30 July 2013

Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon Bakery in the Venetian is a great way to experience the food of a world renowned chef, even if you gambled away most of your dining budget in the casinos. The pâtisserie of Thomas Keller is in different locations throughout the resort. Keller is the famous name behind The French Laundry and Per Se, two of the country's top restaurants.

Keller is a culinary technician, and his expertise is evident in everything from Bouchon Bakery. The cases are full of croissants, cookies, and sweet and savory pastries of varying shapes and sizes. 

The offerings are essentially breakfast or dessert. It costs about $6 for a large coffee and one breakfast pastry.

The cheese Danish was rich, sweet and impossibly light. The raspberry filled beignets were a mess in the most delicious sense of the word. The bright, sweet filling gives the doughnut exterior a contrasting textural element that is perfect in a yin-yang sort of way.

The macaroons were well made. Flavors like pink lemonade were perfect in the blazing Vegas heat.

Bouchon Bakery on Urbanspoon

24 July 2013

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire is the heralded chef's sole North American restaurant. Pierre Gagnaire's technique is firmly rooted in the French tradition, but he adds a modern flair with international influences to his cuisine that makes him more forward-looking than some of his fellow countrymen.

Twist is located in the swanky Mandarin Oriental in City Center on The Strip. The dining room has a great view of The Strip, which makes it a great spot for romantic dining.

The wine list is chock full of interesting lots to pair with the fare coming out of the food-science laboratory kitchen. There are great wines from the Old and New World, and the cocktails and beer are selected with the same care as everything else at Twist.

Service at Twist is as exemplary as the food. The kitchen controls the dining experience, and does a phenomenal job preparing artful food for vegetarian and vegan diners.

The menu changes with the season. Gagnaire typically works in the kitchen for a week or two when the new menu is introduced.

The bread plate and plate of amuse bouche show the careful attention to detail from the kitchen. There were three different risen breads, as well as flavored flatbtreads. They were served with amazing butter and an addictive popcorn foam that adds a sweet, salty backdrop to the baked goods. 

The amuse bouche came in four parts. Many were savory plays on desserts, spicy cookies and cheese marshmallows that were perfectly suited to a one-bite format.

The salad course was made with green and white asparagus, shallot vinaigrette, tomato coulis, avocado and diced mushroom agar. The dressing was augmented by vegetable-gelatin-suspended spices. The plating was almost too pretty to eat.

The next course had cabbage as its centerpiece, and played nicely with sweetness and acidity. Passion fruit adds a nice bite to the crisp, green veggies.

 The carrot fondant was served atop a raspberry and beet reduction. Sliced turnips gave the dish a nice crunch.

The next course was beets in a reduced maple syrup on roasted red pepper and pimento jam. It was topped with graffiti radishes that added a great visual pop.

The sauteed baby potatoes sat in an arugula coulis with enoki and Paris mushrooms. It was a pleasing combination of savory, salty flavors that were completely balanced.

The saffron risotto with baby zucchini, broccoli and corn was as good of a risotto as I have ever tasted. The creamy rice was a perfect vehicle to deliver the lightly roasted vegetable flavor that defines the season.

The dessert tasting consists of six components. They range in order from light and fresh to rich and sweet. They were followed by petit fours.

There are too many great chefs in Las Vegas to count. Vegans and vegetarians looking for fine dining options should take note of Twist when exploring fine dining options. The modern take on meatless cuisine at the restaurant surpasses anything else you are likely to find in Sin City.

Twist on Urbanspoon

17 July 2013

Peppermill Lounge

The Peppermill Lounge is an old Vegas diner full of 70s style with kitsch piled up to the rafters. It's a great place to stop if you have gambled away all your money at the casino. It is also a great spot for movie fans because cinematic favorites like Casino and The Cotton Club were filmed at the Peppermill Lounge, as was the Rotten Tomatoes bedrock Showgirls.

The menu focuses on plus-sized diner fare at reasonable prices. Food can be enjoyed in the dining room or in the Fireside Lounge, a neon-lit bar area with fireplaces.

The experience at the Peppermill Lounge would not be complete without being enjoyed without a cocktail. The Scorpion is the signature drink of Peppermill. It is a 64-ounce drink consists of cherry brandy, rum, orange juice, grenadine and vanilla ice cream blended into creamy, frothy perfection. It is meant to be shared or consumed by one thirsty individual. 

There is a limited vegetarian menu at Peppermill. There are omeletes and breakfast sweets, a Caprese sandwich, appetizers and pasta dishes. 

The nachos nachos nachos appetizer is big enough to feed two people almost by itself. A haystack of tortilla chips is piled high with melted cheddar and jack cheese, refried beans, pickled jalepeños, tomatoes, onions and black olives. It is served with a thin tomato salsa that is forgettable. The nachos, however, are a homerun for $14. It is more bang for the buck when compared to the sometimes steep casino prices, and it is steps from many resorts on the north end of the Strip.

A visit to the Peppermill Lounge is fun not matter your reason for visiting. It is open 24 hours for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinking and gambling.

Peppermill Cafe & Lounge on Urbanspoon

10 July 2013


Jose Andres is the foremost name in Spanish cuisine in the United States, and Jaleo is his flagship restaurant. The ambassador to Spanish fare introduced small plates-based tapas dining to the United States. He has restaurants in Maryland, D.C., Miami, Beverly Hills and Las Vegas. Jaleo restaurant in Las Vegas is in the stylish Cosmopolitan.

Jaleo has an open kitchen with bar seating for 10 the ultra luxe é by Jose Andres diners. The paella is prepared over an open fire in a hula hoop sized pan, and it's served with much celebration. Service was excellent, providing great options for vegetarians. It capably handles special dining requests, and the cuisine offers a fair number of meatless options.

Dishes are crafted from carefully selected ingredients. Classic dishes were full of fresh flavor.

The cheeses were also excellent. The Pasamontes Farmhouse Manchego crumbled finely, and it paired well with the apples in muscatel. The Rey Silo Blanco picked up a hint of paprika, and it added complexity to the fantastic almonds and fig jam.

The gazpacho is as good an example of the cold soup as you will ever try. It is a bracing, clean, fresh and satisfying take on the vegetables that define the summer.

The battered Malaga style eggplant was soft and slightly vegetal with a hint of sweetness. It was a little greasy, but the eggplant was good enough to overcome the minor deficiencies.

The wine list is well paired to the menu. While it isn't as top heavy as some of its competition in Vegas, there are a number of regional Spanish wines that are reasonably priced to mix and match along with an armada of tapas.

Jaleo By José Andrés on Urbanspoon

03 July 2013

Burger Bar

Las Vegas is full of burger joints operated by celebrity chefs. If you have seen them on TV, you can probably find a burger carrying their name somewhere in the city. Burger Bar is run by Hubert Keller, whose name is well known from Fleur de Lys in San Francisco and Las Vegas, as well as from his TV appearances on his show Secrets of a Chef on PBS and Bravo's uber-popular Top Chef: Masters. 

Chef Keller's culinary style puts great emphasis on vegetarian and vegan dining concerns, putting his veggie burger at the front of Vegas celebrity chef line. Fleur de Lys was one of the first fine dining restaurants to offer a vegetarian menu, and its legacy shines in the veggie burger.

Burger Bar is a casual restaurant. The pub atmosphere is supported by a great list of draft beer. The cocktails are also solid.

Fried food is the most natural pairing with burgers (veggie or otherwise). Burger Bar offers a delicious array of fried sides, from fat fries to skinny fries, as well as sweet potato fries, buttermilk zucchini fries, onion rings, fried pepper jack balls, cheese sticks and mac & cheese croquettes. The fries were very good, but the onion rings, pepper jack balls and zucchini fries were outstanding. 

The veggie burger at Burger Bar is made with caramelized onions, button mushrooms, lentils, green peas, brown and white rice, pumpkin puree, potato, bread crumbs and mozzarella cheese. The pumpkin gives the patty a rich, deep essence that plays well with spicy ingredients. The wide array of available toppings and buns allows for virtually endless customization. 

The vegan sandwich is roasted eggplant with Roma tomatoes, zucchini and peppers sandwiched between two portobello caps. It is served with a side of skinny fries.

Desserts run the gamut from beer shakes and boozy milkshakes to non-alcoholic sundaes, and cakey dessert burgers. It's tough to save room for dessert with a veggie burger and piles of sides, so plan accordingly.

Burger Bar on Urbanspoon