A recent visit

Coming from Vegas, we tend to go for the things we can’t get out here in the desert.

First stop, just up the street from our AirBnb: Fish Grill. We each had the grilled seabass with Med salad – the fish was good quality, but a small portion, and incompetently grilled – the parts that made contact with the grill were all falling apart and torn off from the main pieces of fish. Normally we’re pretty happy with that type of place (simple fresh grilled fish), and really enjoy places like California Fish Grill in the OC, or Pier 76 in Long Beach, but this place didn’t cut it – we wouldn’t return. I guess we’ll try Connie & Ted’s next time. Then off to Mashti Malone for orange blossom ice cream – very flavorful as always. We might have to bring some back with dry ice on the next trip.

Later that night, we had dinner at L’Assiette – their signature steak frites. It was pretty good, but GF liked it better than I did. I found the texture of the sous-vide steak a bit offputting, although the flavor was fine (others have mentioned this issue). The frites were quite good, with a true potatoe-y flavor, but they weren’t noticeably superior to well-executed twice-fried Belgian-style frites – I’m not sure it was worth their 24-hour, 8-step process. The sauce was very tasty though, and getting a divided serving of the steak and frites was a nice touch – as was the little gravy boat with the requested extra sauce. Sorrel soup was good also.

Next morning was a breakfast and pastry quest (for me anyway – SO is not a morning person). Having heard such raves about the Cofax breakfast burrito, I tried one – it was very tasty with good balance and a good combination of flavors. I had the chorizo version, as that’s the only one that includes the smoked potatoes from Bludso’s – I did add bacon though. As for the raves about the green salsa, well, it was plain old green salsa to me. More on the burrito later. Since I was there anyway, I thought I’d try one of Nicole Rucker’s donuts, as someone on FTC said they’re the best in town. Not in my view. I tried the honey sea salt donut, and it was certainly salty (salty pastries are her thing apparently), but as donuts go, it really wasn’t that good. Having previously enjoyed her Mexican Lime and Chocolate Chess pies at Bludso’s, I guess I had high expectations. Some of her donuts (bacon, and a cornflake thing) were pretty, though.

Since I was nearby anyway, I stopped off at Bob’s Donuts in the Farmer’s Market for a plain glazed, just as a donut reality check. Sorry Nicole R., but that’s what a raised donut is supposed to be like – light and airy, not a bready puck. In all fairness though, the Bob’s donut had a slight fried-at-the-carnival taste (old oil?), where Nicole’s offering had a cleaner flavor. Something to be said for quality ingredients.

I then hit Sycamore Kitchen to try a Buttercup, their said-to-be better version of a Dominique Kouign Amann. Sorry sir, only on weekends. So I got one of those salted caramel babkas, a tiny browned butter date cake, and a nice flourless brownie. Meanwhile, SO arose and tried some of the things I brought back from breakfast, although (apart from ice cream) she’s not that into sweets. She also liked the breakfast burrito, but neither of us were impressed with the smoked potatoes in the burrito – they tasted like plain old potatoes to us. If you want good smoked potatoes, try the smoked peewee potato side at Maple Block, with crème fraiche, chives, and espelette. The Sycamore pastries were all very good – the babke was excellent, and SO loved the flourless brownie.

Early dinner at Taix – SO started with the moules, I had the French onion soup, and we each had the braised oxtail special. Moules were excellent, and the FOS was a flavorful classic version that wasn’t too salty as it so often is. The oxtails were pretty tasty, but we wouldn’t order them again. Too much work to get to the meat – it reminded me of picking blue crab. We do love the old-school ambiance of that place though, although we got a funny look from the waiter when we ordered the oxtails – maybe he was trying to tell us something. We usually like pretty much everything we order there.

More ice cream, this time at Carmela. SO had dark chocolate w/cacao nibs; salted caramel for me. It was OK, but their ice cream is far too soft – it almost seemed like something was wrong with their freezer. Maybe some people like it that way, but not us. Also, $5.50 for a single scoop seemed a bit high. We parked across the street at the Gilmore parking, but Carmela didn’t validate. No problem – I just walked over to Trader Joe’s in the same lot, and bought something there to get validated.

Next morning, breakfast at Sycamore Kitchen (eggs benedict and home fries – both good) while SO slept in, then off to Dominique Ansel to pick up their famous DKA. It was good, but somewhat glue-y in the middle. Neither of us thought it was as good as Bouchon’s version.

Off for a mid-afternoon lunch at Hop Woo in WLA, for their Cantonese-Style Steak Filet, which looked exactly as it did in the photo that J_L posted on the DOTM steak thread last month. Not worth the drive, however. Yes, it was tender, but in a rubbery, tenderized, cheap-meat sort of way. As ipse mentioned, you’re not getting filet at those prices, but it was still disappointing.

Since I didn’t eat that much of the Chinese steak, I had an early dinner of goulash at Wirtshaus. I don’t care for spaetzle, and they were kind enough to substitute their fried potatoes with onions. Lots of nice onions, but the goulash itself seemed cooked to death; although the meat was tender, the whole dish seemed dried out, oversalted, and not flavorful.

On the way back I picked up some brisket at Bludso’s for a later meal. Fall-apart tender, but so salty as to be almost inedible. Just Maple Block for brisket from here on in.

Winding up on a more positive note, the morning we left, I picked up breakfast-to-go at Sycamore Kitchen and brought it back to the AirBnB. Another flourless brownie and some excellent breakfast potatoes for SO, and a good chorizo-egg sandwich for me. Finally, on the way out of town, our usual Langer’s curbside pickup of a pound of pastrami and a loaf of rye for the next day at home. Being mid-day, mid-week, it was a pleasant return drive home without the usual weekend traffic.

It was nice staying in the neighborhood near many of the restaurants we went to, and thus avoiding a lot of driving around.

A note on ice cream: I read one of the comprehensive FTC threads on LA ice cream, but opinions on favorites were quite varied. As noted above, Carmela was disappointing to us. I stopped in at Cremerie (Republique’s ice cream shop on La Brea), and tried a sample, and was less than impressed. Good fresh flavor (tangerine), but once again, way too soft. Is this an LA thing? Looking at Salt & Straw’s strange flavors online, we decided to pass, and instead picked up a pint of McConnell’s salted caramel at the grocery store, which turned out to be the best ice cream of the trip (next to Mashti Malone’s orange blossom, anyway). Maybe we’ll try Sweet Rose next time.

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Tbh many of foods you tried are fairly obtainable in Vegas. Bistros are better in Vegas specifically Bardot. I lived in Summerlin for about two years.

CoFax: strawberry crunch donut and smoked sausage burrito, but since Sidecar is frying donuts every hour and have significantly upped their consistency, Sidecar is king for donuts now a days. Also, Stan’s “Huell” donut still is one of the best donuts in the city.

Ice cream, no place in Vegas will have pistachio gelato like Bulgarini. Also, the hazelnut is quite good as well.

Next time hit up Gjusta. FTC will provide a list of approved items to order.:joy: Or Little Jewel for french fry poboy poutine style.

Thanks for the report. I wish we had a Flock and Fowl here in LA. :sob:

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Tell me more – I’d never heard of the place, or of Hainanese Chicken Rice. I assume I want the signature dish, #1? Or the Indo Fried Rice, or all of the above?

Yeah, Gjusta looks good, but our main aim was, once in LA, to drive as little as possible. I’ve found myself worn out on previous trips from all the local driving. That said, I’m sure we’ll hit it sometime – maybe when we’re staying in/near Venice. ISTR the meatball sandwich was especially good? How are the breads?

And yes, I did note that most everyone loves Bulgarini gelato, but 20 miles is a bit far to travel for dessert. :o)

This is the judgment of a person who has never tried Bulgarini’s gelato :wink:
One bite of his pistachio and those 20 miles will suddenly seem verrrry close.

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Yes, the poached chicken rice. The newer iteration in Downtown LV has nicer digs, but a higher price tag. The more modest location on Sahara was a bit less pricey, less ambience, but heck it is chicken rice.

I go to Flock and Fowl every visit now, they do it so well. Here is my latest visit to the Downtown location which is very nice and convenient hours. I got the poached chicken rice and some foie gras dish. The chicken rice always has me going back. I simply dump a bunch of the ginger sauce all over the rice and eat the chicken and rice all in one bite, sometimes adding a dip of chili sauce to change up the flavor. I usually get a cup of broth on the side for more chicken goodness. The Downtown location forces you to get two sides. But IMO, the chicken rice is best enjoyed as a stand-alone dish without the accompanying sides.

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I agree there are many bistros in Las Vegas, and most of them probably serve steak frites. We were after a more specific thing – the “le relais de l’entrecote” style with the sauce, served in two portions, etc, and also had read raves about the frites themselves being exceptional at L’Assiette.

As for “many of the foods you tried are fairly obtainable in Vegas”, please elaborate. Are you talking about pastries? Because apart from Bouchon which I mentioned, (and perhaps a French patisserie on the Strip), I haven’t seen any pastries in the area that match up to those I got at Sycamore Kitchen. You certainly couldn’t be talking about BBQ or German food (not that Wirsthaus was great or anything, but it’s probably no worse than Hofbrauhaus). And as incompetently prepared as the fish was at Fish Grill, I’d kill for a place like that here. The only places I know of to get good fresh fish in Vegas are on the Strip, and pretty high-end. I don’t even know of a place to buy good fresh fish here to cook at home.

I consider Vegas to be sorely lacking in reasonably priced, independently-owned places. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Lotus of Siam is a notable exception – there may be a couple of others.

The breads at Gjusta are best in the city for me.

My go to items are:

Prime rib butcher (extra horseradish) - must order
Porchetta butcher
Smoked fish plate (smoked salmon, trout, salmon belly) - must order, the accompaniments are as good as the actual fish, love their pumpernickel bread or any bread they have for that matter
Loaded smoked salmon belly on rye bialy
Pastrami rueben
Romanesco antipasto
Carrot cake (only dessert that is consistently excellent, only pastries are a crap shoot)
Chicken parm
Cucumber, avocado, pistachio salad
Falafel sandwich
Chilli hummus (like crack) - must order or take home with you

Also, ask @Chowseeker1999 @PorkyBelly @Haeldaur @Bigmouth et al what else they recommend.

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  • Italian sub
  • Any iteration of their breakfast sandwiches.
  • Soups
  • Steak and eggs
  • Porchetta melt
  • flatbreads/pizzas (request reheat)

Check the daily specials board (smaller board hanging behind the cash register close to the beverage bar).

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If you’re staying in an AirBnB, you just bring a cooler and get the larger size of pistachio to-go. Then you have an entire week of dessert and maybe the 20 miles will be worth it. :slight_smile: I do like the hazelnut, as well, but it’s so rich that I only need 1-2 bites. Having had McConnell’s from my local supermarket, though, the taste and convenience factor may beat out everything else. If you go to Sweet Rose, I recommend the corn (if it’s in season) and the mint chocolate chip. I refuse to eat any other mint chocolate chip now.

I can’t eat anything else but the Italian sandwich at Gjusta. It’s not that the other stuff isn’t good. It’s just that the Italian sandwich is AMAZING.

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Yeah, it’s pretty hard to pick a favorite. The porchetta melt, chicken parm, and prime rib butcher are all outstanding. But if I could only order one item, it would be that Italian sandwich. It haunts me – in the best way possible.

Also, whatever salads/veggies look beautiful and vibrant are usually a good bet. The carrots and the okra are two particular favorites.

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If they ever bring back their incredible fried chicken that would be number one on my list. Besides that get the bialy sandwich, baked egg, prime rib with extra horseradish, meatball, and the fucking carrot cake.

I love how this drifted into a gjusta thread.

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Hi @CeleryVictor,

Hope you make it to Gjusta. If so, please make sure you mention you’re part of the FTC Gjusta Club. :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

@bulavinaka @A5KOBE @PorkyBelly @Bigmouth @paranoidgarliclover’s recommendations are all great. Here are more pics from our FTC thread if you need more help deciding: :slight_smile:

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I’m sure I will eventually, even though I’m not that big of a sandwich fan. That meatball looks excellent, as does the bialy sandwich, baked egg, and carrot cake. (Sorry, not a prime rib fan.) This looks like the kind of place where everything is great.

But not the pastries. :wink: Or, at least, not the croissant. I think other posters haven’t had great experiences w/ the pastries, either.

BTW, awesome eating while you were in-town. Thanks for the report. I’ve still been too lazy to order a Rucker’s pie…

Hi @CeleryVictor -

Thanks for sharing your tasty trip.

I live in the ‘hood where you stayed. If you come again and are looking for a good donut try SK’s on 3rd & Cochran. It looks like your basic mini-mall donut shop, but they’re putting out some tasty offerings. I haven’t had a Cronut from Dominique Ansel, but SK’s is yummy and no long line.

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During Strawberry Season
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I finally went to Bulgarini :heart_eyes:. But for ice cream I’m with you and also prefer McConnell’s & Mashti’s to the new kids in town. McConnell’s has a stand at Grand Central Market btw.

Happy Eating and Travelling!

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That’s hilarious. I rave so much about Bulgarini that my family was surprised to find - when we went - that it was my first time.

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If you like smoked or cured seafood, they put together a nice plate.

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Gjusta

Me neither but their sandwiches are the bomb!

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I keep begging them to bring back, at least for Winter, the wonderful split pea with ham hock soup they had a year or so ago.