Category Archives: Restaurants

croissant

St Louis-Based Pint Size Bakery’s Salted Caramel Croissants

There’s this adorable little bakery in my neighborhood called Pint Size Bakery. We’ve been there a number of times for various bake goods and they’re all delicious.

If you go online and look up the shop, every says you have to try their salted caramel croissants. So the last time I was in there, I asked and they only make them on Saturday mornings. They usually come out at 10am and there’s a line. These are the St Louis equivalent of the cronut.

I was intrigued. So we came this morning to kick off Saturday morning errands. And yes, there was a line. So we waited.

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I get up the counter and I asked for the salted caramel croissants. It had sounded like they may have been out and I was too late. I was in luck. I got the last two. Yes!!!!!

So… My mini review: they are incredible. They’re absolutely worth waiting in line for. There’s the salty with sweet. They’re flaky and gooey. There’s definitely a level of pastry complexity that you’re not going to get from your average baked good.

This place is an example of what I love about St Louis. There’s so many different little independent shops and business owners doing great work all over the city. It’s been a blast to discover and get to know them as Lauren and I explore.

When a Burger is More Than Just a Burger

I really love a good burger but sometimes a burger is more than just a burger.   Just saw a post over on Eater about the lines in London for the opening of their first Shake Shack.

I’ve walked pat Madison Square Park in NYC.  At any point in the day, there’s a 30 min line to get to the Shake Shack stand.   I’ve seen Twitter accounts that tell you how long the line is.  It’s incredible.

DC had a Shake Shack and I went there a few times.  It’s good.  It’s not amazing but it’s good.  It’s cheaper than Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR.   People in DC did go crazy for it.   As a matter a fact, they just opened up a second (and maybe third) location.

The key is that for Shake Shack a burger isn’t just a burger.  Yes, people go there to be fed but, at least for the ones who stand in line when a new shop launches, a burger at Shake Shack is about more than just getting sustenance.

A Shake Shack burger is about an escape.  It’s about comfort.  It conjures up memories of something from the past that makes you feel good.    That’s what people stand in line for.

Eating a Shake Shack burger also makes you look cool.  The last decade has really seen the start of consumer-friendly designer food brands.   It’s cool to be seen eating a Shake Shack Burger or In ‘n Out.  It’s cool to be seen eating a Sprinkles or Georgetown Cupcake.

If you’re working on a product or service that you’re offering for your business, how do you go beyond just satisfactorily meeting your requirements?  How do you help go beyond?  How do you make your product cool or make the people who use it cool?

Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, NV

IMG_0887Lauren and I have some friends in town this weekend. Thought this would be a great opportunity to continue our quest for the best burger in America.  Had seen the restaurant Gordon Ramsay BurGR pop up on lists and you can’t help but see advertisements for it around Las Vegas.  We just had to try it.

So, I went on their website.  It gave me a number to call for reservations.  I called to get transferred to 3 different people, to inevitably find out that they don’t take reservations.  Bummer.

On Friday night, we embarked towards Planet Hollywood.  There was bad traffic around the strip.  It was the Friday of a holiday weekend.   We eventually found self parking and found our way through the maze of the Miracle Mile shops and the wannabe modern Planet Hollywood Casino.

It ended up being about an hour and a half wait to get a table, which was fine.  We got some drinks.  We wandered down to the Bellagio, watched the fountains, and admired their indoor garden.  Eventually, we got the magical text that our table was ready.

The first thing that you notice when you walk into BurGR is pictures of Gordon Ramsay (see below) and fire everywhere.   His initials are also emblazoned everywhere, including the waiter/waitresses overly short and tight uniforms.   The narcissism is slightly annoying but you get over it once the food and drinks come out.

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The drinks menu was a vintage iPad, which was interesting.  The beer list had craft beers, which was great but were all fairly mainstream craft beers.   The waiter pointed out that Innis & Gunn was Gordon’s favorite beer and that it aged in a combo rum/whiskey cask.  Decided to give it a shot.   I really enjoyed it.  Had a lot of great flavor.

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Then we moved on to appetizers.  Opted for the Jalapeño Poppers.   The jalapeño sticking out of a cheese-filled shot glass is overly phallic looking.   (Isn’t this the kind of thing that Gordon would make fun of people for on Hell’s Kitchen?)   In the end, it was delicious.  It wasn’t overly spicy, which I liked, but there was some spice for flavor, plus cheese.  :-)

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On to the main event… I ordered the Farm Burger.  I was initially waffling between the Euro Burger and the Farm Burger.   The waiter told me the Farm Burger was his favorite.   It was a half pound burger, sharp cheddar cheese, duck bacon, and a farm fresh fried egg.   It was delicious.  Oh and it was one of the first times I’ve ordered a burger medium at a restaurant and it actually came out medium.   It was delicious.

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Then we opted for the truffle fries.  The basket was massive.  It had truffle oil, shaved parmesan, and a truffle aioli to dip them in.  I’m a big fan of the thick cut fries over the small shoe-string variety.   The only problem was the truffle aioli ran out way too quickly. :-)

Net net… I really enjoyed Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR.  The wait to get in and lack of reservations was slightly annoying but once we sat down, I really enjoyed everything.  Plus for what you’re getting, the prices aren’t too bad.  It’s cheaper than some of the other “high end” burger places in Las Vegas.

Honey Salt – My New Favorite Las Vegas Restaurant

Lauren and I were out running errands this weekend and found our way to the restaurant Honey Salt in West Las Vegas.

We were both immediately impressed by the vintage charm.  All of the chairs were miss matched, along with an array of mirrors and lamps.  Some of the bigger tables were reclaimed wood.  It’s the kind of thing you don’t see very often in Las Vegas.

The ingredients are all seasonal, farm to table, and very high quality.   The menu is very New American.  I was impressed that they also had fresh pressed juices on the menu.

The waiter said that the chef/owner was from the Wynn and wanted to offer something to locals that you’d typically only find on the Strip but MUCH more expensive.

This is the burger that Lauren had.  I love that they give you your own little squeeze bottle for catsup. :)   Got to try a bit of the burger.  It was amazing.  One of the highlights was the butter pickle.

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I had the grilled cheese with pea soup.  Oh sweet goodness this was amazing.

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If you’re in Vegas and have a car, I’d definitely make a point of going here. I’m becoming a regular there.  :-)

China Poblano by José Andrés

When you live in Washington, DC, it’s hard not to run into one of José Andrés’ restaurants.  There are more of his restaurants in Chinatown than there are Starbucks.  Oyamel is easily one of my favorite restaurants period.

When we moved to Las Vegas, knew we had to try China Poblano.  It’s José’s take on a Mexican Chinese restaurant and is in the Cosmopolitan on the Las Vegas strip.  It’s not fusion but offers both cuisines on the same menu.  Had a reservation there for last night for Lauren and I for our second wedding anniversary.

The restaurant is absolutely delicious.  Even though putting Chinese and Mexican may not may sense on paper, it absolutely works as a restaurant concepts.    Oh and I want to apologize ahead of time for not having more photos of the different courses that Lauren and I ordered.

For cocktails, I tried the green tea margarita (pictured above) and the avocado smash.    Both were delicious.   The avocado slim kind of reminded me a guacamole cocktail and I love avocado so that excites me.

The chips & salsa tasted exactly like the chips & salsa from Oyamel.  It was filled with amazing smokey chipotle flavor and was a good reminder of DC and the many memories there.

We tried the steamed bbq pork buns “When Pigs Fly.”  They came highly recommended.  They were delicious but felt slightly overrated.   Seemed like any other steamed pork bun that you’d get a dim sum restaurant.

Next we tried the Queso Fundido with chorizo.  It’s the best cheese dip you’ve ever had over house made soft tortillas.

Last we had the Dan Dan Mian.  This was the star of the night for me.   It’s wheat noodles, with a spicy pork sauce and peanuts.    This reminded me a lot of the sauce on the ricotta ravioli at Range in DC.  It was amazing.    I loved the way the pork was mixed into the sauce.

All in all it was a fabulous meal.  We walked away full and it wasn’t that expensive in the realm of nice meals you can get.  I’d highly recommend it.

Oyamel

It’d be an understatement to say that José Andrés is a powerhouse here in the Washington, DC area.  He practically owns half of DC’s Chinatown neighborhood with Jaleo, Oyamel, Zaytinya, and minibar and he’s quickly expanding to other parts of the region with Jaleo in Arlington, VA.

In the new year, Lauren and I are looking to eat a little healthier and to incorporate more vegetables into our diet.   It’s actually surprisingly hard to find that in a restaurant.  It’s hard to find something that doesn’t incorporate sugar, cooked in butter, or smothered in cheese.  After exploring some menus, we decided upon going out to Oyamel last night.  They do an incredible job of featuring lots of vegetables and lean meats.

Oyamel showcases José Andrés’ take on various Mexican regional cuisines served in a whimsical fine dining atmosphere served on small plates meant to share.  This is definitely not your neighborhood Chipotle.  It takes your idea of what’s possible for Mexican food to an entirely new level.

Of course, when you sit down, you’re given the requisite chips & salsa.  Because the seasoning, the chips are incredibly addictive but don’t eat too many.  You don’t wanna spoil your appetite for what’s to come on the menu.   The salsa was very thick and had this incredible smoke to it.

Additionally, as your appetizer, you have to try the guacamole.   For $12, it’s definitely not cheap and I’m not sure that it’s that much better than what you can make at home but you have to try it.  The novelty comes in that your server will come to your table and serve it to you table side.   It’s slightly entertaining and adds to the enjoyment of the dish.

Now, it’s on to the small plates…

Lauren got a ceviche.  I don’t remember which she got and I didn’t take a photo.  I just tried a bit of it.  It was crisp & refreshing.  Oyamel has its own ceviche bar where it’s fish masters dish out the evening’s delight from the sea.

These were little tortillas filled with turkey confit.  Had a nice spice.  There was a nice textual component from the pecans on top.

The thought of brussel sprouts makes most children shudder.  Somewhere in my adult life I learned that brussel sprouts can be delicious.  They were crispy and perfectly caramelized to bring out the sweetness in the sprouts.  They tasted like vegetable candy.

This was the taco with beef tongue.  I know you’re like “beef tongue” ?!?  Honestly, I don’t know if I was blind folded and fed the taco if i’d be able to tell the difference between it and any other kind of beef.    It was texturely pretty similar.

The finale was the pork belly taco.   What shall we say about pork belly?   It melts in your mouth.  It’s one of my favorite cuts of meat on the pig.

All in all, we left the night happy and full.  It was a delicious meal.  It continues to be one of our favorite restaurants and I’m sure we’ll go back many more times.  I’d recommend everyone making a reservation.

Thank you José Andrés & team for taking us on the continuing Mexican adventure.