Jon and Vinny’s, Los Angeles CA

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Jon & Vinny’s

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Raspberry Bombolini

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Warm Banana Bread with Salted Butter

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Rosemary Pinenut Tart with Heavy Cream and Custard

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Honey Date Scone with Salted Butter

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Nutella Toast – Pain de Mie, Nutella, Olive Oil, Sea Salt

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Crispy Potato, Parmesan, Black Pepper

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Olive Oil Fried Eggs, Grilled Tuscan Kale, Crispy Potatoes, ‘Nduja, Preserved Meyer Lemon

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BLT: Grilled Gjusta Cuiabatta, Bacon, Fried Egg, Tomato, Arugula, Aioli

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Buttermilk Pancakes, Berries, Salted Butter, Maple Syrup

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Anson Mills Polenta, Olive Oil, Parmesan, Fried Egg

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LA Woman – Local Burrata, Tomato, Basil, Olive Oil, Sea Salt

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49th Parallel Espresso Soaked Tiramisu

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Chocolate Budino, Caramel, Olive Oil, Sea Salt

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Sal’s Cannoli

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Maple Apple Bread Pudding with Soft Maple Cream

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Missed out on during a September trip to the City of Angels when a fire behind the oven temporarily shut the small shop on Fairfax down, it was almost a similar fate that befell a visit to Jon & Vinny’s during a more recent trip westward thanks to a fully-booked Friday evening, last-minute scrambles rescheduling a party of four for a brunch rolling into lunch that once again showed the guys behind Animal and Son of a Gun striking paydirt – not one item out of fifteen less than delicious though auto-grat service charges once again seemed to bring staff’s motivation to exert additional effort down.

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At this point sort of a known entity, the narrowness of the space and loud music from days gone expected and actually conducive to happy smiles and spontaneous bouts of sing-along, Jon & Vinny’s sees the reigning kings of Los Angeles ‘cool kid’ dining take on an Italian Pizzeria concept and offering breakfast from 8:00-11:30am daily before transitioning to a lunch/dinner menu served continuously till closing the concepts of locally sourced, top-tier ingredients and in-house baking are proudly promoted both on the menu and by staff, the pastry case itself a reason to visit even in a city where modern upscale bakeries are not for lack.

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Seated in a slick wooden booth, the expandable tables along the wall paralleling a Chef’s Counter and open kitchen allowing larger parties when need be, it was just past 10:15am when the full party was seated and perusing both menus before an order was placed it was only after a perplexing delay that coffee was served along with four pastries, the $1 per refill after one upcharge a bit offputting considering the fact that it was drip with a $5 up-front price.

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Not a breakfast for the thrifty, though certainly not pushing the upper edge in a city with occasionally laughable cost:quality ratios, it was with four pastries from the glass plus one toasty slice of Gjusta Brioche slathered with Nutella, Olive Oil and flakes of Salt that the meal got underway and whether one starts with a light pocket stuffed with Raspberry Jam or the dense Banana Loaf there really is no ‘wrong’ choice, the scone brought to life by butter as good as most found in Europe while the Tart eats like an Italian ode to Gateau Basque with aromatics offered by Rosemary sandwiched by Custard and Whipped Cream.

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Moving on to the proper breakfast menu, four “entrees” and a side of crispy smashed potatoes rife with pepper and parm selected, Jon & Vinny’s offers options intended to please fans of both sweet as well as savory and although items like a BLT that entirely eschews “L” or Olive Oil Fried Eggs may not seem all that ‘exciting’ the quality of the ingredients and care in preparation more than make up for such simplicity, the spicy ‘nduja particularly memorable as were the buttery bowl of polenta heavily shaved with Parmesan and light-as-a-feather yeast-leavened Pancakes.

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Saving room for the lunch menu, though service delays would inevitably prevent ordering meatballs, chicken, or pasta it was after nearly thirty-five minutes that one of Jon & Vinny’s signature pies would emerge from the oven and featuring just the right amount of blister amidst a crust that was cracker thin the “LA Woman” proved as perfect as all the rumors would have one believe, the burrata quite literally the texture of butter while tomatoes were bright with acid complimented only by flakes of sea salt and olive oil, whole leaf basil adding its characteristic herbal tinge.

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Requesting desserts to be expedited, a hockey game at Staples beginning at 1:00, it was with another quartet that the meal would end and although the budino was a relatively straight forward chocolate pudding both the unthinkably light Tiramisu and Maple Soaked Brioche with roasted apples were nothing short of reference standard, a similar compliment paid to a filled-to-order cannoli with a shell so robust that it actually proved difficult to crack without making a mess, the chocolate chip studded filling hovering somewhere between mascarpone and ricotta in texture without being overly sweet.

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http://www.jonandvinnys.com/

Jon and Vinny's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Pudding, Breakfast, California, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Jon & Vinny's, Jon and Vinny's, Los Angeles, Pancakes, Pizza, Pork, Tiramisu, Vacation

Shaky Alibi, Los Angeles CA

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Shaky Alibi

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Liege Waffle with Salted Caramel and Pecans

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Chocolate Dipped Waffle Shot Affogato with Caramel Chip Ice Cream and Bacon Crumble

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In the midst of planning a trip to Belgium, fine dining the impetus but undoubtedly planning to sample through several waffles and confections along the way, it seemed all-too-fortuitous that an early start to the day saw me discard much of “first breakfast” as I headed towards Fairfax for brunch, a quick stop into Shaky Alibi finding a few patrons sipping coffee while browsing the internet as a friendly staff of three stood by.

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More or less a “do one thing and do it well” sort of spot, though a few egg dishes do join the Liege Waffles on the menu, it was after a brief perusal of the various toppings that an order was placed and deemed a “great choice” by my waitress as expectedly “hip” coffee house favorites chimed overhead.

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Long and narrow in size, local artists invited to display and sell pieces hung along the walls, it was the work of a hirsuit young man to individually craft each Waffle and sampling a piece of the original with powdered sugar while I waited the exterior crunch and sugar pearls were immediate reasons for optimism, though it was somewhat disappointing to learn the baked goods at the register are not made in-house.

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“Pricy” to an extent, though quality butter, sugar and spreads show Shaky Alibi’s commitment to doing things right, it was as the Waffle was being prepared that I decided to indulge in one of the restaurant’s more recent creations and although generally a coffee “purist” aside from a bit of sweetener I have to admit the chocolate coated waffle shot glass is a clever little invention, the double shot of espresso poured over ice cream from McConnell’s even more outlandish when sprinkled with crispy bacon.

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Watching the cook carefully knife my waffle from the press, a golden hue dominating the crisp exterior as pockets of butter and punctuation marks of sugar compete for top billing in the fluffy core beneath, it was only after toasted pecans and a layer of imported Belgian Caramel were added from a small jar that the $7.75 treat arrived at the table, each bite every bit on par with Liege waffles experienced to date Stateside and filling me with hopes that those overseas may indeed be as memorable at “half the price,” as trusted sources say.

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www.shakyalibi.com

Shaky Alibi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, California, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Los Angeles, Pork, Shaky Alibi, Vacation, Waffles

The Original Martino’s Bakery, Burbank CA

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The Original Martino’s Bakery

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Tea Cake

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Blueberry Tea Cake

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Carrot Cake

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German Chocolate Cake

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Bear Claw

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Apple Fritter Danish

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Cannoli

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Raspberry Tart

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Perhaps not as iconic as The Original Bob’s Bigboy, but serving the people of Burbank since 1926 with Cakes and Pies offered at restaurants including Philippe The Original, it was just after 7:00am Saturday that arrival at The Original Martino’s Bakery found the family-owned space already bustling with locals – many coming and going while others commenced a daily routine of chatting with the staff over a cup of coffee plus one of several pastries.

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Italian in name, though mostly spanning American Classics with a limited smattering of cookies and an embarrassing soggy cannoli left to make one wonder exactly who Martino might have been, the service staff at the small Bakery is pleasant if not particularly knowledgable of the product, samples described as Maple Walnut tasting moreso of the “Apple Fritter Danish” that I ordered, the baked dough neither crispy like a fritter nor particularly packed with apple beneath the sweet glaze.

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Sitting down to partake in the rest, a small thumbprint cookie tasting more like Smucker’s than anything homemade, suffice it to say that the highly acclaimed Tea Cakes were about as good as such things get while both cupcakes were marred by dryness, the German Chocolate faring better than underspiced carrot cake largely as a result of the coconut-pecan topping.

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Admittedly impressed by the Bear Claw, a sizable pastry stuffed full of lightly sweetened pureed nuts, it was finally with more disappointment that Martino’s refused to slice any of their trademark cakes – a longstanding policy that would seem to make more sense if the place weren’t so busy…though perhaps for the better considering the marginal quality of almost everything else on the shelves.

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http://www.martinosbakery.com/

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

Posted in Bread Basket, Breakfast, Burbank, California, cupcake, cupcakes, Dessert, Food, Los Angeles, Martino's, Martino's Bakery, The Original Martino's Bakery, Vacation

Otium, Los Angeles CA

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Otium

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Iced Tea

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Blue Fin Tuna- Rice – Ginger – Smoked Soy

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Sea Urchin – Brioche – Lardo – Pistachio – Truffle Butter

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Cauliflower – Grapes – Almond – Cilantro – Sultana

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Butternut Squash – Ricotta – Coffee – Pepitas

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Falafel – Eggplant – Cucumber – Meyer Lemon – Chickpea

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Foie Gras – Funnel Cake – Strawberry – Fennel – Balsamic

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Chicory Tart – Orange – Almond – Oxtail Marmalade

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Donabe Smoked Guanciale – Apple – Potato – Walnuts

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Spaghetti – Cauliflower – Curry – Sea Urchin

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Spinach Bucatini – Egg – Bacon – Clam – Crème Fraiche

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Anson Mills Polenta – Mascarpone – Black Truffle

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Lobster – Truffle – Lettuce – Yam Veloute

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Cod – Burnt Onion – Clam – Sea Bean

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Duck – Pear – Chocolate – Turnip – Endive – Hazelnut

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Banana Cream Grand Macaron

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Coconut Sorbet – Salty Chocolate Brownies

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Coconut Sorbet – Ginger Crumble

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Opened in late 2015 adjacent to The Broad museum there is unlikely to be a more anticipated Los Angeles debut in the next twelve months than ex-French Laundry Chef Timothy Hollingsworth’s Otium, and fortunate to secure an 8:45pm four-top in the main dining room the experience proved to be much like one might expect of a restaurant just finding its legs on the West Coast – a mix of hits and misses for both cuisine and service in a room full of high design.

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Assuredly a return to his comfort zone for the 35 year old Chef, his boutique barbeque at Barrel & Ashes a bizarre concept that fails to upgrade the scene in any appreciable way, Otium sits as an ode to Southern California with everything from ingredients to artwork as locally sourced as possible and with plenty of air beneath bumping music the vibe is both sceney and casual – a bit less boisterous than Bestia but not dissimilar, perhaps to be expected given Bill Chait’s influence before leaving Sprout Restaurant Group.

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Described by our server, an overstretched young man who was at times careful but othertimes oddly dismissive in the setting of 18% auto-grat, as a “New American fine dining tasting menu served family style,” the idea at Otium actually trends closer to precious tapas made with premium ingredients at a price skewed towards the highbrow Los Angeles arts scene, and making way through sixteen plates plus six drinks including wine, cocktails and mocktails for $569 the meal pacing was admittedly perfect, a self-selected benefit of ordering in rounds.

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Cutting some slack as relates to service, iced tea sometimes disappearing and once replaced with cold-brew coffee, while presentations consisted of little more than “This is the Tuna” those wishing to know more about the plates are encouraged to be precise with questions as many are directed straight to the Chefs and possessing a precise hand refined at the elbow of Thomas Keller it was indeed the Blue Fin that started things off, the warm rice cradling tender flesh with notes of smoke lingering after an up-front ginger kiss.

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Benefited by the bounty of local markets and a skilled hand for coaxing the most from both produce and herbs, the top of the Otium menu focused on vegetables and raw fish, fans of Michael White may be interested in seeing how Hollingsworth’s Uni Toast compares while those who value their cash should steer clear at $4+ per now-expected bite, the Butternut Squash and *particularly* the blackened half Cauliflower far more dynamic with the the addition of citrus, raisins, and smoky almonds set beside sliced grapes.

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Referencing his earliest meals making dinner with family as an invitation to dine in his new “home,” it seems unlikely that Chef Timothy’s childhood focused on falafel or funnel cake, but offering both fried items in highly innovative fashion one would be hard-pressed to decide which was more impressive, the former a salty little pocket balanced between pickles and citrus while the later is every bit as the sum of parts its ingredients would suggest, the mousse actually quite light atop its crispy golden lattice with the Strawberries and Vinegar adding only a touch of sweetness.

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Smiling broadly after bites of the buttery tart topped in Chicories and Marmalade that referenced a fine French Onion Soup the Japanese grill-pot was uncapped tableside with a billow of smoke that carried the flavors of pork atop apples and purple potatoes, the follow-up of housemade pastas first riffing on Carbonara with both literal and figurative luke-warm success while the steamy Spaghetti put Sea Urchin to good use with a very subtle hint of curry.

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‘Tis the season for Tuber melanosporum and wowed by presentations at The French Laundry as well as Per Se in the past it cannot be denied that Hollingsworth shares his mentor’s generosity when shaving the good stuff over creamy polenta punched up with Hazelnuuts atop a brush of Bordelaise, and although “entrees” trend almost as expensive as the luxury ingredient the Butter-Poached Lobster atop a makeshift Chicken Salad plus potage of Yam is perhaps the menu’s best item, the snappy tail arguable the best prepared I’ve ever tasted from Keller or any of his protegees.

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Struck more by the $40 pricetag of the Duck than by the fowl itself and actually outright hating the desirable sounding Cod as a result of a flavor that crossed the line from smoke to acrid and burnt it was just pat eleven o’clock that the table was informed that not only had the Rum Baba been discontinued but that the chocolate torte was “sold out,” a lone dessert, ice cream, and composed cheese plate visibly disappointing more than one at the table considering the 30 or so savories, though the Banana Bread flavored Macaron and complimentary offering of creamy coconut ice cream topped with salted dark chocolate brownies were indeed both nice.

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http://otiumla.com/

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

Posted in California, Coffee, Dessert, Foie, Food, Ice Cream, Lobster, Los Angeles, Macaroon, Otium, Pork, Truffle, Truffles, Vacation

Porto’s Bakery, Burbank CA

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Porto’s Bakery

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Cuban Sandwich – Pork, Ham, Pickles, Cuban Spread, Cuban Bread

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Chicken Croquetta

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Ham Croquetta

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Chorizio Pie

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Chicken and Vegetable Empanada

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Carrot Cake

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Tres Leches

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Florentine

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Baba au Rhum

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Caramel Eclair

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Sally Cake

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Guava Streudel

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Sweet Croissant

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Dulce de Leche Bundt

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Almost universally celebrated for their Cuban Sandwich, Potato Balls plus a stunning array of pastries, Portos has withstood the test of time in a city where “new” often seems to be misinterpreted as “best,” and now with three locations spread throughout the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area including an enormous outlet in Burbank the only real questions when visiting are “how hungry are you?” and “how long are you willing to wait?”

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Busy from open to close, the draw entailing what seems like every age and race, arrival at Portos found the line nearly seventy deep on a Friday just before closing and with chaos controlled by queues plus a sort of “traffic cop” hostess the experience unfolded in a slow-moving march to the counter, options perused at varying distance on the approach before placing a sizable order to a young man who memorized it with ease.

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With most items immediately boxed or carefully wrapped while sandwiches require a short wait it was with luck that a table was secured in the jammed-packed dining room and tucking into hot items first both croquettas proved both creamy and oilless while the small handpie and empanada actually came across dry despite a good amount of filling and spice, likely the result of my late arrival and time underneath warming lights.

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Receiving the pressed Cuban just before snapping the last photos of dessert one is immediately struck by the use of a light yellow spread in place of simple mustard and offering a bit more subtlety by breaking tradition the pork duo is allowed more room to shine amidst the melted cheese and pickle chips, those watching their salt intake best advised to avoid.

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Underwhelmed by a disastrous ‘croissant’ that eats like a dinner roll and Carrot Cake that is both dry and lacking in spices beneath frosting that speaks of little more than Crisco and Sugar it was onward to more intriguing desserts that the tasting progressed and beginning with a nutty Florentine dipped in chocolate Portos showed a knack for anything featuring caramel, the buttery bundt’s soft crumb far more delicate than the popular chain based out of Nevada while the eclair’s crisp choux showed signs of French skills that the croissant sorely lacked.

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Having enjoyed the Guava Cheese Danish in the past there was little doubt the jam-filled Streudel would perform equally well and expecting good things from the Tres Leches my assumptions of sweet, milky pudding was soon confirmed – the smallish round devoured in slow, smile-inducing bites.

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Intrigued by the “Sally Cake,” essentially a cinnamon crumble topped Blueberry Muffin with a surprising density of fruit, it was with the sopping wet Baba that the tasting concluded, the booze flavor admittedly a bit artificial but the intensity of sweetness and subtle almond notes more than enough to make me not care.

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http://www.portosbakery.com/?field_location_value_1=2

Porto's Bakery & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Burbank, California, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Los Angeles, Pork, Porto's Bakery, Portos, Vacation

Island Malaysian Cuisine, Las Vegas NV

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Island Malaysian Cuisine

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Curry Puffs – Potato, Chicken, Onions

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Roti Canal – Crispy Indian Style Pancake with Curry Chicken Dipping Sauce

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Chicken with Preserved Egg Porridge

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Ginger Scallion Duck Noodle

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Pisang Pancake – Sliced Bananas and Coconut Spread

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Chef’s Special Coconut Pudding

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Located in a large plaza at 5115 Spring Mountain Road it would be deceitful to suggest this diner had even heard of Island Malaysian Cuisine before exiting another meal just one hour prior, but occasionally deferring to the interests of others it was at the top of a concrete staircase just past eight o’clock that the surprisingly popular restaurant was approached.

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On further research apparently the most well-regarded place in town promoting an “authentic” Malaysian menu it is to two distinct signs but only viable door that patrons are greeted and with warm welcome inside by a duo of hostesses it was to a four-top at the front of the restaurant our duo was led, the menu of more than one hundred items perused in English alongside one featuring pictures as a few tables of CES conventioneers and locals sat dispersed about the large room.

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Decorated in a mix of ethnic items and NFL banners, a TV and Pool Table close to restrooms in back, it was after careful deliberation that a four-part order was crafted, the kitchen expedient with golden pockets of curried chicken arriving a few moments later, though the spice profile was mild while starch overwhelmed protein.

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Moving onward to better things, a crisp fold of roti served alongside a small bowl of vibrant red sauce and bone-in chicken, it was next in a comically large $6.50 bowl of boiled rice soup that appetites were entrusted, the texture more heterogeneous than typically associated with congee even before the addition of sliced century egg and chicken, a follow-up of fragrant noodles mostly pleasant despite being liberally oiled and tossed with duck that was almost 50% bone.

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A pleasant space to sit and talk, the service timely and noise level not-too-loud, the menu’s back features a fair number of sweets and although options trend a bit more pricey than other Chinatown spots the portions are quite generous, a “Banana Pancake” textured not unlike the roti more than enough to share with nothing more than caramelized natural flavors used to sweeten it while the “Chef’s Special” offers several scoops of panna cotta textured coconut milk that reminisces the flavor of chilled Tapioca Pudding.

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TWO AND A HALF STARS: Just under $30 each after tax and tip for a meal not-inappropriately large for two – even after substantial eating elsewhere – it would be difficult to call Island Malaysian Cuisine a bargain considering the ingredient quality and uneven execution, but all-in-all a pleasant enough place with a really good staff it may warrant a return visit at a later date in order to sample more things.

RECOMMENDED: Chicken with Preserved Egg Porridge, Roti Canal, Coconut Pudding.

AVOID: Bone-In Duck, Curry Puffs (or at least more than one.)

TIP: The online menu is merely a small part of that offered in-house.

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

http://www.islandmalaysian.com/

Island Malaysian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Dessert, Food, Island Malaysian Cuisine, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes

Table 10 [3,] Las Vegas NV

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Table 10

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Lychee Drop – Plymouth gin, Soho lychee liqueur, guanabana juice

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Dinner roll – whipped butter

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China Ranch Dates – bacon wrapper – marcona almond – port sauce – Maytag blue cheese

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Flame Roasted Marrow Bones – toasted baguette – sea salt

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Candied North Country Bacon – Noble Tonic #1

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Lobster Rangoon – cream cheese, sauce trio

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Braised Beef Cheek Poutine – hand cut fries, curds

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Foie Gras and Truffle Popcorn – sea salt

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Alaskan King Crab Benedict – La Quercia ham, quail egg

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Smokey Mushroom Pasta – tasso ham – smoked mushrooms – parmesan reggiano cheese

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Butternut Squash Raviolis – brown butter sage sauce – parmesan reggiano cheese + toasted pistachio

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Maple Leaf Farm’s Crispy Duck Breast – warm duck confit + pear salad – walnut pesto – flower petals

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Lobster Mac n’ Cheese – Maine lobster meat – Vermont cheddar cheese – panko crust

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Rack of New Zealand Venison – juniper berry reduction + pistachio

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Beignets – coffee anglaise

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Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie, White Chocolate Malassadas, Spice Carrot Cake

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Banana’s Foster Bread Pudding – caramelized bananas – whipped cream – chocolate shavings

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Not a Chef known for failures, all four of his Las Vegas restaurants still going strong in an environment that often fancies whatever is new as opposed to what is actually ‘best,’ it was during a Special Event book signing hosted by Emeril Lagasse himself that I originally met new Table10 Chef de Cuisine James Richards and sensing the new toque’s passion it seemed only a matter of time before he made some changes, the first of these beginning less than one month ago with a “Snack Bar” looking to raise the stakes for Happy Hour while also allowing the kitchen staff a chance to play.

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Appropriately named as the menu is offered only at hightop seats overlooking the sprawling kitchen in back, the idea behind Snack Bar is essentially serving a few classic Emeril bites alongside chalkboard specials priced at less than ten bucks, the freshly made share plates beginning at 4pm and offered in limited quantities depending on ingredient availability for each.

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Considered by many a misunderstood place, the other Lagasse Restaurants clearly focused of Fish, Steaks and Tailgate favorites, items on the Table10 Snack Bar show the range of a kitchen equally capable of making a good pasta or searing a rack of Venison, both items sampled from the nightly dinner menu with the Lobster Mac and signature Smokey Mushroom Noodles from Pasta Shop each a bonafide sharable bargain for less than $20, the “American Beauty” Duck living up to its name with flower petals decorating rosy flesh and a salad tossed with crispy confit thigh.

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Offering comfortable seating, the highback bar stools soft and wide enough that diners will want to stick around sipping cocktails while watching Richards and team hard at work, no trip to the Snack Bar would be complete without a plate of Emeril’s Candy-like Bacon bolstered by Barrel Aged Nobel Tonic, not to mention locally sourced Devils on Horseback or the huge plate of Roasted Marrow Bones served simply with Bread and Sea Salt, the rare item cracking double digits and still a bargain at just $11.

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Getting onto daily whimsy, the King Crab Benedict unfortunately tipped a bit briny by too much Tasso served in the hash on top, better balance was found in shredded beef cheek complimented by crisp French Fries and bubbling cheese curds, the duck fat popcorn studded with Black Truffles and Foie Gras surprisingly successful for something that at first seemed silly while the “Rangoon” were greaseless golden Potstickers far better than any to be found in Chinatown at a slightly higher price.

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Never to pass up Dessert at a restaurant from my very first “favorite” Chef the trio of Carrot Cake, Malassadas, and Banana Cream Pie proved no less perfect than ever while Snack Bar Beignets achieved the rare feat of being neither too sweet nor too doughy, the Bread Pudding finally making its return after a long absence reason enough to pay Table 10 a visit with the caramelized banana base and plenty of butter given levity by a touch of booze, shaved dark chocolate, and airy whipped cream.

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FOUR STARS: Taking a chance by thinking outside the box, something locals can only hope more Casino kitchens might do, the Snack Bar at Table 10 is poised to reinterpret the concept of Happy Hour by putting creativity back in the hands of its Chefs and whether for a full meal or just a few bites the results are quite impressive for the price point, the restaurant as a whole equally so.

RECOMMENDED: Candied North Country Bacon, Lobster Rangoon, Smokey Mushroom Pasta, Maple Leaf Farm’s Crispy Duck Breast, Desserts (all of ’em.)

AVOID: Alaskan King Crab Benedict was far too salty while Butternut Squash Raviolis could have benefitted from a pinch more.

TIP: As yet, the Snack Bar Menu is only available by walking to the back of Table10 – something one might hope Social Media may soon broadcast to generate a buzz and lure repeat visitors back.

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

http://www.emerilsrestaurants.com/table-10/

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

Posted in Bread Basket, Bread Pudding, Crab, Dessert, Emeril, Foie, Food, Las Vegas, Lobster, Nevada, Pork, Table 10, Truffle

Herringbone, Las Vegas NV

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Herringbone

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House Made Iced Tea

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Crostini – Uni, Lardo, Leeks, Sea Salt

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Oysters – Kimchee Mignonette, Naked Cowboy, East Beach Blond, Fat Bastard

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Naked Cowboy Shooter – King Crab, Caviar, Citrus, Radish

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Hamachi Crudo – Radishes, Pomegranate, Jalapeno, Olive Oil, Sea Salt

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Sashimi of Escolar – Page Mandarin, Bosc Pear Salsa, Cracked Black Pepper, Sea Salt, Olive Oil

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Nontraditional/Traditional Poke – Macadamia Nuts, Crispy Onions, Togarashi, Fresh Ginger, Fresh Garlic, Shoju with Green Onion Pancakes

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Sashimi “Nicoise” – Hawaiian Big Eye Tuna, Italian Tuna Sauce, Tapanade, Crispy PeeWee Potatoes, Poached Quail Egg, Hericot Verts, Garlic Aioli

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Tuna Belly – Beet Gastrique, Beet Chips, Beet Greens, Olive Oil

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Beet Napoleon – Pickled, Roasted, Beet Puree, Lavender Honey, Shaved Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese, Red Watercress

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Onion Soup – Gruyere Cheese Ravioli, Pretzel Crouton, Beef Stock

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Thai Style Wings – Cilantro Soy Sauce, Garlic, Chili, Peanut Sauce

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Grandma’s Meatballs – Pork Neck Ragu, Grilled Bread, Handmade Ricotta

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Bacon and Egg Raviolo – Black Truffle, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Wild Mushroom Sautee

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Seared Branzino – Parsnip Puree, Pancetta Hash, Olive Oil

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Broccoli Rabe, French Beans, Carrots

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Tails and Belly – White Sea Bass, Blood Orange, Anchovy Butter, Salsa Verde

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Double Espresso on Ice

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Coconut Carrot Cake – Ginger Cream Cheese, Candied Carrot, Coconut & Pineapple Sorbet

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Salted Caramel Panna Cotta – Chantilly Cream, Caramel Corn, Chocolate Crunch

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Adult Root Beer Float – Not Your Father’s Root Beer, Vanilla Bean, Cinnamon Hazelnut Ice Cream, Warm Ginger Snaps

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Turtle Cheesecake – Oreo Cookie Crust, Toasted Pecans, Caramel

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Opened days before the close of 2015 but long awaited by in-the-know locals as a homecoming for former Nove chef Geno Bernardo, Herringbone represents the most recent addition to an ever-revitalizing second floor of Aria and although technically a spin-off of celebrity Chef Brian Malarkey’s “Fish Meats Field” concept from Southern California the new restaurant is already showing signs of differentiating itself from the original – not to mention anything else in Las Vegas as a whole.

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Billed as a social dining space, lounge-style sofas and chairs or tall-boy bar stools currently the only seating options as the launch of an outdoor patio has been delayed due to chilly weather and a “wind tunnel” created by other surrounding structures, Herringbone sits caddy-corner to the soon-closing Zarkana theater and with bands like Radiohead chiming overhead the vibe is as casual as any in the casino while the menu ranges from clever bar bites and a raw bar to items many-fold more complex and vibrant.

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Admittedly known to the Chef and as such treated to a carte blanche tasting incorporating current menu favorites and ideas yet-to-come, it was with incredibly attentive service that twenty plates were presented over the course of three hours, the AFC Playoffs complete with live audio drawing in a nearly full-house to see the Chiefs shutout the Texans while our table barely took notice of the surroundings from the moment a crisp piece of bread topped with uni under a veil of cured pork fat was served.

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With beverages kept brimming throughout the meal, house-brewed Iced Tea nicely nuanced with citrus and herbs, courses two and three featured peerless East Coast Oysters that had not been out of their native waters for more than 36 hours before progressing into a one-two punch of Hamachi and Wahoo each elegantly presented with Mani olive oil, citrus and light spicing, each working to highlight the fish without ever once blunting it while equally well tying together for a clean and concise taste.

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Far reaching in terms of influences, the jar of Hawaiian Poke an amalgam of no less than a half-dozen recipes with Chinese Pancakes presented as warm delivery mechanisms before moving onto a riff on Tuna Nicoise that tiptoes a bit too close to briny despite being tethered by green beans and wrinkled potatoes, it was nearing the menu’s midpoint that vegetables truly took center stage, beets from Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby first used to generate a lively gastrique encircling tuna belly before being presented as a jewel-box worthy Mille-feuille that married flavors of earth and sweetness.

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Transitioning now to warm plates, concepts presented showing Geno’s versatility atop an Italian heritage that provides the recipe for one of the city’s best meatballs resting in a rich pork ragu, those recalling the Chef’s pastas from high atop The Palms will be happy to know the handmade Gruyere ravioli swimming in rich beef stock are absolutely reference standard, the same to be said of yolky pockets lightly accented with bacon alongside blistered tomatoes that are set or a March brunch debut.

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Stunned by the spicy Lollipop Wings, generally not a preferred order for two-of-three at the table but here virtually oilless with a great spice profile alongside housemade peanut sauce, it was next to two large-plate fishes that the table was treated, crispy skinned Branzino finding fanciful dance partners in creamed parsnips and smoky hash while “Tails and Bellies” of White Sea Bass just received that morning were meaty and mild amidst segments of blood orange and a piquant green sauce.

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Enjoying an iced Espresso while waiting briefly for dessert, the sweets section by far the most memorable part of a night at Brian Malarkey’s Seersucker several months ago, Herringbone likewise pulls no punches with regard to creativity or presentation in sending diners off at the end of a meal, the carrot cake veering light where others trend too heavy though the use of airy coconut frosting while the cheesecake and float offer playful takes on American classics, the best bites coming last from silky-smooth spoonfuls of cream-topped Caramel Panna Cotta.

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FOUR STARS: Based solely on the food presented to our table Herringbone shows high likelihood of rapidly emerging as one of the best places for seafood in town, but taking into account the current seating situation and a menu still undergoing renovation the experience is not yet a 100% complete vision – the mere fact that this place is only likely to get *better* with time definitely something to be excited about.

RECOMMENDED: Sashimi of Escolar, Ahi Tuna Poke, Tuna Belly, Grandma’s Meatballs, Seared Branzino, Panna Cotta.

AVOID: Sashimi “Nicoise” edged a little too close to oversalted for my tastes.

TIP: As noted above, several plates served during this lunch were in the vein of daily specials and upcoming menu ideas. Current online menus are accurate to those within the restaurant.

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

https://www.aria.com/en/restaurants/herringbone.html#/Menu

Posted in Coffee, Dessert, Food, Herringbone, Ice Cream, Italian, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pancakes, Pork, Tasting Menu, Truffle

Harvest by Roy Ellamar, Las Vegas NV

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Harvest by Roy Ellamar

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Bottled French 75

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Prickly Pear

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Grissini and Lavash with Greek Yogurt

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Chef Roy’s Wagon – Eggplant Caviar, Kalbi Filet Migon, Spicy Steak Tartare, Hawaiian Ahi Poke

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Eggplant Caviar – Caponata, Grilled Bread

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Hawaiian Ahi Poke – Red Chili, Cilantro, Yuzu

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Charcuterie Board – Foie Gras Torchon, House Made Pate Campagne, Tete de cochon, Rillete, Broadbent Ham, Housemade Jam, Pickles, Spicy Mustard, Grilled Bread

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Ham and Goat Cheese Flatbread – Drake’s Farm – Brussels Sprouts, Broadbent Ham

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Roasted Baby Beets – Blue Lizard Farms – Beet Top Pistou, Spiced Yogurt, Pickled Yali Pear

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Duck Confit Buns – Grimaud Farms – Brioche Steam Bun, Foie Gras, Pickled Radish, Kumquat Preserve

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Farro Picollo Porridge – Kenter Canyon- Foraged Wild Mushrooms, Slow Cooked Farm Egg (+White Truffles)

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Grass Fed and Finished Painted Hills Beef Hanger Steak – Caramelized Shallots, Herb Butter, Squash Puree, served with Bernaise and Red Wine Sauce

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Roasted Half Chicken – Mary’s Organic – 24-hour Local Ale Brine, Quick Smoked, Natural Jus

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Potato Gratin – Bee Hive Cheese Crushed Russets, Crème Fraiche

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Charred Brussels Sprouts – Coastal Farms-Bliss Maple Syrup, Mustard Seeds, Bourbon Soy

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Double Espresso on Ice

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Sweet Wagon Delights – Lemonbar, Orange Cream Cheese Stone, Gianduja Mousse, Almond Pear Tart, Tahitian Vanilla Cream Puff, Brownie with Ganache, Candies and Chocolates

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Lemonbar, Orange Cream Cheese Stone, Gianduja Mousse

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Almond Pear Tart, Brownie with Ganache, Tahitian Bean Cream Puff

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Caramel Apple – Vanilla Crumble, Light Caramel, Carrot Juice Foam

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Spiced Pear – Red Wine Spice Reduction, Gingerbread Cake, Mascarpone Ice Cream

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Toffee Pudding – Maple Glazed Bacon, Vanilla Ice Cream

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Beginning 2016 with a pledge to not visit ANY Casino restaurant opening in the calendar year until at least 2017, my interests and those of the Chefs and industry folks I respect better served by revisiting old favorites or exposing the talents of persons in the community that so-called “critics” ignore because of budget limitations and the lack of advertising income generated from such things, it was with good fortune that Harvest by Roy Ellamar began operations just prior to Christmas 2015 – the old Sensi space opened up and downright sexy with a menu unlike Las Vegas Boulevard has ever seen.

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Briefly perused on Christmas Day, but not scheduled for a full dinner until a new friend suggested meeting on a Friday night at 5:30, an early arrival found the sizable space wrapped around a human fishbowl kitchen to be relatively sedate, but spending nearly five hours dining and chatting spread out over several courses any concern over small-plates farm-to-table tucked away in a major casino were allayed, tables and bars filled to brimming with cuisine executed at a very high level.

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Bearing in mind that this is indeed on The Strip, $17 cocktails and volume a touch too loud par for the course, a quick look at the Harvest menu reads like an encyclopedia of America’s best farms and although such things are common elsewhere the novelty of such in Vegas should not be overlooked, prices perhaps a bit more precious than those on Spring Mountain Road or in the Suburbs but certainly not when compared to New York, Chicago, or The Bay Area.

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Starting every table with bread and yogurt, the cocktail menu likely to tempt all but the most ardent teetotaler into at least one with great seasonal flavors including a fizzy French 75 enlightened by herbs, arrival of “Chef Roy’s Wagon” gives diners a glimpse of daily inspirations intended to let the team show off their creativity and although a bit spendy at $8 each both the Eggplant Caviar and ruby-red Ahi Poke were well crafted, light, and refreshing – the sort of thing one might want as a small bar bite toward the restaurant’s front.

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Allowing Chef Ellamar to guide our hand while adding in a few special requests round one began with a pile of beautiful beets dressed up in pear and pesto alongside a flatbread crafted from one of Sensi’s remaining Tandori ovens, the crumbly cheese and charred sprouts proving a good counterpoint to Broadbent Ham that can also be found on the $25 *steal* of a Charcuterie Board that also offers a Foie Gras Torchon, Pate Campagne, Tete de cochon, Rillete, Jam, Pickles, Spicy Mustard, and Grilled Bread – every single one of them housemade.

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Continuing with two self-selected interests, a $12 duo of Duck Confit Buns with a generous slice of duck liver atop the crispy thigh from Grimaud Farms finding their foil in pickled Radishes and Kumquat jam, it was this plus an “upgraded” version of ancient Farro cooked tender in chicken stock where the best bites of the evening were discovered, a sous-vide egg providing just enough fat to make the base creamy and carry the pungent truffles and wild mushrooms aloft on the palate.

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Going West for meats, Mary’s Chicken from Pitman Family Farm and 100% Grass Fed Painted Hills Beef each well presented with the former’s three-step brine, smoke, and roast adding a lot of complexity and crunch to a bird far more than the typical menu-requisite chicken, both “sides” equally took time and care to highlight ingredient quality without masking them, the tangy potatoes ‘lumpy’ in all the right ways while sprouts achieved a rare task of making me smile even when lightly flecked in mustard.

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Not one to forgo sweets, the Wagon here offering some nine items at $8 for 3, the cute idea would still be better served in offering the Lemonbar or Almond Pear Tart in a full-scale version from my standpoint, but succeeding where Bazaar Meat fails by also offering three plated desserts these $12 compositions are worth every penny, the Sticky Toffee Pudding good enough to give Gordon Ramsay a run for his money while the “Caramel Apple” presents a balanced and fresh interplay not unlike a really good cobbler.

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FOUR STARS: Executing at an extremely high level for a restaurant under a month old and offering the sort of menu Las Vegas sorely needs, Harvest by Roy Ellamar shows that someone at MGM has finally woken up and realized the city needs less bad burgers, indistinct Americana, or overpriced Red Sauce, the right to source great products and list the farms involved on the menu while putting his name above the door an added bonus well deserved by a humble and hardworking Chef who has spent years in Las Vegas earning those things.

RECOMMENDED: Charcuterie, Duck Buns, Farro Porridge, Baby Beets, Caramel Apple, Sticky Toffee Pudding.

AVOID: The Wagon is cute, but both the sweets and savories on it are skewed to the left with regard to cost:quality ratio and don’t offer the same level of creativity as the proper menu. Seating towards the sides, under speakers, also trends loud while the back of the room is more sedate.

TIP: Located towards the ballrooms, beyond Jean Philippe and the Conservatory.  Open at 5:00pm daily.

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

https://www.bellagio.com/en/restaurants/harvest.html#/Menu

Harvest by Roy Ellamar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Coffee, Dessert, Foie, Food, Harvest, Harvest by Roy Ellamar, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Tasting Menu, Truffle

Craft 64, Scottsdale AZ

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Craft 64

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Margarita – Fresh Mozzarella – Tomato Sauce – Basil (Half with Prosciutto)

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Nutella Indulgence – Plantains – Hazelnuts – Butter – Fleur de Sel – Desert Honey

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Located in Old Town and widely celebrated since opening for a beer and wine list supporting the diversity of breweries and wineries throughout the state of Arizona it was admittedly with other interests in mind that this diner approached Craft 64, an 8pm arrival finding not a single table open with one lone seat remaining at the bar.

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Owned by Josh Ivey and Roger Carpenter, both well known locally for work in the world of adult beverages, and tapping Chef Horacio Hernandez – he of 17 years pizza making experience with Chris Bianco – to head up the kitchen, Craft 64 looks much like any other bustling Scottsdale Bar but what those merely walking by may fail to realize is that through a small window to the right of numerous taps the is something truly special taking place, the man known as “Lachos” turning out some of the city’s best wood-fired dough.

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Bustling to the point of bursting, several folks merely passing through as part of a bar hop and therefor never sitting down, it was n front of a jovial bar man that I spent the evening and deferring EtOH in favor of H2O it was after perusing an expectedly well-culled menu that an order progressed, one pie and one calzone delivered in two well timed courses presenting a conundrum as to which was best.

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Making dough, cheese, sauce, and every meat except imported prosciutto from scratch, it was perhaps ten minutes before the still-bubbling Margarita arrived before be and opting to add the Italian pork to half in order to experience both base and upgrade the flavor of the crust came across with a robust yeastiness enhanced by char, the tomato sauce a dead-ringer for the purity and balance at Bianco while the cheese was not quite on par to imported Mozzarella di Bufala, but creamy with a good amount of stretch.

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Onward to something sweet, the same crust here folded over and baked golden with a molten center of Nutella, Butter and Banana, suffice it to say that the “Nutella Indulgence” undoubtedly lived up to its name even before a liberal drizzle of honey, both myself and the barman agreeing that only ice cream could have made it better – an option unavailable since everything at Craft 64 is so fresh that they don’t need a refrigerator or freezer.

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http://craft64.com/

Craft 64 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Arizona, Craft 64, Craft64, Dessert, Food, Phoenix, Pizza, Pork, Scottsdale, Vacation

Super Chunk Sweets and Treats, Scottsdale AZ

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Super Chunk Sweets and Treats

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Cowpuncher Cookie – Mexican chocolate, cayenne, cinnamon, candied jalapeno / Brownie – Cookie Crumble, sea salt, chocolate chips

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JOHN & YOKO Cake – 3 layers of honey cake soaked with a cinnamon tres leches, layered and topped with honeycomb candy and mascarpone whipped cream

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Carrot Cake – Yuzu Cream Cheese Frosting

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Nanaimo Peanut Butter Pie – Gluten Free Graham Cracker, Coconut, Peanut, Cocoa Crust, Peanut Butter Mascarpone Filling, Coconut Ganache

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Zac’s Bean to Bar Ice Cream, Candy Cap Mushroom Ice Cream, Leatherwood Honey Ice Cream

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Tucked away amidst the Turquoise and Silver shops of Old Town Scottsdale and about as “mom n’ pop” as it gets, Super Chunk Sweets and Treats was perhaps the most eagerly anticipated stop on a recent trip South and with walls decorated in exotic chocolates alongside several housemade treats the experience really could not have been any better; each bite of eight individual items showing the combined effects of creativity and a serious knack for balance.

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Owned by husband/wife team Country and Sergio Velador, both present and accounted for in the planning stages of new hours and a breakfast/lunch menu to compliment cakes, cookies, caramels, and more in the upcoming week, it was with pleasant chat that time was passed perusing the options, a best bet eventually found in asking the duo exactly what they would recommend.

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Perhaps a bit more pricey than other shops in Arizona, but justifying costs with quality that rivals some of the best like-minded places spread across The United States, it was with seating found at one of several small outside tables that tasting commenced, the $3 cups of “ice cream” actually more like a guilt-free semifreddo with rich flavors of candy cap mushroom and local honey bold and beautifully layered while Zac’s local chocolate imbued the last with cocoa notes dancing with fruity notes.

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Reportedly soon to offer Canele, Croissants, and Kouign Amann but for now highlighted by cakes, cookies, and pies it was with carefulness that the “Cowpuncher” was approached, the dark batter offering piquant flavor of Mexican Hot Chocolate while a candied Jalapeno packed a punch that made me thankful I’d saved some ice cream, the round brownie a bit more my speed with a smooth crumb punched up by sandwich cookie chunks.

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Told by a friend that the cakes were special, the “best selling” status confirmed by Sergio while Country continued her work in the kitchen even as the hour approached six, it was with two suggested and one self-selected that the tasting reached its climax, the carrot cake using yuzu to accomplish what pineapple normally does alongside finely shredded vegetables and spices while both the Canadian themed Nanaimo Pie and John & Yoko stack were even more impressive, the later one of the most memorable flavors I’ve tasted in some time with cinnamon and honey tones quickly flooding the palate as bits of candy played textural chess with feather-light mascarpone cream.

http://www.superchunk.me/

Super Chunk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Arizona, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Super Chunk, Super Chunk Sweets and Treats, Vacation

Ocotillo, Phoenix AZ

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Ocotillo

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MEDJOUL DATES, SHEEP’S MILK RICOTTA, MARCONA ALMOND, HONEY

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WARM BREAD PUDDING BOWL, FALL SPICED CREME, ROASTED APPLES

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DRIED STRAWBERRY SCONE, VANILLA BUTTER, LOCAL HONEY, PECANS

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IRON SKILLET PANCAKE, WARM FRUIT COMPOTE, POWDERED SUGAR, MAPLE SYRUP

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Named after an indigenous plant of the Sonoran Desert and inhabiting a sprawling space that flows freely from indoors to outside and everywhere in between, it was for brunch on Saturday that I arrived at Ocotillo and with dining companions opting out last minute a four-top shrank to seating for one, a limited tasting to follow as the dining room quickly began to buzz.

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Priced like a quick-casual concept with a menu steeped in American classics upgraded by fresh local farms, it was with service that hovered between aloof and overworked that a menu was presented and going entirely sweet in formulating a two-course foursome it was with mild amusement that I watched a woman flip out on the hostess regarding seating arrangements, a not-so-subtle reminder of one of the reasons I moved away from the city some 26 months before.

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Brilliantly lit by the midday sun, music playing unobtrusively overhead while photographs of the desert decorated the walls, it was with water refilled infrequently that a short wait separated ordering from round-one, a long plate of dates stuffed with ricotta and almonds lent additional sweetness by honey while an enormous pancake arrived too-hot-to-eat in a cast-iron skillet, the toothsome crumb moist even before adding pure maple syrup or spreading the berries with a portion size large enough to feed four.

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Joking with a different server than the one assigned my table that the pancake should come with a warning it was with part packaged for later that a brief break ensued, my waiter apparently also covering outdoor seats with the mimosa crowd now in full bloom, a member of the kitchen staff eventually presenting tableside with two plates and an apology, a nice gesture though certainly not necessary.

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Admittedly well-sated, the pancake and dates having followed Doughnuts and Pastry elsewhere, it was with good fortune that both the pair of scones and bowl of pudding were far smaller than the items preceding them, the former far more “British” than those typically offered in America as fresh berries and “vanilla butter” not dissimilar to clotted cream helped temper the dryness, a problem certainly not encountered in buttery bread pudding sopping up the juice of sauteed and slowly melting aromatic cream.

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http://www.ocotillophx.com/

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

Posted in Arizona, Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Ocotillo, pancake, Pancakes, Phoenix, Vacation

Phoenix Public Market Cafe, Phoenix AZ

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Phoenix Public Market Cafe

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Cartel Coffee

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Cinnamon Roll

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Strawberry Pop-Tart

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Apple Crumb Tart

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Corn Cookie

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Cowgirl Cookie

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Ballerina Cookie

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Peanut Butter Cookie

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Banana Bread

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Part of the continuing rebirth of Downtown Phoenix, a hip 3-meal restaurant, bar, and bakery peddling fresh ingredients under the premise of “Building Community Through Food,” it was after perusing the various options offered at the open-air stalls outside that I entered Phoenix Public Market Cafe, the options running the gamut from healthy to truly gluttonous with service that couldn’t have been more pleasant if it tried.

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Offering seating options ranging from tables to booths to bars, unlimited Cartel Coffee available alongside local artisan products and menu items ranging Chickpea Pancakes and Ceviches to BBQ Pulled Pork and a “Ballerina Cookie” riddled with Espresso it should seem obvious to anyone standing in line that the baked goods are a source of pride for the cafe, all but the underflavored banana bread at the very least ‘good’ while several were far better.

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Eventually settling on a half-dozen items – before glistening cinnamon rolls emerged from the kitchen and a social media check-in netted a free cookie – it was at the hightop bar juxtaposing one laden in top-shelf spirits that a seat was taken, a few passers-by chuckling at what surely appeared an overzealous spread.

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Not foolish enough to ignore effects of freshness, the cinnamon roll actually served with cream cheese frosting in a sidecar as the kitchen feared it was still too hot to top, those fancying a truly decadent pastry need look no further than this golden spiral of brioche and butter, the topping actually helping to tame sweetness without losing its smooth texture at all.

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Taking a break in the sizable coil to refill coffee and try more things it was with banana bread cast aside that a tasting of four cookies commenced and with crispy rims encircling soft centers in each a “best” option really comes down to personal preferences, the Cowboy not dissimilar to the flavors of Trail Mix while the corn version tasted exceedingly natural, as did the Peanut Butter ‘with a schmear.’

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Always hopeful to see an artisan Pop-Tart compete with the cellophane-wrapped originals of days gone by it can only be said that the version offered at Phoenix Public Market Cafe is a very good Toaster Strudel, but still not the ‘real deal,’ the Apple Crumb Tart a far more worthwhile expenditure of cash and calories with an all butter crust chock-a-block full of apples and streusel overlying a liquid caramel core.

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http://phxpublicmarket.com/cafe/

Phoenix Public Market Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Arizona, Bread Basket, Breakfast, Cartel, Cartel Coffee, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Phoenix, Phoenix Public Market, Phoenix Public Market Cafe, Vacation

Rollover Doughnuts, Phoenix AZ

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Rollover Doughnuts

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Orange Glaze and Chopped Pistachios

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Maple Glaze and Candied Bacon

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough with Salty Brown Butter Glaze

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Apple Fritter

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Coffee Cake Doughnut filled with Coffee Custard, Dipped in Vanilla Bean Icing, Cinnamon Walnut Streusel

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Champagne Doughnut filled with Champagne Custard, Topped with Champagne Frosting, Fresh Strawberry

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Admittedly a fan of neither hot dogs nor foodtrucks it still strikes this writer as odd that Shortleash Hot Dogs was visited during a 15 month stay in Phoenix, but coming away fairly impressed at the time a return to the city shows the brand to have expanded substantially, several trucks now joined by something far more befitting my proclivities than encased meat in the form of fried dough.

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Playing off the “dog” theme, patrons actually encouraged to send in photos of their furry friends in sponsorship of specials, it was just after 8am that I approached the small Vernon Avenue kiosk housing Rollover Doughnuts and greeted by a pair of friendly young woman I was sadly informed that the savory oft-cited “Bear” was no longer available due to ‘lack of interest,’ a half-dozen other options selected at the $11 discounted price.

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Truly a “cheaper by the dozen” – or half dozen – space, doughnuts usually billed $2.00-$2.50 each, it was at a stone table nearby that seating was found for indulgence, items spread out and the New Year special “Champagne” offering glimpses of brilliance as the springy brioche pocketed rich cream custard beneath vibrant Strawberry glaze.

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Attempting to taste in mild to bold fashion, a light ring of citrus topped in chopped pistachios strongly resembling a cannoli next to grace my tongue, it was unfortunate that the fritter was anything but a typical crunchy apple experience, the texture closer to a bready pull-apart without a lot of flavor beyond cinnamon to be found.

Back on track with Maple Bacon, the nearly ubiquitous modern-classic better than most as a result of natural tasting frosting and a hint of woody smoke, the best bite of the morning was next found in Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, both the base and frosting studded with dark chocolate that helped to anchor Salty Brown Butter Glaze.

Impressed to this point it was with “Coffee Cake” that the Rollover Doughnut tasting did end and although rarely a ‘fan’ of filled options the execution was every bit on-point with the fruity version prior, custard the flavor of lightly sweetened espresso quickly flooding the palate and dissipating slowly to nutty notes amidst subtle vanilla bean.

http://www.shortleashhotdogs.com/home

Rollover Doughnuts + Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Arizona, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Phoenix, Pork, Rollover Doughnuts, Vacation

The Gladly, Phoenix AZ

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The Gladly

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Smoked Mozzarella Fondue cherry wood smoked pork butt, toasted country bread, Korean pear

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Hillbilly Egg Roll featuring Little Miss BBQ Porchetta

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Coffee

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Banana Creme Jar vanilla pudding, bananas, salted caramel, whipped cream, peanut butter cookies

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Tres Leches Rum Cake – salted vanilla bean pineapple, coconut streusel

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Chocolate Chess Pie – chicory ice cream, salted pecan praline sauce

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Impressed by the cooking and vibe at Citizen Public House during a prior visit and an outspoken believer that Tracy Dempsey’s desserts may be an even better reason to visit Phoenix than Pizzeria Bianco I could not help but stop by The Gladly during a trip to the city I used to call home, and although the pseudo-upscale environment and a scraggly server who kept calling me “bud” weren’t exactly ideal the food remains competent, particularly anything and everything sweet.

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Located on East Camelback, the two tiered space with large windows that look out onto nothing but a patio and parking lot occupying a large footprint within one of several nondescript business parks, entry to The Gladly sees guests greeted promptly at the hostess stand and quickly ushered to a teensy two top a menu was presented, the first “bud” quick to follow as water was poured while mixed drinks were deferred.

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Perusing the carte, some interesting items like duck meatloaf joining the “signature” chopped salad, but opting for only two appetizers as I’d just finished dinner down the road at Okra it was with another quick “sounds good, bud” that the waiter disappeared, back-servers left to do the heavy lifting thereafter with water refills frequent and empty plates quickly cleared.

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Starting with a fondue that has apparently become a Gladly ‘must-order’ of sorts and following up the smoky cheese, sausage, fruit and dried bread with an overpriced $12 eggroll whose greasy skin did not do justice to Porchetta made by a highly acclaimed local Barbeque spot, it was with locally roasted coffee refreshing the palate that a short wait passed by, desserts soon delivered to a table now quite dark besides candlelight but thankfully more than enough to justify their costs and thereby rectifying the night.

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Quite literally a menu that looked written for me, half of my favorite “styles” of dessert represented in the distinctive style of a Chef I truly miss from my mere 15 months in town, one would be hard-pressed to find a single flaw in any of Tracy’s trio, the rum soaked cake finding levity in its pina colada fruit and streusel topping while the dark chocolate chess was bold and well textured, the Banana Pudding upstaging anything served down south in terms of taste as well as complexity, potentially the best Originals creation tasted to date and a very early contender for one of 2016’s best.

http://www.thegladly.com/

The Gladly Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Arizona, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Gladly, Phoenix, Pork, The Gladly, Vacation

Okra Cookhouse & Cocktails, Phoenix AZ

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Okra

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PTO – Pineapple Plantation Rum, Sherry, Lime, Brown Sugar

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‘Nduja Dates

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Fried Chicken Skins & Honey Hot Sauce

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Hush Puppies, Goat Cheese, Cucumber Salad

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Buttermilk Biscuit

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Country Ham, Pimento Cheese Aioli, Hoe Cakes

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Diavola Focaccia – Calabrese, Mozzarell, Dessert Honey

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Umbrian Style Fried Chicken with Cornbread

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Buttermilk Meatballs & Polenta

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Lemon Chess Pie from The Pie Snob

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Canned Biscuit Doughnut with Salted Caramel

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A resident of Phoenix when Crudo opened its doors to almost universal fanfare from local writers and “foodies” alike I have to admit I was not initially a fan of Cullen Campbell’s minimalistic cooking or stripped-down space, but told that Okra sees the Chef returning to his Southern roots while continuing to dish Italian intrigue got the best of me, the food almost across-the-board successful while the setting trends hip without ‘trying too hard.’

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Again occupying a backdoor lot, the patio a lovely place to dine during happy hour as the sun slowly sets, it was just moments after four that I entered Okra’s main door and greeted by a hostess with my choice of tables the al fresco option proved pertinent mainly due to the decibel level within, bands like The Black Keys piped overhead alongside others more rooted in Blues.

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Reportedly a place that starts hopping after seven, the cocktails no doubt a focus with classics and seasonal specialties crafted by one of the best barmen in town, it was at the advice of a waiter who seemed somewhat green that the newly launched PTO was selected, the smallish pour a bit steep at $12 even for someone hailing from Las Vegas though the fruit-forward complexity was no doubt well conceived.

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Undoubtedly more knowledgeable than both my server and the average client about the majority of ingredients on the menu, Happy Hour prices slicing $2-$8 dollars off of several options and thus allowing for ten different plates plus the beverage at a total cost of just $84 before tax and tip, it was with a two-by-two progression that the tasting took place, a pyramid of dates stuffed with spicy Calabrian sausage absolutely heavenly while the fried chicken skins were as rich as would be expected, spicy desert honey keeping umami in check.

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Taking a break from the spice to enjoy fluffy hushpuppies beneath a light salad smeared with goat cheese alongside a buttermilk biscuit that was unfortunately so dry that even with added honey it was unpleasant to eat, improvement was quickly found in a lightly charred flatbread piled with thick-cut Calabrese and its table-mate hoe cakes with rich ham from Benton’s and housemade pimento cheese thinned to luxuriously smooth spread.

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All small plates to this point, the smoker to my left emitting the appetizing wafts of pork and wood, it was with two larger plates served simultaneously that savories came to a close and although the golden chicken served with fragrant garlic and thyme was no doubt high quality next to toasty toothsome cornbread it was the veal and pork meatballs melded with buttermilk breadcrumbs that immediately captured my attention, the creamy polenta base equally perfect with housemade tomato sauce.

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Greeted by the manager and seeing great teamwork from a staff that looks out for one another with regard to bussing plates and filling drinks there was no doubt dessert would follow a meal of such high grade, but limited to a lone housemade biscuit-dough doughnut topped in salty caramel it was in an outsourced option from The Pie Snob that true greatness was discovered, a lemony Chess Pie atop an all-butter crust on par with anything found in the Carolinas or Tennessee beneath a thick dollop of cream.

http://www.okraaz.com/

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

Posted in Arizona, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Italian, Okra, Okra Cookhouse & Cocktails, Phoenix, Pie Snob, Pizza, Pork, Scottsdale, The Pie Snob, Vacation

Fractured Prune Doughnuts, Glendale AZ

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Fractured Prune

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French Toast – maple glaze + cinnamon sugar

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Strawberry Shortcake – strawberry glaze + graham crackers + powdered sugar

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Rocky Shores – honey glaze + cinnamon sugar + mini chocolate chips

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Pig Pen – sweet bbq glaze, bacon, tajin spice

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Embracing the ongoing doughnut renaissance through expanding operation that has seen franchises opened from Colorado to the East Coast and back it was en route to University of Phoenix Stadium that I popped in to Fractured Prune and with fans both Buckeye and Irish standing in wait for hot n’ fresh fried rings the smell alone was enough to raise expectations, and almost inexhaustible array of options for customization doing the same.

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“Always HOT since 1976” with a clever name explained both on the walls above the fryer and available online the concept behind Fractured Prune is a rather simple conveyor belt process sending dough from left to right and register to consumer, more than a dozen glazes and far more toppings to be selected from a list of “Our Favorites” or customized by a simple paper ordering slip, each one carefully finished by hand for $1.89 with discounts on a half-dozen or more.

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Uncertain as to how or why concepts like this or Southeast’s Duck Donuts have not gained more of a foothold on the market, though price likely plays a part, it was with four selections made that a short wait ensued and taking the quartet to a windowside seat it was not long before indulgence began, first bites of “French Toast” showing a high quality soft crumb beneath the cinnamon sugar dust and bold maple glaze.

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Far less oily than feared, the levity of the batter a surprise given the texture within, teeth next plunged into the recently launched “Pig Pen” with restrained heat peaking amidst flavors more similar to pulled pork than bacon, the Strawberry Shortcake not quite as fruity as would have been hoped while “Rocky Shores” was a bold balance of honey sweetness and bitter chocolate chips.

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http://fracturedprune.com/location/glendale-az/

Fractured Prune Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Arizona, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Fractured Prune, Fractured Prune Doughnuts, French Toast, Glendale, Phoenix, Pork, Scottsdale, Vacation

Snooze an AM Eatery, Phoenix AZ

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Snooze an AM Eatery

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Coffee

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Pancake Flight:

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Pineapple Upside Down – Buttermilk pancakes with caramelized pineapple chunks, housemade vanilla crème anglaise and cinnamon butter / Drunken Punk’n – Our homemade pumpkin with a cream cheese filling, topped with bourbon infused maple syrup, sweet cream drizzle and maple spiced pepitas / Blueberry Danish – Buttermilk pancakes topped with blueberry coulis, sweet cream and almond streusel surrounding a center of lemony cream cheese filling

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Sister Fig’s French Toast – Fresh Brioche griddled with fig preserves and Tallegio cheese and topped with blood orange syrup, caramel and walnut streusel

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One of several Arizona locations spawned by a chain out of Colorado, Snooze “An AM Eatery” was visited for early brunch on New Years Day as a result of two things, the first a recommendation from a trusted Chef back in Las Vegas and the second a simple matter of convenience as none of the local mom n’ pop shops were open for the holiday.

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Small and kitsch, the décor and color scheme harkening a 1970s kitchen while servers bounced around in New Years Eve party hats, it was moments after 7am that I arrived at the sizable Town & Country eatery, no line at such an early hour and seating offered immediately.

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Espousing “Green” ethics while filling the menu with words like “Local,” “Seasonal,” and “Community,” Snooze offers a menu of “Fresh Twists on American Classics” and proudly telling as story of Fair Trade Coffee practices yielding an exclusive roast from Guatemala there is really no questioning the restaurant’s ethics, though with such things comes a price higher than the typical restaurant chain while service is so laid back that it almost seems – at times – disinterested.

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Eventually flagging down a young lady busy flirting with a fella sporting a man-bun to take my order, two plates and coffee that essentially required begging to be refilled totaling just under $25 before tip, it was no more than fifteen minutes before the kitchen sent plates forth, the portions somewhat smaller than would be anticipated considering the prices and the results ‘fine,’ though certainly nothing to write home about.

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No doubt a bit more interesting than IHOP or Denny’s, and additionally offering ‘flights’ of Bennies and Pancakes that allow diners to dabble without overinvesting on one plate, it was with three style flapjacks that the tasting got underway and with syrups only blending somewhat the “Pineapple Upside Down” was still somewhat oddly flavored, the texture actually surprisingly dry while blueberry and Pumpkin were better textured with unique syrups bolstering the taste.

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Faring better than the Pancakes and doing an admirable job in sourcing brioche from local artisan Bread & Cie it was next in the Sister Fig’s French Toast that taste buds were entrusted, the bread itself as good as remembered though a bit more time soaking would have been a personal preference, while melted cheese and fig preserves walked a tightrope between sweet and salty, the bright syrup dancing equally well to caramelized nut streusel.

http://snoozeeatery.com/locations/town-country/

Snooze an A.M. Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Arizona, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Pancakes, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Snooze, Snooze an AM Eatery, Vacation

Donutsville, Peoria AZ

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Donutsville

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Nutella Cronut

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Red Velvet Cake

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Glazed Cruller

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Glazed Old Fashioned

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Raised Rice Krispy Treat

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Apple Nut Bear Claw

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Blueberry Old Fashioned

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Apple Fritter

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Raised Cinnamon Crumb

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Blueberry Cake

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Raised Oreo

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Buttermilk Bar

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Maple Longjohn

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Drawn back by The Buckeyes to a city most memorable for how unhappy I was during my 15 months living in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, it was with high hopes for better times that dining plans were coordinated around the 2016 Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl, and making an early morning stop at Donutsville on New Year’s Day I have to say the trip from Las Vegas started off very well.

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Locally owned and operated, a call to make sure they’d be open on 1/1/16 humorously answered “same time as always, this family doesn’t party much,” it was true to their word that my 6am arrival was met by a wide array of baked and fried goods – the $15.17 bill nabbing a Bakers’ Dozen including several specialties while service couldn’t have been more friendly, no hangovers to be found just smiles a pleasant environment all around.

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Playing Top-40 tunes with holiday décor ranging from Nutcrackers to Darth Vader still speckled around the store it was with items boxed carefully that my order was taken to a seat, free Wi-Fi allowing me to catch up on news from New Year’s Eve while first bites of a Nutella-smeared Cronut proved as crisp and oilless as can be.

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Running the gamut from raised-and-glazed or cake classics to novelties including the aformentioned cronut and cereal topped treats it was with a feathery light cruller that the tasting continued and impressed by its texture an equal degree of old-world craftsmanship was found in each yeasted ring, the cinnamon crumb and longjohn both reference standard while the Oreo cookie crumble and rice topped options were both quite delicious, the latter something not seen in all my travels with a marshmallow glaze and Snap-Crackle-Pop texture equally prone to please.

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Moving next to cake based options, the buttermilk bar an unfortunate failure as it lacked any tang amidst a crumb that came across quite dry, improvement was quickly found in a duo of lumpy old-fashioned circles, the glazed standard creamy and delicious while the blueberry one-upped the standard blueberry cake in texture and taste, a strong statement as the more commonly found version was itself quite good.

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Moving to the heavier options, a red velvet cake predictably tinged with cocoa but also fruity-fragrant from what seemed to be a half-blueberry base, it was in two favorites that the tasting would conclude; the Apple Fritter competent and crisp, if not a showstopper, while the Bearclaw stuffed with Fruit and Nuts was perhaps the best version sampled to date, each bite as good as the last with textural variance negating any sort of palate fatigue.

Http://donutsville.com

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

Posted in Arizona, Breakfast, Dessert, Donutsville, Food, Glendale, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Vacation

Best of 2015 – Meals, Savories, Sweets

Without a doubt the best year of eating undertaken to date, 2015 was a veritable ’embarrassment of riches’ both locally as well as overseas, and already planning an equally aggressive 2016 with a few caveats regarding my approach to Las Vegas the list below entails the most memorable dining moments of the past 12 months.

Most Memorable Meals
1 – Troisgros
2 – Michel Guerard Les Pres d’Eugenie
3 – Mugaritz
4 – Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen
5 – Azurmendi
6 – Le Cirque 12/25/15
7 – Union
8 – Regis et Jacques Marcon
9 – Michel Bras
10 – Portofino 9/18/15

Vegas Savory

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1 – Le Cirque – Le Crabe – Blue Crab Shell, Green Apple, Russian Osetra Caviar, Salmon Roe, Dungeness Crab

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2 – Jean Georges Steakhouse – Crunchy Organic Chicken – Spinach and Buttery Hot Sauce, Tempura

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3 – Carson Kitchen – Halibut – Cava and Grape Juice Beurre Blanc

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4 – Other Mama – Japanese Sea Bream and Hokkaido Hairy Crab with Caribbean Style Johnny Cakes, Braised Collard Greens in Habanero Broth

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

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6 – Michael Mina – Whole Roasted Foie Gras – Carved tableside with Poached Pear, Pear Puree, Spice Cake, Almonds, Foie Gras Mousse with Pear Gelee, Toasted Brioche, Allspice Dram, Long-peppercorn Pain Perdu

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7 – Twist – Roasted Foie Gras – Coffee and Chestnut Velouté, Prunes and Porcini, Shaved Black Truffles

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8 – Kitchen Table – Monte Cristo – Parisienne Ham, Muenster Cheese, Raspberry Jam (Fried)

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9 – therapy. – In the “gnudi” (Baked ricotta, truffle honey, fig jam, roasted almonds & cranberry & walnut crostini)

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10 – Metro Pizza – Sicilian Pizza

Vegas Sweet

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1 – Yardbird – Cornmeal Chess Pie – Sorghum Chantilly, Caramel Sauce,  Caramel Pretzel, Popcorn

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2 – Peridot Sweets – Banana Brigade Cake

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3 – Bardot – French Toast – Brioche, Vanilla Mascarpone, Almond Brittle, Orgeat Syrup

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4 – Mothership – Concord Grape and Almond Galette

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5 – Glutton – Yeast Risen Pancakes – Cultured Butter, Maple Cider Syrup

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6 – Border Grill – Rice pudding – Shortbread cookie, brûléed banana slices

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7 – Yardbird – Hummingbird Cake – Cream Cheese Icing, Caramelized Pineapple, Banana Pecan Ice Cream

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8 – Rosallie – Walnut Pie

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9 – Northside Café – Carrot Cake Pancakes with Nuts, Raisins, Topped with Cream Cheese Frosting

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10 – Tender – Campfire “more-than-a” s’more – Fire roasted homemade marshmallows on a warm chocolate fudge cake with Graham Cracker Cookie and Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Worldwide Savory

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1 – Troisgros – Printemps de sentiments – Fairytale mushrooms, hay cream, curdled milk, fresh almond

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2 – Elkano – 1kg Turbot

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3 – Akelarre – Squid as a Risotto, Butter Flower

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

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5 – Asador Etxebarri – Tartar of Fresh Chorizo with Corn Crepe

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6 – The Gadarene Swine – Peanut Butter and Jelly – Vegan Sourdough, Port Poached Figs, Fresh Peanut Butter, Arugula, Pickled Mushrooms, Balsamic

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7 – The Pig – Hickory Smoked Whole-Hog BBQ, Roughly Chopped and seasoned by Cider Vinegar Sauce

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8 – Michel Guerard – Half of a Lobster, Roasted and Lightly Smoked in the Hearth – Country Style Sweet Onion

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9 – Guelaguetza – Tamal Oaxaqueno de Mole Negro con Pollo

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10 – Café Comptoir Abel – Quenelle de brochet en gratin maison

Worldwide Sweet

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1 – Horma Ondo – Grilled Torrijas with Bourbon Ice Cream

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2 – Astronomical Pancake House – Royal French Toast – Two pieces of Texas French Toast dipped in pancake batter, deep fried, drizzled with Cream Cheese Glaze

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3 – The Second Line – Pecan Bread Pudding – Salty Caramel + Vanilla Ice Cream

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4 – The Pit – Banana Pudding – Creamy vanilla pudding layered with bananas, wafers, marshmallow fluff and meringue

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5 – Saint Martha – Peanut butter ganache, roasted grape ice cream, griddled pound cake and chocolate feuilletine

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6 – The Farm House 5/14/15 – Coconut Cake – White Chocolate Crunch, Coconut Sorbet, Meringue

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7 – Colorado Donuts – Apple Fritter

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8 – La Boulangerie – Apple Walnut Tart

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9 – Serge Vieira – Le Temps des Cerises – Ravioli and Glazed “Burlat” Cherries, Elderberry Balls, Morello Cherry and Bassam Chocolate Cream

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10 – Bea Bea’s Burbank California – Pain Perdu – Apples & Walnuts topped on an egg-dipped Croissant, Baked ‘beyond perfection

Posted in Best Of, Food