Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Elizabeth Blau and Chef Kim Canteenwalla Open Andiron In Las Vegas to Rave Reviews.




In current times being a restaurateur is not easy. Just having one successful establishment is a feat in itself. Working long hours, weekends and holidays away from family as well as financial worries is not for everyone. The odds are that most will fail. However, some rise to the top, have the right stuff and are truly a rare breed.


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We have been fortunate over the years to bear witness to a special partnership that assembled a team and have opened not one, not two, but three successful restaurants. Their venues are not a chain, rehashing and copying the first success. Each one of their restaurants are unique and unlike their sister venues. Three concepts and three successes.


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Who are these people that defied the odds and certainly have proven they have the right stuff you may ask? Who else would it be than renowned restaurateurs Elizabeth Blau and her husband Chef Kim Canteenwalla. They are the great minds behind Honey Salt and Made L.V. located in Summerlin and of course Buddy V’s Ristorante in the Palazzo Resort.



The Food and Beverage community waited with great anticipation for their newest and most ambitious venue yet, Andiron Steak & Sea located in Downtown Summerlin. The wait is over! We attended the VIP opening along with a whos’ who of local and national journalists, Chefs and stars from every universe you could imagine. Impressive to say the least, Andiron is simply breath taking. Designer Thomas Schlesser really went all in the interior décor of the main dining room, a very sexy lounge and bar as well as a relaxing patio where guests can dine Al Fresco.


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Elizabeth and Chef Kim know it takes a team to be a success and named managing partners Stephen Jerome and Chef Joseph Zanelli to lead the Andiron operations. They both have been on the team all along the journey, from both Honey Salt and Made L.V.

With the opening of Andiron Steak & Sea, this dynamic team have introduced Fine Dining at a whole new level of sophistication not just for the very swank Downtown Summerlin but for Summerlin over all. It’s been a long time coming.


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Andiron should be visited on multiple occasions to get a true feel for the restaurant and mixology. Start your experience off with a tasty Little Gem Salad with maytag blue cheese, vine ripe tomatoes and maple glazed thick cut bacon. Next up, enjoy a Yellow Tail Crudo to get your palate ready for some gastronomic fun. We enjoyed Steak Tartare, a nice blend of grass fed tenderloin, capers, Dijon mustard, quail egg and grilled bread to top it off. Don’t forget to order the Hudson Valley Foie Gras with huckleberry jam and toasted brioche. This is only a start!


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Looking at Entrés we suggest you do some exploring. For the carnivores, dive into a 36oz Tomahawk Chop for two. You can’t go wrong with a Creek Stone Farms 18oz Bone In Rib Eye cooked medium rare of course. For a little bit lighter fare enjoy a 9oz Wagu Skirt Steak.



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From the Sea, we enjoyed a Scottish Salmon with serrano ham crust, shaved brussels sprouts and cipollini onions topped off with a peruvian chili glaze. Andiron’s Grilled Whole Branzino with roasted peppers ragu, capers with wild fennel & pine nuts was suggested by Chef Kim. Also we can say is perfecto!



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For the vegetarians, how about a steak? Their Roasted Cauliflower Steak with cauliflower puree, king trumpet mushrooms and pickled fresno pepper vinaigrette is sure to please.



For a great finish, don’t be shy order of few of these tasty treats. Bite into Ashley’s Crème Brulee Donuts featuring a rich vanilla custard or a nice Warm Pecan Carrot Cake with bourbon cream cheese and pineapple currant compote. Hungry yet?



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On our visit we enjoyed some excellent choices from their impressive wine list. The lounge features the classic Andirion Martni with stoli elit vodka, vittone bianco vermouth and stuffed olives. The Midnight Rambler is a Chef Kim original and a personal favorite featuring bulleit rye, maple syrup and angostura bitters. The Pineapple Bump with absolut elyx, pineau des charantes, pineapple, apple vinegar, fresh lemon sour and club soda has been creating quite a buzz as well.


What can we say to Elizabeth, Kim and their team but congratulations once again and you will see us often.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Carmel By The Sea Is the Place to Be For Word Class Accomodations with Wine and a View Like None Other.


Carmel by the Sea, it even sounds idyllic, and it is. You can have all the offerings that one may want in a vacation get-away. Whether it is stunning scenery, or the lovely quaint shops that line the streets, Carmel will capture your heart and imagination. You will fall in love with this town that has charmed thousands. Along with the four star restaurants, abundant art galleries, and the most glorious scenery in the country, you can return to a number of luxurious hotel rooms that will accommodate any type of traveler.
We had the opportunity to visit Carmel recently and revisit one of our favorite places to stay, the Hofsas House. Conveniently located to the Monterey airport, the Hofsas House offers affordable lodging and year round activities.

The background on this lovely family hotel, which is pet and child friendly, started in the 1940’s, when hotelier Donna Hofsas, left her home in Los Angeles to take up residence in Carmel California.

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Donna went on to transform tiny cottages into an outstanding family run hotel that has been in operation since the 1950’s. Donna Hofsas passed in 1999 but her legacy has carried on through her granddaughter, Carrie Theis, who now continues to manage the European style hotel while offering the same old world charm and personalize service that Grandmother Donna instilled in her since the tender age of 5.

With modern amenities, personalized hotel packages for pet lovers, summer vacationers, or those looking for a romantic get-away, everyone is well taken care of at the Hofsas House. Offering an old world charm with every modern amenity, this hotel has taken an old-fashioned, yet never outdated approach to stellar customer service. You will feel relaxed and refreshed as you can choose from a vast menu of Hofsas House Offerings that will make your stay a memory making adventure.
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We always try to travel with our best friend, our Maltese, Holly. Our little family member is well treated at the Hofsas house with the Tail Wagging Package which includes: the Hofsas House Dog Frisbee, a collapsible dog bowl and special dog bed, and a sampling of doggie treats and pet shampoo to keep her looking fresh and ready for her jaunt to a local pet friendly restaurant. Looking through the complimentary copy of Coastal Canine magazine, we found some great tips on dog friendly venues and doggie walking trails throughout the Carmel community.
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Hofsas House many Specialty Packages offer the best vacations memories for everyone. Because family is a main pillar in the foundation of the Hofsas House Hotel, relative and family relations are of up-most importance to their own family heritage in the hotel business. The Family Reunion package provides group rates for 5 or more rooms booked with a two night minimum which will include complimentary continental breakfast. There is also a Beach Fire and S’mores Package that gives you all your adventure goodies; wood bundle and fire starter and matches, your own beach blanket and safety flashlight, and all the S’more supplies. With your basket in hand, head down to the lovely Carmel Beach for an enjoyable bon fire while enjoying the setting sun on the sparkling waves of the Pacific Ocean.

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Another benefit for large families or groups is the spacious meeting facility which can accommodate up to 40 people. Meeting with the family around the sparkling pool or partaking of a large family sit down dinner that can be easily catered by a local restaurant, or a meal prepared by you using the complete kitchen within the facility, gives you many options on creating a lovely family bonding experience. Another great benefit in capturing those delightful moments is arranging the complimentary family portrait session on the beach by a certified professional photographer, including one free 8x10 photograph.

Additional photos can be purchased directly from the photographer. Remember this offer is subject to availability and some blackout dates may apply.
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For the oenophiles on the road, a stay at the Hofsas house may be just for you. Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea offers a Wine Tasting Passport for $65 where the buyer can choose one $10 flight of your choice of any 9 of the 14 tasting rooms, which is normally a $90 value. The Wine Walk by-the-Sea is a self-paced self leisurely walk to the many tasting rooms located within block of each of each other. On our stay, we ventured over to De Tierra Vineyards tasting room, Dawn’s Dream new tasting room, and Figge Cellars, where our wine palates where refreshed with the lovely nuances of Monterey County wines. The Hofsas House concierge offers Wine Tasting Passports at a discounted price of $50 per person with any one night stay. For $30 you may want to stay in and cuddle up by the fire place with the Wine and Cheese Package that includes a bottle of Monterey County Wine and cheese from the famous local Cheese Shop in Carmel. After indulging in your romantic offering, you may want to have the friendly hoteliers book you a couple’s massage for those on a little retreat from it all. For more information on the Hofsas House go to www.hofsashouse.com

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Carmel has much to offer every member of the family and there is much to do as the sun arises over the ocean. As you meander along the cozy cottages and shoppes in Carmel, make sure to stop by the Cheese Shop to say hello to proprietor Kent Torrey. We entered this world class wine and cheese establishment to chat with the effervescent Mr. Torrey. Kent has put together a world class team of the most helpful and knowledgeable staff members that will assist you with the perfect wine and cheese selection. With a polethera of cheese and wine choices to choose from, you will think you have entered into the pearly gates of fromage heaven. However, you will want to remain an earthling to be able to indulge in the incredible wine selection that Kent offers to his patrons. Kent boldly declares, “Eat Cheese, Drink wine, and Live Life Happy”, and we couldn’t agree more. For more information on Kent and his renown shop go to www.thecheeseshopinc.com/


There are a variety of walking tours that can be tailored to everyone needs, so stop by the front office and they will be sure to direct you to the best that Carmel has to offer. Nearby attractions such as the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is just minutes away from your respite. Hofsas House partners with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, so make sure you purchase you tickets through the main office and receive a two-day pass for the price of one.

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Whether enjoying the art, antiques or the abundance of beauty in Carmel one can work up an appetite and dining establishments are plenty in Carmel, and many are pet friendly. We happened to end our day at the local’s favorite, Grasings, info. at grasings.com. This storybook restaurant has garnered Open Table Diner’s choice award for 2015 and the 2014 Wine Spectators Grand Award of Excellence along with many local accolades. With the inspiration of the gifts from the land and sea, Chef Kurt Grasing has created a menu that reflects that reverence for the environment. Along with a Wine Spectator award winning wine list and the skillful knowledge of sommelier, Toby Rowland Jones, Chef has a winning combination to entice the locals and visitors alike.

We loved the Abalone farm-raised Monterey bay red abalone prepared dorè style served with the season’s freshest harvest accoutrements. Having fresh seafood and local produce available to the Chef, only the most stellar culinary creations can come from the kitchen. Fresh, tenderly cooked and served with a lovely presentation, we savored every bite of this elegant dish. Sommelier Toby Rowland Jones, brought us a rich, creamy Laird Chardonnay that complimented the Abalone perfectly. We then moved on to the main course of sustainable seafood with the special of the evening, the Salmon adorned with a beurre blanc sauce and beautifully prepared. After a dinner fit for a sea-faring captain, we decided to try one of the desserts for that bit of sweetness to send us on our way. House-Made Crème Brulee, choice of vanilla or chocolate infused custard was the right choice of warm soft custard with the caramel crunch of bruleed sugar.

Happily satisfied with our bellies satiated, we made our way back to our comfortable quarters for a leisurely nightcap next to the roaring fireplace and drifting off to dream of the next day’s adventures.

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Being a former Monterey County resident another favorite local jaunt is Pacific Grove California. Only minutes from Carmel, it is worth the journey. Known as the Butterfly town, thousands of Monarch butterflies stop to rest on the eucalyptus trees on their arduous migratory journey to Mexico. With sweeping panoramic views of the mighty Pacific Ocean, and a bevy of golf courses, bike paths, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium along the historic Cannery Row within walking distance, this is a must stop for families and outdoor enthusiasts.

We arrived for a more informal dinner at a local’s favorite hot spot, the Beach House Restaurant. This California casual dining establishment has the best corner spot on the Monterey Peninsula. Located at Lover’s point amongst the Monterey pines, garnered by panoramic views of the Monterey Bay, one cannot find a more lovely location for a meal that embraces all the beauty that Mother Nature demonstrates in this amazing area of the country.

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The evening we visited the Beach House, a stunning glistening full moon, bounced dazzling simmering light across the rolling waves, creating the back-drop to our dining experience. As we entered this clean, modern eatery, we were met by our most lovely server who urged us to try the “Firecracker Shrimp”. These shrimp were crisp, delicately golden brown, and bathed in a spicy, sweet Thai sauce. This restaurant favorite soon became ours, as we hungrily devoured these mouth watering gifts of the sea. Along with great appetizers and hand crafted cocktails some of the local favorites include the Seafood Linguine of fresh fish, calamari, shrimp, with tomato-fennel broth or the Feast of Lanterns Surf & Turf, tender grilled medallions of beef, FireCracker shrimp, brown rice, baby bok choy with a Viridis Aquaponic cucumber salad, and a sweet soy demi glace. There is an extensive menu that will satisfy any hungry sojourner. For more information on the Beach House, go to www.beachhousepg.com.

We wistfully said good bye to the glorious evening, and made our way back to Carmel, knowing that this was our last night in this magical place. We breathed a grateful “thankful” for this uniquely pristine area of our country.

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Whether you are planning a wedding or a family gathering, think of Carmel California. The entire Monterey Peninsula is a refreshing and glorious place to plan your next vacation. Through diligent stewardship of the natural habitats, visitors can enjoy the best of every amenity while revealing in the grandeur of Mother Nature. Wine Enthusiast Magazine has designated Monterey County as one of the top ten wine destinations in the world, and Travel and Leisure Magazine has rated Carmel as #3 in the list of world’s best cities for romance.
For your next outing or romantic get-away, pack your suitcase and head for Carmel, and don’t forget to give Hofsas House a ring for a respite that is well deserved and will be well remembered forever. For more information go to www.carmelcalifornia.org

Monday, March 16, 2015

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar brings Southern Charm to The Venetian Resort and Casino.


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Miami-based restaurant group 50 Eggs, Inc. and CEO/Founder John Kunkel opened the much awaited Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Las Vegas at the Venetian Resort and Casino. Meeting up with Kunkel he stated, “We’re thrilled to be opening in this iconic city, especially with the support of the team at the Sands,” In many ways, Miami and Las Vegas share common elements, from the food scene to nightlife; we feel our approach to these at Yardbird will be embraced by locals and visitors alike.” We could not agree more.



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Looking over the vast menu, this tasty, culinary gem from the south features Yardbird classics including the renowned Lewellyn’s Fine Fried Chicken and gastronomic delights unique to the Las Vegas location, including an 18 oz. Smoked Niman RanchTomahawk Porkchop with roasted heirloom potatoes, kale pesto, pickled mustard seed and spiced cracklings and a rich, flavorful Smoked Backyard BBQ Chicken with barbecue sauce, roasted marble potatoes and charred okra.


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It’s not all just about the delicious dishes here either. Yardbird’s interior design shows off the the 8,000 square-foot-space perfectly and can comfortably seat 180 guests, with a private dining room accommodating up to 25 guests. For you classic film buffs, look for several rare and never-before-seen photos of film stars, musicians and icons taken over several decades, from the 1940s through the '90s.


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Mixology is very big in this city under the neon and Yardbird jumps right in to the mix. Take a seat at their expansive bar that features an ice program unlike any other on the Las Vegas Strip.

We enjoyed five different types of hand-harvested craft cocktail ice from direct from their onsite ice room. Of course we had to enjoy that special ice with libations like the Yardbird Old Fashioned, a Southern spin on the timeless classic that features bacon-infused Buffalo Trace bourbon, Angostura bitters, orange bitters, and maple syrup, served in a lowball and paired with a 2-inch sphere ice. There are many inventive cocktails, craft beer, bourbon infusions, and select boutique distillery spirits that are sure to quench any thirst.

When in Las Vegas and in need of a taste of down south, stop in a sink your teeth into their renowned Chicken 'N' Waffles or a Fried Green Tomato BLT and enjoy. We certainly did.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Love and Las Vegas makes a tasty pairing


Love is in the air and Las Vegas’s world class venues are spreading their culinary love to their guests and significant others. On the strip or off, there is culinary love to spread around. Off the strip why not be as sweet as honey at the Summerlin landmark Honey Salt. On this day of love start with a lovely Shrimp cocktail featuring horseradish, tomato jam; or perigord black truffle pappardelle. For your main course, enjoy a choice of Achiote marinated cobia with blood orange, jicama, basmati rice or Braised beef short Rib and lobster polenta, truffle jus, and herb salad. Dessert is a nice offering of a decadent Molten chocolate cake with hazelnut streusel, vanilla ice cream and Linzer cookies filled with raspberry jam.


Some love birds enjoy the excitement of the Las Vegas strip. Over at the Four Seasons, Charlie Palmer Steak has a treat that should not be missed. Chef Steve Blandino has created an extravagant three-course Valentine’s Day tasting menu featuring tender Japanese A5 Kobe or Pan Roasted Chilean Sea Bass served with charred escarole and cannellini beans. To make the night even more romantic, pair each course with specially curated wines. You’ll also receive specially made “Breakfast in Bed” donuts to take home. Enjoy them as a sweet treat in bed with your loved one during the weekend.


The Wynn Las Vegas is certainly worth a visit and the renowned Sinatra has just the menu to please your loved one. Chef Theo Schoenegger has created a special three-course prix fixe “Sinatra, With Love” menu to celebrate. You can choose from a selection of offerings including carpaccio di tonno; agnolotti with butternut squash, sage and brown butter parmesan, panzanella con granchio ,branzino with fingerling potatoes, tomato, yellow pepper emulsion, and salsa verde ossobuco “My Way” with risotto milanese and gremolata; lasagna bologese; pollo with forest mushrooms, gnocchi and Marsala sauce and filetto with cipollini onions, mushrooms, bacon and red wine sauce. The dessert menu includes favorites such as tiramisu; cannoli-crusted chocolate, strawberry and pistachio ricotta lollipops; cappello, a Valrhona dark chocolate hazelnut mousse Fedora with Jack Daniel’s milk chocolate panna cotta; and torta di ricotta, a pumpkin ricotta cheesecake with hazelnut crunch, salty caramel and amaretto gelato.


The Venetian / Palazzo Resorts have a variety of tasty options of love to enjoy. Legendary db Brasserie is sure to impress your date and your palate. All guests will receive a complimentary glass of champagne from Champagne Bollinger and Terlato Wines, as well as an oyster upon arrival. Start of your experience with Maine Lobster bisque featuring sspelette palmier, tarragon crème fraîche. For your Entrée order Black truffle & Wild mushroom agnolotti and house-made pasta, celery root, parmesan and perigord truffles. For a great finish, treat your loved one to a dessert of Tropical passion fruit or Chocolate framboise featuring Bailey’s chocolate mousse, raspberry chip gelato Dark Chocolate cake and raspberry sauce.


High atop the Mandalay Bay at The Foundation Room celebrate the day with one of the best views of the Las Vegas strip. Begin with a Roasted Beet Salad made of asparagus, dried cranberries, hazelnuts, chevre goat cheese, and orange vinaigrette. Next, order Lobster Bisque Soup, a rich crème friache, brioche croutons and chive Oil. For the entrée choose from Poached Chilean Sea Bass with sea beans, aki nori, kaffir lime and lemongrass mariniere or Coffee & Cocoa Crusted Prime Filet with sweet potato, spinach and red wine vanilla Sauce. Sit back and enjoy the view as you finish your experience with a lovely Chocolate Mousse Tart with raspberry & orange coulis and grand marnier gelato.


Las Vegas has plenty of celebrity chefs but perhaps one of the biggest is Chef Emeril Lagasse. A visit to any of his venues will be impressive. Delmonico Steakhouse will highlight a “Rabbit trio". A mouthwatering Braised leg, crispy loin and herb sausage with butternut squash purée and natural jus and a Sauteed gulf flounder with haricot vert, wild mushrooms and truffle butter sauce .


Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House will offer Dungeness crab complete with Belgium endive and butter lettuce salad with shaved fennel, cara cara orange supremes, cavier and champagne vinaigrette . Also enjoy a very tasty Apple wood smoked Maine lobster and petite filet of beef with roasted spaghetti squash and green peppercorn sauce. At Table 10 don’t pass up the John Dory with lobster/brandy sauce, warm sorrel and potato puffs or Filet mignon with whipped Yukon potato, basil gravy and sweet roasted carrots.


The Palms Resort and Chef Barry S. Dakake of N9NE Steakhouse will serve up love on a plate this Valentine’s Day that perfectly complement the array of USDA prime aged beef selections and fresh seafood available on the menu. Start with a Maryland crab cake with baby frisée, cherry heirloom tomatoes and lemon chive beurre blanc or try the Boston Bibb lettuce with roasted baby beets, pickled onions, marinated artichokes, Laura Chenel goat cheese and sherry shallot vinaigrette. Next choose from a wide variety of signature entrees or the special black cod miso . The Chateaubriand for two will take lovers’ meal to the next level as the grilled center cut tenderloin is served with roasted fingerling potatoes, bone marrow, seasonal mushrooms and brocolini with a side of bordelaise sauce. For the FINI guests have the option of ordering a decadent red velvet cheesecake with raspberries, fresh whipped cream and white chocolate sauce.

There are so many choices in Las Vegas to celebrate this very special day. Whichever experience you and your loved one choose enjoy and make this year’s day of love something special with memories to last a life time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Shake Shack in Las Vegas ? You Bet !!!!!



Go west they said and they did. Finally that east coast legendary burger has taken its place amongst the culinary all star cuisine of Las Vegas.

Shake Shack opened its doors just across the Brooklyn Bridge in MGM’s New York-New York Hotel Resort and Casino. It is even located near Las Vegas’s first community green space, The Park which makes total sense as this iconic burger’s neighborhood is in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park.


The Shake Shack team is headed up by General Manager Mike Tuiach who has handpicked an amazing team to bring a taste of New York to Las Vegas. The menu has those tasty New York favorites as well some frozen treats created just for Las Vegas.


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Burgers is their expertise and they get it right. All of their burgers are 100% Angus Beef consisting of a mouth watering proprietary blend that is a gastronomic delight. All burgers are cooked to a perfect medium and ready for your plate. You must try the ShackBurger and the SmokeShack to experience a true taste of New York. For the non carnivores enjoy the ShroomBurger that is sure to satisfy your cravings.


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If you love Hot Dogs Shake Shack has four to choose from with the classic Shack-cago Dog leading the pack. Also enjoy shakes, cups, cones and concretes that will have your sweet tooth dancing for joy. To quench your thirst dive into their expanded beer and wine menu as well a choice of fountain drinks and teas.


No matter what you are in the mood for Shake Shack has something for everyone. When in Las Vegas stop in to New York New York for a real taste of an iconic city under the neon lights.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Top 10 Places to Dine In Las Vegas During The Holidays

The Famed Las Vegas Strip Offers Up Many Tasty Choices.

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Who doesn’t love the holiday season? , aromas and tastes evoke memories of holidays gone by. This festive part of the year also offers us a chance to create some new traditions and why not start right under the neon lights of the culinary mega city of Las Vegas. We have our top 10 star studded venues for you to enjoy a variety of gastronomic holiday delights. Explore, enjoy and have a fabulous holiday season.

Our top pick can be found at the renowned Bellagio Resort and Casino. Picasso has a Christmas day menu that is sure to provide memories for years to come. Feast on Kobe Steak spheres, roasted Maine lobster a lovely seared filet of halibut a Prime filet mignon and even a roasted veal chop. For $150 you really can’t beat it.

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Over at the Venetian / Palazzo Resort our second spot goes to DB Brasserie. Their very first Christmas menu shows off a tasty three-course prix fixe for $69 per person. Guests are expected to enjoy perfectly prepared beef tenderloin and rich, decadent, fresh black truffles. Also sea bass and pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin.

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Also celebrating her first holiday season and taking our third spot is GIADA . Dive into the classic feast of the seven fishes. Enjoy an antipasti platter, spaghetti with clams, lemon prosecco risotto with shrimp. Or how about a salt-crusted branzino for two and even choose to break into a grilled lobster?


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BarMasa at the Aria Resort takes our fourth spot and offers up something completely different for your holiday celebration. BarMasa’s prix fixe menu gives us gifts from the sea. Plate up wild yellowtail, toro caviar, white miso cod with maitake mushroom a nigiri sushi or sushi canape, and miso cream brulee, chocolate black sesame ice cream or try the yuzu sorbet.


Number five on the holiday gastronomic can be found at the Mandalay Bay Resort. Aureole is celebrating with a five-course dinner menu featuring caramelized diver scallop, black winter truffles or a roasted New Zealand cervena rack of venison.
You can’t go wrong with any the Batali Group choices.

 The sixth place on our list is occupied by B & B Ristorante at the Venetian / Palazzo Resort . B&B Ristorante has a delightful four-course dinner that includes fluke crudo, traditional baccala crochetta, octopus, Taylor Bay scallops and a succulent red snapper.
Celebrate the season at the brand new Delano Hotel with number seven on our list. MIX high above the strip is serving a prix fixe menu featuring King crab salad and seared diver scallops.
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The eighth and ninth spot are taken by a celebrity chef two different strip properties. Chef Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian / Palazzo will please everyone at the table feast on a holiday dinner of butternut squash ravioli with sage brown butter, candied pecans and parmesan reggiano. Engage your palate in Delmonico minced meat; braised veal shank with sweet potato spaetzle, hazelnut gremolata, wild mushrooms and natural reduction and a butter roasted apple and currant beggar’s purse with calvados double cream.

Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House in the MGM Resort has a four-course prix fixe menu to enjoy. Guests’ choices include Blood orange and Belgian endive salad or Nicoise olives and escarole salad. Add a parsnip and leeks soup, shrimp and okra gumbo and pan roasted Washington day boat halibut. You must not forget about Emeril’s barbecued salmon, pepper seared beef tenderloin as well.
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Taking up the tenth spot and certainly not the least is the “Cake Boss” himself. Stop over at the Palazzo Resort at Buddy V's Ristorante. Sit back and enjoy a baby beet salad, roasted Prime rib and Panettone bread pudding with a rich eggnog glaze and butter pecan gelato.

There are many more venues to choose from in this city of all-star culinary geniuses. With this top 10 list you can’t go wrong with variety and price.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Restaurateur Irma Aguirre has a huge hit in the making at the 64 year old El Sombrero in Downtown Las Vegas.


Let’s all say Mucho Bueno and a well deserved Mucho Gracias to Restaurateur Irma Aguirre for transforming the 64 year old El Sombrero Restaurant on 807 S. Main Street. She has done a remarkable make over to bring a fresh new face and bright lively tastes to the once old school Las Vegas eatery.

Irma will have to knock out a few more walls once the word gets out on how “hot” this little tamale can be as the customers may be lining up to experience the lively authentic flavors of Mexico.
Utilizing the small dining space with open seating and crisp black and white décor, exposed brick wall accented with mirrors. Although the room gets noisy with the excited gossip of the local diners, the space is inviting and casual.
 House made guacamole
House made guacamole
We sampled of El Sombrero’s offerings, along with a conversation with Irma and her staff. We invited a friend to just happened to be in town to join us. She is perhaps one of the least culinary adventurous eaters that we have ever met. Recently she has become more interested in expanding her culinary horizons and she was able to try some real authentic Mexican food.

As we tried the house made guacamole with a twang of heat and dotted with chunks of ripe tomatoes she remarked that the chips were the best she had ever had and we had to agree. Usually chips have a tendency to be rather greasy but these were light and crispy, perfect to load up with all the lovely guacamole. Off to a great start, we tried the flavored waters and then homemade Sangrias that were refreshing and authentic.
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Calamari
Scanning the menu, Calamari caught our attention and waited in great anticipation for it to arrive tableside. This gift from the sea, thankfully was not breaded, it was charbroiled and touched off with a homemade sauce of squid ink to our palates delight. This dish alone is a reason to visit El Sombrero for lunch or dinner.


Irma suggested we try the chile relleno and we can see why. This classic dish with a new spin is probably the best we have ever had. A Mexican favorite, this version features poblano chili ala brasa filled with rich butternut squash potato, onion, a blend of Mexican cheeses on a bed of charro beans and a roasted tomato-oregano sauce. El Sombrero’s chile relleno will become a signature that guests will travel for miles to enjoy.
 
Executive Chef Elias Hernandez
Executive Chef Elias Hernandez

As owner Irma Aguirre states, “This is true comfort food with authentic sauces and ingredients. Anyone can do rice and beans but we do it with love.” That love and respect for authentic Mexican Cuisine comes shining through in every dish. With this unrelenting desire and passion to elevate the palate of every diner, this will indeed become a destination eatery.

For those who want traditional tacos, El Sombrero has a tasty assortment that is sure to please. Select from chicken, chorizo, rib eye, fish and carne asada all served with homemade tortillas and Mexican garnishes. To get the meal started right we highly suggest shredded brisket flautas , spinach and mushroom quesadillas and the bean dip. Don’t forget the wine list featuring very nice Mexican wines to complement your dining adventure.


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The El Sombrero experienced put a big grin on our friends’ face as she tasted flavors that she had never even dreamed off. Irma and El Sombrero opened her eyes to a whole new world and we are certain it will do the same to anyone who takes a seat at this newest hot spot at the gateway to downtown Las Vegas.


Aguirre and her team have taken a classic local restaurant spot and evolved it into something exciting. On December 1, El Sombrero Cafe will begin Saturday and Sunday brunch, already growing and changing an energetic and welcome addition to the Downtown scene. Put it on your must-try list.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Pantry at The Mirage Reminds Us Of Home .

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A Pantry engages the images of shelves lined with canned fruits and veggies. Whether your pantry is a well-stocked bastion of cans, spices and dry goods or a container of dry pasta and tomato sauce, you are the one that must do the work, putting everything together for your next culinary creation.

The Mirage Hotel has taken out the work for you and has opened up a 24 hour eatery, The Pantry. Open 24 hours of a day and offering Breakfast during those hours, and dinner is served from 11 a.m. to 6 a.m. Focusing on sustainable ingredients, The Pantry gives you the many options for the best of comfort food and beverages for the tourist and local alike.


Fresh juices are available alongside excellent cocktails. You can now leave the kitchen behind and let the Pantry at the Mirage do the cooking. The interior is open and bright, reminding you that you are sitting in Grandma’s old farm kitchen with the charm of country casual.
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Some of the outstanding items for the breakfast eater, include short rib hash with poached eggs, root vegetables, creamy horseradish on the side or the eggs benedict with poached eggs, black forest ham, arugula, and a rich hollandaise sauce proudly presented with atop of a crisp english muffin. A great cure for late night of Vegas excess, or just a hearty meal to get fueled for a day on the Strip.
Our favorite and we would garner everyone’s after trying a batch of these pancakes, is Valhrona “Grand Cru”, milk chocolate pancakes, with a dusting of powdered sugar and dollops of creamy milk chocolate.


These light and fluffy pancakes could be a decadent dessert or breakfast selection. White chocolate brioche french toast with the berry compote and whipped mascarpone is another offering that would make anyone want to have breakfast 24/7.
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Aside from the variety of breakfast items offered, don’t forget there are many more entrees on the menu for every hungry guest. Burgers include the backyard burger with creek stone farm beef, caramelized onion, tomato, greens, cheddar on a potato bun. These juicy burgers a great for the carnivore in the crowd but what about the your vegetarian friend? The Garden Burger, comprised of a veggie patty , roasted tomatoes, pickled onions, arugula, tzatziki, on a potato bun would sure to please.

For those folks who love seafood, the shrimp and cheesy grits in a tasso gravy, with plump sauteed shrimp, topped with crispy onions will satisfy any comfort food craving. The Mussels and Clams or the mahi-mahi Taco with Lime cabbage roasted tomato salad and guacamole are also sure to please. And don’t forget to order up a nice side of fried green tomatoes to share with your Down home friends.
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Of course Dessert cannot be missed. Remember when everyone made sure to leave room for “Grandma’s Apple Pie no matter how full they were at the moment?You will feel the same way when you are served up Pantry’s Mom’s Apple Pie, with vanilla ice cream and rum caramel.

Not in the mood for Pie, try the yummy little mason Jars that provide a jar of family favorites such as strawberry short cake and banana cream pie. Whether you come in for breakfast or a midnight snack, there is plenty of tempting treats and hearty eats at the Pantry at Mirage.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Executive Chef Sydney Jones Takes The Culinary Helm at Trump International Hotel Las Vegas .

 The famed Trump International Hotel™ in Las Vegas has added Chef Sydney Jones as the hotel’s new executive sous chef. This young chef is known for using cutting edge and progressive cooking techniques and will oversee all aspects of culinary operations at Trump International Hotel™ Las Vegas.
Executive Chef Sydney Jones
Executive Chef Sydney Jones
“Executive Sous Chef Jones is extraordinarily talented and we are excited to welcome him to Trump International Hotel Las Vegas,” said Brian Baudreau, vice president and managing partner. “He has spent many years developing his own unique cooking style and artistry and guests will enjoy the new culinary concepts and menu creations he has planned for our hotel.”

This rising star of a chef has quite impressive culinary background that includes positions at some of the country’s most prestigious resorts and notable dining destinations.

He joins Trump International Hotel Las Vegas with 12 years of culinary experience and has just completed a 10-year tenure with five-star Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. 

In addition, he has graced talented culinary teams across the country at properties in Arizona, California and most recently, Atlanta. He has also worked at the two-Michelin star Charlie Trotter and staged at Michelin-star Restaurant Gary Danko.

“I am honored to lead the culinary team at the best luxury hotel in Las Vegas,” said Sydney Jones We have some exciting new things on the horizon centered on utilizing quality farm-fresh produce, which allows me to apply my background in cooking with regional, artisanal products and be creative in developing new delectable dining experiences.”

We plan on visiting this very talented Chef and experiencing his culinary talents first hand in the very near future.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Las Vegas gets entertaining and spooky on Halloween.




On and off the Strip, there are many events to choose from.



Where else would you rather be than in Las Vegas this Halloween. The renowned Strip is full of ghosts, goblins and a wide variety of interesting costumes. On the strip or off, All Hallows Eve 2014 has something for everyone.  
There are numerous parties all over town; many are for adults only and on the risqué side. Taking the top spot would be the Fetish & Fantasy Ball at the Hard Rock Resort. Over that the Palms, you can’t miss the Night of the Killer Costumes and the Haunted Hotel Ball at Mandalay Bay. If you want to compete for some big bucks, create your original costume and enter contests at most of Las Vega’s legendary night clubs.

Off the strip there are many haunted houses that can be quite entertaining. The Asylum has been in operation for 14 years and can be found in the downtown district of Las Vegas. Bloody English is at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Body English club and is always a fun experience.

It’s not all just about adult only activities on this scary night, there are plenty of family friendly events as well for kids of all ages. Who does not like a parade?  The Las Vegas Halloween Parade marches along Freemont street downtown. The Springs Preserve in the center of town features their annual Haunted Harvest where guests can enjoy a petting zoo, carnival games, a haunted house, and trick-or-treat stations. Las Vegas even has a Haunted Reef for all to enjoy. Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay transforms into a swimming, spooky time.

In the center of the strip, get tickets for Evil Dead at the V Theater at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Las Vegas is known for many things all over the world and you can certainly add Halloween for a notable time to visit.