• 5 Not Unique But Delicious Costa Rican Snacks

    Delicious helado inthe streets of San Jose, Costa Rica

    Delicious helado inthe streets of San Jose, Costa Rica

    Costa Rican cuisine is very similar to other Spanish counterparts such as Cuban and Colombian. However, just like each country in the world has their own personal spin on life, this also holds true for the food!

    Yes, you may have experienced these delightful bites in another country, but no trip to Costa Rica is complete unless you check these off your food bucket list.

    1. Imperial Beer

    I am not much of beer drinking, however, Imperial Beer is where it was at for me. I loved drinking like a local and it really just hit the spot on humid days by the beach.

    Imperial Beer after a day at the Manuel Antonio Beach

    Imperial Beer after a day at the Manuel Antonio Beach

    2. Tropical Fruits

    Islands and places near the equator are famous for their fresh fruits and Costa Rica was no exception. From their blood oranges to star fruit, everything tasted so flavorful that it was great! But the standout fruit snack was their pineapple. Better than Hawaii or the Philippines, Costa Rica is where I have had THE BEST pinapples of my life. It’s also their main food export, so I’m sure that means something. Don’t believe me? Go there and try it or come at me bruh! ;P

    3. Casado

    A casado is a fairly all encompasing meal in Costa Rica. It has rice, black beans, plantains, salad, a tortilla, and an optional entrée that may include chicken, beef, pork, fish and so on and so forth. Get the picture? It’s their go to meal that you can mix and match to your heart’s desire. You can usually find these at small food outlets called sodas for a super cheap price, sometimes as low as $5 for a huge plate of food.

    Typical bistec casado

    Typical bistec casado

    4. Gallo Pinto

    Gallo pinto somewhat ties in to the casado except this is just a focus on rice and beans. I normally had more of this in the morning for breakfast versus the afternoon. If you aren’t down to eat a whole casado, sometimes just a portion of gallo pinto is all you need to get the tico (locals) experience.

    Examples of gallo pinto for breakfast along with some fresh fruit!

    Examples of gallo pinto for breakfast along with some fresh fruit!

    5. Plantains

    Last but ABSOLUTELY NOT least are plantains. They serve plantains with literally every meal. Breakfast.. lunch…dinner. Everything comes with plantains. You are meant to eat them as part of the main meal, however, I like to save the sweet flavor as dessert. Long story short, I ate them all the time, they were always delicious and I was part plantain by the time I left Costa Rica.

    TELL ME! Have you been to Costa Rica? What was your favorite food item or snack?

  • Chicago Must Eat

    In case you haven’t figured this out about me, I like to eat. I love eating when I am traveling and sometimes I even choose my next destinations based on what snack items I am dying to eat. The most recent food destination was Chicago. I’m going to cut straight to the point and tell you what you absolutely MUST EAT when in Chicago.

    Pizza – Chicago Style – Deep Dish

    Chicago Deep Dish

    Chicago Deep Dish

    I’m pretty sure I summed up everything important in that header. Eat pizza. Eat Chicago style pizza. Eat deep dish. When in Chicago just do it. You will not be disappointed. In case you don’t know what it is, it is the dough, then cheese and toppings, finished off with sauce. It is basically a pizza backwards and also  a staple of the city. Truly one piece can carry you throughout the day. There are many places that sell “the best deep dish in Chicago” and I definitely ate at a few of them, but my favorite was Giordano’s. They have a couple locations throughout the city so you can’t miss it.

    Hotdog – Chicago Style Dog

    Portillo's Chicago Hotdog and Chocolate Cake Shake

    Portillo’s Chicago Hotdog and Chocolate Cake Shake

    Again. Another obvious, but I shall reiterate. You must eat a Chicago style hotdog. It’s like a regular hotdog except it is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, relish, pickles, tomatos, pepper and celery salt. In short, it has everything on it except ketchup and it’s glorious! Commonly found at many fast food locations in Chicago, I found the best one to be from Portillo’s. An added bonus of Portillo’s is their chocolate cake shake. The perfect complement to a Chicago dog.

    Italian Beef

    Al's Italian Beef

    Al’s Italian Beef

    Chicago has another sandwich on a bun that’s a force to be reckoned with and that is the Italian Beef. The messy sandwich of thin slices of beef on an Italian roll, onions and either sweet or hot peppers that is all dripping with delicious meat juices. It’s a sloppy mess but you will literally eat it all up. This is probably my favorite savory item I discovered while in the Windy City. I am on the hunt for the perfect Italian Beef on the west coast.

    Donought Vault

    Doughnut Vault - Salted Bourbon Pecan

    Doughnut Vault – Salted Bourbon Pecan

    Located at the end of an empty street, Doughnut Vault is a tiny and I mean TINY doughnut shop that sells their sweet treats daily until their stock runs out. In other words, get there early! They have their staples like a vanilla glaze doughnut and doughnut holes, but they also have their seasonal flavors. When I visited the flavor of the day was a salted bourbon pecan doughnut and it tasted like a drunken Christmas in my mouth and I loved it.

    These four places in no way encompass all the snacks and meals that Chicago has to offer, but I am confident in saying that no vacation to Chicago would be complete unless you eat THESE foods. Let me know, have you been t Chicago and tried these places? Am I missing another must have?

     

  • Sotto Mare – San Francisco

    Sotto Mare 3

    In a city known for it’s seafood, Sotto Mare in San Francisco still manages to stand out. It’s been featured on food shows and travel shows and is labeled a must visit when in the San Francisco Bay Area. The restaurant is located on a small street near the Little Italy portion of the city. It doesn’t have a flashy store front, but you will smell the deliciousness as you approach and you will know you have found the right spot.

    In case you need the sign, this is what you are looking for!

    In case you need the sign, this is what you are looking for!

    The restaurant is small and cozy with plenty of cutesy decorations on their wall. There isn’t too much seating to speak of and I would bet my bottom dollar though that they are constantly full in the evening… Luckily, they were not too busy when I arrived in the middle of a Monday afternoon. Which was great because I was HUNGRY.

    Inside of Sotto Mare

    Inside of Sotto Mare

    They have a variety of shellfish on their menu such as oysters, clams and mussels. All brought in daily. The prices are reasonable so I opted to try their oysters and clams. Both were so fresh and were served with some excellent horseradish, Seems like a weird thing to focus on, but it was so good…and I don’t even normally like horseradish!

    Some of the clams and oysters at Sotto Mare

    Some of the clams and oysters at Sotto Mare

    Now the shellfish is delightful, but the real stars of their menu are their Italian influenced seafood dishes and none compares to their “best damn crab cioppino”. If you don’t know what cioppino is.. then my friends, you have not been living. Cioppino is a fish stew that is traditionally made with the fresh catch of the day. Luckily, in San Francisco that consists of shrimp, mussels, clams, squid, scallops and crab! Tons of crab. Then it is all stewed together in a hearty tomato soup and served with sourdough bread. In short, it is seafood heaven. The bowl is $40 but is good enough for two hungry people and maybe three if you are feeling generous. There were only two at our table and no left overs to be found.

    Sotto Mare 4

    Bowl of the best damn Crab Cioppino at Sotto Mare in San Francisco.

    In all the times I have visited San Francisco, this was my first time at Sotto Mare. I usually do not eat at the same places when I visit my favorite city by the bay since there are so many extraordinary establishments to try, but Sotto Mare may just become a regular spot for me when I am in the area. I mean, any place that serves that much seafood in a bowl deserves a new loyal customer. Wouldn’t you agree?

  • Arawan Thai Bistro

    Arawan Thai Bistro & Dessert

    Arawan Thai Bistro & Dessert

    Arawan Thai Bistro is a new restaurant that has opened up off the Las Vegas Strip. The ambiance is modern and has a very welcoming and friendly staff. However, the location is a little seedy but is next to other popular Thai restaurants such as the legendary Lotus of Siam and Komol. Tough location to be in, but their food delivers.

    Arawan 2

    Reasonably priced entrees that are sized enough to share with the table and a $10 lunch menu make this a top choice for anyone budget conscious but looking for a great meal. The lunch menu in my opinion is the way to go. It comes with egg drop soup and crispies, the main course and the daily dessert, all for $10. You really can’t beat that.

    Lunch menu at Arawan

    Lunch menu at Arawan

    Arawan 4

    Arawan 7

    Arawan 8

    The soup was delicious and the perfect size to start a meal with. I opted for the basil rib-eye and the medium heat choice was the right amount to make everyone at the table happy and the dessert of they day was a hazelnut tart, which was also delicious. Since we were a larger group we did order some additional items for the table. We shared the tempura calamari appetizer and the calamri had awesome texture and tasted pretty fresh and got a second dessert…. because everyone has a sweet tooth! We opted for their creme brulee instead of a traditional Thai dessert because the presentation for which was beautiful!). Don’t forget to wash it all down with their delicious Thai tea! (Also a favorite drink of mine in general).

    Arawan 5

    Arawan 6

    Arawan 9

    I definitely see myself becoming a regular at this establishment and I highly encourage any Las Vegas local, or tourist looking to leave the Strop to become one as well.

     

  • Is Sweet

    Is Sweet in Las Vegas

    Is Sweet in Las Vegas

    There is a new dessert and coffee shop in Las Vegas and it IS SWEET. (See what I did there?!) That’s what it’s called and that’s what it is! A locally owned business, the shop is located right outside of Las Vegas Chinatown. It’s open daily from 11:00am until midnight which means it a great choice for many Las Vegas locals o=who work way past the hours of a 9am – 5pm job.

    Is Sweet menu

    Is Sweet menu

    Is Sweet has a few basic selections of espressos and coffees and classic treats like coffee cakes and tiramisus on their menu. However, the highlights of their menu are their Asian inspired desserts such as a green tea crepe cake, honey toast and assortment of milk teas in flavors like Thai tea, matcha green tea and taro!

    Is Sweet vanilla crepe cake.

    Is Sweet vanilla crepe cake.

    I had the chance to try my friend’s crepe cake (she opted for the vanilla instead of the green tea flavor) and it was light and delicious. It was served with berries that complimented the dish well. I could easily eat two of them in one sitting. If you are looking for something light, this is for you. If you are like myself and have a huge sweet tooth and a tummy to match…. then you may want to order another option… like the HONEY TOAST.

    Is Sweet honey toast.

    Is Sweet honey toast.

    Honey Toast. There are not enough words to describe how simple yet amazing this dessert is. Normally, it is just sweet white toast in the shape of a brick and is traditionally topped with honey and vanilla ice cream. Straight forward. No fuss. Very straight forward but still a comforting dessert. Now… flash forward to Is Sweet and they allow you to make your honey toast as plain as you would like or as fancy! You can choose the toppings, syrups and ice creams that go on top! Each topping ranges from 50 cents to a dollar 50 each, but the beauty is in the control. You can create the honey toast of your dreams and you can also come back multiple times and never have the same thing twice! For my first visit I opted for almonds, honey, condensed milk and green tea ice cream. It was perfect!

    Is Sweet taro milk tea.

    Is Sweet taro milk tea.

    Finally, my drink selection. To be honest, I love milk tea. I love all flavors of milk tea. I tried their iced taro milk tea. It was very rich and sweet and to some it might have been too much, but to me, it was milk tea nirvana. It paired nicely with my honey toast and I would definitely get it again. If you have never had taro…. the purple can seem very strange at first but it is similar in flavor to cookies and cream…although it’s a yam. Odd. I know. But try it!

    Is Sweet! Look for the sign.

    Is Sweet! Look for the sign.

    Overall, Is Sweet was amazing and I hope they do so well! The presentation on all their items is so adorable and the environment is so relaxed and homey. I honestly have no complaints. They have a loyal customer with me and if you are in Vegas or ever in the area, be sure to check them out! How about you? Where is your favorite coffee shop located? Do any of these treats appeal to you? I would love to know!

  • Sage at Aria

    Sage Menu

    Sage at Aria is a contemporary American restaurant with a bit of French flair. Created by Chef Shawn McClain, Sage features fresh, farm to table produce and puts a new spin on what is considered comfort food or American Cuisine. As a Concierge, I have been fortunate enough to sample Sage during a work dine around, however, this was my first time having a full blown, dining experience and my opinion has done a 180 degree turn around. 

    Let’s begin at the bar. Their drink menu is phenomenal. It was a little difficult to choose. Do I want something with jalapeno? or maybe some ice tea ice cubes? How about a drink with liquid nitrogen? In the end, I chose the sweetest option. The Pink Cashmere $18, aka, a drink made with a huge pile of cotton candy!!

    Sage Pink Cashmere

    Sage Pink Cashmere

    Adorable presentation of the cotton candy that melts once the drink of cherry vodka, lime juice and cranberry juice is poured over it.Totally girly, totally me. My boyfriend opted for the Queen Bee $15. I know it too sounds girly but the mixture of gin, lemon juice and honey & habanero syrup leaves a manly kick. They also have a wide variety of craft beers from around the world, various wines and their signature Absinthes! If you just drink and dine at the bar, you would not be disappointed.

    Decor at Sage

    Decor at Sage

    For us though, it was onward to the main dining room. Let me take a minute and tell you about what Sage looks like. It’s gold and dark purple, with interesting painting on the wall. The light fixtures and plush seating is all meant to be reminiscent of a prohibition era speakeasy. Think Great Gatsby in Purple. Sounds nice right? It is. They do an excellent job seducing you into the restaurant and making you forget you are actually inside a hotel, yet it is not so stuffy you feel like you can’t let your hair down a tad.

    Now on to what is REALLY important (at least to me) in a restaurant. The food. They have a great selection, but some items spoke to me right away. We opted for the following appetizers: Kushi Oysters $21, Roasted Veal Sweetbreads $18 and the Spanish Grilled Octopus $22. Dear Lord, let me tell you!! Each of those were great.

    Kushi Oysters at Sage

    Kushi Oysters at Sage

    The oysters were served a sauce of tequila, pepper and tobasco that gave the right amount of kick I like.

    Veal Sweetbreads at Sage

    Veal Sweetbreads at Sage

    The sweetbreads were very interesting. Creamy yet meaty all at the same time. It paired well with the mushrooms and polenta it came with, definitely the more filling of the appetizers.

    Spanish Octopus at Sage

    Spanish Octopus at Sage

    But the octopus was the real star of the appetizers. t’s so fresh and cooked so well, it will leave a lasting impression on you. I think there is only one other octopus dished I’ve had that has come close, but I would have to go to San Diego for that. (Click here if you want to see what I’m talking about).

    For my main course, I knew I needed the Maine Day Boat Scallops $44 in my life.

    Maine Day Boat Scallops at Sage

    Maine Day Boat Scallops at Sage

    The plate comes with three massive oysters and oxtail. The plate was light, yet satisfying. The scallops were perfection. I do not believe I have ever had such a great scallop dish. If you go to Sage, get the scallops! I mean… after all… it is one of their signature dishes.

    After the appetizers and my main dish, I didn’t think I would have enough room for dessert, but my waiter sold me on the Foie Gras Candy Bar $20.

    Foie Gras Candy Bar at Sage

    Foie Gras Candy Bar at Sage

    It sounds a little… odd, I know. Served with salt & pepper peanut butter ice cream with a layer of foie gras, which is then covered in a milk chocolate shell and bourbon caramel sauce and popcorn. I don’t know about you, but that translates to heaven to me. It is so decadent and out of this world. It is literally a game changer in the dessert world for me. I usually like my foie more savory and I thought I wouldn’t like it served sweet, but to be honest, you can’t even taste it in the dessert. I think if anything it just enhances the creamy texture. I can’t express enough how much I love this dessert. I would go back and order three courses of this.

    I know that Sage is known for a constantly changing menu, but the selfish part in me is really hoping that they don’t change any of the listed items any time soon. 🙂 Now that my mouth is sufficiently watering, please excuse me while I go and book another reservation at Sage. Until next time!

     

     

     

     

  • Lago

    Lago at the Bellagio

    Lago at the Bellagio

    Lago, is one of the newest restaurants in Las Vegas by James Beard Award-winning Chef Julian Serrano and is located within the Bellagio. When given the chance to dine at Lago (and ultimately review it) who wouldn’t be thrilled?! Lago is an Italian restaurant with small plate options of meat and seafood, vegetarian, desserts and cocktails! Not only that, but it has arguably, one of the best views of the Bellagio Fountains.

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    Patio views from Lago at the Bellagio

    Since Lago by Julian Serrano is all small plates, each plate is meant to be about 3 or 4 bites and the recommendation is that every person at the table order about 4 plates of food. However, if you have a large appetite, I would suggest to order 5 – 6 plates. The menu at Lago is large and diverse. I would venture to say that there is something for everyone. During an opening preview had the opportunity to try about 80% of the menu with my party, so I will fill you in on some of my favorites.

    Crostini & Pizzette (Toasted Bread & Small Pizza)

    Lago at the Bellagio

    Lago at the Bellagio

    Left to right: ‘NDUJA | spicy pork sausage | gorgonzola $10, MARGHERITA | tomato sauce | house made mozzarella | basil $14, BRUSCHETTA AL POMODORO | tomatoes | basil | garlic oil $7. If you only pick one bread item, my favorite was the Nduja. It was everything. Very flavorful. The texture and taste is very satisfying.

    Pesce (Seafood)

    In general, seafood is not one of the main items I like to order at a tapas style restaurant. But if YOU like seafood, these two are my main recommendations.

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    Seafood at Lago

    BRANZINO LIVORNESE | capers | olives | tomatoes $16, which was excellent. The fish was light and the skin was just the right amount of crispy. I may put this second to Dover Sole (which is my favorite.)

    The bottom is a seafood platter sample of the following: *CIOPPINO |white fish and clams, *TONNO | ahi tuna,*CAPASANTA | scallop, and *SALMONE | Skuna Bay salmon. The best one would be the salmon! The capers are always a good pairing.

     GNOCCHI! 

    No other word for it. No need for it’s specific classification. Just look for gnocchi on their menu. To the left, GNOCCHI ALLA ROMANA | flat semolina gnocchi | blue cheese $14. The gnocchi alone is heavenly but if you order the dish to the right, 7 & 7 | potato gnocchi | lobster knuckles | salsa di crostacei $19 you will be able to leave the restaurant happy. I would come back just for those dishes..

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    Carne (Meat)

    Make sure you save room to try some of these meats! Left: POLPETTE DI CARNE | tomato braised beef meatballs $15            Top Right: SCALOPPINA DI VITELLO | veal piccata $20 Bottom Right: *BISTECCA | 1lb bone-in rib eye $50. I know the Bistecca seems a little pricey, but it can be shared easily with at least 3 – 4 people. More reason to order it, right?

    PhotoGrid_1429073784680Desserts!!

    Just like the gnocchi, the desserts need no introduction. EVERY SINGLE ONE of them were beyond amazing. As great as other dishes were, the desserts were still the best part in my opinion. 
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    The canolis (bottom left) and the gelato mousse (bottom left) were two of my absolute favorites. The tiramisu (upper left) is a classic and is above and beyond the level of average. Lastly, the chocolate hazelnut dome (upper left) is any nuttella addict’s dream come true. Don’t judge me, but yes, I ate them all.


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    All in all, Lago is a spectacular edition to the Bellagio. An addition that they needed, if I’m being honest. When you are done enjoying the food of Julian Serrano, be sure to step out to the patio and catch some of the Bellagio Fountain show. It’s a view that is hard to come by, so enjoy it!

    I hope you enjoyed my review of Lago at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Leave a comment and let me know if you’e been to Lago and how you felt about it. Have a fabulous day!

  • Five Foods in Rosarito

    Baja Mexico, or Mexico in general is known for some excellent food. To be honest, Mexican food is one of my favorite cuisines! Needless to say, I was ready to devour everything in sight! The food in Rosarito was delightful and exactly what I thought it would be. Although you can’t go wrong with popular Mexican dishes, here are my 5 food recommendations for you when in Baja or Rosarito.

    1. Seafood
    Oysters, Stone Crab, Lobster & Beer

    Oysters, Stone Crab, Lobster & Beer

    Since Baja is right on the coast, they have access to some fresh and CHEAP seafood. I’m talking oysters, crabs and their signature Lobsters!! In the picture above, all of that along with 6 delicious Sol beers costs only $60. That is chump change compared to what it would cost in Las Vegas. My biggest mistake while in Rosarito was that I only ate at this restaurant, Vince’s, only one time. If I ever find my way back to Rosarito, I will live in this restaurant.

    2. Eat Deer not Tacos
    Beautiful restaurant and Venison Machaca

    Beautiful restaurant and Venison Machaca

    Ok, I mean you don’t have to avoid tacos…because the tacos are indeed delicious. BUT! Save room for Venison Machaca. It’s shredded deer meat slow cooked with chili and onions and it is amazing. It can actually be used to fill tortillas… so it’s basically a taco! There you go. Two birds with one stone. The best place for this treat is at El Nido. Do note, that they have a sister property just down the street called Los Pelicanos. Don’t go there. Sister properties don’t mean equals. Go to El Nido.

    3. Pineapple Beach Side Snack
    Pinas frutas

    Pinas frutas

    Rosarito Beach is swimming with beach vendors armed with a variety of snacks. I’m talking churros, corn, tamales, ice cream and chips, coconuts and the item of feature… Pinas Frutas or pineapple fruits. A hollowed out pineapple filled with mangos, cucumber, pineapples and watermelon. The added entertainment is they make it fresh in front of you! All for the low LOW cost of $8!! Can’t beat that. There is also a cocoloko which is a hollowed out coconut with cucumber but that is a more savory item since it has chili peanuts and pork. Weird right? It wasn’t for me, so I just stick to the fruits.

    4. Drink Wine

    RosaritoWine

    Just outside of Rosarito is Valle de Guadalupe. Baja’s wine country. Now, I didn’t travel out to that area but there was a wine tasting room just 10 minutes away from my hotel. I had the opportunity to taste 4 local wines for only $5!! You can get wine wasted at a tasting and definitely stay under $20 if you wanted to. The wine above is from a local wine company called L.A Cetto. It’s a sweet white and I could drink the whole bottle in one seating. If you can’t find this exact wine, just drink wine in general. It’s cheap, it’s local and it’s a nice break from beer. 😉

    5. Sweet Empanadas
    Dolce de leche Empanada Cookies

    Dolce de leche Empanada Cookies

    If you follow my blog, you will know that I am obsessed with Porto’s Dolce De Leche Kisses !! Don’t know what those are? You better click that link and find out! But that is besides the point. This sweet empanadas are just like them, except a little bit lighter. I was so stocked to find these in a local bakery. Normally, a box of cookies from Portos costs about $5 but these sweet empanadas can be bought for about $2.50. Again, another food win. These are what I decided to bring back over the border with me as a reminder of my food travels in Baja Mexico. I would go back just for these… Maybe I will!

  • Sweets Raku

    Stella at Sweets Raku

    Stella at Sweets Raku

    In case you didn’t know this about me, I’m a big desserts person. Given the fact that Sweets Raku is an establishment geared towards desserts, I knew I had to check it out. It did take me some time but eventually I decided my birthday was a good enough excuse to give it a whirl.

    Jack in the Cup at Sweets Raku

    Jack in the Cup at Sweets Raku

    Located west of Las Vegas Blvd. near the Chinatown area, the restaurant is designed for you to try a three course dessert tasting menu. (It’s only $19!). Two courses are already pre-selected by the chef and you are able to choose an individual dessert from their menu of five options (which changes seasonally). Everything is then prepared in front of you, which is also wildly entertaining.

    To begin the epic dessert adventure of Sweets Raku, they have you eat the menu. That’s right. It’s edible. Pretty cool right? Talk about a no waste system.

    Edible menu at Sweets Raku

    Edible menu at Sweets Raku

    After the menu, the real first course is usually a light option, like a seasonal sorbet. Something that helps cleanse and prepare the palate for the awesomeness that is about to ensue.

    First course - Mango sorbet and mint jelly

    First course – Mango sorbet and mint jelly

    The second course would be the item of your choosing. My friends opted for the Jack in the Cup (similar to a mug brownie but about 30 times better) and the Stella. I chose the Mt. Fuji. A chestnut/hazelnut flavored cream dessert. It looks like a pasta ball but tastes like heaven. They even customized it for my birthday! Nice little touch, if I do say so myself.

    Mt. Fuji - Happy Birthday Style

    Mt. Fuji – Happy Birthday Style

    (*The fantastic thing about all their desserts is that none were too overwhelmingly sweet. Since it’s not too decadent, it makes it easy to go through the three courses). Finally, the last course was a fresh made cream puff filled with your choice of vanilla or chocolate cream and your choice of berry jam.

    Third course - Cream Puff

    Third course – Cream Puff

    If spectacular desserts isn’t enough reason for you to visit this adorable place, just know it also has a few savory dishes (like foie gras!!) on the menu. In addition to savory, they also have some libations to choose from. Sweets Raku has an impressive wall of teas to choose from and a fairly wide selection of wines.

    Tea wall at Sweets Raku

    Tea wall at Sweets Raku

    Be aware that the restaurant does not take reservations, so on busier evenings there may be a long wait or it may be difficult with a large party. However, bonus points to Sweets Raku for also being open until 12:00am on most nights.

    If you’re really into hole in the wall spots, and looking for a break from the price point and fuss of Las Vegas Blvd… consider venturing out to Sweets Raku.

    Wine selection at Sweets Raku

    Wine selection at Sweets Raku

  • Bardot Brasserie Brunch

    Bardot EntranceBardot Brasserie is the newest edition to the restaurant line up at ARIA Resort & Casino. A French/Parisian concept by Chef Michael Mina, Bardot Brasserie pays homage to the brasserie culture of Paris in the 1920s.The restaurant in itself is beautiful. The dark woods and brass features work very well together and stand out within the ARIA Resort & Casino. The restaurant gives off a very elegant yet inviting vibe that immediately captivates you.

    Bardot Side Entrance

    I’ve had the opportunity to dine at Bardot for dinner when they first opened and now I have been invited again to try their brunch. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am – 2:30pm. Given that I usually work weekends, this was a nice treat for myself. 🙂

    As soon as you walk into the restaurant during brunch hours you are greeted with a beautiful bread display. Nothing gets you more mentally prepared for a French experience than seeing roses and a variety of breads in a beautiful foyer. Just looking at the display made me simultaneously feel very classy and make my mouth water. An impressive accomplishment for only being in a restaurant for 2 minutes.

    Bread display at Bardot Brasserie

    Bread display at Bardot Brasserie

    The menu has a fairly wide selection of items to choose, regardless if you are in the mood for savory or sweet. There is something for every palate. Fortunately, I was dining with a group of people so we were able to order many items from the menu and share. For our appetizers we had: TARTE FLAMBÉE $14: caramelized onions, cave aged gruyère, bacon lardons, PRIME STEAK TARTARE $25: sauce verte, organic egg, gaufrette potatoes, FOIE GRAS PARFAIT $15: ruby port gelée, grilled country bread, ESCARGOTS BARDOT $17: warm hazelnuts, chartreuse butter, puff pastry, and FRENCH TOAST $12 brioche french toast, vanilla mascarpone, candy almond, orgeat syrup.

    My favorite appetizers were the Steak Tartare and the escargot. Both were so delicious I could eat them as a meal in themselves. The steak tartare had excellent flavor that was complimented by the choice of chips served with the dish. The escargot, served in a pastry puff were bite sized snacks that aimed to please both those familiar with escargot as well as the new comers to the dish.

    Bardot Escargot Bardot Beef TartareOur main courses for brunch was also a decent sample of the menu. We had a chance to try the following: LE STEAKBURGER $19: prime rib patty, comté cheese, garlic aïoli, watercress, bordelaise onions & hand-cut fries, BARDOT STEAK FRITES $32: 8oz flat iron, au poivre, french fries, CROQUE MADAME $18: pain de mie, paris ham, gruyère fondue, organic egg, MAINE LOBSTER CROISSANT BENEDICT $29.

    I would have to say that my favorite of the brunch items I tried had to be the Maine Lobster Croissant Benedict. It had the right amount of lobster and the serving size was just right. I think if it was any larger, it would have been too much. The quality of the plate was excellent and it’s definitely something I would go back for. Well worth the cost!

    Bardot Eggs Benedict

    However, my favorite item from Bardot, hands down, brunch or dinner, day or night, has to be their Chocolate Macaron. Served table side with a chocolate sauce, this macaron is the size of a soft ball and is unbelievably rich and decadent. It can easily be shared with a party of 2 or more and everyone at the table will feel like they have eaten their share of calories for a week. (But it is worth it!) If you go to Bardot for nothing else but this macaron, I would never fault you.

    Bardot Macaron

    If you are going to splurge on a fancy weekend brunch in Las Vegas, might as well be a French experience. Especially a French restaurant by Michael Mina. This will not be my last meal at Bardot Brasserie.