Portofino [3,] Las Vegas NV




Italian Mojito

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Rosemary Focaccia with Olive Oil and Balsamic


Meatballs – Kobe Beef and Duroc Pork, Fried Squash Blossom, Goat Cheese, Bacon, Beer Batter, San Marzano Tomatoes, 24 Month Parmigiano Reggiano


Fig Salad – gorgonzola panna cotta, candied walnuts, banana vinaigrette

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Crab Cake Arancini – Lemon Saffron Risotto, Tarragon-Pesto Aioli, Fresno Pickles, Cornichon


100 year Balsamic Glazed Grilled Octopus – Calabrese Peperonata, Fingerling Crisps, Salsa Verde, Capers

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Lasagna – Braised Oxtail Ragu, Herbed Ricotta, Mozzarella

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Truffle Raviolo – asparagus, poached egg, smoked prosciutto, mascarpone

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Chicken Foiefredo – pappardelle, roasted chicken, foie gras alfredo

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Gnocchi – forest mushrooms, morels, sweetbreads, fava beans


Ripatelli – house made lamb sausage and peppers, grilled ramps, san marzano tomatoes

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Burrata Agnolotti – Lobster, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Roasted Corn Butter

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Veal Osso Buco – Saffron Risotto, Bone Marrow, Gremolata

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Chicken Rollatini Parmesan – Chicken Ripieno with Housemade Chicken Sausage Stuffing, Housemade Marinara, Melted Mozzarella

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Branzino – grilled asparagus, potato leek gratin, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms

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Aragosta Milanese – Breaded Lobster Tail, Rapini, Lemon Sauce


Nutella Crème Brulee – twisted disaronna whipped cream, fudge, crystallized almonds

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Cassata Cheesecake – Harry’s berries, Italian wedding cake croutons

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Traditional Tiramisu – Cognac Crème, Lady Fingers

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Cannoli Napoleon – Creamy Ricotta Cheesecake, Shortbread Crust, Amarena Cherry Compote

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Gelato – Strawberry Cheesecake, Double Chocolate, Vanilla Milkshake

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Relying on the restaurants I have grown to love and trust to impress friends as well as visitors for special events as well as a nice night out, it was with the same approach that my family’s visit to Las Vegas was planned, and having twice been wowed by the experience at Portofino it was once again on Friday night that Chef Michael LaPlaca and GM Chris Zadie proved their space in The Mirage to be the very best in a competitive Italian dining scene.

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Having already mentioned the setting and superlative service that begins the moment each guest walks in the door, it was with a request for family-style carte blanche dining that my family was treated, not one of the previously sampled dishes any less exquisite than during previous visits while the classic Lasagna was a smoothly layered masterpiece of richness, an off-menu throwback to the Steve Wynn days offered in the delicately fried classic Lobster Tail Milanese.

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FIVE STARS: Still under-regarded by tourists, though numbers seemed up from visits prior, Portofino remains the class of Italian dining in Sin City and whether one is local or visitor, Millennial or older, seeking a full tasting or a few bites at the bar the restaurant cannot be recommended strongly enough – LaPlaca almost certain to be n the kitchen with Zadie never too far from the dining room floor.



TIP: The new fall menu is set to launch late-October or early-November, the audacious Diamond and Gold Lasagna said to be making an appearance when truffle season arrives

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


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

Posted in Bread Basket, Crab, Dessert, Foie, Food, Gnocchi, Ice Cream, Italian, Las Vegas, Lobster, Nevada, Octopus, Pork, Portofino, Sweetbreads, Tasting Menu, Tiramisu, Truffle, Vacation

The Bagel Cafe, Las Vegas NV


The Bagel Cafe



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Vanilla Crumb Cake

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Blackberry Muffin

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Cinnamon Roll

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Black & White Cookie

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Buttermilk Pancakes

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Malted Waffle with Strawberries and Jam

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Challah French Toast


Cheese Blintzes with Sourcream and Jam

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Corned Beef Hash with Overeasy Eggs and Everything Bagel

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Only visited once in the past, but a place to which several others have been referred when craving a good local deli, it was in reminiscing of Langer’s a week prior that breakfast was enjoyed at The Bagel Cafe, certainly not the landmark sort of place found in Los Angeles but a very good meal at a fair price just the same.


Laid out with a grab n’ go area, bakery, and deli near the door as a spacious but tightly packed dining room fills the rear it was just after 8am on a Friday that our party of five entered and with family getting seated while I perused the pastry case it was mere moments before the menu was navigated; orders placed and rather weak coffee poured.

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Perhaps the youngest people in the place, my 60+ year old mother included, it was not long before pastry selections arrived tableside, the daily muffin and huge slice of crumb cake each buttery soft while a warm cinnamon roll was unfortunately a bit overbaked, the black and white cookie fluffy and thick although frosting tasted a bit artificial.


Moving onward to mains, the kitchen expediting orders at breakneck pace with the dining room 2/3 full, it was with faux-Maple syrup cast aside in favor of the real stuff from home that French Toast, Pancakes and Waffles were gilded, the last a flavorless disaster when compared to the textbook alternatives; the the hash simply not my style and the blitzes failing to live up to the high standards set by Langer’s and innumerable others.

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THREE STARS: Slipping a bit since my first visit, perhaps an effect of such a large crowd or perhaps a result of me overrating the place based on excellent ordering the first time around, The Bagel Cafe remains a competent spot for those craving Deli foods or what is still, in my view, the best bagel in Sin City.

RECOMMENDED: Bagels, French Toast, Muffins.

AVOID: Waffles, Cinnamon Roll, Chocolate half of the Black and White Cookie.

TIP: Those inhabiting Summerlin should keep their eyes on local mailers and newspapers as The Bagel Cafe frequently offers $5 giftcards for purchases of $25 or more.

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


Bagel Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes, The Bagel Cafe, Vacation, Waffles

Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar [6,] Las Vegas NV



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Iced Tea and Cocktails

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Charcuterie and Cheese with Housemade Mustard and Truffle Honey

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Truffle Popcorn – Truffle + Pecorino + Chives


Meatballs – Braised Short Rib + Tomato

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Stuffed Dates – Chorizo + Bacon + Piquillo Pepper Gravy

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Heirloom Watermelon Salad – Greek Feta + Avocado + Red Onion + Mint Vinigrette

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Harvest Quinoa Salad – Chickpea + Apple + Gouda + Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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Abe Froman Flatbread– Fennel Garlic Sausage

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Daily Special Flatbread – Spicy Pork + Pickled Jalapenos + Marinara

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Char Grilled Rib Cap Steak – Roasted Cippolini Onions + Pinot Noir

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Jumbo Wood Oven Shrimp – Spicy Succotash

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Whole Beast Feast


Grilled Broccoli – Fresh Lemon


Crispy Steak Fries – Smoked Sea Salt + Chives + Schmaltz Mayo


Wood Rosted Asparagus – Fresh Herb Salad + Romesco Sauce

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Hearthstone Secret Dessert – Huckleberries + Meyer Lemon Curd + Sweet Ricotta + Amoretti Cookie

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Peridot Sweets Snickers Cake

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Peridot Sweets Carrot Cake


A bit underwhelmed by Salute the night prior it was across the hall at Hearthstone that family and friends sat down on Thursday night and although the slow summer season has seen the menu somewhat neutered the experience unfolded just like every other meal enjoyed within the comfortable confines, Chef Jordan Hoffman serving us carte blanche with only the excessively priced prawns proving a less than exceptional plate.


Having already spoken of service, music, and scenery in several prior reviews suffice it to say that seats at a hightop juxtaposing the pass were as delighful as ever, the salads, shared plates, and pizzas all across-the-board excellent the wood fired rib cap was boldly flavored and tender with scorched onions and reduced wine adding just the right amount balance as well as flare.


At this point unable to pass on The Whole Beast Feast, again served with a crock of creamy polenta and the housemade-mustard/roasting jus/apple-butter trio, suffice it to say that all eight of us were stuffed to capacity with nearly two-pounds of pig leftover even before dessert’s arrival – another duo of cakes from Peridot Sweets every bit as good as the first while the not-so-secret pancake balls proved as yeasty and irresistible as ever.


FOUR STARS: Not quite as perfect as in the past, several favorites stripped from the menu during lean months during which Salute has been a focus, Hearthstone remains the class of the Western Suburbs by a rather substantial margin, the upcoming conference season hopefully to see the return of more innovative items.

RECOMMENDED: Whole Beast Feast, Hearthstone Secret Dessert, Heirloom Watermelon Salad.

AVOID: Literally listed on the receipt as “Upsell $42” the shrimp were certainly not worth the $21/each cost.

TIP: Suggested for parties of four or more there is little doubt the $350 Whole Beast Feast is capable of satisfying as many as eight when taking into account all the sides. Advanced orders are recommended, but those just wanting a bite would be advised to pay attention to Social Media for Crispy Skinned Pig events throughout Pigskin Season.

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


Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Hearthstone, Hearthstone Kitchen, Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pizza, Pork, Tasting Menu, Truffle, Vacation

Table 10 [2,] Las Vegas NV


Table 10


Warm Rolls with Butter

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Crab Hush Puppies – Pepper Jelly

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Judith Point Calamari – Preserved Lemon Mayonnaise + Tomato Sauce

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Candied North Country Bacon – Noble Tonic #1

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Bacon Wrapped Dates – Almond + Goat Cheese

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Louisiana crab cakes – NOLA remoulade

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Fried Green Tomatoes – Shrimp Remoulade

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Chicken + Andouille Sausage Gumbo – Steamed Rice

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Pea Tortellini – Blistered Tomatoes + Smoky Pork Broth


Tomato Soup – Ricotta Cheese

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Beet Salad – Pickled beets – roasted beets – pistachio butter – sea salt cracker – goat cheese

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NOLA Shrimp Po’ Boy – French bread – New Orleans BBQ shrimp – lettuce – tomato – fries

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Chicken Breast Sandwich – ciabatta bun – avocado slices – tomato jam – gem lettuce salad with onion, tomato, & cucumber

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Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie – Chocolate Shavings – Caramel Sauce – Whipped Cream

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Flourless Chocolate Cake – Lemon – Vanilla Cream – Blood Orange Sauce

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Spice Carrot Cake – orange bourbon sauce – candied pecans

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White Chocolate Malassadas – cinnamon sugar – raspberry sauce

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Peach Hand Pie – crumble topping – vanilla ice cream

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Raspberry Panna Cotta – salted brittle – chocolate pistachio biscotto


Having visited each of Emeril Lagasse’s Las Vegas restaurants at least once in the past it was with family in town that lunch was planned at Table 10, and sitting with three local friends involved in marketing the celebrity Chef it was to a grand tasting that our table of eight was treated, a kitchen-in-transition showing the same quality we’d come to expect from the man who made “BAM!” a household phrase.


Currently in the process of promoting a new chef and as such cooked for by Director of Culinary Operations Sean Roe, it was with conversations and reminiscence of my earliest years of fine dining that menus were perused and drinks were ordered, the eventual decision a carte blanche assortment of eighteen plates with several very high highs and only one or two relatively minor lows.


No doubt an underregarded space, the shops above the Palazzo gaming floor more readily known for pricy clothing, burgers, and coal-oven pies, Table 10 suffers a bit of an identity crisis compared to Delmonico or the Fish House, yet with a dynamic menu loaded with bargains plus professional service in a laid-back environment the experience is perhaps best described as ‘comfortable,’ a similar compliment befitting the food.

Beginning the meal with soft buttered rolls that continue a trend of great bread service from other Emeril spots, it was next to several small bites that the menu progressed, the Squid from Judith Point a bit lost in the breading let alone the mayonnaise while hush puppies, candied bacon, and stuffed dates were each well prepared American small-plates starters, the first particularly ample with crustacean that shined when matched to the jelly’s sweet heat.


Onward to proper appetizers, the daily special soup impressing my Aunt but falling a bit short in complexity for my tastes, better bites were found more Southern-slanted flavors including low-filler crab cakes and fried green tomatoes beneath a duo of tangy remoulades, the spice of Andouille well met by dark roux in a gumbo served atop rice.

Offering mostly sandwiches and lighter fare at lunch, the dinner menu dressed up in duck and other hearty meats, it was with a beautiful beet salad that two sandwiches were presented atop NOLA-styled bread, each Po-Boy going over nicely with the family while I attempted to keep tender pea tortellini rich with mascarpone in a smoky broth all to myself.


Unembarrassed to request all of the desserts, a second round offered when the world-renowned cream pie and spicy carrot cake were obviously in short supply, suffice it to say that there is always room for sweets in any Lagasse restaurant, even the simple peach hand pies and bursting white doughnuts amongst the best in town.


FOUR STARS: Perhaps a ‘misunderstood’ spot as much as it is underregarded the team at Table 10 is turning out a good product at a fair price for the strip with some of the best desserts in town. Obviously in a transition phase at the moment it will be interesting to see how the restaurant evolves under the direction of a new toque, a dinner visit in order once the menu is revamped.

RECOMMENDED: Pea Tortellini, Fried Green Tomatoes, Crab Hush Puppies, Carrot Cake, Banana Cream Pie

AVOID: Calamari and Tomato Soup were par for the course, disappointing largely because the rest was so good.

TIP: Frequently offering events plus a 7-day a week Happy Hour from 3pm-6pm and 9pm-close there are no doubt some great deals to be found

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


Table 10 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Coffee, Crab, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Table 10, Vacation

Salute Trattoria Italiana [2,] [3,] Las Vegas NV



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Rosemary Focaccia with Olive Oil and 8-Year Balsamic

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Eggplant Parmesan – Roasted Eggplant, Fior di Latte, San Marzano Sauce, Parmesan

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Hamachi Tartare – Pear, Hazlenuts, Fennel

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Albacore Crudo – Avocado, Calabrian Chili, Orange

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Crispy Zucchini Flowers – Ricotta, Amaretti, Pesto

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Crispy Arancini – Fontinella Cheese, Ricotta, Bolognese

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Steamed Artichoke – Buffalo Milk Yogurt, Fresh Lemon, Drawn Buttermilk

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Pizza all’ Acqua – San Marzano Tomatoes, Fior di Latte, Basil

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Salute Bellini – White Peach, Prosecco

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Aumm Aumm Pasta – Slow Roasted Eggplant, Caciocavallo, San Marzano

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Spaghetti & Meatballs – Meatballs, Pecorino, San Marzano Gravy

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Gnocchi “alla Sorentina” – San Marzano Tomatoes, Aged Parmesan, Blistered Tomatoes

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Pappardelle Alla Bolognese – Veal, Pancetta, Red Wine

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Linguini Vongole – Steamed Clams, Garlic, White Wine

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Baked Rigatoni – Bolognese Sauce, Ricotta, Mozzarella Cheese

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Truffle Tagliatelle – Shaved Black Truffles, Truffle Cream

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Linguini with Zucchini Flowers – Walnut Pesto

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Crespelli Cannelloni – Spinach & Ricotta, Mozzarella Cheese

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Sciue Sciue – Chiatarra, Olive Oil, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil

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Lasagna – Spinach Pasta, Tomato Bechamel Sauce, Bolognese Gravy

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Carbonara – Guanciale, Peas, Egg

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Fettuccini alla Vodka – Prepared Tableside

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Chicken Parmesan – Fior di Latte, San Marzano Gravy, Parmesan Cheese

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Lemon Chicken – Preserved Lemon, Fried Rosemary

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Grilled Snapper – Marinated Tomatoes, Romesco Sauce

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Veal Milanese “Saltimbocca” – Veal Cutlet, Fontina Cheese, Smoked Prosciutto

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Chicken Piccata – Lemon, Capers, Rocket

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Meatball – Tomato Gravy, Ricotta, Basil

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Broccolini – Toasted Garlic, White Wine


Tiramisu – Mascarpone, Lady Fingers, Espresso, Macchiato Gelato

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Toasted Coconut Cake – Bavarian Cream, Mango Sorbetto

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Classic Bomboloni – Nutella Stuffed

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Caprese Pie – Dark Chocolate, Toasted Almonds, Baccio Gelato

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Peridot Sweets Zesty Citrus– vanilla cake soaked with citrus syrup, layered with citrus custard cream

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Peridot Sweets Holiday Parade – pumpkin spice cake filled with maple cream cheese frosting & toasted pecan


Owned by the suddenly swelling “Clique” group, whose Hearthstone has become an across-the-street go-to for a great meal from a kitchen staff I trust, it was after several back-and-forths with PR that myself and a few friends sat down on the patio of Salute just prior to its opening – the service expectedly exemplary straight from the hands of Chefs Sautto and Massie while food proved both bold and well-crafted enough to book an opening-night visit with friends as well as family…or at least so it seemed.


No doubt a beautiful space, the interior long and shotgun straight with the left wall running bar to tiled kitchen to antipasti station as art and tiles decorate the walls, it was after a warm welcome at the podium that our party of seven was led to a large central table, greetings offered by everyone from GM Peter to Maitre ‘d Enrico and Chef Luciano, the service from a friend an additional treat though Chef Massie apparently could not leave the pass or even be bothered to turn around.


Acknowledging opening night jitters, the majority a fault of completely lost back-servers and a bar that couldn’t seem to keep up with a quarter-capacity crowd, it was after a short discussion with Chef Luciano that the kitchen was given carte blanche with a focus on pastas, 32 of the restaurants offerings sampled over the course of this meal plus a next-day “Invite Only” with results running the gamut from exquisite to decidedly mediocre with price-to-portion ratios a bit skewed to the left.


Already altering both the offerings and the costs from what was featured during the pre-opening taste, suffice it to say that some interesting items such as Osso Bucco Ravioli were axed in favor of far too many dishes centered on simple tomato sauces, the tableside Fettuccini delicious with a bit less sauce than what was featured prior while the rich Spinach Lasagna was delightfully decadent beneath Bolognese and creamy Bechamel.

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Less successful with undercooked Carbonara and Truffle Tagliatelle that really has no business being served during the earliest days of Fall, a better bite is found amidst the Eggplant speckled Aumm Aumm or tender Linguini beneath blossoms and lightly bitter pesto, the Rigatoni no better than that from Michelina’s while the meatballs atop spaghetti were damn near dehydrated while the larger ones served as a side were far more tender and less overwhelmed by spices.


Almost as overpriced on zucchini blossoms as Wolfgang Puck’s CUT while the flatbreads at Hearthstone far outperform the pricey Pizza all’ Acqua, a ‘best-bet’ appetizer is more appropriately found in tartare or crudo, though those not trending to tomatoes as primi will also be impressed by the lightness of fried eggplant, the secondi selections of Chicken Parm or Veal Saltimbocca obviously a bit more substantial with the latter wrapped around Fontina and smoked Prosciutto actually quite stunning.

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Fairing well with the Lemon Chicken and what may very well be the best Piccata in town suffice it to say that the dry bomboli are a dish best skipped while Coconut Cake and Caprese Pie, both brought in from Peridot Sweets, are well worth ordering – as were the two celebratory cakes delivered for our family and friends outing.


THREE STARS: At first looking like a place that may be interested in shaking up a stagnant Italian scene in the Western Suburbs it seems as though early on Salute has opted to instead play it safe, a bit of a shame considering the ‘lightgroup’ thumping music and prices not far off from those found on the Strip.

RECOMMENDED: Veal Saltimbocca, Hamachi Tartare, Eggplant Parmesan, Chicken Piccata, Linguini with Zucchini Flowers, Lasagna, Coconut Cake.

AVOID: Zucchini Blossoms, Rigatoni, Spaghetti with Meatballs, Bomboli, ordering a cocktail and expecting it to arrive before the first course…

TIP: Seating at center tables is ill advised as close spacing virtually guarantees chairs being bumped and bumbling back-server reach arounds…and in our case even a doubly mischarged credit card that was not brought to my attention until a day later despite being known to the house.

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


Salute Trattoria Italiana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Gnocchi, Italian, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pizza, Pork, Salute, Salute Trattoria Italiana, Tiramisu, Truffle, Vacation

Metro Pizza on Decatur, Las Vegas NV


Metro Pizza on Decatur

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Warm Housemade Bread and Butter

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Meatball Sliders and Garlic Romano Fries – Housemade Meatballs, Melted Provolone, Soft Garlic Knots with Marinara Sauce

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Fried Metro Calzone – Pizza Dough, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Romano Cheese, Spices

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The Cicero Stuffed Pizza – Meatballs, Ricotta, Mozzarella

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Cannoli, Carrot Cake, Red Velvet Cheesecake, and Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake


Told of a fried calzone that can be special requested whenever owner John Arena is present at any of the Metro Pizza locations, and perhaps occasionally even when he is not, it was on the invitation of the pizza-guru himself that my family stopped by the spot on Decatur for a lunch featuring the crispy golden pockets, a few additional items again proving the high quality of the local chain’s wares.


Decked out with a Mid-80’s Miami Vice sort of vibe, the retro décor apparently demanded by locals who rebelled when an attempt was made to change up the style, it was with greetings from John as well as friendly servers that our group of five was seated in a large round booth in back, more stories of Italy and Metro’s New York roots helping to pass time before the start of a true feast; the well-seasoned fries a bit less crisp that would have been ideal, or perhaps simply just less memorable than a quintet of delicious meatballs atop soft garlic knots and the restaurant’s complimentary housemade bread.


Ordering a stuffed pizza but told that the customized calzones would indeed arrive first, it was admittedly a bit shocking when three of the folded-pies landed at the center of our table, each large enough to feed two-to-three adults all on its lonesome with a crunchy shell giving way to a molten cheese center, the flavor of ricotta particularly prominent even when dunked in a sidecar of meat sauce with each bite far lighter than one ever would have guessed.

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Requesting one of the trio be packed to go, a reheated calzone reportedly proving more than palatable per a reliable friend, it was next to The Cicero that eyes were turned and as much as a pasta-filled iteration was a fun bit of novelty just a few weeks prior the meatball and ricotta-stuffed double-crust was even more decadent, the execution impressing not just those of us calling Las Vegas and Ohio home but also those visiting from the Windy City land of Giordano’s.


Missing out on Metro’s desserts during the seminar on Sky Pointe, and almost too full under these circumstances to indulge once again, it was at John’s insistence that a platter of pastry arrived last, the crisp cannoli rivaling some of Sin City’s best while both the chocolate and carrot cake were as elegant as those served full-fledged bakeries, the cheesecake simply too at this point to be enjoyed past more than a bite.


FOUR AND A HALF STARS: A bit dated on first glimpse, the explanation from John helping to explain décor that dates to my childhood, Metro on Decatur may not be as ‘fancy’ as the one up North, but with food just as good it seems John’s formula remains in skilled hands even outside the Flagship, future visits to other locations soon to come.

RECOMMENDED: Baked Calzones are almost as good as the special-request fried ones, though it never hurts to ask as John or someone familiar with the technique may be around…otherwise get The Cicero and a slice each of Carrot and Cheesecake – enough to feed a family of 4+.

AVOID: Garlic Romano Fries were a bit oily, though I’m certainly no expert and others at the table seemed to enjoy them more.

TIP: Cheesecakes, all baked at Lu-Lu’s, vary, the current Red Velvet soon to change befitting the season,

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


Metro Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Italian, Las Vegas, Metro Pizza, Metro Pizza on Decatur, Nevada, Pizza, Pork, Vacation

Hash House a Go-Go at The Plaza, Las Vegas NV


Hash House a Go-Go at the Plaza



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Four Jumbo Biscuits with Butter and Housemade Jam

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Andy’s sage fried chicken Benedict w/ fresh spinach, hardwood smoked bacon, market tomato, griddled mozzarella, chipotle cream and scrambled eggs

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Andy’s famous Bread pudding topped w/ ice cream and served w/ a cup of coffee

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French Toast – Griddled french toast dipped in banana cinnamon cream w/ pecan maple syrup

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Snicker’s Flapjack


Already having visited the location on Sahara along with those within the (then) Imperial Palace as well as the Rio, it was with a full compliment of family that breakfast was ordered amidst the spacious confines of Hash House a Go-Go at the Plaza, but with substantial delays and subpar service marring this rendition of the San Diwego import the overall experience was less memorable than all had hoped for, though the “Twisted Farm Food” was largely just as good.

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Known for its enormous portions and perhaps even more famous in Las Vegas than at home in the Golden State, it was first to a substantial wait for a table despite the restaurant being almost 2/3 empty that we stood at the podium after arriving at 8:30, another protracted delay to follow as servers seemed completely lost as to who was responsible for which table, then further complicated by a similar wait for both food as well as drinks.


Not one to suffer such annoyances well, particularly after an early rise and nearly twelve-mile early morning run, it was finally after wondering aloud why such a delay was taking place that coffee was refilled and plates began to trickle forth, the benedict still fifteen minutes away with a steaming block of bread pudding oddly arriving first.


Previously impressed by the molten brownie topped in chocolate, caramel, and nuts with ice cream slowly forming a pool of creamy vanilla sauce, it was after a few bites that attention was turned to the hubcap sized pancake studded in the similar flavors of Snickers that attention was turned, the buttermilk largely overwhelming the candybar when topped in butter and pure maple syrup brought from home while the French Toast was rich with the flavors of cinnamon and vanilla custard plus skin-on bananas, the presentation a bit slipshod though perhaps also the most “down home.”


Always attuned to the presence of biscuits, those at Hash House a Go-Go of the larger, fluffier variety popular throughout the Midwest, it was alongside the signature chicken that a quartet of golden rounds was brought forth, each amongst the best in Sin City while the mountainous Benedict buried the one included beneath crispy well-seasoned bird and fresh vegetables, the addition of bacon, cheese, at least three eggs, and smoky cream sauce no doubt making the Man vs. Food Classic a dish best shared.


TWO AND A HALF STARS: Offering more support than most for the sort of early morning gluttony through which Hash House a Go-Go has made its name it may warrant further visits to determine precisely why the service was so awful during this visit to the one at the Plaza, but unless one is restricted by transportation the better bet would seem to be a trip to the locations with better service (and free parking) on Sahara, 24/7 in the Rio, or Stripside at The Linq.


RECOMMENDED: Bread Pudding, Biscuits, French Toast (while minding the banana peel.)

AVOID: In terms of Pancakes, skip the Snickers in favor of daily specials or the one with Bananas and Brown Sugar.


TIP: Street Parking is monetized after 8am and parking at The Plaza Garage is $2 for the first hour plus $1 each thereafter, though those wanting a walk can use other local hotel valets or Neonopolis for a few bucks savings (and a few calories burned.)

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



Hash House A Go Go Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Hash House A Go Go, Hash House a Go-Go at The Plaza, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes, Pork, Vacation

Gelatology [2,] Las Vegas NV



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Fried Dough

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House Sodas – Passion Fruit, Black Cherry, Mint

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Peach Sorbetto, Dark Chocolate Sorbetto, Pear and Gorgonzola Gelato, Ube Gelato, Vietnamese Coffee Gelato, Passion Fruit Cream Gelato, Rice Pudding Gelato, Cinnamon Roll Gelato, Crème Brulee Gelato, Peanut Butter Gelato, Tiramisu Gelato, Malted Milk Gelato, Dark Tart Cherry Gelato


Peanut Butter Gelato (small)


Vietnamese Coffee Gelato (small)


Rice Pudding Gelato, Cinnamon Roll Gelato (small)


Stepping away from a truly memorable meal at Le Cirque with family still chatting of a marvelous first day in Las Vegas a stop at Gelatology seemed almost prerequisite, and with owner Desyree Alberganti proving the consummate hostess a baker’s dozen samples again showed the creamiest of bases imbued with exquisite flavors, the new soda program and deep fried dough doused in powdered sugar helping to cleanse palates between bites while pastries again beckoned inside the windowside case.

Obviously continuing to offer signatures as yet untasted by my visitors, the Peanut Butter, Coffee, and Dark Chocolate all impressing them as much as it has locals for years, new innovations including Malted Milk, Ube, and Dark Tart Cherry all proved equally enthralling with three cups ordered in the smallest of sizes only because little stomach capacity was left after a long day of eating, the blend of cinnamon roll and rice pudding a ‘best of both worlds’ sort of pairing that saw each complimented by the other with a flavor that came across like a Snickerdoodle cookie with more subtlety.


FIVE STARS: Still unblemished after tasting nearly one hundred flavors I remain convinced that although I still favor ice cream there is no other Gelato I’d rather enjoy than that made by Desyree.

RECOMMENDED: Enter, Sample, Order whatever tastes best, then do it again next week.

AVOID: Doing it daily, though I do know a good endocrinologist…

TIP: Fried dough is not yet on the menu, but much like the gelatos and sorbettos the pastry selection changes day-to-day and an eye on Social Media will serve fans well…or induce daily cravings…or both.


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

Posted in Coffee, Dessert, Food, Gelatology, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Tiramisu, Vacation

Le Cirque [5,] Las Vegas NV


Le Cirque

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White Chocolate Coffee, French Baguette, Bacon Cheddar, Pretzel, Rosemary with Salted and Unsalted Butter

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La Framboise

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Le Crabe – Maryland Blue Crab and Russian Osetra Caviar

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Salade de Homard – “Le Cirque” Lobster & Avocado Salad, Black Truffle Vinaigrette

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Declinaison de Tomates d’Êté – Tasting of Summer Tomatoes:Tomato Gazpacho, Gelee, Merengue, Croutons, “Tough Boy” Tomato à la Grecque, Feta, Kalamata Olives and Cucumbers


Tartare de Bœuf – Prime Beef Tenderloin Steak Tartare, Pomme Gaufrette, Caper Berries, Quail Egg, Fine Herb Salad, Pain de Cafe Chocolat

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Les Saint Jacques – Seared Diver Scallop, Osetra Caviar, Creamy Lobster Bisque

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La Sole Meunière – Dover Sole Meunière, Glazed Vegetables, Summer Herbs Bouquet, Warm Lemon Beurre Blanc

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Les Risotto du Marché – Beet Risotto with Langoustines and Mascarpone

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Le Poulet Rôti – Roasted Organic Chicken, Asparagus, Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Baby Potatoes, Sauce Vin Jaune

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Le Tournedos de Bœuf au Poivre – Prime Beef Tenderloin, Tomato Confit, Pommes Purée, Shallot Compote, Asparagus, Sauce au Poivre

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Le Contre-Filet de Bœuf Wagyu Japonais – Japanese A5 Wagyu Kobe Beef Striploin, Braised Oxtail, Spinach Purée, Beef Tendon Croquette, Black Truffles, Foie Gras, Lobster, Gold Leaf, Bordelaise Sauce


Le Pre-Dessert – Watermelon Granite, Pickled Cucumbers

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2011 Kracher Beerenauslese Cuvee

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La Framboise – Raspberry Parfait, Champagne Gelée, Lychee Guimauves, Hibiscus Consommé

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La Boule au Chocolat – Chocolate Ball: White Chocolate Ice Cream, Hazelnut Caramel Crunch

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Lemon Vacherin – Passion Fruit, Meringue, Kiwi

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Mignardises and Gourmandises

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Take Home Chocolates


Convinced that Le Cirque had ascended to the top three dining experiences in Las Vegas under the toque of Wilfried Bergerhausen after a trio of visits since the 28 year old took over the kitchen in 2014 it was at the invitation of Ivo Angelov that my mother, aunt, and I sat down at a fountainside four-top on their first full day in Las Vegas, the five course tasting proving not only the best visit to the restaurant to date, but a meal on par with the best ever experienced with the people who raised me during the earliest years of my life.

Already having discussed the service and dining room, both on par with places garnering multiple Michelin Stars around the World, it was moments before six o’clock that posh seating was found waiting and with Ivo personally presenting several plates while the rest of the staff performed their tasks to make every table in the house feel like a VIP it was with Wilfried’s almost-signature Crabe that the meal began, this time presented with a smoky tableside show that further upped the ante as the Bellagio fountains danced outside, to-and-fro.


Having pre-selected a menu for the two ladies while giving the kitchen carte blanche to serve me whatever they felt was best, it was with items both seasonal and classic that second courses arrived, the lobster salad comprised of seven vegetables and a substantial bit of crustacean beneath the lightest kiss of acid while “Declinaison de Tomates d’Ête ” featured my aunt’s favorite ingredient in four variations, the cold soup absolutely vibrant as I scooped finely chopped beef atop one of the restaurant’s delectable house made breads.

Turning to sea life as classical tunes chimed amidst the big-top hung overhead it was in the safety of buttery scallops and bisque with a dollop of caviar that I entrusted Chef Bergerhausen to enthrall my somewhat fish-skeptical aunt and succeeding with flying colors both the Sole served to my mother and bright-pink risotto with snappy Langoustines served to myself were textbook in execution, the later served with a spoon of mascarpone and nuts made for mixing with each bite benefited in a very luxurious way.


Told that the chicken at Le Cirque was far more special than the average American bird it was after a short respite and conversation with Ivo as well as the Chef that meat-based entrees were presented, the yellow wine sauce and mushrooms playing brilliantly off the bird while pepper-crusted Tournedos of prime beef found balance amidst tomatoes and shallots plus potatoes on par with those of Robuchon, the “Contre-Filet de Bœuf Wagyu Japonais “ every bit as indulgent as the sum of its ingredients would suggest, an over-the-top plate in all the right ways.

No doubt anticipating desserts, a delightful duo of fruity palate cleansers served along a Lychee-leaning glass of dessert wine preceding the final round, it should be obvious to anyone visiting the restaurant that the melting chocolate sphere remains the tableside favorite, yet as much as my mother and aunt ooh’d and ahh’d over the white chocolate and hazelnuts it was actually the Vacherin “for two” that proved even more exquisite, the creamy top giving way to the flavors of smooth citrus, even the Passion Fruit proving far less sweet than in the hands of other pastry chefs as the crispy meringue offered a textural compliment.


FIVE STARS: Always a memorable meal with service that trumps even the temples of gastronomy named for triple-Michelin starred chefs, Le Cirque remains a true destination meal in a city with no lack, young Wilfried Bergerhausen perhaps the city’s greatest current kitchen talent.

RECOMMENDED: Whether one selects a tasting menu or a la carte, classics or seasonal inspiration, there is little that the team at Le Cirque can’t or won’t do well.

AVOID: Assuming that this place is too fancy or too expensive as the the service is highly adaptable to all styles while there are plenty of bargains to be found for those willing to enjoy the pre-theater menu or a few bites at the bar.

TIP: A whole new menu is ready to launch soon, even the recently launched Prestige Menu reportedly to see a substantial overhaul from a team never willing to rest on its laurels or past success.

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


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

Posted in Bread Basket, Crab, Dessert, Foie, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Le Cirque, Lobster, Nevada, Pork, Tasting Menu, Truffle, Vacation

Carson Kitchen [3,] Las Vegas NV


Carson Kitchen

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The Bee’s Knees – Hana Gin, Fresh Lemon, Smoked Honey


Brewer’s Fix – Hop Head Vodka, Apricot reserves, Fresh Lemon, Simple Syrup, Prosecco


Nilsson Schmilsson – Sugar Island Coconut Rum, Fresh Lime, Basic Simple Syrup, Egg White

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Crispy Chicken Skins – Smoked Honey

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Bacon Jam – Baked Brie, Toasted Baguette

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Devil’s Eggs – Crispy Pancetta, Caviar

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Tempura Green Beans – Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese

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Veal Meatballs – Sherry Foie Gras Cream

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FGT Sliders – Fried Green Tomatoes, Lump Crab Ravigote

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Wild Boar Sloppy Joe – Crispy Fennel, Orange Aioli

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Halibut – Cava and Grape Juice Beurre Blanc

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Bone-In Pork Belly – Stone Fruit Glaze

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Peach and Heirloom Tomato – Goat Cheese, Rye Crouton, Saba

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Baked Mac & Cheese – Shhhh, it’s a secret

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Succotash – Corn, Lima Beans, Peas, Crema Fresca, Cojita

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Alligator Gumbo – Andouille Sausage, Pickled Fried Okra

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Bourbon Fudge Brownie – Brown Butter Bacon Ice Cream

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Glazed Donut Bread Pudding – Three Rum Caramel, Vanilla Crème Anglaise

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WineBerry Shortcake – Lavender Cream, Streusel


With the recent passing of Kerry Simon an unfortunate end to the career of one of Las Vegas’ most important chefs it was on a Tuesday afternoon that my family sat down to lunch at Carson Kitchen, and although Cory Harwell has long been the brain behind most of the downtown restaurant’s creations the late summer menu showed the kitchen firing on all cylinders, not one of sixteen plates failing to wow.


Served a number of classics, plus a trio of drinks from which the smoky Bee’s Knees was the best version of the cocktail tasted to date, suffice it to say the bacon jam, green beans, brownie, and mac & cheese all remain reference standard while a few newer items show the sort of creativity not often associated with gastropubs or upscale comfort cuisine, the spicy sloppy joe finding levity in citrus aioli while the Fried Green tomatoes give Yardbird competition for best in the city when crowned in sweet crab ravigote.


Seeing Harwell’s Southern roots in succotash that took a Mexican Street-corn turn through the addition of Cojita, as well as the clever gumbo flatbread with spicy pork and gator finding their foil in pickled okra I’d have gladly eaten like a bowl of popcorn, attention should equally be paid to the supple poached Halibut and a slab of pork belly glazed in sticky stone fruit, the former best described as taking the flaky fish and a wine pairing together in one bite, the results far better than anyone might think.


Disappointed that the seasonal banana pudding has gone into hibernation, but happy to taste an equally competent jar-dessert in the form of mixed berry shortcake that tasted faintly of Merlot amidst lavender and buttery streusel I was additionally happy to find the Bread Pudding far less sugar-laden than prior, the whole meal made better by a soundtrack heavy in 80s-era rock and service that performs the difficult trio of fun, educated, and professional.


FIVE STARS: Originally unsold on Carson Kitchen being as good as the critics have suggested it finally took a visit with persons less culinarily inclined than myself to truly make me appreciate the greatness of Harwell’s work and Simon’s vision; food for ‘everyone’ that offers enough skill and quality to keep food nerds and snobs equally engaged.

RECOMMENDED: The Bees Knees, Halibut, Tempura Green Beans, Bacon Jam, Mac & Cheese, FGT Sliders.

AVOID: Though none is listed in the ingredients, the Brewer’s Fix came across quite ‘beery’ to me.

TIP: Fall menu launches in early November with Harwell’s new concept not too far off.

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


Carson Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Pudding, Carson Kitchen, Dessert, Foie, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Vacation

Union, Pasadena CA



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Housemade Stracciatella, Roasted Garlic, Crostini

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Fairtime Peaches, Spinach, Mangalitza Lardo, Buckwheat Honey

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Crispy Duck Crostone, Arugula, Calimyrna Figs, Toma Brusca

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Wild Mushrooms, G&T Polenta, Pedro Ximenez Sherry Vinegar, Sage, Rosemary

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Spaghetti alla Chitarra, San Marzano Tomato, Garlic, Fresno Chile

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Squid Ink Garganelli, Maine Lobster, Fennel, Meyer Lemon, Truffle Butter

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Burnt Semolina Casarecce, Rabbit Sausage, Spigarello, Pecorino Romano

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Porcini Lasagnette, Golden Chanterelles, Rosemary, Parmigiano-Reggiano

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Chocolate Raspberry Gelato and Citrus Sorbet

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Giaduja Chocolate Budino, Cocoa Nib, Truffle Salt, Liguarian Olive Oil

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Olive Oil Cake, Citrus Gastrique, Salted Honeycomb Gelato


Cinnamon Meringues


Following Bruce Kalman on Twitter and Facebook for months while watching the menu at Union evolve each week to accommodate whatever was found fresh amongst Southern California’s bounty of farmer’s markets it was finally on a Monday evening that three of us sat down at the end of the bar in Pasadena, the Chef himself in house overseeing the kitchen amidst a travel schedule that had recently seen him bounce from coast to coast.


Considered by many to be a destination sort of meal, the distance from various parts of Los Angeles quite substantial when accounting for the traffic induced by the city’s continuous urban sprawl, it was just moments after opening that our party arrived for a 5:00pm reservation, the restaurant filled to capacity for the meal’s whole duration with service that was professional yet friendly, the suggestions spot on and beverages kept brimming.


Truly a menu where nothing sounds unappealing, the biggest challenge being to decide on which items one would least regret taking a pass, it was no doubt on pastas that the order was focused and with all dozen items inclusive of complimentary meringues showing a great degree of technical skill benefitted by top notch ingredients one would be hard pressed to name a better farm-to-fork Italian concept anywhere within two-hundred miles…or potentially anywhere in the nation.


Proudly displaying the books of respected Italian Chefs behind the bar while paying homage to Alice Waters with signage at the front and back of the space, the meal began with a large bowl of housemade cheese simply dressed in garlic and olive oil alongside costini, the richness well balanced by a plate of grilled peaches atop leaves of spinach gilded with honey and lightly draped in lardo.


Requesting that plates be sent out slowly it was in round two that the meal really began to sing, for as much as I love duck confit when paired to something as sweet as figs it was the creamy bowl of polenta that immediately stole the spotlight, the foraged mushrooms rendered all the more aromatic by herbs while a splash of acid helped to enliven each bite.


Confident that secondi are probably quite good, but far more interested in Kalman’s handmade pastas which lean toward nontraditional shapes and sauces that challenge conventional norms, it was in a quartet of options that appetites were invested, the guitar-cut spaghetti requested to be light in chiles with little more than tomatoes and garlic rendering the al dente noodles bold and aromatic without being the slightest bit wet or heavy.


No doubt working well with the bounty of both land and sea it was next in black Garganelli that a great deal of balance was found, the touch of citrus offsetting rich lobster and truffles while lean rabbit sausage crumbled amidst double-tubed Casarecce, the rags of Lasagnette supple and dainty draped over mushrooms and rosemary.

Somewhat limited in dessert offerings, but raved for the olive oil cake and a budino that was calling out loud, it was both of these items that rounded out the meal along with two scoops of ice cream – the chocolate raspberry rich while citrus was refreshing, eaten in that order best as a palate cleanser prior to toothsome toasty cake and hazelnut chocolate pudding that by itself might justify a drive to Pasadena.


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

Posted in Bread Basket, California, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Italian, Lobster, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pork, Union, Vacation

Masa of Echo Park, Los Angeles CA


Masa of Echo Park

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House Bread and Butter


Suppli – Risotto Croquettes with Buffalo Mozzarella, Parmesan Cheese, with Pomodoro Sauce

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Manchego Salad – Compressed Salad of Organic Baby Lettuce, Dates, Granny Smith Apples, Caramelized Walnuts, Manchego Cheese, Pear Dressing, Balsamic Reduction

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Chicago Style Traditional 10-inch with Sweet Italian Sausage and Mushroom

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Warm Croissant Bread Pudding – Chocolate, Almonds, Butter Croissants pan baked in Vanilla Custard with Warm Caramel Sauce

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Grandma Dorothy’s Carrot Cake – Scoop of Rich Cream Cheese Frosting


Long debated as a brunch or lunch location given the Echo Park location north of DTLA, it was finally on a Monday afternoon en route to Pasadena that a stop was made at Italian stalwart Masa, the rumors of best deep-dish west of Chicago proven to my family though I might contest it is better than any tasted aside from Burt’s Place.

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Cozy in design and certainly less commercial that the Uno’s, Gino’s, and Giordano’s of the world it was just after 1:00pm that a small table at Masa was procured and with black & white movies playing beneath 50’s serenade the “thirty-ish” minute wait for pizza was bridged by witty banter from our server plus a plate of warm housemade bread, two appetizers ordered and soon to be on the way.


Generally avoiding restaurant salads due to daily consumption of such things during workdays back home it was on the server’s recommendation that the compressed Manchego version was nonetheless selected, the composition of flavors and textures both quite dynamic while two small Suppli were a bit underwhelming, the buffalo mozzarella smooth but a bit lost amidst the flavors of salty Parmesan and acidic tomato sauce.


Receiving the pie a mere twenty-one minutes after placing the order, a benefit of arriving after the early lunch rush, those familiar with Chicago-Style will know that even the proportions a ‘small’ were still large enough to feed a family of four, the crust robust and buttery while sweet sausage was awash in spices, the lightly tanned mushrooms helping to ground the plethoric amounts of cheese and sauce.


Perhaps as well known for desserts as it is for pizza, the bread pudding made from a mixture of housemade croissants, it was with a rich round of nutty carrot cake topped by a big dollop of cream cheese frosting that the tasting commenced, and waiting a few minutes to let the wedge of custard soaked croissants cool down the first bites of the restaurant’s signature sweet sent heads spinning, the melted ribbons of chocolate adding even more richness to a dish already not for lack in a pool of caramel sauce.


Masa of Echo Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Bread Pudding, California, Dessert, Food, Italian, Los Angeles, Masa, Masa of Echo Park, Pizza, Pork, Vacation

Cofax Cofee Shop, Los Angeles CA


CoFax Coffee Shop

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Honey Sea Salt

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Chocolate Chocolate

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Vanilla Glazed with Sprinkles

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Cinnamon Crumb Cake


Located in a tiny storefront on North Fairfax,the limited seating and lack of WiFi perhaps intended to chase away those not put off by snark and a soundtrack that more closely resembles atonal noise than well orchestrated sounds, it was to a small lineup of pastries that I was greeted on entry to CoFax and with servers appearing exasperated to explain the unlabeled options, let alone make suggestions, it was with items bagged and pictures taken that I made my way to the street, first bites of fluffy Honey Sea Salt befitting a friend’s appraisal of ‘best’ in town, though nothing that followed even came close.

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Perhaps a fault of my fondness for cake it was into the rainbow sprinkled vanilla option that teeth were sunk after the yeasted honey ring, but with a gritty sort of texture that reminded me of coffee cake not particularly light in oil the rest was soon discarded, the cinnamon crumb cake really no different aside from the spices while a rich chocolate version at least offered a smoother texture beneath glaze that was bittersweet and undoubtedly high grade.


Recommended by a friend whose opinions I trust and fronted by former Gjelina Pastry Chef Nicole Rucker who started the program in late April of 2015, it was with expectations that were perhaps too high that I forked over $11.25 for four smallish samples, the results neither as good or as interesting as Donut Man, Colorado, Primos, California, or Stan’s despite charging nearly twice the price.


Cofax Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, Cofax, Cofax Coffee, Cofax Coffee Shop, Dessert, Food, Vacation

Atticus Coffee and Dessert, Los Angeles CA


Atticus Coffee and Dessert


Iced Coffee

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Ice Cream – Brown Sugar Apple Pie, Caramel Macchiato, Lemon Lavender, Orange Limeade, Honey Honeycomb, Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana, Raspberry Champagne Sorbet, Nutella Ferrero Rocher, Salted Chocolate Pretzel, Milk and Cereal, Brownie a la Mode, York Peppermint

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Earl Grey Pie – Chocolate Ganache and Callebaut Chocolate Pieces / Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie – Chocolate Mousse Cream, Peanut Butter Bottom, Light Cream / Strawberry Pistachio Pie – Strawberry Cream Mousse, Pistachio Cream, Light Cream

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Invited in by PR despite living in Las Vegas it was on the premise of tasting and ‘giving feedback’ that I agreed to stop by Atticus Coffee & Dessert on the way out of LA, but with the owner named Iris and her young assistant entirely unprepared neither the experience nor the offerings provided much incentive for praise, the slivers of pie so small that they were difficult to differentiate while the ice creams ranged from a sweet honey-honeycomb and a convincing take on Cereal Milk to artificial tasting Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana alongside Lavender-laden lemon best described as ‘bathroom fresh.’


Apparently the second location of a spot originally opened on Pico, the options here more limited while seating both indoors and out are plagued by pop-music playing a bit too loud, Atticus promotes a philosophy of handmade craftsmanship with no preservatives, artificial flavorings, colors, or added sweeteners but with prices trending far higher than portions or presentations should dictate the “bang for the buck” is immediately in question, no less than a half-dozen local locations for ice cream far superior while Republic or Pie or Pie Hole quality the $5.25 petite-pies most certainly are not.


Atticus Coffee & Dessert Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Atticus, Atticus Coffee and Dessert, Atticus Creamery, California, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Los Angeles, Vacation

Doughboys Cafe & Bakery [2,] Los Angeles CA


Doughboys Cafe & Bakery



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Creamy Polenta with brown sugar, strawberries, figs, nuts

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Malted Cornmeal Pancakes with Cherry Compote

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Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Icing

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Pan Toast – cinnamon rolls and croissants soaked in custard and fried, with strawberries and strawberry syrup


First visited many years ago, in a larger location far from the cozy confines of 8146 West 3rd, it was with all but one member of the previous crew that breakfast was enjoyed at Doughboys Cafe & Bakery, the sweets retaining the high quality remembered from Rice Krispy Treats Pancakes and Red Velvet Cake though “Creamy Polenta” was actually clumpy with flavor trending quite bland.


Tightly spaced, but comfortable on a Monday morning with several folks populating the outdoor patio as only one other table was occupied inside, it was expectedly to very attentive service that our booth was treated throughout the meal and although eschewing pastries due to subsequent planned dining the case up front did look quite delectable, the ‘world famous’ red velvet now joined by cookies, brownies, bars, and scones ranging from savory to sweet.


Offering a take-away counter that never saw business during the course of our hour long stay it was with bold coffee in hand that approximately fifteen minutes passed before all four plates were delivered, the housemade compotes and infused syrups requested in order to avoid the Log Cabin bottle seen sitting on a white kitchen shelf.


Going part savory, though everything served was eventually dressed in sugar or syrup, first bites of the enormous bowl of cornmeal proved rather uninspiring though the fruit was quite fresh, a far better bite found amidst toothsome malted cornbread fried up like a pancake, the cherry compote used on one half while melted butter and honey was drizzled atop the rest.


Onward to dessert-type-breakfasts, no stop at Doughboys complete without sampling something dyed bright red, the flavor of the restaurant’s signature item was replicated spot-on by a fluffy stack of pancakes, the “Pan Toast” crisp on the exterior with a soft-set center not unlike bread pudding, a topping of strawberries both whole and extracted complimenting notes of cinnamon without overwhelming the mellow custard base.


Doughboys Cafe & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Pudding, Breakfast, California, Coffee, Cornbread, Dessert, Doughboys, Doughboys Cafe, Doughboys Cafe & Bakery, Doughboys Cafe and Bakery, Food, French Toast, Los Angeles, Pancakes, Vacation

Randy’s Donuts, Los Angeles CA


Randy’s Donuts

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Apple Fritter

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Honey Whole Wheat

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Raised and Glazed

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Old Fashioned

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Chocolate Covered Cruller

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Buttermilk Crumb Cake


Iconic for its signage, Randy’s Donuts had long been a place of interest, and staying close to LAX during a recent visit to the city of Los Angeles it was just after 7am on s Monday that I finally stopped in – the drive-in absolutely jammed-packed while a walk-up window offered faster access, the server’s limited grasp of English one source of frustration while a cash-only policy presented yet another…and that was even before tasting the lackluster fried dough.


Not particularly a place to visit after dark, though 24/7 hours are offered for those looking to get their fix, it was only after standing back to peruse the menu that the window was approached and after requesting a Buttermilk bar thrice to no avail it was with an even half-dozen that I walk away annoyed, first bites of the Honey Whole Wheat tinged with an odd aftertaste that saw the rest left for the birds, a similar funk pervasive in the oily apple fritter that suffered the same fate.


Faring a bit better in raised options, the base of a cruller actually quite nice despite chocolate frosting that was thickly applied and clearly low grade, best bites were surprisingly found in the simple glazed circle while the old fashioned could have used a bit more sour cream taste, the “buttermilk” crumb cake coming up dry and insipid – unworthy of the cost, calories, or stomach space.



Randy's Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, California, Dessert, Food, Los Angeles, Randy's Donuts

Cassia, Santa Monica CA




Vietnamese Iced Coffee


Piña Colada – Rum, housemade coconut liqueur, pineapple, coconut cream

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Chopped Escargot Clay Oven Bread – Lemongrass butter, herbs


Jellyfish Salad – Shredded organic chicken, crispy rice, green leaf, sesame-bacon dressing


Kaya Toast Coconut jam, butter, slow cooked egg

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Chino Valley Egg Custard Sea urchin roe, braised mushrooms

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Vietnamese Pot Au Feu – Creekstone farms short rib stew, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, bone marrow, grilled bread, bird’s eye chile sauce, walnut-mustard

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Laksa Rice noodles, spicy coconut-seafood soup

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Grilled Corn – Coriander-scallion butter

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Charcuterie Fried Rice – Lap cheong, salt pork, salted fish, lettuce

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Black Cod – Anchovy broth, Chinese romaine, lychee relish, herb salad

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Strawberry, Blackberry Napoleon – Green Tea Bavarian Cream

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Chocolate Banana Tart – Banana chips, candied walnuts, vanilla whipped cream


Vietnamese Coffee Pudding – Coconut shortbread

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Deep Fried Paris-Brest – Housemade lemongrass ice cream, candied lemon

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Lemon Lime Coconut Tart – Lone Daughter Ranch Passion Fruit, Toasted Coconut Sorbet


Owned by the team behind Huckleberry and Rustic Canyon with the newly launched Ester’s Wine Bar located directly across the hall, it was alongside friends old and new that dinner was had at Bryant Ng’s Cassia, the former Spice Table chef showing off an innovative approach to modern Asian flavors in a lively upscale environment not unlike the Brasseries found throughout Paris and parts of France’s South.


Low-lit and up-tempo with a patio for those desiring to dine amidst Santa Monica’s ever-pleasant outdoors, it was at a large round table in view of both the raw bar and fiery grill that our group of five was sat and greeted by a charming server happy to describe each item at length a baker’s dozen plates were selected, not one failing to offer a good depth of flavor, not to mention sharable potions and a favorable bang for the buck.


Immersed in conversation as mixed drinks and sooth Vietnamese coffee arrived it was mere moments before plates began to trickle from the kitchen, the snail spread thankfully allowing the mollusks brine to peak out amidst the lemongrass while jellyfish chicken salad displayed a great diversity of tastes and an even greater number of tantalizing textures.

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More than a little enamored by sweet-meets salty Kaya toast that far outshines the version at Mudhen Tavern it was onward to an enormous chawanmushi that tasting progressed, the double-dose of umami offered by both mushrooms and uni perfuming the palate while the custard itself came across smooth and silky.


Hitting a small snag with pot au feu that was delicious, albeit difficult to share and serve given the size of the bowl versus the bone, but recovering quickly with rice noodles adrift in a spicy seafood soup that challenged but didn’t overwhelm my general sensitivity to such things, it was in charcuterie fried rice alongside buttered corn and a complex bowl of tender cod that savories wrapped up, another coffee ordered up en route to one of each dessert.


Recently swapping up the sweets, but retaining the Easternized-French focus that seems to have been present from the start, it should be obvious that the pudding was essentially just a thicker version of the drink already in hand, and although only it and the chocolate-banana pie were particularly well matched to the flavors of coffee it was citrus soaked tart and lemongrass ice cream amidst fried choux that actually proved best, the napoleon unfortunately the victim of too much cream and not enough crunch.



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

Posted in California, Cassia, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Los Angeles, Pork, Santa Monica, Vacation

Love & Salt, Manhattan Beach CA


Love & Salt

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Nutella Toast – Thick Cut Ciabatta, Strawberries, Sea Salt

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Toasted Zucchini Bread – House Strawberry Jam

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Housemade English Muffins – Rosemary Sea Salt, Cultured House Butter

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Crispy Open-Face Porchetta Sandwich – Fried Farm Egg, Salsa Verde

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Duck Egg Pie – Pancetta, Panna, Potato, Rosemary, Mozzarella, Parmesan

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Bucatini – Fennel Sausage, Black Kale, Parmesan, Bread Crumbs

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Warm Cinnamon Coffee Cake – Whipped Crème Fraiche

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Brown Sugar Pudding – Blackberries, Cinnamon Crumble


Suggested by friends I trust as one of the best new spots in a rapidly developing Manhattan Beach dining scene, it was just after 2pm that parking was found in the garage behind Love & Salt and although the brunch menu shows signs of promise from the kitchen both the service and the website’s false advertising made for a somewhat lackluster overall experience.


Arriving at an off-hour, the frequently-filled space less than a quarter full when we walked in the back door, it was nonetheless in a cramped corner that our trio was seated – the brunch menu presented while the dinner options officially don’t begin until 5pm despite the website suggesting three o’clock on Sundays, plans of bridging the two services immediately discarded while service from a lazy beach bunny also saw the kitchen shut down before pancakes could be ordered as part of dessert, neither an excuse nor apology offered once.

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Nicely appointed, with a bar at one side and seating on the other plus an open kitchen at the back, the room is bathed in sunlight from floor to ceiling windows that look out onto Manhattan Beach Boulevard up front, it was with a substantial delay after menus were perused that orders were placed and treated first to three pre-made pastries a high degree of skill was immediately evident, the buttery English Muffins setting a new standard for bread I generally find boring as both Zucchini bread and Ciabatta were crispy and excellent, all the better when slathered in jam and Nutella.


Not offering several of the signature pastas at brunch, and confirmed by a manager who sat chatting on his cellphone as service struggled that they would not be ready until 5:00pm when asked, it was to three alternative savories that attention was turned and although the porchetta proved far more salty than fans of the crispy roast would expect the texture of the meat was absolutely exemplary, the nicely charred pizza proving far more balanced as potatoes, herbs, and yolk helped to offset the pancetta.


Impressed by the al dente strands of Bucatini that offered subtle resistance to the tooth alongside housemade sausage and a bit too much bitter kale as buttery breadcrumbs helped to enliven the lot it was after repeated efforts to flag down our server that we discovered the kitchen had stopped, but promised that “brunch desserts” were still available the pre-made bombolini left behind by a table adjacent were ignored in favor of coffee cake and a smooth brown sugar budino, the former’s quality similar to that of breads prior while the latter is something worth getting out of bed for, service notwithstanding.



Love and Salt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, California, Dessert, Food, Italian, Los Angeles, Love & Salt, Love and Salt, Manhattan Beach, Pizza, Pork, Vacation

Chapter One: the modern local, Santa Ana CA


Chapter One: the modern local

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Scotch Egg – Turkey sausage-wrapped egg, bacon jam, frisee salad, mango mustard sauce

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Apple Pancakes – Cranberry-apple relish, maple syrup

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Elvis Live from Brussels – Belgian waffle sandwich, pecan butter, brulee banana, bourbon maple whipped cream

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Special K French Toast – Crushed “Special K” & almonds on brioche French toast, seasonal fruit, powdered sugar, served with maple syrup

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Napoleon Bananaparte – Honey butter, phyllo crisp, bruleed bananas, pastry cream, bourbon caramel sauce

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MONKEY BALLS! – Banana cake doughnut holes, caramel sauce, creme anglaise

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Traveling from the beach to Anaheim for an afternoon matchup between the Angels and the Astros it was mere moments after 10am that street parking was allocated in downtown Santa Ana, a reservstion at Chapter One thankfully secured a few weeks in advance as the restaurant was soon to be filled by a football loving crowd for the NFL’s opening weekend.

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Missed out on during a previous visit to the rapidly gentrifying Orange County community as a result of a power outage that essentially shut down the city it was again after some technical difficulties that our booking was found and seated at a large four-top to the left of the bar it was mere moments before one of several jersey-clad servers stopped by with menus and glasses of water, the bad facial hair seemingly requisite for all males employed by “the modern local” while man-buns and scraggly ponytails were no more rare.

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Featuring a menu and cocktail list befitting the scene as well as the clientele it was with little effort that an order of whimsical upscale-brunch classics was composed, the Scotch Egg arriving cool the core but nicely complimented with a light salad and savory bacon jam, the smear of fruity mustard helping to offset the heft while a cup of repeatedly refilled coffee was better suited to entrees and desserts, the lightly roasted beans rich with figgy notes and far superior to what one would expect from standard cafe stuff.


Eschewing savories in favor of menu’s trio of sweets it was with waffles, pancakes, and French toast that the morning would progress, and although a first glimpse of the “Elvis Live from Brussels” had my eyes thinking Eggo the waffles were actually perfectly crisp with a soft center wrapped around excellent accoutrements, the French Toast pudding-soft when graced with pure maple syrup while the pancakes were golden and fluffy, though not really benefited by fruit that could have been better utilized if added before griddling.


Told that desserts at Chapter One are not to be missed it was to a recently updateded menu that attention was next turned, and treading lightly after early morning donuts with more eating plans for after the ballgame it was in two options that remaining appetites were invested, the “Monkey Balls” a bit too oily to be enjoyed completely while the cleverly named Napoleon was in all ways more inspired, the use of phyllo dough perhaps not as traditional as some may like it but the light cream, honey buttered fruit, and bourbon caramel making such qualms almost entirely irrelevant.



Chapter One: The Modern Local Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, California, Chapter One: the modern local, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Los Angeles, Orange County, Pancakes, Pork, Santa Ana, Vacation, Waffles

The Donuttery, Huntington Beach CA


The Donuttery

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Maple Buttermilk Bar

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Apple Fritter

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Carrot Cake

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Old Fashioned

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Maple Almond Butterfly

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Apple Cider



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Blueberry Lemon

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Salty Caramel Devil’s Food

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Cream Filled

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Red Velvet

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Long heralded as a destination for locals and tourists visiting the Southern California beach communities, it was en route to Anaheim that an early Sunday led us to The Donuttery, and arriving just after 8am after a long morning run a cornucopia of options delivered on all the promises, an even twelve selected as the result of a “cheaper by the dozen” discount with only one option proving less than impressive.

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Small in size, though limited seating is available, The Donuttery is a labor intensive sort of spot with several toppings, glazes, and frostings offered atop iterations that include raised, cake, filled, and fancy yet without trending too far from tradition the oldschool feel of the space is bolstered by cheerful customer service, the donuts all carefully boxed as patron-after-patron trickled through the door.

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Cutting the tape and snapping a few photos before the tasting commenced, it was progressing from light to rich that the sampling took place, and with a maple frosted buttermilk bar offering a soft center with just a touch of sour the opening bites showed good technique and no hint of greasiness, a theme that extended to a fruit-rich fritter that was thankfully offered in sizes both large and small.


More than happy to see carrot cake stuffed with raisin and nuts beneath rich cream cheese it was next in a supple old fashioned that teeth were sunk, the results on par with the best in the nation while the fluffy butterfly was awash in cinnamon beneath a lacquer of maple as toasted almonds helped to mellow the sweetness of the rather substantial knot.


Continuing the spicecake trend with an apple cider donut topped in buttercream before hitting a bump in the road with an exceedingly artificial tasting pink ring described as “strawberry,” The Donuttery quickly regained footing with the tartness of lemons over soft blueberries and salty caramel over devil’s food that offered the best bite in the store.


Rounding out the morning with two filled donuts and two more featuring a cocoa base it should go without saying that both the red velvet and marshmallow topped S’mores were more than a little indulgent, but what was truly unexpected was just how stuffed both the whipped cream bun and PB&J concoction were, the former featuring an unsurpassed lightness without being oversweetened while the later balanced out the internal sweetness with the natural flavor of salt and smooth roasted nuts.


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

Posted in Breakfast, California, Dessert, Food, Huntington Beach, Los Angeles, Orange County, The Donuttery, Vacation