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Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

  1. Capo’s Restaurant & Speakeasy – Las Vegas

    January 22, 2015 by admin

    It’s definitely not fair to review a restaurant a year and a half after you had dinner there, when your memory of the experience is dimmer than the lights at dinner, but I’m creating a travel page on Las Vegas, and I want to include Capo’s.  Though the restaurant is definitely overpriced, it offers such a cool Las Vegas experience, that I can fully recommend it.

    Capo’s is a prohibition era Mafia theme restaurant. It plays the part of a speakeasy, and the coolness starts from the moment you make your way inside. I won’t spoil the surprise, but it works best if you get yourself in the mood: it’s prohibition era and you are trying to gain admission to a speakeasy, where they may be a bit weary of you.

    The restaurant itself is both sumptuous and very dark – it plays very well with the Mafia scene and it’s easy to believe you are in another era.  The food, as I remembered it, was good, though not outstanding.  I remember service being very, very slow – which I didn’t mind as much, because I loved the atmosphere, but it can be hard with hungry kids.  They have live music later in the evening, and I wished I’d been there for more than a song or two – but my kids were tired.

    As I mentioned, prices are high but they have groupons and other discounts, worth hunting for (e.g. they currently have a Travelzoo deal of lunch for 2 for $19).

    Capo’s Restaurant & Speakeasy
    5675 W Sahara Ave.
    Las Vegas, NV
    (702) 436-2276
    http://www.caposrestaurant.com/

    Marga’s Las Vegas

    Marga’s Restaurant Reviews


  2. Review: The Cheesecake Factory at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas

    January 22, 2015 by admin

    I am putting together a Las Vegas with Kids webpage, containing all my reviews for Las Vegas.  Some of those reviews never made it to my blog, so I’m adding them now. 

    You can get great food on the Las Vegas strip, and you can get cheap food at the myriad of food courts, but finding tasty, affordable food is very hard.  That’s probably why the Cheesecake Factory has actually become one of our favorite places to eat in Las Vegas.  The food is tasty, the portions are generous and the prices are reasonable.  Plus they have cheesecake! We now make it a point of shopping at the forum shops, watching the Fall of Atlantis show and then having dinner at the Cheesecake Factory every year.

    I’ve been quite happy with pretty much everything I’ve eaten there.  Last visit I had their Pasta Da Vinci ($17), penne in a Madeira sauce with chicken, mushrooms and onions.  It was as good as it sounds.  Another year I had their spaghetti & meatballs ($15) and it was as good as you can expect.  They no longer seem to carry the Monterey burger ($12) I had another year. It came with cheese, onions, arugula and avocado. It was cooked to order medium rare, but it was drier than I would have liked it.  Still, the accompanying sweet potato fries were phenomenal.

    The Cheesecake Factory has a well-priced children’s menu. Last time, my youngest daughter enjoyed the pasta with marinara sauce.  In a previous visit, my oldest had the pasta alfredo ($7) but was disappointed by the lack of flavor.  My youngest had the kids cheese pizza ($6), which was the size of a regular dinner plate – basically, adult size. The pizza tasted like an Italian pizza margherita rather than your typical American cheese pizza, so she didn’t like it. I, however, did.

    Portions at the Cheesecake Factory are usually large, so we get to enjoy leftovers when we stay at hotels with kitchenettes.

    Of course, one of the main reasons to go to the Cheesecake Factory is the cheesecake.  Slices are large enough to share and $8-$9.   I prefer the plain cheesecake, but the Dulde de Leche cheesecake we had once was pretty good.  The Adam’s Peanut Butter fudge cheesecake, however, was too sweet.  My youngest had the kids hot fudge sundae once ($2!). It was a large enough portion that she couldn’t finish it.

    There is usually a long wait when we go to have dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, but you can pass the time shopping or watching the show.  Service has been mixed.  The first time we went, we barely saw our waiter.  The second, service was great, even though we were in the second floor.

    The Cheesecake Factory
    Caesars Palace Forum Shops
    3500 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
    Las Vegas, NV
    702-792-6888
    http://www.thecheesecakefactory.com/

    Marga’s Las Vegas

    Marga’s Restaurant Reviews

    Marga’s Chain Restaurant Reviews


  3. Review: Magnolia’s Veranda at the Four Queens Hotel & Casino

    January 22, 2015 by admin

    I am putting together a Las Vegas with Kids webpage, containing all my reviews for Las Vegas.  Some of those reviews never made it to my blog, so I’m adding them now.  This one is rather old, from July 2012.

    We stopped for dinner at Magnolia’s Veranda after checking out the Fremont Street Experience and we were pretty happy with the food. Both of my girls ordered pancakes for dinner and they were pretty good, in particular the blueberry pancakes. They are huge, the size of a regular dinner plate, so of course none of them could finish their portion (I had anticipated this, so I dined on their leftovers).

    My husband had the ribeye dinner ($14, I think) and he enjoyed the soup (a liquidy jambalaya) that came with it. The ribeye wasn’t as thick I’d like it, but it was perfectly cooked medium rare and it had a great flavor. The mashed potatoes were also good. Service was very friendly and efficient.

    In all, it was a great dining experience – made better by the fact that we got a coupon for $10 of bonus play when signing up for a players’ card and we won $24 on the poker machines – which paid for most of the dinner.

    The only minus was the fact that the restaurant is open to the casino floor below and therefore the smoke flows right in. Still, I’d go again. Make sure to get a players’ card first, as there are many specials for cardholders.

    Magnolia’s Veranda
    Four Queens Hotel & Casino
    202 Fremont Street
    Las Vegas, NV
    (702) 385-4011

    Marga’s Las Vegas

    Marga’s Restaurant Reviews


  4. Review: Garden Court Buffet at the Main Street Station casino, Las Vegas

    January 22, 2015 by admin

    I am putting together a Las Vegas with Kids webpage, containing all my reviews for Las Vegas.  Some of those reviews never made it to my blog, so I’m adding them now.  This one is rather old, from July 2012.

    If you are looking for a cheap buffet and/or want an introduction to classic American home cooking, then the Garden Court Buffet at the Main Street Station casino is for you.  The buffet is only $11 for dinner ($10 if you join their player’s club) and offers a whole array of American classics, from fried chicken to roast beef and manicotti, to pork shoulder and make-your-own-tacos.  There are also pasta salads, mashed and baked potatoes, green beans, steamed carrots, etc.  The only thing really missing are ribs.  The casino seems attract Filipino/Hawaiians, so there were a few Chinese/Filipino/Hawaiian offerings as well.

    We weren’t too hungry so we didn’t taste that many dishes, but the manapua (Hawaiian steamed pork buns) were the best I’ve tasted.  The pork had the perfect combination of acid and sweetness and they kept very well in the steam table.  I wholeheartedly recommend this.  The other winner are the mashed potatoes.  They are perfectly seasoned and taste just of what they are.  The kalua pork was also pretty good, but as the main flavor in this dish is liquid smoke, it’s hard to get it wrong.

    Other dishes weren’t as great.  My daughters enjoyed the “make your own tacos” station and I liked the tortilla chips, but the guacamole needed more avocado.  The fried chicken was crispy, but it tasted like the microwavable kind.  The lumpia and chow mein both needed more seasoning.  My husband liked the pasta salad (or was it potato salad?), but it wasn’t cold enough.

    The biggest loser of the day was the mac & cheese  I didn’t taste it, but my daughter could barely stomach one bite – and this is not a picky child.  The other loser was the melon, which was unripe and not sweet.

    Desserts were the best part.  Their banana cream pie was particularly tasty, but their key lime pie wasn’t bad – though too sour.  The cheesecake was great, if a bit sweet.  Everyone’s favorite, of course, was the soft-serve station.  There are many other choices, however: from pies to pastries to puddings.

    Service was great, our waiter refilled our glasses often.

    In all, it was a very pleasant experience.

    Garden Court Buffet
    Main Street Station Casino
    200 N Main St
    Las Vegas, NV
    website

    Marga’s Las Vegas

    Marga’s Restaurant Reviews


  5. Lightlife Crispy Gold’n Chik’n Nuggets Review

    January 17, 2015 by admin

    My 12-yo vegetarian child has been pretty reluctant to try vegetarian frozen entrees. She’s particularly offended by fake meats.  She’s a vegetarian for ethical reasons, and she doesn’t see the point in eating fake animals.  But she probably was tired of eating pasta, so she gave this entree a try.  She was underwhelmed.  She said the chik’n nuggets tasted mostly of potato, but they lacked flavor altogether. They were edible but not enjoyable. She wouldn’t have them again, but she’d eat them if there was nothing else around.

     


  6. Frodo Joe’s Petit Cafe – Fremont – Review

    December 29, 2014 by admin

    (I started writing this review back in August, 2014, when I visited the restaurant).

    It’s hard to believe that this cute, little cafe is located in a strip mall near office parks in Fremont.  You definitely forget about that once you are inside, relaxing in the air conditioning on your stylish banquette.  I went there with my daughter after a visit to Kaiser, across the street, and had a wonderful time.

    While Petit Cafe serves sandwiches, the focus of their menu is on crepes and they have a wider variety of them than I have seen anywhere else.  Mika and I decided to split both a savory and a dessert one, a combination I’d suggest for anyone dining with a partner.  The only problem is that we got the dessert crepe before the savory one – and we had to wait for a long time for both.  Don’t come here if you’re already starving.

    We had the mozarella, mushroom and avocado crepe, which comes with a side (we chose pasta) and drizzled pesto sauce.  It was excellent.  I had been doubtful about whether mushrooms and avocado would work together, but they did wonderfully – though it was the magnificent pesto sauce which really brought them together.  Mika loved it as well.

    We had the La La Lo Lo crepe for dessert. These are actually several mini-crepes, stack together and filled with strawberries, bananas and chocolate sauce, and served with a side of vanilla ice cream.  It was also divine. The chocolate was real chocolate, not nutella (which, in the US, is mostly palm oil) and the flavors combined beautifully.

    Most crepes, both sweet and savory, are $8.

    We also split a strawberry blitz smoothy ($4.50, I believe), which we both liked.

    Service was good, though as I mentioned, slow, though I won’t fault the kitchen for not making the crepes in advance and then reheating them.   In all, I’m looking forward to going bakc to Kaiser just to have an excuse to go back.

    Frodo Joe’s Petit Cafe
    39286 Paseo Padre Pkwy (b/t Capitol Ave & Walnut Ave)
    Fremont, CA
    (510) 790-0999
    T-Sa 9 AM – 9 PM
    Su-M 9 AM – 4 PM

    Marga’s Restaurant Reviews


  7. Ristorante Di Palermo – Hayward – Review

    December 28, 2014 by admin

    photo borrowed from restaurant's website

    photo borrowed from restaurant’s website

    Ristorante di Palermo is, as one Palermitan Yelp reviewer made clear, not a Palermitan restaurant.  It’s not even a Sicilian restaurant, though they have a couple of Greek/Mediterranean dishes which I assume may be found in Sicily.  Ristorante di Palermo is your basic Italian restaurant, and as long as you don’t have higher expectations than that, you shouldn’t be terribly disappointed.

    We went there for Christmas Eve dinner and we had a rather good meal.  It was nothing extraordinary, but it was solidly executed and I would go again.

    We started by sharing the “fungi de portabella” ($12), a grilled portobello mushroom cap in a gorgonzola sauce.  The only thing I can fault this dish is the price – $12 is too high -, but flavor-wise it was a real winner.  The grilled portobello had a meaty, somewhat smoky flavor and it went very well with the sauce.  This isn’t a complicated dish, however, and it’s one I’ll try replicating at home.

    For our main dishes, I had the chicken marsala ($16), Mike had the salmon special for the night, and the girls had the gnocchi de la casa (in tomato sauce – $12.25) and in gorgonzola sauce ($12.25).  Both girls liked their gnocchi, though I didn’t taste them so you may want to take that with a grain of salt. The one in tomato sauce seemed to have plenty of cheese, and I assume the other one shared a sauce with the mushrooms.  My chicken marsala had a very nice sauce, it was a little darker than I cook it myself, which I thought was good, and there was some smokiness to it as well.  The chicken breast, however, was pretty dry in the manner of chicken breasts everywhere – I wish they would make it with chicken thighs instead.   Mike’s dish of salmon with shrimp in some dark sauce was probably the least successful of the evening.  He felt the sauce, whose specific flavor he can’t remember, overpowered the seafood.  My main complaint about the entrees is that they were in the small size.  None of us were left hungry – but I had had an appetizer, the girls don’t eat much (but they cleared their plates) and Mike wasn’t hungry when he started.  I think they could increase the portions without hurting their bottom line and make customers’ happier.

    For dessert, I got the cannoli ($6?).  It was quite good, though nothing out of this world, pretty much your standard cannoli.  I’d say the same about the tiramisu ($6) that Mika got.  Camila ordered the blood orange sorbet ($5), I didn’t taste it but I suspect it was Ciao Bella.  It’s a great sorbet and Camila didn’t complain.

    I had two glasses of the sparkling Barbera ($9 each), which was basically sparkling grape juice with a kick.  I liked it, but it’s extremely sweet.

    Service was very good, our waiter was very attentive.  The restaurant is quite nice, but more of a casual place.  It’s very roomy, so it’d be a good place to dine when you don’t want to be overheard.

    Ristorante di Palermo

    22532 Foothill Blvd (b/t A St & B St)
    Hayward, CA
    (510) 885-9943
    http://www.ristorantedipalermo.com/
    Lunch daily: 11 AM – 2:30 PM
    Dinner: Su-Th 5-9 PM, F-Sa 5-10 PM

    Margarita’s Restaurant Reviews


  8. Tea, lovely tea: Reviews of ESP Emporium flavored teas

    December 27, 2014 by admin

    I’ve never been much of a fan of flavored teas, I like black tea enough as it is.  I’ll make an exception for Earl Grey, but that’s about it.   I didn’t even begin tasting flavored teas until we started going, more or less regularly, to the Golden Tea Garden in Hayward.  The owner is a huge flavored tea aficionado, and her menu of teas reaches into the dozens, if not hundreds.  Every time she gives you a taste of something new and features special flavors.  I still always order black tea, but the girls and whoever else comes with me freely explore the flavors.

    Last week, as I was considering Christmas presents for the kids, I remembered how much Mika loves caramel tea and decided to buy her some. Browsing through Amazon.com, I was amazed to find out just how expensive caramel tea was!  Fortunately, I eventually came about ESP Emporium teas.  ESP Emporium is an online tea specialty store selling all sorts of exotic, flavored and regular teas, as well as tea making/drinking equipment.  Basically, they seem like a competitor to Teavana.  Fortunately, they price the items they sell through Amazon.com much more reasonably.   More importantly, they have some amazing, if very fleeting, sales on items – I’m not sure if they are overstock or lower quality (the photos of what I got do not always match the ones on ESP’s website) -, but the prices are definitely attractive.  I now make it a point to add in whatever ESP Emporium is on sale at a good price whenever I’m making a qualifying Amazon purchase.

    ESP Emporium sells teas either in canisters or in bags.  If you buy them at Amazon.com, it’s very clear which you are buying.  It’s much less clear on their website – I assume they all come in bags, but don’t really know.  They both seal very well, but the canisters are difficult to open – so if you have arthritis, you may want to order the bags instead. That said, I prefer them in canisters.

    Also, please note the brewing time for each tea on the bag/container.  Rooibos and fruit teas require longer times than regular black teas.

    I’ve been using my Keurig machine to brew the tea, as it’s very easy.  You can usually get at least 3 10-oz mugs of brewed tea from each filled canister.  But fill the canister, otherwise you’ll end up with a very weak tea.

    Also to note, I only recently realized that Chinese tea comes from China (duh!).  I mean, I knew it, but Chinese tea has been such a commodity for centuries that it did not occur to me that it might suffer from the same problems of soil contamination that every other food from China does.  Unfortunately, studies show that it does.  It contains high level of lead, though fortunately the lead stay with the leaf and doesn’t make it into the tea itself.  Still, I think I’ll be cautious and stop buying Chinese tea in the future. I’m also going to be noting where teas are made, whenever I can find the information.

    These are the teas I’ve tried:

    Fruit Teas

    IMG_20150301_130632

    Goldrush Bergamot/Lemon

    Goldrush Bergamot Lemon Premium White Green Tea Blend has green & white tea, white rose buds (I didn’t get any in the photo, but they’re there), yogurt granules and natural bergaot and lemon flavors.  This is a pretty weakly flavored tea, not too citrusy, but enjoyable with quite a bit of sugar.

    Piña Colada (my photo)

    Piña Colada tea

    Pina Colada Rooibos Tea Blend is a mixture of Rooibos tea with pineapple cubes, coconut shreds and flavoring.

    I also really liked this light, fruity tea.  It didn’t remind me of piña colada as much as it did of candy in general.  But it was light, and easy to drink. Again, I felt it needed sugar and did best without milk.

    Sir Stuart tea

    Sir Stuart tea

    Sir Stuart is a blend of black and green teas with “ginger pieces, fennel, cardamom seed, flavoring, rose petals, cornflower blossoms”.

    This is a really nice tea.  It is very balanced, with a grown up orangy flavor, a little bitter and a little bit spicy at time.  I always drink my teas with sugar, and I felt this one really needed it for the full flavor to burst through.   This is often my to-go tea when I don’t know what else to drink.

    Chocolate Teas

    Chocolate/Cream/ Truffles Black Tea Blend

    Chocolate/Cream/ Truffles Black Tea Blend

    Chocolate/Cream/ Truffles Black Tea Blend is a mixture of black tea with “broken cocoa bits, coconut shreds, chocolate chips” and “flavoring”.

    I got a bag of this one and the smell when you open it is unbelievable.  The chocolate and coconut really come through and work well together, so that the end product is really neither.  It’s very tasty though, but I do thing it needs both milk and sugar for the true flavors to shine – otherwise I found the tea sort of weak.

    Chocolate Sun

    Chocolate Sun

    Chocolate Sun

    This is a Sencha green tea from China and includes cocoa peel, orange peel, cocoa pieces and other flavoring.

    I made this in my Keurig and I found it to be very weak.  Of course, the Keurig doesn’t give it the 2-3 minutes seeping time this tea needs, but yet it does well with other teas that require longer seeping times.  I will try it again using a tea kettle and report back.

    Caramel Teas

    Caramel tea (my photo)

    Caramel tea

    Caramel Black Tea Blend is black tea with caramel pieces and flavoring.  It retails for $11.50 for 100g. I paid $3.

    I originally came across ESP Emporium while looking for caramel tea, so I was very disappointed at how weak this tea is, both in terms of caramel flavor and flavor altogether. This was the case both through a regular brew and in the Keurig.

    Maple Taffy

     Maple Taffy Black Blend

    This black tea has cinnamon pieces, dehydrated maple syrup, cinnamon rods, popcorn, white cornflower blossoms and flavoring.

    I have to confess that I just loved that this tea came with popcorn.  I don’t know if it added anything to the flavor, but just how cool is it to make popcorn tea?  The tea, meanwhile was very good.  It had a nice old-fashion caramel flavor and was definitely better than the caramel tea.

    Flower Teas

    teagarden

    Flower Garden Fruit Tea Blend

    Flower Garden Fruit Tea Blend is a mixture of pieces of dried sour apples and pears,  pink rosebuds,  freeze-dried strawberry and raspberry pieces, blackberry leaves, cornflower blossoms, marigold blossoms, rose petals, Roman chamomile and flavoring.

    This tea is just beautiful, pretty much just a combination of flower bulbs. And it tastes like flowers too. If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s mostly like a rose hip tea.  Definitely needs sugar to bring up the flavors, though.

    Rooibos Teas

    Also see Piña Colada tea above

    Creamsicle Tea

    Creamsicle Tea

    Creamsicle Rooibos Tea has rooibos tea, flavoring, orange peel and freeze-dried yogurt pieces.  I guess I was expecting this to taste like an orange creamsicle, but it tasted like a very good, very balanced cup of tea with milk.  It was really nice, and definitely something to keep in the pantry for when you want just a classic tea with milk, but have no milk around.

    Tiramisu/Mascarpone Rooibos Tea

    Tiramisu/Mascarpone Rooibos Tea

    Tiramisu/Mascarpone Rooibos Tea adds chocolate chips, brittle pieces, caramel pieces, freeze-dried yogurt pieces, roasted coffee beans, Roman chamomile and flavoring to the rooibos tea.

    I’m not sure I can see all those ingredients in the tea, and perhaps that’s why it doesn’t actually taste like either Tiramisu or Mascarpone or a combination of either.  It lacks the sour element of both, other than perhaps as an aftertaste.  While I can’t quite describe the flavor of this tea – beyond being a well balanced rooibos – it is very pleasant, with or without milk.

     Ginger/Pepper/Orange tea

    Ginger/Pepper/Orange tea

    Ginger/Pepper/Orange Rooibos Tea has almond slivers pistachios, orange peels, coriander, pink peppercorns and flavoring added to the rooibos tea.

    This is pretty much a generic rooibos tea.  It’s good if you like rooibos tea, which I do, but I think the added ingredients substract from each other rather than add, and what you are left with is pretty generic.

     


  9. Rubiano’s – San Leandro – Restaurant Review

    May 19, 2014 by admin

    There are many positive things to say about Rubiano’s.  It’s located in a neighborhood that has long been desperate for good restaurants –  but which seems unable to keep them for long.  It’s very child friendly, one our visit there there were a couple of tables with toddlers and a guy with a friendly dog waiting outside.  The food and atmosphere are decent.  The prices are not outrageous.  And it has developed, very quickly, a large base of fans.

    However, from the beginning I had heard rumblings about slow service and mediocre food, so I gave it several months to settle down before trying it.  When I finally did, last Friday night, my experience was pretty mediocre.  There is no compelling reason for going back.

    We arrived at the restaurant after 7:30 PM. I had anticipated that we might have to wait to get seated, but fortunately there were spaces at the bar as well as a table for two where we could add an extra chair.  The restaurant soon got even more crowded, plus there were people waiting on the sidewalk.  The waitresses seemed to be rushing to attend to everyone.

    The menu is pretty compact, which makes sense for such a small restaurant. It offers a few deep-fried starters ($6-10), a couple of salads ($5-8), simple pastas ($8-10) with your choice of marinara, alfredo or pesto sauce, stromboli sandwiches ($9) and, the piece of resistance, pizzas and calzones.  These start at $11 and $14 respectively for a small cheese, with extra toppings $1.80 to $2.40 each.  The prices are not low, but they’re in line with other local restaurants.

    My daughter decided on the cheese tortellini with marinara sauce from the kid’s menu ($7), which included a drink and a scoop of ice cream.  Mike went for the meat’s lover small pizza ($19) and I ordered the meatball stromboli ($9).  What we got, however, was different.

    It took me a while to conclude that there were no meatballs in my stromboli.  I had been surprised to not find them in the first few bites, but I figured they might have ended up at the ends. No such luck. The stromboli I got had cheese and tomatoes/tomato sauce, and some long, thin strips of something which I assume were artichokes.  There were no meatballs and no olives (as advertised for the artichoke heart stromboli) though there was some basil.  It tasted fine, though it was a bit too doughy for the amount of filling and the different ingredients weren’t completely harmonized.  The basil was a tad too bitter, and  yet it’s what gave the dish its fresh flavor.  I decided not to send it back because I figured that it would take another fifteen minutes to get the right stromboli, and I was pretty hungry.    Even without the meatballs this was a pretty messy dish, you need a fork and knife to eat it discretely.

    The stromboli came with a side salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, green peppers and croutons with your choice of dressing.  I was pretty good.

    My daughter’s troubles with her food actually started earlier.  She had ordered a raspberry iced tea, but what she got was a plain, unsweetened ice tea.  It turns out that they don’t actually carry the raspberry tea advertised on the menu.  The waitress happily substituted it for a diet-pepsi.  She did get her order of tortellini right, though instead of bringing her a kid’s size portion as she had ordered and billing accordingly, she brought a regular portion.  Thus a $7 meal, which included a drink and dessert, became an $12 one. She didn’t charge us for the ice-cream, however.   Not a big deal, but yet another mistake that shouldn’t have happened.

    Mika liked the tortellini, she thought the marinara sauce was fine though she left most of it on the plate.  The adult-size serving was fine for an adult-size appetite, but not particularly generous.  She didn’t have leftovers to bring home.

    Mika and I were almost done eating our meals by the time Mike got his pizza.  The meats had a very nice smokey flavor, though the saltiness in them pretty much overwhelmed the rest of the pizza.  This, of course, is a problem for meat-heavy pizzas, which is why I personally don’t order them.  He liked it well enough.  I thought the dough was pretty nice, a bit tough and a bit chewy but with a good flavor.  I prefer thick-crust pizzas, however.  I couldn’t taste much of the cheese and sauce because of the flavor of the meats.  The pizza didn’t keep that well, however. By the next day the smokiness on the meats had become much weaker and, eaten cold, it wasn’t particularly compelling.

    Service was rushed but friendly.  There were obviously two pretty major mistakes.  The fault on the stromboli lies with the kitchen, it appeared correctly on the bill.  The other mistake was the waitress’, but I can’t really blame her because the place was very loud and she seemed so rushed.  We paid the bill – after all, she had consumed the food and we were ready to go-, but I would be careful of examining it and the order carefully if we returned.

    As a final note, before writing this review I included a brief summary of the experience on my San Leandro Talk Facebook page.  One of the cooks from Rubiano’s chimed in to say that I should have either spoken up then – though he did recognize it would have taken at least 10-15 minutes for me to get the right stromboli if I had done so – and should “shut up” now.  He also made some comment about how I am not a San Leandro native.    That type of anti-customer attitude makes me doubly-reluctant to return to the restaurant.

    Rubiano’s

    600 Dutton Ave, Unit C
    San Leandro, CA
    (510) 553-1000
    http://www.rubianos.com/
    M-Su 11 AM – 10 PM


  10. Le Village Buffet Review – Paris Hotel – Las Vegas –

    August 2, 2012 by marga

    UPDATE: Please check out my updated review of Le Village Buffet

    My husband and I love French food and had been happy enough with our last experience at the Paris Buffet (back at the turn of the millennium), that we decided to give it a try again for dinner when we visited Las Vegas last month (July 2012).  This despite the fact that the buffet now gets mixed reviews.  In all, I have to say we were pretty happy and it was easily the best of the four other buffets we ate in Vegas using our Buffet of Buffets pass (Planet Hollywood, the Rio, Harrah’s and Main Street Station).

    Three things make the Paris buffet special.  One is the Disneyiske setting, in an open-air plaza, under a fake sky, surrounded by cute French-looking houses.  My kids loved it, but so did I.  A second is the fact that the food actually tries to be regional French, it doesn’t always succeed, but it’s a valiant effort.  Finally, it’s the fact that the menu is limited enough to at least give you a chance to try everything you want to try (not everything there is, of course).  I tried a lot of stuff.

    The food stands are divided by French region, though there is a station dedicated to soup, salads and seafood and another to desserts.  I tried the French Onion soup here and was underwhelmed.  The onions had not been caramelized enough and the broth was too weak.

    The first region I visited was Provence.  Here I tasted some beef braised in a dark sauce.  My husban liked it quiet a bit, but I felt the dish needed some sweetness, some wine in the sauce or caramelization on the beef.  The saffron rice tasted like plain buttered rice, it was good but there were no hints of saffron.  A dish of pasta in a cream sauce was quite satisfying, though I think it would have been helped by some grated cheese on top.  A stewed chicken gave a hint of having been cooked in wine, but otherwise lacked seasoning.

    My next region was Alsace, a region in the border with Germany that has gone back and forth between the two countries.  I’ve both eaten and cooked Alsatian food before and I’m quite fond of it.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t too fond of the chocroute garni, the meat was a tad too sweet and too spicy for me, while the pickled cabbage was too vinegary for my taste.  The rest of the offerings were better, but not Alsatian.  The cassoulet was nicely done and the meat was flavorful,the caramelized pearl onions were delicious, though a little underdone, and the scalloped potatoes were  wonderful.

    My venture into Savoie (a region I don’t know at all) was even more successful.  Here I tried the grilled pita bread, lamb, tri-tip and chicken – apparently they like to grill in Savoie.  They were all great, in particular the lamb and the tri-tip.  Don’t bother with the chateubriand sauce, however, it wasn’t that good and would have ruined the meats.

    This station also includes a sample of cheeses.  The smoked gouda (or a cheese that tastes as such) was particularly delicious.

    Normandy offered a stuffed sole which I loved.  It had a beautiful crust and a delicious flavor, once you added a squeeze of lemon juice.  Mike wasn’t as fond of it, and I can’t really understand why.  The ham and cheese quiche was less successful, it tasted very much of Parmessan.  There is also a small sushi section, but I didn’t try that at all.

    Finally, I was surprised that there was neither beef bourguignon nor coq au vin in the Burgundy section but I then realized that this was actually the American station.   Here you can find rotisserie chicken (I didn’t try it), prime rib (very good), roasted pork with apples (so salty as to make it inedible), roasted and mashed potatoes (good enough) and mac & cheese (lacked flavor).

    For dessert, I first headed to the Breton section where you could try apple crisp and bread pudding (homey, but nothing to write home about) as well as made-to-order crepes.  The crepes were the standard French variety, rather than Breton buckwheat galettes, but they were delicious.  I had mine with strawberries and bananas covered with fudge and hazelnuts.  The one problem is that the strawberries were already macerated and too sweet, so make sure you add some element to compensate for that.  Still, it was sooo good.

    We also visited the dessert station and here I tried several things.  There was a chocolate mousse pastry on a hazelnut crust which was delicious and a lemon cookie sandwich that was out of this world.  The other desserts impressed less.  The cheesecake was less inspired that at other buffets and the creme brulet lacked umf.  I liked the peanut butter cookie, but the sugar cookie was nothing special.  The kids loved the soft custard (aka ice cream).

    I had the unlimited mimosas/champagne/wine deal for dinner ($14, I think), and it’s a good deal if you’re planning to drink alcohol and are not too picky about quality.  I enjoyed the mimosas and the champagne.  The wine tasted like $2 chuck and I would definitely not have it again.

    Probably the worst part of the evening was our waitress.  She was efficient but seemed to be having a crappy night and there was never a hint of smile on her face.  I’m sorry, but dining is an experience and unhappy waitresses bring it down a notch.

    All in all this is a good buffet  and I’d defintiely do it again.

    Marga’s Restaurant Reviews outside the Bay Area