Monday, March 03, 2008

Venetian Casino and Hotel
Las Vegas, NV
Nearing the end of a madcap trip to Vegas, I had desperately wanted to try Bouchon - so we dragged ourselves awake early enough (does 11am constitute as early in Vegas? It does in my book...evil that they make you check out at 11am!) and headed over to the Venetian to join Brad and Patty for brunch. This place really feels like a classic bistro. I didn't feel like I was unwelcome, unlike some higher end places on the strip, where I had to dress to the nines. This was all about the food.

I ordered a glass of orange juice to start. I think it was freshly squeezed. Yum.
Patty and Owen got mimosas - no better way to start your day than with a spritz of orange juice and alcohol! How pretty is this glass??
Our waiter set down this cute little jam and butter pots. Not that I knew exactly what those little wax paper covered pots were initially, but we removed the paper to reveal...
SOFT, FRESH BUTTER. No hard butter here - it was almost like they had a churn in the kitchen. I'm sure they don't but...maybe? The strawberry jam, by the way, was excellent - really fresh tasting, not too overpowering sweet like most jams I've had. We used these with...
A fresh epi roll, brought to our table with a kitchen towel. Ahhh!! This bread was great. Soft middle, crunchy hard crust, super fresh. Nothing more I can ask from a bread roll!
Bouchon has so many little details to it - even the sugar packets are Bouchon labelled.
We ordered some Sourdough waffles with banana walnut topping for the table, to share. These were some amazing waffles. Great crunch on the edges, good give and texture in the middle, great taste. What made this dish were the bananas ad walnuts all over it. They coated them in...something...honey...deliciousness...crack, I don't know, but it was damn good.
Most of the table (the boys) ordered the Bistro Burger - Kobe beef topped with bacon bits and cheese, topped with 2 onion rigs, sliced tomatoes and bibb lettuce, all on an amazing bun. AND it comes with the famous frites that everyone keeps talking about - a huge amount of them. Owen and I split this and my dish, so I got a nice taste of everything. This burger was definitely one of my top 5 burgers. The meat was just so great...the texture of the fried onion went well with all the other toppings...and the fries..what else can I say about the fries that Anthony Bourdain hasn't - they're great. Just...great. Patty got a perfect brunch dish - the Croque Madame, which incidentally also came with a bunch of fries. The ham and cheese sandwich, covered in bechamel sauce, and a sunny side up egg - uh, how can this dish not suck?? And this is random, but isn't there something so satisfying about popping the yolk and letting the insides run all over your sandwich? Patty really liked this dish, in any case.
When the waiter was taking our orders, he was saying that this special was running low - that there was only 1 dish left of it. How could I resist? Of course I placed the order for it. It was a scallop au gratin, with 4 big scallops, buttery creamy au gratin laden with spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms, all super fresh and not a bit overcooked. This was a super rich dish, I was glad I was sharing with Owen, and we didn't even finish it. It was sooo good though.

Service was excellent, ambiance was great, we had a great time! Nothing to complain about.
Afterwards, we went to the Bouchon Bakery to pick up a few goodies for the road. I got 2 macarons - one orange and one raspberry. The raspberry one was my favorite - you know that feeling when you bite into a macaron?! Yeah. It's great. The flavor in the raspberry was like biting into a raspberry you just picked off of a raspberry bush...plant...wherever raspberries come from. The chewy inside was key. The orange one was ok - a bit too tart and not the flavor I was expecting - but the texture won me over. Next time you head to Vegas, this is a must try for anyone who likes FOOD. I guess that's most people...I would think!
Tokyo 7-7
3839 Main St Ste B
Culver City, CA

I confess, I have a soft spot in my heart for diners. Where did this nostalgia come from? It's not like my childhood memories are filled with trips to real 50's diners like a Mel's Drive in, or anything. The closest thing I got to a diner experience is in high school, and even then they weren't PLEASANT memories.

The only place that was open in the whole San Jose area past 10pm was Carrow's, or as we called it, "The Row's". The place was pretty dodgy, as was the food. Pretty much, only trust anything fried there, as the flying process kills off germs - my friend's husband to be found out this rule out the hard way, as he ate a T-Bone steak and eggs meal there, and got a severe case of food poisoning. Oh, the 'Row's. Fond, fond memories.

I digress. Tokyo 77 is the diner I never got in my formidable years. The very definition of "greasy spoon", this place is run by 3 kindly older Japanese ladies, who do everything from take your order to wipe the table down after you leave. I admit, I've waited awhile after placing my order, is there only one person back there preparing everything? Also, there's times when they've run out of items, like they ran out of rice. They're not going to make more for the day (they close EARLY!) so you're SOL. Anyways, here's what we got the first time we went there:

There's 2 sizes of orange juice, this is the "large" one. It's definitely reminicent of Japan sizing, but without the Japanese price! I think there's only like 15 cents difference from the regular and large, so always opt for the large. By the way, when I mean 15 cents different, I think the samll is like 99 cents and the large is 1.15. These are REAL diner prices.
Miso soup comes with the Tokyo 77 Special - I don't think it's out of this world miso but miso is pretty good either way.
Owen got his usual - The "French Toast Sandwich" plate. 4 french toast halves (= 2 pieces of bread for those who are counting), an egg (over easy, Owen's favorite style) and 2 pieces of bacon round out this extremely cheap order. He devours this in seconds, but it's the perfect combo for him - savory and sweet.
I ordered a side of fries with our meal - how can I resist for like 1 dollar? This goes so well with... order, which was the Hawaiian Royale. A flat type omelet, almost a frittata but not as crispy, stuffed with Portuguese sausage, char siu, onions, green onions, and mushrooms. This was served over rice. It was a good mix of flavors - savory, a bit sweet with the bites of char siu, all bound together by egg, over a bed of white rice. It's tasty, if not the most filling thing you've ever had.
This is the only thing Scott's ever ordered: The Tokyo 77 Special. 5 thick slices of char siu, tamagoyagi (rolled egg omelet thing), rice and sunomo? For the life if me I can't spell it. It's basically pickled cucumber - kinda tastes like tears. He loves this, and every time, he completely clears the plate.

I'm not saying this place is the BEST for food, but it IS the best for prices and what you get for the money. And isn't that what diners are supposed to be? Do yourself a favor and head out to this place, just to soak up the ambiance of an old fashioned diner. Be warned, Cash only.