Bardot Brasserie [4,] Las Vegas NV

DSC00863

Bardot Brasserie

DSC00866

Rose Champagne

DSC00870 DSC00871 DSC00873

Baguette and Butter

DSC00876 DSC00877 DSC00874

Summer Melon – Bayonne Ham, Balsamic Fig Compote, Fromage Blanc Mousse

DSC00880 DSC00883 DSC00881

Tuna Nicoise Tartine – Marinated Tuna, Baguette Crostini, Quail Egg, Nicoise Olives, Traditional Garnish

DSC00887 DSC00884 DSC00889

Leek, Foie Gras, Pheasant, Sweetbread, Truffle, Chicken Terrine – Pickles and Warm Toast

DSC00890 DSC00894 DSC00891

Seared Foie Gras French Toast – Cassis Compote

DSC00900 DSC00901 DSC00903

Sole Meuniere –Baby Artichokes, Sunchoke Fondant, Wild Capers, Brown Butter, Fresh Lemon

DSC00899 DSC00896 DSC00897

Parisian Gnocchi Au Pistou – Goat Cheese, Summer Vegetables, Cherry Tomatoes, Toasted Pine Nuts

DSC00910 DSC00911 DSC00909

Coquilles St. Jacques – Dayboat Scallops, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Bloomsdale Spinach, Sauce Soubise

DSC00907 DSC00905 DSC00908

Lamb Rack “Frites” – Roasted Eggplant Puree, Ratatouille, Persillade, Chickpea Frites

DSC00921

Chocolate Macaron – French Chocolate Cookie, Vahlrona Chocolate Mousse

DSC00918

Crème Brulee – Vanilla Bean Custard, Turbinado Croquant

DSC00920

Mille Feuille – Caramelized Puff Pastry, Vanilla Crème Patissiere

DSC00919

Frozen Paris Brest – Hazelnut Ice Cream, Chocolate Cremeux, Salted Caramel Sauce

DSC00926 DSC00925 DSC00927

Cherry Clafoutis – Pistachio Ice Cream

DSC00916

Pavlova aux Fruits Rouges – Vanilla Meringue, Lemon Chantilly, Strawberries, Cassis Coulis, Lavender Gelato

DSC00869

Told by Chef Josh Smith that the current Summer in Provence Menu intended to take a look at the lighter, coastal side of the French Brasserie, another substantial tasting was arranged to once again experience the best of what Michael Mina’s Aria restaurant has to offer, the results every bit as good as would be expected as the kitchen rolled out eight new plates plus some old favorites and a few surprises.

DSC00865

Still a jaw-dropping room by way of its design, the early hour finding it empty but soon to fill with the sort of bustling sound familiar to the high-ceilinged spaces in France, it was with Champagne at the bar that time was spent waiting for a few late arrivals, but once the party was completed and all were seated the experience at the table was essentially unrivaled.

DSC00868

Seeing a few new faces amongst the service staff, everyone professional yet fun as in the past, it was with a welcoming from Chef Smith that the meal got started and eschewing menus in favor of a carte blanche offering the first course of Summer Melons with French Ham and whipped Goat Cheese was a refreshing way to start the evening, the flavors of a Nicoise Salad next cleverly presented by way of acid-kissed Tuna beneath Olives and a Quail-Egg atop a piece of Toast.

DSC00928

No stranger to the restaurant, the Chef going so far as to present course two as an off-menu special alongside a dish jokingly referred to as “a la my name,” one would be hard-pressed to name a better Terrine outside of Europe than Smith’s surprisingly light Leek-wrapped version featuring Pheasant, Chicken, Sweetbread and Duck Liver with a top-note of Truffles while the thick slab of seared Foie Gras was so thick and indulgent that it almost seemed too much for the Custard-rich Brioche below it to bear.

DSC00895

Begging off more Baguette, the recipe seeming to have improved to true Parisian quality with time, course three featured Bardot’s Pate au Choux Gnocchi dressed up for summer with Basil, Pine Nuts, Goat Cheese and Tomatoes while roulades of Sole draped in Brown Butter danced alongside earthy tones offered by Artichokes and creamed Sunchokes brightened by briny Capers.

DSC00864

Progressing like a proper tasting menu, more than enough of each dish to go around, savories concluded with shockingly sweet Scallops with Mushrooms and Spinach in smoked Onion Cream Sauce, the rare Rack of Lamb literally seeing meat gnawed off the bone by some while the roasted Eggplant, Panisse and layered Ratatouille from Bardot’s Instagram feed were perhaps even more compelling than the meat.

DSC00924

Always game for French Pastry, Bardot Brasserie having perfected the art from day one by reinterpreting Classics without compromising the idea, several old favorites were presented from the famous Macaron to the textbook Mille-Feuille, the Tart Tatin and Rice Pudding taking a break to instead focus on the summer-friendly flavors of a Red Berry Pavlova with light floral accents and warm pudding Clafoutis studded with Cherries that is slowly turned into a porridge beneath the melting Pistachio Ice Cream.

FIVE STARS: Better than any North American Brasserie I’ve been to, and topping most of the highly-regarded ones in central France as well, Bardot’s Summer in Provence takes Chef Smith and team’s cooking in a new direction that is as seasonally appropriate as it is delicious, an impetus for fans to return this Summer and all the more reason for a first visit to those who’ve never been.

RECOMMENDED: Tuna Nicoise Tartine, Sole Meuniere, Parisian Gnocchi Au Pistou, Cherry Clafoutis, Mille-Feuille, Foie Gras in any form Chef Smith chooses to serve.

AVOID: Um…Filling up on Bread?

TIP: Currently offering a Four-course Tasting, Bar Menu and Happy Hour specials the reasons and ways to dine at Bardot are a fit for almost all budgets and time constraints.

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

Bardot Brasserie

Bardot Brasserie -ARIA Restort and Casino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bardot, Bardot Brasserie, Bread Basket, Coffee, Dessert, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, French Toast, Gnocchi, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Macaron, Macaroon, Nevada, Pork, Sweetbreads, Tasting Menu, Truffle

CJ’s Italian Ice and Custard, Las Vegas NV

DSC00851

CJ’s Italian Ice and Custard

DSC00859 DSC00856 DSC00857

Salted Caramel Custard with Sea Salt Caramel Truffles

DSC00858 DSC00861 DSC00860

Chocolate Cake – Chocolate Custard, Dark Flakes, White Icing, Chocolate Sauce

DSC00852

Passed countless times by those unaware – no glitz, glamour or Public Relations team to sell the concept – CJ’s Italian Ice and Custard has nonetheless made a name for itself throughout the years by providing frozen treats to in-the-know Westsiders, and although offered at several local outlets including Glazier’s Food Market the smart money seems to be going straight to the source for more than fifty flavors of Ice and Custard.

Family owned and operated, a Midwestern upbringing and education at The Ohio State University imparting Jon Goldberg with a familiarity of both styles of frozen treats, CJ’s Italian Ice and Custard inhabits a small storefront attached to a Taco shop at 3555 South Durango Drive and with three-to-four varieties of the latter served via soft-serve machines plus a dozen blends of milk, water, eggs, sugar and flavorings offered via scoop from the freezer case the only question is how best to mix them, or whether to taste them on their own.

DSC00862

Baking the waffle cones in house while also packing several to-go options including pints, dipped Bananas and frozen Custard cakes, a first visit to CJ’s can admittedly be quit daunting given the sheer variety of offerings, but with a quick tasting of available flavors a decision becomes somewhat easier, the only menu-option unavailable during this visit being the rolled Waffle Cone “Custard Cannoli.”

No doubt excelling in customer service, the two young women professional and helpful beyond their years, it was with samples of the classic Lemon and Black Cherry Ice – plus the Bomb-Popesque “Captain America” – that an order was selected, the ices to wait for another time as the daily special of Salted Caramel Custard was far too compelling.

DSC00853

Making every flavor in-house, the slightly melted texture of Ice lighter than that of Gelato or Ice Cream, CJ’s Custard sets high marks by way of a base that comes across far more creamy than that at Luv-It without out being quite as thick as those at Shake Shack, the flavors carried forth robustly by way of the high fat content while the addition of small Caramels dipped in Dark Chocolate were one of nearly four-dozen possible additions offered in a generous portion for just an extra $0.50.

A bit disappointed that the smallest take-out containers of Custard are far too much for a single serving, the small cups of ice more appropriate though really not as pertinent since more flavors are available in-house, part two of the order instead focused on a “large slice” of Chocolate Cake, $5.50 netting a soft cocoa base topped in Custard blended with Icing, the texture almost like that of a Semifreddo with the top further coated in Chocolate Sauce and shaved Chocolate flakes.

FOUR STARS: Limiting themselves by not offering more Custards-to-go at a reasonable price, and inexplicably sold out of a menu item just past 1pm, CJ’s Italian Ice and Custard nonetheless represents an under-discussed family-owned business worthy of Las Vegas’ patronage, the friendly service and good prices well-matched to options varied enough to suit any taste.

RECOMMENDED: Salted Caramel Custard, Chocolate Custard Cake.

AVOID: Going in with expectations that the wide variety suggested on their website will actually be available fresh.

TIP: Frequent Customer Punch-Cards will yield every 7th item free while Social Media check-ins will score 10% off the current order.

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

http://www.cjsitalianice.com/

CJ's Italian Ice & Custard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in CJ’s, CJ’s Italian Ice, CJ’s Italian Ice and Custard, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Italian, Las Vegas, Nevada

Taco Y Taco on Tropicana, Las Vegas NV

DSC00831

Taco Y Taco

DSC00840 DSC00848 DSC00842

Tripas, Pibil, Carne Asada Tacos

DSC00844 DSC00846 DSC00847

Al Pastor Vampiro

DSC00849

Now with two local locations, the first on East Tropicana with a larger and more upscale space in Henderson on South Eastern, Taco Y Taco is said by many to offer some of the best Mexican street food in all of Las Vegas, a Saturday lunch showing the original to offer a fairly good bargain as well.

DSC00835

Located in one of streets various retail centers, an elevated space with backdoor and dining room accessed by the parking lot while the counter at which one orders is best approached by foot from the street, Taco Y Taco is not the sort of place to splurge on décor or creature comforts, the focus squarely on the food and matter-of-fact customer service, an argument taking place on arrival as customer argued with the cook about why he could not add eggs to an item.

DSC00833

Featuring various “Lines,” though none really seemed to matter too much provided the order was straightforward and ready to go, it was with Chicharrons not yet available that a three Taco late, plus one “Vampiro” was assembled – the affirmative answer to “with everything?” adding cilantro, onions and housemade salsa with additional options for customization available at a tiny salsa bar.

DSC00834

Playing traditional music loudly overhead, soccer on the TV with the view out the windows facing a Plasma Donation Center, a look at the food shows a lot of time spent in preparing various meats from which the Pibil was tender, though slightly underflavored while the Carne Asada featured a robust bit of char to the tender beef with a slightly spicy linger.

DSC00836 DSC00837 DSC00838

Serving Beef Tripe from a small steamer basket, but happy to toss it back on the griddle when requested crispy, the Taco Tripa was undeniably unctuous with a good mix of crunch and creaminess playing well off the toppings while the crispy Tortilla griddled around melted Cheese and Pork Al Pastor was every bit deserving of the praise heaped upon it – the marinated meat almost sweet in beneath the exterior layer of caramelization and good enough that a second trip to the counter was justified for one more.

DSC00850

THREEE AND A HALF STARS: Certainly no expert on Tacos or Street Food, but knowledgeable enough to know well made food and a deal, Taco Y Taco is a worthwhile stop for their signatures, though the under-seasoned Pibil and lack of a menu item at 11:00 show room for improvement.

RECOMMENDED: Vampiro style, Pork Al Pastor, Tripas.

AVOID: Pibil.

DSC00845

TIP: A small breakfast menu is available on a menu near the entrance.

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

https://www.facebook.com/tacotacome

Taco y Taco Mexican Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Taco Y Taco, Taco Y Taco Tropicana

CRAFTkitchen [4,] Henderson NV

DSC02579

CRAFTKitchen

DSC00807 DSC00808 DSC00810

Cinnamon Roll

DSC00815 DSC00816 DSC00819

Sticky Bun

DSC00800 DSC00799 DSC00801

Apricot Peach Pop Tart

DSC00803 DSC00804 DSC00805

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

DSC00827 DSC00829 DSC00830

Nutella Kouign Amann

DSC00820 DSC00821 DSC00822

Almond Cream Kouign Amann

DSC00823 DSC00824 DSC00826

Coconut Chocolate Coffee Cake

DSC00811 DSC00812 DSC00814

Mixed Berry Coffee Cake

Already a fan of CRAFTkitchen from past visits, Jaret Blinn’s baked goods amongst the best in town, it was for a Saturday clinic that six new items plus two classics were collected, a 6:30am pick-up showing the team already prepping for another busy Saturday serving the citizens of Las Vegas and Henderson.

Taking the items in three large boxes, most of the goods still warm, it was between patients that each of the items was tasted and whether one prefers extra sweet or something more mild CRAFTkitchen offers something for all tastes, the city’s best Cinnamon Roll and Sticky Bun both featuring golden curls of pastry with plenty of spring to the interior wrapped around butter and cinnamon lingers long after the Caramel Frosting or Sugar Glaze.

Moving on to novelties, Jaret’s Poptarts one-upping the commercial original by some degree at the Chefseries Potluck, a seasonal switch to local Apricots and Peaches shined particularly strongly inside of their warm pockets and although the Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake came off a touch dry compared to CRAFTkitchen’s other efforts the decision between two Coffee Cakes largely comes down to whether one craves fruit or chocolate, the Mixed Berry mostly filled with bursting Blueberries on this visit while the alternative tasted a lot like and Almond Joy with toasted Coconut providing smooth finishing notes.

No doubt a baker of considerable talent, Chef Blinn’s Kouign Amann rivaling Johnathan Pluvinet’s Croissants at Rosallie for Sin City’s best laminated pastries, Jaret has seemingly found his fastball in recent iterations of the Breton Butter Pastry, one with a Nutella packed core amongst the most decadent versions of the pastry found to date while the light Almond Cream cooks to an almost Nougat like center that is smooth and rich, but not particularly sweet.

DSC00100

FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Long overdue for a return visit, the weekend specials always an impetus to come back even as the menu has not changed dramatically in recent months, CRAFTkitchen has accomplished more in its first year of existence than many local restaurants do in their lifecycle largely as a result of the Blinn family’s passion and skill – if you have not been, now is as good of a time as ever to find out what so many others already know.

RECOMMENDED: Any/All Kouign Amann, Cinnamon Roll, Apricot Peach Poptart, Coconut Chocolate Coffee Cake.

AVOID: Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake.

TIP: For those interested in Catering or Private dining, don’t hesitate to contact the restaurant with inquiries, their Social Media feeds frequently offering glimpses of what the CRAFTkitchen team is capable of.

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

http://craftkitchenlv.com/

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

Posted in Breakfast, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada

Portofino [5,] Las Vegas NV

DSC00720

Portofino by Chef Michael LaPlaca

DSC00734

BARREL-AGED MARGARITA- Patron Reposado Mirage barrel select tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice, shaken with sugar

DSC00729 DSC00731 DSC00732

OLIVE OIL FOCACCIA

DSC00738 DSC00739

CAPRESE SALAD – heirloom tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, basil

DSC00747 DSC00746 DSC00744

MEATBALLS – fried squash blossom, goat cheese, San Marzano tomatoes

DSC00748 DSC00750 DSC00749

GRILLED OCTOPUS – Calabrian peperonata, fingerling crisps, salsa verde

DSC00736 DSC00740 DSC00737

“CRAB CAKE” ARANCINI – lemon saffron risotto, pesto aioli, Fresno pickles

DSC00742 DSC00743 DSC00741

MARKET MELON SALAD – ricotta salata, marcona almonds, minus 8 vinaigrette

DSC00758 DSC00760 DSC00759

BURRATA AGNOLOTTI – lobster, chanterelle mushrooms, roasted corn butter

DSC00764 DSC00766 DSC00765

RIPATELLI – wild boar bolognese, roasted tomato sauce, goat cheese pesto

DSC00753 DSC00754

PORK CHEEK RAVIOLI – sweet peas, guancaile, carrot puree

DSC00763 DSC00762 DSC00761

LINGUINI & CLAMS “ROCKEFELLER” – sautéed, spinach, absinthe crema, spiced bread crumbs

DSC00757 DSC00755 DSC00756

GRILLED ONION GNOCCHI – green garlic butter, charred artichokes, crispy frog legs

DSC00779 DSC00776 DSC00774

VEAL PACINO – farmers market greens, baby heirloom tomatoes, shallot vinaigrette

DSC00771 DSC00770 DSC00777

SILENT RACK OF LAMB – fava beans, forest mushrooms, hearts of palm, chianti essence

DSC00781 DSC00782 DSC00780

VEAL OSSO BUCO – saffron risotto, bone marrow, gremolata

DSC00778 DSC00773 DSC00772

SALMON – grilled corn, pancetta, roasted peppers, crimini mushrooms, potato puree

DSC00788 DSC00789 DSC00790

NUTELLA CRÈME BRÛLÉE – twisted disaronna whipped cream, fudge, crystallized almonds

DSC00786 DSC00787

TRADITIONAL TIRAMISU – cognac crème, lady fingers

DSC00791 DSC00785 DSC00784

CHOCOLATE CAKE – fudge, vanilla ice cream

DSC00794 DSC00795

SORBETTI – market berries, lemon, raspberry

DSC00793

GELATO – strawberry cheesecake, double chocolate, vanilla milkshake

DSC00723

Unable to call myself anything less than an unapologetic ‘fan’ of Portofino, the management by Chris Zadie and cooking of Michael LaPlaca wowing ever since first walking through the wine-wall shrouded door, it was with two friends that the Summer 2016 menu was explored at length this past Saturday Evening, the Chef’s time spent reinventing another Mirage property having done nothing to diminish the quality of Las Vegas’ best Italian Fine Dining concept.

DSC00727 DSC00725

At this point a known entity on several “best of” lists, MGM’s decision to put Michael’s name on the marquee still an unprecedented move that matters more than tourists or locals seem to think, Portofino’s seasonal menu arrived later than intended as a result of several circumstances, yet still managing to reinvent, tweak or fully re-imagine nearly a dozen items the impetus to return remains as strong as ever, not to mention the signatures that continue to be great.

DSC00721

Seated at a different table than usual, but still served family-style at the discretion of Chef LaPlaca and Chris, the meal began with the first of two baskets of Olive Oil soaked Focaccia and opting to indulge in one of the newly launched Barrel-Aged cocktails the Margarita based on Patron Tequila specifically made for The Mirage was a poignant yet balanced classic that slowly changed as ice melted while still maintaining a semi-sweet, citrus edge.

DSC00751

Not really retooling the anti-pasti too much, the case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ perhaps in play, course one saw four Portofino classics presented in demi-portions with the novel Market Melon Salad singing beneath candied Marcona Almonds, Ricotta Salata and a splash Vinegar while the ‘Arancini,’ Meatballs and Caprese continued to set a high standard, the Octopus a bit less heated in the past which actually allowed the cephalopod to take on a smoky ‘steak like’ flavor that competes with Carnevino and Estiatorio Milos for the Valley’s best.

DSC00767

Well known for the pastas, “Ripatelli” famously invented by LaPlaca and remaining a signature regardless of the ragu, Summer sees the torn noodles topped in roasted Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Pesto, the Burrata Agnolotti that supposedly landed the Chef his job as rich and elegant as ever while the Linguini and Clams Rockefeller delivers on the promise of its name with Littleneck Clams swimming in a light sauce of Butter, Spinach and poignant notes of Anise.

DSC00733

Continuing to impress with filled pastas, another newcomer to Portofino is Chef LaPlaca’s Ravioli filled with tender Pork Cheek amidst fresh Peas and Carrot Puree, each bite a complex blend of sweet and savory that was only topped in texture by melt-in-the-mouth Gnocchi that saw robust notes of grilled Onions and Garlic mellowed by Artichokes and rich Frog Leg meat.

DSC00783

Slowly learning to accept Salmon, the ‘safety net’ for fussy diners found on nearly every menu in town, Potofino’s new version offers a fun look at the fish with seasoned Popcorn playing off Pancetta, Peppers and Mushrooms while a succulent “Silent” Rack of Lamb continues to speak of a restaurant with a sense of humor, the pounded Veal a far more *serious* plate that rings in several dollars cheaper than an inferior version at Carbone, the braised Veal with Saffron Risotto still the only version in the city that might trump Ferraro’s.

DSC00792

Rounding out the evening with dessert, Mr. Zadie promising that this part of the menu will finally be updated soon, Sorbets and Gelato continue to show well alongside a Tiramisu that seemed a bit underflavored on this particular evening, the pudding-think Crème Brulee faring far better as did a simple Chocolate Cake that is mistakenly listed as Bread Pudding on the website menu.

DSC00719

FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Slowly gaining momentum with locals and outsiders alike, the service under Chris Zadie and cooking of Chef LaPlaca each on par with the city’s very best, one hopes that Portofino’s popularity will continue to grow as time goes on and that MGM brass will realize that the future of the city’s dining relevance lies in embracing local talents rather than New York City imports…and that maybe they’ll even someday hire the restaurant a dedicated pastry Chef.

RECOMMENDED: Meatballs, Crabcake Arancini, Burrata Agnolotti, Spring Onion Gnocchi, Pork Cheek Ravioli, Veal Pacinno, Osso Buco.

AVOID: N/A.

TIP: Announcing that they are already at work on the Fall Menu, a launch expected in September, those interested in any of the seasonal updates are encouraged to act quickly, though if last Autumn was any indication there is no doubt the next season will prove equally compelling.

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

http://www.mirage.com/restaurants/portofino-by-chef-michael-laplaca.aspx

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

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

Yogurtland (West Flamingo,) Las Vegas NV

DSC00706

Yogurtland

DSC00707

Samples – Mario’s Chocolate Gelato, Bowser’s Dragon Berry Tart, Rocket Pop Sorbet, Madagascar Vanilla Bean, Pistachio, Strawberry, Peanut Butter.

DSC00713 DSC00714

$6 Cup – Pecans & Pralines with Chocolate Coconut Macarons and Nutter Butters, Chocolate Cookie Bowl Divider, Toad’s Rocky Road with Brownie Bits and Marshmallow Sauce

DSC00708

Generally not one to seek out Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream or Gelato certainly more befitting personal tastes, a childhood rooted in the 80s could not resist the nostalgia offered by Nintendo themed classics offered throughout summer at Yogurtlands across the nation, a stop at the location at 9516 West Flamingo Road proving to be a pleasant surprise.

DSC00710

Based on the concept of “real ingredients,” including antibiotic and hormone free milk, Yogurtland was started in Fullerton California in the mid-2000s and having since expanded by way of franchising to several states across the nation the flavors have grown similarly, over 200 available with an online program allowing patrons to search for their favorites by zip code.

DSC00711

Not exceedingly different from other Fro-Yo joints in layout, a dozen or so flavors sold by weight with all sorts of mix-ins and toppings available, it was with friendly greeting from the lone employee that I was welcomed on entry, small paper cups offered for samples from which Mario’s Chocolate Gelato ate like a dense pudding while the Dragon Berry Tart and Rocket Pop Sorbet were each very refreshing.

DSC00712

Wanting to try complimentary flavors, but wary of mixing them and compromising the tastes as the temperature outdoors eclipsed 105°F, a “cookie divider” proves to be a clever option not seen previously and opting for one-half Pecans & Pralines with the other Toad’s Rocky Road there is no doubt the “Flavorologists” are doing their diligence in terms of tasting and formulation, the former a straight-out-of-the-South flavor while the later was creamy and smooth all on its lonesome, but even better with the addition of chewy brownie bites and Marshmallow topping.

DSC00718

FOUR STARS: Taking into account the cost, convenience and customization Yogurtland is easily the best Frozen Yogurt Shop I have visited in an admittedly limited sampling, a childhood spent thinking three daily flavors of soft-serve from a local joint called Mel O Cream was a great summertime treat now seeming like the Dark Ages.

RECOMMENDED: Pecans & Pralines, Toad’s Rocky Road, Bowser’s Dragon Berry Tart, Rocket Pop Sorbet, Strawberry.

AVOID: Pistachio and Peanut Butter both have an odd aftertaste that I did not personally enjoy, the flavors themselves overly sweet representations of the nuts themselves.

TIP: Due to roll out more flavors including Mocha, Peach and more as summer rolls on, fans of kitsch will find the collection of character themed spoons just as charming as the flavors themselves.

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

https://www.yogurt-land.com/

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

Posted in Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Yogurt Land, Yogurt Land West Flamingo, Yogurtland, Yogurtland West Flamingo

Rosallie [4,] Las Vegas NV

DSC00655

Rosallie Le French Café

DSC00678

White Chocolate Truffle Latte

DSC00684

Peppermint Latte

DSC00683

Hazelnut Latte

DSC00668 DSC00669 DSC00686

Croque Rosallie – Paris Ham, Sweet Onion Bechamel, Mozzarella Cheese on Croissant

DSC00681 DSC00677 DSC00676

Tartiflette Quiche – Bacon, Onions, Potatoes, Tartiflette Cheese

DSC00659 DSC00661 DSC00692

Nutella Croissant

DSC00662 DSC00663 DSC00702

Summer Berry Tart

DSC00665 DSC00666 DSC00667

Black Forest Cake

DSC00673 DSC00671 DSC00701

Lemon Meringue Tart

DSC00674 DSC00675 DSC00699

Madelines

DSC00690 DSC00691 DSC00696

Wheat Roll with Housemade Apricot and Strawberry Preserves

DSC00693 DSC00694 DSC00695

Butter Croissant

DSC00688 DSC00687 DSC00698

Almond Croissant

DSC00705

Returning from another lengthy trip full of great food, planning for the next began in earnest with three friends on a Saturday morning at Rosallie Le French Café, Jonathan Pluvinet’s French pasties having impressed co-workers when the Chef made a special delivery the prior Monday and continuing to outperform any other in city to this day.

DSC00656

Slowly and smartly expanding his menu, a few oddities like cannoli not seeming to fit the concept – though the Gluten Free Chocolate Muffin was a hit with those who snagged one at work, Rosallie the store has also continued to evolve as the wine rack is now ready-in-wait for bottles while the soundtrack has veered to the Chef’s homeland instead of iheartradio hits.

DSC00657

Sitting at a four-top soon to be flooded with food, more than a half new items presented along with a mellow chocolate latte that should please fans of both good coffee and cocoa alike, old stand-bys like Pluvinet’s Butter and Almond Croissants continue to set the bar high for the rest of the city while Madelines could only be better if warm from the oven, housemade Apricot Jam from local fruit as good on them as it is on the toothsome roll with which it is provided.

DSC00658

Always experimenting with new savory ideas, the vast majority outshowing their pricepoint in terms of ingredient quality, portion and skill, the Tartiflette Quiche presents the traditional flavors of Tarte Flambee in an eggy custard atop all-butter pastry, the Croque Rosallie showing the quality of Jonathan’s Croissants as they hold up to Ham, Bechamel and Mozzarella, though one does wonder if more traditional Swiss or Emmentaler Cheese would make for a more complex flavor.

DSC00682

Acknowledging that Nutella is not “traditional,” though patrons seem to love it, Rosallie’s Nutella Croissant is every bit as good as the Almond version when it comes to structure and in a world where everything from Baklava to Butter Pecan and Guava Cheese comes in laminated pastry form it would honestly be interesting to see what else the young Frenchman can come up with in the future, a Black Forest Cake good for what it is as fruit and chocolate prove complimentary, a ‘better choice’ between the lemon meringue tart and summer berries with frangipane really a matter of personal preference, though *both* would probably be best.

IMG_20160711_072955 IMG_20160711_072942

FIVE STARS: While all sorts of dining remain a matter of taste, it would be nearly impossible to suggest any French Bakery in Las Vegas is executing on remotely the same level as Rosallie at this time, and still less than one year opened under the care of an owner with so much passion one simply must wonder how much better it will get.

RECOMMENDED: Almond Croissant, Nutella Croissant, Quiche, Lemon Tart, Summer Berry Tart, Apricot Preserves.

AVOID: N/A, though I personally would like to see a more flavorful cheese on the Croque.

TIP: Dinner service and many more ideas are in the works, including the possible offering of some of Chef Pluvinet’s goods elsewhere in town.

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

https://rosallie.com/

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

Posted in Bread Basket, Breakfast, Coffee, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Madeline, Madelines, Nevada, Pork, Rosallie, Rosallie 'Le French Cafe'

Sweet Cheeks, Boston MA

DSC00289

Sweet Cheeks

DSC00292

Iced Tea

DSC00294 DSC00300 DSC00299

Pimento Cheese – Sleeve of Ritz

DSC00295 DSC00297 DSC00301

Biscuits – Honey Butter

DSC00302 DSC00304 DSC00305

Prime Beef Brisket on a Bulkie Roll with Potato Salad

DSC00303 DSC00308 DSC00307 DSC00309 DSC00306 DSC00304

Lunch Cheeks Tray – Pulled Pork, One Rib, Pulled Chicken, Mac n’ Cheese

DSC00310 DSC00312 DSC00313

Banana Pudding

DSC00311 DSC00317 DSC00318

Giant Nutter Butter

DSC00291

Citing “Real Texas Barbeque” in its concept, a phrase turned more and more these days by places nowhere near the level of most in the Lone Star State, Sweet Cheeks Q presents a lot like a restaurateur’s idea of what Barbeque ‘should’ look like, though fact that the restaurant was playing Top40 while showing Wimbledon made the space packed with T-shirted tourists alongside businessmen in suits even more bizarre.

DSC00290

Considered by some to be the city’s best, a large room on Boylston not far from Fenway undoubtedly filling the restaurant to capacity at least 80 days a year, it was just after opening that seats were found along the restaurant’s left half nearest the kitchen and bathrooms, a young server certainly not Texan based on her accent providing excellent service just as well.

DSC00293

More progressive than many modern ‘Cue joints, the menu offering items like housemade Pimento Cheese and Pork Belly along with the standards, a wise way to sample a wide swath of options is by way of one of the “trays” or “combos,” though Sandwiches come heavily loaded at a good price, too.

DSC00320

Starting off with the aforementioned Cheese spread, not as spicy as some but better than average, the Crackers really are presented as a buttery sleeve of Ritz, the biscuits ooversized, soft and rich with buttermilk available at $3/each or at a discount for the basket.

Offering hot or cold scoops with entrees, the Potato Salad pretty much par for the course while Mac n’ Cheese is a rich blend with breadcrumbs baked to create a crunchy top, meats at Sweet Cheeks are a mixed bag with the fatty rich but not particularly smoky while the Pulled Pork is also not particularly flavorful without the addition of some lightly sweetened BBQ or tangy Carolina-style Vinegar Sauce.

DSC00319

Impressed by the smoke ring on the rib, full flavors slipping effortlessly from the bone, chicken too is a good choice as the bird comes across juicy as thought pre-brined before smoking, desserts the menu’s other high-point as the Banana Pudding is upgraded by caramelizing the fruit while the dinner-plate size Nutter Butter is almost cakelike in size as well as texture with a richness that puts not only the original but Thomas Keller’s “Better Butter” to shame.

www.sweetcheeksq.com/

Sweet Cheeks Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Boston, Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Pork, Sweet Cheeks, Sweet Cheeks Barbeque, Sweet Cheeks BBQ, Sweet Cheeks Q, Vacation

Lyndell’s Bakery, Somerville MA

DSC00252

Lyndell’s Bakery

DSC00272 DSC00273

Whoopie Pie

DSC00274 DSC00275 DSC00276

Almond Buttercream Cookie

DSC00265 DSC00266

Almond Cannoli

DSC00259 DSC00260 DSC00261

Rasperry Jelly Donut

DSC00262 DSC00263 DSC00264

Boston Cream Pie

DSC00267 DSC00268

Black & White Half-Moon

DSC00269 DSC00270 DSC00271

Vanilla Custard Éclair

DSC00253

Located just down the block from Ball Square Café and family owned and operated since 1887, Lyndell’s Bakery in Somerville was one of those rare places that beckoned a visit despite no prior knowledge of its existence, the service and products both oldschool and pretty great.

DSC00256

Not really identifying with a specific ‘style’ or nationality, and thus quite the opposite of newer Artisan spots focusing on French Pastries or the great Italian spots in Old North End, entry to Lyndell’s immediately sparks nostalgia of a small town upbringing, the modestly dressed middle-aged women with distinctive Boston accents standing back and going about their duties until approached, but then happy to inform or recommend what is best.

DSC00254

Not tossing about words like ‘organic’ or ‘artisan,’ and certainly not trying to reinvent the wheel, Lyndell’s instead focuses on classic bakes, doughnuts and wedding cakes rich with thick buttercream or boiled frostings, first tastes of the Chocolate Whoopie Pie and dipped Buttercream Cookie not subtle in the slightest as sugar, flour and oil all coated the palate.

DSC00258

Offering no lack of variety spread across a large floorplan with the bakery itself visible through windows behind the racks, Almond Cannolis had ‘just been filled’ according to the older of two bakers and true-to-words the mascarpone was nicely cradled in a robustly crunchy shell.

Not particularly impressed by the Jelly Donut, granulated sugar clinging on tightly to a surface glistening with oil, better bites were found in a traditional Boston Cream Pie as well as the Vanilla Éclair with similar custard filling, the Black & White “Halfmoon” eating much like its Deli cousin, but with a fluffy base that was more cake-like and fluffy.

http://lyndells.com/

Lyndell's Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Boston, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Lyndell's, Lyndell's Bakery, Massachusetts, Somerville, Vacation

Ball Square Cafe, Somerville MA

DSC00229

Ball Square Café

DSC00233

Coffee

DSC00236 DSC00237 DSC00238

Blueberry Scone

DSC00239 DSC00241 DSC00240

Griddled Corn Muffin

DSC00242 DSC00243 DSC00244

Whoopie Pie Pancakes

DSC00249 DSC00251 DSC00250

Jelly Donut French Toast

DSC00246 DSC00247 DSC00248

Coconut Macaroon French Toast

DSC00231

Located along the main drag in Somerville, as ‘locals only’ a spot as one is likely to find in a metropolitan area the size of Boston, Ball Square Café was *the* surprise of a trip that saw forty-four stops throughout New England over the course of eight days, both as a result of the food and the service.

DSC00227

Quite literally a place where “everybody knows your name,” a Friday at 8:15 finding the spot slammed with locals and soon to generate a short queue, Ball Square Café has gained acclaim over recent years for offering a menu of signatures as well as specials that far outperform the typical café or diner while the serve yourself Coffee features no less than five flavors to go along with at least twice as many types of tea.

DSC00232

Easily spotted as out of towners, the lack of a New England accent probably enough in this sort of place, it was with the assistance of a young man who grew up locally that decisions were made from a menu that offers no lack of variety, cooks in the semi-open kitchen no doubt underpaid given the tight quarters in which they operate with both skill and speed.

DSC00230

Told that housemade Scones are “the best” by an elderly man near the door, a Blueberry version joined by a griddled Corn Muffin showing no sign that the fellow was false as both outperformed anything similar tasted in downtown Boston or Cambridge, those fancying flavored coffee are encouraged to explore French Vanilla or Hazelnut that are each well flavored without being overwhelming, the standard brew a good medium roast of which free refills are sure to leave patrons buzzing.

DSC00228

Going all sweet on the menu, a small plate of late arriving bacon requested almost as a necessity to clear the palate, those interested in a true “signature” are encouraged to enjoy the Coconut Macaroon French Toast that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Italian Meringue Cookie, the Sugar Tossed Brioche lightly fried with Raspberry filling and Whipped Cream an equally diligent reminder of a classic Jelly Donut while the Dark Chocolate Pancakes are a truly over-the-top indulgence.

Home

Ball Square Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Ball Square Cafe, Boston, Breakfast, Coffee, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Massachusetts, Pork, Somerville, Vacation

Sarma, Somerville MA

DSC00179

Sarma

DSC00190 DSC00193 DSC00189

Warm Sesame Seed Pita and Olive Oil

DSC00195 DSC00196 DSC00201

Beet gnocchi – yogurt soup, swiss chard, pistachio, mint butter

DSC00200 DSC00199 DSC00198

Bluefish falafel – tahini, pickled peaches, basil

DSC00206 DSC00204 DSC00203

Biscuits –jalapeño-whipped feta, smoked ham, honey

DSC00212 DSC00207 DSC00209

Harissa bbq duck – carrot, orange blossom, almonds, date

DSC00214 DSC00213 DSC00215

Sundried tomato borek – walnut tapenade, local mozzarella, basil

DSC00219 DSC00220 DSC00221 DSC00222 DSC00224 DSC00217

Frozen yogurt – greek-style, cow’s milk / Loukamades – ricotta doughnuts / Black lime pavlova – meringue, blackberry, pistachio / Fig bisteeya – saffron, honey, almonds

DSC00181

Best described as a Turkish cousin to Oleana, the collaborative effort from Chef Ana Sortun and Cassie Piuma essentially reinventing Somerville dining overnight when it opened its doors in late 2013, it was as a 9:15pm walk-in that seats were found at a communal high-top overlooking the exhibition style kitchen where a team of Chefs work to fashion some truly inventive small-plates.

DSC00180

Apparently slammed on almost every night of the week, later hours than most combined with a unique menu that is mostly wallet friendly when eating as a group likely part of the draw, dining at Sarma is largely presented as a “choose-your-own-adventure” sort of experience and with the menu divided into several sections that are at once clever yet familiar the recommendation is made for “two-or-three” plates per person, though it is likely most will want to try more.

DSC00187

Made to order, seasonal and frequently local sourced, the plates rolling out from the kitchen as readied while Chefs occasionally stop by with trays of ‘nightly specials’ not found on the menu at varying cost, it was with the first of two seeded Pitas that the dining night got rolling and trying hard to not fill up and thus resisting further temptation the decision proved fortuitous, opening plates of tender Dumplings made of Beets brilliant in tangy Yogurt with hints of Mint while the Falafel of Bluefish tasted much like Brandade Croqettes with a smooth, herbal finish.

DSC00225

Having already enjoyed a memorable dinner at Birch in Providence, thus limiting the order more than it should have been, a trio of biscuits with smoked Ham were perhaps not as appropriate to the venue as they were delicious, the Harissa Duck a bit overpriced considering the portion while Borek took a unique approach in soaking the pastry with sundried tomatoes before topping it with tapenade, Mozzarella and Basil in a makeshift Caprese move.

DSC00186

Full, but never foolish enough to forgo dessert, Sarma takes a unique approach to softserve by offering just one style with a bevy of mix-ins, the Meringue topped Pavlova both textural and refreshing while the sticky Pudding of Figs, Saffron and Honey went well with both the Frozen Yogurt and tender Ricotta Donuts.

DSC00226

www.sarmarestaurant.com/

Sarma Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoDSC00179

Posted in Boston, Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Gnocchi, Ice Cream, Massachusetts, Pork, Sarma, Somerville, Vacation

Birch, Providence RI

DSC00123

Birch

DSC00129 DSC00128 DSC00130

Tempura Asparagus with Black Garlic

DSC00134 DSC00136 DSC00135

Kohlrabi – Marinated with Cherry Leaves and Lemon Balm with Apple and Crème Fraiche

DSC00137 DSC00138 DSC00140

Celtuce – Grilled Sea Beans, Almond and Sunflower Seeds

DSC00133 DSC00131 DSC00132

Raw Scallops – Turnip and Preserved Cherry Blossoms

DSC00141 DSC00142 DSC00144

Beer and Honey Sourdough with House Cultured Butter

DSC00147 DSC00146 DSC00145

Asparagus – Barbeque Chicken Hearts and Livers and Nasturtium

DSC00149 DSC00151 DSC00150

Sweet Peas – Beach Rose, Basil, Fennel Seed and Lamb’s Quarters

DSC00154 DSC00153 DSC00152

Heirloom Corn – Spring Mustards and a Broth of Caramelized Root Vegetables

DSC00157 DSC00163 DSC00162

Sea Bass – Radish, Young Spinach and Oyster

DSC00164 DSC00165 DSC00166

Lightly Grilled Cabbage – Rutabaga, Caramelized Sauerkraut, Toasted Seeds and a Broth of Dried Apples

DSC00158 DSC00159 DSC00160

Rhode Island Lamb – Beets, Field Peas and Preserved Mustard Greens

DSC00167 DSC00169 DSC00168

Fresh Grass-Fed Cow’s Milk Cheese – Preserved Hardy Kiwiberry, Onion Syrup and Apple

DSC00170 DSC00171 DSC00172

Strawberry – Crispy Milk and Brown Butter

DSC00175 DSC00173 DSC00174

Candied Berries – Toasted Grains, Rhubarb, Goat’s Milk

DSC00176 DSC00178 DSC00177

Whoopie Pies

DSC00126

Arriving in Providence to find much of the city, including two of its most famous eateries closed throughout Independence Day week, it was after a rather dull day highlighted by RISD Museum that dinner was presented at Birch, the intimate stripe of real estate at 200 Washington Street featuring the talents of Chef Benjamin Sukle thankfully making the drive worth it.

DSC00124

Described as “Intimate, New American,” but perhaps better described as a shoebox featuring locally sourced and foraged flavors that outperform anything one might expect from the outside, Birch was opened in 2013 by Sukle and his wife Heidi, the kitchen hidden behind hazy glass while two servers/bartenders work tirelessly to fill any number of roles.

DSC00125

Seating just 16, the reservations carefully offset to allow each diner’s four-course meal to progress at a comfortable pace, Birch presents three different prix-fixe options at the bargain price of just $49,a supplemental bread service adding $3 while wine pairings and cocktails are also offered at an equally wallet-friendly price.

DSC00155

Championing seasonality by way of a heavily produce-driven menu, the proteins frequently used to accent the vegetables rather than the other way around, dinner at Birch began with a crispy “snack” of Tempura Asparagus with Black Garlic before launching into a first course of raw Scallops in a broth of Cherry Blossoms and Turnips, these bittersweet concepts found once more in a salad of Celtuce with Nuts, Sea Beans and Seeds, while thinly sliced Kohlrabi delivered one of the best bites in all of New England as the soft Cabbage-like flavors found unexpected levels of sweetness when layered with Apples and Crème Fraiche.

Uncertain as to why the restaurant opts to present bread as a bonus, a few more dollars added to the base unlikely a deal-breaker for most, suffice it to say the Cultured Butter alone more than justifies the cost and calories while the decision between plates for round two was a far more difficult decision, the Asparagus with Barbeque offal perhaps a touch funky for sensitive diners as Sweet Peas and local Corn each turned up tastes and textures by way of the accoutrements, the later a sort of pudding with tender Root Vegetables cooked to concentrate their sugars playing a deft foil to Mustard Greens.

DSC00127

At this point almost ‘expecting’ Birch to be the rare restaurant where an entrée of Cabbage could stand toe-to-toe with Lamb or fresh Fish, Chef Sukle did not disappoint in presenting the grilled section in a manner similar to that of the Kohlrabi before it, each layer presenting a distinct layer of flavor with alternating sweet, sour and salty all traversing the palate – the two meat based options equally delicious in their own right, but at the same time for more typical in their presentation.

Taking the route of one cheese and two sweets for dessert, the unnamed aged Cow’s Milk eating almost like a French Onion Queso Fundido, summer Berries were seen in all their glory for each of the alternative selections, the Strawberry with ‘Crispy Milk’ and Brown Butter exceedingly mellow with a flavor not unlike White Chocolate while the Candied Berries ate almost like a children’s breakfast Cereal with the sour notes of Rhubarb and Goat’s Milk imparting a decidedly grown-up flavor.

www.birchrestaurant.com/

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

Posted in Birch, Boston, Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Providence, Rhode Island, Tasting Menu, Vacation

Bova’s Bakery, Boston MA

DSC00084

Bova’s Bakery

DSC00100

Chocolate Rugelach, Almond Cookie, Champagne Cookie, Rainbow Cookie

DSC00094 DSC00095

Sfogliatelle

DSC00092 DSC00093

Lobster Tail

DSC00096 DSC00097

Chocolate Chip Cannoli

DSC00098 DSC00099

Florentine Cannoli

DSC00085

Hailing from a city where traditional Italian bakeries are inexplicably absent, save for the heinously overpriced Carlo’s Bakery outpost from Celebrity Chef “Buddy V,” Boston’s Historic North End has long been a subject of intrigue, and having previous paid visits to Mike’s as well as Modern Pastry it was 24/7 Bova’s Bakery that captured attention on Thursday.

DSC00088

Family owned and operated, a corner location just off the typical tourist path making it a local’s sort of place for pastry, breakfast or daily bread, Bova’s has been serving Boston since 1932 and with a wide selection of both sweets and savories baked as supplies are diminished the odds-on for freshness appear to be during the morning and lunch rushes, as well as occasionally late night.

DSC00086

Cheerful in service at 9:30am, a few locals coming and going as goods were perused, the sheer number of items available at Bova’s Bakery are enough to justify a rather lengthy decisions process, a total of eight items plus several duplicates ringing in at just under $15 cash or credit.

DSC00087

Being somewhat specific in requesting the freshest items possible, some stored in a refrigerator case while others rest room-temperature behind glass, first bites of Bova’s goods entailed four styles of cookie from which the Rugelach was quite memorable, as too was a cake-like Rainbow that beautifully composed with dark chocolate and a great complexity in the mouth.

DSC00089

A touch underwhelmed by the Lobster Tail, cream dense and the pastry itself a bit damp from sitting, the Chocolate Chip Cannoli was equally compromised by sog, the novel Mascarpone-filled Florentine a far more interesting presentation with an expected degree of sweetness while the Sfogliatelle was far more mild as soft citrus was liberated from a shattering pastry cage sure to make a mess.

http://bovabakeryboston.com/

Bova's Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Boston, Bova's, Bova's Bakery, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Italian, Vacation

Kane’s Donuts, Boston MA

DSC00057

Kane’s Donuts

DSC00067

Honey Dip

DSC00073 DSC00074 DSC00075

Cruller

DSC00079 DSC00080 DSC00068

Oreo

DSC00065 DSC00066 DSC00069

Snickers

DSC00070 DSC00071 DSC00072

Apple Fritter

DSC00076 DSC00077 DSC00078

Boston Cream Pie

DSC00081 DSC00082 DSC00083

Ipswich Ale Blueberry Shandy

DSC00058 DSC00059

A second location of the famous donut shop from nearby Saugus, Kane’s Donuts opened in Boston’s Financial District sometime in late Winter 2015, and although urban-dwellers as well as fans of the original seem to have taken issue with the fact that both the Real Estate and top-quality ingredients cost more money than the average Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ those in the know will quickly realize that these are not just simple fried bits of eggs, milk, sugar and flour.

DSC00061

Founded in 1955 and claiming to have been “Making the World’s Best Donuts” ever since, Kane’s story is like many locals-done-well tales of passion leading to national attention, the shop and it’s recipes still owned by the same family throughout intervening decades though modern techniques and tastes have undoubtedly led to innovation as well as flair.

DSC00062

No doubt more swank and ‘city’ than the original as signage, glass and countertops all look slick and neat, entry to Kane’s Donuts will likely see patrons pass by several men in suits and ties alongside women in black dresses with briefcases, the oversized $3.25 treats joined by Muffins, Cupcakes and Cinnamon Rolls plus coffee roasted by Peet’s.

DSC00063

Friendly in customer service, a constant trickle of traffic always greeted with smiles, Kane’s runs the gamut from traditional Honey Dips to more decadent cake flavors, the Fritter a bit of an anomaly in that it ate more like a glazed roll than something crispy and apple studded while the Cruller is perhaps archetype for the genre with a golden exterior shell overlying open pockets of custard as light as air.

DSC00060

Highly praised for the longstanding classics, an aged starter and significant leavening making the Honey Dip another ‘must order’ taste, Snickers simply built on the same formula with flavors cribbed from America’s favorite Candy Bar, the Oreo a rich chocolate ring beneath white icing while the daily specials of Boston Cream Pie and Ipswich Ale Blueberry Shandy brought the traditional Custard pocket and Blueberry Cake Donut to an unprecedented level.

DSC00064

www.kanesdonuts.com

Kane's Hand-Crafted Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Boston, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Kane's, Kane's Donuts, Massachusetts, Vacation

The Friendly Toast, Back Bay MA

DSC00029

The Friendly Toast

DSC00035

Coffee

DSC00041 DSC00048 DSC00051 DSC00050 DSC00040 DSC00039

Grilled Cornbread, Grilled Blueberry Muffin, Grilled Biscuit

DSC00043 DSC00044 DSC00042

Lobster Benedict

DSC00045 DSC00046

Coconut Chocolate Chip Pancakes

DSC00054 DSC00055 DSC00056

Monte Cristo on Oatmeal French Toast with Strawberry Jalapeno Jam

DSC00032

Planning to spend much of the day in Providence, though breakfast plans turned to Boston for an early start, suffice it to say that nothing could have prepared our group for the disaster that was The Friendly Toast in Back Bay where the only thing less inspiring than the service may have been the food itself.

DSC00031

Apparently part of a small chain, additional locations found in Portsmouth and Cambridge, The Friendly Toast purports a “family friendly atmosphere with a unique menu featuring locally sourced ingredients” and although the latter may be true to some extent, the former seems to mean ‘loud and understaffed, with several of the waitresses barely capable of smiling or filling a glass of water.’

DSC00038

Seated close to the door, one part due to the place being quite busy and additionally to avoid a few large tables that seemed to be chasing the night prior despite it being only Thursday, it was shortly after opening menus that the waitress first stopped by to collect drink orders and with coffee and water both filled by a different staff member it was nearly twenty minutes before an order was placed, empty glasses completely ignored in the process which necessitated a trip to the bar with my coffee mug, another unhelpful young woman refusing service and instead suggesting she would “tell the waiter.”

DSC00037

Acknowledging the crowd, not to mention a conversation overhead near the timeclock about two persons running late, it was nonetheless ten more minutes before a second woman was flagged down to refill beverages, our ‘designated’ server returning with food perhaps fifteen minutes thereafter…only to have botched the order.

DSC00036

At this point half-amused by the mediocrity, Grilled Cornbread just fine while both the Blueberry Muffin and Biscuit were so dry that one wondered if they were day-old, the Lobster Benedict served on Toast was perhaps the menu’s loan savior as an ample amount of tender meat was found beneath two poached eggs and respectable Hollandaise, the Coconut Chocolate Chip Pancakes a touch dry even before adding pure Maple Syrup brought from elsewhere while the late-arriving Monte Cristo was simply set down without an apology or description, the presentation just fine for an unfried version, though the Housemade Jam offered very little in the way of heat amidst the over-sweetened strawberry flavor.

Back Bay

The Friendly Toast Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Back Bay, Boston, Breakfast, Coffee, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Lobster, Pancakes, Pork, Vacation

Yvonne’s, Boston MA

DSC09965

Yvonne’s

DSC09980 DSC09983

Rose Thorn – Hendrick’s Combier Rose, Lemon, Mint, Pomegranate

DSC09984

King Louie – Vodka, Coconut, Roasted Pineapple, Banana, Nutmeg

DSC09981 DSC09982

White Lady – Tanqueray 10 Gin, Orange Liqueur, Lemon, Egg White

DSC00003 DSC00004 DSC00005

Turkish Zucchini & Feta Fritters – Muhammara, Garlicky Walnuts, Date Molasses

DSC09985 DSC09986 DSC09987

Crispy Tater Cubes – Joppiesaus, Farm House Gouda, Beet Pickled Egg

DSC09988 DSC09990 DSC09989

Salt Cod Brandada – Piquillo Pepper Relish, Fried Capers, Grilled Bread

DSC09991 DSC09992 DSC09995

Warm Lobster Toast – Crushed Avocado, Umami Butter, Shitake Chips

DSC00010 DSC00012 DSC00016

Havana Stone Fired Pita – Roast Pork, New Hampshire Ham, Gruyere Cheese, Pickles, Chipotle Aioli

DSC09999 DSC00001 DSC00002

Seared King Trumpet Mushrooms – Sumac Yogurt, Crispy Cauliflower, Pickled Turnip

DSC00013 DSC00014 DSC00015

Angry Carrots – Baby Carrots, Vidalia Onion Puree, Candied Cumin, Puffed Quinoa

DSC09996 DSC09998 DSC09997

Seared Halloumi Cheese – Charred Eggplant, Orange Blossom Honey, Crispy Chickpeas

DSC00023 DSC00025 DSC00024

Greek Doughnuts – Honey-Thyme Syrup, Blueberry Baklava, Frozen Yogurt, Walnut Crunch

DSC00018 DSC00022 DSC00026

Baked Alaska – Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Semifreddo, ‘Candy Bar’ Nougat, Pistachio, Chocolate, Almonds, Salted Caramel, Meringue and Fire

DSC09971 DSC09970 DSC00017

Described as a “Modern Day Supper Club,” the swank décor and stylish clients more befitting a Las Vegas Resort and Casino rather than a spot tucked away on Winter Place just steps away from Boston Common, Yvonne’s has nonetheless received surprising acclaim ever since opening the doors earlier this year, the service surprisingly well versed in their duties while the cuisine crafted by Juan Pedrosa spins global influences into flavors that are the real deal.

DSC09979

No doubt banking on a theme novel to New England, the feel decidedly upscale-hipster as a hirsuit bartender in his vest shakes and stirs pricy concoctions outside a library with tatted JFK and General Clint Eastwood paintings, entrance to Yvonne’s is through a Speakeasy style doors from a makeshift beauty parlor, a quick trip to the table followed by description of a “small plates” menu plus recommendations that even savvy diners would be foolish to ignore.

DSC00008

Using team-style serving in the library, a larger and brighter room with a second bar ever more rambunctious and seemingly saved for larger parties, it was with several modern-themed ‘categories’ that the menu was presented and enjoying one classic plus two unique cocktails before ordering the eventual tasting would comprise ten plates including one undeniable showstopper at a grand total a shade under $300.

DSC00027

Truly a global menu, not in itself a bad thing but risking trying to please everyone at all costs, opening bites of Zucchini & Feta Fritters alongside Crispy Tater Cubes showed a light hand with the deep-fryer with portions well-portioned for sharing purposes, the Salt-Cod whipped Potatoes a bit undersized and overly briny with the unnecessary addition of capers while the newly launched Lobster Toast weighed in at just about $5 per mouthful, though the creamy Avocado, crisp Mushroom chips and Miso emulsion did make for a very memorable combination of tastes and textures.

DSC09968 DSC00006 DSC09966

Serving items as they are readied, the Havana Pita arriving hot and bubbly from the stone oven with Roast Pork, Ham and Gruyere standing up to Pickles and smoky Peppers, seared King Trumpet Mushrooms and Baby Carrots with Puffed Quinoa, Sugar and Cumin were equally beautiful vegetarian plates, the Seared Halloumi far less successful as the charred eggplant came across mushy alongside chickpeas that cracked like Corn-nuts over-sweetened with Honey.

DSC00007 DSC09969 DSC09967

Suggesting that the Baked Alaska was “like a candy bar served for 5-6,” it was largely out of curiosity that the $45 17”x3”x3” log was acquired, and with a tableside pour of flaming liqueur that torched meringue lightly the flavors of Chocolate, Vanilla, Nuts, Caramel and Nougat came together elegantly, only a few bites left at the end of the evening…and only because the Greek Doughnuts soaked in Honey with Blueberries and Walnuts were equally compelling.

http://www.yvonnesboston.com/

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

Posted in Boston, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Lobster, Massachusetts, Pizza, Pork, Vacation, Yvonne's

Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream, Cambridge MA

DSC09954

Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream

DSC09955

Samples – Carrot Cake, Adzuki Bean, Khulfi

DSC09958

Kahlua

DSC09960 DSC09959

Burnt Sugar and Butter Almond

DSC09957

Peanut Butter Chocolate

Spending much of the afternoon rounding on Harvard Yard, a visit to the Glass Flowers at The Natural History Museum definitely worth the stop, it was at campus favorite Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream that a stop was made for an afternoon treat, nothing about the setting, service or flavors really all that great.

Located at 1255 Cambridge Street, the store next door apparently related per the signs, Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream has been in the game for over two decades and although competition has grown from the likes of JP Licks, Toscanini’s and others little has changed at the cozy scoop shop with unique flavors plus shakes but a broken coffee machine, the scoop-slinger on this particular Wednesday barely English-fluent, though eventually capable of serving up a few samples before miscalculating the total cost…twice.

Obviously catering to a mixed population, flavors from the East joining those as American as Peanut Butter Chocolate, tastes of Christina’s show a good base with obviously high percentage of Milk-fat, but moving on to the flavors themselves the general skew is one towards unbridled sweetness, even the Red Bean version taking more like a “Boston Baked Bean” candy rather than the traditional Japanese paste.

DSC09956

In the end taking the ideas for what they are worth, forgetting nuance that left carrot cake more like cream cheese frosting than the spices normally entailed, four flavors in three bowls were eventually selected at a total of just under $15, the Butter Almond and Kahlua admittedly spot-on representations of their ingredients while the Burnt Sugar was decent, though failing to live up to the high standard set by their Cambridge competitor.

http://christinasicecream.com/

Christina's Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Boston, Cambridge, Christina's Homemade Ice Cream, Christina's Ice Cream, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Massachusetts, Vacation

Coppa, Boston MA

DSC09900

Coppa

DSC09905 DSC09906

Bread Basket and Olive Oil

DSC09907 DSC09908 DSC09911

Arancini di Scamorza e Pomodoro – Fried Risotto and Scamorza Balls, Spicy Tomato Sauce

DSC09912 DSC09914 DSC09913

Passato di Carote – Roasted Carrot Hummus, Salsa Verde, Pickled Cipollini Onions

DSC09920 DSC09919 DSC09918

Spaghetti Carbonara con Riccio di Mare – Imported Spaghetti, Pancetta, Sea Urchin, Pepper, Parmesan

DSC09915 DSC09916 DSC09917

Gemelli – Extruded Pasta, Lobster Brown Butter Sauce, Morels

DSC09921 DSC09924 DSC09925

Margherita Pizza –Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella, Extra Virgin Olive Oil

DSC09904

Part two of an Oringer and Bissonnette afternoon, the tiny Italian Enoteca focused on Charcuterie, Pastas and Pizza opened in 2010, Coppa continued to show the two Chef’s skills as relates to creating a small plates experience worth going out of one’s way for.

DSC09903

Again located in the South End, parking during the afternoon a touch annoying as most roads are reserved for residents only throughout the day, Coppa goes about Italian cuisine in a vein similar to the way Toro approaches Spanish Tapas and with several ‘half-portions’ available at prices that are admittedly precious considering portions there is still no doubt of ingredient quality or craftsmanship as each plate is presented as it is readied with a great deal of finesses and attention to detail.

DSC09927

Offering bread similar to that at Toro, again forgettable although here served with good Olive Oil and well utilized in sopping up sauces, Coppa’s menu is divided into familiar sections and opting for five plates including two half-pastas and a pizza the amount of food was perfect for a duo at a price of just about $90 all-inclusive.

DSC09926

Beginning with three Arancini, the riceballs undersized at $9 for three without much ‘spice’ to the sauce, roasted carrot ‘hummus’ with salsa verde was an equally paltry portion considering the cost of $12 when compared to similar vegetable-based ideas at Yvonne’s, Oleana or Sarma, though the flavor was on-point with a smoky undertone and green salsa competing for top billing with housemade cocktail onions lending a vibrant pop.

Progressing to two pastas, both making up for their size with richness, quality and luxury ingredients, it would be hard to fault either the imported Spaghetti with Pancetta, Uni and oodles of Black Pepper or the handmade Gemelli with Lobster, Morels and Brown Butter as each was cooked to perfect texture as well as temperature with sauce that makes the aforementioned bread not just useful, but necessary.

DSC09901

Unfortunately not dining with a group large enough to justify two pies, the seasonal Softshell Crab and Bone Marrow Pizzas both well regarded, a simple Margherita showed the results of a team dedicated to its craft as the leavened crust presented a robust shell overlying wispy air pockets, the mozzarella not quite Bufala quality though the quality of crushed tomatoes and fresh basil do an admirable job in carrying the bulk of the taste.

http://www.coppaboston.com/

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

Posted in Boston, Bread Basket, Coppa, Food, Italian, Lobster, Massachusetts, Pizza, Vacation

Toro, Boston MA

DSC09861

Toro

DSC09868

Bread Basket

DSC09870 DSC09871 DSC09872

Pan Con Tomate – Toasted Bread with Garlic, Tomato, Spanish Olive Oil, Sea Salt

DSC09878 DSC09877DSC09876

Datiles Con Jamon – Medjool Dates filled with Marcona Almonds and Valdeon Blue Cheese, wrapped in Jamon Serrano

DSC09873 DSC09875 DSC09874

Jamon Blanco – Le Quercia Lardo, Marinated Jonah Crab, Black Garlic, Crispy Shallots and Avocado on Toast

DSC09883 DSC09884 DSC09885

Zanahorias – Berbere Spiced Carrots with Garlic, Yogurt and Mint

DSC09886 DSC09888 DSC09887

Maiz Asado Con Alioli Y Queso Cotija – Grilled Corn with Alioli, Lime, Espelette Pepper and Aged Cheese

DSC09881 DSC09880 DSC09882

Croquettas de Bacalao – Salt Cod Fritters with Tempura Onion Rings and Alioli

DSC09889 DSC09891 DSC09892

Uni Bocadillo – Pressed Uni Sandwich with Miso Butter and Pickled Mustard Seeds

DSC09893 DSC09894 DSC09896

Churros – Fried Donuts with Cinnamon, Sugar and Chocolate Sauce

DSC09864

A staple of Boston’s dining scene since opening in the South End, Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette’s Toro has perhaps lost a bit of novelty as the Spanish Tapas style has been imported and utilized by several chefs in countless cities, but with heavily wooded space still buzzing for both lunch and dinner there is little doubt that the team is continuing to do something right in order to remain relevant.

DSC09866

Recently taking the brand to New York, a bold move for a duo that has become one of Boston’s most beloved restaurateurs, Toro is more traditional than many of the modern looks at Tapas or ‘small-plates,’ and avoiding the prices and trickery of Jose Andres thinkfoodgroup the experience offered is thought provoking as a comparison to the restaurants found throughout Spain offering similar food, the vast majority of items more pricy than those in Europe but executed at least as precisely.

DSC09867

Planned as part of another extensive eating day, a second lunch at Coppa to follow, the ordering process at Toro was centered on personal favorites as well as a few of the restaurant’s most well known items, the bread basket largely just filler while the Pan Con Tomate was a far more inspired investment as toast shined beneath a light brush of garlic, tomato and sea salt.

DSC09897

Resting assured that the cured meats would be delicious, the Chef’s having made their name by not only importing but making top notch Charcuterie of their own, Dates wrapped in Jamon Serrano were perhaps the best version experienced in part due to the funky Valdeon, a dish called Jamon Blanco proving to be just about the most delicious “avocado toast” imaginable as Jonag Crab joined black garlic under a veil of silky Lardo.

DSC09898

Taking a vegetal turn before ending turning to two umami-laden looks at Sealife, Vegetarians as well as Omnivores would be well advised to order Zanahorias as well as the inspired Street Corn, the former doing a beautiful job highlighting both the sweet and earthy aspects of Carrots while the Brandade Croquettas are creamy and explosive with flavor, a crispy Sea Urchin Sandwich flooding the palate with all the expected richness tinged in Miso and Mustard Seeds.

DSC09862A bit too limited for my liking for dessert, freshly fried churros not even listed on the menu but available on request, suffice it to say that these are not the greasy donuts offered outside the Hollywood Bowl for $1 after a concert, the exteriors fried golden with the center almost weightless as Cinnamon and Sugar are liberally applied with the option left to the diner as to whether or not to dip in molten Dark Chocolate.

http://www.toro-restaurant.com/

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

Posted in Boston, Bread Basket, Crab, Dessert, Food, Massachusetts, Pork, Toro, Vacation

Flour Bakery + Café on Washington St., Boston MA

DSC09796

Flour Bakery + Café

DSC09805

Cold Brew Coffee

DSC09812 DSC09814 DSC09813

Kouign Amann

DSC09809 DSC09811 DSC09810

Blueberry Muffin

DSC09815 DSC09817 DSC09816

Carrot Cake

DSC09806 DSC09808 DSC09807

Boston Cream Pie

DSC09820 DSC09822 DSC09821

Sticky Bun Bread Pudding

DSC09801

Not as wowed as many by Flour Bakery + Café, a 2011 visit showing little more than the Almond Croissant to be particularly memorable, it was with high hopes based on a recent James Beard Award that a return visit was made to the Washington Street location on Wednesday morning, the place still quite popular though little save for a few seasonal specials has changed.

Now sporting several locations around Boston, Joanne Chang’s cookbook also quite well received, Flour Bakery + Café features a layout will not prove unfamiliar to those who’ve visited places like Panera, and although there is no doubt the ingredients used in Flour’s baked goods and sandwiches are better than a place just now trying to go “clean” with its image the fact remains that considering the pricepoint it still does not perform on par with the Bouchons of the world, nor many local bakeries in both larger and smaller cities.

DSC09799

A high volume space to be sure, both literally and figuratively as businessmen bustle in and out as noise generated by music, kitchen and coffee brewing all clash overhead, it was with Cold Brew in hand that several minutes were spent waiting for others to add milk or creamer at a cramped station before four boxed items were taken to a table, the fifth requested to be warmed and taking nearly fifteen minutes to do so.

Having stuck mostly to laminated pastry the first time, but this time hoping to see improvement by way of some classic American treats, suffice it to say that Flour Bakery + Café’s Kouign Amann fails to meet high standards set by bakeries such as San Francisco’s b. Patisserie while the Blueberry Muffin also comes up short by focusing on typical grocery produce instead of bringing in the smaller, more concentrated fruits readily found just a few hours north in Maine.

DSC09800

Not a total loss, the Carrot Cake exceedingly moist with nuts, raisins and light citrus all accounted for in the tan Spice Cake, Boston Cream Pie was as delicious as it was novel, yet as a result of some serious miscalculations from the kitchen the bottom was still half-frozen, the Bread Pudding likewise still cold at its center making one wonder just how bad it may have been were it not for the requested trip to the warming oven.

www.flourbakery.com

Flour Bakery + Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Boston, Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Flour, Flour Bakery + Café, Food, Massachusetts, Vacation