Flavors at Harrah’s, Las Vegas – Breakfast buffet review

We visit Las Vegas every year, tagging along with my husband who goes to a conference, and we start our visit by getting a Buffet of Buffets pass and hitting several of the buffets that are included.  Flavors has never been a favorite, but this year Spice Island at the Planet Hollywood was mostly closed and the Rio’s buffet didn’t seem to be worth traveling to.  We hit Harrah’s buffet for dinner, and it was worse than I remembered.

I started with the New York steak, though the roast was so grayish that I wasn’t particularly sure that’s what I was getting when I asked for a slice.  It was flavorful enough, but it lack juiciness.  I had a slice of roasted pork which was as pedestrian, a very generic piece of beef with snap peas, and not much else.  My daughter was very disappointed with the pizza. My husband ate mostly shrimp.  The bread pudding wasn’t bad for dessert, but the ice cream was so low quality that even my daughters (who are not exactly picky in this department) rejected it.  Instead try the canoli, which was actually quite tasty.

My favorite part of this buffet is that you can actually get your own drinks so you don’t have to wait for them to be refilled.  That’s sad.

Again, this is not a buffet I’d pay for or bother going to again.  Others seem to feel the same way.  We got there around 6:15 PM on a Friday night and we didn’t have to wait in line to get in.

Flavors The Buffet
Harrah’s Las Vegas
475 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV
Website
Weekday Breakfast $21/12, Weekend Breakfast $23/12, Weekday Lunch $23/16, Weekend Brunch $28/16, Weekday Dinner $28/16, Weekend dinner $30/16. Groupon deal often available. Children price = 10 & under, Total Rewards members save $1.  Available with the Buffet of Buffets pass.

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews

This review is from July 2012.

This is probably the first breakfast buffet I’ve had aside from those that are complimentary at some hotels, and I was very happy with it. It offers plenty of choices – your standard American fare, some Mexican and Chinese stuff (though the latter seemed like left overs from the night before) and plenty of sweets.   That’s what I went for, and I was quiet happy.

The mini lemon cheesecakes, raspberry pudding cups, cheese blitz and apple crepes were all excellent  – you’d be happy if you got them at a 5-star restaurant.  Also nice were the bread pudding with vanilla sauce, the cinnamon roll and the brownie.  Less successful was the custard (not sweet enough), the croissants (a bit dry) and the bacon (good flavor but dried out).  The sausages, on the other hand, were great.  Skip the heavy, cakey doughnuts and the chewy bagels, though there is lox if you want them.  The pancakes and French toast could have been better, I wouldn’t bother with them.  The biscuits were good, but look for the ones in the warm tray.

Don’t skip the fruit, while the strawberries were tasteless, the watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon were perfectly ripe and sweet – they were a hit with my husband and kids.  The pineapple was the canned type, but my youngest enjoyed it.

There is also a carving station (ham, I think) and make-to-order omelets, which we didn’t try.  You can order ice cream as well – I wasn’t too fond of the strawberry one.

As for drinks, the coffee was fine, the hot cocoa standard, I felt the chocolate milk was weak but my daughter liked it.

The minus part of the buffet is that we got it as part of the “Buffet of buffets” deal, but we were so full after eating it that we couldn’t take advantage of the lunch buffet that was included in the price.

 


Le Village Buffet at the Paris Hotel – Las Vegas, NV – Review

We have been going to Le Village Buffet at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas annually for several years.  My kids love going there and insist that it be part of our annual trip (my husband goes for a conference, I go for the pool, the kids just come along). In these years, I’ve noticed a substantial decline.  We visit it with a Buffet of Buffets pass, which means we pay about $20+tax per person for the meal.  For that, it’s not a bad deal. But at the $32 full price, it’s not in the least justifiable.

We visited Le Village Buffet both for a weekday dinner and breakfast last week.  I noticed the dinner buffet to be poorer and less French than in previous years.  Gone was the tri-tip from the Savoy section, for example, replaced by roasted cauliflower!  You could still get chicken or sausage, but no beef.    The prime rib had been replaced by roast beef – it had a nice flavor and it was a large piece, but it wasn’t special.  There was no roasted lamb or pork belly.  There was duck a l’orange, but it was a failure.  Once again the meat was too dry and the flavor lacking to justify the dish.  I was sorry I tried it. If they are going to kill a duck, they should honor it by cooking it properly.  Mashed potatoes and mushrooms were good, but pedestrian.

A mushroom crepe, cooked with cheese and sprinkled with some sort of truffle sort, OTOH, was delicious.  I did have to wait for half an hour to get it – the Paris was apparently too cheap to have two crepemakers working on tandem -, but at least I enjoyed it.  I also enjoyed the leftovers of my daughter’s caprese crepe (but note that the mozarella they use is not fresh, despite their claims).  She liked the truffled mac & cheese.

Desserts, as usual, did not awe, but some were OK. Mostly not worth the calories, however.

Breakfast for me the next morning was a strawberry ricotta crepe.  The wait wasn’t as long, but again they could have used a second crepe-maker.  The crepe was delicious – but not worth the $22 price, even if we add the average coffee and non-fresh orange juice that I also consumed.   But the crepe was too filling to want to eat anything else.  My daughter had the cookie dough crepe which she felt was really good but too sweet.  The more traditional banana/nutella crepe was also good.

The choices for crepes (same for dinner and breakfast) have also gone down.  They used to have mixed berries and sliced hazelnuts available in the past, but they do no longer.

Note that Le Village Buffet is the only buffet in Vegas that accepts Open Table reservations. Make them and save yourself the line.

Le Village Buffet at the Paris Hotel & Casino
3665 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 946-700
http://www.parislasvegas.com/restaurants/le-village-buffet.html

Weekday Breakfast $22/13, Weekend Breakfast $24/15, Weekday Lunch $25/15, Weekend Brunch $31/20, Weekday Dinner $31/18, Weekend Dinner $31/20. Groupon deal often available. Available with Buffet of Buffets pass.

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews

Marga’s Las Vegas

The following review is from 2014

For years, Le Village Buffet at the Paris Hotel and Casino was my favorite buffet in Vegas.   I appreciated the combination of French classics and regional dishes, and looked forward to tasting dishes that I don’t encounter that often otherwise. My daughters love the atmosphere – the buffet is decorated so that you feel you are eating al fresco in a French village square.  However, my last visits to the buffet – for dinner and breakfast in August 2014 – were really disappointing, and I don’t look forward to going back.

DINNER

We went to dinner at 8 PM, later than in previous occasions, but not what I would consider particularly late for Las Vegas. The place was hopping and there were enough people in line that I was happy we had made a reservation through Open Table and were sat immediately (however, we were put in the non-decorated room near the bathroom, nor a particularly nice dining location).  The food, however, left much to be desired.  They were out of several dishes and the quality and taste were inferior to previous occasions.

This time I started with the cavatappi with truffle sauce, which I had raved about the previous year.  It was almost as good.   The duck a l’orange was overcooked and a little tough, but not too greasy and the orange sauce was good.  Scalloped potatoes were as good as I remembered – as was the tri-tip.

Other dishes were a failure.  Both the prime rib and the stuffed lamb were dry, the former was also chewy.  The mac & cheese had peas instead of bacon, and even my 9-year old didn’t like it.  The sole was cooked Florentine style this time, and also seemed dry.  They were out of quiche. The pork belly, which had been served in a cute individual plate last year, now had the texture and flavor of pork shoulder, but still managed to feel dry in my mouth.  I usually like my dishes salty, but I felt most of the meat was oversalted.

For dessert I had a made-to-order crepe with mixed berries (they were out of strawberries) and bananas inside, and caramel sauce, powdered sugar, whipped cream and candied hazelnuts outside.  It was outstanding, delicious, perfect.  I would much recommend.

The creme brulee was also quite good, and there was a square cheesecake with berry fruit inside which was also delicious.  Other cheesecakes weren’t, but I didn’t  try too many of the desserts.

Service was good, but all in all, I didn’t think it was a particularly noteworthy meal.

BREAKFAST

Breakfast the following morning was also disappointing – or would have been if I had paid full price for it.  None of the pastries looked appetizing, they weren’t French and they were served cold.  My daughter likened them to pastries from Costco.  We didn’t actually try them, however, so perhaps they tasted better than they looked.  My daughter had a muffin and enjoyed them.

My husband said the slab bacon was pretty good.  They have a wide assortment of savory dishes, but I prefer sweet fare in the morning. I had one of their #1 crepes, with banana and nutella, and it was very good.  However,  there is a creperie right outside selling crepes for $11, which is a better deal than the breakfast buffet.

The coffee was OK, the orange juice was low-quality bottled stuff.

We’ll be staying at the Paris again this year, so I may still give the restaurant a try if I get a good daily deal.  Regular price for Total Rewards members vary from $23 to $34 depending on meal and day.

August 2013 review

I will admit that what keeps us returning to Le Village is, more than anything, the setting.  The buffet is made to look as if you are eating in the middle of a French village, under the  late afternoon sky.  Sure, it’s a little bit Disneyesque, but charming nonetheless and a huge favorite of my oldest daughter, Mika, now age 11.

We wouldn’t go back to Le Village if the food wasn’t good, however, and indeed the food here is at least a notch or two above that of other buffets.  Not everything is a winner, of course, but there are enough wonderful dishes to keep any French food lover happy.

The buffet is divided in stations which purport to present dishes from different regions of France.  In addition to these, there is a large salad, soup and seafood station as well as a dessert station.  The food at the regional stations is not always true to the provinces it represents, but they at least try to make the effort.

During both of our most recent stays, we enjoyed the grilled meats in the Savoie station.  They are nicely seasoned and cooked, just make sure to forgo the sauces.  Don’t miss the cheeses at this station either.

Next to it, the Brittany station specializes in crepes.  They have both savory and sweet offerings. I haven’t tried the savory yet, but make sure you leave room for a sweet crepe at the end of your meal. They are very, very good. I particularly enjoy the hazelnuts on top.

The Normandy station specializes in seafood, and if you must have sushi while at Le Village here is where you’d find it.  I had the stuffed sole instead, which was very good. I hadn’t enjoyed the quiche when I had it in 2012, but by 2013 it had become more flavorful.

No Vegas buffet can survive without the obligatory carved-to-order roasts and other American traditional foods, and Le Village has decided to place this in the Burgundy station.  The prime rib was very good, so I guess I can’t really complain.  The mac & cheese was lacking back in 2012, but by 2013 it was made with brie and bacon and could satisfy both kids and grownups alike.

Food in Alsace also got better.  In addition to the traditional bakeoff, this year there was an amazing pork belly, fork tender and extremely flavorful. Don’t miss it and get some scalloped potatoes and caramelized onions while you’re at it.

I’ve always left the Provence station for last, but perhaps next time I should change that.  The cavatappi pasta in truffle sauce I had this year was, easily, the best dish I had in Vegas.  It would not be out of place at a 5-star restaurant and I think next time I’ll begin by having half a plate of it.  Alas, I remember this same dish lacking the year before so hopefully my good experience wasn’t a fluke.

Dessert wise, if you must try something other than a crepe (and you probably must), Le Village does a particular good job with its chocolate pastries and its creme brulee. The kids like the frozen custard, very much like soft ice cream.

When we were there, Le Village also offered an “all you can drink wine, champagne or mimosas” for $14.  According to their website, they’ve now changed this to all-you-can-drink Blue Moon or Miller Lite beer, house red and white wine or bloody marys for $12.  The house wines are undrinkable, however, so unless you really like Blue Moon (which I haven’t tried), you may want to stick with water or soda.

Service was competent both times we went, however it was much friendlier the second time. She got a much better tip.

The one issue I have with Le Village buffet is that it’s rather expensive.  It’s between $30 and $33 for dinner ($3 off if you have a Total Rewards card)  for adults and $18 to $20 for children, but Le Village defines as an “adult”anyone over the age of 8.  I hope that they don’t apply the same standards to their labor practices.    In any case, I wouldn’t pay full price to go to Le Village, but keep your eye on groupon for special deals (we got dinner and unlimited drinks for 2 for $45).  Le Village also participates in the Buffet of Buffets deal.

July 2012 Review

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 definitely do it again.

 


Delights Delicatessen @ the MGM Signature, Las Vegas

Update

I’ve been a fan of Delights in previous trips, but we skipped it this time. The menu has been greatly reduced and the prices have gone up. A simple coffee is now $4, a 12-oz fountain soda filled of ice is $5, and a tiny bottle of Fiji water or Pellegrino is $6!

Food is more reasonable, but those prices are just unconscionable.

This blog post was written in 2015

Food in Las Vegas is expensive, and nowhere more so than at the hotels where captive audiences allow restaurants to charge outrageous prices without even flinching.  Even the restaurants at the hotel food courts are expensive, with a low-quality fast food meal reaching around $10.  In this context, the Delights Deli at the Signature suites is really a delight.  It has high-quality, delicious food at very reasonable prices.

I’ve eaten there several times during both my stays at the Signature.  I’ve had their sandwiches, pizza and pastas (all around $12). They come in generous portions, and they pack them well to bring to your room.  I had the cajun chicken alfredo last time, which was tasty but a bit spicy.  The pizza is traditional, Italian-sytle thin pizza. Pretty good and well priced.  They also have breakfast dishes.

They are open daily 7 am to 9 pm, and you can browse at their menu online.  However, you can only order in person.  Beware that wait to get your meal prepared can take long, even at non-peak times.  There is a nice, casual dining room if you want to eat-in.

Delights Delicatessen
at the Signature suites
145 East Harmon Avenue
Las Vegas, NV
https://www.signaturemgmgrand.com/en/restaurants/delights-delicatessen.html

Marga’s Las Vegas

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews


Bay Area / San Leandro Restaurant Deals

I’ve written about restaurants deals in San Leandro and the Bay Area before, but new places offering deals have come around, so I thought it was time for an updated posting.  These are the deal sites I’ve found, if you know of others please let me know!

Restaurant.com

Get $25 gift certificates to local restaurants for as little as $2. Minimum purchase (usually $35-$50) required. Other restrictions. Click on link above for details.

Groupon

The original “daily deals” service.  You sign up and you get an offer for a good or service, often at a deep discount. Relatively few restaurant deals but they have the occasional one.

ValPak

These are the coupons you get in the mail. I thought it was the same site as the one above, but they have different offerings. The link goes to the deals for San Leandro, but they have them for all over (just enter your zip code).

Also check the website of the particular restaurant you want to go to. Some (pizza & Chinese joints in particular) will have coupons there or clubs that you can join for special deals.

Local Saver

Pools coupons from the sites above

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

Bay Area Restaurant Reviews

San Leandro Talk


The Crepery, Fairbanks – Restaurant Review

We has lunch at The Crepery our first day in Fairbanks. The restaurant has great reviews online, and it’s easy to see why.  The crepes are really awesome.  They are also unlike any crepes I’ve had before.

The Crepery was started by a European couple who visited Fairbanks and decided to settle there.  It serves savory and dessert crepes, as well as different types of coffee drinks.  The space is rather small, but we were able to grab a couple of tables which the owner was very kind to put together.  The crepes, however, are toasted and folded into triangles, so that you can actually hold them and eat them without having to use silverware.

I got the prosciutto and blue fig crepe and it was extremely delicious.  I might have enjoyed a little bit more fig to add additional sweetness, but that’s a minor issue.  I loved every single bite.  I thought, at first, that the crepe would not be large enough to satisfy my hunger – not really a problem given that they also serve dessert crepes – but I was actually pretty full at the end, though to be fair I did end up eating some of Camila’s crepe as well.

Camila got the ham & cheese crepe.  I thought it was delicious, I don’t know where they source their ingredients in Alaska, but they certainly do a great job.  Camila, however, felt it had too much diced ham and, indeed, it was a generous serving.  She did take much of it out and enjoyed her cheese crepe.

Mika had the tomato basil crepe.  She’s been into caprese lately and this crepe really hit the spot, she thought it was delicious.  Mike had similar feelings about his smoked salmon crepe.

At the end we were so full that we didn’t actually try any of the sweet crepes, and while we meant to go back, we never did.  We should have.

The Crepery
535 2nd Ave
Fairbanks, AK
(907) 450-9192
M-F 7 AM – 7 PM, Sa 9 AM – 6 PM, Su 11 Am – 5 PM

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews


Lemongrass Thai Cuisine – Restaurant Review – Fairbanks, AK

Lemongrass Thai Cuisine was recommended to us as one of the best Thai restaurants in Fairbanks (which has surprisingly many).  While we liked the food at Tiparos better, Lemongrass is a much more upscale experience – and the food was very good.

We went there during what looked like the dinner rush a Monday evening in March, 2015.  The place was packed and service was a little slow at first, but we didn’t care much as we had a lot of time to waste before taking our plane back home.  Service during dinner, however, went very smoothly.

I played it safe and ordered my favorite Thai dish, mussaman beef ($14).  It was lighter in color that I’m used to, and perhaps a little bit less intense in flavor, though it was somewhat spicy.  It was very good, however.  It was a large enough portion that I was able to share it with Mike (being our last night in Alaska, we didn’t want any leftovers).   Mika had the pad thai ($14) as usual, and she also enjoyed it.  Camila had the kid’s chicken satay ($6).  The skewers were very small, but Camila thought they were very good.

In all, it was a very good dinner experience.

Lemongrass Thai Cuisine
388 Old Chena Pump Road
Fairbanks, AK
907 456-2200
http://www.lemongrassalaska.com/
M-Sa 11am — 4pm, 5pm — 10pm

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews


Tiparos Thai Food Review – Fairbanks, AK

We went to Tiparos for dinner our first day in Fairbanks, in March 2015.  It was recommended by the concierge at our hotel, who had heard it was the best Thai place in town.  I only tried one other Thai restaurant, but I liked Tiparos better.

Tiparos is a humble place, it has a third worldly look to it with decorations thrown into the walls rather than carefully arranged. When we went there for dinner, perhaps before the dinner rush, the place was pretty empty but for some kids belonging to those who worked there.  Despite that, service wasn’t particularly attentive – it took a while for the waitress to take our orders and later bring us the bill.  She was very nice, however.

The food is what matters, however, and Tiparos it was very good.  Los Angeles level good (which is saying a lot as LA has uniformly good Thai restaurants, unlike the Bay Area where I live).

I had the yellow curry with beef, and very much enjoyed the rich and fragrant curry.  Mike had the panang curry with chicken and was just as delighted.  Mika had the pad thai, and she gave it her stamp of approval while Camila had the chicken satay.  That one was probably the least successful dish, I think the chicken needed more flavor.

I doubt I’ll return to Fairbanks, but if I did I’d have dinner there again.

Tiparos Thai Food
404 Lacey St.
Fairbanks AK
(907) 455-8424
http://tiparos.webs.com
Mon-Fri: 11am-9pm
Sun: 12pm-8pm

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews: Outside the Bay Area


The Cookie Jar Restaurant, Fairbanks, AK – Review

We visited Fairbanks in March 2015 to see the northern lights and one of our days there we had a late lunch at the Cookie Jar.  It was all in all a good experience and I’d go back if I was to visit Fairbanks again.

The Cookie Jar is a large coffeeshop style restaurant serving typical American food.  The prices are reasonable for Fairbanks, though high for the continental US (that’s the case with most restaurants in Fairbanks).  The decor is coffeeshop cute and the restaurant is divided into several dining rooms, so noise levels are quite manageable.  Even though we were there for a late lunch, the place was pretty busy and there were quite a few families.

My vegetarian 12-yo had the Becca burger ($12), a black bean burger with cheddar cheese and guacamole.  She thought it was very good.

My 10-yo was less pleased with her kid’s spaghetti ($8).  She just didn’t like the sauce.  I’m not sure why, as it was a generic tomato-based pasta sauce. She loved the garlic bread, however.

I had the Monte Cristo sandwich ($11): “two thick slices of bread dipped in egg batter then grilled with ham, turkey, Swiss, and cheddar cheese” and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  It took a while to come to the table and when it did, it was missing the filling: they were just french toast slices.  The waitress was very apologetic and brought me a substitute as soon as she could – I thought it was pretty funny.  By the time I got it, however, I had filled up on my daughters’ fries, garlic bread and spaghetti, but I thought the sandwich was quite good.  Fortunately our hotel had a fridge so I was able to enjoy the rest of it later.

Service was great, our waitress was both friendly and solicitous.  All in all, a good experience.

The Cookie Jar Restaurant
1006 Cadillac Ct
Fairbanks, AK
907-479-8319
http://cookiejarfairbanks.com/


Joan’s Bakery Cafe

Joan’s Bakery Cafe has been opened for just a few months and is already in its last legs.  It’s clear from the offerings that its owners don’t have the capital to keep it running. My bet is that it will close soon, very soon.

The space that Joan’s occupies has been having troubles for years.  It seemed fairly successful when it operated as Planet Coffee under its original owners, but a series of new owners and new names were unable to make it succeed.  I’m not exactly sure as to why, as before this latest incarnation as Joan’s Bakery, the offerings were both good and well priced.

Joan’s Bakery Cafe, however, is a mess.  First of all, it’s not a bakery.  I don’t know if it ever was, but right now all they sell are pre-packaged, dried Chinese baked items from a bakery in Oakland and old and stale bagels and doughnuts, I recognized as sold at Grocery Outlet.  They do have cafe offerings, though I cannot comment as I didn’t try any.  Though I did order a large glass of orange juice, thinking it’d be freshly squeezed (it should have been, for the $4.50 price), but it was not.

The place was empty, both of customer and of stock, and it seemed to me like the owners had run out of money and couldn’t keep with the expenses of daily operations.  Indeed, it turns out that the space is up for lease.

The food itself wasn’t bad, though grossly overpriced.  I had the lamb shawerma ($8).  The tiny sandwich came with lamb, thick slices of cucumber, tomato and sauce.  The lamb was nicely spiced, it definitely had some curry powder, but not an overwhelming amount.  However, there were no sides (not even chips) and I was nowhere close to full after eating it (the doughnut I bought for dessert must have been a week old).

Mike had the rib-eye blue cheese sandwich ($8) and it was also minute but very tasty.

The whole cafe is in charge of a young girl with limited command of English. She has to attend to customers, answer the phone and prepare and serve the food.  That means limited service even if you’re the only ones eating there.

In all, I’m sad this cafe was such a bust – but I look forward to the space being occupied by a good restaurant one day.

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews


Restaurant Review: Grotto at the Golden Nugget, Las Vegas

We stayed at the Golden Nugget our last night in Vegas in August 2014, and we were too tired to leave the hotel to go have dinner.  Of the several restaurants at the hotel, Grotto seemed to be the best choice in terms of cost and reviews.  Indeed, we had a fairly good meal. It’s overpriced, but it could have been worse.

Grotto is divided into two sections.  The main section occupies a large, semi-open space near the front desk.  The second section is across the pathway that leads to the casino, by the pool and has views of the pool area.  We ate in the main dining room, which is kept somewhat dark. It’s nice, but too open to pool-attired passerbys to feel anything other than casual.

I had the chicken marsala ($20), which comes with fettuccine alfredo.  I enjoyed this dish very much, I hadn’t had that combination before but it worked very well.

One of the kids had the Margherita pizza, which I also remember enjoying.  I don’t remember what Mike and the other kid had.

Service, I recall, was fine.

Grotto
Golden Nugget
129 Fremont Street Experience
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 386-8341
http://www.goldennugget.com/LasVegas/eat_grotto.asp

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