Saturday, February 2, 2013

Peppermill Restaurant - Breakfast Review (with a visit to The Fireside Lounge for photos)

Peppermill Restaurant - Breakfast Review

Another restaurant I've had on my "to do" list for quite some time is the Peppermill Restaurant.  Mom and I decided that breakfast on Halloween morning would be just about right.  

I've been hearing about the Peppermill since my very first trip to Las Vegas.  I'd heard they have very large portions, and that the Fireside Lounge is quite popular and an interesting sight you to see.  I was finally able to verify both things.

Because it's really a much longer walk from Harrah's to the Peppermill than many people think (like most things in Vegas), we decided to take a cab to save my mom's legs.  We planned to take our time after breakfast by visiting all the casinos along the way back to Harrah's, so it wasn't too bad to spend $6 for the taxi ride.

The Peppermill Restaurant is located between The Riviera and Encore Las Vegas, in the middle of a strip mall parking lot, not too far from the Guardian Angel Catholic Church.  It's quite inconspicuous, and I wouldn't notice it if I were driving by in the daytime because it looks like another building in a strip mall parking lot...on the outside.

I'd almost forgotten it was Halloween when we were dropped off at the door, but the zombie who opened the restaurant door for us with a low moan made me give a little scream of "EEP!"  His was the best costume in the restaurant, and he posed for a picture.

Tell me that wouldn't freak you out -
he's got an eyeball on his cheek!
When we were seated, our waiter offered us a drink menu as well as a breakfast menu.  I seriously considered a mimosa for about 10 seconds, then decided it was probably better not to drink if I was planning eating most of anything and/or walking back down the Strip so early in the day.
Breakfast drinks, anyone?

The view from our corner booth.

After looking over the entire menu, mom and I decided to share two dishes so we could try more things.  We chose the Mediterranean Omelet and French Toast Ambrosia.  Guess what?  They were both HUGE!
The Mediterranean Omelet takes up most of the plate.
It's a big plate.
 The Mediterranean Omelet was filled with lots of crab and shrimp meat, as well as lots of American and Jack cheeses.  It was also covered in yummy Hollandaise sauce (which I LOVE!) and served with a generous side of hash browns.  We poked at the hash browns, but didn't even attempt to really eat them at all, which was probably a good thing.  The omelet was very good, but it was far too much for even two people to share, and we ended up eating a little over half of it before we finally gave up.  What a waste of food!  

The French Toast Ambrosia-
Enough food to make a whole 'nother breakfast.
The French Toast Ambrosia is actually four slices of thick cut French toast cut into halves, so there are eight pieces of French toast covered with tons (and I mean TONS) of seasonal fruit, all topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream.  We could have easily shared this dish with two other people and still not have eaten everything on the plate.  The fruit was all very fresh and flavorful, and the French toast was warm, crispy around the edges and had a delicious cinnamon flavoring to it.  Out of the two dishes, I personally would order the French Toast over the omelet because it is a more refreshing dish and not nearly as heavy.

We took our time eating and ordered coffee and juice, people-watching and chatting about our trip so far and what we planned to do.  When our waiter brought the check, I asked if it was okay to check out the Fireside Lounge because I didn't know if anyone could just walk in or if it was even open during the day, and he said, "Of course!  Go right in."  So I paid and left a tip ($32+tip for two huge meals, plus coffee and juice) and we headed back to the Fireside Lounge entrance I'd noticed when we entered the restaurant.

I'd rate our breakfast experience at Peppermill as a strong 7 out of 10.  The large amount of food is overwhelming, though, and we should have shared one plate instead of two to avoid wasting so much.  Lesson learned.

Visit the Peppermill's website for more information and menus: Come Hungry!

A visit to the Fireside Lounge

The Fireside Lounge is off to the left of the restaurant, behind a dark glass door with simple white lettering and no outward sign of what's waiting on the other side.  Once inside, you definitely see the theme jump out at you: 70's lounge, in bright pink and blue.  It's everywhere, and quite unusual. 
I don't know what I was expecting.  Not this.
There are intimate seating areas everywhere, and the lounge can accommodate quite a crowd and still remain very private with its seating arrangements.  I loved the look of the Fireside seating area itself:
An interesting combination that somehow works.
Mom and I walked all around the lounge, being careful not to trip down (or up) any steps.  I was glad there were hand rails everywhere, because it's actually a bit dark inside the lounge.  Halloween decorations were everywhere, but still blended in with everything else.  How much really sticks out when you're standing in a pink and blue lounge?

There is a long bar with video poker (of course) taking up the right side of the lounge, and a nice lady in a white tuxedo shirt polished glasses and smiled the entire time we walked around checking things out and taking photos.  There were a few patrons at the far end of the bar, but I tried not to disturb anyone with my photography.  I try to keep unsuspecting tourists and other people out of my photos.
Bar seating looks comfy, too.
The Fireside Lounge would be an interesting place to meet up for drinks with friends.  It might even make a pretty good place for a large group meet, too!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Central by Michel Richard at Caesars Palace (Restaurant Review)

My mom and I decided to try Central by Michel Richard during our October trip.  I've been keeping a list of restaurants to try based on their menus and reviews, and this was one place I've had my eye on for quite a while.  After showing my mom the menu, we decided a late, light lunch on the day we arrived would be just about right.

We had hoped to be seated out on the patio for a snack and a drink since the weather was sunny and in the low 70's, but the restaurant was not busy at the time (it was about 2:30 p.m.) and they only had bar seating or tables in one of the two main restaurant sections available.  In hindsight we should have taken the bar seating, but we prefer tables for our Vegas meals when traveling together.  When I'm by myself I personally don't care; bar seating is just fine for me, but then I'm not necessarily trying to talk to someone else, then, either.

For starters, I ordered a Strawberry Basil Mojito, and mom ordered the Summer Sangria.  We ordered the Cheese Puffs and the Potato Nachos with Chicken from the appetizer menu to share for our snack at the same time, but our waiter said he'd bring our drinks first, which was fine with us.  

We were literally seated less than 10 feet from the bar, and we waited...and waited...and waited some more for our drinks to arrive.  We kept looking around the restaurant and found our waiter at times talking to other employees, or we didn't see him at all.  There were probably four or five other tables seated in the restaurant, with most of the restaurant guests sitting at the bar.  Being that there was one other waiter in the restaurant for those few tables, it should not have taken more than 5 minutes at the most for our drinks to make it from the bar to us.  

After about 15 minutes or so, we were deciding if we were going to stay or leave when the afternoon manager, Rick, came by and asked how everything was.  My mom told him EXACTLY how everything was, which was not good.  (She's not a shrinking violet by any means.)  The manager apologized profusely and went to find our waiter and the drinks.  He found both at the same time, and the waiter brought them to us with another apology.  Immediately after that he brought our food.
Strawberry Basil Mojito
The drinks were very good - my mojito was a bit strong, but it had great flavor, with chunks of strawberries thrown in.  My mom really enjoyed her sangria, which had whole blueberries floating on top. (I took those - mom doesn't like fresh blueberries.  They were nice and drunken!) My taste of  the sangria it found it to be a great combination of sweet and tart, which is always good in a sangria.  
A Summer Sangria for the Fall
The afternoon manager checked in with us again a few minutes later and offered another apology, and then he told us he was comping our drinks because of wait time.  We thanked him for that.  It's nice to see a response from a manager who means it.

The Cheese Puffs were delicious: cheesy little ball-shaped pastries served in a wire basket, with no toppings or other accompaniments to take away from them.  They were very light and airy, not too thick or heavy at all.  There were about 10-12 of them in an order, and that was just right for two people to share.  It'd make a great appetizer for four people, as well.
Get the Cheese Puffs - you won't regret it.
The Potato Nachos were actually thin-sliced, handmade potato chips, fried in peanut oil and piled high on a platter.  The "nachos" were served with melted cheddar cheese, sour cream, chives, fresh jalapenos, diced tomatoes and sliced chicken breast on top.  It's not something I would've ordered anywhere else, but they were pretty darn good and quite unexpected.  We tried like everything to finish the entire plate, but we weren't able to make it all the way through.
An unexpected plate of yum, with a jalapeno kick.
Because of our comped drinks, our whole meal cost $24+tip, which is not a bad price at all for a quick meal in Vegas.  Of course, if the drinks had been included, the price would've been about $40+tip, so cost is certainly dependent on what you order.

Overall, the food and drinks were very good, but the service outside of the manager's efforts was lacking in almost every way, and service is very important to me.  I think it would make more sense to either A) close off all but one section of the restaurant, or B) only offer bar seating during the slower hours.  This would allow the wait staff to more efficiently serve guests, and the restaurant would not have to stretch their resources so thinly to cover every area of an almost completely empty restaurant.  Since they are currently open 24 hours a day, it would certainly allow them to manage and staff the restaurant based on need.  

At this time I would say that our entire dining experience would only rate a 5 out of 10, and the service definitely brought the number down.  I don't know if I'll be back, either; there are just too many other places to eat in Las Vegas.

To see the entire list of Central menus, click here: Central menus