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The Cracked Egg, Sweets Raku, Kyara, Mr. Lucky's, Lavo, and more - 12/14/13 and 12/15/13 Dining report.

uhockey Dec 23, 2013 08:58 PM

More in an ongoing dialogue on Vegas dining both on and off strip

  1. uhockey Dec 23, 2013 08:59 PM

    The Cracked Egg - http://endoedibles.com/?p=15095

    With my mother in town for two more days another weekend of eating and unpacking began at local favorite “The Cracked Egg” and although I have to say the kitsch décor and happy holiday tunes contrasted severely with weary and disinterested service the food itself was quite good. Clearly known for their daily interpretations of classical coffee cake I will admit that I was a tad put off by both the microwaving and obvious use of canned peaches (as well as artificial syrup sitting on the counter) but speaking only to flavor the cake truly is as good as the rumors; light as angel food but topped with sugary streusel and rife with fruit. Moving next to three plates divided and shared the kitchen again proved more than competent with diner classics and although ingredient quality could certainly be better the fried Monte Cristo was a truly faithful rendition of the classic yet not overly greasy while the French toasts were each rich and flavorful, the croissant version compromised by mushy blueberries but loaded with butter while peanut butter was a skilled kissed version of a childhood favorite, the sort of memories immune to ingredient quality or surly service and just plain delicious.

    1. uhockey Dec 23, 2013 08:59 PM

      Sugar Bee's Bakery - http://endoedibles.com/?p=15276

      Already in the area for breakfast at The Cracked Egg and having stopped in to Sugar Bee’s only once prior simply to browse it was with a bit of surprise that Chef Chesto recognized me as I walked into the small shop, but going so far as to reference our previous conversation about the financiers labeled as ‘tarts’ in order to avoid confusion I have to say I was impressed – yet nowhere near as much as I would be after tasting the bakery’s artisan wares. Formerly a pastry chef at Craftsteak and likely having fed me twice in that role it was a rather simple process of selecting personal favorites and paying a modest bill of $13 that led me back to the car with a half dozen selections and beginning with a freshly minted almond croissant it was love at first bite, the warm shattering layers and wispy yawning interior rife with natural almond flavors…no detectable frangipane, paste, or fillers…the best I’ve found in Vegas to date. Moving next to the macarons, innovative flavors and excellent filling was unfortunately marred by cold temperatures but allowing the second half to warm proved an admirable bite, though not on par with the rest. Taking a break and waiting until home for the rest a chocolate chip cookie served notice to a lovely rendition of the classic with dark and milk chips aplenty while the financier, in all its density and plump berries was Parisian textbook whether labeled ‘tart’ or not. Last but not least, the puck of bread pudding received gentle treatment on a cast iron pan, griddled until custard began to melt, and filling my new kitchen with wafts of cinnamon and butter it will be remembered fondly as the first thing I ever ‘cooked’ in my house…and far better than anything I will actually cook anytime soon.

      1. uhockey Dec 23, 2013 09:00 PM

        Drago Sisters - http://endoedibles.com/?p=15280

        …if it had not been so good I’d blame a friend for pointing out that Drago Sisters is right down the street from Sugar Bees, but in retrospect I guess I owe her thanks for adding to a truly “sweet” Saturday when seven items from the small bakery found their way back to my home as an extension of breakfast…or a midday snack…or “3rd meal”…out of six. A somewhat eclectic place with nuances ranging from classic French to Modern American and even Hispanic dotting an otherwise Italian collection of pastries it was with much indecision that I stood pondering the selections but eventually succumbing to a combination of personal tastes and staff suggestions everything that followed was artisan craft at its best; cakes dense yet supple, frosting sweet but light, macarons a crisp break with natural, smooth filling followed by an ethereal linger, and two items warranting “destination” status; first a Boston Cream Pie superior to the original in texture, cream, as well as cocoa and the second a small cup (available in sizes up to a full celebratory cake) filled with a baba style sponge oversaturated in sweet, milky tones and topped with piped pastry cream plus dark chocolate chips…

        …oh, and on a completely unrelated note, my birthday is in March.

        1 Reply
        1. re: uhockey
          e
          Eric Dec 24, 2013 12:33 PM

          Drago Sisters is great. Another excellent bakery is Maman Bakery on West Flamingo between Jones and Torrey Pines on the north side of the street. It's next door to Shish Kabob House. It's an Armenian bakery that is excellent. Plus, the prices are very affordable. http://www.weddingcakesbakery.com

        2. uhockey Dec 23, 2013 09:01 PM

          Sweet's Raku - http://endoedibles.com/?p=15289

          Still ranking a dessert tasting at Joel Robuchon amongst her favorite meals of all time a visit to Sweets Raku was a foregone conclusion during my mother’s visit to Las Vegas and again taking the dessert before dinner approach but this time electing a table as opposed to the counter results would prove no less stellar, a three course tasting of almost entirely new selections as Christmas music played overhead to compliment the fir at the entry and festive, edible menu. All clean lines, brilliant whites, and lovely service with Jasmine tea for mother and an Illy Americano for myself the meal again began with sorbet and mint gelee, this time mango, and with palates prepped the plates that followed were again equal parts beauty and flavor, both the Mt. Fuji and Angel Cream presented ornately and impossibly light with variant textures throughout, the roasted chestnuts the highlight of the former while a buttery biscuit juxtaposing soft pears anchored the white chocolate winged cream. Clearly a space never lacking for creativity it really should have come as no surprise that ‘mignardises’ would prove equally impressive as the rest of the evening but with a duo of options again presented with great attention to detail I will simply say that while the chocolate fondant cake sampled on my first visit was again excellent I would strongly suggest making a request for the parmesan cheesecake, a savory riff on the classic rivaling the works of Shawn Gawle’s Tarte at Saison and Gabriel Kreuther’s Cheese Souffle at The Modern for my favorite things done with cheese in 2013.

          1. uhockey Dec 23, 2013 09:01 PM

            Kyara - http://endoedibles.com/?p=15293

            Admittedly a bit perplexed by the subtitle “Japanese Tapas” as opposed to Izakaya, Kyara had been a longtime member of my ‘to-visit’ list when a friend and I decided to pay them a visit on Saturday evening and arriving just after 7:00pm to a restaurant recently named “Ethnic restaurant of the year” by Desert Companion the first surprise of many that evening was in fact the space itself, devoid of all other diners leaving us a corner seat at the bar and no less than three waiters to cater to our needs. Featuring an extensive menu of Japanese classics arranged under headings such as grilled, steamed, and fried plus a handful of daily specials as Chef Komada watched over a team of four in the open kitchen it was with an eye toward variety that we placed our order and with a complimentary cocktail to begin nearly every one of our nine items proved excellent, particularly considering a total bill inclusive of tip less than $30 per person. Starting first with cold selections and then proceeding through those grilled and hot it was with impeccable skill that traditional options like robatayaki, grilled squid, and chawanmushi shined but far more interesting and thus more impressive were items trending toward esoteric, both the hot and cold mountain potato dishes absolute show stoppers in terms of texture and flavor while tempura selections proved innovative and light. Moving on to dessert, a decision left in my hands, a selection two sweets arrived and while the tofu mousse was admittedly quite light the general lack of flavor proved rather underwhelming in its own regard and all the more so next to a pair of crispy yet supple matcha spiked waffles topped with a hefty scoop of vanilla ice cream and sidecars of liquid butter and honey, the end effect every bit as delicious as the Honey Toast at Ichiza or Serenade but with a slight bitter undertone adding a touch of intrigue, an upgrade on a classic that seems to typify much of the restaurant’s cuisine and all the more reason to come back soon.

            1. uhockey Dec 23, 2013 09:02 PM

              Mr. Lucky's 24/7 - http://endoedibles.com/?p=15297

              With my mother in town for one more day and having not yet visited the strip once during the subsequent week it was a bit of a surprise that she mentioned wanting to see Hard Rock during her visit but having long been eyeing 24-hour dining spot Mr. Lucky’s an early morning plan was put in motion, us navigating the casino just prior to 7am while disheveled men and women in various states of sleeplessness and inebriation made their way back to their rooms. A large, open space without a whole lot of character but people watching aplenty both in the open kitchen and on the gaming floor it would be mere moments after our arrival that we were seated and only seconds more before coffee refills began in earnest to accompany a breakfast our friendly waiter claimed was ‘too much’ for a duo; words I’d later make him eat as I casually passed the empty, stacked plates to the edge of the table and requested a cup of coffee for the road. Clearly the sort of restaurant where subtlety yields to gluttony it was largely a desire to sample more items that led to us taking a pass on the infamous “Fat Elvis,” instead ordering a quartet of items beginning with decent, if not particularly memorable chicken over waffles and a buttery blueberry muffin before moving onto things far superior, the first a stack of golden French toast soaked with custard but crisped by cornflakes and loaded with fresh berries plus mascarpone and the second, quite literally, a flaky “turntable-sized” cinnamon roll rife with butter, cinnamon, and bacon that rivals the best I’ve found and will invariably be ordered again just as soon as I find someone to go back with me to tackle that signature stack of 14 bacon and banana pancakes.

              1. uhockey Dec 23, 2013 09:03 PM

                Bouchon Bakery on the Strip - http://endoedibles.com/?p=15302

                With a new strip-side location separated from the casino floor the Venetian/Palazzo complex grew slightly sweeter with the addition of Bouchon Bakery II and although each item at this location is available at the original it should go without saying that more Thomas Keller is never a bad thing. From traditional croissants to palm-sized macarons and onward to seasonal cakes and pastries designed with the utmost care it is with good fortune that I have been to each and every Bouchon Bakery from coast to coast and brimming with consistency, quality, and finesse the only advice I can offer is this; order whatever sounds best and know it will be textbook, and if you get there early enough to experience the viennoisseries warm from oven the don’t miss the Kougin Amann – an exemplary preparation at room temperature but infinitely better with the butter still fluid.

                1. uhockey Dec 23, 2013 09:04 PM

                  Lavo Proper Brunch - http://endoedibles.com/?p=15306

                  A favorite of friends for their signature meatballs, thumping bass, and eye candy I’d never paid much attention to Lavo until I heard rumor that a “proper” Sunday brunch had been introduced – an interesting menu, beautiful strip views, and proximity to both Bouchon and Ferragamo making it a worthy destination for 2pm brunch on my mother’s last day in town. An ornate space clearly befitting its trendy nightclub roots with friendly, though somewhat cocktail-pushy service and excessive hyperbole (no, your chef did not ‘create’ the cronut, nor was he the first to coat chicken with the cap’n) it was with the aforementioned bread basket, freely refilled coffee, and a cocktail that our meal began and with the basket particularly impressive given its complimentary nature it was much to my delight that the rest of the cuisine followed suit; substantial delay due to our waiter flirting with two tables full of sorority girls notwithstanding. Electing to sample two sweets and two savories it was with a trio of selections and the smooth, dense, and semi-molten-centered bread pudding to follow that our meal progressed and attempting to abstain from exaggeration I will simply say that if I returned I’d be hard pressed not to order the exact same thing, the French Toast harkening a fruit infused Bostock and the pasta a peerless example of knowing how to use truffle oil with restraint, the end result a dish warranting an extra slice of focaccia to sop up every drop of the eggy aromatic cheese.

                  1. d
                    Dave Feldman Dec 24, 2013 08:36 PM

                    Quite a round-up. For some reason, Sugar Bee's is the one that calls to me.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Dave Feldman
                      uhockey Dec 24, 2013 09:36 PM

                      That almond croissant is something else.

                      Happy holidays Dave.

                      http://endoedibles.com

                    2. Disneyfreak Dec 25, 2013 06:55 AM

                      Great reviews as always. Have you ever gone for dim sum at the Rio's KJ Dim Sum? I was wondering what you thought of the place.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Disneyfreak
                        uhockey Dec 25, 2013 08:26 AM

                        I have not. I want to. I just can't fly dim-sum solo. I have a friend whose palate I trust that says it is the best in LV though.

                        Happy Holidays.

                        http://endoedibles.com

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