, Henderson NV

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Bakery King

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Maple Old Fashioned

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Raised and Glazed

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Buttermilk Bar

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Blueberry Bundt Cake

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One of the few remaining bakeries on the Las Vegas “to-do” list it was entirely its proximity to breakfast at Black Bear Diner that finally saw a stop at Bakery King and with the strange smell of what can only be described as ‘machinery’ heavy in the air as I crossed the door’s threshold suffice it to say that it remains a mystery as to over whom, exactly, this strip-mall bakery holds sovereignty.

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Small in size and stripped in décor it was just after 8:30am that I entered the Smoke-shop adjacent store and with perhaps a dozen total items available it was apparently a mother and son duo whose conversation was interrupted by my arrival, a few questions answered indicating that ‘some’ items are baked in-house while others are ‘brought in from our other location, a wholesale bakery’ – whatever that means.

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Charged $4.68 for a quartet of selections with the comment “review us on Yelp” suggested as I snapped a picture of an old review on the wall it was only on relocating to more cozy environs that I actually took pictures of the carelessly bagged wares and began a sampling of each, the yeasted doughnut essentially inedible and almost undoubtedly a day old while the Old-Fashioned was also so dry that a single bite would suffice.

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Moving on to a buttermilk bar that was more ‘butter’ than buttermilk, and perhaps better for it as it was at least kept moist compared to those already tried, it was finally in the hefty bundt cake that I stuck a fork and topped with plenty of icing plus a core of gelatinous blueberries the results were, at best, mixed – the best of the bunch, sure, but nowhere near as good as those at Nothing Bundt Cakes…though admittedly at about one-half the price.

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ONE AND A HALF STARS:  Largely an unmitigated disaster in execution with a storefront and scent that makes me wonder how they’ve managed to stay in business for more than a couple months it would be hard to name one reason to visit Bakery King when no less than a dozen local spots are making far better doughnuts at a similar price-point, though perhaps proximity to a smoke shop drives some business from the ever discerning ‘munchies’ crowd.

RECOMMENDED:  N/A.

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AVOID:  Raised and Glazed, Old Fashioned.

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TIP:  Apparently the sister of a local wholesale/commercial bakery one must wonder exactly which one as I’ve yet to have a donut this bad in all of Las Vegas, the fact that this information was not disclosed when I inquired is perhaps telling…

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

http://www.facebook.com/BakeryKinginLV

Bakery King on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bakery King, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Henderson, Las Vegas, Nevada

Black Bear Diner, Henderson NV

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Black Bear Diner

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Coffee

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Huckleberry Bear Claw

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Short Stack Sweet Cream Pancakes

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Thick Cut French Toast

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Recently opened in Henderson, with a 2014 visit to the Tropicana location still relatively fresh in my mind, it was entirely at the behest of a friend who quickly responded to a Facebook post looking for breakfast recommendations that the twenty minute drive to North Green Valley Parkway took place and although the decorative cabin décor is nowhere near as comprehensive as the Northwest location Black Bear Diner’s recipe for success was otherwise faithfully replicated with competent down-home classics served by a team of smiling servers as ignorable top-40 filled the air overhead.

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Largely unimpressed by the ‘traditional’ Bear Claw during my prior visit suffice it to say a repeat was not high on my list of things to try, but with my buddy signing up for the Bear Lovers E-Club scoring a free coffee and one of the pastries the warm Huckleberry iteration proved a modest improvement on the cold almond paste, though the doughy lack of lamination and lack of filling in the ‘toes’ still left much to be desired, particularly for an item dubbed a signature.

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Fairing far better than the ‘appetizer’ it was of two ‘Griddle Vittles’ that the rest of our breakfast was comprised and although the French Toast was decent but largely forgettable the ‘secret recipe’ of buttermilk and sweet cream constituting the base of two airy pancakes was worth every cent of the modest $6.49 tab, fake maple syrup aside.

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TWO AND A HALF STARS: A mere $10 each after tax and tip when taking into account the E-Club discount Black Bear Diner is perfectly fine but having now visited both local locations and trying the pies, pastries, French toast, and pancakes there’s really no pressing reason to return, particularly in a city with no lack of local places turning out equal or better food at a similar cost.

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RECOMMENDED: Sweet Cream Pancakes

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AVOID: Bear Claw.

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TIP: For those with kids, or adults who simply fancy cutesy décor, the Tropicana location offers far more eye candy though each location serves the exact same menu with service equally pleasant at both. For those looking for a deal, sign up for the free E-Club two-to-three days before dining as it takes that long for the coupon – which expires in 13 days – to arrive.

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

http://blackbeardiner.com

Black Bear Diner on Urbanspoon

Posted in Black Bear Diner, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Henderson, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Las Vegas NV

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Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

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Bourbon Blackberry Lemonade

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Fried Green Tomato BLT – Pork Belly, Greens, Tomato Jam, Pimento Cheese

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Deviled Eggs with Redneck Caviar, Fresh Dill, Smoked Trout Roe

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Pork Terrine, Pickled Cauliflower, Grilled Bread, Grainy Mustard

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Fried Bread and Butter Pickle Spears – Spicy Salt and Spiked Duke’s Mayo

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Macaroni and Cheese – Tochio Pasta, Five Artisinal Cheeses, Crispy Herb Crust

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Mama’s Chicken Biscuits – Free Range Fried Chicken, Pepper Jelly, House Pickles

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Heirloom Tomato Salad – Toasted Peanut Hummus, Basil, Smoked Tomato Sorbet, Crunchy Puffed Rice

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Chicken Liver Toast – Grilled Country Bread, Cuke, Fresno Pepper Relish

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Low and Slow Smoked Chicken Salad on Fried Cornbread

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Chicken n’ Watermelon n’ Waffles – Fried Chicken, Hot Sauce Honey, Spiced Watermelon, Cheddar Cheese Chow Chow Waffle, Bourbon Maple Syrup

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Double Espresso on Ice

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Bacon-Butterscotch Cake with Bacon Frosting, Pecan Pie Filling, and Bourbon Bacon Ice Cream

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Key Lime Donut Bites with Coconut Mango Panna Cotta

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Crunch n’ Munch Bread Pudding, Popcorn Ice Cream

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Invited in by Chef Todd Harrington for a taste of Yardbird Southern Kitchen & Table at the Venetian on the night before its official opening, and treated to fourteen plates over the course of two and a half hours, it was just after 8 o’clock that myself and a friend stood up and shuffled out into the Italian themed casino – the scene far different than trendy South Beach, but the cuisine and culture inside the restaurant every bit as good, if not better than the Beard Nominated Florida flagship.

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Large in size and aggressive in scope, with a menu covering lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, Yardbird is the first Las Vegas expansion for the 50 Eggs restaurant group and overseen from its conceptualization by Chef Harrington with a kitchen far exceeding the capacity of the original and a dining room tinged in upscale rustic décor as classic southern blues and jazz fill the air the dining area itself feels a hundred miles from the slots machines outside and seated in a small alcove to the side of a wide-open kitchen it was not long after seating that our server arrived, both she and each of her assistants already well versed in the menu and its roots while the Chef and GM filled diners in on new techniques including the use of sous vide, extensive brining, and a double smoker that set many of the plates apart from the Yardbird on Miami Beach.

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Largely allowing the kitchen to send out plates they felt best expressed the restaurant’s vision, while also making a few specific requests, it was with the restaurant’s signature lemonade that the evening got started and soon joined by a trio of small-plates both the deviled eggs and the whimsical BLT proved well balanced and expertly crafted while the chunky terrine was every bit on-par with the version at Daniel Boulud’s spot next door – a high bit of praise, to be sure.

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Moving onward to fried pickles that featured delicate batter and were about as good as such an ‘acquired taste’ dish can be plus macaroni and cheese that was rather par for the course it was here that restaurant’s signature ingredient made its first appearance, and nestled inside a golden biscuit tinged with sweetness that immediately sets a new standard for Sin City the fried chicken was likewise beyond reproach, each bite crisp and juicy with the flavor profile further enhanced by the in-house pickling program plus sweet n’ spicy jam.

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Treated next to two salads alongside a thick smear of chicken liver that proved so smooth and well balanced by the relish that it could have easily been mistaken for foie gras, suffice it to say that while the tomato salad was a perfect mid-meal palate cleanse of aromatics and acid Chef Harrington’s Low and Slow was perhaps the most unexpectedly impressive plate of the whole meal, each smoky bite of chicken almost melting on the tongue while crispy fried cornbread and greens added texture and their own complimentary flavors to the mix.

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At this point admittedly well-sated it was still to gluttonous eyes that Yardbird’s signature plate arrived and with the house-brined bird so juicy that white meat was nearly indistinguishable from dark it warrants mention that the version served here in Las Vegas was more impressive in all ways than the one on which the 50 Eggs empire was built – the same to be said of the waffles, which were more cheesy and crisp, though if one must quibble the watermelon could have stood to be a touch more sweet.

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Offered tea and coffee, both of which were gladly accepted with sweets set to follow, Pastry Chef Vivian Chang soon stopped by to say hello and explaining that the current menu is largely cribbed from that in South Beach with Sin City specific items soon to follow it was to her judgment that we deferred – an overwhelming trio arriving that spanned from dainty bombolini stuffed with Key Lime curd to piping hot bread pudding studded with pretzels, caramel corn, and candy both standing in the shadow of an immense slice of cake that walked a fine line between sweet and savory, the ice cream giving it a boozy kick and making me wish I’d have saved room to enjoy a few bites more.

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UNABLE TO RATE: Treated to top rate service with the kitchen sending out over a dozen plates at no charge it would obviously be difficult to rate Yardbird at The Venetian without biased eyes but with service already executing on a very high level with the sort of food I love being crafted by a dedicated and passionate team a return for brunch is already in the works and considering my love for this sort of food, service, and setting all signs point to many more visits to come.

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RECOMMENDED: Fried Green Tomato BLT, Low and Slow, Chicken n’ Watermelon n’ Waffles, Bacon-Butterscotch Cake, Key Lime Donut Bites

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AVOID: Macaroni and Cheese is no more or less impressive than most others and Fried Pickles simply aren’t my ‘thing,’ though my dining buddy ate his two with glee.

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TIP: Offering brunch, lunch, and supper with different menus available at each those looking for a specific item are encouraged to review while those that simply want some great food are encouraged to book a table and just order whatever sounds best from a menu built to please all kinds.

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

http://runchickenrun.com

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Pudding, Coffee, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Waffles, Yardbird, Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Yardbird Southern Table and Bar

Border Grill at Forum Shops, Las Vegas NV

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Border Grill at Forum Shops

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Coffee

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Guava Cheese Empanada

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Fruit Salad

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Yucatan egg Benedict – Manchego cheese biscuit, Achiote roasted pork, avocado crema, hollandaise, pickled onions

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Green corn Tamales – Sweet corn, salsa fresca, sour cream

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Fried green Tomatillos – Triple cream brie, hominy grits, spicy romesco, smoked chile hollandaise, pepper bacon

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Bacon jalapeño PBJ – Housemade peanut butter and grape jelly, crispy bacon, over easy egg, jalapeño

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Chicken and waffle – Blue corn waffle, mango habanero coulis, spiced fried chicken, crème fraîche

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Peruvian shrimp and grits – Aji panca salsa, roasted green chile, creamy parmesan grits

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Red velvet Johnny cakes – Ancho chocolate shavings, candied pecans, wild berry syrup, vanilla crème fraîche

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Egg white oysters Rockefeller – Seasonal tempura oyster, creamed spinach, crispy bacon, spicy tomato chutney

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Huevos rancheros – Black bean panucho, ranchero salsa, sunny side egg, tomatillo relish, serrano Chantilly

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Breakfast fries – Beer braised short rib, chipotle hollandaise, applewood smoked bacon, over easy egg

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Churro tots – Dulce de leche infused churros, cinnamon sugar, cajeta

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Capirotada French Toast – Bourbon maple syrup, walnuts, ancho cherry marmalade, goat cheese crema

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Rice pudding – Shortbread cookie, brûléed banana slices

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Fondly recalling a brunch at Mandalay Bay’s Border Grill just prior to relocating to Las Vegas there seemed no better place to kick off 2015 than at the new Caesars iteration, and meeting with one of my favorite dining buddies from the past 365 days with a seat looking out on the spiral escalators teeming with tourists an experience no less impressive unfolded over the course of two hours and a baker’s dozen plates.

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Owned and operated by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, a pair of ‘Hot Tamales’ whose commitment to sustainable sourcing and top notch ingredients is well known to most, it was just after the restaurant’s 11 o’clock opening that we checked in with the smiling hostess and quickly seated at a roomy four-top on the restaurant’s mall-facing ‘patio’ it would not be long before freshly brewed coffee was flowing and our first round of plates from the all-you-can-eat brunch were requested – the service knowledgeable and efficient as General Manager Jennifer stopped by each table to make sure all was well.

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Whimsically designed with Latin American themes played out everywhere from the walls to the plates as similarly themed music plays just loud enough to keep the space lively without being loud, it was just moments after orders were placed that a bowl of fresh fruit arrived alongside a duo of fruity cheese empanadas and soon in their wake came an equally impressive quartet – the housemade biscuits anchoring both the PBJ and Benedict better than almost any offered in Sin City and all the more impressive when accounting for toppings that came through with bold aromatics and plenty of balance, each one amongst the very best of the brunch.

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At this point ordering one-to-two plates each over the course of three more rounds of items mostly-savory it was in gauging each other’s reaction that subsequent dishes were selected and with the exception of Johnny cakes that were thin while generally lacking in flavor and breakfast fries that fell flaccid beneath otherwise impressive accoutrements every other item sampled was a resounding success, the coulis tying the chicken and waffles together in a very unexpected manner while the creamy oyster in light tempura presented a perfect bite of smoke, acid, and brine…the sort of plate I’d have gladly ordered a dozen of were there not so much else to try.

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Turning attention to dessert it was only here that an item from Border Grill’s a la carte menu was selected and flanked by delicate ‘churro tots’ that eat like hot cinnamon donuts as well as bread pudding style French Toast that works funky goat cheese into the mix with the flavors of maple and sour cherries it can only be said that the Rice Pudding is every bit as good as the rumors, a deep bowl for a mere $9 easily the best offered in Las Vegas and already an early contender for the 2015 best dessert list with “stick-a-spoon-up-straight” yet silky texture complimented by a lengthy shortbread topped in caramelized banana bites.

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FOUR STARS: At first considered a bit redundant given the Mandalay Bay location just a few minutes away it will be interesting to see if both Border Grill locations can sustain in an environment ever prone to closure and reinvention and while not everything was ‘perfect’ the $34.99 menu still offers a high ratio of hits to misses while the full a la carte menu is also available to those looking for something more…or, depending on appetite, perhaps ‘less.’

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RECOMMENDED: Rice Pudding, Bacon Jalapeno PBJ, Capirotada French toast, Yucatan Eggs Benedict

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AVOID: Breakfast Fries, Red Velvet Johnny Cakes.

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TIP: Brunch is offered in addition to the lunch, dessert, and ceviche menu on Saturdays and Sundays both, options from the later easily added to the brunch at a la carte cost.

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

http://www.bordergrill.com/locations/los-angeles/bglvfs/

Border Grill on Urbanspoon

Posted in Border Grill, Border Grill at Forum Shops, Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes, Pork, Waffles

Tom’s Urban, Las Vegas NV

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Tom’s Urban

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Coffee

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Colorado Hot Brown – Shaved turkey and smoked pit ham on sourdough, smothered with pork green chile, pepper jack and cheddar cheese, tomato, applewood-smoked bacon

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Sweet potato fries and jerk ketchup

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Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes with Caramel Butter

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Big Carrot Cake – Six layers of carrot cake with cream cheese, pecans + fresh toasted coconut

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Newly opened at New York New York, and apparently part of a trio with additional locations found in Larimer and Los Angeles, Tom’s Urban is not exactly the sort of restaurant one would rush to during opening week yet with the words “Hot Brown” featured prominently on the breakfast menu the sprawling space spilling onto the Strip immediately became a destination, a 6:30 arrival finding the kitchen just firing up as I sat in the two-hundred-plus person room with only the GM, Bartender, and a lovely server named Melissa during a seventy-five minute stay.

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Recently redesigned, with urban-rustic flourishes including unfinished ceilings with globe lights above cement floors speckled with plenty of wood and glass, the general feel of Tom’s Urban is of the lively variety and with plenty of LCDs showing a variety of sports the biggest flaw is that the game volume is rendered mute, the restaurant instead opting to blare Iggy Azalea and Taylor Swift at levels clearly intended to draw in traffic from the strip.

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Featuring a ‘late night and breakfast’ menu from 11:00pm until an hour before noon the dining options at Tom’s run the gamut of ‘global’ cuisine and with at least fifty selections available there were tough choices to be made – Las Vegas Boulevard pricing yielding $10-for-3 flapjacks and the aforementioned Hot Brown for $21, the $3 cup of coffee kept brimming throughout the meal the only real “bargain,” though aside from false-maple syrup the ingredients were high quality all around.

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Waiting and watching Kirk Herbstreit’s mouth move while Katy Perry’s voice poured from speakers overhead it was perhaps fifteen minutes before two plates arrived and greeted by the GM during that time suffice it to say that neither portion was skimpy, the bursting blueberries amongst buttermilk batter not really benefitted by upsold butter but light, fluffy, and flavorful when gilded with syrup brought from home while the “Denver” take on the Louisville staple was anything but authentic with a bold spice profile only serving to enhance the smoky sapor of pork alongside moist turkey on thick, buttery bread.

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Originally told that desserts were only available at dinner, but pleading my case that Carrot Cake is a perfectly rational post-breakfast treat, it was with ‘best I’ve ever had’ promises from my server that the moist slice arrived and although certainly not quite matching the high standards set by Jerry’s Nugget or Citizens the $9 six-layer selection was still quite impressive with a restrained spice profile still allowed to shine by keeping the frosting less sweet than most, a spin that may appeal to those desiring a more savory dessert.

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THREE STARS: Clearly suffering from Strip-style pricing (and unwilling to offer this info online) those sitting down for a meal at Tom’s Urban are likely to find something they enjoy from the wide ranging menu and although several similar “upscale American” restaurants exist throughout Las Vegas none of them are serving a Hot Brown of any form, nor Duck Wings or an interesting selection of street tacos, before dawn.

RECOMMENDED: Denver Hot Brown.

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AVOID: Sitting directly under the speakers, and any expectations of restaurants at any price to spring for good Maple Syrup until people start to demand better.

TIP: Ostensibly seeming to be open 24/7 as listed on the website the restaurant is not yet 100% committed to this from what I was able to gather in a conversation with the hostess or GM – the kitchen currently shutting down for ‘slow hours,’ which considering the fact that I was the only person seated from just after six o’clock until 7:15 could be longer than they presently think.

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

http://tomsurban.com/las-vegas/ny-ny-hotel

Tom's Urban on Urbanspoon

Posted in Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes, Pork, Tom's Urban

Ace Donuts [2,] Las Vegas NV

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Ace Donuts

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Chocolate Cinnamon Horn

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Small Cinnamon Crunch Cronut

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Blueberry Fritter

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Blueberry Frosted Cake

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Apple Cinnamon Bear Claw

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Cinnamon Crunch Hole, Glazed Hole, Powdered Sugar Hole

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A new year and a new favorite, the second of back-to-back weeks at Ace Donuts again showed the high quality of the new bakery’s goods and this time opting for items not available on my first visit it was a truly excellent quintet that kicked of 2015 – the soft ring beneath blueberry frosting eating more like butter-cake than a doughnut while the fritter and cronut again shined despite selecting smaller versions and different constituents. More than enough to share, but so good that one may not want to, it was largely due to my early hour of arrival that the Jumbo Bear Claw stuffed with ample amounts of cinnamon apples outshined any similar pastry in the city and although the combination of rich chocolate and substantial notes of cinnamon may not appeal to every palate the crispy exterior and soft insides of the gnarly horn was a veritable cornucopia of flavor, the warm delivery making the aromatics even more impactful and the chocolate just messy enough to justify the use of a fork and knife.

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FIVE STARS: Undoubtedly the best all-around doughnuttery in Las Vegas – Artisan, Old School, or Otherwise.

RECOMMENDED: Just select what you like, or ask the helpful ladies what is most fresh.

AVOID: Getting Addicted…

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TIP: Now offering decorating services for the jumbo donuts those looking something fun are encouraged to top in with a request – for what it’s worth, my birthday is in March. Smilie: :-)

www.acedonutslv.com

Ace Donuts on Urbanspoon

Posted in Ace Donuts, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada

Best of 2014 – Meals, Savories, Sweets

051 - Wedding (27)

Learning to love my new city, while making new friends in both the industry as well as at the table, 2014 turned out to be one of my most memorable years to date and from the Kings raising a second Stanley Cup during my best meal of the year to the unexpected excellence of a kitchen counter out in Anthem the year saw me once again travel to Europe while also exploring both American coasts as well as spots as far north as Wisconsin and as southerly as South Beach, the sum total of over four hundred restaurants, bakeries, taverns, coffee shops, bars, and more comprising the “Best Of” below.

Best Meals:

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1 ) Saison

024 - The Fat Duck (3)

2 ) The Fat Duck

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3 ) Barley Swine

048 - Ducasse (4)

4 ) Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

053 - PQM (1)

5 ) Publican Quality Meats

013 - Rosewood Mansion (2)

6 ) Rosewood Mansion at Turtle Creek

046 - Pollen Street Social (4)

7 ) Pollen Street Social

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8 ) Carnevino

007 - Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs (1)

9 ) Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs

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10 ) David Clawson Restaurant

Five Runner Ups: Trois Mec, Brindille, Yonaka, Lucia, BOKA

Five More Vegas Musts: Le Cirque, Hearthstone , Rose. Rabbit. Lie., Aquaknox, Twist

056 - Snow's (31)

Best Savories:

036 - Lucia (30) 036 - Lucia (31) 036 - Lucia (32)

1 ) Lucia – Cocoa Tagliatelle with Braised Duck and Foie Gras

351 021 - The Ledbury (53) 021 - The Ledbury (52)

2 ) The Ledbury – Breast and Confit Leg of Pigeon

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3 ) 1826 – Perigord and Burgundy Truffle Risotto

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4 ) Saison – Sea Cucumber Duo

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5 ) Petit Trois – Chicken Leg

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6 ) Rustic Canyon – Squid Ink Chiatarra with Salt Cod Alfredo

070 - Hey You Gonna (11)070 - Hey You Gonna (13)070 - Hey You Gonna (14)

7 ) Hey!…You Gonna Eat or What? – Shiner Monte Cristo

052 - Gymkhana (19)

8 ) Gymkhana – Kid Goat Methi Keema

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9 ) Quince – Tortelli alla Cecilia Chiang

044 - Barley Swine (36)

10 ) Barley Swine – Red Snapper, Strawberry, Black Truffle

Five Runner Ups: Forequarter – Caramelized Carrot Cavatelli, Lucali – Plain Pie, Le Cirque Rabbit, FT33 Coppa di Testa and Snail Tortelloni, Pollen Street Social Pine Smoked Quail Brunch

Five More Vegas Musts: Carnevino 240-Day Dry Aged Riserva Porterhouse, Vila Algarve Bacalao “A Brass,” Rose. Rabbit. Lie. Chicken, Hearthstone Suckling Pig, Aquaknox Fish Soup.

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Best Sweets:

024 - Heritage Tavern (13)

1 ) Heritage Tavern – Caramel Profiteroles

010 - Nico (44)

2 ) Nico Osteria – Nico Torte

029 - Ramsay (52)029 - Ramsay (55)029 - Ramsay (54)

3 ) Restaurant Gordon Ramsay – Assiette de l’Aubergine

038 - The Crown (16)

4 ) The Crown at Bray – Bread and Butter Pudding

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5 ) Rose. Rabbit. Lie. – Chocolate Terrarium

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6 ) The Church Key – Brioche Donuts

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7 ) The Tasting Kitchen – Panier de Patisseries

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8 ) David Clawson Restaurant – Fruit Sticky Apricot Love

016 - Dinner by Heston (41) 016 - Dinner by Heston (43) 016 - Dinner by Heston (45)

9 ) Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – Sussex Pond Pudding

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10 ) Yonaka – Kanmi-O

Five Runner Ups: Orsa & Winston Cannoli, Eating House Capn’ Crunch Pancakes, Knead Butter Pecan Croissant, Baker & Banker Blueberry Bread Pudding.

Five More Vegas Musts: German Bread Bakery Bee Sting Cake, Palio Dulce de Leche Croissant, Rincon de Buenos Aires Milhojas, Citizen Red Velvet Pancakes, Ku Noodle Taiwanese Shaved Ice

Happy 2014, and thanks to those who made it better by their friendship and food.

Posted in Best Of, Food