O Face Doughnuts [2,] Las Vegas NV

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O-Face Doughnuts

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Made to Order – Sausage, Eggs, Green Chile Cheese Sauce

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Pina Colada Fritter (V)

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Cherry Pistachio (V)

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PB&J

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Crème Fraiche Glazed

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Chocolate Glazed

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Rosewater Pistachio

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Hibiscus Tea Glazed

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Dark Chocolate (V)

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Coconut (V)

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Orange Boston Cream

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S’Mores

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NY Cheesecake

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Captain Crunch Cereal

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Maple Bacon

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Mexican Hot Chocolate with Horchata Pudding

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Located on the corner of 6th and Carson for just a little over a year it was on the invitation of owner Sonny Ahuja that a return visit was finally made to DTLV’s O Face Doughnuts, and having heard recently that the quality of both product and service had improved substantially since opening it was with the owner himself that I sat down for a quartet of pastry chef Crystal Whitford’s newest inspirations, a boxed dozen of Classics additionally taken to a later gathering with friends.

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Undoubtedly a polarizing space amongst Las Vegans in search of fried dough, the accolades sung by many ‘foodies’ and chefs balanced by reviews from those who find the product greasy or simply not their style, it was with mixed feelings from my first visit that I sat down to talk with Sonny as Chef Whitford worked double duty as barista for a steady crowd, and discussing the challenges of operating such a business downtown while sipping a bold cold-brew sourced from Seattle the passion of each for the concept was plainly evident, the “difficult” choice to change oils from an original canola base eliciting a bit of ire when I, too, admitted that the original version did indeed come off as oily, or at least over-fried.

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At this point having found their rhythm, the shelves fully stocked on my 8:30 arrival with four young staff members hard at work mixing, frying, and glazing several more pastries to replete those going out as part of a large delivery it was with three items suggested by Sonny that the tasting began, and starting out with two ‘fork and knife’ rounds one would be hard pressed to decide which seasonal special was more impressive – the PB&J a cake-based work with surprising levity to the interior cream while the Vegan friendly Cherry Pistachio shined with cherry jam beneath a glaze studded with fresh nuts, the results a fine balance of sweet and savory that tasted extremely natural with the fluffy dough punctuated by the pistachio’s light crunch.

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Continuing the conversation as the kitchen fried a made-to-order breakfast doughnut that arrived piping hot with spicy chili cheese still molten around eggs and sausage it was in the Pina Colada fritter that I indulged, and a far cry from the oily composition of apple and bacon experienced just weeks after O-Face originally opened the results were instead a textbook take on the oldschool East-Coast fritter with a crisp exterior overlying a lightly leavened pillow, the flavor of pineapple offering just a hint of sweetness while mellow coconut tones were amplified without being over-the-top.

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Taking the rest of the doughnuts to go, a Chef selected box with six “In Hand” and the same number of “Fork and Knife” classics sampled surrounding a lunch with friends both old and new, suffice it to say that that those fancying filled donuts would be well advised to visit O-Face for their fix, for as much as the simple glazed rings were pleasant, if not memorable, one would be hard pressed to name a better place for fillings anywhere outside of the goods at So.Cal’s SideCar, the cereal milk pudding inside the Cap’n Crunch everything the description would suggest while both the horchata and cheesecake were rich yet restrained in sweetness, the award winning Maple Bacon one-upping anything offered from elsewhere as tones of pure maple syrup proved a welcome relieve to the cloying artificial tastes offered from the supposed inventors at Voodoo to anywhere within the (702.)

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FOUR STARS: Still not the place one should set their coordinates for simple classics, but without a doubt the best ‘artisan’ doughnuttery within a hundred miles of Sin City, O-Face Doughnuts has come a long way since opening day and with promises of more seasonal variations plus potential improvements to the coffee program soon to come there is little doubt those unamused previously owe Sonny and Crystal a second chance while first-timers are likely to wonder exactly where ‘greasy’ comments were hatched.

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RECOMMENDED: Filled options all trend strong with the Cherry Pistachio, Captain Crunch Cereal, Maple Bacon, and Mexican Hot Chocolate with Horchata Pudding all showing particularly well – a comment equally offered to the Pina Colada Fritter that should be a ‘must’ for anyone fancying the cocktail or a crispy fritter in the classic East-Coast style.

AVOID: Generally fancying cake doughnuts over simple ‘raised and glazed’ iterations, the value simply isn’t there for $1.25 “in-hand” selections that lack the classic appeal of a place like Friendly in Henderson or ACE on Tropicana, though there is little doubt the ingredient quality outstrips both.

TIP: Open at 7am on weekdays and 8am on weekends with delivery options as noted on the website, seasonal varieties subject to change.

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

http://www.ofacedoughnuts.com/

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Posted in Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, O Face, O Face Donuts, O Face Doughnuts, Pork

Lou’s Diner, Las Vegas NV

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Lou’s Diner

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Coffee

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Housemade Cinnamon Roll

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Flapjacks

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Monte Cristo

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Banana Cream Pie

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Lemon Cake

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Located on Decatur and feeding locals for decades under the watchful eye of its eponymous owner, Lou’s Diner is the sort of place one could drive by one hundred times without even a second thought, and yet with prices a fraction of those just a few miles east plus the sort of old-timey service guaranteed to leave a smile on every face the spacious spot is perhaps the very definition of diamond in the rough.

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Certainly not upscale, and not exactly sporting much curb appeal in the back of a complex near Arizona Charlies and the Charleston Antique Mall, a visit to Lou’s Diner is the sort that starts with a bit of skepticism about what will be found inside, but greeted with warm smiles and walls decorated with every sort of nick-knack imaginable the scene unfolds much like any similar spot in middle America, though in this case several-fold cleaner with a specials board complimenting a well-culled menu of breakfasts, soups, sandwiches, and more.

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Seating perhaps sixty, and soon to reach half-capacity about thirty minutes after a 6:45am arrival, it was after short perusal that decisions were made from the all-day options, and with jokes made that “you must real hungry” from the waitress it was with the second of about thirty coffee warm-ups that she departed, a curious Lou and her spouse stopping by inquisitively to ask why pictures were being taken before offering to lead me around the and show off the map of where all their visitors had come from – the wall of mismatched mugs belonging to “regulars” an appropriate amenity as nearly every other diner was greeted by name by the staff nearly the moment they opened the front door.

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Ordering with a request for items to be brought as ready it would not be long before the Housemade Cinnamon Roll arrived beneath a ladle of of sweetened cream cheese, and with a core rife with cinnamon plus plenty of yeastiness acting to offset the richness the results spoke to old-school craftsmanship without a whole lot of fuss, a similar style employed in two desserts enjoyed later that day in the form of a moist lemon layer cake and banana cream pie that was unfortunately a bit short on fruit but still quite flavorful with a pudding base beneath a mountain of whipped cream.

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Assuredly a place with skilled line-cooks, on this particular morning a trio working at great pace with plates coming through the window every couple minutes, course two arrived shortly after the last of the frosting was scraped from the cinnamon roll plate and quickly eschewing pseudo-syrup in favor of pure maple goodness brought from home the thin flapjacks proved fluffy and full of buttermilk while the Monte Cristo finally answered the question of where to find an authentic iteration in the (702) – each deep fried bite packed with ham and turkey bursting forth with flavor beneath two gooey cheeses, a powdered sugar sprinkling and spread of strawberry jam seeing the Diner-classic complete.

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THREE AND A HALF STARS: Easily overlooked in favor of familiar chains, local groups slowly expanding their brand, and fanciful new spots on The Strip, Lou’s Diner is a throwback to ‘greasy spoons’ speckled across America – a place that feels familiar, friendly, and full of nostalgia with the sort of food that is at-worst straightforward, and otherwise genuinely delicious and authentic.

RECOMMENDED: Monte Cristo, Lemon Cake, Cinnamon Roll.

AVOID: The Banana Cream Pie was a bit of a letdown given the lack of fruit, but still quite the slice for a mere $3.55.

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TIP: Open at 5:30am daily with specials announced by dry-erase boards over the counter.

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

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Posted in Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Lou's Diner, Nevada, Pancakes, Pork

Japeneiro Asian Infusion, Las Vegas NV

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Japaneiro

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Rock Shrimp Tempura

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Japaneiro Special Fried Rice

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Baby Octopus

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Truffle Marrow Filet

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Japanese Uni Chawamushi

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6oz Nigerian Prawn with Yuzu-Wasabi

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6oz Nigerian Prawn with Uni Butter

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6oz Nigerian Prawn with Truffle Butter

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Yuzu Coconut Mochi with Genmacha Ice Cream

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Tiramisu

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Banana Harumaki

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Hoji Cha Ice Cream

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Designated as an Asian “Fusion” restaurant, and tucked inside an out-of-the-way strip mall with a former chef from Nobu manning the small kitchen, Japaneiro has received quite a bit of praise since opening earlier this year and sitting down with two friends in the small space where Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, and Kanye West boomed overhead the results proved an underwhelming mixed bag – the Strip-side pricing rarely in step with the quality of the product served across nearly a dozen plates.

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Admittedly a ‘locals-only’ sort of spot, and removed from Spring Mountain a bit of a novelty considering the locale, entry to Japaneiro sees the diner face-to-face with the kitchen and flanked with enough seating for a total of just thirty the service trends friendly without really being transparent, a limited laminated menu joined by several chalkboard specials that are detailed with limited explanation while costs are even more obscured – several numbers written next the name of an ingredient with the staff not really going out of their way to describe the upcharges or price per serving.

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Sipping water and iced green tea, both provided with copious refills at no cost throughout the course of a ninety minute stay, it was in three rounds that orders were placed after asking a few questions and beginning with two modestly priced menu items the first bites of lightly battered shrimp in spicy cream sauce offered a brief glimmer of hope, the house ‘special’ fried rice tossed with beef, shrimp, and pork a competent rendition, but certainly nothing to write home about.

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Moving next to several specials, three baby octopi were next presented with a good char and snappy flesh beneath light citrus at a cost of $4 each and although the nicely seared filet dramatically draped over a delicious charred marrow bone was indeed a dramatic presentation, the $34 surcharge for flavors marred in cheap truffle oil were still quite excessive – the use of the oil additionally making one wonder what other shortcuts the kitchen may be willing to take.

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Thoroughly underwhelmed by watery Chawanmushi carrying an upcharge of $13 from the five dollar base due to the addition of one meager tongue of Japanese Uni, it was onward to prawns that the meal progressed, and with confusing menu pricing seemingly the rule than the exception each “6oz” Nigerian specimen carried a unique charge ranging $23-$28, all but the yuzu and wasabi-tinged cheapest featuring the crustacean overcooked and more than a little tricky to liberate from its shell with the use of only chopsticks, spoon, and fork.

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Seemingly offering a bargain with desserts, and at this point certainly nowhere near full despite the eventual tab of $75 per person, suffice it to say that neither the tiramisu or mochi are particularly memorable save for the high price per bite, and although the Banana Harumaki with $3 ice-cream supplement was admittedly well made with creamy fruit tinged in sweet cheese beneath the lightest of shells it still was not enough to save the meal from regrets of not going elsewhere, a situation admittedly unexpected and leaving one to wonder what others see in this place that the group clearly missed.

TWO STARS: Priced on par with Raku, or even some places located within casinos on South Las Vegas Boulevard, Japaneiro would have proven a better experience at half the volume and 2/3 the cost, marred by slipshod execution and the sort of ambiance that almost instantly makes one want to get up and leave even the assumption that the group may have “ordered wrong” or “suffered an off night” provides little impetus to give the space a second chance to shine.

RECOMMENDED: Banana Harumaki with Hoji Cha Ice Cream, Rock Shrimp Tempura.

AVOID: Prawns, Upcharges.

TIP: Open at 4pm with Happy Hour until 6. No liquor license as yet, so byo may present good savings to some.

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

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Posted in Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Japaneiro, Japaneiro Asian Infusion, Las Vegas, Nevada, Octopus, Tiramisu, Truffle

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar [8,] Las Vegas NV

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Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

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Fried Green Tomato BLT – Pork Belly, Greens, Tomato Jam, Pimento Cheese

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Deviled Eggs with Redneck Caviar, Fresh Dill, Smoked Trout Roe

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Mama’s Ham n’ Cheese Biscuits – Virginia Country Ham, Vermont Sharp Cheddar, House Pickles

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Mama’s Brisket Biscuits – House Smoked Brisket, BBQ Sauce

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Wedge Salad – House Cured Bacon, Avocado, Corn, Yogurt Dressing

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Shrimp n’ Grits – Florida shrimp, crisp Virginia ham, Nora Mill Granary grits

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Chicken n’ Watermelon n’ Waffles – Fried Chicken, Hot Sauce Honey, Spiced Watermelon, Cheddar Cheese Chow Chow Waffle, Bourbon Maple Syrup

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Short Rib n’ Grits – 18oz Bone-In Short Rib, Nora Mill Granary Corn Grits, Charred Corn, Haricot Vert, Sweet Garlic Bordelaise

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Buttermilk Biscuits – Honey Butter, Apple Butter

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Charred Green Beans – Hickory Smoked Yogurt and Almond Vinaigrette

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Heirloom Tomatoes – House Made Ricotta

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Carrots – Brown Butter and Cumin

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Maple Glazed Bacon Brioche Donuts – Bacon Bits, Butterscotch Sauce

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Bacon-Butterscotch Cake with Bacon Frosting, Pecan Pie Filling, and Bourbon Bacon Ice Cream

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Crunch n’ Munch Bread Pudding, Popcorn Ice Cream

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

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Deep Fried Oreos – Rice Crispy Doughnut Dough Fried Oreos, Oreo Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce

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Yardbird Banana Split – Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream, Banana Brulee, Banana Curd, Chocolate Sauce

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Chocolate Chess Pie – Chocolate Chips, Orange Blossom Ice Cream, Citrus Marmalade, Chocolate Sauce

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

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Strawberry Shortcake – Vanilla Cake, Strawberry Ice Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream, Sorgum Chantilly, Orange Strawberry Sauce

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S’mores brownie – Charred Marshmallow, Graham Cracker Ice Cream, Hot Chocolate Sauce

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At this point averaging a meal a month since Yardbird opened up, it was with five friends in town from Los Angeles plus a trio of locals that I sat down in the private room once again for brunch, and treated to a Chef’s tasting including several items from the upcoming menu update the results once again spoke to a passionate team utilizing the very best proteins and produce to turn out Southern staples amongst the country’s very best.

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Having already detailed much about the scene, décor, along with service in past reviews, and undeniably a known entity to the staff even with Chef Melvin Johnson looking after us as Todd Harrington enjoyed some well deserved time off, the decision to defer entirely to the team came at the admittedly low cost of $50 per person and starting off with a few signature bites before a duo of biscuits arrived the menu’s first new bites were both quite excellent, the former featuring paper thin ham laced with aged cheddar and a housemade pickle while the later trended a touch sweet from the housemade sauce, the brisket itself epitomizing the effect of slow smoking on beef lightly rimmed in fat.

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Attempting to graze lightly on a wedge salad that sees house-cured lardons mellowed by avocado, sweet corn, and tangy yogurt dressing, the follow-ups of Shrimp and Grits, Chicken and Waffles, plus Las Vegas’ best Shortribs would present a similar trio to the meal in March, and joined by three new sides plus eight more biscuits the seasonal influences were readily apparent, each bursting tomato nicely accented with light acid beneath house-made ricotta while smoked yogurt proved absolutely brilliant atop snappy green beans, the cumin scented carrots a favorite of most as light spices highlighted the natural sweetness of the produce, though bites were admittedly limited considering the promise of several desserts to come.

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At this point convinced that Vivian Lee and her pastry team are the hardest working crew in all of the 702, it was to a thorough degustation of items old and new that the table was treated to end the day, and with three new items joining seven experienced prior the only real questions were where to start and how full one wanted to end up, the Chess Pie still absolutely dazzling while the Hummingbird Cake was a perfect update on the pineapple laced favorite, a shortcake riffing on an ice cream sandwich wowing the palates of many while the dark chocolate brownie topped in house-smoked marshmallows was entirely indulgent even before being gilded with molten hot chocolate.

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Unable to Fairly Rate, though Five Stars Sounds Right: Unabashedly a fan of almost everything tasted at Yardbird to date, and excited to see what is to come when the new menu is finally hatched, there is little doubt that a ninth meal is just around the corner…and likely a tenth, eleventh, and twelfth after that.

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RECOMMENDED: Mama’s Ham n’ Cheese Biscuits, Fried Green Tomato BLT, Chicken n’ Watermelon n’ Waffles, Short Rib n’ Grits, Carrots, Cornmeal Chess Pie, Hummingbird Cake, Strawberry Shortcake.

AVOID: If one were to nitpick, I guess the tomatoes may have benefitted from a bit of finishing salt while the brisket biscuits could have a touch less sweet to let natural smokiness shine.

TIP: As yet awaiting print, new lunch, brunch, dinner, and dessert menus are due any day.

http://runchickenrun.com/

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Posted in Bread Basket, Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Waffles, Yardbird, Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Yardbird Southern Table and Bar

Mothership Coffee Roasters, Henderson NV

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Mothership Coffee Roasters

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Nitrous Coffee

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Strawberry Balsamic Tart

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Concord Grape and Almond Galette

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Blueberry Glaze Cinnamon Roll

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Coconut Pineapple Scone

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Chocolate Chip and Rye Cookie

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Gluten Free Oatmeal Cranberry Cookie

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Peach and Oat Crumble Pie

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Chocolate Brownie Cake

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Owned by Juanny Romero and Joshua Walter of Sunrise Coffee fame, with organic fair-trade beans roasted on premises and the sort of baked goods that reference the quality of spots from Brooklyn to PDX, Mothership Coffee Roasters represents a paradigm shift in the ‘Las Vegas’ java landscape…even if the Green Valley Parkway address is in fact located in Henderson, the results already justifying the praise and even a trip from the far reaches of the valley’s more fanciful Northwest ‘burbs.

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Already making a name for themselves since 2008 with a seasonal lineup of espresso shots and brews served at Sunrise while their beans also form the base of cups served at restaurants including Natalie Young’s eat. downtown, it would seem fair to say that Romero and Walter have succeeded where several others have failed in trying to make Las Vegas an independent sort of coffee town and with the new shop offering a full view of roasters as well as the kitchen the experience itself is perhaps even more ‘craft’ than that at Four Barrel, Stumptown, or La Colombe – all of which outsource their pastry to local bakeries with far less creativity despite beans that are equally well sourced.

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Small in size, but cozy in décor with baristas that know more than a thing or two about not only pulling shots but the diversity of products on the shelves, a visit to Mothership no doubt begins with the coffee and offering several basics plus a locally sourced chocolate mocha those interested in something truly unique are encouraged to order up a nitro-infused cold brew, the market-price item based on whatever is best from the single origin selections without only the slightest acidity and mouthfeel bolstered by light carbonation, each 10oz cup pulled from a tap complete with a creamy head.

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Speaking next to pastries, and definitely the sort of goods that are likely to garner conversation in a city long lacking for any sort of artisan movement, Mothership features the work of not one but two young chefs, and with one woman working on reinterpreted classics while the other focuses on Vegan and gluten free items the selections run the gamut from sweet to savory with nearly every item tasted nothing short of impressive – even a snappy gluten free Oatmeal Cranberry Cookie proving quite boldly flavored despite the intrinsic limitations of its ingredients rendering it a touch dry.

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Stated as being ‘farm to table’ by the barista, and attempting as best as possible to focus on locally sourced organic goods whenever they can, all Mothership baking is done on premises and with muffins shipped to Sunrise the seasonal selections behind glass show the sort of flavors far more likely to intrigue, the Strawberry Balsamic Tart and Concord Grape with Almond Galette both breathing new life into timeless classics with all-natural fruit purees atop flaky golden crusts while a supple blueberry cinnamon roll offered an equally fruity flavor, though perhaps not showing quite as well as it may have had it been served warm.

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Functioning almost as an atelier, where staff members opinions are sought in crafting new items based on ingredients and whims, further tastes of item including a fruit and butter-pocketed Coconut Pineapple Scone and chewy Chocolate Chip and Rye Cooke showed an adept hand for spinning convention into something new without compromising texture or taste, and although perhaps a bit more ‘traditional’ than the rest both the Peach and Oat Crumble Pie as well as the Chocolate Brownie Cake were absolute steals at $4/each, the former the very picture of summer with near super-saturation of stonefruit while the later walked a tightrope between brownie and fudge, each rich bite the sort of thing that will no doubt see those dining in ordering up another freshly brewed cup of joe.

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Opening in a similar timeframe to DTLV’s PublicUS, but doing on-site roasting and offering far more baked goods at a similar pricepoint with equal or more impressive results, it seems as though Sin City is on the cusp of an artisan coffee revolution some have long desired, and if early bites of Mothership are any indication it seems as though the competition will be fun to watch while best may be yet to come.

RECOMMENED: Nitro Cold Brew, Concord Grape and Almond Galette, Coconut Pineapple Scone, Peach and Oat Crumble Pie.

AVOID: Though good for a gluten-free product, the oatmeal cranberry cookie is best saved for those harboring an allergy, or those choosing to adhere to that lifestyle considering the quality of everything else.

TIP: Tucked next to Trader Joes and open 8am to 6pm weekdays while closing at 4pm on weekends, Mothership features most items fresh on shelves just shortly after opening with a few more added throughout the day. Those interested in specific selections are encouraged to call in advance given the menu’s seasonal focus as well as the small batch baking which often sees more popular items sell out before noon.

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

http://mothershipcoffee.com/

Posted in Bread Basket, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Henderson, Las Vegas, Mothership, Mothership Coffee, Mothership Coffee Roasters, Motheship, Nevada

Pink Box Doughnuts, Henderson NV

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Pink Box Henderson

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Date with a Nutty Pig

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Orange Marmalade

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Apple Pie Fritter

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Buttermilk Bar

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Maple Old Fashioned

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Blueberry Cronut

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Dropping a friend off early at McCarran and finding Flour & Grounds Bakery apparently already shuttered it was to Las Vegas favorite Pink Box’s Henderson location that I turned for breakfast and arriving just after 7:40 with the kitchen still baking the results proved to be the best experienced from the doughnuttery since my first visit to the Lake Meade location just weeks after its original opening.

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Ever a pleasant operation, the young female staff here as smiley and polite as the other locations decorating the valley, Pink Box Henderson offers the same large selection of flavors and styles as that which is found Northwest, and having already sampled much of the stores wares on my last three visits it was in a few new items as well as old favorites that appetite was invested, the $9 tab proving quite fair.

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Starting first with classics, a buttermilk bar and sourcream old fashioned topped with maple glaze that trends far more natural than other places around, time seems to have improved Pink Box’s cook times and with far less grease than average both items were amongst the best to be found in the city, the Apple Fritter unfortunately still less crisp than one would prefer though certainly not oily and absolutely rife with both fruit and spice.

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Generally excelling at filled offerings while simple yeasted and frosted versions have, in the past, seemed a bit doughy as a result of the brioche-style base, it was with the celebrated “Nutty Pig” that the tasting continued and with the blue cheese and balsamic even more poignant this time around the Pink Box signature remains one of those ‘destination’ items, the weekly special of Orange Marmalade offering another complex taste with the slightly bitter jam offset by custard filling and piped stars of cream.

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Previously disappointed by ‘cronuts’ that were flaccid, oily, and almost inedible despite people actually waiting in line for a taste at 9am, it was with some surprise that display versions on this visit appeared far more fanciful amidst a variety of toppings, and opting to give blueberry a sampling the results were admittedly quite shocking, the layers featuring an unprecedented degree of separation with a crisp exterior and plenty of butter beneath subdued sweetness provided by the natural fruit glaze.

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FOUR STARS: Perhaps a result of arriving just after opening, while all items were still fresh, or maybe a sign of improved recipes and craftsmanship as the Pink Box brand expands, suffice it to say that as far as “artisan” donuts go there are few better than those being offered by Pink Box Henderson today, particularly considering the cost – a repeat trip to the flagship soon warranted to see if similar can be find much closer to home.

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RECOMMENDED: Date with a Nutty Pig, Buttermilk Bar, Blueberry Cronut.

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AVOID: The Apple Fritter is fine, particularly for those who find more traditional versions to be ‘oily,’ but still won’t satisfy those looking for a crispy old school classic.

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TIP: Not 24/7 like the Lake Meade Original, those looking for their fix are welcomed as early as 6am Seven-Days a week with shop doors closing at 6pm weekdays, 7pm weekends, or earlier depending on supply and demand.

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

http://www.pinkboxdoughnuts.com/

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Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Henderson, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pink Box Doughnuts, Pink Box Doughnuts Hendeson, Pork

Therapy., Las Vegas NV

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Therapy.

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Sangria Sampler: Classic Red (Hennessy cognac, Grand Marnier, almond syrup, cinnamon with fresh orange, strawberry, lemon, & green apple), Elder-Melon (Grey Goose Le Melon, Marie Brizard watermelon, Prosecco, with fresh watermelon, lemon, lime, & orange), Berry Good (Amaretto, cranberry, fresh blackberry, & sweet citrus flavors)

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Frozen Mango & Lychee Sangria (Don q cristal rum, Grand Marnier raspberry peach, mango & lychee puree with fresh raspberry, orange, lemon, & lime)

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Oxtail empanadas (Delicious oxtail filled pastry served with a harissa lime crème fraîche)

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Soft pretzel bread (with spicy beer mustard)

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

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Roasted Mexican street corn (Perfectly seasoned corn on the cobb with a lime aioli chili pepper & Parmesan cheese)

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Mixed mushroom flatbread (Mushrooms, smoked bacon, carmelized onion & a soft poached egg)

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Chicken and red velvet waffle sliders (Belgium red velvet waffle, chicken breast with a red pepper remoulade slaw)

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Hangar steak tartar (Topped with confit egg yolk & Parmesan. Served with pickles & grilled bread)

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Crispy fried pig ears (Seasoned & breaded, deep fried to perfection with a truffle honey mustard)

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Roasted cauliflower (china ranch dates & yellow curry)

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Cast iron s’mores (Graham cracker crust with dark semi-sweet chocolate & toasted mallows bacon)

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Crumbled carrot cake (Brown Butter Ice Cream, Carrot cake layered on a cream cheese frosting schmear)

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Recently opened in the white-hot Fremont East district, an interesting decision given the established gastro-pub offerings of Park, Glutton, Carson Kitchen and more, it was at the suggestion of two trusted palates that dinner at “Therapy.” was booked, the menu seemingly featuring all the right words with execution left to Chef Daniel Ontiveros in his debut role as head toque in a restaurant off The Strip.

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Long in layout and two-stories tall, the space formerly inhabited by a Dollar Store completely renovated with a sexy bar and exposed ceilings as an open kitchen operates towards the back, it was at the hostess stand that we met General Manager Chuck Scimeca and swiftly led to a tidy four-top at the center of the restaurant the option of dining a la carte or letting the Chef cook for the table was offered, the later obviously accepted with a few special requests.

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Admittedly allowing a friend of the house to arrange the reservation, and unexpectedly presented with no check at night’s end, it was with service proving not only friendly but exceedingly well-informed and efficient that the meal began; a plate of soft pretzels set beside a quartet of oxtail empanadas, the former unequivocally buttery and luscious while the latter found surprising levity when dipped in peppery crème fraîche.

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Sipping a stiff yet fruity frozen drink, and later treated to a tasting of signature sangrias from which the Elder-Melon iteration proved an on-point summer refresher, it was with good pacing that round two arrived a few minutes after opening plates were finished and although the citrus kissed street corn was certainly no slouch there is little sense arguing that the star of the show was in fact the absolutely irresistible ricotta dumplings entitled “in the gnudi,” a gooey bite both sweet and savory that wows equally when eaten like gnocchi or spread on crostini, an item already rivaling the best appetizers in the city and a midpoint contender for the year’s ten best bites.

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At this point seeing lights lowered as a pop-heavy soundtrack switched to Taylor Swift at a volume that seemed a bit unnecessary given the growing din of the crowd, it was onward to a flaky puff-pastry ‘flatbread’ topped with mushrooms and a soft-poached egg that the savories marched on, and with a shocking degree of smoke imbued in the crust given the use of an electric oven each slice was slowly savored, a follow-up jar of silky steak tartar on par with what should be expected while the whimsical red-velvet sliders were unfortunately a bit muddled by all the accoutrements, a bit less slaw or more brine to the bird needed to add balance while the ‘bun’ would have been better off crisp.

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At this point a bit full, but unable to resist tasting a few more savories before moving onto dessert, it was with good fortune that a request was made to sample the meatiest pig’s ears tasted to date, and yet as delicious as the indulgent strips were it was perhaps a bit of a surprise that the charred yellow cauliflower presented even bolder, the use of curry, dates, as well as nuts offering a great degree of balance and giving one hope of great things to come when Ontiveros launches a market-driven blackboard in the months to come.

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Told that sweets at Therapy. are something not to be missed it was after a short visit from the Chef that the meal would reach its end, and again treated to a duo one would be hard pressed to decide whether the cast iron s’mores or deconstructed carrot cake was better, each creamy spoonful of the first exceptionally decadent despite being nicely anchored by a graham cracker base while the crumbled semicircle of spice cake was unquestionably more elegant, each bite offering something slightly different when paired to ice cream and airy cream cheese.

FOUR STARS: Still new, but already executing at a high level from the kitchen to the front of house staff, Therapy. marks yet another success for East Fremont, an area where things may indeed seem ‘same-same’ on the surface, while a deeper shows Chefs like Ontiveros instead pushing new concepts in an attempt to evolve the scene, and perhaps even swing the pendulum away from the strip and thereby change the game.

RECOMMENDED: “In the Gnudi,” Roasted Cauliflower, Mixed Mushroom Flatbread, Crumbled Carrot Cake.

AVOID: Chicken and Waffle Sliders.

TIP: Open for both lunch and dinner, 7 days a week, with the whole menu offered throughout service and specials soon to come.

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

http://www.therapylv.com

Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pork, Therapy, Truffle, Waffles

Crown Bakery, Las Vegas NV

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Crown Bakery

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Green Tea Cookies

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Butter Bread

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Sweet Pecan Pie

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Rock Bun

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Mr. Kim Bun

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Ube Cream

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Choco-Honey Cake

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Located next to latenight stalwart Ichiza, occupying the East corner of the second floor at 4355 Spring Mountain Road, Crown Bakery had long been a place on the local to-do list and with dim sum at Ping Pang Pong proving less than exhilarating it was largely on a whim that the decision was made to stop in, a smiling young lady more than happy to answer several questions and even going so far as to offer a pair of complimentary cookies atop the half-dozen items self-selected to check out the store’s wares.

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Most certainly no expert in Asian baked goods, a sweet tooth crafted in the Midwest far more attuned to American and European-styled pastry, it was with coffee in hand that a degustation of Crown’s buns and breads was undertaken and starting off with the crispy matcha cookies teaming with chopped nuts the restrained use of sugar was immediately evident, a texture not far from Italian Biscotti while the flavor profile trended herbal and lightly creamy – each bite actually well paired to the java, and likely even more appropriate alongside a pot of tea.

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Attempting best to see flavors progress from mild to rich it was with one cookie set aside that sights were turned to the appropriately named “Butter Bread” and as much as placing butter atop milk bread filled with cream filling may seem a good idea the use of a whole pad that stood solid simply seemed unnecessary, the additional calories far better invested in crispy wheels loaded with pralines and sprinkled with sugar, the flavor still less ‘sweet’ than the Southern classic despite the title’s description, but delicious just the same.

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Moving next to a dense orb denoted as “Rock Bread,” suffice it to say there is probably no American item comparable to the amalgam of dried fruits, coconut, several types of nuts, and just enough flour to see it all bind tasted to date, and although a bit challenging to pull apart and eat the variety of flavors were exceedingly natural…perhaps even ‘healthy,’ a followup “Mr. Kim Bun” featuring a soft base laced in peanut butter and red bean paste obviously trending a bit more sugary though still quite mellow amidst the supple white base.

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Always a fan of purple yam, it was with good fortune that despite arriving a few hours after noon there was still one Ube Cream Bun left on the shelf, and with a light coat of spelt decorating the outside for texture the flavor was every bit as good as expected, a half quickly eaten while the rest was consumed shortly after tasting the cocoa-honey ‘cake’ that unfortunately proved a bit lackluster with texture not dissimilar to that of Wonderbread with neither flavor very pronounced.

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THREE AND A HALF STARS: A bit hidden amidst one of Chinatown’s busiest plazas, but featuring several novelties with low prices and the sort of service that one rarely associates with Spring Mountain Road, Crown Bakery is a place well worth exploring for those interested in Asian baked goods, a full exploration of the scene yet to be undertaken but the results thus far a promising start.

RECOMMENDED: Ube Cream, Mr. Kim Bun.

AVOID: Choco-Honey Cake.

TIP: Several chilled pastries and macarons are available, as are custom made cakes and a few items offered by the slice. $10 minimum for Credit Cards.

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

Click to add a blog post for Crown Bakery on Zomato

Posted in Crown Bakery, Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada

Ping Pang Pong, Las Vegas NV

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Ping Pang Pong

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Crispy Duck with Roasted Peanuts

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Pork Belly with Roasted Peanuts

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Shrimp Ball with Mayo

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Chive Dumpling

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Almond Coated Shrimp with Mayo

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Steamed Pork Bun

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Har Gow

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Shumai

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Baked Pork Bun

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Baked Coconut Bun

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Egg Custard

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Stuffed Eggplant

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Pan Fried Red Bean Cake

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Red Bean Donut

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Red Bean Bun

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Found inside the Gold Coast Casino, and said by some to offer the best Dim Sum in a City oft lamented for lacking anything on par with other locations of similar size, it was with three friends that an 11:00am arrival was planned at Ping Pang Pong – one showing up far later than the rest, but really not missing much as the majority of items proved mediocre to decent at best, though service was admittedly far superior to several spots on Spring Mountain Road…perhaps to be expected considering the price.

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Served in traditional cart format, the table provided cattycorner the kitchen giving a good vantage of carts being loaded with fresh items throughout the duration of a two-hour stay, Ping Pang Pong features most of the usual suspects with minimal variation and taking a slow-but-prudent approach to ordering as the restaurant sat almost universally full it was with teas both iced and hot that service began, a duo of crispy duck and supple pork each served with peanuts and complimentary sauces proving well roasted and full of flavor, though the former was riddled with bones that left some pieces virtually devoid of meat.

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Passing on snails that later went half-uneaten by the tardy member of the party, course two featured fried shrimp balls with a sidecar of creamy mayo along with surprisingly delicate and aromatic chive dumplings that rivaled the best found anywhere in town, and moving onward to a trio of plump crustaceans covered in sliced almonds it was here that the savory highpoints of the afternoon were found, the freshness of each item assured by the good fortune of location though the increasing smell of cooking oil and gas would eventually render that impression unsound.

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Underwhelmed by both shumai and har gow with skins that trended too thick, and personally finding both styles of pork buns almost ‘dessert like’ given the significant amount of sugar present in the sauce, it was a bit of a surprise that the lightly set egg custards were almost entirely natural in flavor atop flaky buttered pastry, a duo of coconut buns ordered as the first of several sweets equally impressive without the gloppy filling that sometimes ruins the texture of the bun.

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Adding one more savory, the soft eggplant with an herbal stuffing coated in fermented bean sauce, before going all-in on a trio of sweets to finish, suffice it to say that those fancying red bean paste are well served at Ping Pang Pong, and although items featuring both green tea, pineapple, and sesame were offered the pan fried cakes of red bean as well as baked buns and filled with the same were every bit as good as any tasted anywhere to date, the lack of pressure to turn a table while drinks were repeatedly refilled without request allowing time to linger, chat, and enjoy – an admitted rarity in during peak hours at restaurants serving in this style.

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TWO AND A HALF STARS: Charging approximately 25% more than other similar spots in town, and failing to nail the standards despite executing a few items quite well, Ping Pang Pong is just another average Dim-Sum joint intended to cater to the growing Asian tourist population, a better option for those confined to casinos found at nearby KJ in the Rio while those with a car would be well served to check out Chang’s just a mile and a half to the North.

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RECOMMENDED: Almond Covered Shrimp, Chive Dumplings, Coconut Bun, Red Bean Donuts

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AVOID: Har Gow, Shumai, BBQ Pork (unless one enjoys it really sweet.)

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TIP: Those interested in menu items are encouraged to request a copy as kitchen items are offered made-to-order, a congee and Chinese Donut cart also seen just before exit though it never made its way to the right half of the room. Seating is first come, first served and the line appeared to peak at noon.

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

http://www.goldcoastcasino.com/dine/ping-pang-pong

Click to add a blog post for Ping Pang Pong on Zomato

Posted in Dessert, Food, Las Vegas, Nevada, Ping Pang Pong, Pork

Andiron Steak & Sea, Las Vegas NV

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Andiron Steak & Sea

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Prosciutto – Melon, Balsamic, Olive Oil

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Bread and Butter with Black Salt

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Burrata & Grilled Fig – Medjool Dates, Confit Tomato, Mius 8 Vinegar

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Grilled Market Vegetables – Fava Beans, Zucchini, Peppers, Eggplant, Roasted Tomato-Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Hudson Valley Foie Gras – Huckleberry Jam, Toasted Brioche

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Nueske Bacon Wrapped Matzo Balls – Horseradish Crème Fraiche, Sandy Valley Farms Arugula

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Pork Belly – Grilled Leeks, Tomatoes

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Maine Lobster Salad – Grilled Peach, Seabeans, Radish, Yuzu Vinaigrette

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Tomahawk Chop for Two with Stuffed Bone Marrow and Red Wine Bordelaise, Andiron Steak Sauce, Chimichurri, Green Peppercorn Sauce

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Creekstone Heritage Pork Schnitzel – Warm Potato Salad, Watercress, Fried Farm Egg

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Whole Wheat Linguini – Spinach and Ricotta, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Pea Tendrils

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Summerlin Market Carrots – Carrot-Ginger Puree, Chervil

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Roasted Organic Mushrooms – Shallot, Thyme, Whole Wheat Croutons

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Mac & Cheese Waffle – Five Cheese Blend

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Twice Baked Loaded Potato – Bacon and Bee Hive Smoked Cheddar

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Ashley’s Crème Brulee Donuts – Vanilla Custard

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Brown Butter Lemon Pie – Toasted Lime Meringue, Candied Lime

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Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake – Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Salted Toffee

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Cherry Almond Cake – Cherry Crème Fraiche Ice Cream

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Stone Fruit Sorbet, Almond Amaretto Ice Cream, Salted Caramel Chip Ice Cream

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Double Espresso on Ice

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Owned and operated by Elizabeth Blau and husband Kim Canteenwalla, with talent in the kitchen supplied by Joe Zanelli, Andiron Steak & Sea is without a doubt the centerpiece of Downtown Summerlin’s dining scene, and yet as much as some would like to anoint it a groundbreaking development…or even a “game changer”…the reality is that the restaurant is exactly what it claims, a modern steakhouse with seafood and sides executed at a level corresponding with the associated fee.

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Large in size and light in ambiance, the flowing space featuring an outdoor patio juxtaposing a sexy bar that greets the eye just as patrons enter the door, a first glimpse of Andiron occured during the restaurant’s grand opening but waiting until buzz died down to sit for a proper meal it was with three friends that dinner was taken, the original plan of deferring to the kitchen quickly squashed when an order was requested with the resulting experience occurring over the course of two hours during which much food and fun was had.

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Well appointed with white linen as large windows bathe the space with light it was after a short visit from Chef Zanelli that the meal began and first treated to a gift of melon and prosciutto it would not be long before the table was quickly overloaded, a duo of salads and four starters immediately necessitating a request for more prolonged pacing as chilled dishes were set aside to focus on those more temperature sensitive – the grilled vegetables and pork belly both highlights from round one while the flavor of the lobster was almost entirely lost amidst its accoutrements and foie gras trended a touch pricey considering its small size.

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Thankfully giving time to photograph, chat, and exchange opinions of plates before queuing up course two it was again that the service structure at Andiron saw a plethora of plates arrive shortly after those from round one were cleared, and having opted to pair three entrees to four sides the results were surprisingly similar to that already experienced, both the Tomahawk Chop and Crispy Pork Schnitzel prepared as good as any off-Strip while the Linguini was texturally mushy, the carrots proving the high-point of the sides mainly as a result of the ginger puree beneath while the clever macaroni waffle was far better than the first time around in part due to the cheesy sauce added tableside.

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Never one to shy away from sweets, though admittedly a bit disappointed that the tarte tatin and ice box cake listed online have been deep-sixed in favor of chocolate pudding cake and an admittedly impressive cherry clafoutis, it was with a quintet of complimentary desserts that the meal would end and as much as the crème brûlée donuts may indeed get all the press it was actually the aforementioned almond cake alongside the Brown Butter Lemon Pie that saw everyone smiling in agreement – the later a dessert ranking high amongst Las Vegas’ very best.

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THREE STARS: Thus far a hit as the restaurant was nearly 90% full on a Friday evening throughout the majority of our stay the question that few have answered is how exactly Andiron ups-the-ante compared to the likes of nearby Flemming’s or even Echo & Rig, the former obviously a chain with similar price structure as well as execution while the latter is seriously flawed in its dessert program, though ringing in at 2/3 the cost for a similar upscale experience, plus in-house butchery and curing programs allowing for far more range.

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RECOMMENDED: Grilled Market Vegetables, Creekstone Heritage Pork Schnitzel, Summerlin Market Carrots, Brown Butter Lemon Pie.

AVOID: Maine Lobster Salad, Twice Baked Loaded Potato.

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TIP: Now offering a $55 3-Course Prix-Fixe, plus frequent ‘special event’ dinners, online menus currently lag behind those offered in-house – those interested in specific items should call or stop by.

http://andironsteak.com/

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

Click to add a blog post for Andiron on Zomato

Posted in Andiron, Andiron Steak & Sea, Andiron Steak and Sea, Bread Basket, Coffee, Dessert, Foie, Food, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Lobster, Nevada, Pork

Brasserie Leon de Lyon, Lyon France

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Brasserie Leon de Lyon

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Gougeres au Saint-Marcellin et Cervelle de Canut

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Jus de Mangue, Pomme, Fenouil

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Baguette with Olive Tapanade

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Pate en croute

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Quenelles de brochet

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Bugnes Cuit Au Moment et Servies Tiedes – Fresh Peach Jam and Whipped Cream

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Brioche Fourree au Chocolat Cuisinee comme un Pain Perdu et Doree au Miel

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Opting against another Michelin Starred meal for the last night in Lyon, and instead turning to the sort of French comfort food rarely seen back home, it was without reservations that I entered Brasserie Leon de Lyon and opting for indoor seating as opposed to a bustling patio the experience was one of high prices for average quality, the scene and fortunate seating next to a well-traveled Scandinavian couple proving more memorable than any of the food itself.

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Certainly a unique menu, several Lyonnaise classics offered alongside a ‘healthy’ section featuring antii-oxidant shakes and “low-cal” choices for those looking to perhaps shed some weight, the building housing Leon de Lyon is itself quite luxurious with high-ceilings and belle-epoque styling while service is prim and proper, most staff members fluent in English which seemed befitting considering the number of tourists dining throughout the space.

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Passing once more on wine, here treated to a bottle of surprisingly cold water plus a blend of juices with fennel, the meal began with a basket of warm bread paired to briny tapanade as opposed to butter, a quartet of golden gougeres arriving shortly thereafter with Saint-Marcellin filling and herbal Cervelle de Canut at their side.

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Happily sticking to the classics, though several unique options including veal foot and an impressive pork rib are offered, it was not long before a starter of Pate en croute was presented with golden brioche overlying sweetbreads, foie gras, chicken, plus aspic and although decent despite not being quite as funky as some other versions from the trip, the 15.90€ seemed quite excessive when accounting for both quality and quantity served.

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http://leondelyon.com/uk/brasserie-leon-de-lyon.php

Posted in Brasserie Leon de Lyon, Bread Basket, Bread Pudding, Dessert, Foie, Food, France, French Toast, Ice Cream, Lyon, Pork, Sweetbreads, Vacation

Donuts Factory, Lyon France

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Donuts Factory

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Strawberry

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Kinder

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Choco Lait Amande

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Caramel Popcorn

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Underwhelmed by donuts earlier in my visit, a surprise considering the overall quality of most of Lyon’s pastries and baked goods, it was with some skepticism that I entered the large space entitled “Donuts Factory” and unabashedly referencing New York City with a menu of fried dough alongside bagels and coffee the nonchalant service seemed oddly appropriate, a scene straight out of Brooklyn unfolding even if the all-French crowd of youths crowding the cafe seemed entirely unaware.

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Admittedly found in a touristy area, and as such probably meant to target folks like myself in addition to locals curious about America’s most famous morning sweets, the selection at Donuts Factory took a similar path as that seen at Dorodi and with only yeast-risen options available the texture of the dough seemed borrowed from Dunkin, the subtle glazes and toppings helping to at least partially improve the product as a whole

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Not particularly hungry after a full day of eating, but at least willing to give the products a fair chance to shine, it was with a boxed quartet that I made my exit from the building and sampling as I walked the first bite of Strawberry showed an unexpected degree of natural flavor, though the follow-up “Kinder,” based on a locally famous candy bar, suffered from a waxy mouthfeel that saw much of it left for the birds.

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Having attempted to ask which donuts were most fresh, the Choco Lait Amande suggested after a brief conference between clerks, the flavors of milk chocolate were expectedly sugary despite subtlety lent by sliced almonds, and rounding out the sampling with an option called Caramel Popcorn the only real “issue” was the staleness of the kernels, a robust buttery note imbuing the glaze itself.

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Donuts Factory, Food, France, Lyon, Vacation

Georges Blanc, Vonnas France

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Georges Blanc

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Apricot Nectar

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Baguette, Croissant, Wheat, Cereal Bread with Grand Beurre de Bresse

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Canapes – Mackerel in Spicy Cream, Candy of Foie Gras with Basil Gel, Snail in Garlic Foam with Crisp

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Fantasie D’omble Chevalier en Mode Estivale – Tomato Cream, Green Pea Puree, Red Pepper Gel, Carrots

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Gnocchi de Crabe Epice et une Royal de Brochet de Nos Etangs dans une Composition Mystere Legerement Fumee

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Belle Langoustine Vivante en Chaude-Froid a L’Ail Noir, Fenouil, Confit au Cumin

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Pomme de Ris de Veau aux Queues D’Ecrevisses, Une Maison au Poivre de Timut

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Tourte Bougeoise a L’Agneau Fermier

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Emulsion de Bleu de Bresse, a L’huile de Noix Vanillee, et Chutney

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Eventail de Petites Douceurs – Peach Melba, Coconut with Strawberries, Violet with Cherries and Cassis

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Merveille d’un Jour a la Verveine Odorante et Frauses aux Senteurs de Sous-Bois et Chocolats Maison

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Mille Feuille

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St. Honore

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Vanilla Éclair

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To the city of Vonnas the name Georges Blanc is almost synonymous, the Michelin 3* Chef’s eponymous hotel and restaurant now a landmark on the map of Central France, and yet with satellite brasseries, bistros, and epicurean shops found throughout not just city but much of the region some have called the original a ‘relic’ – a restaurant that retains rank through repetition rather than reinvention, the cuisine living on old accolades in a world where the average 300€ check would be put to far better use in any number of ways.

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No doubt a Grande dame of the Relais & Chateaux sect, the dining room clad in white linen and red leather with stone floors juxtaposing wooded walls as Blancs’ collection of chickens gaze on, it was just as the restaurant opened at 12h00 that I arrived and led straight to a plush table with a full view of the main room it would not be long before the “Saveurs du Moment Autour de Grands Produits” menu was selected, the seven course meal capped by canapes and mignardises showing strongly in terms of technique and sourcing, though stingy portions and a lack of innovation frequently lent credence to claims outlined above.

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Forced three times to decline wine, the only time I actually felt ‘pressured’ to imbibe throughout the whole trip, the meal began with bread service alongside canapes including nicely spiced mackerel as well as creamy foie gras plus escargot and with the first of several croissants paired to butter so fresh that it was still ‘wet’ these opening bites proved some of the most interesting of the meal, the opening plate of Char mostly benign with the red pepper a bit too poignant while the followup of pike and crab was a beautiful dish that melded the mousse to snappy asparagus with just a hint of smoke.

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Next presented a tiny prawn that, on its own, was sweet and snappy despite accoutrements that did little to highlight the crustacean’s natural beauty, the menu finally found footing in a fourth course of sweetbreads in a peppery sauce punctuated with crayfish plus morels, and moving on to the final savory a half-meat pie in puff pastry proved undoubtedly the best of the journey – the richness of lamb, foie, and veal lent texture by crushed pistachios and levity by an sauce rife with cherries.

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Denied a cheese cart, instead offered a plated emulsion of mild bleu infused with vanilla, mignardises were soon brought forth and with Chef Blanc making the rounds, signing menus, and posing for photos the meal would end with a fluffy white chocolate and citrus mushroom whose eye-popping design was matched by bold yet balanced flavors, a similar degree of craftsmanship and subtlety found in three traditional pastries picked up at Georges’ across the street epicerie as the meal itself fell quite short of filling.

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http://www.georgesblanc.com/

 

Posted in Bread Basket, Crab, Croissant, Dessert, Foie, Food, France, Georges Blanc, Gnocchi, Lyon, Sweetbreads, Tasting Menu, Vacation, Vonnas

Seve, Lyon France

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Seve

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Baba Au Rhum

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Raspberry St. Honore

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Paris Brest with Strawberry and Verbena

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Pistachio Raspberry Mille-Feuille

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Iberico Macaron

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Foie Gras Macaron

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Morel and Mushroom Macaron

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Gorgonzola Sesame Macaron

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Strawberry Macaron, Rum Raisin Macaron, Pistachio Macaron, Salted Caramel Macaron

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Having already perused Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse during previous days, but holding off on anything but a few souvenirs until the end of the trip, it was stop three of the morning that saw me pay visit to Seve Patisserie, and with no less than sixty confections ranging from chocolates to cookies and cakes the opportunity to overindulge proved far too tempting to be ignored.

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Located straight-left from the entrance, easily the largest pastry counter in a gourmet food corridor housing some of the city’s most famous purveyors, Maison Seve was originally founded in 1905 and currently helmed by great-grandson Richard with five locations dotting Lyon the products remain an evolving work of passion – the 1999 Patissier of the Year even taking claim for being the creator of the world’s first savory Macaron.

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No doubt a daunting display, at least two-dozen brightly colored jewels behind glass imploring passers-by to stop and take a taste, it was with chocolates purchased for friends that the order initiated, and quickly moving to pastry a dozen more items were selected, each item carefully boxed with white glove treatment and the 32€ tariff paid before taking the goods to a nearby table to be enjoyed.

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Admittedly sporting a substantial sweet tooth, but not one to forgo signature items no matter how strange, it was with macarons that the Seve tasting began and although the sapor of the duck liver mousse between two cookies was substantially subdued by sugar the textures and flavors of every other variety featured a crisp break melting into creamy indulgence – the morel mushroom and Gorgonzola particularly punchy while the rum raisin was boozed up in just the right way.

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Offering modern twists on classics as the foundation of its brand, four entremets were selected next from Seve’s seasonal collection, and with a pipette of rum piercing an already moist baba the clever trick allowed for customization beneath candied orange peel while both choux pastries dialed up summer fruits for a very natural and subdued sweetness, the hole-less brest particularly impressive with light notes of citrus as the St. Honore and crispy Mille-feuille saw raspberries used in forms both whole and jellied to help balance out their respective fillings of cream.

http://chocolatseve.com/

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Foie, Food, France, Lyon, Macaroon, Pork, Seve, Vacation

Le Kitchen Cafe, Lyon France

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Le Kitchen Café

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Iced Espresso, Warm Madelines, Vanilla and Cherry Cake, Pistachio Financier

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Chocolate Chip Cookie

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Said by some to offer the best coffee in the city, and open early for breakfast pastries on weekends, it was to tiny The Kitchen Cafe that I turned for a second breakfast during my final day in Lyon, and sitting down at a small table within the cozy confines where service proved exceptional the feeling was one of familiarity, a decidedly “American” vibe not unlike what one may find in the Pacific Northwest.

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Definitely a curated experience, the well culled menu befitting the limitations of a small kitchen focused more on quality than quantity of goods, breakfast at The Kitchen Cafe consists of just eight pastries plus granola alongside drinks and selecting a quartet plus an espresso over ice the results were across the board excellent, the creamy and rich coffee plus a pastry a veritable steal at 3€ while the rest added an a la carte cost ranging 1.50-2.0€ each.

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Notably arriving mere seconds after the 8h00 opening with every item still warm and some actually bordering on ‘hot,’ tasting began with two soft citrus madelines beneath a lightly browned top while the almond flour financier was a toothsome two-bites punched up by pistachios, both items strong on technique and as good as any experienced to this day.

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Trending less traditional with subsequent selections, suffice it to say that the cherry almond tranche de cake was so buttery that the phrase “pound cake” seems insufficient in describing its heft, and although one may think to pass on a ‘simple’ cookie amidst other temptations the crispy rim surrounding a puddle of melted dark chocolate was absolutely delightful, a bit of nuance and just a touch of sweetness added by smoky, caramelized nuts.

http://lekitchencafe.com/

Posted in Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, France, Le Kitchen Cafe, Lyon, Madeline, Vacation

Festival des Pains par M et Mme Torres, Lyon France

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Festival des Pains par M et Mme Torres

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Butter Croissant

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Raspberry Beignet

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Coffee Éclair

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Baba Au Rhum

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Frangipane Cake

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Located at the opposite end of the street from The Confluence, and passed by more than once during my week in Lyon, it was on my last morning in town that I finally decided to stop by Festival des Pains, and finding the majority of the goods far less fanciful in appearance than several other local spots the results confirmed that looks are not always deceiving, the aloof service not doing much to enhance the experience despite me being the only patron present as the Saturday morning crowd strolled on.

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Large enough to afford some seating, but not particularly welcoming enough to entice one to stay, it was with 12.90€ exchanged for five selections that I made my way from the shop, and sitting down on a nearby curb the tasting began with a croissant whose golden exterior gave way to doughy, dry insides – a similar lack of moisture faulting the frangipane tart from which only a few bites were taken before the rest of it went to the birds.

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Moving onward to a Fresh beignet, the sugared doughnut still faintly warm with a thin ribbon of jam amidst buttery brioche that fared fr better than options before, it was next to a sugary baba that taste buds were treated, the minimal amount of booze unexpected but not entirely unpleasant – that label far more applicable to a coffee eclair already showing a substantial degree of sog to its choux.

http://www.festivaldespains.com/boulangerie_2091.html

Posted in Breakfast, Croissant, Dessert, Festival des Pains, Festival des Pains par M et Mme Torres, Food, France, Lyon, Vacation

Au Petit Bouchon “Chez Georges,” Lyon France

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Au Petit Bouchon “Chez Georges”

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Vin Rouge

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Crispy Pork

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Chitterling Sausage

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Warm Bread

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Œufs cocotte au St Marcellin

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Tripes au vin blanc

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Quenelle de brochet aux écrevisses

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Tarte Apricot

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Considered a local gem, but often discussed by visitors as a “true” Lyonnaise bouchon despite its location on the edge of the touristy 1st, tiny Au Petit Bouchon “Chez Georges” is the sort of place where a sign reading “Complet” often hangs long before dinner begins, yet having planned far in advance in order to assure a seat the experience itself was one of mixed feelings – the cuisine itself universally excellent while service unfortunately made little attempt to welcome foreigners, even going so far as to unapologetically attempt to rip me off twice.

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Originally booked for Friday at 19h00, but arriving fifteen minutes early to the aforementioned sign and opening the door to find the three staff members enjoying family meal, it was with to stern look that I enter and apologizing as best as I could in French I was nonetheless invited to sit, the chef talking loudly and finishing his story before retiring to the kitchen – the lone server and sous left to do the cleaning.

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Obviously identified by my language, the handwritten ledger verifying the booking made by E-mail, it was while browsing specials that the menu was presented , and with no prix fixe even suggested in the English iteration despite prominent placement on the French version and website an inquiry to such was met with resistance – the bill presented later again found to exhibit a la carte prices, plus the cost of a full bottle of house Red when only a lone 25cl pour was drank.

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No doubt an intimate space, and one that gets both hot and loud as the 24-seats fill and remain that way as the nigh, and rolls on, dining at Chez George begins with a small basket of pork cracklings present on arrival and soon treated to bread and a slice of house sausage the attention to detail was readily apparent, each bite replete with light spicing that helped to tame the otherwise rich sapor.

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Amused when a three-part order including one prix-fixe plus an additional plate was deemed “too much for just you,” but happy to receive a demi-portion of one dish at a slightly reduced cost at the suggestion of the chef it was with signature Œufs cocotte au St Marcellin that the menu started off and with two golden eggs centered in a bowl of cream and cheese the results were absolutely indulgent, the makeshift fondue when mixed absolutely delicious on its own, and even better when sopped into the crusty warm bread.

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Having somehow missed out on tripe to this point in the trip, round two saw a half-plate of supple offal arrive in a sauce of white wine, and as much as the dish may prove an acquired taste the version served at the bouchon is amongst the best I’ve tasted to date, the honeycombed ribbons meltingly tender at the center with a top lightly crisped by the oven and plenty of nuance added by potatoes and sauteed onions.

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Not nearly as full as the server would have thought, it was after some delay and chat with English-friendly neighbors that the final savory would arrive, and having already sampled through many Quenelles during my stay in Central France I’m happy to say that the version at Chez Georges was one of the most hearty in the city, the flavor of pike rather light amidst the eggy omelet while the sauce was creamy and substantial with shellfish, each balanced bite compelling another without ever threatening to overwhelm or make one feel stuffed.

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Moving onward to desserts, the items all prepared earlier in the day due to the limitations of a tiny kitchen, it was with some regret that I declined the apple dumpling in favor of an Apricot Tart, but with the sharply flavored fruit presented atop a custard-like clafoutis with just a touch of char there was really nothing to feel sorry about at all in my decision, though perhaps ordering another savory or a few more desserts would have been a worthy endeavor, not only because everything was so good, but also to make a point.

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http://www.aupetit-bouchon-chez-georges.fr/

Posted in Au Petit Bouchon “Chez Georges”, Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, France, Lyon, Pork, Vacation

Régis et Jacques Marcon, Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid France

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Régis et Jacques Marcon

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Le Menu entre Velay et Vivarais

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Du Sapin, Roi de nos Forets: La Pomme de pin a cueillir, Le Cepe a Ramasser, Cornet fourre a l’hommous de lentilles vertes du Puy, Huitre en gelee de pommes vertes – cresson et celery, Feuillete au Comte, Cuilleres gourmands entre Ardeche et Auvergne

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Carrotte Orange, Legumes Achillee, Brandade Ardechoise, Tartare de Boeuf du Mezene

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Bread and Butter, Grisini

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Escargot Beignet, Courgette Veloute with Wild Fennel

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Fera et Asperule Odorante – Chaude et Froid de fera a la crème de cistrem jeunes pousses, fleurs en gelee d’asperule

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Langoustine et Rhubarbe – Langoustine rotie a la tige de Rhubarbe, Sabayon au Gout Grille

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Les Chanterelles et Herbes – Gateau de Ratatouille de Legumes aux Chanterelles, Bisque aux Herbes Parfumes

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Barbue et Aigrelette de nos Champs – Piece de Barbue Braisee a la Feuille d’Oseille, Chou Tendre, Beurre Verveine

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*Gift from Chef* – Just laid Quail Egg, Lentils de Puy, Aged Balsamic, Black Truffles Preserved and Fresh

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Consomme et Tanaisie – The de Champignons Parfume a la Feuille de Tanaisie, Reviole Truffee

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Pigeon et Abricot – Le Demi Pigeon Roti aux Amandes et Abricots, Taboule d’Epeautre a la Sauge Ananas

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Les Fromages d’Ardeche et d’Auvergne Affines dans Notre Cave

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Framboise et Verveine – Le Baba Punche a la Liqueur de Verveine, Chantilly, Framboises a Deguster

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Les douceurs avec les chaudes, les glaces et les patisseries a choisir suivant
Mignardises

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Located in lush Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid, and garnering Michelin Stars and Relais & Chateaux recognition on par with Bras, Blanc, Pic, and Troisgros, Régis et Jacques Marcon was the fifth ‘destination’ dinner on trip through Central France and although the restaurant may lack the international acclaim of the others it was amidst the spacious environs overlooking valleys and fields that an extraordinary meal was enjoyed, Le Menu entre Velay et Vivarais centrally focused on the bounty of Mother Nature with a particular eye on foraged mushrooms and local Lentils de Puy.

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Truly a beautiful place, the hotel and restaurant atop a hill decorated in hard woods, wide windows, and a ceiling that literally sparkles like the stars, entry to Régis et Jacques Marcon is via covered parking into a well appointed salon, and with reservation confirmed it was after a brief visit to the kitchen that the table was ready – a fourtop set for one with fancy linens, fine silver, and English fluent service that trumped any seen in France before.

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Providing ample literature about the Marcon concept alongside several dining options including the summer tasting which suggested seven courses despite actually offering more than a dozen when accounting for canapes, amuses, cheese, mignardises, and a special gift from the kitchen, service began with several snacks offered in the spirit of the forest, everything from the dangling nut to an Oyster with Green Apple proving excellent, the creamy mushroom cap symbolic of much to come.

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Next presented a quartet of bites, each enlivened by herbs from the garden that served to highlight the featured proteins and produce, it was with warm bread and mushroom shaped butter that the afternoon progressed and although doing my best not to overindulge in the warm cracked wheat the plan mostly proved fruitless, a second round later arriving…though admittedly long after I was wowed by a garlicky snail in choux alongside a shooter of creamy soup proving an inspired juxtaposition of flavors as well as textures with a light fennel finish.

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At this point starting the proper menu, forty-five minutes of snacks already passed, service progressed as a slowly unfolding story of French summer, a low bowl of sprout broth with cubes of firm fish served beside supple tartare of the same – a shooter of Tomato Gazpacho once again acting to ready the palate for a follow-up of snappy langoustine served atop rhubarb and green beans brought into new light by a sabayon of zucchini and ‘just a touch’ of cream.

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Continuing to richer flavors, though little of what Is served at Maison Marcon could be considered ‘heavy’ in any traditional way, a ratatouille cake surrounded in mushrooms found substantial depth of flavor amidst a reduction of fine herbs while the tender filet of Brill dressed in bitter vegetables including radish and cabbage was surprisingly subtle despite the substantial portion.

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Again taken to the kitchen, an unexpected surprise that saw me greeted by both Regis and his son Jacques, it was thanks for ‘coming such a long distance’ that a gift from the kitchen was given, the tender ragout of lentils dressed in a ‘just laid’ quail egg beneath black truffles every bit as decadent as would be expected while the following cup of mushroom tea and truffle ravioli reminisced of Achatz’s “explosion” with less intensity but better context.

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Rounding out savories with a pigeon in two forms atop vegetables and fruits, with a vibrant pineapple pan jus poured tableside before moving on to cheese, the grand finale of lunch at Marcon was unveiled in piece-by-piece fashion and as excellent as bites of Apricot Cake with Blossom Flower Emulsion and Herb Ice Cream were it was without doubt the Verbena liquor soaked baba that stole the spotlight, a collection of mignardises including Chocolate mushrooms, Truffled Nougat, Candied Citrus Lentils, and fresh Cream with Chestnut Liquor all equally befitting a dining destination that exemplifies concepts of seasonality, time, and place.

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http://www.regismarcon.fr/

Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, France, Ice Cream, Lyon, Régis et Jacques Marcon, Régis Marcon, Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid, Tasting Menu, Truffle, Vacation

Vert Marc, Chaudes-Aigues France

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Vert Marc

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Laminated Praline Biscuit

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Apple Tarte

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Caramel Tarte

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Butter Croissant

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Chocolate Baton

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Having spent a restless night in a humid hotel along the main street of Chaudes-Aigues it was just before dawn that I awoke, and deciding to take a morning run through hilly city streets a substantial amount of ground was covered, the townsfolk encountered along the route all exceedingly friendly including the owners of two local bakeries, the first Patisserie de la Source du Par and second Vert Marc.

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Obviously a space not frequented by foreigners, and expectedly not particularly attuned to limited French though more than willing to try, it was by a lone woman who also appeared to be the baker that my arrival was welcomed and with no less than two-dozen options tempting behind glass while several more sat cooling on shelves a five-part order was crafted, the total tab of just 9.10€ proving an incredible bargain for the portions, quality, and ingredients entailed.

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Lacking seating like most boulangeries in central France, it was with car parked nearby that I took still-warm goods to the banks of a nearby river to enjoy as the sun came up, and beginning with a soft butter croissant with yawning caves of lamination my anticipation quickly grew with regard to a flaky praline biscuit crafted of the very same dough, the crisp pink shellac tasting sweet as candy with a thin coat of nuts helping meld it to shattering layers below.

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Attempting, as usual, to progress from lighter flavors to those more ‘dessert-like’ and bold, it was next into a duo of tartes that teeth were sunken, the warm apple version absolutely excellent with fruits slightly blackened while the caramel version was almost too rich to be enjoyed at 7h00, the rest saved until later as an indulgent bite en route back to Lyon.

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Admittedly trending quite full considering the aforementioned stop at Source du Par it was perhaps a bit foolhardy to even take a bite of the chocolate baton, but with the exterior crisp and golden with dark chocolate still molten the subsequent satiety was absolutely worth it, more than half the pastry eaten with my only regret being that a cup of good coffee was nowhere to be had.

Posted in Bread Basket, Breakfast, Chaudes-Aigues, Croissant, Dessert, Food, France, Lyon, Vacation, Vert Marc

Patisserie de la Source du Par, Chaudes-Aigues France

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Patisserie de la Source du Par

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Croque Monsieur

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Butter Croissant

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Vanilla Éclair

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Chocolate Religeuse

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Prune Clafoutis

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Having spent a restless night in a humid hotel along the main street of Chaudes-Aigues it was just before dawn that I awoke, and deciding to take a morning run through hilly city streets a substantial amount of ground was covered, the townsfolk encountered along the route all exceedingly friendly including the owners of two local bakeries, the first entitled Patisserie de la Source du Par.

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Located in a sort of town-square area with shops for paper goods, meats, produce, and a few tiny cafes “Source du Par” is actually attached to the nextdoor “Salaisons de la Source du Par” and doubling as a store for Ice cream and Liquor the early morning selection proved a bit more meager than nearby Vert Marc while the quality and cost were both nearly on par.

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Treated to service that managed limited command for the French language with a surprising amount of skill it was with just a few minor questions answered that an order was crafted, and taking five boxed items to the streets for later indulgence it was admittedly a bit puzzling as to why nothing was remotely warm, the resultant first bite of a butter croissant setting any suspicions of day-olds aside as flakes broke away and gently floated to the ground.

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Not particularly impressed by the appearance of other laminated pastries, but thrilled to see the first boulangerie/patisserie croque monsieur of the trip offered at a mere 2.50€ it was in the creamy cheese sandwich that I opted to next indulge, and although served colder than one might have liked the thick layers of ham and Swiss between slices of toasted housemade brioche were nonetheless still delicious, and served at a fraction of the cost of many lesser versions served back home.

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At this point scaling back to half-portions in order to save room for a follow-up quintet from Vert Marc, it was next to a custardy clafoutis rich with pitted plums that tastebuds wee treated and rounding out the morning with two types of choux the decision of which was better proved a tossup largely dependent on one’s preference for chocolate or vanilla, the former stuffing an especially rich Religeuse while the later inside an éclair was far more mild and light.

Posted in Bread Basket, Breakfast, Chaudes-Aigues, Croissant, Dessert, Food, France, Lyon, Patisserie de la Source du Par, Pork, Vacation