Ronald's, Peppermill, Suzuya, Born and Raised, Circo - a 11/9/13 Dining report by uhockey
Ronald's Donuts - http://endoedibles.com/?p=14325
With friends in town for the second weekend in a row since moving to Sin City and my temporary housing located on Spring Mountain Road it seemed only logical to begin the morning with a long run and predawn visit to the iconic Ronald’s Donuts. Small and humble, a true ‘old-world’ donut shop with bad coffee and all the classics but none of the fuss, it was no real surprise that on my arrival a typical scene appeared; old men shooting the breeze, smiling clerks occasionally weighing in, and a slow but constant trickle of patrons gathering pink boxes of still-warm pastries to go – mine containing a hefty half dozen. Modest in my expectations even amidst the historical praise my tasting of Ronald’s work began with a tangy and delicate buttermilk bar and progressing through options both yeasted and cake including an impressive tiger tail and seemingly half pound bear claw chalk-a-block full of apples it was not until I reached the greasy and overly processed tasting ‘apple burrito’ that Ronald’s would stumble, a theme also notable in the sizable but otherwise underwhelming apple fritter – an item made far better at Friendly, Coco, and Pinkbox.
The Peppermill - http://endoedibles.com/?p=14351
Rarely one to stay out late and certainly not the sort to do so while drinking heavily only to find myself craving greasy food at 3:00am I’d be lying if I suggested the iconic Peppermill had ever interested me as more than a sort of Las Vegas curiosity and yet with a 12-mile run and a few donuts from Ronald’s already under my belt it was with a ‘what the hell’ smile that I entered the neon-lit space with mirrored ceilings just as the cops arrived to deal with an unruly inebriated couple who were refusing to pay their tab. Featured in everything from CSI to Showgirls and featuring a 24/7 menu of everything from breakfasts and burgers onward to acclaimed nachos and desserts plus a setting quite unlike any other with drunken creatures of the night in all sorts of disarray it was clear on entering the space that it was I who was the novelty and requesting a table for one while using proper manners I was seated quickly, greeted immediately thereafter, and provided with superlative service throughout my 55 minute and 5 cup of coffee (plus one for the road) stay. Certainly not ‘gourmet’ or ‘artisan’ but wholly satisfying for both ‘dinner’ and ‘show’ my order would consist of only two items and electing for the carrot cake as an appetizer while my main course was prepared I was happy to find a modest slice of high quality placed before me, the dense body not overly sweetened but instead nutty and aromatic with a thin layer of cream cheese icing adding a tangy sweetness without overwhelming – a balance I neither expected nor received with the decadent pile of custard-laden egg bread that followed complete with fresh fruits, whipped cream, and warm syrup…exactly the sort of thing I imagine I’d crave after a night of drinking…or after an early morning run…or when I was 8 years old…or 25 years later.
Suzuya - http://endoedibles.com/?p=14369
A relative newcomer to the diverse Las Vegas pastry scene I’d originally been made aware of Suzuya by a friend suggesting the small southwestern store produced the best crepes in town; not particularly a dish I go out of my way for…at least until he also mentioned the phrase mille-feuille and caused me to dig deeper, my research quickly mandating a Saturday visit when already in the area for lunch with a colleague from at Born and Raised. Small and neat, a simple pastry case and a crepe stone at the front of the restaurant with the kitchen in back and a few stools and chairs for dining in it was just after 10:15 when I arrived at Suzuya and with a couple picking up a custom cake while another woman, clearly a regular, stopped in for two-dozen apple pies I spent some time chatting with the employees about what was best, eventually allowing them to talk me into a crepe to go with a quartet from the case. Clearly focused on fusion but well-versed in French techniques my tasting of Suzuya started with a pair of crisp and buttery choux puffs filled with traditional Japanese accoutrements and although I’d have personally preferred the squash to be more sweetened the red bean version was exquisite and the pasty textbook, a trend that would continue onward to the buttery lattice of the subtly sweet apple pie and a crisp mille feuille filled to order and garnished with Chantilly cream and fresh fruit – both every bit on par with versions from b.patisserie during my June visit to the Bay and as such amongst the best I’ve experienced stateside. Clearly not leaving without at least doing due diligence to the crepe it can only be said that as far as crepes go this was about as good as it gets, the batter light and airy with a silken mouthfeel just robust enough to hold up to the equally light ingredients and a veritable deal at $4.75 which will see me back sooner rather than later to enjoy the mille-crepe cake or whatever Chef Misuzu and Plourde think of next.
Born and Raised - http://endoedibles.com/?p=14437
Not particularly fond of beer or bars it was with some trepidation, but on the advice of someone high enough in the industry that I trust his word, that I walked into Born And Raised with a friend from Columbus for an afternoon of college football and catching up; little did I know the afternoon would also feature excellent service, a fantastic selection of music both new and old, plus some of the best ‘bar food’ I’ve encountered in a setting with no less than fifteen live sporting events on a single wall to entertain my eyes. Ostensibly a locals-only place in theme and due to location B.A.R. does not seem like much from the outside and upon entering the surprisingly large space we were met by some surprise as the restaurant was having a rather slow day (something I’m told NFL Sunday is certainly not) but greeted by our server we were quickly led to a high table in the main dining area and with menus in hand a decision process began resulting in two beers and six plates plus a couple more when another friend arrived later. Creative in theme given the 24/7 nature of the space and featuring items running the gamut from simple sliders to inspired stoner-cuisine two of our items would derive from each of the appetizers, sliders, plus breakfast menus and proceeding sweet to savory every item was executed every bit as good as the new class of celebrity-chef gastropubs on-strip; the monte cristo slider, Mac n’ Cheese Bites, and Banana Bread French Toast particularly memorable while the Hendertucky Toast is simply too absurd, fun, and affordable not to order.
Osteria del Circo - http://endoedibles.com/?p=14442
With the restaurant a longterm member of my Vegas “to-visit” list and now scheduled to close in 2014 it was with a big smile that I booked Circo when friends from out of town perused the menu and agreed it looked excellent, a smile that would again emerge the moment we entered the whimsical room only to be led to the best seat in the house and a smile that would last throughout the subsequent three hours of pristine pastas and pizza, decadent desserts, and even a torchon of foie gras from Le Cirque next door. Fluid in service from beginning to end despite our request for courses to be served family style it was with bread and a sturdy, aromatic Margherita that our evening began and moving through a silky round of foie with decidedly sweet accoutrements it was with a trio of pastas that the meal truly began to wow, each a textbook preparation of the respective noodle/dumpling and the sauces rich without being heavy – particularly the meltingly-thin ravioli. Clearly over ordering but happy to indulge, a single secondi of lightly braised lamb arrived rife with grassy notes beneath a savory glaze while the accompanying bowl of polenta proved sticky, rich, and decadent – the latter carrying right over to desserts, each excellent but the towering cloud of banana truly special and every bit as good as the one being served next door, still one of my favorite soufflés to date.
I've always preferred Circo to Le Cirque...ever since I first had a wonderful dinner at the original in NYC, 18/19 years ago. Mama Maccioni was in the kitchen that night cooking up a white truffle risotto, we sat on the banquette next to the kitchen entrance next to Sirio and his young (then) boys....a meal that I still am fond of.