Dulce De Leche Croissant
Vanilla Glazed Cake Donut with Lime Zest
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Triply benefitted by the new autumn display in the Conservatory, free passes to the Painting Women show at the Gallery of Fine Art, and the fact that I was picking up a friend from Columbus for brunch it was with nearly fourteen miles of early morning running already under foot that I entered Palio Café, the recently renovated space never to be confused with the concept of ‘paleo-friendly’ in any way, shape, or form. Located across the hall from the aforementioned gallery, in a flag and tile clad space featuring outdoor dining offered for those lustful for fresh air, it was just minutes after the restaurant’s 6:00am opening that I entered a small queue and with a plethora of pastries gleaming behind glass a substantial order soon took shape. Obviously far less famous than celebrity-backed bakeries touting the names of Keller, Payard, Buddy, and Jean-Philippe but no less innovative in its offerings my experience at Palio began with a duo of croissants and although the explosively flaky almond rendition instantly set a new standard for The Strip it was the overstuffed Dulce de Leche version that soon stole the show – each delicate bite through arches of crisp lamination yielding a burst of creamy caramel that my early arrival found still-warm. Quickly devouring both croissants before scaling back to a “some for now/some for later” approach to the rest it was in the doughnut and cinnamon roll that I next partook and although both were nicely made, the former sporting a pleasant looseness to the crumb beneath light notes of citrus, neither were ‘must orders’ compared to what followed – a toasty gold pocket chock-a-block full of hazelnut spread that I’d strongly advise sitting down to enjoy as a grab-and-go approach is almost assured to end in a trip to the laundry for shirt, pants, or both. At this point turning to more portable items as I slowly wandered the tourist-free serenity of Sin City’s early morning hours it was next in a bearclaw that I indulged and although nicely textured I personally found the results far too sweet, the lacquer of glaze entirely overwhelming sparse nut filling and thus leaving me to instead focus on a duo of cookies, the Chocolate Chip a textbook rendition with crisp edges surrounding a soft center but the Oatmeal Raisin far better with buttery notes playing off cinnamon and softly set oats as a mountain of golden raisins added just enough sweetness to taste equally breakfast and dessert.
FOUR STARS: Undoubtedly underrated due to the lack of celebrity signage and a location slightly off the beaten path, suffice it to say that Palio Café is executing on just as high a level as Bouchon, Payard, and even Bellagio’s own Jean Philippe. While some may say that prices are high, at $4.25 the croissants are no more expensive than the inferior versions at other on-strip vendors while other options actually represent a bargain compared to its peers, both here in Las Vegas and across the nation.
RECOMMENDED: Almond Croissant, Dulce De Leche Croissant, Nutella Pocket, Oatmeal Cookie.
AVOID: Bearclaw is too sweet while the cinnamon roll was pedestrian compared to the rest.
TIP: Open from 6:00a-6:00p and generating a good-sized line by 7:00, those desiring a faster experience may wish to walk across the hall to Café Gelato where more limited pastries are offered all day while those looking for something late at night would be well served to check out Palio Pronto, a smaller spot open 10a-midnight just down the escalator, near the doors of the Via Bellagio shopping center.