I'll be reviewing some notable vegan-friendly places in the near future! Be sure to check in again!
North Durango and the 215 -- way the heck up there
7785 N. Durango, #130
This is not technically a restaurant, but it's definitely worth the drive.
Located near Centennial Hills, the Retro Bakery is one of those hidden gems that everyone in Vegas should know about. Kari, the owner, has a blond mohawk and a very active Twitter account (I follow her), and the ups and downs of a bakery are fascinating to read about.
In the end, it's all about the buttercream.
Yes, that would be a cookie on top of a cupcake. It's a brilliant idea, and a tasty creation. That's the heart of Retro Bakery.
With cupcakes ranging from pink lemonade to coffee and donuts, the treats are as whimsical as they are delicious. We've used Retro Bakery for both of Scotty's birthday parties (banana/cotton candy for year 1; toasted coconut/chocolate for year 2. Both were two layer cakes, hence the two flavors). For Brian's birthday this year, I went with a pumpkin spice cake with green and yellow fondant and sparkles.
It did not disappoint.
My only concern for Retro Bakery is that not enough people know about it. I would have to for this place to not make it...so go buy some cupcakes! They will change your life.
They make cookies, too. Yum!
Incredibly family-friendly, although I recommend against bringing a hungry toddler with you.
the apple cider cupcake
the peaches and cloves cupcake
the maple bacon cupcake (don't ask...just try it)
Located inside the Palazzo (near the Venetian)
Ah....Carnevino. The place with the giant bull inside.
It's amazing, really. Brian and I have been here several times, and while the service can run hot and cold, the food definitely does not. It's Mario Batali's restaurant, and while I'm not a huge fan of his work, I am a major fan of this place.
It's Italian all the way, starting with the antipasti and ending with really strong coffee. While the wine list is amazing, Brian is a fan of their old-fashions. He's been so bold to declare Carnevino makes the best old-fashion in Las Vegas.
I'm a fan of starting with a shared pasta dish, and then moving on to the entree. Nothing against the salads, but it's fun to share pastas like potato gnocchi or the ravioli di stracotto. It warms up the palate and gets you in that Italian mindset.
Brian is a fan of their bone-in ribeye, but I prefer the lamb "scottadita." (Yes, I like it b/c it has the word "scott" in it.) The desserts are amazing and differ day to day, as many of the ingredients are picked up from farmer's markets around Vegas.
The only catch is to not let them seat you in the "annex" - it's across from the actual restaurant, and is a tiny room with too many tables in it. You feel detached from the rest of the ambiance, and more than likely, a waiter will ask you to move your chair in so he/she can get by. It's hard to hear in there, since the sound is so compressed, so the wait for a regular table in the rest of the restaurant is worth it. Or eat at the bar -- the bartenders are usually pretty generous with their pours.
Also, leave the five-and-under crowd at home.
Any of the pasta dishes
Desserts with fresh berries
Located inside the MGM Grand Casino
Six words, people:
Not for the feint of heart.
As you may remember, Joel Robuchon was recently named "Chef of the Century" by Gault Millua, the esteemed restaurant guide. Mr. Robuchon also boasts the honor of being a Michelin's Three Star winner, along with a bunch of other equally impressive culinary awards.
In other words: this dude is not playing around.
His restaurant isn't either.
First of all, it's tiny. The tables are close together in typical French bistro style, and the decor is like dining in a gauzy, lavender dream. Our waiter was either really French or had a great fake French accent, but I'm betting he was the real deal. It's intimidating, especially if you don't speak the language, but everyone was polite and professional, not snooty.
The bread is literally wheeled out to your table and there are about 16 choices. The brioche was to die for, and they graciously gave me seconds. Which wasn't really necessary, since we had ordered the tasting menu, but with food that yummy, it's hard to say no.
At a place like this, the tasting menu is key. I don't remember much about it other than the portions were tiny (as they should be), and everything was like a culinary masterpiece. As expected, the presentation was perfect, the food was spot-on, and the service was exquisite. They even put a little ruffled shirt around my chocolate souffle dessert. Now that's attention to detail.
You, however, are paying for all of this. What also could be a mortgage payment can also be dinner for two. So think hard before you make Joel Robuchon your weekly dinner - save it for anniversaries and big occasions.
the tasting menu
leaving the children at home
calling your credit card company to tell them about your dinner plans, lest they think your card was stolen
Inside the Fashion Show Mall
3200 Las Vegas Blvd, 2nd Floor
Does the Cafe have a name? I have no idea. I've always just referred to it as "the cafe at Neiman Marcus." So if you happen to know it's name, please let me know.
I love this place. I'll be honest - it's a little-known, tucked-away gem of a dining establishment. Okay, maybe it's not so unknown, but every time I mention it to someone, the response always seems to be, "Oh really? I didn't know there was a restaurant there."
And if you make a left in women's and go through the baby section, you'll find it. Serving lunch and dinner (open from 11am-6pm), the Cafe only seats about 30 patrons. It's tiny but brightly lit, with a view of the Strip through its plate-glass windows. Maybe because it's Neiman's or maybe because you can see the Strip, but the Cafe has a very "ladies who lunch" vibe to it that I adore. I've been eating here for a number of years, and the wine selection never disappoints. The entrees - mostly salads and wraps - are traditional but with a bit of New American flair. Think grilled shrimp with quinoa on romaine with a light vinaigrette dressing.
Perhaps the best part about the Cafe is the giant, fluffy pop-over they serve you before ordering. It even comes with a little pat of strawberry butter. Heavenly. I'm not a huge fan of the chicken consomme that is also served in a tiny tea cup, but I give an 'A' for presentation. And - another fun fact - if you catch the Cafe on the right day, models dressed in designer outfits might just be strolling by. They stop table to table and explain their outfits while you nosh on your salad (and suddenly wish you were at the gym instead.) It's fun to see such gorgeous clothing up close and personal; just try not to get any food on it.
Price-wise, almost everything is less than $20 per entree. Definitely affordable, but an everyday event. It's an upscale alternative to California Pizza Kitchen or (the horror) the food court. I've seen kids at the Cafe, but I'm going to have to give it a thumbs-down in terms of toddler friendly. Because if you are pretending to be a lady who lunches, the last thing you need is a poopy diaper to remind you that you are not.
the pop-overs! Slather that butter on. Num.
the salmon salad with mixed greens
the grilled shrimp salad with quinoa
10100 West Charleston
Ah, Vintner Grill. This relatively new establishment in the heart of Summerlin is as easy on the eyes as it is on the palate. Despite being nestled in an office complex, its decor is one of my favorites in all of Las Vegas. It has this very Williams-Sonoma-Home-Catalog feel to it - all black, white and lime green - with pops of metal and glass accents. Don't even get me started on the outdoor dining section. If you are lucky enough to score one of the cabanas or padded booths, I can only imagine how much yummier your dinner will taste.
The downside is watching the traffic go by on West Charleston.
Honestly though, it doesn't matter. Vintner Grill is a great place for any number of occasions. Recently, several girlfriends and I popped in to grab a quick dinner on a Wednesday night. We sat in the bar and service was a bit slow (though our server looked remarkably like Olivia Munn), but the place was hopping. it's New American with an ever-changing menu, and everything has a fresh, trendy feel to it. They use micro-herbs on just about everything, and is there anything cuter than itty-bitty basil or parsley? I think not.
VG is a great for a casual dinner, a special anniversary, or even lunch. It's pricey, but won't break the bank. One word of caution: not toddler-friendly. Get a baby-sitter and have a date night with the spouse instead.
A cheese and meat starter course - try the Humboldt Fog!
The caramelized onion and gorgonzola flatbread pizza (be sure to bring breath mints)
The lamb osso bucco with toasted barley risotto
One word: yum!
I need to start off by saying Lucille's holds a very special place in my heart. My baby was grown on Lucille's while in the womb. Every Sunday night during the summer of 2009, Brian dutifully trooped off to Henderson in search of Las Vegas' best BBQ. And he came back with mounds of food that I devoured from my place on the couch, usually while watching HBO's True Blood. It's really not surprising then that Scotty has this strange little Southern twang when he says certain words. I blame the sweet tea.
That being said, Lucille's a consistently good eat if you are looking for something off the Strip. Located in the heart of The District in Green Valley, it's a down-home, feel-good kinda place. The atmosphere is great (think large jelly jars for iced tea glasses) and it's incredibly kid friendly. That being said, the down sides are the prices are fairly steep, and the service can be inconsistent. On a Friday or Saturday night, you'll be battling the locals for a table that might take up to 45 minutes to get.
But if you're in the mood for some good, old-fashioned, fall-off-the-bone BBQ, definitely try Lucille's.
-- The Memphis pulled pork sandwich
-- The two-item combo with baby back ribs and brisket
and for the three and under crowd:
-- corn dogs with a side of sweet potatoes is always a big hit.
After some serious thought, I've decided to add a new section to the blog -- food reviews. More specifically, dining reviews in Las Vegas. Inspired by my friend Sherri, who recently visited Vegas, I found myself drumming up restaurant ideas to give her and her husband while they were in town. And then it hit me - why not blog about it? I love food. I love a good restaurant. More importantly, it could shed light on great places to eat in town, which is helpful whether you are a local or a frequent visitor.
I have officially zero credentials to review food, other than the ability to properly use a knife and fork (most of the time.) Brian and I do love to try new places, and with such a vibrant culinary town literally at our fingertips, we'll be heading out in search of new and delicious restaurants.
Break down of the critical review? I'll be looking for quality of food, ambiance, and price point. Service needs to be a priority, too. (Remember our experience at Le Cirque? For shame.) I will be categorizing places as either "On the Strip" or "Off the Strip," as well as denoting what type of cuisine they serve.
Hopefully, this section of the BRBC will serve as a great resource for anyone in Las Vegas, whether a resident of the Silver State or just visiting. And if you like my recs, hate them, or think I'm crazy, I read and appreciate all feedback, so drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks and happy dining!
Still me. Just writing about food now, not books or babies. Yes, I occasionally lick my plate, but only if it's really, really, really good.