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STRIPLVDINING - MAKERS AND FINDERS

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STRIPLVDINING - MAKERS AND FINDERS

By Vegas Food Nerd

Makers & Finders
By Vegas Food Nerd

Las Vegas is dotted with a plethora of Starbucks, and Coffee Bean franchises all around the valley. Ignore those ubiquitous outposts and search for something unique, which you can find at Makers & Finders. The first location is a fun, funky design in the downtown Vegas arts district, and the other location is in Downtown Summerlin. Both are cozy, bright spaces with an entertaining, urban feel to them. Their highly trained baristas are there to up your coffee game with a pour-over bar, and their cold brew that takes 12 full hours to create each day. It’s also a place where you can try other trendy new beverage offerings with kombucha on tap and matcha tea creations for you to sample. The menu is a Latin-inspired one featuring arepas, plantains, lots of black beans and rice. Their unique take on breakfast, lunch and dinner fare is inventive, and they even have an extensive and innovative wine, beer and cocktail list.

Makers & Finders serves all meals, but the rumor on the foodie circuit is that this is the place to brunch. So that’s when my friend and I went to try this place. The menu has a wide variety of tempting options on it, and it even features vegan and gluten-free options as well. Translation: Even your friends with the most restrictive diets will find something that appeals to them on this menu. I ordered their chilaquiles and my friend ordered one of their arepas (corn cakes). My dish came on a hot skillet with sliced avocado, black bean and two scrambled eggs with sour cream, chips and salsa verde. Next time I’d add either the short-rib or the chicken tinga to my order. My friend got an arepa topped with tomato, fresh mozzarella, mango and avocado served with a side of rice and fried plantains. We also shared a bowl of their soup of the day, which was a coconut carrot soup with hints of ginger. Both of us were very happy with everything we ordered and discussed what we would be ordering on our return visit. I even bent our server’s ear asking about different dishes and drinks that diners around us got that I knew I needed to try when I go back. Lavender Fog, you are on my list along with the breakfast burger, empanadas and that turmeric wellness shot.

AMBROS BANANA WHISKEY

It’s a new, distinctive liquor fusion that is gaining a lot of attention in the spirits world. Infused with only real bananas, Ambros is bringing a unique flavor to the world of liquor. The smooth, yet slightly sweet, drink can be enjoyed neat or in clever cocktails such as their signature “Banhattan,” mixing the libation with sweet vermouth, Angostura Bitters and a lemon peel. For myself, the spirit reminded me of trips to the islands when restaurants would begin our meal with vanilla rum aged with actual vanilla beans. I am notoriously a big hater of all banana flavored candies, and this wasn’t like that at all. It tasted like fresh bananas without an overly confectionary flavor to it. The bottle, made by Stolzle Glass, is a beautiful addition to any bar and Ambros will only spark many mixologists creations. To try some for yourself, visit ambroswhiskey.com.

STRIPLVDINING - VEGAS FOOD NERD'S BEST OF THE BEST 2018

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STRIPLVDINING - VEGAS FOOD NERD'S BEST OF THE BEST 2018

By Vegas Food Nerd

AMERICANA

Stephen Blandino, who was formally trained at The Culinary Institute of America, 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, which is located inside the Four Seasons here in Las Vegas.

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. It’s an elegant dining outpost that creates some innovative cuisine, beautiful views, romantic scenes, and you should check it out soon.

 

BARDOT BY MICHAEL MINA

Located in the modern casino resort Aria is Michael Mina’s Bardot. This French spin on brunch will score you some big brownie points with the moms in your world. His double-decker croquet Madam is noteworthy, as is his take on French toast and his Nutella pastries. What begs many repeat visits to this Parisian-feeling place is his assortment of croissant benedicts— prosciutto, short rib bourguignon, smoked salmon, or avocado— all a decadent delight.

CARSON KITCHEN


Carson Kitchen is the last restaurant concept brought to us by the late “Rock n’ Roll Chef” Kerry Simon. The restaurant, which is a casual eatery that serves dishes in the style of Kerry’s innovative take on American comfort food, continues to pay homage to the restaurant legend in their space, a portion of the re-purposed mid-century John E. Carson Hotel. The restaurant features two bars, one adjacent to the main dining room with a sleek swanky feel, and a roof-top bar that sometimes features musical acts.

The head chef as of December is now Scott Simon, Kerry’s younger brother. He was personally mentored by the notorious chef and is proud to continue cooking in his honor. Kerry transformed our dining scene, and to see him living on with this inventive food is such a pleasure. His presence was felt throughout our meal with the flavors, and murals of his likeness located on the walls. Thank you, Chef we genuinely miss you.

 

JAZMINE


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. 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.

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. They were impeccably cooked and hands down one of my favorite lamb dishes that I have ever sampled. Get the lamb chops. Trust me on this one. You won’t be sorry.

OHLALA FRENCH BISTRO

Tucked away in a strip mall is this tiny gem of a place that I’d wish I discovered earlier. Richard Terzaghi, a proud Frenchman that wanted to bring a taste of his family to the spoiled residents of Summerlin, proudly runs Ohlala French Bistro. You can call it a hidden gem because it’s tough to find on your first visit to the place, but rest assured 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 and black and silver accents highlight the sophisticated feel.

I ordered the sole meunière. 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 and was like a hug to the taste buds.

PIERO’S


This family-run, high-end dining experience has been stationed in its current location for 31 years, and the interior remains a classy old-school experience, the likes of which are a dwindling find here in Las Vegas.

Piero’s chef is Gilbert Fetaz, who was trained in France and then worked in Canada, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Florida and then Chicago. While working in Chicago, Paul Anka dined in his restaurant and ate his cuisine. The iconic singer was so impressed with his skills that he hired him to come and work at his nightclub in Las Vegas.

They are known to sell between 80-100 plates of their classic take on Osso Bucco each night. The meat is meltingly tender, served alongside their homemade fettuccini and accented with fresh porcini mushrooms. It’s an incredibly savory and satisfying dish. Visit from October to April and you will get to indulge in their other famous offering: fresh, sweet, succulent stone crab. The tempting shellfish is served on crushed ice, tempting you to start your meal with the delicacy

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.

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