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STRIPLVDINING - SINFUL SUBS

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STRIPLVDINING - SINFUL SUBS

By Vegas Food Nerd

Vic Vegas is the tatted-up reality TV star chef that moved to our town when he was just a teenager. This Brooklyn boy was taught to cook by his New York Italian mother, and grandmother. When he was, old enough Vic worked his way up in the Las Vegas restaurant scene and became an executive chef at one of our major casinos all with no formal training. His turn on multiple Food Network shows help propel him to Celebrity status. The musclebound culinary whirlwind that he is captured fans attention. He’s kind of like Guy Fieri if Guy Fieri had an excellent personal trainer and shaved off his crazy hair. I’d driven past his Sinful Subs sandwich shop many times since it relocated to the Spring Mountain area. Finally, one afternoon a friend and I decided to give the place a try at lunch.

It’s a big space with a nice casual vibe to it. Black and red dominate the decorating, and there is an oh so Vegas step and repeat that you and your friends can selfie out to your heart’s content. In the corner is a collection of hot sauces if you want to get a little spicy, and they serve Stubborn Soda in their fountain machine. As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by their happy and warm employee who asked if we’d been there before. When we said no she gave us a hilarious rundown of the menu. Which features seven sinful subs, get it? It also features some funs sides like grandma’s meatloaf stuffed into an eggroll casing, mac and cheese, and others. Our greeter told us that the two most popular subs were the Knuckle Sandwich and the Skinny Dip. We decided to get both and share half and half. After ordering, we sat down as they prepared our sandwiches. When they arrived, the monstrously sized subs looked incredible. The knuckle is a piling of grilled salami, pepperoni, and ham topped with lettuce and tomato, mayo, with a vinaigrette and topped with melted mozzarella. Basically, it’s your dream Italian style hoagie on a tremendous crusty bun. The skinny dip incredible as well if you love French dip and Philly cheese steak this combines the best of both into one creation. Grilled shaved sirloin, sautéed onions, roasted peppers, and mayo folded together with American cheese topped with mozzarella and served with a side of au jus for dipping. Both subs also arrived at the table piping hot, and both were just next level in flavor. I won’t be going back to any of those other chain sub shops again. This is some of the best fast casual food I’ve had in a while.

If you drive by like me stop, if it’s a bit out of the way for you, trust me it’s worth a drive.

 

LASORDA FAMILY WINES

By Vegas Food Nerd

If you are looking for a unique gift to bring to hosts at a holiday event especially if your host happens to be a sports fan is Lasorda Family Wines. Baseball Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda’s family is making wine and celebrating his legacy and passion for winemaking at their vineyard in Pasa Robles, California. The bottles are unique with a baseball diamond etched on to the front and on the back the story about how the wine came to be. Tommy’s dad had a tradition of making wine every year as a gift for the holiday season. Tommy carried on that tradition, and now Tommy’s family continues as they celebrate the grapes from the best of California’s central coast. Run by Tommy himself and his son David the wine is a great conversation starter, and it’s also a very pleasing Cabernet, and Chardonnay that will compliment any gathering. Buy some at lasordawines.com.

STRIPLVDINING - OHLALA FRENCH BISTRO

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STRIPLVDINING - OHLALA FRENCH BISTRO

By Vegas Food Nerd

Tucked away in a strip mall is this tiny gem of a place that I’d wish I discovered earlier. Run proudly by Richard Terzaghi a proud Frenchman that wanted to bring a taste of his family to the spoiled residents of Summerlin. You can call it a hidden gem because it’s tough to find on your first visit to the place. Rest assured though the secret is out on this dining spot. It’s small, and as a result, the tables can be hard to come by on busy evenings so be sure to book a reservation before you head out for a visit. The space is tiny but elegant and adorned with multiple crystal chandeliers, black and silver accents highlight the sophisticated feel, and in the corner, is a beautiful little wine cellar.

I got a chance to visit on a weekday and didn’t think a lunch reservation was necessary; I was wrong. It was crowded, and we were lucky enough to get a two top in the middle of all of the action.  The patrons were happy, and from the sentiments, we heard around the restaurant had been regulars for quite some time. The owner who was there at the time was talking with each table, and many were calling by his first name. The women who sat at the table next to us were discussing what they ordered on their last visit. It was evident that this small out of the way restaurant had a lot of buzz around the neighborhood.

We decided to split a bottle of 2014 Koehler Sauvignon Blanc which they quickly delivered in a silver bucket of ice while we perused the menu. This was the hard part. The table next to us had an order of their escargot in front of them, and it looked amazing (note to self, order this next time). Before we ordered our lunch, they brought a fresh baguette to the table with a nice healthy slab of butter.

We decided to try their endive salad first. It was delicate leaves of endive tossed with gorgonzola, candied walnuts, and a vinaigrette. It was a crunchy light beginning to our meal. The candied walnuts were an excellent accompaniment to the flavors of blue cheese. Next, I ordered what the server told me was her favorite dish— the sole meuniere. It’s a pan-seared delicate fish in brown butter with garlic, capers, lemon, and parsley. It came served on top of a bed of grilled asparagus. It was, in a word, incredible. It arrived searing hot, was tender, full of flavor, it was a like a hug to the taste buds. My friend ordered the duck confit special, which was also a good plate of food, but mine was hands down the table favorite. Moral learned: always listen to your server.

The owner stopped around to chat with us as we finished our meal, and we learned that this Frenchman is also part Italian. The tiramisu that feels out of place on the dessert menu is his grandmother’s recipe. Unfortunately, we didn’t opt for dessert on this visit I made another one of notes to myself to try it when I come back to visit again.

The only thing that put on a damper on what was a pleasant dining experience was when we went to pay our bill. I had gotten a coupon to the restaurant which had an offer on it, and he didn’t honor the full offer on the coupon. We had such a nice lunch and had as I’ve already freely admitted drank the wine, so we didn’t make a fuss over it. I just know of a Chef that had done that same thing with an offer, and it put him out of business. Don’t worry we will be going back just giving you full disclosure as always. Give them a try and if you do let me know what you think. Now go eat something.

CHOCODATES

I recently got a package in the mail from a publicist that made my family’s day. We were treated to a couple of packages of this confection I’d never heard of, Chocodates. It’s a date stuffed with an almond and covered in Belgium chocolate. The date is an ancient symbol of health and wealth. I’m not too sure these are that healthy, but wow it is a unique candy concept that is good to treat yourself or someone else also. Order online at chocodate.com.

STRIPLVDINING - AMERICANA

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STRIPLVDINING - AMERICANA

By Vegas Food Nerd

Chef Stephen Blandino is a Staten Island Native who was introduced to the culinary world by his two Italian grandmas. They cooked with him regularly while he was growing up, and just like that he was seduced into the kitchen with love.

Stephen was formally trained at The Culinary Institute of America and landed a gig with Charlie Palmer at his New York City outpost Aureole and from there was transferred to the Las Vegas version of the same name. There he worked his way up to Executive Sous Chef, and eventually, Charlie asked him to be the head chef at Charlie Palmer, located inside the Four Seasons here in Las Vegas. The cuisine he created there and was lauded by critics and foodies alike.

Then he left the Charlie Palmer empire to build a restaurant of his own. Americana is located in Desert Shores, a community that is decidedly un-Vegas. The community features a series of manmade canals and feels like a neighborhood in a sea fairing city, not one you’d expect to find in our desert of a town.

The space inside the restaurant has a few different feels to it. There is the cozy little bar, the patio out front, the airy dining room, the library room, and the balcony outside that overlooks the water. It’s a romantic setting that will transport you away from Las Vegas, if not only in your mind, for the duration of your meal.

I first got the chance to experience this sophisticated little spot at lunch with my husband. We, as per usual, decided to share a few dishes in order to get a taste of all they had to offer.

We started with the beet salad, then the tuna sashimi, followed by the grilled octopus, and ended with a blackened swordfish. The mixture was a generous portion with beautiful colors, and nice big chunks of beets married with creamy goat cheese and decorated with bright purple kale. The sashimi was meltingly tender and was topped with chopped peanuts, micro greens, and killer avocado sauce dotted with red pepper flakes; it was quite simply incredible. The grilled octopus was served over a bed of cannellini beans in a sauce of sun-dried tomatoes, mushroom and a bit of spicy chorizo. It’s one of the best takes on octopus since my Detroit Greektown days.

Then our server placed down a white plate with a glass dome on it that was filled with smoke. He then dramatically pulled the dome off, and the tendrils of smoke tickle our olfactory senses taking us back in time for a moment to a childhood charcoal barbeque. And viola: Our blackened swordfish appeared on a bed of this sweet yet savory corn sauce with some spears of asparagus on the side. It was an incredible take on swordfish, and sad to say at the time of this writing it’s currently not on the menu, but hopefully we will see it again soon.

On our return visit at happy hour, we sat in the quaint bar area. We had the space to ourselves and felt very VIP. We couldn’t resist ordering the sashimi and octopus again. The only thing that was a let down on this visit though was in order to give us happy hour pricing on the octopus they just reduced the portion in half, and this was disappointing. The sashimi was still as good as we remembered, and we also ordered a side of their jalapeno mac and cheese. It was a gut-pleasing gooey offering that we really enjoyed.

Both times that we visited Americana, we received excellent service and attention from the staff. The only sticking point on both visits was the spot seemed to have some trouble with getting the right chill on our bottle of white wine. In fact, on our second visit, we overheard management discussing the issue, and I am confident they are working on this problem so don’t let this dissuade you from visiting this gem of a restaurant. It’s an elegant dining outpost that creates some innovative cuisine, beautiful views, romantic scenes, and you should check it out soon. Now go eat something.

STRIPLVDINING - SUSHI FEVER

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STRIPLVDINING - SUSHI FEVER

By Vegas Food Nerd

SUSHI FEVER

BY VEGAS FOOD NERD

Flashy big-name chefs are now flocking to our town and opening big extravagant spaces and loud vibrating restaurants with scenes that invite hipsters to selfie to their heart’s content. Now don’t get me wrong— those spaces can be fun. It’s the kind of places I take new tourists to Las Vegas to visit. But I’ve been trying to stay away from places like that and search for more authentic fare. The advent of now having to pay to park on the strip is also a part of that motivation. Locals should not have to pay to park.

So, in protest of these new parking policies, my friend and I decided to drive down Sahara and park somewhere for free. We landed on an unassuming little place called Sushi Fever. It’s been serving loyal fans their take on Japanese food for over 15 years. For those that don’t know: In Vegas restaurant years, that’s like being open for more than 30 years. I’d heard about this place from many of its devotees and was really looking forward to our meal here. The space is white with white linens on the tables topped with glass. There are Japanese accents and various decorations placed around, but overall, it’s a clean, understated kind of space.

Immediately once we were seated, they bring out complimentary bowls of edamame and cucumber salad to sample while we peruse their menu. I started with a bowl of Miso soup, and we ordered up a couple of other items to share for the rest of the meal. I hate to admit it, but when I dine out  I’m not the spontaneous type. I like to pull up the website read the menu a couple of times, and then as much as I am not a big fan of sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor, I can’t help but read what people have to say about the place I am about to visit. This time I kept hearing rave reviews about their signature sashimi dish called the Screaming Orgasm. How appropriate, right? Of course, that was one of the few things we sampled. The tender tuna sashimi is placed on top of a bed of shredded radish noodles; then it is covered with this delicious sauce, scallion, and pea shoots. It was a perfect flavor bomb in our mouths, and we wouldn’t let them take the dish away because the sauce was so good to dip a few other of our sashimi selections in. We also shared their popcorn shrimp appetizer, a couple of orders of eel sushi, and a few cuts of sashimi. The items were all fresh and full of flavor. And our service was top notch. We visited during lunch, the place was packed, and the service didn’t waiver.

It’s easy to get caught up in the Celebrity Iron Chef type of places that proliferate our downtown areas. I highly recommend the next time you dine in our city to search out the many mom and pop joints that have been pleasing our palates a lot longer than the places you see on the billboards. You will be glad you did. Now go and eat something. 

Anthony Bourdain – A Tribute

When I woke to the news of Anthony Bourdain’s death, I went into shock. He’s been someone I had admired for many years. He changed how I eat, how I look at food and what it means to share a meal with someone. His antics and adventures around the globe were something that I watched, read and studied. When I write about food I inadvertently quote an episode of “No Reservations” or “Parts Unknown.” I loved how he learned to appreciate even the stuff that you didn’t think he was supposed to like. He glorified the food you can get in five-star high end places the same way he celebrated the street cart, and food stands. As much as he knew the gourmet stuff, he immersed himself in the local guilty pleasures as well. He described his rock bottom as cooking brunches in his best-selling “Kitchen Confidential,” which catapulted him to fame (and made me feel guilty about how much I love eggs benedict). He introduced us to the misfit, and outsiders that bring us the cuisine we love so much. I recently heard an interview with a good friend of Tony’s, Fred Morin of Montréal’s wonderful restaurant Joe Beef, and he said: “Those of us that work in kitchens, we are outcasts, misfits, rapscallions if you will, pirates maybe. Losing Tony to us was like losing our captain.” He was a captain to all of us that are in the food world. I have long aspired to write as he does and admired his honesty, snark and wit. Thank you for what you put out into the world, Mr. Bourdain. You continue to inspire me, and I hope you found some peace. Cheers to you.

STRIPLVDINING - JAZMINE

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STRIPLVDINING - JAZMINE

By Vegas Food Nerd

When you think of Reno, Nevada, a picture of a cowboy might come to mind. It might conjure thoughts of western rodeos and charcoal barbeque scenes. You probably wouldn’t be thinking about Asian fusion cuisine if you’re picturing Reno, but maybe it’s time that you do. Jazmine’s is located in South Reno, and it’s where east meets west, fusing Chinese with Japanese. The interior of the restaurant is sleek, modern, with a warm feel to the design. We were seated at a large round table with a big lazy susan in the center for sharing. Surrounding the roundtables were beaded curtains that give an intimate feel to each table. The warm red tones and modern glass lamps added a nice look to the space as well.

Luckily for me, we were treated to this meal with a great group of people who had frequented Jazmine many times, and they decided to order for us and share their favorites with us. I love a chance to experience restaurants like this. The baked green mussels were adorned with a savory sauce and topped with scallions— they disappeared fast. The Peking duck appetizer was just incredible, served on fluffy bao-like buns with scallions and plum sauce with the meltingly tender meat.

We sampled so many of their amazing dishes like their honey glazed walnut prawns. The shrimp were lightly breaded and covered with a tasty honey aioli, topped with candied walnuts. The one dish that our host insisted on was the grilled lamb chops. It would have never occurred to me to order lamb chops at an Asian restaurant, but I am forever grateful that he ordered them. They were impeccably cooked and hands down one of my favorite lamb dishes that I have ever sampled. Trays and trays of sushi rolls came out to the table, and each was fresh, tender and crave-worthy. The crab fried rice was savory and full of flavor. There were so many dishes coming to the table it was hard to keep everything straight that we were lucky enough to taste. All I know is that this food nerd was overwhelmingly happy with each luscious offering we got to sample.

One dish that stood out came towards the end of our meal. Jazmine offers a whole steamed fish cooked with ginger, scallions, parsley, cilantro and seasoned soy sauce. The waiter presented the entire fish to us at the table then deboned it tableside before serving it to us. This was a delicate, delectable dish; the fish melted in our mouths, and the flavors of the herbs, ginger and soy were subtle and just splendid.

The only thing that I regret about the meal is that I couldn’t eat more than I did. Our servers were extremely attentive, and on top of taking care of our party. I also enjoyed the attention to detail with fine linens around the restaurant and stands for our chopsticks to rest on.

So, while there may be plenty of places in Reno to get yourself a burger or a rack of ribs, make a point on your next trip to check out this modern Asian eatery. And I beg of you when you do. Get the lamb chops. Trust me on this one. You won’t be sorry.

Follow me on social media @vegasfoodnerd

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