Spots we made it to on this trip to Vegas with a very brief synopsis as the blog is interminably behind:
Bread and Butter - Local, from the original pastry chef at Bouchon, and really quite excellent. Don't miss the stuffed doughnut or the Ham, Egg, Cheese, Rosemary Bechamel Wafflewich
Crepeshack and Waffles - Also out in Henderson, a Japanese Crepe Shop serving in ice-cream cone style - the Bananas Foster with Banana Nut Ice Cream was good, but not worth the trip unless you're out there for Bread and Butter already
Due Forni - No kidding, a top-5 pizza spot (nationwide) for me - with two ovens (one 900, the other 500 degrees) we tried a Neapolitan Margherita with Bufala Mozzarella, San Marzano Tomatos, Fresh Basil, Frantoia Oil from the 900 degree oven and a Roman Duck Confit with Oven Roasted Duck, Bufala Mozzarella, Fresh Spinach, Red Onion, Over Easy Egg from the 900 degree oven - both were excellent and the Sweet Bufala Ricotta with Honey and Roasted Pistachios is stellar.
Ichiza - divy as hell and a lot of fun - my buddy got rocked on sake and I had a few courses before heading to Kabuto for dinner. The Tofu Crème Caramel and Honey Toast with Ice Cream are excellent and the Fried Quail Egg quite interesting. The Mushroom Chawanmushi was rather bland, unfortunately.
Kabuto - It isn't as cheap or as stellar as the Omakase at Sushi Taro in DC (http://endoedibles.com/?p=4334) but for $85 the Yoroi Menu is a Raku-level deal with the following lineup: Grape Sake Cocktail / Jack Mackerel in Sweet Vinegar, Sashimi Course: Bluefin Tuna, Ocean Trout, Jack Mackerel, Young Yellowtail / Grilled Course: Spanish Mackerel with Miso, A5 Wagyu Beef with Kumquat, Flying Fish with Salt / Sushi: Deep Sea Porgy, Yellow Grouper, Cornet, King Yellowtail, Triangle, Sea Urchin over Salmon Roe, Sea Eel, Sweet Omlet / Toro Handroll / Fish Miso Soup / Matcha / Green Tea Cocoa Cake.
Eat - Awesome breakfast spot downtown, the owner is on premises at all times and a real gem of a person. Don't miss the Made to order Beignets with Raspberry Jam and Vanilla Mascarpone, the Huevos Motulenos with 2 eggs, red and green chili, black beans, peas, feta, sautéed bananas, corn tortilla, or the Shrimp and Grits.
Chocolate and Spice - Meh. Skip it. Kind of sad that a former highly touted pastry chef sunk to this level, though the much praised banana cream pie was superb.
Honey Salt - Possibly my new favorite breakfast/brunch in LV the place is ALWAYS packed, and with good reason. My buddy went protein while I went carb-overload; the XL Sicky Bun with Baked Citrus Brioche, Honey Bourbon Sauce being one of my favorite sweet dishes of 2012 and the Warm Bread Pudding with Bourbon Toffee Sauce, Honey, and Salted Whipped Cream pretty excellent as well.
Patisserie Manon: Terrible. Pass.
Public House – My buddy is a beer guy, big time, and more than willing to spend for good stuff. Add in some Vegas quality eye-candy as servers and we ended up here twice - him dropping $70-100 on beers each time and walking away quite happy while I tried some of the food and a really excellent cocktail called "Fallen Grape" with Simi Cab, Fonseca Port, Averna, St. Germain, Served Warm with a Cinnamon Stick. Charcuterie is made in house and the Rillets were really quite good while the Pate lacked. In terms of proper appetizers, the Potted Farm Egg with Roasted Mushrooms, Ricotta Fondue, Crispy Serrano Ham, Grilled Bread was excellent and the Foie Gras with Chestnut Stuffing, Spiced Cranberry Compote, Herb Salad was a bit overcooked.
Twist - IMO the best food in Vegas - though I admit a predilection to Gagnaire's stream of consciousness cooking. Passing on the white truffle menu we did the 3 course tasting with a few supplements and two items blew me away, the first "Black Truffle" with a Pumpkin and Cod Fish Cake, Cod Fish, Black Truffle, Gold and Red Beets, over Spinach Puree with Garlic and the second "Hudson Valley Foie Gras" - a three dish satellite presentation with Poached Foie Gras with Horseradish Emulsion, Sauerkraut, Morteau Sausage / Glenmorangie Glazed Duck Foie Gras Terrine with Gingerbread Powder and Hazelnut / Dundee-Pinky Condiment with Apple Ice Cream. The view, the service, and the food are stellar.
Central - Miserable service - amongst the worst ever - but a delicious French Toast Crème Brulee.
First Food and Bar - this place is a total clusterf*&k, but the food is shockingly good and they have a great Sunday TV Setup for watching football. Skip the Moochin Monkey Bread and the Chicken and Waffles, go for the Cinnamon Bun French Toast with Tableside Flambe Bananas Foster, Anglaise and the "Hot Mess" with Waffle Fries, Brown Ale Chili, Spicy Cheese, Eggs, Crema, Bacon, Sausage, Jalapeno.
DOCG - The Grilled Filone with Duck Egg and Fonduta is one of the best dishes in Vegas while the Pizzas lack. Definitely consider the Pici with Braised Duck Sauce and Black Truffle (available in half portions as an appetizer) and the Salted Caramel Budino with Pretzel Toffee.
E by Jose Andres - With a holiday upcharge the menu was white-truffle-centric. Though I generally am not wowed by Jose's cooking I'll simply say this was the second most "fun" meal I had in 2012 and amongst the top 10 overall. Highlights of the 24 courses included the "seta Surprise – Two textures of wild Chanterelle," the Squash Merengue – White Truffle Shavings and Cream, the Crispy Chicken Skin in Escabeche – Chicken Skin Base, two chicken oysters, thyme air and powder, the Turbot with Bone Marrow – Marrow Tots, Blue Mountain Coffee, and the Whole Lobe of Foie Gras baked in Salt – bitter chocolate, confit grapefruit, basil flowers, clementine sauce while the Secreto of Iberico Pork with Truffle – white truffle pork jus and Pan Con Chocolate with Truffle – Saffron Espuma, Crystalized Bread, Frozen Chocolate Powder, Maldon Sea Salt, Shredded White Truffle, Olive Oil were truly special, one of a kind tastes well worth the price of admission alone.
Pura Vida: I like nami here in Phoenix a lot, but this vegan spot is really something else - the chef making each dish individually and bringing it to the table. Tried four things but would DEFINITELY suggest the Chocolate Waffle with Bananas, Chocolate Chips, Syrup and Apple Cinnamon Bread Pudding in Cider Sauce
Lotus of Siam: Finally made it here along with Ed Tracy, the GM of Nobhill Tavern, and his girlfriend. Tried the Tod Mun Plar, Koong Sarong, Fried mussel omelet, Crispy Duck on Drunken Noodles, Beef Balls Noodle Soup, Nam Kao Tod, and Hoh Mok Seafood. Everything save for the Beef Balls was excellent and worth the hour+ wait at lunch. I particularly loved the Nam Kao Tod, the Duck, and the manner in which the Hoh Mok blended the seafood with egg, coconut, and curry.
Joel Robuchon - It is expensive as hell, but if you have the means it is probably the most precise food you can buy. The bread cart, the mignardise cart, and a cheese selection topping 30 are all stunning and deciding to splurge a bit I tried a few of the 'upcharge' courses this time - "Le Kabocha – Kabocha Pumpkin Veloute with Foie Gras, Ginger Foam, Toasted Seeds," "Les Spaghettis – Homemade Spaghetti Topped with Soft Boiled Egg, Urchin, Caviar" and "La Pintade Fermiere – French Hen with Roasted Foie Gras, Confit Potatoes au Jus" all exquisite. Service was a bit less refined than prior and the 'extras' not as copious (down economy?) but their agreeing to serve the Pintade at a $60 supplement charge (normally $320 alc) made for a truly special meal.
Bouchon Bakery and Bouchon: Skip the Canelle (poor caramelization, good interior,) but get the Kouign Amann, Cinnamon Roll, and Speculoos if available. As to brunch - I started Christmas Day with Coffee, a Lemon and dried Blueberry Scone, Cinnamon Oatmeal with Caramelized Apples and Streusel, Cinnamon Donuts with Nutella and Peach Jam, and a jar of the Foie Gras Terrine. Service was, as always, exemplary.
As I developed the flu (fever and all) towards the end of the trip I missed out on a few spots - Nobhill Tavern the most notable - that I will need to circle back for soon. Eventually the longwinded posts and pictures will fill my blog, but for now, cheers and happy eats.