Sweets Raku [3,] Las Vegas NV


Sweets Raku


Ume Breeze – Plum Sake with Champagne

DSC03541 DSC03542 DSC03544

White Sturgeon Caviar – Traditional Condiments, Choux

DSC03538 DSC03540DSC03537

Foie Gras – Croissant Batons, Honeycomb, Fruit Puree, Caramelized Nuts, Balsamic


Lobster Tomato Soup

DSC03547 DSC03548

Potato Salad with rice wine vinaigrette

DSC03549 DSC03552

Iberico bacon and Potato Croissant Sandwich

DSC03555 DSC03556

Mango Sorbet, Mint Jelly

DSC03557 DSC03559 DSC03560

Stella – Strawberry Tiramisu

DSC03562 DSC03563 DSC03564

Vanilla and Black Currant Cream Puff with passion fruit and raspberry marshmallows


Asked by a man who many would say has dined better than anyone they know to join him for brunch during a one day stay in Las Vegas it was my pleasure to suggest Sweets Raku on Sunday afternoon, my third visit overall but the first time during a lunch service that sees the predominantly dessert menu expanded by a duo of sandwiches plus soup, salad, and the occasional quiche. Small, spotless, but now rendered less sterile by light Japanese music playing overhead it was just prior to noon that we arrived, and seated on the corner as soon as the restaurant unlocked the doors it would not be long before an order was crafted – a six-course meal plus supplements rolling out over the course of the next hundred minutes at a slow, but deliberate pace. Beginning first with cocktails, the light sake and bubbles pairing nicely to a both creamy foie gras with laminated pastry batons and caviar that could have used a little more crème fraiche to balance the brine, it was largely conversation about food that passed the time between courses and with a shooter of soup and crisp salad balancing light vinaigrette with creamy potatoes both pleasant enough, our ‘main courses’ each impressed – for him the salmon and ikura while I opted for fatty bacon crafted of iberico belly matched to crisp potatoes inside of a crispy, hot croissant. Transitioning from savory to sweet with mango sorbet dressed in mint jelly that unfortunately got lost in the sweetness it was onward to better things that the meal progressed and while my friend enjoyed the Mont Blanc I opted for the seasonal Stella, a star of strawberries served over an almond-soaked financier with cream melding the two into a designer ‘strawberry shortcake’ with texture and nuance to spare. Wrapping up the afternoon in puffs of choux offered with options for both cream and jam it was with little hesitation that both of us selected vanilla and black currant, the shell giving way in a crisp break to just a touch of pressure and melting on the tongue leaving me to wish they offered profiteroles by the plate.


FOUR AND A HALF STARS: A bit underwhelmed by the caviar presentation but again impressed by everything else, including a croissant and cream puffs that made me think Raku should consider a bakery style counter as its next conquest, I still contest that Sweets Raku should be a destination for everyone who loves pastry and anyone looking to impress an out of town guest – a genuinely un-Vegas experience mere miles from the strip where passion and artistry matter much more than publicist noise or the name on the door.

RECOMMENDED: Definitely the dessert prix-fixe, none of the main courses or mignardises I’ve had yet less than impressive.


AVOID: Caviar is pricy at $30 for a small tin and although high quality, the accoutrements were a bit skimpy – a bit more crème fraiche and more robust sour notes would have been welcomed.

TIP: Empty when we arrived at noon but featuring a full bar by 1:00pm while a few table seats remained it is advised to arrive early as some items reportedly do sell out, the brunch running from noon to 5:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays while nighttime hours change on occasion – updates frequently offered on both their social media feeds and recently rennovated website.



Sweets Raku on Urbanspoon

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Foie, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Lobster, Nevada, Pork, Sweets Raku, Tiramisu

Le Cirque [2,] Las Vegas NV


Le Cirque

DSC03423 DSC03425

Le Framboise – Raspberry Puree, Grand Cuvee Champagne

DSC03429 DSC03431

Golden Osetra Caviar – Salmon Rillette, Vodka Crème Fraiche, Chives

DSC03444 DSC03448

Fall Salad – Artichoke, Avocado, Jamon Iberco, White Truffle, Foie Gras Snow

DSC03450 DSC03437DSC03440

Bacon Cheddar, Rosemary, Sourdough, Pretzel, White Chocolate Walnut, Salted Butter


Potato Gnocchi – White Truffle, White Truffle Cream

DSC03458 DSC03459

Mint – Rock Sugar, Club Soda, Cucumber


Scallop – Potato and Apple “risotto,” White Truffles, Potato Chip, Lobster Puree, White Chocolate Sauce

DSC03476 DSC03477

Rabbit – Saddle wrapped in prosciutto, offal ravioli, confit loin, Riesling sauce, crispy spatzle

DSC03478 DSC03487DSC03489DSC03488DSC03491DSC03479

Canard a L’Orange – Caramelized Endive, Fava Bean Puree, Maitake Mushroom, Foie Gras, Duck Confit, Potato Gnocchi Pot-Au-Feu

DSC03498 DSC03500

Tomme de Chevre, Epoisses, Roquefort – Accoutrements


Delice de Framboise – Raspberry Milk Shake, Light Mascarpone Crème, Crunch of Feuilletine, Champagne Foam

DSC03502 DSC03506DSC03515

Petite Boule de Chocolat – Chocolate Ball, Praline Mousse, White Chocolate Ice Cream, Hazelnut Caramel Crunch, Chocolate Sauce


Strawberry Souffle – Strawberry Cream, Strawberry Sorbet




Double Espresso


Having last visited Le Cirque as an inexperienced intern on vacation in Las Vegas it was finally the invite of a friend that brought me back to The Bellagio’s hidden gem and bellied up to the bar with nearly the same service team in place that wowed me six years prior I can only lament the mediocre meals I’ve eaten elsewhere in between…and promise that my next visit will be far less delayed. Admittedly unable to fairly assess the ‘experience’ under the circumstances in which I dined – carte blanche, truffe blanche, vin blanche, gratuit – but instead opting to focus on the skills of 28 year old chef Wilfred Bergerhausen and what he placed on our plates it was with a glass of the restaurant’s signature cocktail of raspberry puree and brut bubbles that the evening began and although perhaps an ‘expected’ pairing I’d be hard pressed to name a better amuse than the briny eggs over creamy salmon that chives that arrived next, each of four bites slowly savored from the only utensil fit for such a job. Asking for a mix of the new chef’s plates to be served alongside longstanding classics both the salad and pasta courses showed Le Cirque’s dedication to quality of sourcing and although the modernist-kiss of shaved torchon atop a texturally compelling salad proved a brilliant carrier for the early season truffles it was the follow-up plate that quickly stole the show – a mountain of Tuber magnatum the only thing holding down dumplings so light that they threatened to float off the plate. At this point abandoning any attempt to stay my hand from further trips to a bread plate that rivals the city’s best it was a tender scallop over fall-fruit ‘risotto’ that arrived and liberally ladled with white chocolate sauce the flavors popped, even the scallop-skeptic in the group relishing the experience as I mopped the terrine clean with warm white chocolate and walnut bread. Transitioning here to heartier flavors it was to a stack of rabbit saddle, confit, and offal ravioli that we were treated and with a finishing touch of crispy spatzle the longtime classic was reborn, the grand finale of duck a l’orange equally timeless with novel twists finding it stuffed in lavender and rosemary while a small bowl of duck consommé featured slowly melting slices of foie gras, the semi-sweet red served at its side a brilliant pairing with light acid and smoke lingering on the end. Bridging savory to sweet with a trio of aged cheeses, more bread, and fruit puree I’d have gladly eaten by the spoon it was in a trio of desserts and a tower of mignardise that the meal ended and although both the chocolate sphere and champagne parfait were lovely, neither could hold a candle to the soufflé – a classic soon to be remastered under the talents of a new pastry chef by month’s end, and a reason in and of itself to warrant an expedited return.


UNABLE TO RATE: Despite several offers to pay the bill we were refused at all turns but lumping together a pile of cash to at least compensate the remarkable service I’m confident to say that at this very moment Le Cirque’s kitchen is executing on the level of most Michelin 2* restaurants I’ve been to in Europe or The United States, a statement I reserve for less than a handful of restaurants in Las Vegas and one that becomes even more impressive when you look at the price point – the tasting menu under $150 with service from a team that has largely been in place since the restaurant opened its doors 16 years ago.


RECOMMENDED: Canard a l’orange, rabbit, soufflé, gnocchi.


AVOID: Unless you possess substantial eating prowess or have far more willpower than I, shoo the bread man away immediately without even taking a taste…otherwise be prepared to find yourself asking for seconds…and thirds…maybe fourths.


TIP: Odd as it may seem, sitting at the bar was one of the most enjoyable aspects of a meal that lacked in no way for great moments – the small size allowing for all sorts of chat with the bartender as well as extensive interaction with other patrons, the majority well-cultured epicures with extensive travel resumes and stories of great meals around the world to be shared.


Le Cirque on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Basket, Coffee, Dessert, Foie, Food, Gnocchi, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Le Cirque, Nevada, Pork, Souffle, Tasting Menu, Truffle

Eis Cream, Las Vegas NV


Eis Cream


Samples – ube, macapuno, peach cobbler, burgundy cherry, pralines and caramel, coffee and toffee

image103 image101

Warm Double Chocolate Brownie

image100 image098

Ube on Chocolate Chip and Macadamia Nut Sandwich


Owned and operated by Alexis Gonzaga, a charming young lady who was (wo)manning the small shop solo when I arrived shortly after the 2:00pm opening on Saturday, Eis Cream is not exactly the artisan experience some might expect, but with cutesy décor including Hello Kitty merchandise paired with good sourcing and a few housemade items the overall effect is quite nice. Small in size but sizable in selection, with ice creams imported from Treat in No.Cal matched to locally baked goods from Al’s, Valerio’s, and more it was with pleasant conversation about flavor profiles and why specific vendors were chosen that I chatted with Ms. Gonzaga during the course of my visit and sampling several ice creams with results ranging from bold (burgundy cherry, ube) to overly icy and sweet (peach cobbler, macapuno) I eventually opted to invest in the ube alongside the only three items made in house – a duo of cookies and a chocolate brownie, each served hot from the tray. Beginning first with the ube, apparently oft mistaken for taro by guests, I was immediately taken by the starchy potato textures admixing with cream plus subtle sweetness and pairing this with cookies and crushed peanuts the ice cream sandwich shined, my favorite bites coming at the end as the melted ice cream melded with butter and macadamia nuts with a decidedly tropical tilt. Moving onward to an option without ice cream, I could not help but order one of the restaurant’s brownies when I saw the pan procured fresh from the oven and with dark chips strewn amidst a semi-sweet base the result was decidedly decadent, the sort of thing that would have gone excellent with milk…or as the base of a sundae, the pralines and coffee a seemingly brilliant pairing though I imagine vanilla would work quite nicely as well.


THREE STARS: Not quite as impressive as Sweet Addictions if only due to overall lack of house made cookie options I can definitely see Eis Cream improving with time and customer feedback provided the small store can generate enough foot traffic and staying power given its tucked away location on the backside of a strip mall on South Eastern. Potentially a bit overpriced given the quality of the goods, the upcharge on Al’s already sub-par Kronuts particularly perplexing, it is a good option for those in the neighborhood or those seeking something different – the hand packed half-gallons potentially a tempting proposition for those picking up a cake from nearby Freed’s.


RECOMMENDED: Ube Ice Cream, Brownie


AVOID: Fruit flavored ice creams, Al’s Kronuts


TIP: With hours recently changed and the store closed on Mondays customers would be well advised to call in advance to make sure the shop is open – the current listing indicating 2p-8p on Tuesday and Wednesday with Thursday hours 2p-10p. Yelp users be sure to check in for 10% off.



Eis Cream Cafe on Urbanspoon

Posted in Dessert, Eis Cream, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada

Rincon de Buenos Aires, Las Vegas NV


Rincon de Buenos Aires

image041 image042

Toasted Bread with Chimichurri

image051 image055 image058

Ham and Cheese Empanada, Corn Empanada, Chicken Empanada

image047 image048 image049

Provoletta – Grilled Imported Provolone, Oregano, Olive Oil, Chili Oil

image061 image063 image064

Parrillada Argentina – Short Ribs, Skirt Steak, Sweetbreads, Sausage, Blood Sausage

image074 image076 image077

Flan Con Dulce de Leche

image070 image072 image082

Alfajor Cookie

image067 image069 image081

Milhojas – Puff Pastry, Condensed Milk, Cardamom

image078 image079 image080

Pasta Frola – Quince Pie


Located in the same Spring Mountain plaza as Cathay House and featuring signage indicating both their Argentinean roots and Italian influences, Rincon de Buenos Aires is the sort of spot that one could easily overlook in an area so heavy in Asian influence, but with strong endorsement from an out-of-town friend and another from Chowhound I finally decided to visit the sizeable space on Saturday with results more than exceeding modest expectations. Undoubtedly a spot where ‘regulars’ are expected while newcomers are welcomed with open arms it was just after 11am when my friend and I entered the Argentinean barbeque doubling as bakery, deli, as well as gourmet market and quickly seated beneath an LCD television displaying futbol while the rest of Las Vegas buzzed about the American collegiate variety it was as though we’d instantly been transported many miles away, our smiling server just efficient enough in English to guide our hand to a baker’s dozen of options served alongside toasty bread and herbal chimichurri that eschewed heat in favor of earthy notes and smoothness that complimented everything on which it was poured. Beginning first with a trio of empanadas that featured flaky puff pastry around intensely spiced chicken, cheddar studded in pork, and shucked corn with sweetness tempered by onions and cream one would be hard pressed to choose a winner amongst the group and turning next to the Italian Provoletta a similar theme emerged, the texture intensely creamy while diverse aromatics and just a hint of spice tickled the palate with each balanced bite. Unable to ignore the tabletop barbeque, presented still sizzling with pre-set options or choices a la carte, it was after perhaps thirty minutes that our enormous entrée arrived and featuring more than enough for a family of four to share we each sampled widely, the blood sausage particularly noteworthy for myself with a spice profile and texture on par with artisan sausages I’ve paid double for elsewhere while the tender sweetbreads were also beyond reproach. Transitioning to dessert I was fortunate to be dining with a friend who was more than willing to take the overindulgent approach and although I’m rather certain I consumed the majority of what was ordered there is no doubt that we were both invariably impressed by everything that arrived – the milky flan smooth yet rich while both the Milhojas and Alfajor presented a more restrained sweetness and textural juxtapositions of cream amidst crunch, a slice of quince pie rounding out the quartet with the fruit’s intense sweetness finding its foil in a buttery golden crust.


FOUR STARS: Every bit as good as the rumors, and the very definition of ‘hidden in plain sight,’ Rincon de Buenos Aires is the sort of place anyone looking for something ‘new’ or ‘different’ should investigate, the prices trending a bit higher than much of Spring Mountain but quality of product, preparation, and service far outperforming most of them as well. To the best of my knowledge the only Argentine barbeque in Las Vegas and one of the few places where blood sausage and sweetbreads can be bought by the pound even vegetarians will be safe here as the restaurant offers a number of unique pastas, pizzas, and produce driven options…not to mention prepackaged goods, ready-to-bake empanadas, and desserts that are well worth the effort even if you decide to take them home for later and skip the sizzling meats.


RECOMMENDED: Blood Sausage, Sweetbreads, Corn Empanada, Milhojas, Pasta Frola.


AVOID: Utilizing the tableside grill that allowed for additional cooking after arrival the short ribs were unfortunately cut a bit too thin to handle the heat, the results a bit dry and chewy compared to the fattier meats which all presented moist and nearly melting to the tongue.


TIP: Filling to 2/3 capacity around 12:00pm wait times from the small kitchen were being quoted at an hour to a table of six that had just sat down when we exited at 12:30pm, so those planning on a ‘quick meal’ may wish to plan accordingly and order in advance – both phone and internet options apparently offered as I saw one young man enter, pay, and exit with a sizeable bag of barbeque wrapped in foil.


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



Rincon de Buenos Aires on Urbanspoon

Posted in Barbeque, Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Rincon de Buenos Aires, Sweetbreads

Egg Works Summerlin, Las Vegas NV


Egg Works Summerlin

image010 image014

2 Buttermilk Biscuits


Ham, Egg, and Cheese Stuffed French Toast with Strawberry Jam and hash browns


Candied Walnut Buttermilk Pancakes (seasonal special)


With household chores needing attention it was largely a matter of location combined with a buy-one-get-one coupon that led me to Summerlin’s relatively new Eggworks on Saturday, and having visited sister restaurant “Egg & I” nearly a year ago I’m happy to say that its fifth spin-off replicates the formula well, a very competent breakfast served amidst friendly confines fit for any age. Obviously not the sort of place looking to reinvent the wheel, but rather a locals-only kind of spot where nearly all the patrons present during my early morning meal were ‘regulars,’ it was with nothing but smiles that I was greeted at the hostess podium at 6:45 and offered a seat at the kitchen-side bar or a table I opted for the later, a small two-top amidst spacious confines already loaded with condiments, menus, and utensils as College Gameday played on televisions all around. Never shy to over-order, even as my waitress informed me that two entrees was “a lot,” it was mere moments after seating that I made my selections and starting with two doughy, $3.49 biscuits finding slight salvation in butter plus honey I quickly realized I should have again ordered the signature banana bread, though things would soon improve, my BOGO coupon yielding a duo of plates nearly overwhelming my small table. Beginning first with another item dubbed ‘signature,’ the stuffed French Toast is offered with an option for bacon, sausage, or ham and doing my best to recreate the Monte Cristo the results were admirable – the fluffy eggs loaded with cheddar and chopped pork beneath slices of vanilla scented, golden bread ready to be gilded with syrup or jam. Moving next to an item from the seasonal menu, a $9.75 three-stack of pancakes was next in line and topping the fluffy discs with pure-maple syrup brought from home plus a few pats of butter I’ll be honest when I say these could just be the best buttermilk flapjacks in town, each bite surprisingly light with ample buttermilk tones punctuated by pockets of melting brown sugar and rich caramel with toasty walnuts through and through.


THREE STARS: Far larger and brighter than the original Egg & I location with similar smiling service and a 6am opening every day of the week Egg Works Summerlin is a great addition to the neighborhood and with coupons frequently offered in the local mailers serves as a great place for families to enjoy a good breakfast without breaking the bank or succumbing to big chains like Denny’s or IHOP. Certainly not a ‘destination,’ but a great spot for a leisurely morning while reading the paper, watching gameday, or just sitting on the dog-friendly patio I only wish they advertised specials more prominently, the only indication of those lovely pancakes found on a laminated menu left at the table.


RECOMMENDED: Candied Walnut Pancakes, and (from previous visit) Banana Nut Muffin.


AVOID: Biscuits.


TIP: Unlike Cracked Egg, who limits their coupons to weekdays only, Egg Works offers their deals every day of the week. Pay attention to the mailers, as well, since certain ones offer buy-one-get-one on entrees while others are only buy-one and get the other half-off.


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


Egg Works on Urbanspoon

Posted in Breakfast, Egg Works, Egg Works Summerlin, Food, French Toast, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes, Pork

Sweet Addiction, Cookies & Ice Cream, Las Vegas NV


Sweet Addiction, Cookies & Ice Cream


Samples = Chocolate Malted Crunch, Mocha Almond Fudge, Medieval Madness, Birthday Cake, Circus Animal Cracker, Pumpkin, Butter Pecan, Pecan Praline

DSC03312  DSC03315

Snickerdoodle – Circus Animal Cracker – Oatmeal Butterscotch

DSC03309 DSC03310

Chocolate Chip – Pecan Praline – Brownie Cookie


Located on Fort Apache with a second location further Southeast, Sweet Addiction had long been on my list of places to visit and with dessert at Hakkasan not quite enough I finally decided to stop by, the simple concept of fresh-baked cookies and Thrifty ice cream proving an entirely enjoyable pairing of America’s two favorite treats. Small in size with white tile set against pastel paints as top-40 played overhead it was just after 8:30pm that I entered the store’s cozy confines and with a few families in line at the counter I took my time to peruse the options, my order coming only after I’d sampled several spoonfuls of “cult favorite” signatures – the Chocolate Malted Crunch and Medieval Madness particularly impressive with the later a spot-on match for a 3 Musketeers candy bar while the former harkened Whoppers in taste and texture, both. Generally fancying a vanilla base to chocolate, particularly when pairing with accoutrements, it was with the mash-up of pink-frosting and Iced Animal Crackers between a warm Snickerdoodle and seasonal Oatmeal butterscotch that my tasting began and with pronounced sweetness found at each turn one couldn’t help but feel like a child at heart, the scoop of subtly salted Pecan Praline ice cream a far more nuanced ‘adult’ flavor that proved a perfect counterpoint to a dense chocolate brownie while pairing marvelously to the buttery notes of a textbook chocolate chip cookie, the edges just crisp while the interior remained chewy and soft.


FOUR STARS: Perhaps not as ‘artisan,’ yet far less spendy than the ice cream sandwiches at Monte Carlo’s BLVD Creamery or Sprinkles at The Linq, Sweet Addiction is the sort of place both ‘foodies’ and families can enjoy without breaking the bank, each cookie ringing in at under $1 with discounts on larger orders available as items are baked fresh to replenish supplies throughout the day.


RECOMMENDED: Everything I ordered was quite good and the service was friendly, efficient, and eager to offer samples – go in with an open mind, taste a lot, and order with confidence.



TIP: Offering 50cents off each cookie sandwich with Yelp, Foursquare, or Facebook Check-In while coupons at the register offer discounts on individual scoops the average family of four can enjoy Sweet Addictions for less than $15 – an absolute bargain compared to strip based options and all the better for ease of parking and number of options available, even if many were not *quite* as unique, ‘organic,’ or Instagram-ready.

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


Sweet Addiction Cookies & Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Posted in Cookies & Ice Cream, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Sweet Addiction, Sweet Addiction Cookies & Ice Cream

Hakkasan, Las Vegas NV



DSC03256 DSC03257

Crab meat and sweet corn supreme soup

DSC03262 DSC03264

Peking duck with Tsar Nicoulai reserve caviar, hoisin

DSC03261 DSC03260

Dim sum platter – har gau, scallop shumai, perch dumpling, black pepper and pumpkin duck dumpling

DSC03272 DSC03273

Braised whole seabass and egg tofu in claypot

DSC03279 DSC03268

Fried rice with diced abalone

DSC03276 DSC03278

Crispy prawn with dried chili and cashew nut

DSC03284 DSC03286

Spicy Szechuan rib-eye beef with enoki mushrooms

DSC03281 DSC03282

Roasted crispy chicken with wild mushroom in oyster sauce

DSC03290 DSC03291

Black sesame and chocolate dumplings with ginger tea and finger lime

DSC03296 DSC03301

Yuzu Macaron with Chocolate Cream


With Michelin stars decorating locations in New York as well as London, and a similar menu of modernized Cantonese cuisine from Chef Ho Chee Boon offered here in Las Vegas, it was only a matter of time before I visited Hakkasan at The MGM and with the 2014 “Golden Week” menu proposing an opportunity to experience a number of plates without investing in a $250+ Peking Duck or $35 fried rice it was with a friend that I finally sat down to dine amidst the darkened labyrinth beneath America’s most lucrative club. Grand in size, with soaring ceilings and dark woods juxtaposing white leather and signature styling, a meal at Hakkasan begins with check-in at an outer atrium and soon to be led between several dividers that serve to break the room into a series of alcoves it was expectedly the wine and cocktail list that arrived first, the upsale on from the start and continuing as the a la carte menu was presented with no mention of Golden Week to be found. Pleasant and competent in service, despite obviously ignoring the notes in my reservation requesting the special menu and a seat with good light, it was with a single a la carte option that our meal began and with the intricate broth surprisingly vegetal to balance the sweetness of fresh crab I only wish we’d have had more time to enjoy it – the first course of dim sum and duck arriving hot on its heels with no more than two bites enjoyed. Opting to set aside soup in order to focus on the progression of tastes it was with a sampling of the aforementioned duck that Golden Week began and essentially using the briny eggs to offset the fatty bird’s sapor each bite was pure indulgence, the skin so thin it seemed razor cut and the attention to detail soon found to be duplicated in a steamer basket of dumplings from which both the spicy duck and creamy scallop shined. Moving quickly to round two as I again attempted to enjoy the now-cool soup it was here that a trio of plates was presented and with promises that the ‘rest’ was soon to come I finally explained that the kitchen needed to slow down, a request thankfully met by allowing us to focus on what was present – the aromatic clay pot and fried rice loaded with tender abalone amongst the very best plates of the meal while the spicy shrimp in an admixture of peppers and nuts was the sort of thing I knew I’d regret later as beads of sweat burst forth from my brow. At this point only fifty minutes into the meal it was thankfully after a short break that round three arrived and with both dishes using mushrooms as a base to impeccable proteins it was something of a surprise that the tender beef proved to be the best dish of the meal, a melting mouthfeel amidst innumerable spices and light acid that fully engaged the palate without coming off as ‘hot’ in the least. Rounding out the evening it was in a bowl of six glutinous rice dumplings that we indulged and with melted dark chocolate bursting forth to mix with cells of finger lime and a broth of light ginger one could not help but swoon, a similar citrus and cocoa experience offered in a duo of golden macarons presented in a take-home box at the meal’s end.


THREE AND A HALF STARS: Decidedly expensive for a meal that lasted just ninety minutes I remain perplexed to this moment as to why the kitchen felt the need to send plates in clusters at such a rapid rate but with that issue aside I’m happy to say that both ingredients and preparation were exquisite, the opportunity to experience the duck without investing in a whole-prep particularly welcomed considering the sizable scoops of caviar while every other plate was delicious and surprisingly well portioned considering the tasting menu format.

DSC03280  DSC03288

RECOMMENDED: Braised whole seabass and egg tofu in claypot, Fried rice with diced abalone, Spicy Szechuan rib-eye beef with enoki mushrooms.


AVOID: The Dim Sum was good but certainly not justifying the normal menu price of $24. Similarly, while admittedly decadent and delicious, all but the most serious caviar lover would be foolish to spend nearly $300 on the whole Peking Duck – an equally delicious version offered at 1/3 the price at both Blossom or all-you-care-to-eat on the Jasmine Sunday brunch.


TIP: With tasting menus and prix-fixe options frequently offered with several options in each course those looking to experience Hakkasan at its best are advised to bring a few friends, each person opting for something different and thus allowing ample sampling of portions that trend far larger than one would expect on The Strip.


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


Hakkasan on Urbanspoon


Posted in Crab, Dessert, Food, Hakkasan, Las Vegas, Macaroon, Nevada, Tasting Menu

Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen Summerlin, Las Vegas NV


Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen Summerlin

DSC03208 DSC03224


DSC03220 DSC03222

Cinnamon Roll

DSC03210 DSC03214

Baked French Toast with Norris Cane Syrup

DSC03216 DSC03218

Andouille Sausage


Leidenheimer Grilled Garlic Bread

DSC03228 DSC03230

Fried Chicken and Fresh Baked Waffle with Roasted Pecan, Fig, Strawberry Butter

DSC03232 DSC03231

Bronzed Catfish over Gouda Grits with Andouille Sausage and Mushroom Ragout

DSC03226 DSC03227

Bronzed Shrimp over Gouda Grits with Andouille Sausage and Mushroom Ragout

DSC03245 DSC03247

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie with Chantilly Cream

DSC03242 DSC03244

Louisiana Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

DSC03238 DSC03241

Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream


Owned by Lola Elizabeth Pokorny, with one successful spot already located downtown, Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Summerlin opened without much fanfare amidst the hubbub surrounding the ‘new’ Downtown, but with the mall mobbed by crowds a short drive up Town Center Drive found Ms. Pokorny’s renovated space to be a pleasant experience – the truncated and unannounced ‘weekend brunch’ menu aside. Apparently once a Ruby Tuesday, with a sunny patio offering an al fresco option to those not sold on modest Mardi Gras décor, our party of three was sat quickly at a cozy four-top and with the dining room mostly empty while the bar bustled with football our service could not have been better, a duo of young ladies eager to answer questions and seek feedback while beverages remained brimming. Happily conversing beneath upbeat Cajun instrumentals it would not be long after ordering that the first round of food would arrive and although beignets were a bit too ‘bready’ while Leidenheimer French Toast proved overpriced and underwhelming compared to the restaurant’s signature bread pudding both the supple cinnamon roll and spicy sausage were excellent, the later a recurring theme in round two. Admittedly a bit disappointed in the lack of oysters on the brunch menu, but soon to find solace in items offered as “signatures,” it was with two plates of creamy gouda grits that the meal moved on and with the stick-a-spoon-up-straight base punched up by rich mushroom gravy and snappy Andouille both the shrimp and flaky fish equally shined, an order of chicken and waffles entirely forgettable in the face of such greatness as I mopped the bowls clean with complimentary grilled bread loaded with garlic. At last arriving at dessert, the full menu offered in addition to two specials, it seemed only proper to select the items designated as Lola’s signatures and although the soft chocolate cake was light yet intense while the hybrid pie was truly a ‘best of both worlds’ amalgam of sweet and savory neither could compare to the bread pudding – a steamy block of custard teaming with cinnamon beneath praline crunch and brown sugar sauce tinged with rum.


THREE STARS: Long lamented for being a cookie-cutter planned community where PF Changs and Olive Garden continue to generate long lines, Lola’s is a welcome addition to the area and the sort of place I can only hope continues to proliferate West as “Downtown Summerlin” develops. Obviously new and still finding its footing, particularly with regard to a ‘brunch’ menu that seems muddled and poorly conceptualized in its lack of NOLA favorites like oysters or crawfish, I look forward to seeing how the restaurant evolves over time and only hope that the unwieldy location does not prove too daunting for those preferring to stick to the same ol’ same ol’ spots further south.


RECOMMENDED: Bronzed Catfish or Shrimp with Gouda Grits, Cinnamon Roll, Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, Bananas Foster Bread Pudding.


AVOID: Beignets, Waffles.


TIP: Brunch is offered 10a-2p on Weekends while a daily 4-6pm Happy Hour offers a few bites at discounted prices.


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


Lola's Summerlin on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Basket, Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Lola’s, Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen, Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen Summerlin, Nevada, Pork, Waffles

Beau Monde Bakery, Las Vegas NV


Beau Monde Bakery

DSC03181 DSC03186

Banana Bread

DSC03173 DSC03175

Pumpkin Cake with White Chocolate Icing

DSC03187 DSC03190

Callebaut Chocolate Brownie


Pecan Pie


Brought to my attention by a truly inspirational young woman entrusted to my care for two autoimmune endorinopathies in addition to biopsy proven Celiac disease I decided to take a look at Beau Monde Bakery on Saturday morning largely as a point of reference, the rumor of “really great” gluten free baked goods something I simply had to see to believe. With a retail shop located on North Buffalo and items featured in several of Sin City’s most celebrated resorts it was just past 8:30am when I entered the small storefront and immediately greeted by a young woman happy to engage in conversation, answer questions, and offer samples I must say I was immediately impressed – the cozy confines with shabby chic seating awash in sunlight reflecting off stainless steel cases and glass domes beneath rustically styled crystal chandeliers. Amused by anecdotes of customers who drive excessive distances to get their gluten-free fix and pleased to hear that the recent trend of ‘intolerance’ and fad diets has only served to help raise awareness for those who truly suffer from the disease it was with bites of rich chocolate cake and coffee soaked tiramisu that my impression of Beau Monde began to form and eventually crafting a small order of personal favorites to the tally of $16.72 I took my items to go, the quartet consumed with coffee throughout the hours between breakfast and lunch – neither of which were remotely gluten free. Taking into account my personal predilection for cakes over cookies and quick breads over savory options such as Beau Monde’s oft-raved flatbreads or tortilla it was with a small banana muffin that my tasting began and unfortunately finding the fruit’s flavor far too subtle while the texture was somewhat akin to a sponge I was happy to quickly discover that this was the exception rather than the rule, each of the following selections proving every bit as good as more ‘traditional’ versions – the pumpkin cake dense and full of spice beneath lightly sweetened frosting while the brownie was rich and creamy with the tooth of a flourless chocolate cake draped in bold, bitter ganache. At this point appropriately impressed it was finally the Pecan Pie that I approached with wide eyes and utilizing a thin, crisp shell to house toasted nuts tossed in molasses laced with brown sugar the result succeeded where so many others fail, the sweetness present without overwhelming the subtleties of smoke and butter while the texture was not ‘sticky’ in the least.


FOUR STARS: No more expensive than the artisan goods at Bouchon, Payard, Chocolate and Spice, or several other local bakeries while entirely outperforming overrated spots like Patisserie Manon it is truly a challenge for someone who isn’t afflicted with some form of gluten intolerance, whether real or assumed, to appreciate just how important a bakery like Beau Monde truly is, yet try as I might I’m happy to say that all-in-all the results were impressive…and not just for ‘gluten free’ products either, but for baked goods as a whole.


RECOMMENDED: Pecan Pie, Dark Chocolate Cake, Pumpkin Cake with White Chocolate Frosting.

AVOID: Banana Bread


TIP: Open at 7:30am, with items baked throughout the day, those looking for something special are encouraged to contact the restaurant directly – special requests generally honored with 48-72 hours notice and customized cakes in several sizes available for any number of events.

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


Beau Monde Bakery on Urbanspoon

Posted in Beau Monde Bakery, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada

The Original Pancake House, Las Vegas NV


The Original Pancake House

DSC03150 DSC03154

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Short Stack

DSC03149 DSC03155

Challah French Toast


Baked Apple Pancake


Technically a chain, with origins in Portland OR and the famous Walker Bros location in Wilmette IL, it was only when Groupon offered a discount that I realized Las Vegas even had an Original Pancake House and although I guess it could be said that the $8 discount was the impetus for my visit, in reality it was fond childhood memories that drew me through the doors. Located on Fort Apache, and thus less than ten minutes from my door, it was after another long morning run that I arrived at the sizeable storefront and although the clock had just ticked past 7:15am I entered the restaurant to find the place already lively, a quartet of tables already seated while two couples before me checked in with a friendly hostess soon leading them to their seats. Eventually finding my place at a booth best suited for four it was mere seconds before my server stopped by and with my order pre-decided based on past experience a simple request that plates arrive in two courses was granted, the long cooking time of the later assuring a fifteen minute delay between rounds. Sipping on water as the restaurant continued to fill it would not be long before first plates arrived and although the restaurant’s eponymous buttermilk batter was fluffy as ever beneath a mountain of whipped cream it was the house-baked challah that truly impressed, the exterior rendered crispy while the center was soaked in sweet custard playing counterpoint the rich egginess of soft bread. Admittedly a substantial start, and nearly enough to use up my gift certificate, there was simply no way I was leaving Original Pancake House without ordering one of their signatures and this time opting for the Baked Apple Pancake over the Dutch Baby I’ll simply say that one cannot go wrong with either, the piping hot pile of thinly sliced Granny Smith’s teaming with cinnamon and sugar atop a buttery golden base proving as much a ‘pie’ as it does a pancake, but absolutely delicious regardless of what it is called.


THREE AND A HALF STARS: Individually owned and operated but similar in menu from coast-to-coast there is simply ‘something’ about Original Pancake House that makes me smile – the service ever pleasant, the space always bustling, and the apple pancake always served so hot that you *know* the first bite is likely to end in a blistered mouth. Obviously a bit more expensive than IHOP or Denny’s but also using superior ingredients including 93-score butter, pure whipping cream, and free-range eggs it’s good to know that every once in a while you can indeed find a taste of ‘home,’ even a thousand or more miles away.

DSC03148  DSC03163

RECOMMENDED: Baked Apple Pancake, Challah French Toast


AVOID: The coffee is pretty bad and the provided ‘pancake syrup’ is a far cry from the real deal.


TIP: Previously one of two Original Pancake House locations in Las Vegas the manager told me that the Fort Apache location has become far busier since the Charleston store burned down, a small line already forming when I exited the restaurant at 8:05 and 30+ minute waits nearly guaranteed for those arriving after nine o’clock.


NOTE:  Pure Maple Syrup for the French Toast and Break-Up Potion from Dude, Sweet Chocolate in Dallas for the Pancakes was brought from home.


Original Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Posted in Breakfast, Food, French Toast, Las Vegas, Nevada, Original Pancake House, Pancakes, The Original Pancake House

Ku Noodle, Las Vegas NV


Ku Noodle

DSC03100 DSC03101

Thai Iced Tea

DSC03102 DSC03103

Snow Pea Leaf Salad – Orange, Lily Bulb Petals, Mint, Walnut

DSC03117 DSC03119

Lucky 12 – Shrimp & Pork Siu Mai with Jicama, Mushroom, Peanut / Pork & Scallop Siu Mai with Bamboo, Shiitake Mushroom, Sesame / Chicken & Cloud Ear Mushroom Siu Mai with Goji Berries, Oyster Sauce, Soy Sauce / Huhhot Siu Mai with Lamb, Cumin, Scallion, Onion

DSC03111 DSC03112

Crispy Bao Bun – Pork, Pickled Vegetable, Peanuts, Cilantro

DSC03113 DSC03116

“Strange Wonders of Shaanxi” – Wheatbelt Noodle, Braised Lamb, Pickled Daikon, Cumin


Congee – Chinese Sausage, Lily and Lotus Bulbs, Chickpea, Peanut, Poached Egg

DSC03123 DSC03126

Malted Milk Taiwanese Shaved Ice with Almond Jelly, Caramelized Peanuts, Crunchy Chocolate Pearls, Caramel


No stranger to Chef Jose Andres or the concepts born from thinkfoodgroup it was with great curiosity that I entered Ku Noodle on Saturday evening and with a menu largely selected by GM Ceilidh Lamont along with her team in kitchen I’m happy to say my expectations were exceeded. Sparsely decorated but brightly lit, with white porcelain and leather beset by mirrors on both sides, it was just after 5pm that I found myself seated at a table near the back of the space and soon greeted by the first of several servers I couldn’t help but be impressed, each smiling face possessing both knowledge and opinions on the cuisine plus a whimsical professionalism far too infrequently seen in Casino dining these days. Beginning first with dark tea liberally sweetened by coconut milk alongside a light salad, vibrant with mint playing off the sweetness of peeled orange segments, it would not be long before the table was flooded with heavier hitting flavors and presented as a four-part feast the only question was where to start – an answer soon found in the appropriately named “Lucky 12” and its four triplets of innovative Siu Mai as each delicate wrapper was stuffed to bursting with poignant flavors set against accoutrements including tobiko, goji berry, and even gold leaf. Not to be outdone by dim sum the next bites of Ku were of the signature noodles and although future visits will be required to sample other styles I have to say the texture of the thick wheatbelt variety speaks volumes, each tender bite teaming with spice in a broth rendered from lamb neck as pickled radish helped to temper the spice. Having already heard good things about the bao and happy to confirm that the fist-sized umami-bomb on deep-fried bun is every bit as delicious as its ingredient profile would indicate it was finally in lowly congee that I indulged and although most will eschew such a pedestrian option in a place like this suffice it to say that this is not your mom n’ pop rice porridge, the silky stock itself teaming with vibrant spices and all the better for bites imbued with egg, tender vegetables, peanuts, and a whole lot of funk-meets-sweet meat. At this point quite sated but unable to resist dessert described as ‘can’t miss’ by nearly everyone in the restaurant my final decision of the evening was which of the eight flavors of Taiwanese Shaved Ice to choose and eventually opting for Malted Milk with a trio of toppings plus one sauce I’ll simply say that anyone who thinks Snowflake is ‘amazing’ needs to stop by The SLS ASAP, the $9 bowl more than enough for two to share with rich flavor amidst a stunning texture that you are actually encouraged to experience with chopsticks in order to focus on each snowy crystal…at least until you give into temptation and grab a spoon to fully indulge in a mouthful and never look back until scraping the bowl clean.


FOUR STARS: Undoubtedly facing an uphill battle in a city where cheap meats and ramen shops speckle Spring Mountain Road, Ku Noodle presents an upscale option for those willing to invest in quality ingredients, innovation, and presentation. Perhaps my favorite thinkfoodgroup experience to date, outside of ‘e,’ every single plate at Ku Noodle proves Chef Andres dedication to both quality and creativity while the staff is every bit as well trained, efficient, and pleasant as that at Bazaar – something you surely aren’t going to find on Spring Mountain where service is often an afterthought, at best.


RECOMMENDED: Taiwanese Shaved Ice, Crispy Bao Bun, Congee.




TIP: With most plates presented in sharing portions those looking to maximize their experience are advised to bring a friend (or 4,) but for those dining solo a “Lucky 8” version of the Lucky 12 is offered on request and although ‘half portions’ are not yet available there is talk of a tasting menu to come.


DISCLAIMER: Having relied on the culinary team and Ms. Lamont to craft my menu after originally speaking with the GM during her pre-promotion tenure at The Griddle Café my meal did include a few uncharged items, a 50% tip left to try and compensate for the team’s unexpected generosity.



Ku Noodle on Urbanspoon

Posted in Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Ku Noodle, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork

Park on Fremont, Las Vegas NV


Park on Fremont

DSC03073 DSC03075

Mac & Cheese Balls – House made bacon mac & cheese balled up in Panko breadcrumbs and golden fried

DSC03082 DSC03087

Fried Chicken and Waffle Sandwich – Fried Chicken with Applewood Smoked Bacon Waffles and Wild Turkey Maple Syrup served with Sweet Potato Tots

DSC03081 DSC03088

French Toast – Vanilla Bean Soaked Brioche topped with ‘drunk’ mixed berries, syrup, powdered sugar


Located on the corner of trendy East Fremont and Las Vegas Boulevard, with raves received from hipsters since its inception, it was just minutes before noon that I sat down with a friend for lunch at Park on Fremont and although I’m happy to say the service far outperformed similar spots in Chicago, Brooklyn, or Portland the food itself left much to be desired – a seemingly well-culled menu instead proving limited in not only options but quality of execution, as well. Clearly the sort of place where cuisine is considered less important than booze and décor suffice it to say that the beer list and creative cocktails far outnumber the options for food and even with the extended brunch menu it was only in three items that myself and a friend could muster enough interest to indulge, the plates arriving in two rounds as we sat amidst a room awash in faux-taxidermy and paintings ranging from humping animals to possessed children with neither rhyme nor reason to be found. Opting for one starter to precede a duo of entrees it would not be long before the best bites of the meal would arrive and served as a quintet the Mac & Cheese balls each proved not only sizable but also quite delicate, the crackling panko overlying supple pasta with briny bits of bacon imbuing each bite plus a sidecar of cheese sauce for those desiring even more cream. At this point happily conversing about recent events as background music played on it was after only the slightest of delays that three trays would arrive and with the kitchen opting to split our French Toast while the sandwich was served whole it can only be said that neither dish tasted as good as it looked, the brioche too lightly soaked and thinly sliced to allow the exterior to be rendered crisp without burning it while the waffle was chewy and lifeless, a bready detriment to otherwise pleasant chicken and bacon served alongside entirely forgettable, yet all too trendy, ‘tots.’


TWO STARS: Not exactly a disaster in that the service was pleasant while the Mac & Cheese Balls were far better than standard pub-grub suffice it to say that for those not interested in being upsold on cleverly named cocktails or craft beers Park on Fremont has little to offer – a quick walk down the street to MTO, eat, S+O, Carson Kitchen, or DuPar’s offering far more extensive selection with equal or better value on the dollar at each.


RECOMMENDED: Mac & Cheese Balls.


AVOID: Fried Chicken and Waffle Sandwich.


TIP: Those convinced that Park on Fremont is worth their time and effort are encouraged to look for parking somewhere around 6th or 7th, the $1/h meters a veritable bargain compared to flat-rate lots ranging anywhere from $5-$10, though for those planning to stroll the Fremont Experience or Container Park afterwards the later could certainly present a viable option without the need to drive around waiting for a space to open up.


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



Park on Fremont on Urbanspoon

Posted in Breakfast, Food, French Toast, Las Vegas, Nevada, Park on Fremont, Pork, Waffles

Della’s Kitchen, Las Vegas NV


Della’s Kitchen



DSC03036 DSC03037

Buttermilk Biscuits – Local Aged Cheddar, Smoked Bacon, Whipped Butter

DSC03035 DSC03039

Cinnamon Pecan Roll

DSC03053 DSC03057

Croque Madame – Black Forest Ham, Gruyere, Mornay, Crispy Hash Browns

DSC03043 DSC03044

Custard Pancake with Vanilla Butter

DSC03049 DSC03052

Pecan Raisin French Toast – Granello’s Cinnamon-Raisin Brioche, Caramelized Banana, Coconut Butter

DSC03045 DSC03048

Chicken and Waffles with Smoky Bacon


Located in the recently rebranded “The Delano” at Mandalay Bay, a 9:00am breakfast at Della’s Kitchen proved to be just-the-thing after attempted brunch at Ri Ra went belly up, the “historic farmhouse meets urban kitchen” serving up a two-course, six item feast amidst soaring ceilings as passers-by looked on. Formerly known as THEcafe, with upgraded décor befitting any number of farm-to-table spots in the current culinary landscape, it was quickly upon checking-in at the podium that we were seated at a large 4-top and, although servers proved a bit overzealous to take orders while coffee and water refills languished, it would require a whole lot of nit-picking to find any fault in the cuisine. Beginning first with a triplet of tiny biscuits that wowed with complex flavors amidst softly separating layers it was onward to sweeter things that we soon progressed and, although the fluffy pancake was itself quite pleasant, it was the spiraled pecan pastry that stole the spotlight – a veritable deep-dish pecan pie beset on all sides by the buttery cinnamon roll. So far impressed it was fast-on-the-heels of appetizers that our entrees arrived and although artificial ‘pancake syrup’ slightly marred the experience one would be hard pressed to pick a winner amongst the three, the savory open-faced ham sandwich adrift in creamy Mornay atop toasty bread while the custard-soft French Toast and supple waffle beneath a crispy brined breast were each reference standard, the later amongst the best found in Las Vegas to date.


THREE AND A HALF STARS: Commanding a pricetag commiserate to its location, and open with the full menu offered as early as 6:30am, Della’s Kitchen is a welcome addition to the local breakfast scene and the sort of place I can see only getting better with time. Already cooking at a high level with ingredients including a lot of local produce, organic meats, plus breads from Granello Bakery I find it rather disappointing that syrup was not pure and that service is not yet up to snuff, but with a few small tweaks this is a place that could finally represent not only a good breakfast to those confined to the south end of The Strip, but one worth traveling to.


RECOMMENDED: Chicken and Waffles, Pecan Raisin French Toast, Cinnamon Pecan Roll.

AVOID: Pancake was run-of-the-mill, syrup is artificial, coffee is tepid and slow to fill despite the $5.50 tab.


TIP: Located along the major walking route connecting The Delano to Mandalay Bay seating places the majority of diners in direct view of those passing by – a great people-watching opportunity to some, but not particularly favored by others. Those wishing for a more secluded breakfast would be well served to request a seat along the wall closest to The Delano where pillars, banquets, and booths offer a break in the lines of sight.


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


Della’s Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Posted in Breakfast, Coffee, Della's Kitchen, Food, French Toast, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes, Pork, Waffles

Palio, Las Vegas NV



DSC02974 DSC02978

Almond Croissant

DSC02979 DSC02980

Dulce De Leche Croissant

DSC02984 DSC02985

Vanilla Glazed Cake Donut with Lime Zest

DSC02994 DSC02996

Nutella Pocket

DSC02989 DSC02990

Cinnamon Roll

DSC03026 DSC03027

Chocolate Chip Cookie

DSC03024 DSC03025

Oatmeal Cookie

DSC03021 DSC03029



Triply benefitted by the new autumn display in the Conservatory, free passes to the Painting Women show at the Gallery of Fine Art, and the fact that I was picking up a friend from Columbus for brunch it was with nearly fourteen miles of early morning running already under foot that I entered Palio Café, the recently renovated space never to be confused with the concept of ‘paleo-friendly’ in any way, shape, or form. Located across the hall from the aforementioned gallery, in a flag and tile clad space featuring outdoor dining offered for those lustful for fresh air, it was just minutes after the restaurant’s 6:00am opening that I entered a small queue and with a plethora of pastries gleaming behind glass a substantial order soon took shape. Obviously far less famous than celebrity-backed bakeries touting the names of Keller, Payard, Buddy, and Jean-Philippe but no less innovative in its offerings my experience at Palio began with a duo of croissants and although the explosively flaky almond rendition instantly set a new standard for The Strip it was the overstuffed Dulce de Leche version that soon stole the show – each delicate bite through arches of crisp lamination yielding a burst of creamy caramel that my early arrival found still-warm. Quickly devouring both croissants before scaling back to a “some for now/some for later” approach to the rest it was in the doughnut and cinnamon roll that I next partook and although both were nicely made, the former sporting a pleasant looseness to the crumb beneath light notes of citrus, neither were ‘must orders’ compared to what followed – a toasty gold pocket chock-a-block full of hazelnut spread that I’d strongly advise sitting down to enjoy as a grab-and-go approach is almost assured to end in a trip to the laundry for shirt, pants, or both. At this point turning to more portable items as I slowly wandered the tourist-free serenity of Sin City’s early morning hours it was next in a bearclaw that I indulged and although nicely textured I personally found the results far too sweet, the lacquer of glaze entirely overwhelming sparse nut filling and thus leaving me to instead focus on a duo of cookies, the Chocolate Chip a textbook rendition with crisp edges surrounding a soft center but the Oatmeal Raisin far better with buttery notes playing off cinnamon and softly set oats as a mountain of golden raisins added just enough sweetness to taste equally breakfast and dessert.


FOUR STARS: Undoubtedly underrated due to the lack of celebrity signage and a location slightly off the beaten path, suffice it to say that Palio Café is executing on just as high a level as Bouchon, Payard, and even Bellagio’s own Jean Philippe. While some may say that prices are high, at $4.25 the croissants are no more expensive than the inferior versions at other on-strip vendors while other options actually represent a bargain compared to its peers, both here in Las Vegas and across the nation.


RECOMMENDED: Almond Croissant, Dulce De Leche Croissant, Nutella Pocket, Oatmeal Cookie.


AVOID: Bearclaw is too sweet while the cinnamon roll was pedestrian compared to the rest.


TIP: Open from 6:00a-6:00p and generating a good-sized line by 7:00, those desiring a faster experience may wish to walk across the hall to Café Gelato where more limited pastries are offered all day while those looking for something late at night would be well served to check out Palio Pronto, a smaller spot open 10a-midnight just down the escalator, near the doors of the Via Bellagio shopping center.



Palio on Urbanspoon

Posted in Breakfast, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, Palio, Palio Cafe

Cleo, Las Vegas NV



image172 image173


image170 image171

Lebaneh with Feta

image174 image175

Laffa Bread

image176 image178


image179 image182


image183 image185

Falafel – Tahini, Tabouleh

image186 image187

Mushrooms – Dates, Hazelnuts, Puffed Rice

image193 image194

Lamb Tagine – Apricots, Silan, Couscous, Sesame Seeds

image191 image192

Moussakah – Layered Eggplant, Bolognese, Bechamel


Kale Flatbread – Crème Fraiche, Parmesan, Garlic Oil


Sticky Toffee Pudding – Butterscotch, Walnut Feuilletine, Vanilla Gelato

image203 image200

Fig & Almond Pannacotta – Amareto and Almond Brittle


Small French Press – LAMill


Generally blasé as it relates to Mediterranean cuisine but always hopeful for something to change my mind it was with guarded expectations that I sat down with a friend at Cleo, and although both the room and the crowd veer trendy and loud the food can best be described as bold – each of the eleven plates we experienced featuring textbook execution, beautiful presentation, and the sort of flavor profile rarely embraced in an upscale environment. Located inside the SLS, under the gleaming guise of the Greek Pharaoh and Starck designed through-and-through, our 6:30 seating started with pleasant greetings at the podium and quickly swept away to a small two-top flanking an open kitchen the service could not have been better, drinks kept brimming throughout the evening and plates arriving in a slow, measured fashion – exactly as requested. Beset by tagines and spice jars juxtaposing slick surfaces and sparkling chandeliers beneath a lively soundtrack that only rarely interrupted conversation our meal began with a quartet of $7 ‘mezzes’ and with both spreads silky smooth and teaming with flavor atop pillows of Laffa the Kibbeh and creamy spinach puffs were no less special, the former balancing ground lamb to nuts and spice beneath a golden shell. Moving next to larger plates under simplified headings like “Vegetables” and “Meats” it was with some disappointment that we were informed the coveted Duck Bastilla was unavailable but making due with four more items both the elegantly paired mushrooms and equally well conceived tagine were quite good while the still-bubbling moussakah was my favorite plate of the night. A touch underwhelmed by crispy balls of falafel that had trouble standing up to the sauce in which they sat it was in flatbread that our savories finished and with a crisp, charred crust from the central oven likely to make any topping taste better the bitter kale amidst pools of tangy crème fraiche was wonderful, an elegant and light dish I could see playing well to the pre-club crowd heading to LiFE. At this point approaching nine o’clock, with every seat in the space filled, our meal concluded with coffee alongside a duo of desserts and as much I liked the somewhat out-of-place pudding it was the pannacotta that stole the show – each creamy bite flooding the palate with milky-sweet tones while Amareto soaking the figs lingered at the end.


FOUR STARS: Although higher priced than the typical ‘mom n’ pop’ or Greek festival setting, almost every single item we tasted at Cleo was reference standard, the total bill with tax and tip clocking in just under $160 for nearly three hours of great food, service, and ‘scene.’ Certainly not a place for quiet conversation but definitely a spot where both the ‘club’ crowd or the local looking for a nice night out can be equally comfortable I commend the team at Cleo for bringing something totally new to the scene – it is original concepts like this and Yusho that The Strip really needs.


RECOMMENDED: Lebaneh with Feta and Laffa Bread, Kibbeh, Moussakah, Kale Flatbread, Fig and Almond Pannacotta.


AVOID: Falafel was a bit heavy handed and low in flavor, thus allowing the tangy tahini to entirely overwhelm.


TIP: Unable (or unwilling) to offer an explanation of why the Duck Bastilla was unavailable just thirty minutes after starting service I’ve been told by a friend that he encountered a similar problem with two seafood items on the night of his visit and, as such, those targeting a specific item or items may be best served to inquire in advance.


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


Cleo on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Basket, Cleo, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, LA Mill, Las Vegas, Nevada

JinJu Chocolates, Las Vegas NV


JinJu Chocolates


Fig-Red Wine

image134 image137

Honey, Matcha, Cappuccino, PB&J, Fleur de Sel Caramel, Hazelnut Praline, Espresso Crunch, Tahitian Cream, Vanilla Dream, Espresso Caramel

image148 image149

Gluten Free Brownie

image157 image159

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

image145 image146

Milk Chocolate Lollipops

image163 image165

Pecan Caramel Turtle

image151 image153

White Chocolate Raspberry Rocher


Berry Mascarpone, 72% Dark, Citrus, Vanilla Dream


Milk Toffee Chocolate Covered Almonds


Midnight Downtown Bar


Translated to ‘treasure’ or ‘pearl’ and featuring the considerable talents of Jin Caldwell I was fortunate enough to attend a meet-and-greet at JinJu Chocolates on Saturday afternoon and with the young chocolatier present to answer questions about her career path, product, and passion throughout an hour long stay I can say with assurance that both the brand and its founder fit the moniker on the label. Every bit artisan with well selected beans forming the base of inspired bars, bob-bons, truffles, and confections crafted by a team of eight in an offsite professional kitchen the JinJu storefront on the second floor of The Container Park is the chef’s first true brick n’ mortar and although many have seen her work over the last three years featured at various hotels, including The Venetian, the full collection in such a cozy space is truly something to behold. Admittedly benefitted by the ‘event’ and thus afforded the ability to sample widely as Ms. Caldwell smiled on and educated the crowd it would truly be difficult to decide exactly where one would be best advised to invest on a first visit to JinJu but, with items all trending more affordable than Strip legends like Jean-Philippe or Vosges, the truffles are definitely a good start – each $1.75 bauble beautifully crafted with flavors like Honey, Matcha, Figs-Red Wine, and Tahitian Cream set to tantalize even the most sophisticated of tastes. Equally gifted In crafting whimsical items including pretzel rods, chocolate covered Twinkies or cookies, nut-clusters, and a decadent gluten-free brownie another focal point for those seeking something special are Jin’s bars – the 702 Mob particularly impressive – and most of all the collection of Fortunato 4 wafers, each piece of the single origin chocolate a slowly melting tribute to exactly what can happen when exquisite ingredients meet the hand of someone with so much skill and passion.

image131   image138

FIVE STARS: Clasically trained with skills honed at Ethel’s, Bellagio, Mars, Wynn, and more suffice it to say that the chocolates at JinJu may be the first real reason for culinary enthusiasts to trek to the Container Park and with a business model built on wholesale but customer service more than capable of meeting the demands of a retail storefront I strongly encourage both visitors and locals to stop by for a taste, a duo of bars available to taste for those stopping in throughout our visit and the prices easily off-setting the cost of parking or transportation from casinos on the strip.


RECOMMENDED: Fig-Red Wine, Honey, PB&J, Tahitian Cream, and Matcha Chocolates were all quite special while the Fortunato 4 Sea Salt and Fortunato 4 Honey Comb Meltaways were truly exemplary, the brownie and pecan studded turtle also both warranting the cost and calories.

image128 image129



TIP: Offering several options through her website and soon to begin a seasonal line I was particularly impressed by the offer of ice-packs to keep items from melting on the car ride home – just one more example of the stellar sort of customer service that one gets from shopping at such a great local business as opposed to some big-box retailer or pricey boutique on the Strip.


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



Posted in Dessert, Food, JinJu Chocolates, Las Vegas, Nevada

Nosh & Swig, Las Vegas NV


Nosh & Swig

image063 image062

Nosh Crack Corn

image067 image065image069

Peas & Carrots – Sweet Carrot Rangoon, English Pea Puree

image073 image072 image075

Beeten Apple – Warm Goat Cheese, Grilled Honey Toast, Micro Greens, Beet & Apple Sauce

image076 image080 image081

Monte Cristo – Black Forest Ham, Gruyere Cheese, Fried Egg, Wild Berry Compote

image085 image083image089

Cocka-Waffle-Doo – Cornflake Crusted Chicken, Belgian Waffle, Blueberry Maple Reduction

image097image104 image106

Gimme Sa-More – Fried Chocolate, Brulee Marshmallow, Banana Puree

image093 image090image096

Churrnut Ala Mode – Churro-Style Doughnut topped with Oreo, Pistachio Ice Cream


Self described as ‘a food festival of funzies’ and offering an ‘express train to Flavortown’ I was admittedly a bit leery as I entered Nosh & Swig but with a menu that at least seemed willing to take some risks and myself already in the area I decided to take a peak – my meal as unwieldy as the options themselves in a room that seemed to suggest some sort of spiritualism beneath the blare of Top-40. Apparently part of some recent food-television contest, at least according to the only other diners present during the first half of my hour-long stay, and featuring the sort of service where patrons are frequently referred to a ‘buddy’ or ‘bro,’ it was just a few minutes prior to noon that I entered the sizable strip-mall space and seating myself after grabbing a menu it would not be long before ‘crack corn’ and water arrived – the former a relatively straightforward salty-sweet combo with that wasn’t particularly addictive, though a bit more interesting than boring bread-service to be sure. Clearly a kitchen where tongue-in-cheek and whimsy are part of the show it was in a duo of vegetables that my meal began and although the Peas and Carrots was decidedly delicious with plenty of vegetal sweetness amidst the crisp wontons, the “beeten apple” was mostly forgettable – a stacked pseudo-bruschetta compromised by lifeless bread with honey and apple mostly overwhelming both cheese and thinly cut beets. Moving next to options from the pork and chicken parts of the menu it was the Monte Cristo that arrived first and griddled rather than fried the sandwich was far lighter than usual, a fact furthered by far too little filling to go with just a drizzle of jam. Moving next to a clever presentation of Chicken and Waffles that proved to be the best savory of the meal as both the waffle and chicken showed well, it was here that my server inexplicably tried to end the afternoon by offering the check and acting as if I’d eaten ‘a lot’ despite each plates’ modest portions I assured him I would like to go on – a duo of desserts again representing a hit-and-miss proposition as the enormous Chinese-donut-come-churro was excellent on its own – and even moreso when crumbled into the ice cream – while S’mores were poorly executed with marshmallows not warmed through and the chocolate a dense chunk inside the oily outer shell.


TWO AND A HALF STARS: Probably a space better suited for large-group sharing, particularly if paired with enough drinking to make the ‘funzies’ seem more fantastic, Nosh & Swig almost seems to be trying to out-Fieri the Mayor of Flavortown himself – a half-hearted attempt that seemed to fall on deaf ears when I mentioned the flaws in execution on both the ‘bruschetta’ and the S’mores – the later actually garnering a “yeah yeah, I can see that, bro” when I pointed out what seemed to be a half-dissolved Hershey Kiss inside the remaining wonton I sent back to the kitchen untouched.


RECOMMENDED: Peas & Carrots, Cocka-Waffle-Doo, Churrnut Ala Mode.


AVOID: Gimme Sa-More, Beeten Apple.


TIP: Offering a daily happy hour with several menu selections offered at a fraction of the price those interested in checking out Nosh & Swig would be best served to go between 3:00-6:00pm, the ‘standard’ menu not exactly the deal it seems when you take into account the ingredient quality and portion sizes of the items I received.

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



Nosh & Swig on Urbanspoon

Posted in Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Nosh & Swig, Pork, Waffles

KD Donuts & Kolaches, Henderson NV


KD Donuts and Kolaches

image037 image038

Blueberry Cake Donut


Cinnamon Sour Cream Old Fashioned


Apple Fritter


Considering myself a bit of a donut connoisseur I found it somewhat surprising that I’d not heard of KD’s Donuts and Kolaches when browsing local eateries down in Henderson, the small shop with more than a handful of Yelp! reviews and a fair number of Foursquare Check-Ins, as well. Located on Sunset with clever signage and clean décor it was to an admittedly amusing display that I entered the small store and left with plenty of time to peruse the options as an elderly couple attempted to speak English to a store clerk lacking knowledge of even the difference between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ I took a simple point-and-nod approach, my three item order tallying just $3.47 as I sat to dine-in. Admittedly a skeptic based on an already diminished selection as early as 9:00am it was with a small fritter that my sampling began and as the lone one remaining my early suspicions were quickly confirmed, the doughy disc either a day-old or the result of a base entirely lacking anything but flour. Discarding the fritter after only one bite it was onto the old fashioned that I moved and although a step in the right direction the results were not much better – a bit of tang amidst a decent crumb beneath a sugary glaze flecked with dark bits of unidentifiable taste. Last, and thankfully not least, a basic blueberry cake donut was clearly artificially flavored but at least offering some semblance of freshness it was the only option of which I ate more than a bit, the server staring blankly from behind a small television as I discarded the rest and made my way to the street.


ONE AND A HALF STARS: Failing at even the most basic task of serving fresh donuts while presenting the sort of language barrier I’d assumed only present by crossing a border I cannot fathom why anyone would visit KDs except out of convenience, and even then I’d much rather spend the money on gas than suffer such a lackluster experience.




AVOID: Stopping at KD.


TIP: $5 minimum on credit cards, and unless you’re a glutton for punishment I’d strongly recommend not investing that much.


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


KD Donuts and Kolaches on Urbanspoon

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Henderson, KD Donuts & Kolaches, KD Donuts and Kolaches, Las Vegas, Nevada

Weiss Restaurant Deli & Bakery, Henderson NV


Weiss Restaurant, Deli & Bakery

image007 image008

Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with Butter

image012 image013

Short Stack Pancakes

image015 image016

Challah French Toast with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

image040 image041

Bread Pudding

image048 image049

Black and White Cookie

image052 image056

Chocolate Brownie


Located in Henderson and an old-timer on my breakfast ‘to-do’ list it was finally this Saturday that I drove down to Green Valley Parkway and although many may claim Weiss Restaurant, Deli & Bakery to be the ‘best’ Jewish Delicatessen in the city my experience was a mixed one – the prices right, but the food and service both hit and miss. Admitting up front that I’m neither Jewish nor particularly fond of smoked fish and thus leaving judgments of authenticity or the quality of their Lox at the door, it was just short of 8:15am when I entered the deceptively large space and with a young Hispanic gentleman shouting ‘sit anywhere you want’ I did just that, a quick perusal of the deli and bakery confirming some selections for later before sitting down to a menu already in place. Declining potted coffee in favor of water as I was already quite awake from my early morning run I was soon informed that the daily-special French Toast with apples and walnuts would not be ready until an indefinable ‘later’ and equally denied a single buttermilk biscuit side-order because “they come in threes” I instead stuck to the menu, my three part order beginning with a nicely toasted bagel featuring great chew and plenty of plump raisins. Moving next to a two-part pile of pancakes alongside housemade challah griddled golden brown and eschewing Kraft ‘pancake syrup’ in place of maple brought from home it was surprisingly the fluffy flapjacks teaming with buttermilk that outshined French toast not particularly well penetrated by custard and settling the bill quickly for a Jackson inclusive of tax and tip I quickly stepped next door, another $10 paid to a smiley young woman for three items consumed over the next couple hours while enjoying college football and coffee in a nearby lounge – the brownie a touch artificial with mouthfeel compromised by paraffin while the Frisbee sized Black & White was pillowy soft and the re-warmed block of bread pudding presented everything the French Toast did not, each bite soft with custard and equally eggy as it was sweet.


THREE STARS: Equal to Carnegie Deli at half the price but only outshining Bagel Café / Del Mar Deli in the Bread Pudding and Black & White I’d gladly stop by Weiss in the future to check out some more of their baked goods or perhaps a sandwich and soup, but given the nearly 30 minute drive from my home in Summerlin I’ll probably revisit Bagel Café first and recommend others do so as well – the selection, quality, and value all combining to put it a few steps above the rest…enough so that even if I lived in Henderson I’d make the drive northwest.


RECOMMENDED: Bread Pudding, Black & White Cookie.


AVOID: French Toast, Brownie.


TIP: With no website or online menu those seeking more information should check out the restaurant’s FaceBook page – the bill of fare able to be pieced together from photos and ‘weekend specials’ often featured in snapshots…though not necessarily ‘available’ even minutes after opening if my visit is any indication of the norm.

image045 image010

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



Weiss Restaurant Deli and Bakery on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Henderson, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes, Weiss Restaurant Deli & Bakery

Carnevino [3,] Las Vegas NV



image041 image042

Peach Bellini


Gougeres with Gorgonzola

image050 image046

Rosemary Rolls with Lardo and Salted Butter

image054 image053

Grilled Octopus with pickled vegetables and limoncello

image060 image061

Insalata Caprese with burrata and basil

image063 image065

Bruschetta di Stracciatella with charred summer squash

image057 image059

Carne Cruda Alla Piemontese – chopped to order steak tartare

image055 image056

Tagliata di Manzo with BBL beef, arugula, parmigiano

image067 image068

Beef Cheek Ravioli with aceto balsamico


Gnocchi with summer vegetable ragu

image070  image076

Ricotta and Egg Raviolo with brown butter


“Creamed” Corn with pickled peppers


Sauteed Mixed Mushrooms with spring onions


Fried Eggplant with tomato & ricotta


Mascarpone & Guanciale Mashed Potatoes


Cider and Salt Brined 20oz Bone-In Pork Chop


240+ Day Dry Aged 2.5” Riserva Porterhouse


240+ Day Dry Aged 2” Riserva New York Strip


90+ Day Dry Aged Bone-In Ribeye


90+ Day Dry Aged Fiorentina


Gorgonzola Mascarpone Sauce (see photo of table, below)

image117 image119

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Torte with peanut brittle, salted caramel


Cannoli – pistachio brittle, chocolate chip ricotta

image124 image122

Chocolate Cake with bing cherries and candied pecans


Pumpkin Spice Gelato


Pear, Melon, Pink Lady Apple Sorbet

image111 image112

Vanilla Bean Gelato Afogatto


Grappa Soaked Raisin Cookies

image128 image129

In a town where “Whales,” “Ballers,” and “High Rollers” command comps at many Top-Tables it should come as no surprise that the opportunity to indulge on exotic ingredients is available to those willing to pay, yet when it comes to Sin City’s very best beef the question becomes even more complicated – an answer involving not just cash, but time. Known by the term ‘Riserva’ and nowhere present on the restaurant menu our eight-top’s 240+ day dry-aged steak experience actually began years prior with selective sourcing, breeding, feeding, butchery, as well as storage – an aged bacteria direct from Italy driving the latter – and with each stage described at length throughout the course of a 3.5 hour meal that entailed no less than twenty other outstanding plates plus far too many drinks it can only be said that nothing could have prepared us for the meal’s apex, four different steaks plus a chop offering an education in things few will ever have the opportunity to taste. Having already visited Carnevino twice, with wowed results each time, it seems almost a crime to gloss over items like a textbook bellini thick with white peach or tartare so tender it simply dissolved on the tongue but with all apologies to tender pastas including the famous beef cheek ravioli as well as the “super chicken” egg raviolo suffice it to say that only a single side of mushrooms was less than exemplary…but not a one of them could match the meats, the younger steaks and chop easily on par with those from last year while the Riserva was almost unimaginably tender with a flavor profile that ranged from walnuts to stilton to truffles as a buttery basenote lingered in each bite. Undoubtedly a big budget event in a space not unaccustomed to such things it was finally with a table of desserts followed by a small plate of cookies that the evening would end and visited by head chef Nicole Brisson before our departure each of us said our thanks – an invite to tour the aging facility something I look forward to doing soon and a return visit already in the planning stages for when my friends are next in town.


FIVE STARS: Considered by some, including myself, to be the best steakhouse in the country even before this meal suffice it to say that Carnevino upped the stakes (and steaks) for all future meals here in Las Vegas – the private room, the exquisite services, the specially requested soundtrack of Pearl Jam’s Ten played throughout the restaurant, more than a handful of ‘gifts’ joining each course, and especially the Riserva all making a special meal truly world class.


RECOMMENDED: If you can afford it the Riserva is unlike any other beef out there, though with aging no less than 90-days guaranteed even the Ribeyes are better than all but perhaps the city’s best Wagyu. Additional winners were the off-menu (but always available) beef cheek ravioli, egg and ricotta raviolo, mashed potatoes with mascarpone, cannoli, and chocolate cake.


AVOID: Mushrooms were simply overburdened with acid and the ‘steak sauce,’ although delicious, was entirely unnecessary – why would anyone want to add or change the flavor of steaks and chops so well selected?


TIP: Not guaranteed even if requested in advance, due to the possibility that steaks may prove spoiled when cut away from the mold, those interested in trying the Riserva should contact the restaurant approximately a month in advance. For those requesting a private room, no “extra cost” is entailed, though a contract must be signed guaranteeing a pre-tip minimum of $1800 for a party of eight.


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



Carnevino on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Basket, Carnevino, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Gnocchi, Ice Cream, Italian, Las Vegas, Nevada, Octopus, Pork