Thursday, May 28, 2015

Yardbird Southern Table

Yardbird Southern Table might have been the foodie highlight of my Miami trip.  I was super excited to find out they opened a post in Las Vegas.  I was wary though.  Sometimes the quality can falter when places expand to Vegas.  I feel like chains/restaurateurs/chefs just expand to the Sin City for the sake of having a presence in the city.  It doesn't help that Vegas is known more for its gamblers and gluttons, rather than its foodies and Michelin stars.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to find the quality here is spot on and might just outshine the original.  On a revisit, I would normally try to branch out and order some different things, but even Anthony Bourdain ordered all the same things when he visited the Miami location.  So why fix it if it ain't broken, right?

Decidedly Undecided and Rock Dweller both came to the independent observation that the joint looks a lot like a Restoration Hardware.  I remember the Miami spot had a lot more windows and sunglight. The thing with Vegas hotels is that they never want to show you any windows.  They never want you to know that you've just spent the day gambling from sunrise to sunset.  As a result, Yardbird Vegas relies on cool light installations like this mason jar fixture to keep the place bright.

More cute decor!  I wonder if they people who designed/decorated Public House had a hand in the style at Yardbird too?

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Public House

Lo-MaLinda loves gastropub fare.  I like it, but find that it can be a little too heavy at times.  For our Vegas trip, she requested 3 things: foie, French, and gastropub.  It was a little frustrating trying to meet her request because who wants to eat all that in a short weekend trip?  Being the self designated food navigator, I basically made the executive decision to ax the French food.  I found this new restaurant at The Venetian, which had a pretty solid gastropub offering and foie!  Can't Hang and Rock Dweller didn't dive into the food the way Lo-MaLinda and Big Head Talks Alot did, but not everyone digs eating what is essentially fancy fat ie foie and bone marrow.  Can't Hang states the force feeding of ducks to produce foie does not jive with moral code.  What a hippy dippy tree hugger huh?  The restaurant was almost empty at noon on Friday.  The dearth of patrons made it easier to concentrate on the decor.  The design was going for that rustic look, but still felt relevant and slightly hipster-ish.

The men and women's bathrooms

Abe Lincoln.  So cute huh?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015


April is turning out to be one of the best months of the year.  Not just because it is my birthday month, but also Mama H.o.P. and Baby G's birthday month too.  So April has become a month of celebrations, and in my family that translates to a month of eating.  Now that Baby G is old enough to voice his wants, he gets to indulge in a lot of cake and chocolate.  That kid doesn't usually feed himself or when he does it takes a lot of prodding to get him to finish his meals.  Put a piece of cake in front of him and he's double fisting frosting with the biggest smile.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, Triple T is expecting Double Trouble so she had to skip out on n/naka since they do serve raw fish.  No matter, since she has been before.  Smooth Obturator thought I would enjoy n/naka and it had been about 3 years since his last visit.  After watching the episode of Chef Niki Nakayama on Netflix's docu-series "Chef's Table," I learned that the restaurant keeps a log of all diners and previous menus to ensure that repeat visitors enjoy something different on subsequent visits.  I don't think I have ever heard of a restaurant going to such great lengths for diners.  The docu-series definitely highlighted Chef Nakayama's mission to put diners and their experiences at the forefront of her restaurant.

The food at n/naka is undoubtedly Japanese, but it's not just sushi, or izakaya, or tempura.  They serve Kaiseki, which is a Japanese multicourse dinner that balances taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food.  It tends to use seasonal and local ingredients.  There is a certain order of dishes and types of dishes included in the modern Kaiseki.  I've had a Kaiseki experience at Next, when they were serving their "Kyoto" menu.  I was certainly quite impressed with my meal there because it was clean, simple, and perfectly executed considering the chef is not Japanese.  But now I feel n/naka delivers a much better Kaiseki experience, probably because the approach is more modern, while Next was probably trying to be a bit more traditional.

Saki Zuke 
a pairing of something common and something unique

Fanny Bay Oyster uni, ikura, orange, kumquat jelly, fennel vichyssoise
Sometimes the sweet salinity of uni can be easily overpowered, but the oyster and ikura all made for a tasty bite.

seasonal ingredients presented as an appetizer

Fried Renkon Lotus Root lobster
I really enjoyed the tempura lotus root here.  Generally I find lotus root to be an odd texture since I never grew up eating it.  Here it played nicely against the light crispy tempura.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015


I discovered some great eats in OC while celebrating my birthday this year.  My memory card was full so I was not able to capture my experience at Juliette Kitchen, which was pretty darn good.  I was pretty bummed about that, so I made sure to be ready for Pueblo.  They are serving up modern tapas here.  Generally, I have not been impressed with Spanish cuisine, but Pueblo does it right.  Teety, Soprano Man, Can't Hang, Rock Dweller, Solarphobic, Auto Geek and his wife joined me for the second birthday dinner for 2015.

We was plenty hungry, so we hurriedly enjoyed the free bruschetta/toast appetizer.
Cheese & Charcuterie
Really great selection, which I can't really recall but its hard to dislike anything served on a wood board, slate board, cast iron skillet, or mason jar.  Am I right??

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Zhu Zhu Hamster told me long ago that SAAM was amazing.  I was a little surprised because The Bazaar was just good but overpriced.  She said "No, its different.  It's the special chef's dining room so the food is way better."  Zhu Zhu Hamster piqued my intrigue to say the least.  So SAAM has been floating in the back of my mind for all these years now.  We finally chose Mama H.o.P.'s birthday as the occasion to celebrate at SAAM.  The place ain't cheap so it's not like you're going to eat here on any random Tuesday.

We started the meal with a hot wet towel scented with lavender.  It was refreshing and aromatic.  This wasn't to eat, just to clean up!

Snowball st. germaine, mezcal, lime, cocoa bitters
We started off with the most interesting aperitif in the form of these little white puffs.  They looked like scoops of ice cream, but they were these foamy maybe spongey balls of alcohol.  There was citrus, tartness, and definitely some smokiness going on here.  A for originality, but what an odd texture.

Beet Meringue
Smooth Obturator really likee this simple creation.  Beet jus was made into light, airy, but crunchy meringue filled with a delicately tangy and creamy center.

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