Standard & Pour [4,] Henderson NV

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Standard & Pour

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Iced Tea

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Southern Belle – Earl Grey Infused Svedka, Peach, Lemon

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Pretty Ricky – Makers Mark, Passion Fruit, Egg White, Zinfandel

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Deviled Eggs – Sriracha, Red Onion, Flying Fish Roe

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Roasted Beet – Spiced Pistachio, Mustard Oil, Goat Cheese

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Tomato & Burrata – Heirloom Cherry Tomato, Green Olive Aioli, Balsamic Reduction

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Spicy Shrimp – Red Curry, Sambal, Coconut Milk

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Steak Tartare – Capers, Crispy Shallot, Sourdough

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Roasted Chicken – Black Rice Pilaf, Dijon Chicken Jus

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Grilled Broccolini – Garlic, Chili Flake, Lemon

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Burger & Fries – Dijon Grilled Potato Bun, Caramelized Onion, Cheddar, Salt and Pepper Fries with Smoked Ketchup

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Pork Chop – Brown Sugar, Herb Brine

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Tomato Soup – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Mascarpone Crema, Basil

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Italian Chopped – Salami, Three Cheeses, Red Wine Vinaigrette

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Chateaubriand – 18oz, Garlic and Herb Rub

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Stuffed Shells – Spinach, Ricotta, Fresh Oregano

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Wine & Cheese Sundae – Cheesecake Blondie, Merlot Ice Cream, Brandied Cherry

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Strawberry Short Shake – Strawberry Ice Cream, Strawberry Liqueur, Almond Cake Crumble

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Lost Bread – Cinnamon Roll, Candied Pecan, Maple Icing

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Carrot Cake – Special thanks to Jaret Blinn at CRAFTkitchen

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When Cory Harwell and Simon Hospitality first suggested that they’d be taking over the old Firefly Space in Henderson the optimist said “Awesome, look what they did with an derelict building in DTLV,” while the skeptic thought “…but its Henderson,” and revisiting the restaurant nearly eight months since opening it turns out that the result lies somewhere in between, the menu from Cory and Chef John Courtney still undoubtedly the best in miles though the days of Venison , Kimchi Tacos and Devil’s on Horseback Jam are long in the past.

Continuously a challenging area for restaurateurs outside the brunch sector, nearby CRAFTkitchen still doing great daytime business and now venturing into a Friday Happy Hour whose fate will be decided by the people of Henderson, Standard & Pour in its current format sees the brains behind Carson Kitchen slinging modern Steakhouse in a way comparable to Andiron in Downtown Summerlin or Tivoli’s Echo & Rig, the beautiful dining room with a big lounge still headed up by Ed Tracy and a team that is friendly, professional and efficient.

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Acknowledging that Sin City does not lack for Steakhouse fare, but also bearing in mind the fact that so many locals are unwilling to visit or cross The Strip, dinner at Standard & Pour is still best started by one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails, both the Southern Belle and Pretty Ricky Spirit-forward and balanced with the former one of those deceptive sorts that goes down easy and could lead lightweights ordering more than one into trouble quick.

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Now featuring a creative menu of Bar Bites at a great bargain, the $5 Deviled Eggs with Flying Fish Roe and a zap of Sriracha offered as a quartet that won’t be found anywhere near Las Vegas Boulevard for less than a Hamilton, a look at four lighter plates offered as Starters included roasted and grilled Beets served cold with a tinge of Mustard and whipped Mascarpone Cream while the Tomato & Burrata left two mid-Westerners who are still in the throes of chilly weather envious of the sort of produce those closer to California take for granted, the Spicy Shrimp in Red Curry still one of the best items offered on S&P’s Menu thanks to the warm heat and pump Crustaceans though the Steak Tartare is also well suited for most palates as the finely chopped Beef is brightened by chopped Onions and a good spice blend plus crispy Shallots and lightly applied Capers.

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Having frequently said that a kitchen can be gauged by the quality of its Chicken, a ‘boring’ dish to some that speaks volumes about how much the kitchen actually cares when it is made memorable, those looking for a good roast Bird on this side of the Strip are well advised to check out Cortney and Harwell’s Breast, Thigh and Wing served with crisp Skin atop Black Rice Pilaf in savory Chicken Jus while the simple bone-in Pork Chop is also perfectly prepared and cooked through while still remaining juicy despite its thickness, the extra-thick Burger cooked medium-rare honestly better than Carson Kitchen’s “Butter Burger” thanks to the Caramelized Onions tucked under Cheddar on a light bun with the faint aromatics of Mustard.

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Offering good Fries that act as a crispy delivery mechanism for Smoked Ketchup and long spears of Broccolini that are grilled with just a bit of acid and heat, one would be hard-pressed to name anywhere in Las Vegas offering the deal provided by Standard & Pour’s $32 Chateaubriand that rings in at 18oz with great tenderness and a sidecar of housemade Steak Sauce, those looking for lighter fare perhaps better suited to a big bowl of Tomato Soup made creamy with Mascarpone or the Italian Chopped Salad with Salami that is served both sliced and fried – a great one-two punch with the scalding-hot casserole of Stuffed Shells with a golden Cheese Crust overlying sautéed Spinach, Spices and whipped Ricotta.

Celebrating one guest’s birthday with a Carrot Cake provided by CRAFTkitchen, but certainly not one to shy away from Standard & Pour’s own sweet creations including Chef Harwell’s Wine & Cheese Sundae that remains as good as or better than any Ice Cream-based creation offered in any of the major Casinos, Chef Courtney’s “Strawberry Short Shake” riffs on the summertime classic by way of a stick-a-straw-up-straight Milkshake spiked with Strawberry Liqueur and the center of Brunch’s “Real Big Muffin” while the ‘Lost Bread’ is still a sharable crowd-pleaser with the Custard-soaked Cinnamon Roll both topped and filled with Maple Icing and Candied Pecans adding a bit of texture.

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FOUR STARS: Always trying to ‘grade’ an eatery based on its idea, price-point, service, execution and overall ‘experience,’ really the only way to compare ACE Donuts to a place like Le Cirque, Standard & Pour in April of 2017 is undoubtedly a very different place than the one diners first experienced in August of last year, the adaptations to a different breed of diner including Happy-Hour deal-seekers and Henderson Retirees seeing esoteric items disappear in favor of simple, honest cooking using quality ingredients at a great pricepoint – the sort of restaurant still better than Henderson seems to ‘deserve’ but sadly no longer the one it ‘needs’ to lure Las Vegas east.

RECOMMENDED: Southern Belle, Deviled Eggs, Roasted Beet, Spicy Shrimp, Roasted Chicken, Italian Chopped, Chateaubriand, Wine & Cheese Sundae.

AVOID: The Shells and Cheese is not a dish one should take on alone. Nor is the Lost Bread. Avoid dining alone.

TIP: Now open 4-10 Saturday, Happy Hour Deals at the Bar till 7PM. Sunday Brunch is 10A-3P.

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

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Standard & Pour Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Pudding, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Henderson, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Standard & Pour, Standard and Pour, Tasting Menu Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recess Italian Ice & Desserts, Las Vegas NV

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Recess Italian Ice & Desserts

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Samples – Horchata, Apple, Choco-Nutella

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Mangonada – Mango Ice, Chamoy Sauce, Tajin

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Peach Cobbler – Peach and Horchata Ice, Vanilla Custard, Crushed Graham Cracker, Caramel Sauce

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Matcha Vanilla Swirl Custard – Black Sesame Taiyaki filled with Nutella

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Bringing their Northern California concept to Southern Nevada in mid-2016, the small storefront located in an ever-expanding shopping plaza that has included Sweet Addictions for the past five years but seen Crepe Shack and Waffles shutter within months, Recess Italian Ice & Desserts looks to bring an Asian spin to a market previously dominated by Rita’s or locally-owned CJ’s, the housemade Ices and Custards offered both by the scoop or as a wide variety of blends with added intrigue by way of several toppings and soft, photogenic Cones.

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Tucked away with only a small sign facing Fort Apache, the Wal-mart, Starbucks and Panera across the way all high volume stores while nearby ACE Donuts continues to offer the best fried Dough in town, it was just past 6:00pm on a Saturday evening that two diners entered the white and black Instagram-friendly space with clever catchphrases and good lighting, the staff of two behind the counter tending to a variety of tasks as only a few other diners were present in the room.

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Offering a limited menu but producing everything save for toppings on-site, undoubtedly a lot of work given the assortment of flavors offered in two matched-cases, those entering Recess Italian Ice & Desserts are likely to be greeted with friendly smiles and a warm greeting plus plenty of samples before any decision-making takes place, a list of suggestions offered as a ‘menu’ of sorts, though patrons are equally invited to invent any blend of flavors and toppings that they choose.

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Taking a few tastes before getting started, the Fruit flavors undoubtedly better than Choco-Nutella that just came off icy and artificial, it was after briefly considering the Caramel Apple Ice that eyes instead shifted to a blend of Peach and Horchata Ice topped in Vanilla Custard entitled “Peach Cobbler” the concoction topped in Graham Cracker dust and Caramel an almost spot-on match for the traditionally warm Dessert while the “Mangonada” ordered across the table was most definitely an acquired taste, the blend of Fruit, Salt and Spice favored by Latin cultures certainly not tuned to the Midwestern American palate.

Not particularly knowing what to expect of the Taiyaki, just that the Fish shaped Japanese Cake would round out a bill totaling $17.84 for not-a-whole-lot of food, those looking to post photos of something ‘cute’ would be well served to check out the makeshift ‘cone’ piped with Nutella and topped with Matcha, Vanilla, or Swirled Custard – the just-baked Black Sesame base not all that different from the flavor of those microwave Brownies one might recall from Kid Cuisine during a 1990’s Childhood.

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TWO AND A HALF STARS: Cute for what it is, but far more pricy that CJ’s for less flavor or variety, Recess fills a niche in the neighborhood as an alternative to the Thrifty Ice Cream offered at Sweet Addiction, though a short drive North, South or West will find better frozen treats from Yogurtland, Handel’s, CJ’s or – admittedly further – Gelatology.

RECOMMENDED: Fruit Ices.

AVOID: Custard is average, Choco-Nutella Ice tastes more like Hershey.

TIP: Taiyaki cones are offered in Red Velvet, Black Sesame, Green Tea and Taro and pricing is obscure, the combos essentially priced a la carte with 50-cents added per topping in a way that can add up quickly.

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

www.recessice.com

Posted in Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Recess, Recess Italian Ice, Recess Italian Ice & Dessert, Recess Italian Ice & Desserts, Recess Italian Ice and Dessert, Recess Italian Ice and Desserts Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sweet Addiction, Henderson NV

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Sweet Addiction

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Samples: Cappuccino Crunch, Birthday Cake, Rainbow Sherbet, Green Tea

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Reese’s Pieces / Chocolate Malted Krunch / Chocolate Chip with Walnut

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Peanut Butter

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Tuxedo

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Sugar

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Snickerdoodle

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Oatmeal Raisin

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Oatmeal Butterscotch

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Familiar with the Fort Apache storefront from a previous visit and its location in a part of town that is frequently featured for shopping purposes, Sweet Addiction Henderson proved a convenient place to stop for dessert on Saturday afternoon, the off-hour of four o’clock finding the lone clerk tending to routine tasks on arrival.

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A locally born company serving Las Vegas for nearly five years, the concept of Ice Cream Sandwiches made with fresh-baked Cookies since replicated by import-CREAM at a higher price without upgrading the idea in any way, Sweet Addiction now offers fourteen daily Cookies plus nearly two-dozen flavors from Thrifty Ice Cream, a single Sandwich costing diners just $3.69 while Cookies are 90-cents each but cheaper by the trio or Baker’s Dozen.

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Additionally pitching Shakes and Sundaes, a few samples showing the quality of Thrifty to still be sub-par compared to shops such as Gelatology, Handel’s and others, it was nonetheless that a soft Cookie studded with Reese’s Pieces and another with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts were wrapped around Chocolate Crunch flecked with little beads of Rice and liquid Malt, the scoop far too big to be eaten as a proper ‘sandwich’ and thus disassembled with each Cookie used individually to spoon the chocolately concoction from the cup.

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Tasting six additional Cookies, the low prices in no way indicative of a sub-par product as each round features a crispy rim around a soft-set center with plenty of flavor, fans of Oatmeal Cookies are likely to be impressed by the thickness of the Oats and restrained sweetness found amidst both the classic Raisin version and the one dotted with melted Chips of Butterscotch, the “Tuxedo” of Black and White Chocolate Chips unfortunately baking up a bit smaller and harder than the rest while the trio of Peanut Butter, Sugar and Snickerdoodle were everything one might expect, though the latter two were a bit heavy-handed in terms of sweetness, as can be seen by the pools of Sugar forming at their centers.

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THREE AND A HALF STARS: Not purporting to be ‘artisan,’ ‘small-batch,’ or any such thing, just a locally owned place serving two of America’s favorite Desserts at a fair price, Sweet Addiction remains a good place to stop for sweet bite for those who are in the neighborhood, a wide variety of options and almost unlimited customization allowing everyone to order something that they’ll like.

RECOMMENDED: Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookie, Peanut Butter Cookie, Chocolate Malted Krunch Ice Cream.

AVOID: Tuxedo Cookie, Rainbow Sherbet (tastes like Orange Juice Concentrate with too much added Sugar.)

TIP: 11a – 10p Sunday-Thursday, and open until 11p on Friday and Saturday nights.

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

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Sweet Addiction - Cookies & Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Dessert, Food, Henderson, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Sweet Addiction, Sweet Addiction Henderson Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Naked City Tavern [5,] Las Vegas NV

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Naked City Tavern

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Butter poached warm Shrimp Cocktail, candied Lemon

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Oysters Rockefeller

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Chicken Cordon Blue Croquettes, Naked City Aioli

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Lobster Pot Pie

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Braised Short Rib Stroganoff

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Baked Alaska

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Strawberry Short Cake

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Having said several times in the past that there may be no restaurant more ‘essential’ to Las Vegas off-strip dining than Naked City Pizza, recent accolades from almost every publication in town continuing to offer praise for Christopher and Michael Palmeri’s Wings, Sandwiches and Pies that have now made their way into the Speedway and 51’s Games as Las Vegas’ slice of choice, it remains a fact that Naked City Tavern is the most unlikely space in town that one might find Lobster or Foie Gras on the menu, the most recent “Chef’s Menu” taking diners Under the Sea with re-imagined items focusing on the 1950’s.

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Kicking off the new dishes with a Sock Hop in late March, work and travel unfortunately delaying a visit to see just what direction the sizable bar on South Pecos Road would veer next, it was mid-day on Saturday as the NHL Playoffs began that a seat was taken in front of one of the big screens to taste seven of the nine plates, the Jukebox again spinning a truly bizarre of tunes including Classic Rock and some F-Bomb-laden Rap.

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Only about 1/5 full at the odd hour of 3:00pm on a holiday weekend, the majority of those patrons gathered around the bar, it was with service from Manager Robert Chaney that tasting-size portions of plates were rolled out one-by-one from the kitchen, the Butter-poached Shrimp Cocktail served warm in a fragrant Cocktail Sauce tinged in Horseradish with brightness added by Candied Lemon while a pair of $3 Oysters Rockefeller were served still bubbling in their Shell with a whole lot of Butter and Spinach plus a bright herbal finish.

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Continuing to improve the ambiance, a handful of decorations and Shuffleboard table joining the Arcade Games and numerous TVs, Chef Palmeri’s Chicken Cordon Blue Croquette arrived next with piquant red Sauce atop the a crispy nugget stuffed with Chicken, Ham and Swiss, a big bowl of ribbon-thin Noodles taking Stroganoff up a notch by way of tender Short Ribs and Mushrooms, though the obvious limitations of a dish generally made by way of an old Russian recipe popularized by Betty Crocker only leaves so much room for interpretation.

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Thankfully continuing to offer some luxury ingredients despite the environment, previous items such as the Foie-co unfortunately not a big seller amongst the restaurant’s typical clientele, Naked City Tavern sizes down the Michael Mina classic Lobster Pot Pie into an individual portion topped in flaky layers of Puff Pastry with plenty of Herbs, Root Vegetables and a light boozy finish, the duo of desserts featuring a pretty straight forward Strawberry Short Cake with good Poundcake and fresh Berries plus a Baked Alaska with Chocolate Cake and Gelato plus a touch of Mint and toasted Meringue that replicates the tableside torched effect without the fire hazard.

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FOUR STARS: In some ways a step back from the adventurous prior menus, though the execution is on-point and the restaurant still continues to offer all the famous Naked City staples that fans have grown to love, it is good to see that continued excellence has yielded an expanded business model for Christopher, Michael and the team with a fourth location serving the Southwest while fans at local events can now eat something delicious and trustworthy instead of the typical minor league stadium food.

RECOMMENDED: Lobster Pot Pie, Chicken Cordon Blue Croquettes, Shrimp Cocktail.

AVOID: Nothing is particularly bad, it just feels like items such as the Shortcake and Stroganoff are a bit tame considering what fans know Chef Palmeri is capable of.

TIP: Open 24/7, the Chef’s Menu is now featured along with the classic Naked City offerings all day and night, the Breakfast/Brunch menu no longer offered though some items can be accommodated on Special Request.

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

http://www.nakedcitylv.com/naked-city-tavern.html

Naked City Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Art of Flavors, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Lobster, Naked City Pizza, Naked City Tavern, Nevada, Pork, Tasting Menu Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Homie’s Cinnamon Rolls & Comfort Café, Las Vegas NV

Homies

Homie’s Cinnamon Rolls & Comfort Café

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Homie’s Original Cinnamon Roll

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Homies Pecan Pleasure

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Recently opened and thus far receiving nothing but positive feedback, a former Dive-Bar on East Tropicana converted into a Bakery and Café to the far left of a Walmart anchoring the shopping plaza, it was mid-day on a Saturday that the decision was made to check out Homie’s Cinnamon Rolls & Comfort Café, a lone worker acting as baker, cashier and server in a place that could easily sit seventy as the Raptors took on the Bucks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

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To this point offering only a limited menu, the Buttermilk Drop shops of New Orleans brought to mind by way of the combinations of a single style of pastry with a brief menu of Eggs, Toast, Pancakes and Potatoes, it was after a brief perusal of the options and a chat with the middle-aged woman that the decision was made to select the only two choices available from a list that purports to offer seven, a brief wait as the $8.47 of food was plated spent at a table with a patterned tablecloth that clearly once belonged to a different sort of dining room.

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Hoping to someday serve as an event space with catering options, but for now content with a little bit of foot traffic that included three additional patrons over the course of a twenty minute stay, a look at Homie’s Original shows a tight spiral with golden exterior and plenty of rise, the Cinnamon clearly applied along with a whole lot of Butter making for something that is moist but not ‘wet,’ the Cream Cheese Icing applied as a smooth layer on top and not with the mess of Cinnabon or other chains.

Moving on to the “Pecan Pleasure,” a choice made largely for comparison sake since neither the “Awesome Apple” or Seasonal Favorite were available, the additional 50-cents really only nets buyers a few cracked nuts strategically placed inside the coil before baking – not particularly a ‘bad’ thing for fans of Pecans, but also not anything all that different or particularly interesting for a place hoping to break into the market as a single-item entity.

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TWO AND A HALF STARS: A good concept in an area not particularly known for its culinary offerings Homie’s Cinnamon Rolls & Comfort Café would be well served to make sure that the full array of choices are available throughout the day, or to at least find some way to add ‘toppings’ afterwards, otherwise it seems like a one and done sort of experience compared to places offering a better variety.

RECOMMENDED: Homie’s Original.

AVOID: The Rest of the Menu seems an afterthought.

TIP: Previously located at MGM Grand, Homie’s is now open 6a-6p Seven Days a Week at 3035 E Tropicana Ave.

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

https://www.facebook.com/HomiesCinnamonRollsandComfortCafe/

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Homie’s, Homie’s Cinnamon Rolls, Homie’s Cinnamon Rolls & Comfort Café, Homie’s Cinnamon Rolls and Comfort Café, Las Vegas, Nevada Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Al’s Donuts (East Twain,) Las Vegas NV

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Al’s Donuts

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Raised Caramel

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Raised Cinnamon Crumb

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Old Fashioned

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Apple Fritter

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Cinnamon Roll

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Bavarian

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First located off Maryland Parkway near UNLV and subsequently attempting to launch a Burger concept up in Centennial that flamed out quick, Al’s Donuts has now relocated to East Twain and Swenson Street, not exactly a place many would go looking for good food, particularly after dark, though it seems the locally owned shop is making a go at it with a menu that includes not only their eponymous item but some Sandwiches and fried Foods as well.

One of Las Vegas’ first stores to sell a Cronut, or Kroissant, previous visits to both the Southeast location and Northwestern expansion showing average quality in spaces that were short on ambiance, a stop at the new location just after noon on a Saturday showed the owner himself to be in and talking to two customers as another man was seen removing fresh rounds from a fryer in the back, the available selection even more paired down than before though a ‘menu’ of sorts indicated that Cronuts are available to order.

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Looking over a rather dull case of Black, White and Brown, the eventual choice of a half-dozen made largely on Al’s advice past the requisite Fritter and Old Fashioned, it was a few miles away at a more comfortable space that items were divided and tasted, first bites of the yeasted and raised rings showing a soft texture without a lot of flavor to the Dough itself, that left to the unfortunately cloying Caramel and a Cinnamon Crumble that thankfully fared better.

A bit surprised at just how flat the Old Fashioned was, the same to be said of an Apple Fritter that did not look much like that photographed near to work in 2013, it was fortunate that the former had a good amount of Sourcream to help offset the sugary lacquer atop while the Fritter was unfortunately far too oily.

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Rounding out the choices with a Cinnamon Roll and Bavarian, the former much like the other raised options with a bit more flavor down deep thanks to the spiraled Dough, those looking for the ‘best’ of what Al’s has to offer would be well advised to take a look at the shop’s filled options, the creamy Vanilla Custard off-set to one side doing a world of good to the pocket in terms of taste without compromising the texture.

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ONE AND A HALF STARS: Closing the original East Harmon location just over a year ago, the storefront still empty with Crunch Donut Factory now taking their chances a few doors down, Al’s is unfortunately one of those historic places that has been unable to adapt to current trends in the Marketplace, a combination of a product that was never really great and the development of things that are better as the city continues to grow.

RECOMMENDED: Bavarian.

AVOID: Apple Fritter, Caramel Raised.

TIP: 7a-7p at 860 East Twain, Suite 102. Available via Grubhub and UberEats.

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

http://www.als-donuts.com/

Posted in Al's Donuts, Al’s Donuts and Café Burger, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

CRAFTkitchen [7,] Henderson NV

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CRAFTkitchen

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2013 Seven Falls Chardonnay, 2015 Kung Fu Girl Riesling

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CK Cheese Plate – Truffle Pecorino, Point Reyes Blue Cheese Mousse, Parmigiano Reggiano, Triple Cream Brie, Local Honey, Housemade Strawberry Preserves, Dried Apricots, Walnuts, Grilled Ciabatta

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Grilled Fresh Artichokes – Baby Artichokes, Balsamic Glaze, Melted Truffle Pecorino, Roasted Garlic Aioli

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Heirloom Tomato Salad – Grapefruit and Vanilla Gastrique, Shaved Ricotta Salata, Micro Violas and Basil

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Tricolor Spring Beets Salad – Chevre Goat Cheese, Champagne Vinaigrette, Crushed Pistachios

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Housemade Pretzels & Beer Cheese – Local Beer Cheese, Crispy Housemade Pretzel Bread

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Polenta Fries – Crispy Polenta Sticks, Spicy Pomodoro Sauce, Shaved Parmigiana-Reggiano, Microbasil

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Manila Clams – Housemade Pork & Fennel Sausage, Shallot White Wine Broth, Thick Cut Garlic Rubbed Ciabatta

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Tempura Popcorn Shrimp – Crispy Shrimp, Sriracha Aioli, Green Onions, Chili Threads, Shichimi

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House Smoked Wings – Maple Bacon Smoked Naked Wings, Sweet and Spicy Glaze

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Bone Marrow – Roasted Bone Marrow, Italian Parsley, Pickled Shallots, Grilled Ciabattini

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CK Meatballs – Housemade Pork, Beef and Veal Meatballs, Pomodoro Sauce, Whipped House Ricotta

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Cavatelli & Short Rib – Cabernet braised Grass-fed Short Ribs, Ricotta Salata and Oven Roasted Tomatoes tossed with Cavatelli Pasta in Parmesan Demiglace

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Chambers Rosewood Muscat

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Afogato – Vanilla Bean Gelato drowned in a fresh brewed shot of Espresso

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Sticky Toffee Cake – Vanilla Bean Gelato

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Crème Brulee – Assorted Housemade Cookies

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Mason Jar Magic Bar – Toasted Coconut, Chocolate Chantilly, Butterscotch Sauce, Graham Cracker, Candied Walnuts

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An avid supporter of CRAFTkitchen since day one, the passion of Chef Jaret Blinn and his wife Tami evident to anyone who has ever taken the time to walk through their doors, it was unfortunately due to travel that a friends and family event the prior weekend was missed, the decision to change Friday evening plans on April the 14th instead seeing a party of three sit down for the first official night of #CKFridayRecess.

Now staying open from 4:00pm until 9:00pm for the new menu, a concise list of ‘Bar Food’ favorites plus several bright Salads and Desserts intended to be paired with a well priced Beer and Wine list, it was just past six o’clock that two adults and a child were sat along the right wall of the restaurant at a wooden table looking out across a room far less filled than during the daytime hours, a soundtrack ranging from modern pop to late 90’s tunes playing loud enough to be heard, but not so much as to be disruptive.

Greeted by a familiar dining room staff, the Blinn’s ability to retain talent something not particularly common in Las Vegas where servers seem to jump around as much as Chefs on the Strip, it was after greetings from Chef Jaret who seemed to be in a great mood despite running on low sleep that the meal got stated, the CK Cheese Plate pairing well with two glasses of White that cost just $8, the Blue Cheese whipped into a Mousse particularly memorable with Honey while the Brie is served in a big wedge suitable for those who prefer a more mild taste.

Continuing to outperform most in terms of the produce, the ‘high’ prices cited by some locals more than justified by the thick rounds of Heirloom Tomatoes under bright Citrus as well as the ubiquitous Beet Salad that still manages to be impressive by way of the crumbly Cheese and its interplay with another housemade Vinaigrette, the Happy Hour’s next noteworthy bite came by way of Jaret’s personal love of Artichokes, the grilled miniatures beneath reduced Balsamic and the Truffled Cheese from the Board already tasty on their own and all the better when dipped in the Roasted Garlic Aioli served via sidecar.

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Trending a bit heavier past the salads, though those who enjoy Clams would be well advised to make the drive down to Henderson for the meaty Manilas served in an aromatic broth made from White Wine and Shallots with a generous helping of crumbled Sausage, Jaret’s baking skills come to the fore by way of the light and crispy Pretzel Bread ready to be dipped in a pool of Beer Cheese that does not coagulate even after forty-five minutes of sitting, the Polenta Fries falling a bit flat in-and-of themselves and apparently missing a key ingredient per the Chef, though the spicy Tomato Sauce was quite good.

Not really the sort of place one would expect Bone Marrow, the two small Bones for $13 not quite the show-stopper of, say, Jean Georges Steakhouse despite a lightly sweetened Parsley Salad that reminds one of the famed version served at London’s St. John, CRAFTkitchen takes a trick from Mandalay Bay’s Stripsteak when presenting Chicken Wings from beneath a glass dome with a puff of Smoke, the Maple Bacon as well as the Glaze contributing to a robust backyard Barbeque taste.

Always happy to see someone making a good Meatball, Blinn’s version as moist and meaty as any on the Strip with a reported 3-cups of Bread per 15-pounds of Pork, Veal and Beef, the puddles of Ricotta here as well as the Salata served atop Pasta and pulled Short Ribs go a long way toward making each dish noteworthy, the better-than-Chinatown Tempura Shrimp rounding out the savories with a delicate golden coating lightly sauced with Sriracha and additional heat added from Chili Threads tossed amidst Green Onions and Sesame Seeds.

Only offering three desserts plus Afogato at Dinner, a far more substantial list of sweets featured during daytime hours, it is with good fortune that the kitchen makes each one well worth the cost as well as the calories, the Crème Brulee pretty much a par for the course classic alongside some good Italian-style Cookies while the “Mason Jar Magic Bar” presents a classic home-bake deconstructed into a tasty Parfait that is both sweet and sometimes salty, the Sticky Toffee Cake quite similar to that offered at T-Bones inside of Red Rock, where Jaret used to work, and all the better for it with a big ol’ scoop of Gelato and flavors that go well with a hefty pour of the Chambers Rosewood Muscat.

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Continuing to upgrade the Off-Strip breakfast and lunch dining scene in its second year, and now adding on a Friday Happy Hour full of good food, fair prices and an ever pleasant staff, CRAFTkitchen remains a great story of a Chef following his heart to do what he loves both for self and for family, the sort of place that locals deserve and visitors with the means would be well advised to visit so that can see that Las Vegas dining is more than overpriced Celebrity Chef spots and Buffets.

RECOMMENDED: Clams, Meatballs, Beer Cheese, Artichokes, Wings, Popcorn Shrimp, Cheese Plate, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Mason Jar Magic Bar.

AVOID: Polenta Fries need some more oomph.

TIP: Happy Hour is offered 4pm-9pm on Fridays. Details at https://www.craftkitchenlv.com/blog/happy-hour

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

http://craftkitchenlv.com/

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

Posted in Bread Basket, Coffee, CRAFTkitchen, Dessert, Food, Henderson, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Tasting Menu, Truffle, Truffles Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Habit Burger Grill (Blue Diamond,) Las Vegas NV

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The Habit Burger Grill

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Charburger with cheese, crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, caramelized onions, and pickles on a toasted bun

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Golden Chicken Sandwich – Fresh, filleted chicken breast, hand-breaded with house-made seasoned flour and buttermilk, cooked to a juicy golden brown and topped with creamy, spiced red pepper sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles

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Onion Rings

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Mocha Milkshake

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Launched in Santa Barbara California in 1969 by two brothers, and since having spread to more than ten States with four locations dotting Las Vegas beginning in 2016, The Habit Burger Grill had been a source of some curiosity ever since opening down the street and some calling it the best burger under $5 in the city, Consumer Reports also awarding them the title of “Best Tasting Burger in America” back in 2014.

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Slightly different from the hundreds of locations up and down California, the local Habits all franchise operations while those in California are considered ‘corporate’ entities, it was mid-day on Friday that a stop was made at the Blue Diamond location where the line was just two persons long, a man easily identifiable as the General Manager teaching employees how to work one of the register functions immediately greeting all guests with a big smile, the menu pretty self-explanatory with Burgers, Sandwiches, Salads, Shakes and Sides.

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Using a vibrating pager system to summon diners, a similar situation to that at Shake Shack given the fact that each item is made to order, it was in passing on the Tri-Tip that is offered ‘medium, medium-well, or well’ that an order of two Sandwiches plus a side and Shake took place, the Charburger with Cheese complimentary and taken without Mayo as a result of signing up for their free online “Char-club.”

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Featuring a clean design and condiment station with all the expected, plus several styles of Peppers, a quick look at Beverages also shows Habit to offer their own housemade Lemonade alongside Coca-Cola products, a quick Buzz from the little square summoning diners back to the counter where a weighty tray contained everything presented nicely, a bit of paper left on the Straw and each Sandwich half-wrapped and Insta-gram worthy.

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Starting with the Onion Rings, a relatively simple item for even a fast-food kitchen to execute well, The Habit improves on most by cutting their Rings uniform before dredging them in Buttermilk and frying each one crisp, a total lack of oil making each one crunchy and flavorful, much like the well-seasoned Chicken Breast that is spiced, seasoned and breaded on site before being placed on a grilled bun with California-fresh Produce and a couple Pickle Rounds, the recommended Red Pepper Sauce a worthy addition to a Sandwich that not only outsizes and tastes better than that at Chick-Fil-a, but also makes the version at Shake Shack seem somewhat boring.

Moving on to the Charburger, only the second “fast-food” or “quick-casual” option tasted in almost a decade, those expecting a Restaurant quality Burger are likely to be a little disappointed by the thin patty that none-the-less contains a lot of flavor and good grind for just $3.25 and an extra sixty cents for a slice of Cheddar, the Caramelized Onions definitely adding a lot of ‘oomph’ without making the Sandwich too messy while the Milkshake served next to it unfortunately did little to be impressive, the ‘Coffee’ flavor substantially muted by that of Chocolate though the base was homogenous and quite creamy.

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THREE AND A HALF STARS: Good for what it is, and far better than most of what Panera or Chipotle is serving at a price that is far less, The Habit Burger Grill certainly takes a major step in upgrading the sort of stuff served at Burger King, McDonalds or Wendy’s though the relatively small menu may leave those looking for more variety or bargain-basement dining unimpressed.

RECOMMENDED: Golden Chicken Sandwich, Onion Rings.

AVOID: Mocha Shake.

TIP: As mentioned above, new sign-ups for the Char-Club get a free Charburger with Cheese, no questions asked and no additional purchase necessary.

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

http://www.habitburger.com

The Habit Burger Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, The Habit Burger Grill, The Habit Burger Grill (Blue Diamond) Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, Los Feliz CA

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McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams

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Samples – Banana & Salted Caramel, Churros Con Leche, Double Peanut Butter Chip, Earl Grey Tea & Shortbread Cookies, Eureka Lemon & Marionberries, Turkish Coffee

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Gooey Butter Cookie

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Breakfast of Champions Shake – Sweet Cream Ice Cream, Cornflake Steeped Milk and Cornflake Crackle

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Having once sampled McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams at Grand Central Market, a key oversight missing out on the “Breakfast of Champions” Shake, it only seemed appropriate to follow-up dinner at Kismet with a stop at the scoop shop on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Feliz, the purveyor of frozen treats from Santa Barbara continuing to show why they have been one of the best in the business since 1949.

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Undoubtedly a known entity to Californians for decades, but only recently ramping up production to the point of expansion by way of updating freezers, equipment and The Old Dairy founded in 1934, McConnell’s has continued to evolve in recent years by focusing on perfecting its techniques while tightening the control of its product all the way from sourcing to production, the result a pure and smooth base with a creamy consistency that coats the palate without being overly sweet.

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Not quite as wild as Salt & Straw in terms of flavors, nor as innovative as Jeni’s when it comes to flavor pairings that meld in unexpected ways, those entering McConnell’s newest location will immediately be taken by the clean lines and bright lights hanging over a long countertop featuring fifteen daily flavors, the samples given by metal spoons almost as big as the actual portions sold in some of Italy’s famous Gelato shops.

Finding the store relatively quiet at 7:20pm on a Saturday, Go Get ‘Em Tiger closed and the weather a bit brisk, it was after tastes of six unique flavors that the inevitable decision was made to order the item for which the storefront had originally been entered, a lone Gooey Butter Cookie also rescued in the process and proving every bit as soft and decadent as the signature wedges popularized by Paula Deen and originally created in St. Louis.

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Seeing others in the group enjoy their Earl Grey and Shortbread or Eureka Lemon and Marionberries, both admittedly quite tempting though the Banana & Salted Caramel as well as the Churros Con Leche were a bit less flavorful that one would have hoped, it was with nearly 4oz of Whole-Fat Milk plus a hefty scoop Sweet Cream Ice Cream plus topped in fresh-whipped Cream that the thick shake was first attempted by a straw before abandoning such futility in favor of utensils, the flavors reminiscent of childhood coming across as a mix of sweet and slightly savory with a texture that is mostly homogenous save for the occasional housemade Cornflake Crackle chunks.

https://mcconnells.com/pages/find-us#shops

Posted in California, Coffee, Dessert, East Hollywood, Food, Hollywood, Ice Cream, Los Angeles, Los Feliz, McConnell’s, McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, McConnell’s Ice Cream, McConnell’s Ice Creams, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kismet, East Hollywood CA

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Kismet

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Freekeh Fritters & Pickley Green Sauce

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Lemony Chicken & Pine Nut Pies

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Kohlrabi with Pumpkin Seed, Kumquat and Barberries

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Barberi Bread Baked by Bub & Grandmas

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Hen of the Woods Mushrooms with Chickpeas, Pea Shoots, Green Chili & Almond Broth

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Smashed Potatoes with Labneh, Macadamia Nut, Cured Scallop & Urfa Pepper

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Jeweled Crispy Rice with Egg Yolk

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Rabbit for two with flaky Bread, Greens, Pickles, Tahini & Labneh

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Iced Turkish Coffee

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Soft Meringue with Strawberries, Brown Butter Streusel, Poached Rhubarb & Sorbet

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Chocolate Cake with Sesame, Butter Crumble, Date Jam & Buckwheat Ice Cream

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New from the brains behind Animal, Son of a Gun and Jon & Vinny’s, an all-day restaurant said to ‘reimagine Mideast flavors for the current-day California,’ Kismet was recommended by a few trusted sources as a good place to grab a meal before attending a concert on Sunset, the trendy location in East Hollywood near the recently opened Go Get ‘Em Tiger clearly looking to capitalize on a trend kicked off by places like award-winning Zahav, Sarma or Shaya but doing so with less passion and substantially higher prices.

Tapping the talents of Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson, the dining area long and narrow with blonde woods, plenty of light and simple floral garnishes, diners at Kismet are greeted abruptly at the door by a host or hostess who will inquire about whether the group has reservations and whether the whole party is present and accounted for, the answer of ‘yes’ to each really the only way to gain entrance after 5:00pm on most nights at this point as the vegetable-centric fare has been greeted with arms wide throughout its first three months since opening.

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Open for breakfast/lunch at 10am, the menu a pared down version of dinner with some meal-specific items not unlike the idea at Jon & Vinny’s, those arriving after 5pm will see a dinner menu divided into five sections and just twenty-one plates inclusive of sides and snacks, the desserts numbering two and changed daily depending on the Chefs’ whim and access to ingredients.

No doubt using quality Produce and Proteins, the website suggesting that the restaurant ‘forages personal relationships with farmers and producers’ while the Public Relations team is quick to reach out and attempt to justify prices for food that seems downright audacious in some cases, it was as a group of four that nearly 1/2 of the menu was ordered along with a couple drinks, the automatic gratuity of 20% on top of tax generally what would have been left anyhow, though the fact that two plates including the $80 Rabbit Feast were poorly presented, the waitress not aware of either ingredients or preparation and seemingly disinterested in learning anything more.

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Assured in their brand and often taking the opportunity to be quirky, a section of the menu detailed as “Salad-y” while creamy, ping-pong ball sized Freekeh Fritters are offered at $3 each with “Pickley” Green Sauce that is essentially fermented Cucumbers in Tahini, items listed under ‘Snacks’ including two tangy Hand-Pies that are more Pine Nut than Chicken with just a lick of Citrus are well presented but precociously priced, the outsourced bread from Smorgasburg’s Bub & Grandma’s another item that is good, but questionably worth five dollars.

Not offering any of the Falafel that made the two Chef’s famous at Grand Central Market’s Madcapra, but instead focusing on more upscale ideas such as the cool Kohlrabi with Pumpkin Seeds, sliced Kumquats and dried Barberries that comes across elegant, crisp and refreshingly sour, another great dish sees roasted Hen of the Woods Mushrooms tangled up with Chickpeas and Pea Shoots in a Green Chili & Almond Broth that almost tastes Thai at times, both of these plates offering a portion sharable by four at a product and preparation-appropriate cost.

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Unable to resist the whole Rabbit Feast ‘for two,’ a dish of complex Stew, Herb-roasted Legs and Kebabs with Squash paired to flaky flatbread that is unfortunately served in too small a portion to fully enjoy the sizable bowls of Tahini and Lebneh, sides such as the Smashed Potatoes fried crisp with a bit of funk from dried Scallops show that the kitchen certainly understands how to add flavor without making things too heavy, the Crispy dome of Rice pulling off a stylish trick by way of the runny Egg Yolk tucked away at its center.

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Appropriately serving bold Turkish Coffee over Ice before, during or after Dessert, the sweets recited as a list of ingredients by a man who seemed to be a manager or maitre d’ when the waitress again ‘forgot her lines,’ those familiar with the items offered at Son of a Gun will notice similar plating techniques including smears and crumbles when tasting Kismet’s choices, the Strawberry-Rhubarb Soft Meringue light, tangy and just sweet enough while the dense Chocolate Cake with Date Jam & Buckwheat Ice Cream is made almost savory through the addition of toasted Sesame Seeds.

http://www.kismetlosangeles.com

Posted in Bread Basket, California, Coffee, Dessert, East Hollywood, Food, Hollywood, Ice Cream, Kismet, Los Angeles, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Prova Pizzeria, West Hollywood CA

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Prova Pizzeria

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Burratina Barese – Frisee, Tomatoes, Pesto

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Signature Volcano Vesuvio – Salame di Napoli, Fresh Ricotta, Ground Pepper, San Marzano Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, Olive Oil

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La Vito Signature – Mortadella, Pistachios, Oregano, Stracciatella Cheese

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Pizzetta alla Nutella

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Taking the award for third best Neapolitan Pizza in the world at Las Vegas’ International Pizza Expo in 2016 and improving on that mark to win second just a few weeks before travel plans led two Las Vegans west, it proved all too fortunate that Prova Pizzeria was located not only in the same neighborhood as plans later that evening, but also near the workplace of a friend with whom they’d just had breakfast, a group of four sitting down just past three-thirty to see if the pies from Chef Vito Iacopelli were as good as rumors suggest.

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Located at 8729 Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood, a trendy area with somewhat limited parking and several local bars catering to the LGBT community, Prova Pizzeria has now been serving pies since early 2016, opening hours of 12pm Daily ‘Until the Dough Runs Out’ originally seeing the sizable space close earlier than some would have liked but since cooling off, as most restaurants in Los Angeles tend to, the pre-dinner meal seeing only two other patrons present over the course of nearly an hour in the room.

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Focusing on wood-ovens, imported Flour and the sort of fresh, natural Produce expected in sunny Southern California, a pile of wood bearing the Italian Flag, old family photos and an odd video montage of the Chef tending to tasks such as baking, eating and working with the cash register all serving as decorations to a space that is far longer than wide, it is from printed menus plus a few chalkboard specials that diners are encouraged to make selections, the choice of Rosse or Bianche comprising the bulk of the options with additional offerings including Gluten-free and Low Glycemic Index Pies.

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Not particularly high priced considering the marketplace, the majority of the items ranging $10-15 with only a few exceptions at either end, it was after some debate as to how best to get a good sense of Prova’s product without filling up that the decision was made to invest in four dishes, the Caprese Salad listed as “Burratina Barese” a fresh way to start as a few sliced organic Tomatoes sat atop a bed of Frisee topped with a soft glob of creamy local Burrata tinged in vibrant green Pesto.

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Reportedly based on a Century-old recipe brought over from Italy, the hand-crushed San Marzano Tomatoes tinged in herbs and acid with a smoky, leavened crust that bubbles and chars without losing its stretch, it was with two pies served in succession that Chef Iacopelli’s talents were made readily apparent, the double-crusted and sealed Volcano Vesuvio served by a young woman who came running, a huge bubble of dough slowly sinking around a center filled with slices of Italian Salami, Fresh Ricotta and the aromatics of Basil carried aloft by Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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Enjoying the fresh breeze coming in from outside, a location at the far-end of a community table in the rustic-chic space offering a sense of dining al fresco without being bombarded by the noise from nearby bars, La Vito Signature arrived next with Prova’s thin and puffy base now paired to Mortadella, Pistachios, and fresh Stracciatella Cheese, the lack of sauce allowing each slice to stand straight in the hand without becoming wet or droopy while the star-shaped Dessert Pizzetta saw the dough perform equally well when folded and piped full of Nutella with additional Hazelnut Spread painting the outsides – the option to add gelato offered for those truly feeling especially indulgent.

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http://pizzaprova.com

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

Posted in California, Dessert, Food, Hollywood, Italian, Los Angeles, Pizza, Pork, Prova, Prova Pizza, Prova Pizzeria, Vacation, West Hollywood Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Venice CA

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Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

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Samples – Orange Blossom Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt, Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso, Whole Lemon Sorbet, Queen City Cayenne, Salty Caramel

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Trio on a Waffle Cone – Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Roxbury Road

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Double on a Waffle Cone – Supermoon, Ultramarine Blue Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt

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Although the population of Columbus is much larger than a look at Ohio’s Capital might suggest, a foundation built on The Ohio State University and companies such as Nationwide Insurance, Abercrombie & Fitch as well as Victoria’s Secret seeing the city grow ever since the early 2000s, when it comes to culinary concerns there is really only one name to know when discussing the local dining scene in a global context, the name Jeni Britton Bauer – founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

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Originally operating out of the North Market as early as 2002, word of her artisan Ice Creams featuring locally sourced high-fat Milk plus a collection of aromatic Oils and Spices slowly seeing the brand grow across the city before taking on markets such as Nashville, Chicago, Charleston and LA, it was just recently that the Beard Award Winning cookbook writer decided to take on trendy Venice where Portland’s Salt & Straw as well as others already have a foothold, the location on Rose Avenue brightly lit with high ceilings plus flavors both new and old that are every bit as good as those from fond memories.

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Known as one of the first to focus on all-natural flavorings and old-world technique to create a cadre of flavors embracing ingredients such as Mint from her own Garden or Cayenne infused Chocolate to re-imagine what Ice Cream could be, those familiar with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream will be happy to see that the many of her classics such as Darkest Chocolate, Roxbury Road and Goat Cheese with Red Cherries are still present and accounted for while flavors such as her Black Coffee have seen an upgrade by way of Coffee from Intelligentsia along the way to National acclaim.

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No doubt now seeing an unprecedented degree of competition from all sides, the creativity of places like Oddfellows New York, San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe or the aforementioned Salt & Straw all putting out truly excellent product of their own, those looking for truly outlandish ideas will instead find Mrs. Britton Bauer and her team still rooted in ideas that focus on nature and balance, the Orange Blossom Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt a good example that tastes tangy up front with a smooth finish while both the Ultramarine Blue Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt and the Lavender-Vanilla ‘Supermoon’ scoop were equally well conceived, the former a tart blend of Wild Blueberries on an intense Buttermilk background while the later was only lightly floral with the sort of lingering creaminess that speaks of a truly superior quality of Milk.

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Freshly baking each Waffle Cone on-site, the high volume on a Saturday around noon seeing the team struggle to keep up with both cones served still warm-to-touch, those looking for something a little less fresh but far more indulgent are encouraged to try Jeni’s Salty Caramel that still ranks as one of the best in its genre while the trio of Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks, Brown Butter Almond Brittle and Roxbury Road were all outstanding riffs on classic ideas, the first two particularly noteworthy as both used finely ground ingredients to dial up the texture while still maintaining overall homogeneity while the later makes good use of the smoked Almonds to turn Dark Chocolate, Marshmallows and Caramel into something complex and sometimes savory as opposed to the typical sweet-on-sweet-on-sweet Rocky Road.

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Jeni’s Venice

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in California, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Intelligentsia, Jeni's, Jeni’s Ice Cream, Jeni’s Ice Creams, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Los Angeles, Vacation, Venice Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nighthawk: Breakfast Bar, Venice CA

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Nighthawk: Breakfast Bar

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La Colombe Coffee / Spiked Cereal Milk – Cocoa Puffs, Vanilla Vodka

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Pig’s Nest – Bacon Sausage Scotch Egg, Frisee Salad, Cilantro Pesto, Peppadew Vinaigrette

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Benedict Fries – Pit Smoked Ham, Fries, Peppadew Peppers, Raclette Cheese, Smoked Paprika Hollandaise Sauce, Sunny Side Up Egg

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Honey Espresso Sticky Bun – Spiced Rum Caramel, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Toasted Pecans

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Full Monte Cristo – Pit Smoked Ham, Tapatio Candied Bacon, Raclette Cheese, Pretzel Bread, Pineapple Rum Batter, Strawberry Champagne Coulis

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Big Bird & Shortstack – Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Sweet Potato Pancakes, Gojuchang Butter, Vermont Maple Syrup

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Duck, Duck Goose – Foie Gras, Scrambled Duck Eggs, Seasonal Mushrooms, Duck-Porcini Jus, Housemade Whistle Pig Blackberry Jelly Biscuit (listed as Toast on the Menu)

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Vintage Cheddar & Chive Biscuit

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Drunken French Toast – Crispy Challah, Pear Bandy, Pear Compote, Mascarpone Mousse, Powdered Sugar, Maple Syrup

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An idea ‘just crazy enough to work’ from Jeremy Fall, the original concept of serving upscale Breakfast Food from 6pm until Midnight in Hollywood now migrated to trendy Venice where Friday, Saturday and Sunday have further expanded to daytime hours, Nighthawk: Breakfast Bar had been a source of curiosity ever since it opened, the new location and brunch beginning at ten o’clock drawing two couples to Washington Boulevard on Saturday morning.

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Having undergone only subtle changes from its prior inception, the hot Coffee from La Colombe now offered with free refills along with the bold Cold-brew plus several Classic and “Cereal Milk” Cocktails there to tempt those looking to chase a hang-over, or start one, it was with reservations offered beginning at eleven that several diners arrived before the restaurant opened its doors for early-morning walk-ins, a table near the front of a space lined with chalkboard walls soon to be filled with plates created by Chef Greg Schroeppel, a Wolfgang Puck alumnus.

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Said to be inspired by Sunset Strip’s late-80s heritage, though the soundtrack speaks more to early 90s Gangster Rap that strangely leans more heavily on Biggie than 2-Pac or Dr. Dre, it was with good service that the well-culled but interesting menu was navigated with a request to be doled out in two rounds, the scratch-made Breakfast beginning with a makeshift Scotch Egg entitled “Pig’s Nest” featuring a still-runny Egg Yolk pouring forth from its golden Bacon and Sausage Shell into a bowl of light Frisee Salad and a smear of Pesto plus bright Vinaigrette.

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Trying best to get a good mix of Sweet, Savory and Pork-less plates with both rounds, the Smoked Ham atop hand-cut Fries topped in melted Raclette, Hollandaise and a runny Egg easily navigated around and still proclaimed as delicious by those who don’t dig on Swine, even better bites were found in the pricey Monte Cristo featuring three deep-fried skewers of Pretzel Bread wrapped around Bacon, Ham and Cheese with a bitter-sweet Strawberry Sauce liberally poured on top, the Honey Espresso Sticky Bun offering a golden mountain of swirled dough for which sharing is advised, particularly given the sizable scoop of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and pool of boozy Caramel in which it rests.

Not particularly sold on the Spiked Cereal Milk, at least the “Coco Puffs” version tasting like little more than Chocolate Milk without a lot of creativity or kick, round two began with more Coffee and a dish called “Big Bird & Shortstack,” the Fried Chicken nothing more than fair-to-middling Tenders paired to fluffy Sweet Potato Pancakes topped in Spicy Butter with Pure Maple Syrup, the ‘vintage’ Cheddar and Chive Biscuits a bit overpriced at the a la carte price of $4 each when they could have been ordered along with both Chicken and Sausage Gravy for $16, and all the more annoying as one was served in place of the Toast suggested on the menu to be part of a follow-up dish.

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Noting that the Biscuits were suggested by the server who felt that both the Chicken and Biscuits plus the Big Bird and Shortstack would be redundant, it was nonetheless the same item that arrived as part of the “Duck, Duck Goose” placing seared Foie Gras in the context of scrambled Duck Eggs plus Mushrooms, the flavor here admittedly quite rich and worth the $22 while the same can be said of $14 ‘Drunken French Toast’ featuring Rice Krispy coated Challah soaked in a Custard spiked with Pear Brandy in a sizzling skillet with Pear Jam and whipped Mascarpone plus more Maple Syrup for those who truly enjoy their sweets for Breakfast.

www.nighthawkrestaurants.com/

Nighthawk Breakfast Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, Breakfast Bar, California, Coffee, Dessert, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, La Colombe, La Colombe Coffee, La Colombe Coffee Roasters, Los Angeles, Nighthawk, Nighthawk: Breakfast Bar, pancake, Pancakes, Pork, Vacation, Venice Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Preux & Proper, Los Angeles CA

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Preux & Proper

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Green Gullah – St. George Gin, Green Chartreuse, Pineapple, Lime, Ginger Beer, Chipotle / Treasure Island – Stolen Rum, Orgeat, Pineapple, Lime, Smoked Luxardo, Lemon Bitters

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Dungeness Crab Hushpuppies – Bourbon Barrel Green Hot Sauce, Basil Spice, Poblano Butter

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Fully Dressed Fried Chicken Po’ Boy – Fresno Poblano Buffalo Sauce, Avocado Ranch, Shaved Red Onion, Pop’s Slaw

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It’s All Gravy Deep Dish Biscuit Dough Pizza – House Andouille, Smoked Mozzarella, Slow Cooked Egg, Country Sausage Gravy

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Grilled Yellow Street Corn – Pork Cracklins, Queso Fresco, Aleppo, Smoky Miso Aioli

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Charred Octopus – Crispy Weiser Fingerlings, Anchovy Remoulade, Mustard Greens, Blood Orange Mojo

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House Andouille Sausage – Peads & Barnetts Pork, Anson Mills Sea Island Red Peas, Marjoram, House Gorditas

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Baked Orecchietti – Crawfish Etouffe, Willow Maid Dry Jack, Jambalaya Tomatoes, Turbodog Ale

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Tripe Chili Cornbread Skillet – Hominy, Sour Cream, Scallion, Smoked Mozzarella, Cheddar

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Liberty Farms Organic Duck Breast – John Haulk Yellow Corn Grits, Roasted Black Kale, Mulled Huckleberries

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Sunburst Farms Trout Caviar – Smoked Trout Rillettes, Hoecake, Kentucky Sorghum, Chive, Meyer Lemon Crema

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Roasted Japanese Eggplant – Shakshuka Spice, Walnut Pralines, Feta, Chermoula, Toasted Spice

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Chicken Fried Pork Cheek – Ancho BBQ, Pickled Radish, Refried Red Beans, Pineapple Verde, Blue Corn Crumble

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Spicy Roasted Nantes Carrots – Goat Keffir, Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Toasted Yellow Eyed Peas, Okra Leaf

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Squash Blossom Chile Relleno – Humboldt Fog, Christmas Lima Bean Succotash, Cornmeal Crust, Pumpkin Seed Mole

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Fried Mississippi Catfish – House Pickles, Celery Salt, Red Remoulade

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Fried Whole Game Hen – Buttermilk Biscuits, Serrano Jelly, Grated Nutmeg, Crushed Pecans, Honeycomb

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Chicory ‘Café con Leche’ Bread Pudding Ice Cream Sandwich – Horchata Ice Cream, Guerrero Chocolate, Cayenne Crème Anglaise

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Kassady’s Mama’s Key Lime Pie – Secret Recipe, Served with Whipped Cream

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Pate a Choux Beignets – ‘Bananas Foster’ Dulce de Leche

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp – Toasted Oats, Ginger, Vanilla Bean, Lemon Curd Ice Cream

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Now toqued by Chef Samuel Monsour for over a year, his predecessor Michael Ruiz doing whatever it is at Bottega Louie that keeps customers pouring in, it was as a group of six that dinner was enjoyed at Preux & Proper on Friday night in Downtown Los Angeles, the evening beginning with Happy Hour Bites in the first floor barroom before moving upstairs to the drafty “Proper” dining area where gluttony in the form of seventeen additional plates served over two and a half hours would ensue.

Concepted by NOLA native Joshua Kopel in 2014 and since growing its audience by way of quality ingredients from sustainable purveyors and the “Laissez les bons temps rouler” spirit of the French Quarter, those familiar with the Crescent City will immediately be taken by the presence of Gas Lamps illuminating the entryway beneath a cloth awning featuring the restaurant’s moniker, an arrival just prior to 7:00pm finding the downstairs absolutely packed with not a seat to be found whether at the bar or at one of the high-top tables.

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Attempting to offer transportive yet inventive fare rooted in one of America’s culinary hotbeds, a job made all the more intriguing by Southern California’s image-centric focus on pseudo-food allergies and trends including Cold-Pressed Juice, Kale Salad and Avocado Toast, a look at either of Preux & Proper’s two menus will immediately strike seasoned diners as “too much” or “unfocused,” the Chef’s desire to explore different ingredients seemingly at play without any sort of editing on a menu whose total number of plates hovers just shy of fifty.

Tellingly detailing on their website that “Every dish we serve is a result of our entire kitchen working together as a family,” many of the plates including an ingredient (or three) that could probably be left out without compromising the effect, it was after a bit of standing that the first four guests to arrive located a small table at the far end of a bar where craft Cocktails are offered alongside Frozen Daiquiris and a space-consuming Shuffleboard game, an order of five Crab-stuffed Hushpuppies bathed in Poblano Chili Butter and spicy Sauce served piping hot and creamy at their centers while the Fried Chicken Po’ Boy and Pizza with Biscuit Dough baked crunchy in a pan were full of stick-to-your-ribs goodness, the bun on the former every bit as good as Leidenheimer ‘s while each slice of the Gravy and Yolk-soaked Pie weighs in at about half-a-pound.

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No doubt a more refined space upstairs, though the chilly April air and open windows certainly left something to be desired in terms of comfort while sitting on stools in a room where the music ranged from Mo-Town to early 2000’s Pop, it was after long perusal and a few drinks that the decision was made to order three rounds of plates, the server warning the group that it would be a rather substantial amount of food – the total bill with tax and automatic gratuity coming in at just under $600.

Dining with a multi-cultural group including a Chef and persons involved in the Arts, Law, Computer Programming and Medicine, all seasoned diners both in Los Angeles and elsewhere, it was with seven plates requested as part of the first course that dishes were slowly sent out as readied by the kitchen, opening bites of Grilled Yellow Street Corn not particularly “Creole” as much as they were Mexican with Pork Skins and Fresh Cheese while the Charred Octopus seemed more like a Spanish dish with the bitterness of Blood Oranges playing off the briny Anchovy sauce alongside the Cephalopod and fried Spuds.

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No doubt a technique-driven kitchen, occasionally perhaps to their own detriment, a shallow plate of Housemade Andouille Sausage featuring locally-sourced Pork proved to be one of the early shining stars as the kitchen focused on simply nailing a classic without over-thinking, the Gorditas well placed as delivery mechanisms for the mashed Red Peas while the Roast Duck was served in the dry, dirty style common down South with Grits and reduced Huckleberries.

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Going quite heavy with both Pasta and Cornbread, the latter served with tender bits of Offal mixed in as opposed to on top as one might guess while the Orecchietti themselves were overcooked and flaccid despite a cheesy mix of Crawfish and Tomatoes, those looking for something a touch lighter would be well advised to order the smooth spread described as “Sunburst Farms Trout Caviar,” the flavor of smoked Trout brightened by Sorghum and Meyer Lemon atop a soft pancake of Cornmeal.

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Taking note of the sheer volume of ingredients the kitchen must have on hand as the meal pressed on, the ‘Shakshuka’ Eggplant served as a rather unattractive pile that nonetheless tasted good with buttered Brioche with the flavor of Feta offering a subtle bit of brine, the meal’s two biggest flops arrived as a one-two punch of acid and aggressive spices shortly thereafter, the fried Pork Cheek virtually inedible as the Pickled Radish and Vinegar overwhelmed the mushy Meat while the Roasted Carrots were inexplicably paired with sliced Baby Tomatoes that did nothing but mask their flavor amidst the Legumes cooked with far too much Marjoram.

Improving with the last three savories, both the Fried Game Hen and farmed Catfish served without a lot of fuss or complication, just time-honored technique plus some flaky Biscuits and Fried Pickles, those interested in a Vegetarian entrée would be well advised to investigate the Squash Blossom-stuffed Chile buried in Humboldt Fog, Corn and Lima Beans, the Pumpkin Seed “Mole” actually a Pipian and again more ‘Mexico’ than Louisiana, but delicious just the same.

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Full but undeterred at this point, the service admittedly better than most places in Los Angeles with just enough ‘Southern Charm’ to work without seeming fake, Desserts represented a veritable ‘pick ‘em’ in terms of which was better amongst the 4 of 5 ordered, the signature Coffee Bread Pudding wrapped around Rice-Milk Ice Cream something like a spicy Tiramisu while the Key Lime Pie and Crisp beneath an enormous scoop of Ice Cream were straight-forward classics, the “Pate a Choux” Beignets not light and airy like those at Café du Monde, but instead these soft orbs of Butter and sweetness rich with boozy Bananas and Caramel.

http://www.preuxandproper.com/

Preux & Proper Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Pudding, California, Coffee, Cornbread, Crab, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Los Angeles, Octopus, pancake, Pancakes, Pizza, Pork, Preux & Proper, Preux and Proper, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Milk Jar Cookies, Los Angeles CA

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Milk Jar Cookies

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Cereal Milk

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Walnut Chocolate Chip

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Oatmeal Raisin

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Cinnamon Sugar

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Chocolate Pecan Caramel

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Chocolate Peanut Butter

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For those tired of ‘artisan,’ a term applied liberally to everything from food and fashion to even toothpicks these days, Milk Jar Cookies at 5466 Wilshire Boulevard completely avoids the word when speaking about the quality of their homemade, small-batch product made from wholesome local ingredients, though anyone who has spent even a modest amount of time watching the Food Network or perusing Food & Wine will know that those terms, all featured on the small store’s promotional material, essentially mean the same thing.

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Owned and operated by Courtney Cowan, a woman who literally ‘quit her day job’ to pursue a love of baking, Milk Jar has now been open since mid-2013 and having grown from an original collection of classic baked rounds to a menu now including Ice Cream Sandwiches and seasonal specials available to be shipped anywhere the storefront amidst a classic stretch of Mid-Wilshire nonetheless remains something of a hidden gem, it’s cute wooden sign and shabby-chic outdoor seating effortlessly blending into the background for those not specifically searching for it.

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Now serving guests six days a week beginning at 11am, though the consistent flow of traffic, mail-orders and catering provide relative certainty that something will be fresh from the oven at any time of day, it was just past two o’clock on Friday that a visit was made to the small shop decorated much like one may guess from the exterior appearance, two bubbly young women working the register while a substantially larger group could be seen hand-rolling dough and removing fresh Cookies from trays in back.

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Sticking to the ‘do one thing and do it well’ ideal, no Bars, Cakes or Pies in sight, it was after long perusal that decisions were made from fourteen daily choices, the gluten-free options eschewed in favor of six soft mounds that were individually sealed in plastic envelopes before being placed in a box with confetti and tied with lace at a cost of fifteen dollars.

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Suggesting that the “Milk & Cookies” not be bagged due to the warm temperature, an agreeable situation as the soft circle speckled in Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch proved absolutely perfect with the tangy Yogurt Chips still melty amidst a not-yet-set base, it was with a smile on the face that the rest of the lot was unboxed and tasted just a few hours later back at the hotel room, a progression from light to dark starting with the Cinnamon Sugar Snickerdoodle that quite literally melted on the tongue as a result of all the butter, the Oatmeal Raisin soft from edge to edge like a warm bowl of Oats cooked thick with Whole Milk and Brown Butter, plus plenty of sweetness from the Fruit mixed in.

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Moving next to Walnut Chocolate Chip, actually the only option selected that featured a crisp rim around the soft middle, it becomes evident quickly that Milk Jar is not working with average Chocolate as soon as one bites into the bittersweet mix of flavors, a similar quality of Cocoa found blended into a “Turtle”-like confection called Chocolate Pecan Caramel that actually gets a little messy thanks to the smooth and gooey center while Chocolate Peanut Butter more-or-less replicates the flavor made famous by Reese’s without separating the two ingredients, but instead serving them as a soft and moist blend.

https://milkjarcookies.com/

Milk Jar Cookies Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in California, Dessert, Food, Los Angeles, Milk Jar Cookies, MilkJar Cookies, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Destroyer, Los Angeles CA

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Destroyer

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Brown Butter, Banana, Oats

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Spice Bread, Crème Fraiche, Black Currant, Wood Sorrel

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Organic Hen Egg, Crispy Potato, Mushroom

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Avocado Confit, Toasted Country Bread

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Streusel, Currant Jam

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Roasted Baby Yam, Avocado, Yogurt, Walnut

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Roasted Cauliflower, Poached Egg, Black Garlic, Chicken Skin

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Rice Porridge, Caramelized Broccoli, Puffed Rice, Burnt Onion

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Chicken Confit, Yukon Gold Potato, Aged Cheese, Yuzu, Hazelnut

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Bavarian Cream, Toffee, Apple, Sorrel

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Not the sort to be jaded by dining at the “World’s Best Restaurants,” yet also not frequently “geeking out” over a new opening and Instagram’s latest #fomo fad, it was admittedly with greater than average interest that news regarding Jordan Kahn’s post-Red Medicine career were watched ever since the restaurant closed in October of 2014, the man who just won a “Best New Chef” nod a few weeks back having impressed with three meals dating to 2011 while his creativity had actually been experienced much earlier by many at restaurants including Per Se, The French Laundry and Alinea.

Considered by many to be something of an enigma; the hours, location and some well-publicized management decisions no doubt part of Red Medicine’s demise, it was finally in the late 3rd-quarter of 2016 that Angelinos would finally see the return of Chef Kahn to a place that few would again think logical, an out of the way corner in Culver City with weekday only morning and lunch hours opening almost without any notice or fanfare, a first attempt to visit on Black Friday denied secondary to ‘building maintenance’ on a white brick space with mostly outdoor seating and a few tables inside being serenaded by music best described as ambient sound.

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Taking an approach that is part “New Nordic” and part Science Fiction in terms of its aesthetics, the kitchen prominently featured at the center of a space that is otherwise minimalist Mason Jars meets Container Store with the menu projected a little out-of-focus on the wall, it was with parking fortunately located just outside the restaurant that two diners entered Destroyer a few moments after 10:00am on a Friday after driving in early from Las Vegas, a plan to sample both Breakfast and Lunch carefully divided by a ninety minute intermission of hiking the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.

Featuring a total of only thirteen plates plus three daily Pastries and a limited Drink Menu, each one meticulously designed as an exploration of pristine produce and varied textures with plating that looks as though it came straight out of a magazine, it was after long debate of just ‘how much’ two persons could consume on a day already filled with other plans that the decision was made to invest in a five-and-five split, each item costing not-much-more than something far less interesting at Panera or any ‘quick casual’ chain with portions that are actually quite generous across the board.

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Replicating Sqirl in more ways that some might think, the minimalism, obscure location and ingredient-focused menu with counterside ordering all quite unfussy though the food seems fairly serious, round one at Destroyer consisted of two daily Pastries plus three plates brought out as they were readied, the first bites of a Banana Muffin beneath a layer of Oats a bit shocking in terms of just how natural it all tasted, the same to be said of a thin wedge of Currant Tart eaten later, the texture not all that different from a Pop-Tart though sweetness is mostly eschewed to instead focus on the Berry’s complex sour-gives-way-to-sweet flavor.

Not really the sort of place one would expect to see ubiquitous Avocado Toast, Kahn and his sizable kitchen staff instead serving a half-Avocado confited soft and full of flavor in a bowl topped with Ash alongside housemade Toasted Bread, the restaurant’s take on Eggs and Potatoes arrives much like many of the Chef’s dishes served over the course of four years at Red Medicine, the Ancient Grain base and crispy Potato Chips served amidst a tangle of Greens that dial up the texture with an overall effect that is wholesome and hearty as the poached Egg slicks everything including several varieties of foraged Mushrooms tossed into the mix.

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Generating a bit of discussion with “Spice Bread,” some very intelligent local Purveyors and Chefs suggesting that the elegantly placed Herbs alongside tart Black Currants were not Wood Sorrel despite both the menu and taste buds indicating that it was, it was after a long walk and a shift outside that the meal transitioned to Lunch, the dish listed as “Roasted Baby Yam, Avocado, Yogurt, Walnut” seeing three Tubers and a half-Avocado sliced lengthwise beneath a camouflage of Endive and a bit of sweetness that tasted like Apples mixed with Caramelized Onions plus an earthy Powder that played well off the Yogurt.

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Not particularly taken by the Bavarian Cream ‘dessert,’ though the dish was appropriately placed in the context of the restaurant and a virtually guilt-free sweet given its ethereal texture and restrained use of Sugar, far more interesting concepts were explored by way of tender Chicken beneath an avalanche of finely grated Cheese and Potatoes plus a layer of caramelized Cruciferous Vegetables tinged in Citrus, similar ideas offered by way of the crispy Cauliflower that easily cut into edible morsels amidst Grains, Black Garlic and Chicken Cracklins’ while the Rice Porridge was certainly not the Uni Congee dearly missed from Jordan’s previous restaurant, though quite good at about 1/3 the price with grains cooked tender amidst fermented flavors and a slightly bitter finish from the clarified and burnt Onions.

http://destroyer.la/

Posted in Breakfast, California, Culver City, Dessert, Destroyer, Food, Los Angeles, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sqirl [2,] Los Angeles CA

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Sqirl

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Ginger Molasses Loaf

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Blood Orange Kouign Amann

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Famed Ricotta Toast – Burnt Brioche, House Straus Milk Ricotta, Raspberry-Vanilla Jam

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Brown Rice Porridge – Traditional Kokuho Rose Brown Rice Porridge, Housemade Almond Milk, Toasted Hazelnuts, Strawberry Jam

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Crispy Rice Salad with ‘The Works’ – Crispy Kokuho Rose Brown Rice Salad, Lemongrass, Mint, Cilantro, Ginger, Fried Egg, Sausage

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Warm Malva Cake

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Last visited in March of 2013, prices lower, the menu as well as the floorplan approximately half and Chef Jessica Koslow’s name virtually unknown, it should go without saying that much has changed at Silver Lake’s Sqirl over the four years intervening, her enormously-popular restaurant built on burnt Bread topped in Ricotta and Jam now embodying everything that is “California Cuisine” at the moment with a menu that is simple, light, fresh and pristine.

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Originally launched as a simple project focused on healthy, organic ingredients served honestly, Chef Koslow’s Award-Winning cookbook “Everything I Want to Eat” beautifully expressing the restaurant’s idea of providing the sort of food one can eat every day without growing bored, jaded or obese, it was just minutes past the Sqirl’s 8:00am Friday opening that two diners approached a brief line not-infrequently found to be stretching around the block on weekends or during peak hours, patrons ranging from two-year olds to septuagenarians, several races also accounted for though there is no doubt that middle-to-upper class Caucasians prone to reading poetry or their own journal in public dominate the scene.

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Now featuring both an early and afternoon menu scrawled across chalkboards, the website updated daily to detail specials and seasonally to highlight new ideas, it is after a slow march through the line that patrons are brought face-to-face with twenty-somethings manning a register flanked by several unique pastries that require a bit of quick decision making, each order recited back before customers are handed a marker bearing fruit, the packed-space and outdoor patio often seeing runners circle the room twice before locating diners as items are sent out individually as the kitchen staff deems them ready.

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Having only previously tasted a slice of Toast and Jam plus Coffee from Portland’s Heart Roasters, this visit a far more encompassing experience that should serve as a lesson to Chefs everywhere that given the right mindset, location and market no idea is too simple to become a sensation, breakfast at Sqirl began with a thick slice of Ginger Molasses Loaf that at first comes across almost *too* intense before dissipating into a subtle burn with a fruity finish, the Blood Orange Kouign Amann another abrupt flavor with a mild bitterness amidst all the Butter and an overall flavor that favors ‘fresh’ over ‘sweet.’

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Continuing to show a great eye for balance with the “Famed Ricotta Toast,” a light bit of char on the Brioche playing brilliantly off flakes of Sea Salt, Creamy Cheese and Raspberry-Vanilla Jam, it was actually by accident that the “Brown Rice Porridge” was ordered instead of the “Long Cooked Chicken Rice Porridge,” the shallow bowl filled with soft organic Grains not dissimilar to traditional Oatmeal in terms of texture with Housemade Almond Milk, Toasted Hazelnuts and Jam that seemed to be Strawberry with a few sliced sections of whole Vanilla Beans.

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Attempting to decide between the Sorrel Pesto Rice Bowl or Crispy Rice Salad, the former offered even during the restaurant’s earliest days while the latter has been said by many to be Koslow’s best dish, it was with French Toast and a Buckwheat Pancake left to the future that a bowl of crispy Kokuho Brown Rice tinged in Mint, acid and Ginger arrived with chopped Sausage and a Sunny-side Egg, the flavors at first seemingly a mish-mash but then coming together in harmony to present the sort of dish one really cannot help but keep eating, a re-heated Malva Cake arriving with just a few bites left not dissimilar to Sticky Toffee Pudding with dark-brown outside flavored by Stone Fruit wrapped around a nearly-molten Custard center.

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http://sqirlla.com/

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

Posted in Breakfast, California, Dessert, Food, Kouign Amann, Los Angeles, Pork, Sqirl, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FrankieLucy Bakeshop, Los Angeles CA

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FrankieLucy Bakeshop

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Dirty Vegan Horchata, Americano

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Ube Scone

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Bacon Cheddar Biscuit

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Salted Caramel Budino

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Maja Mais Custard

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Purplie

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S’mores Bar

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Banana Nutella Bread Pudding with Salty Caramel Sauce

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Driving in from Las Vegas in the wee hours of Friday, a 3:15am departure and minimal traffic allowing for arrival in Silver Lake by 7:08, it was with high hopes that the car was parked out front of FrankieLucy Bakeshop before parking meters were activated, the small storefront featuring Filipino-infused Pastries from Sherman Oaks’ Crème Caramel offering no lack of sweet and savory options since it opened its doors in January of 2017.

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Not exactly a household name even amongst Angelinos, the food truck-turned-brick n’ mortar original on Burbank Boulevard something of a hidden gem that was last visited in April of 2015, FrankieLucy takes the theme of “Coffee and Custard” literally by representing a joint venture between Annie Choi of Found Coffee and Crème Caramel’s Kristine de la Cruz, the pair’s daily specials enlivening a menu that is already quite adventurous, the presentations here a bit different from those further West but generally no less delicious.

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Famous for Instagram favorites like “Unicorn Poop” Meringue and drinks blending Tea and Coffee with Ube or Yuzu in all sorts of colorful combinations, those expecting the big smiles and copious samples offered at Crème Caramel may be a little disappointed by the relative hipster indifference of cashiers at FrankieLucy, particularly in the early morning as they tend to mundane tasks such as stocking shelves or vacuuming that should have been done before opening the doors, none of the items sold in house made on site, but appearing to have suffered in no way from transport.

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Still focusing on the eponymous bowls offered since day one, the prices a bit higher than in the past but no less impressive in variety or texture, it was after long perusal that the decision was made to order seven sweets plus two beverages, the Bread Pudding placed in a small convection oven re-warmed in about ten minutes and every bit as decadent as one would expect from Custard-soaked Bread tossed with Bananas and Nutella Spread even before adding a sidecar of Salty Caramel, the Americano served piping hot with good Beans treated to a medium roast while the $6.75 Dirty Vegan Horchata was also quite tasty with the smooth Almond Milk and Rice Water Base finished off with a shot of Espresso.

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Passing on items ordered during the last visit, though both the Brookie and Caramel Polenta Cake were indeed tempting, it was with slow spoonfuls that the Corn and Coconut Maja Mais Custard was sampled bite-for-bite next to the texturally inhomogeneous Salty Caramel Budino, both of these adhering to the same high quality standards for flavor as the ‘upside down Pies’ or Custards of the past, the former actually quite savory as was a Bacon-Cheddar Biscuit that was flaky and delicate with big pieces of crispy Pork layered amidst the Cheese and Butter base.

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Not particularly thrilled by an Ube Scone, the center as dry as many in England with the only thing saying ‘unique’ was sweet purple Frosting on top, a far better use of the brightly colored Yam was found by way of a Powdered-Sugar topped square known simply as the “Purplie,” the Tuber adding both levity and moisture to quick-bake Chocolate classic while the S’mores Bar was most definitely the sort of idea developed for internet Food-faddists, the Marshmallow atop more than three-times as thick as the Cookie base and far better when eaten separately, though the Marshmallow is so spongy and overwhelmingly sweet that the majority of it ended up discarded.

www.frankielucybakeshop.com/

Posted in Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Budino, California, Coffee, Creme Caramel, Dessert, Food, Frankie Lucy, Frankie Lucy Bakeshop, FrankieLucy, FrankieLucy Bakeshop, Los Angeles, Pork, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lipsmacking Foodie Tours – Savory Bites and Neon Lights, Las Vegas NV

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Lipsmacking Foodie Tours – Savory Bites and Neon Lights

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Javiers Fresh Tortilla Chips – Javier’s House Salsa, Roasted Tomato Salsa, Green Tomatillo Salsa, Habanero Salsa

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Javier’s Enchiladas de Mariscos – Stuffed with Shrimp and Dungeness Crab sautéed in Butter, Garlic, Onions and Wine with Tomatillo Sauce, Melted Monterey Jack Cheese

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Javier’s Chicken Enchiladas with Guajillo Sauce – Stuffed with Chicken and Guajillo Sauce, Melted Monterey Jack Cheese

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Javier’s Refried Beans and Mexican Rice

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Javier’s “Margarita Pina” – Herradura Reposado Tequila, Agave Nectar, Lime Juice, St. Germain and Fresh Pineapple

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Bardot Brasserie French Baguette and Butter

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Bardot Brasserie Escargots Bardot – Wild Burgundy Snails, Toasted Hazelnuts, Chartreuse Garlic Butter, Puff Pastry Shells

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Bardot Brasserie Duck Wings a l’Orange – Wood Grilled Wings, Blood Orange Glaze, Sauce Maltaise

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Bardot Brasserie Chicken French Dip – Gruyere Cheese, Mushroom Bread Pudding, Haricots Verts, Vin Jaune au Jus, Petite Salade

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Bardot Brasserie French 75 – Citadelle Gin, Lemon Juice, Prosecco

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Estiatorio Milos Griddled Sourdough and My Sister’s Olive Oil

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Estiatorio Milos The Greek Salad – Vine Ripe Tomatoes, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Barrel-Aged Feta

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Estiatorio Milos Octopus – Grilled Sushi Quality Mediterranean Octopus

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Estiatorio Milos Milos Special – Lightly Fried Zucchini, Eggplant, Tzatziki and Kefalograviera Cheese

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Estiatorio Milos “Basil Press” – Mastiha Liqueur, Fresh Lemon Juice, Fresh Basil, Fever-Tree Club Soda

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Scarpetta Bread Basket – White Rolls, Focaccia, Stromboli Bread plus Olive Oil, Eggplant Caponata and Mascarpone Butter

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Scarpetta Spaghetti – Tomato and Basil

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Scarpetta Short Rib Agnolotti – Short Rib, Bone-Marrow, Brown Butter, Horseradish and Toasted Breadcrumbs

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Scarpetta Creamy Polenta – Fricassee of Truffled Mushrooms

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Scarpetta Duck & Foie Gras Ravioli – Marsala Reduction

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Scarpetta “San Remo” – Makers Mark, Carpano Antica, St. Germain, Campari, Orange & Lime (top right and top left)

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Wolfgang Puck Cucina Tiramisu – Espresso soaked Chiffon, Mascarpone Mousse, Chocolate Cremoso – Caramel Mousse, Praline Crunch, Pistachio Budino – Whipped Creme Fraiche, Pistachio Biscotti, Zeppole – Fried Italian Doughnut, Caramel Sauce

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When Lip Smacking Foodie Tours first launched in Las Vegas one could not help but be skeptical, the constant turnover of Chefs and Front of House hardly ideal for a young business trying to sell DTLV as any sort of ‘culinary destination,’ and yet with time and persistence the concept launched by Donald Contursi has not only outlasted many of its previously featured restaurants but also managed to add to its catalogue of offerings with everything from an intimate Beef Tasting at Carnevino to sizable Corporate Events.

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Now entering its third year of existence, the reviews on Yelp! and Tripadvisor almost universally positive with an obvious lean towards visitors or the sort of person who considers the term “foodie” to be a compliment, it was after several meals enjoyed with Mr. Contursi at places both incorporated and independent of his tours that the young man finally caught my attention with one of his newest ideas, the “Savory Bites and Neon Lights” Tour offering just the right balance of food and adventure to intrigue a local who has done a fair bit of dining around town.

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Entirely focused on The Cosmopolitan and City Center, those concerned in any way about a walking tour during the scorching Las Vegas summer not to worry as the only part of the $299.00 per person tour to take part outside is a 150-yard stroll from Crystals to Cosmopolitan and back, the Savors of the Strip portion of the tour begins in front of the arched waterfall in front of Aria Resort and Casino, this and many other pieces of art described by a tour guide who also acts as part-time comedian and server throughout the rest of the night.

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Taking on five restaurants in approximately 30 to 45-minute increments as the night progresses, those taking a Sunday tour seeing their adventure begin at Javier’s in place of the usually featured Sage, it is with approximately three menu items as well as Bread Service and a Signature Cocktail that each restaurant is presented with a brief description of the concept and Chef/Proprietor, the California-based Mexican restaurant proving to be the least generous of the tour as Tortilla Chips and freshly made salsa join two half-Enchiladas plus Beans fortified with Lard and fluffy Mexican Rice.

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Given a chance to check out the nation’s largest chainsaw sculpture and a tree of top-shelf Tequilas plus a Margarita made with Pineapple and Herradura Reposado before departing, the private dining room typically reserved for Ballers and Movie Stars also a nice touch, stop two features what many including myself consider to be the nation’s finest Brasserie just one story above the Aria’s gaming environs, Michael Mina’s Bardot Brasserie featuring local-Chef Josh Smith serving up two Puff-Pastry Escargot per person along with a pair of Duck Wings and Orange Sauce before finishing up with the bar-menu only Chicken French Dip that remains a hidden secret worth seeking out in Sin City.

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Focusing much of the discussion at Bardot on the beautiful bar, the French 75 offered as part of the Tour’s $60 supplemental Cocktail package a highlight for three of the five guests imbibing that night, it was after a bit more education about the Art Collection at Aria as well as Crystals that the tour arrived at the Cosmopolitan’s dining concourse, Montreal-based Estiatorio Milos experienced for pennies on the dollar compared to their typical menu pricing with a traditional Tomato Salad offered for the timid, while those more adventurous dined on tender grilled Octopus plus Las Vegas’ premier Eggplant dish alongside the refreshing Basil Press.

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To this point doing a fine job of sating appetites without overwhelming, even those choosing to indulge in the warm Baguette and Butter at Bardot or charred Sourdough and family-secret Olive Oil at Milos, savories conclude by way of Celebrity Chef Scott Conant’s Scarpetta within eye-shot the previous restaurant, the majority of the group quick to fade as three signature pastas including one stuffed with Foie Gras were served up alongside two big bowls of Mushroom Polenta plus a basket featuring Focaccia begging to be topped with Mascarpone Butter and Eggplant Caponata plus slices the restaurant’s irresistible Stromboli.

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Rounding out the Food Tour with something sweet, the recently rebranded Cucina by Wolfgang Puck at Crystals preceded by a lengthy visit to RetroSpecs at The Cosmopolitan where the eccentric owner spent time showing off frames previously worn by everyone from Johnny Depp to Ozzy and Gandhi, those familiar with Las Vegas dining will be thrilled to know that all four of Kamel Guechida’s Desserts continue to set a high standard indicative of why Puck lured him away from Joel Robuchon in the first place, the creamy Pistachio Budino and Tiramisu almost as light as a cloud both particularly welcomed after a long night of eating and education.

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Not done quite yet, the clock now nearing 9:00pm as a pair of visitors from British Columbia who’d only signed up to dine departed for their hotel, it was following the guide that the rest of the group was led to the underground parking area at Aria, a black tour bus featuring the name Maverick Helicopter Tours soon to arrive and deliver the remaining members plus others guests to the airfield adjacent McCarran Airport, a Champagne Toast found waiting as each guest is discreetly weighed and given a number that the well-trained pilots will soon call out.

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At this point only a bit worried that any sudden movement may adversely affect those who’d eaten and drank too much, the pilot calm, funny and in communication with Air Traffic Control at all times, it was with a gentle lurch that the Helicopter containing six adults from as far away as Trinidad lifted skyward, a fifteen minute flight narrated by a recorded voice taking people all the way from Mandalay Bay to The Stratosphere before looping back, the ride as smooth as silk with everyone landing in a broad smile, the pilot even taking a little time to stick around after and take some pictures in addition to the promotional photo available at an extra charge inside the terminal.

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FIVE STARS: Not only a fun experience for tourists looking to taste the local dining scene without a full meal’s investment, but also great cross-brand promotion for Mr. Contursi, the Restaurants and Maverick Helicopter Tours, Savory Bites and Neon Lights by Lipsmacking Foodie Tours more than justifies the cost of admission even for skeptics, the blend of good Food, art and adventure offering something new for even those who think they may have already seen everything relevant that the Strip has to sell.

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RECOMMENDED: Aside from perhaps the Salsa being considered a ‘course’ at Javier’s there is not a disappointing bite on the tour, kudos to Donald for creating a menu that allows more timid diners to be a little bit adventurous while those who’ve tasted Octopus or Foie Gras hundreds of times will also be happy with the portions and quality presented.

AVOID: N/A.

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TIP: As detailed above, the tour cost is $299 per person, weight restrictions of 300lbs per ‘ticket’ applied to the helicopter portion of the evening, while those simply looking to dine are invited to depart after dessert at a discounted cost of $199.

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

http://vegasfoodietour.com/

Posted in Bardot, Bardot Brasserie, Bread Basket, Bread Pudding, Coffee, Crab, Dessert, Estiatorio Milos, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, Italian, Javier's, Las Vegas, Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, Lip Smacking Foodie Tours – Savory Bites and Neon Lights, Lipsmacking Foodie Tours, Lipsmacking Foodie Tours – Savory Bites and Neon Lights, Maverick Helicopter, Maverick Helicopter Tours, Michael Mina, Nevada, Octopus, Pork, Savory Bites and Neon Lights, Scarpetta, Scarpetta Las Vegas, Tasting Menu, Tiramisu, Truffle, Truffles, Wolfgang Puck, Wolfgang Puck Cucina

Buddy V’s Ristorante [2,] Las Vegas NV

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Buddy V’s Ristorante

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Coffee

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Strawberry Lemonade – Take Home Souvenir Glass

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