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8/2/14 Dining Report - Norm's Eggs Cafe, Guy Fieri's Las Vegas Kitchen & Bar, Pink Box on Durango, Herbs & Rye

The first two are up, the latter duo to follow. Text below, pictures via the blog:

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  1. Norm's Eggs Café: http://endoedibles.com/?p=21632

    Located on South Durango and open from 6am until 3pm seven days a week Norm’s Eggs Café had long been on my breakfast ‘to-do’ list and with a morning half-marathon of miles already under my feet it was just after the small storefront opened that I arrived on Saturday, a smiley young server setting tables while Norm himself manned the oven and stove. Every bit the quaint space its name would imply with exposed brick, worn wood, and a kitchen-side bar wrapped around a well-culled menu of classics from breakfast and lunch it was admittedly with carbs on my mind that I approached an order and eschewing a few interesting specials in favor of a trio of griddled goods the results were mostly what one would expect – as tasty and well made as what a skilled home cook could make but without all the prep-work and cleanup hassles involved. Beginning first with French Toast before progressing to pancakes I will simply say that for my tastes the former was a bit too ‘bready’ but more than making up for it were the flapjacks, both styles proving delightful with unexpected levels of fluffiness despite thinly spread batter and each well paired with subtly sweetened cream cheese frosting flooding the red velvet while pockets of fresh banana dotted the nut-strewn buttermilk, neither really necessitating a bit of the unfortunately artificial maple syrup…though with an out-the-door tab under $20 I’m not sure it would be fair to expect the real deal.

    1. Guy Fieri’s Las Vegas Kitchen & Bar: http://endoedibles.com/?p=21648

      In a city where the next big thing is always a week or two away and the majority of local ‘critics’ are essentially writing fluff-pieces based on comped meals arranged by the folks in marketing at major casinos I knew I needed to wait a while before visiting Guy Fieri’s Las Vegas Kitchen & Bar and with a new brunch menu launched on August 1st without a whole lot of hype the time finally seemed right, myself and two others sitting down for four of Chef Leitera’s newest creations plus one of Fieri’s outlandish desserts just after 10:00am on Saturday with the restaurant just under 3/4 filled. Not particularly a fan of the spiky haired celebrity but able to appreciate his place in pop-culture it was with an open mind that I approached the doors of the Linq-side locale and greeted by a hostess plus a surprising lack of ‘branding’ (compared to the likes of Ramsay, Puck, or even Batali) we were quickly led to a table, the service to follow effusively friendly and surprisingly efficient with questions she could not answer deferred to visits from the GM and chef himself. Every bit the lively scene one would expect of a ‘tatted-up’ venue spilling from indoors to out yet far less loud than many thanks to high ceilings, reclaimed woods, and plenty of glass it was with the first of several cups of Stumptown Coffee in hand that our morning began and with The Doors alternating to country tunes and 70s hits overhead it would not be long before our savory course arrived, each plate well-crafted with subtle nuances to be discovered amidst decidedly conspicuous portions as the biscuit proved amongst the best in Vegas while the chili walked a fine line between heat and sweet, the white cheddar lending a sharp salinity at the top of each bite. Always a sucker for sweets it was onward to the griddle that our meal progressed and again investing in a duo I was immediately impressed by the toothsome cornmeal pancakes enveloping a core of butter cookies and fresh fruit only to then be let down by the French Toast that was simply too ‘wet’ with custard to stand up to the heavily sugared bacon and sugar-torched fruit, the amalgam altogether too sweet and in need of some sort of textural variance – perhaps something along the lines of a trip to the deep-fryer in order to crisp the bread as was done in the case of a ‘Monte Cristo’ more than happy to eschew any façade of healthiness as smoky marshmallow fluff encased in golden brioche found balance in cinnamon spread and rich chocolate, the housemade raspberry preserves a nod to the classic adding a fruity finish that lingered long on the palate.

      9 Replies
      1. re: uhockey

        Michael I give you credit. You wrote a balanced and unbiased review of the place where, at least from some of your original thoughts, I didn't think possible. I am a little bummed I didn't get to go there in June but Oct. is right around the corner and I plan on having a lunch or brunch 1 day. I never thought this place was going to become a regular stop for me or many who read CH however the "snickering" (no disrespect) and overly critical comments about Guys place on an earlier thread (dated April 24th) were way over the top. I'm glad to see that while maybe not Chow-worthy it wasn't the likes of TGIF or Denny's.

        1. re: LVI

          I think the Wells review of NYC did him a world of good, honestly. Sure the menu overshoots and the descriptions/names of dishes are absolutely asinine, but in reality it is no more expensive than Hash House a Go Go or any of the Sugar Factory, Planet Dailies, Citizen, Grand Lux Café, The Henry, etc options on the strip and the food is just as competent, if not more creative. Add in spots like the PBR Bar at Planet Hollywood or all the 'gourmet' Burger spots and I'd actually contest that what Guy Fieri is offering is better than average for its genre and price-point.

          Obviously this isn't a place where I'll be a regular...then again, aside from Twist, I'm not a regular anywhere...but with that said I'd absolutely make a second visit with a group to work through the dessert menu plus a couple of the lunch savories like the onion rings and perhaps the pork sandwich.

          Is it "chow worthy?" I don't know...but then again, I enjoy Hash House a Go Go for what it is and I'm pretty sure Griddle Café at SLS is my most anticipated opening of 2014...probably 2015 as well. :)

          1. re: uhockey

            Well Saturday or Sunday of the 1st weekend in Vegas is a distinct possibility for Guys joint if you want to try again or SLS. My only issue is that I generally find myself at Tableau for breakfast those two days as I have seats in the sports book for football. LMK how your schedule looks and be happy to join you if interested.

            As far as the Wells review is concerned I would take it with a grain of salt. Not that I do not think his place in TS is perfectly pedestrian but rather how Mr Wells would have explained himself for praising anything Guy did. The Park Ave. crowd would have been agasp!

            1. re: uhockey

              Seriously, you really aren't a regular anyplace besides Twist?

              1. re: BubblyOne

                Seriously. Read my blog. Every meal I eat outside the house is listed there. Bar none. And when I say 'regular' at Twist I mean 4x in 3 years.

                1. re: uhockey

                  This is probably just a matter of semantics, but the mods probably wouldn't like you telling someone to read your blog. Perhaps "look through my post history" would be better. While I'm sure everyone appreciates your reviews on here, sometimes it's a fine line between useful reviews and overtly advertising your blog (yes, I do realize you don't profit from the blog).

                  In any case, 4x at Twist probably is a regular since most people eat there once in their life! One day I will go and experience it. I think the only place I'm a regular is McDonalds after midnight for a Sausage McMuffin with Egg and a large fry. =P

                  Do you think you'd try Guy Fieri's place for dinner? Again, I don't think I'd ever go and I'd really appreciate a review. I just can't do it. I can't sit there and read that menu and say those menu items to the waiter.

                  1. re: ah6tyfour

                    I'm promoting local businesses and gain nothing from it, but your point is taken. I was answering a directed question at my lifestyle, that is all.

                    As to Fieri for dinner, no. The menu simply doesn't interest me. I'd consider stopping in with a group for desserts, however.

                    At least he isn't insulting my intelligence with pronunciation tips.

          2. re: uhockey

            Wow, nice report. Thanks!

            Somehow from your posts on here, I never thought you'd actually eat there. Now I feel bad because it's the one place I refuse to try (mostly because the menu annoys me to no end, but also because I'm probably a little bit afraid I'd like it).

            1. re: ah6tyfour

              ...sort of my feelings going into it, as well. :) All in all I just *had* to know.

              As to where I will/will not eat, the later is pretty much "chains." Obviously I'd prefer to support the independents and will continue to do so, but I have a true soft spot for over-the-top breakfast items.

          3. Herbs & Rye: http://endoedibles.com/?p=21671

            Heavily praised for an extensive era-specific list of craft cocktails with a menu full of sustainable organic meats and plates far more interesting than the average bar or lounge Herbs & Rye had long been a place of interest and with recent reports suggesting the kitchen to be firing on all cylinders I finally decided to stop by, a Saturday feast for one in the dimly-lit dining area my reward for eschewing alternative plans on Las Vegas Boulevard South. Designed in a style somewhere between “Old time Vegas” and stripped-down speakeasy with a less-than-ideal location on West Sahara it was with eyes still adjusting from the 6pm sun that I entered the small tavern and greeted at a small podium by the woman later to be my waitress I was quickly led to my choice of tables, a menu soon in hand presenting tough decisions with a resultant four item order divided into two courses accompanied by one of nearly a dozen gin based cocktails I’d have liked to try were my liver’s capacity on par with that of my gut. Obviously a space prone to becoming lively as the night wears on but only perhaps half-full during the course of my meal it was after perhaps a ten minute wait that my cocktail arrived and featuring a lovely balance of fruit juxtaposing juniper notes beneath a cloudy of foam the Clover Club was a hit, the flavor profile particularly refreshing when matched to a rich opening duo of tender macaroni unfortunately overwhelmed with truffle oil and a crisp, lightly charred flatbread that fared far better with briny bacon finding its foil in the tang of crème fraiche. At this point debating an Aviation versus the Bee’s Knees it was a bit to my surprise that my second round arrived immediately on the heels of my first and forgetting the second cocktail as it was likely to arrive far too late to be enjoyed with the food I instead dug straight in, the 12oz bone-in piece of pork seared perfectly and coated with bleu over hand-smashed potatoes amidst a jus of pork and poached figs, the later laying split alongside the protein and still intensely sweet…though certainly not as much so as a bowl of tender tots bathed in a pool of honey beneath snowcaps of toasted marshmallow that ranks amongst the best “sides” I’ve had this year. At this point sated but happy to go another round it was to an oral explanation of the restaurant’s desserts that I was finally treated and although large sharing portions of sugared doughnuts and a skillet cookie were hard to resist it was instead in the day’s special that I partook, the piping hot chunk of booze-soaked baguette crowned by a ball of vanilla ice cream proving very ‘special’ indeed with butter and cinnamon bubbling at its base as if the kitchen had known I was coming and prepared it just for me.