Chef Marc’s Trattoria, Las Vegas NV

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Chef Marc’s Trattoria

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Pizza Focaccia and Warm Semolina Bread with Butter

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Uni Crostini, Figs, Blueberries, Blackberries, Wasabi Leaves

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Fava Bean Leaves, Aged Parmigianino, Grapes

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Buratta Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, 10-Year Aged Balsamic

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Pork Belly & Bone Marrow with Polenta, Pickled Fennel Bulb and Parsley Salad

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Eggplant Parm, Marinara, Tempura Basil and Sage

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Spinach Agnolotti with Lamb, Mortadella, Beef, Chicken and Ricotta in Butter Sage Sauce

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Sesame Seed Crusted Line Caught Halibut with Handmade Squid Ink Spaghetti, Romano Beans, Scallop Bisque

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Lemon Sorbetto

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Braised Veal Short Rib with Polenta and Peppered Rapini

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Malfiata with Shredded Beef Short Rib

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Butter Rum Cake and Tiramisu

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Born Marcus Sgrizzi, but known locally as Chef Marc, it was before officially relocating to Las Vegas that a visit to Parma acquainted me with the Chef’s well-deserved acclaim, and subsequently meeting some now-close friends by way of an event held at Novecento it seemed strange that Trattoria by Chef Marc had slipped beneath my radar nearly nine months since opening, the move finding Mr. Sgrizzi now in a more refined space only ten minutes from my gate.

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East Coast raised, but well traveled throughout Italy with an ‘effort equals results’ sort of mentality that sees Marc and his team scratch-make everything from Bread and Pasta to Desserts and Sauces in-house, Trattoria by Chef Marc sits just outside The Lakes on West Sahara Avenue in a space formerly inhabited by Argana Moroccan Restaurant, the interior featuring heavy woods and marble plus a hand-built Wine Vault with sound a bit louder than would be ideal due to the combination of hard surfaces and overhead music, though a near-full-house of locals still did not make things so noisy that one would be forced to shout.

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Offering an a la carte menu plus a $65 “Chef’s Table” that sees diners preferences incorporated into a tasting otherwise left in the kitchen’s hands, it was by request that Marc and his team crafted an ‘extended’ version of the latter experience that eventually turned into eleven courses including several menu favorites, the quality of many comparing favorably to Casino-based restaurants charging more than twice the price.

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Well established in the city, and as such forming relationships with high quality purveyors of Italian goods plus vegetables brought in from Melissa’s Produce of California, a meal at Trattoria begins with Sgrizzi’s bread basket and although little packets of cold butter seem a bit out of place in an environment where Olive Oil should come standard the Bread itself is as delicious as it is dangerous, both the Pizza Focaccia and warm Semolina loaf difficult to resist, particularly as a means for sopping up sauces.

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No doubt looking to build on past successes and further strengthen a menu filled with the time-tested recipes on which he built his name, first courses of the Chef’s Table saw Chef Marc dabbling in fresh ingredients that he has recently become fond of, the Sea Urchin seemingly served as a means to work with seasonal Fruits and Wasabi leaf while the inspired Salad that followed tasted very much like Fava Beans despite the fact that only Greens, Grapes, Cheese and Seasoning were mingling on the plate.

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Turning eyes to the laminated menu for a moment, the Buratta Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and aged Balsamic expected but delicious in its simplicity just the same, course four saw Chef Marc take on the hefty pairing of Pork Belly and Bone Marrow with a keen sense of delicacy, the supple pig stacked atop buttered toast while the hemisected Cannon saw its creamy contents delicious whether mixed into Polenta or enjoyed with Picked Fennel Bulb and traditional Parsley Salad.

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Personally requesting the Eggplant Parm, a small wedge offered alongside house Marinara and lightly fried herbs, a nightly special Pasta next saw soft Meat and Ricotta spring to life in a butter sauce tinged in Nutmeg and Sage, the line-caught Halibut to follow both meaty and flaky beneath a skin of crisp Sesame Seeds with rich Scallop Bisque lent levity by Pasta and snappy Italian Beans.

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Refreshing the palate with Lemon Sorbetto, the icy texture needing a bit of work, another special of Braised Veal Short Rib ate much like Osso Bucco with both the White Wine of the braising liquid and spicy Greens serving as balance, a small portion of the deconstructed Lasagna using a similar cut of Meat every bit as excellent when baked with Mozzarella.

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Rounding out the evening with half-portions of Butter Rum Cake and Tiramisu, both made by Marc’s Wife, desserts were well made if not a little predictable, the only other option offered a Crème Brulee that seems more “Summerlin” than Italian in a place where something like Canolli, Budino or even an Italian Cookie Plate would better round out the night.

FOUR STARS: Without doubt the most creative Italian spot on the West side of the Valley, and in the conversation for most labor intensive kitchen off-strip, Trattoria shows Chef Marc back in his element creating great food and welcoming guests to his kitchen, a work in progress that is already pretty great.

RECOMMENDED: Chef’s Table – Specifically Pork Belly & Bone Marrow, Line Caught Halibut, Veal Short Rib, Malfiata.

AVOID: Seats in the main dining room can get very loud, so early arrival or seating adjacent the bar are recommended for those sensitive to noise.

TIP: The restaurant offers outdoor seating during appropriate weather conditions.

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

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Chef Marc's Trattoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Chef Marc's Trattoria, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Italian, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pizza, Pork, Tiramisu, Trattoria by Chef Marc

Hot-n-Fresh Cinnamon Rolls, Las Vegas NV

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Hot-n-Fresh Cinnamon Rolls

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Cinnamon Sugar Pecan, Cashew and Almond Samples

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Cinnamon Roll Sundae with Pecans, Thrifty Vanilla Ice Cream, Warm Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream

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Raisin Roll

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Tucked away inside the Fantastik Indoor Swapmeet, a mish-mash of vendor selling everything from Ball Pythons to Emoji Pillows or handmade Art on the corner of Decatur and Oakey, Hot n’ Fresh Cinnamon Rolls has been serving those fortunate enough to stumble upon it since 2013, and although not flaunting words like “artisan” or “vegan” in their marketing materials the scratch-made product is nonetheless quite good.

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Family owned and operated, the kiosk set up toward the back-corner of the Swapmeet requiring a little bit of wandering to find, a first look at Hot n’ Fresh is admittedly perplexing given signage for everything from Pizza to Cinnamon Nuts, Waffles or Ice Cream but after a quick perusal there is no doubt the trays of Cinnamon Rolls are a focal point, the regular ones costing just $3.19 while those curled around Raisins are just six cents more.

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Providing friendly and informative service, something actually quite common amongst all the Fantastik vendors, it was after some deliberation and questioning that the order was assembled, both items popped in a small small microwave before plating to make sure they were warm enough, the charge of $7.68 after tax actually quite a deal considering the portions and products entailed.

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Obviously baking the buns off site, but doing an admirable job of keeping them moist underneath a slathering of slightly-sour Cream Cheese Frosting, first bites of the Raisin Roll showed a buttery core rich with aromatic spices while the Fruit added its intrinsic flavor as well as some texture, the “Plain” version gussied up with a big scoop of Thrifty Vanilla Ice Cream that slowly melted under warm Caramel Sauce, Pecans and Whipped Cream, the base eventually transformed into something like Bread Pudding in its texture and sweet enough that it probably warrants sharing.

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FOUR STARS: Old School and lacking any sort of pretense, Hot n’ Fresh Cinnamon Rolls offers a good product at a great price in the least likely of environments.

RECOMMENDED: Both the Cinnamon Roll Sundae and Raisin Roll were as better than what one has come to expect from places like Cinnabon.

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AVOID: Arriving Monday through Thursday as the Swapmeet is closed.

TIP: Admission to the Swapmeet is $1 for adults, several other food vendors including Tacos, Coffee, and Smoothies plus packaged products like Jams, Pickles and Honey more are also housed within various aisles.

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

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hot-n-Fresh-Cinnamon-Rolls/

Posted in Dessert, Food, Hot-n-Fresh, Hot-n-Fresh Cinnamon Rolls, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Thrifty, Thrifty Ice Cream

Metro Pizza on Sky Pointe [3,] Las Vegas NV

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Metro Pizza on Sky Pointe Drive

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Iced Tea

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House Bread

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Torta Rustica alla Florence – 5-day fermented Butter based Crust, Nutmeg roasted Spinach, Egg, Ricotta, Tuscan Salami, Fennel Sausage, Ham

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Sicilian Style – 4-day fermented Butter Crust, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Cup & Char Pepperoni

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Grilled Pizza – Zucchini, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Basil Pesto, Capers, Ricotta

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Calabrian Deep Dish – 4-day fermented Lard based Crust, Dandelion Sausage, Peccorino, Hand Crushed Tomatoes

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Chicago Style Deep Dish – 4-day fermented Butter Crust, Tomato Sauce, Sausage, Mozzarella

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Sweet Cream Biscuit Shortcake – Buttermilk, Whipped Cream, Strawberries, Cherries, Peaches

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Humble to a degree practically unprecedented in the culinary community, many modern Chefs going well out of their way to self-promote and “brand,” John Arena is a rare name less-known locally than on an international scale, the man behind Metro Pizza carrying the banner for a movement that has continued to grow, now placing the city of Las Vegas on a list of America’s greatest pizza cities.

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Having now had the opportunity to eat at a couple of Chef Arena’s venues, while also joining the walking Encyclopedia at the tables of other Chefs, it was on the man’s invitation that six of us sat down at the Sky Pointe Drive mothership on Saturday evening for a “lesson,” John and his protégée Chris Decker putting on a clinic themed on the evolution of the Deep Dish with a few additional novelties mixed in.

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Admittedly not the “traditional” Metro Pizza experience, though previous visits both at Sky Pointe and Decatur indicate that the menu options are delicious as well, it was with greetings from Mr. Arena that the order of events was described for the evening, and with soft-drinks in hand it would not be long before we knew it would be best advised to beware the temptation offered by the restaurant’s soft and yeasty Bread.

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Taking a regional approach to the evening, in addition to a timeline based sort of assessment, it was no more than ten minutes after seating that the first of six offerings was brought forth to the table, a Torta Rustica from Florence described by the Pizza Legend as a means for the rich to skirt dietary laws by incorporating several flavors into just one dish, the soft crunch of a long fermented Butter Crust encasing a tomatoless sort of Omelet comprised of Tuscan Salami, Fennel Sausage and Ham in an eggy base with the smoothness of melted Ricotta lent levity by tender leaves of Spinach tinged in Nutmeg.

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Acknowledging that the aforementioned Pie is pre-baked and served warm, much like a Spanish Torta or Quiche, two added items were offered to span the time between the Rustica and additional Deep Dish variants, the four-day fermented Sicilian that made my personal top-10 Las Vegas dishes of 2015 now even better as it has found its way onto the menu with Cup & Char Pepperoni while Chef Decker’s grilled pie was a perfect bite of summer with the thin crust fully imbued in smoke beneath thinly-laid Zucchini, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Basil Pesto, Capers and Ricotta Cheese.

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Next offering two interpretations of the ‘modern’ Deep Dish, a style many rightfully associate with Chicago despite an obvious historical predecessor in Italy, Chef Arena proposed two different crusts each with their own region-specific ingredients, the Lard-based Calabrian complete with spicy Dandelion Sausage, hard Peccorino and Hand Crushed Tomatoes baking up gold and crisp with a distinctly different feel from the lighter and more open-crumb of a fermented Butter Crust on the Chicago Style flooded with crumbled Sausage, pools of Mozzarella and seasoned Tomato Sauce.

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Allowing Chris to bring the night home, his recently recognized @everythingbutanchovies Instagram feed yielding yet another fanciful creation, Chef Decker did a fine job of paying tribute to his roots by way of a Sweet Cream Biscuit Shortcake that he attributes to his mother, the buttermilk wedges textured not unlike a British Scone with Whipped Cream, Strawberries, Rehydrated Cherries and Peaches all sharing the spotlight as a subtle reminder that the his work at both Metro and Lulu’s remains critically underrated.

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N/A STARS: Unable to critically assess such an experience, though the Sicilian offered on the Metro Pizza menu is hands-down the best I’ve ever seen, those interested in the history of pizza are encouraged to pay close attention to what John Arena is doing, both here in Las Vegas and in the international scene.

TIP: Rumor has it that John has big plans upcoming, including a concept that may allow more frequent chances to explore regional variants of pizza from history and around the globe.

http://metropizza.com/

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Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Italian, Las Vegas, Metro Pizza, Metro Pizza Centennial, Metro Pizza Sky Pointe, Nevada, Pizza, Pork

Mothership Coffee Roasters [4,] Henderson NV

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Mothership Coffee Roasters

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Nitro Cold Brew

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Pineapple Coconut Scone

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Concord Grape Lavender Tart

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Fig Galette

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Caramelized Pineapple Chocolate Cake

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Orange Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookie

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Ham, Jalapeno, Gruyere Cheese Puff

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Breakfast Pocket – Vegan Egg, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Mushrooms, Red Bell Pepper, Lime, Cilantro

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Green Onion, Smoked Chorizo and Gruyere Quiche

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Now open for over a year, the Roastery for local favorite Sunrise Coffee slowly growing in popularity despite a location tucked away next to Trader Joes in a shopping center on Green Valley Parkway, time has seemingly done little to stifle the creativity of bakers Beth Ryan-Small and Sinead Kravetz, a recent look at items both sweet and savory showing several favorites still making waves in a scene that has improved dramatically, while several new options show no signs of the duo slowing.

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Still an intimate and unadvertised location with limitations largely imposed by size, Mothership Coffee Roasters has managed the tough task of surviving the ever-churning Las Vegas restaurant cycle mostly by word of mouth, and with Baristas that are not only more pleasant but more educated than those at several other places the Coffee remains a focal point for many across the city, the beans now available in several locations though the smooth Nitro Brew remains an in-store special only, the care of light roasting completely devoid of bitterness with a smooth base that requires zero sweetening.

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Selling several origins of beans by the bag, prices lower than imports from operations like Stumptown or even Colorado River Coffee Roasters, part two of Mothership’s appeal comes from the in-house pastry program that far outperforms places outsourcing talent, a la Sambalatte, the choice of vegan versus omnivorous options really a toss-up considering the talent incorporated, even the “Breakfast Pocket” full of faux-Egg proving to be a fulfilling and flavorful pastry that even discerning palates would be hard-pressed to discern from the “real” thing.

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Possessing an almost incomparable skill at overcoming the lack of humidity in bakes of all sorts, the Pineapple Coconut Scone now even better with toasted curls and caramelized Fruit packing the buttery triangle with moisture as well as flavor, a look at Ryan-Small’s Quiche speaks further to the Chef’s talent with textures in the arid environment, the spicy Pork offset by aged Gruyere and Green Onions amidst a fluffy base.

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Seemingly expanding the vegan goods since last visit, the Ham and Cheese in puff pastry a lone remaining taste of things more meaty, Las Vegas should rejoice at the return of Chef Kravetz Concord Grape Lavender Tart that remains one of the city’s best pastries while those looking for something with even more natural sweetness should take note of the Fig Galette, a jammy masterpiece that the Barista says is made without any addition of extra Sugar.

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Admittedly challenged by the idea of mixing Fruit and Chocolate even to this day, the flavor of one almost universally compromising the other, Mothership takes on the tough task of balance by way of two new options, the Orange Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookie crisp on the edges with a soft center lightly tinged in Citrus while the Cocoa-rich loaf takes vegan cake to the next level by filling the rich Chocolate batter with caramelized Pineapple in a Twinkie-like manner.

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FIVE STARS: Continuing to compete on the same level as places like San Francisco’s Craftsman & Wolves for creativity without getting all high and mighty or pushing prices sky high, Mothership Coffee Roasters is as “destination” as Las Vegas gets for options ranging Vegan to Omnivorous while the Coffee remains exemplary.

RECOMMENDED: Nitro Coffee, Pineapple Coconut Scone, Concord Grape Lavender Tart, Fig Galette, Caramelized Pineapple Chocolate Cake.

AVOID: Arriving too late as popular items do sell out.

TIP: Outdoor seating and Wi-Fi are now available, as are more indoor stools for those who choose to stick around.

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

http://www.mothershipcoffee.com/

Mothership Coffee Roasters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Henderson, Las Vegas, Mothership, Mothership Coffee, Mothership Coffee Roasters, Nevada, Pork

Naked City Tavern, Las Vegas NV

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Naked City Tavern

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Bacon candle, basil powder, olive oil powder, sweet balsamic, Himalayan salt, crusty bread

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Dutch baby, cast iron skillet, vanilla cream, huckleberries

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Chilaquiles, avocado crema, sprouts, radish, sunny side egg

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Bacon Risotto, farm egg, sorrel, chicharron

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Hot mama, ham, salami, provolone, brioche, alfredo, sunny side egg

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The rebel , pepperoni, sausage, ham, salami, tomato, fresh basil, mozzarella

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Maple porchetta, naked city tavern maple-sage sausage, pork belly, crispy red potato

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Nutella French toast, brioche, blackberry, huckleberry

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Yellowtail & ahi crudo, pickled blue berry, truffle, Calabrian chile, basil, fennel pollen, Himalayan salt

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Foie-co, foie gras, duck confit, uni crema

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Art of Flavors chocolate gelato, cherry juice, shaved chocolate, mint oil, vanilla cream and mint powder

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Having been fortunate enough to assemble the first Chefseries event at Naked City Pizza on Paradise, and subsequently attending a brunch where Chef Christopher Palmeri further showed off some of the concepts planned for Naked City Tavern, it was with four restaurant savvy friends from near and far that Brunch was enjoyed at 6295 South Pecos Road in the old Blind Tiger Bar & Grill, the interior as yet largely unchanged from the previous resident while the food is already quite great.

No doubt a man whose talents are critically underrated by local “experts” who have long overlooked Palmeri’s hard work, dedication and creativity that has transformed Moondoggies into an Off-Strip destination and continued to develop at Naked City Pizza on Paradise, Naked City Tavern is the young Chef’s first foray into 24/7 dining and with menus slowly being released during the current soft opening all signs seem to indicate that Off-Strip all-hours dining is about to evolve in a direction never seen before.

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Recently showered in deserved praise by one local writer, Christopher and brother Michael’s story earning them the cover of one of Las Vegas’ weekly Mags, a quick look at Naked City Tavern shows high likelihood for being a great place to watch sports while enjoying a beer or partaking in some Video Poker, and with a mixed crowd including some rough-looking locals as well as a whole troop of motorcyclists present as early as 11am there already seems to be a buzz brewing, the All-Night and Morning menu just one week into its debut.

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Known already for Wings, Fries, Pies, Meatballs and more, those options available at all times, Naked City Tavern’s 10p-11a Menu offers a concise dozen-or-so additions and kicking off with the now well-known “Bacon Candle” those familiar were once again impressed by the inspired riff on Oil and Vinegar’s evolving flavors while those experiencing it for the first time equally reveled at the concept, the novelty not lost on even those who’ve traveled far and wide.

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Tossing in a few items from the upcoming Dinner menu, the Crudo Combo a beautiful rendition with Fennel Pollen and Pickled Blueberries particularly well placed in juxtaposition to the Chiles and preserved Truffles, Palmeri admits that the “Foie-co” may have come about in the setting of a bit of drinking, the city of Las Vegas in that case once again benefitting from the results of inebriation as crispy duck confit finds itself paired with slices of Duck Liver in an umami-rich union beneath smooth Uni Cream.

Never one to take the path of least resistance, his hand-shaken butter just one example along with house-smoked Bacon, handmade Maple Sausage and crackling Chicharrons, previously seen items from the Overnight Menu included the textbook Risotto that outperforms many Casino-based fine-dining establishments for just $11 as well as the Italian-riff on a Croque Madame entiled “Hot mama” that features Ham, Salami and Provolone stacked on Brioche beneath Alfredo and a runny Egg, a dish that almost seems *too* rich for one person, as too does the glazed Porchetta stuffed with the aforementioned Sausage that some felt was a touch too sugary, but none denied was texturally on-point.

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Never particularly a fan of Chilaquiles, a predilection for sweeter breakfasts no doubt involved, Palmeri’s version at Naked City Tavern is offered either Sunny Side or Scrambled, the Avocado crema and fresh Sprouts plus Radish adding levity atop Tortillas that stand up to the weight of their toppings, much as the springy Brioche dredged in custard does to a slathering of Nutella along with housemade preserves of Blackberries and Huckleberries.

Admitting that he is not particularly one to indulge in sweets when showing me the menu a couple months back, but agreeing that a Breakfast menu would not be complete without some items in that vein, Chef Palmeri could not help but take the road less traveled when coming up with his Pancakes, completely eschewing the buttermilk flapjacks served at every other 24/7 space and instead presenting a Dutch Baby that comes across almost savory thanks to the use of Vanilla Cream and more of the Huckleberries, one of the soon-to-be-launched desserts showing a similar sort of restraint by offering Doug Taylor’s Chocolate Gelato from Art of Flavors along with Cherry and Chocolate sauce plus light Mint accents that come across subtly and linger on the palate.

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Probably overinflating the overall rating by a bit simply on the strength of the food, Naked City Tavern represents something new for both Chef Palmeri and the city of Las Vegas, an off-strip 24/7 spot by someone with a passion for the product, and that is exactly the sort of thing that locals should be thrilled to support.

RECOMMENDED: Dutch Baby, Bacon Risotto, Hot Mama, Yellowtail & ahi crudo, Foie-Co…and all those Naked City Pizza Classics you know and love.

AVOID: Seats too close to the bar are prone to smoke, and the noise level will need a little bit of softening as the high ceilings and hard surfaces reflect a lot of sound. As far as the food, solo diners probably should avoid the Hot Mama for health purposes while the sweetness in the Maple Porchetta could benefit from the same sort of subtlety practiced in the Dutch Baby.  Also, don’t order the Chilaquiles with scrambled Eggs…that is just silly.

TIP: The overnight menu will go until 1pm on Saturdays and Sundays, per Palmeri, while the dessert menu will be offered 24/7 just like all the Naked City Classics.

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

http://www.nakedcitylv.com/

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

Posted in Art of Flavors, Bread Basket, Breakfast, Dessert, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Naked City Pizza, Naked City Tavern, Nevada, Pancakes, Pizza, Pork, Tasting Menu, Truffle, Truffles

Paradise India, Las Vegas NV

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Paradise India

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Mango Lassi

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Pappadum – Tamarind and Mint Chutney

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Reshmi Kabab

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Chicken 65

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Tandoori Lamb Chops

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Pav Bhaji – Fried Onions in Gram Flour Batter

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Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Korma, Raita, Saffron Rice, Garlic Naan

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Omelet Roti

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Rasmalai, Gulab Jamun, Sevya

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Opened around two months ago in a large corner-space at 8125 West Sahara, Paradise India may seem at first like every similar concept to arrive in areas further East in recent years, but a closer look at the restaurant from William Bathini speaks of a softer, more nuanced side of Indian cuisine that may be just the sort of thing prone to delight fussy West Siders.

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Open for both lunch and dinner, the former a bargain Buffet that is claimed to be one of the largest around, Chef Bathini speaks proudly of his heritage when describing an upbringing in one of his country’s more traditional States, and having now spent some time in Washington DC furthering his skills in close proximity to some of America’s best Indian Fine Dining establishments he hopes to now bring a piece of his home to the city of Las Vegas.

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Inspired by tradition and taking steps to preserve the tastes of his homeland with dynamic spicing replacing the aggressive salting and heat that many associate with lesser restaurants, a quick look at Paradise India’s menu speaks volumes by way of its relative brevity, the choices divided into omnivorous or meatless options with plenty to choose from, but not so much as to seem as if they are just shooting with buckshot or trying too hard to please.

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Ranging from Tandoori and Curry to Biryani with a small Indo-Chinese section plus a few esoteric items speaking to regional influence, appetizers at Paradise range $5-10 and although the sampling was somewhat limited it is safe to say that fans of Poultry are likely to be happy whether they choose the elegant Reshmi Kabab that sees tender Chicken breast wrapped around a mild Ginger and Onion filling or the more robust “Chicken 65” that eats something like a hand-breaded nugget upgraded by Turmeric, Cumin, Garlic and Red Chilies.

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Having already gained praise for the Lamb Chops, a clay oven preparation that presents four bones full of meat on sizzling skillet with onions and peppers for $25, suffice it to say that as good as these are Vegetarians will not feel left out since the traditional Pav Bhaji may be even better as the spicy Onion stew is presented with griddled bread in sizable portion that is as delicious as it is hearty.

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Acknowledging the need to please American palates, but not willing to compromise tradition by straying from the path, Bathini’s Tandoori Chicken offers tender meat just barely clinging to the bones that it is served with, and although Tikka Masala and Korma are both offered elsewhere the texture of Paradise India’s base comes across more subtle and creamy, the choice of whether to use Rice or Bread left to the diner, though those interested in something different are strongly encouraged to try the fluffy Omelet Roti that finds favorable comparison to a thin Spanish Torta.

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Continuing the traditional approach with desserts, even the sold-out Bread Pudding apparently common in India due to ancient Persian influence, Gulab Jamun proved a bit too ‘gummy’ compared to previous experiences with the small Donuts in Honey while the Rasmalai and Sevya were each striking in their subtlety, the latter placing long-grain Rice in the context of a Pudding while the former was almost savory with fresh Paneer soaked in Cream, Fruit plus Nuts and a texture somewhere between Greek Yogurt and Cheesecake.

FOUR STARS: Taking an approach that neither Casinos nor Off-Strip Restaurants seem ready to embrace, the idea of upscale Indian cuisine focused on authenticity rather than the ‘American’ expectation that seems to embrace tongue tingling heat and too much salt, Paradise India has started on good footing that should only improve as the recipes become fine-tuned and the word spreads.

RECOMMENDED: Pav Bhaji, Omelet Roti, Chicken 65, Rasmalai.

AVOID: Gulab Jamun had an almost rubbery texture compared to those seen prior, otherwise the only issue presented was a few menu items being Sold-Out and Indian Pop Music that needs to be turned down in order to better fit the ambiance created by a good looking room and elegant plating.

TIP: The $9.99 Lunch Buffet is offered seven days a week for those not yet ready to commit to the dinner menu.

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

http://www.paradiseindia1.com/

Paradise India Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, Paradise India

Bardot Brasserie [4,] Las Vegas NV

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Bardot Brasserie

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Rose Champagne

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Baguette and Butter

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

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

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

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Seared Foie Gras French Toast – Cassis Compote

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

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

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

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

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Chocolate Macaron – French Chocolate Cookie, Vahlrona Chocolate Mousse

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Crème Brulee – Vanilla Bean Custard, Turbinado Croquant

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Mille Feuille – Caramelized Puff Pastry, Vanilla Crème Patissiere

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

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Cherry Clafoutis – Pistachio Ice Cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AVOID: Um…Filling up on Bread?

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

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

Bardot Brasserie

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

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

CJ’s Italian Ice and Custard, Las Vegas NV

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CJ’s Italian Ice and Custard

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Salted Caramel Custard with Sea Salt Caramel Truffles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RECOMMENDED: Salted Caramel Custard, Chocolate Custard Cake.

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

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

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

http://www.cjsitalianice.com/

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

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

Taco Y Taco on Tropicana, Las Vegas NV

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Taco Y Taco

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Tripas, Pibil, Carne Asada Tacos

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Al Pastor Vampiro

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

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

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

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

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

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

RECOMMENDED: Vampiro style, Pork Al Pastor, Tripas.

AVOID: Pibil.

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/tacotacome

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

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

CRAFTkitchen [4,] Henderson NV

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CRAFTKitchen

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Cinnamon Roll

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Sticky Bun

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Apricot Peach Pop Tart

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Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

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Nutella Kouign Amann

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Almond Cream Kouign Amann

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Coconut Chocolate Coffee Cake

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Mixed Berry Coffee Cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

AVOID: Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake.

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

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

http://craftkitchenlv.com/

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

Posted in Breakfast, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada

Portofino [5,] Las Vegas NV

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Portofino by Chef Michael LaPlaca

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

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OLIVE OIL FOCACCIA

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CAPRESE SALAD – heirloom tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, basil

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

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GRILLED OCTOPUS – Calabrian peperonata, fingerling crisps, salsa verde

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

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

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BURRATA AGNOLOTTI – lobster, chanterelle mushrooms, roasted corn butter

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

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PORK CHEEK RAVIOLI – sweet peas, guancaile, carrot puree

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

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

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

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

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VEAL OSSO BUCO – saffron risotto, bone marrow, gremolata

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

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

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TRADITIONAL TIRAMISU – cognac crème, lady fingers

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CHOCOLATE CAKE – fudge, vanilla ice cream

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SORBETTI – market berries, lemon, raspberry

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GELATO – strawberry cheesecake, double chocolate, vanilla milkshake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AVOID: N/A.

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

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

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

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

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

Yogurtland (West Flamingo,) Las Vegas NV

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Yogurtland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosallie [4,] Las Vegas NV

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Rosallie Le French Café

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White Chocolate Truffle Latte

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Peppermint Latte

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Hazelnut Latte

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

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Tartiflette Quiche – Bacon, Onions, Potatoes, Tartiflette Cheese

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Nutella Croissant

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Summer Berry Tart

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Black Forest Cake

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Lemon Meringue Tart

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Madelines

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Wheat Roll with Housemade Apricot and Strawberry Preserves

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Butter Croissant

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Almond Croissant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://rosallie.com/

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

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

Oleana, Cambridge MA

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Oleana

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Breads and Olive Oil

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Beet Hummus, Sunflower Seeds, Urfa, Pea Greens

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Moussaka—Tahini, Fava Beans, Lamb and Fried Peas

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Vermont Quail Kebob, Baharat Spice, Barberries, Jasmine Rice and Pistachio

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Turkish-Style Profiteroles—Brown Butter Crème, Sesame Caramel, Cashew, Halva

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Orange Blossom Baba – Poached Strawberries, Mint-Pea Ice Cream, Pistachio

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Whether as a result of the Mediterranean tapas, a peaceful garden patio or the significant talents of Chef Ana Sortun, Oleana has been thrilling Boston diners ever since opening its doors in 2001, the subsequent opening of Sarma doing little to diminish the buzz around what is still one of the most coveted reservations in town.

Multiply awarded for everything from service to food to setting, bold flavors invigorating local ingredients to put a unique spin on traditional Mezze and dishes predominantly from Greece, walk-ins are generally reasonable for the bar or small front dining area assuming early arrival and with greetings from a hostess just past 6:30pm a small two-top was suggested, the wood benches oddly similar to those at Bondir while sliding pads hung from the wall to offer some back support.

No doubt a diverse set of offerings, the best way to dine obviously sharing with a sizable group, it warrants mention that even solos are well suited to enjoy Chef Sortun’s creations and after listening to the rundown of daily specials a dialogue with the waiter showed him to be a wealth of knowledge on several plates’ composition, the eventual trio of three savories satiating but still leaving room for two desserts.

Expediting from a small kitchen, wait-times for food after ordering stretching up to forty minutes, a quick perusal of the dining area speaks to diversity of age, race and gender, the bag of two Breads and good Olive Oil sorely tempting and soon finding itself put to good use with a bowl of intensely pink Hummus served without Pita, but instead as a smoothly textured salad tied together by Urfa, Greens and Seeds.

More leftward skewed in price-to-portion ratio than Sarma, the $13 “Kebobs” featuring a mere mouthful of Quail atop a soft Rice Cake teaming with spices under a crunchy Pistachio crust, better value was found in the scalding hot Moussaka still sizzling in the vessel which it was made in, the lamb thankfully allowed to show off its natural flavor despite the flavors of Sesame, Citrus and Fava Beans without the more commonly seen melted Cheese.

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Passing on the signature Baked Alaska on account of Passion Fruit, instead opting for another famous dessert in the Turkish-Style Profiteroles plus a seasonal syrup-soaked Cake, the rumors of Pastry Chef Maura Kilpatrick’s skills proved quite accurate as relates to both preparations, the former punching up the texture of Cream filled Donuts by way of crushed Candy and Cashews in a slick of Caramel while the latter offered a soft sponge saturated in sweetness with Strawberries, crumbled Pistachios and refreshing “Mint-Pea” Ice Cream.

http://oleanarestaurant.com/

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

Posted in Boston, Bread Basket, Cambridge, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Massachusetts, Oleana, Vacation

Bondir, Cambridge MA

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Bondir

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Lemonbalm Mead

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Whole Wheat Sourdough with Whipped Butter

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Heirloom Tomatoes – Riice Milk, Raspberry, Pea Shoots, Sesame Seeds

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Charred Courgettes – Pistachio, Gremolata, Blueberry

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Diver Scallop Crudo – New Potato, Salsa Verde, Bee Pollen

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Massachusets Striped Bass – Dashi, Wakame, Oils

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Cucumber Sorbet – Yogurt, Sunflower, Carrot Blossom

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Opened by Jason Bond in 2010 and still one of Massachusetts’ most celebrated farm-to-table restaurants today, Bondir has received almost universal praise ever since opening and although only 28 seats with a single nightly menu, a recent visit showed the restaurant every bit on par with the Mentons and L’Espaliers in terms of its execution, now under the direction of Chef de Cuisine Pierce Kelly.

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Often described as an unexpected location, the tiny Broadway storefront across from some sort of upcoming Bar or Brewpub presenting convenient access to both Harvard and MIT, entry to Bondir sees diners face-to-face with a small hostess podium adjacent fireplace and small waiting area, the dining room extending back to the kitchen with wooden pews lined up around the edges and chairs at the center.

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Not particularly a comfortable setting, though pillows do help cushion the bottom while wide spacing and soft music shield the sound from surrounding diners, each night sees the Chef create a different tasting based on availability of products, and although accommodations are made for allergies or indiscretions the best course of action for most is to trust the Chef’s discretion, giving the kitchen their complete trust.

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Going great lengths to present a menu in tune with the season, wines offered as pairings or by the bottle for those who choose to imbibe, palates were cleansed by way of a herbal Mead on this particular evening and doing best to limit the housemade Sourdough it bears mention that this will be harder than usual thanks to the cultured Butter that itself would warrant its own “course” in trendier restaurants, an opening course of Heirloom Tomatoes in Rice Milk with Pea Shoots instead officially kicking of the degustation with the inspired addition of sizable Raspberries tip-toeing a fine line between sour and sweet.

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Getting fresher by the minute by way of Squash Blossoms, some gently charred while others were fried crisp beneat, course two complimented the Courgettes with crumbled Pistachios and whole Blueberries dressed in garden Herbs and Garlic, the follow-up of thinly sliced Scallops delivering their intrinsic sweetness alongside similarly layers of Potatoes beneath Salsa Verde and local Bee Pollen.

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More substantially portioning each plate than the typical “Tasting Menu Only” venue, course four presented Locally caught Striped Bass in Dashi with ribbons of Seaweed and aromatic oils of Chili and Garlic, the light linger on the lips soon to washed away by Cucumber Sorbet with Yogurt, candied Sunflower components and a crunchy Brittle a texture like Granola but the flavor of Root Vegetables.

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www.bondircambridge.com/

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

Posted in Bondir, Boston, Bread Basket, Cambridge, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Massachusetts, Tasting Menu, Vacation

Area Four, Cambridge MA

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Area Four

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Cold Brew Coffee

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Margherita Pizza

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Almond Croissant

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Florentine Bar and Blueberry Corn Muffin

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A two-restaurants-in-one space on the Campus of MIT, Area Four has been a Technology Square favorite ever since opening its doors, and with a café on one side plus an American-Style restaurant with a focus on Pizza on the other the menu runs a gamut from coffee and pastries to things more substantial, an al fresco dining space and plenty of willing customers keeping servers busy throughout the day.

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Oddly designed in an area where such architecture seems to be the rule, several campus buildings soaring upward or awkwardly leaning toward the street, entry to Area Four can take place though either of the dining spaces and wish floor-to-ceiling windows flooding both with early-Summer light the far less busy Café proves a worthwhile spot for those looking to chat or study with a Latte while the taller dining room turns both the music and the tempo up.

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Serving brunch on weekends, dinner and lunch on weekdays with the Sandwiches or Pastries starting at 7am, what may not be known is that To-Go options from the dining room are also welcomed in the Wi-Fi enabled connected Café and although wait-times may be substantial the Hostess and General Manager both seem dedicated to running a tight ship as servers buzz around the floor.

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Taking a seat in the Café after browsing the pastries, a bold Cold Brew on Ice selected to pair with a trio of sweets, it was with a next-door menu requested that the ‘simplest’ of items was requested, the wood-oven Margherita soon to arrive and thoroughly out-performing expectations as puddles of Mozzarella met hand-crushed Tomato sauce atop the charred crust with large air-pockets generated by way of a 30+ hour ferment.

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Not certain if baked goods are produced by the same wood-burning oven as the pies, though it seems unlikely for anything except perhaps a robust-shelled Croissant that made up with the natural flavor of sliced Almonds what it lacked in lamination, Area Four continues to show strongly by way of the toothsome Corn Muffin pocketed by bursting Blueberries while a Florentine Bar riffs on the classic Italian Cookie with all the requisite notes of Fruit and Nuts set on a Dark Chocolate and Shortbread base.

http://areafour.com/

Area Four Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Area 4, Area Four, Boston, Cambridge, Coffee, Cornbread, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Italian, Massachusetts, Pizza, Vacation

Alden & Harlow, Cambridge MA

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Alden & Harlow

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Gracenote Coffee Roasters Coffee

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Pickled Corn Pancakes – Strawberries, Buttermilk, Crema, Mint

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Cinnamon Roll with Maple Icing

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Black & Blueberry Buckle with Crème Fraiche

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Croissant Pain Perdu – Cherry Preserves, White Chocolate, Almond Butter

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Hickory Smoked Pigs’ Tails – Maple Glazed, Soft Poached Egg, Cheese Crisps, Grits

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Present on several Best New Restaurant lists both local and nationwide, Cambridge’s Alden & Harlow was selected for Saturday brunch largely based on a menu that seems to fly in the face of conformity almost for the sake of proving that the “New American” movement need not be so stagnant, the concept at times hitting a homerun by way of experimentation while other compositions seem to be trying too hard to be creative.

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Located at 40 Brattle Street, an underground space that expands much further than one would guess from the exterior, Alden & Harlow opened in 2014 and under the toque of Chef Michael Scelfo has gained critical acclaim almost from the beginning by taking a modern approach to locally sourced ingredients while also featuring one of the most innovated Bar programs in the area by barrel aging several options while also offering a good mix of novelties as well as the classics.

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Best described as shabby chic in design, several odd references to Drugs perhaps lost on those unfamiliar with the area or space, it was just after the 10:30am opening that seats were offered at a far back banquet, the music overhead taking the now-trendy route of channeling classics from the 50s and 60s while the menu presented was anything but expected, the five items ordered all delivered almost simultaneously in a matter of moments.

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Locally sourcing as much as possible, Coffee from Gracenote refilled repeatedly by a server who was not particularly in-tune with the menu, though efficient and pleasant enough, dining at Alden & Harlow began with fluffy Cornmeal Pancakes lightly tinged in acid and Buttermilk atop a lightly sweetened Cream plus Strawberries, the follow-up Buckle taking a similar route in terms of flavor profile as bursting Berries densely pocketed piping-hot cast iron with a stiff dollop of Crème Fraiche slowly melting down into a buttery Streusel top.

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Intentionally veering sweet, though savory selections also beckon, further tastes entailed a crisp yet flexible curl of Cinnamon Brioche sitting in a pool of caramelized Butter beneath a mountain of Maple Icing, the ‘Pain Perdu’ unfortunately falling short in the flavor department by eschewing any sort of sweetness in the custard while Hickory smoked Pigs’ Tails actually proved to be the highlight of the morning with the shredded meat fully imbuing the grits with smoke and sweetness and a stick-to-the-ribs richness fortified by the poached Egg.

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Alden & Harlow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Alden & Harlow, Alden and Harlow, Boston, Breakfast, Cambridge, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Gracenote, Gracenote Coffee Roasters, Massachusetts, Pancakes, Pork, Vacation

Iggy’s Bread of the World, Cambridge MA

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Iggy’s Bread of The World

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Mini Almond Croissant

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Mini Chocolate Croissant

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Mini Morning Bun

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Blueberry Bread Pudding

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Pecan Crescent

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Apricot Glazed Sugar Brioche with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cherries

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Still something of a secret in Boston, the makers of Mike & Patty’s Sandwich Breads retail space located across from a gypsum reclaiming facility on Fawcett Street in Cambridge, Iggy’s Bread of The World features a wide variety of options sold at prices comparable to other local artisans with a whole lot of variety from which to choose.

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Truly an artisan bakeshop, oldworld technique meeting all-natural ingredients in the skilled hands of a team led by Igor Ivanovic, Iggy’s originally opened in 1994 before moving to its current location in the old King Arthur Flour warehouse in 1999 and despite having now established a substantial wholesale business the storefront still maintains a mom n’ pop likeness thanks to a smiling staff that appears exceptionally well trained.

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Now holding accounts with several hotels, stores and restaurants throughout Massachusetts, but still turning out fresh breads, bagels and pastries for fans willing to stop in, a brief look at the racks and cases provides an almost overwhelming amount of temptation and whether one selects a “mini” or full-sized version of viennoiserie the results are better than most produced at such volume, the Pain au Chocolate piped with a good core within rounds of lamination while the Almond version only fault is that the shell is too soft.

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Doing an admirable job with the morning bun, though the larger one would have likely fared better in letting the curl become crisp without drying the center out, both the Bread Pudding and Apricot Brioche were delicious in part due to the fruit but also as a result of the eggy base from which they came from, the Pecan Crescent a “best of the best” bite that reminded me of the Hungarian Nut Horns made by my Grandmother at Christmas, but substituting in even more flavor by way of ground Pecan Flour instead of placing the filling inside of rolled dough.

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www.iggysbread.com

Iggy's Bread of the World Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Boston, Bread Basket, Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Cambridge, Croissant, Croissants, Dessert, Food, Iggy's, Iggy’s Bread, Iggy’s Bread of The World, Massachusetts, Vacation

Union Square Donuts, Somerville MA

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Union Square Donuts

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Creamsicle

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Strawberry

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Sea-Salted Bourbon Caramel

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Boston Cream

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Cinnamon Sugar Maine Blueberry

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Brown Butter Hazelnut Crunch

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Another heralded spot in the suburb of Somerville, Union Square Donuts has long been considered the Boston Metro’s preeminent distributor of artisan Donuts and although some may be put off by prices that range $3-4 the fact that the place continues to sell out each and every day should be enough to suggest that the hype is at least part-justifiable

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Using buzzwords like “small batch” and recently expanding their reach to Brookline where Harvard students are sure to be a market force, Union Square Donuts on Bow Street is a friendly sort of place where reclaimed woods and light music overlook a thriving market of all ages and with servers far more helpful than most ‘hip’ spots elsewhere the line progresses as an endless trickle, a half-dozen fried treats ringing in at just over $20.

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No doubt using good ingredients, the bases a crumbly buttercake or eggy sort of yeast-risen Brioche scratch-mixed and fried on-site with toppings also made in house, first tastes of Union Square’s goods came from a ‘Creamsicle’ that reminisced of Hostess Yellow Cupcake with more dignity and less sweetness while the Strawberry ring topped with reduced-fruit frosting was not quite on-par with Blackbird’s Honey-kissed version, but pretty excellent anyway.

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Dressing up the next puffy circle in boozy Caramel that came across almost savory thanks to the Salt, another interesting bite was the Brown Butter Glazed “Premium” selection studded with Hazelnuts while the pocket of Custard beneath Chocolate Ganache and bursting Maine Blueberries inside a Cinnamon Sugar pocket were each well worthy of the four dollar investment.

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www.unionsquaredonuts.com/

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

Posted in Boston, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Massachusetts, Somerville, Union Square Donuts, Vacation

Menton, Boston MA

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Menton

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Pineapple Ginger Cooler

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“Summer Basket” and Orange-Olive Grissini

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MENTON BUTTER SOUP – shellfish, caviar, honey

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Warm Croissant – Single Cow Butter and Sea Salt

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ARTICHOKE – smoked sturgeon, potato en croûte, chicharrón

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Sesame-Miso Bread, Beer Pretzel, Baguette, Whole Wheat Roll, Tomato Rosemary

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HALIBUT – bok choy, jonah crab, lovage

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BIGOLI – burrata, rosemary, bottarga

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TART OF FOIE GRAS – corn, blueberry, lobster

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QUAIL – almond, buttermilk, cippolini

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CORNMEAL POUND CAKE – lemon, blackberry, buttermilk

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PEACH CHIBOUST – almond, rooibos, orange

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Mignardises and Mini-Macarons

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Owned and operated by Barbara Lynch, the matriarch of Boston’s dining scene with restaurants including No. 9 Park and Sportello having impressed on a past trip to New England, it was to the Beard Award winning restaurateur’s Relais & Chateaux rated Menton that I turned for Friday evening, the “From Elements” tasting impressive at almost every turn with the addition of two supplements.

Opened in 2010 but falling by the wayside during a 2011 vacation compromised by tragedy, Menton has remained strongly supported despite early thoughts that fine dining would be a difficult sell in the modern dining economy, and although having changed its format in order to accommodate both tasting, bar and a la carte options there is little doubt that the restaurant remains the crown gem of an empire and one of the most respected restaurants in its price-range north of New York City.

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Described as French-Italian hybrid cuisine, though certainly not like French Riviera cuisine popularized by Ducasse in various venues, Menton finds itself housed in an upstairs space on Congress Street where elegant decoration and slick surfaces welcome diners of all sorts beneath track-lighted ceilings.

Expectedly offering formal service, though the Captains all seem quite charming and never shy to offer their thoughts, patrons are invited to choose between individual plates or a tasting composed from the “From Elements” section, or to instead dive right into the chef’s nightly degustation entitled “Into Evolution.”

Eventually opting for the shorter tasting due to two a la carte items deemed too good to forgo, an alcohol-free Pineapple Ginger Cooler proved a pleasantly refreshing way to cleanse the palate between courses while amuses described as a “Summer Basket” and Orange-Olive Grissini provided a one-two punch of bitter and briny that quickly revved the anticipation.

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Serving individual breads throughout the meal, a warm croissant the only item not offered in the basket far and away the best, Butter from a single cow in Vermont named Babette will undoubtedly find itself slathered on Baguettes, Pretzels or Rolls until every bite is eaten, Lynch’s famous “Butter Soup” absolutely worthy the praise heaped upon it as a honey-sweetened version of same ingredient is used to compliment Caviar and poached Shellfish.

Progressing gently from soup to “salad,” the tender Artichoke Hearts smartly paired to crispy Potato cubes, Sturgeon Cream and Cracklins’, Halibut was a bit too predictable save for the Crab stuffed Bok Choy, though the meaty texture of the fish showed a very skilled hand in both its sourcing and treatment.

Known for her hand with pasta, the gnocchi at No 9. Park one of the city’s most revered dishes, a plate of Bigoli showed tender noodles served as a sort of nest beneath fresh Cheese, Rosemary and Bottarga shavings, the addition of a Foie Gras Tart standing out as one of the most elegantly composed dishes of 2016 with the tender liver perched atop a pie shell filled with Lobster, Corn, Maple Syrup and Blueberries.

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Taking an almost ‘rustic’ approach to Quail by lightly pan searing the split bird with Breadcrumbs and plating it with cracked Almonds, Nut Butter, and fried Cippolini Onions it was in declining Cheese that a duo of desserts was presented, the supplemented Cornmeal Cake falling a bit short in terms of taste or presentation while the cylindrical Peach Chiboust was not only more beautiful to look at but also a creamy, light and fragrant way to finish a very impressive meal.

http://www.mentonboston.com/

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

Posted in Boston, Bread Basket, Crab, Dessert, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, Ice Cream, Lobster, Macaron, Macaroon, Massachusetts, Menton, Pork, Tasting Menu, Vacation