While on vacation, I always like to fortify myself for a busy day with a hearty breakfast. Sometimes a lunch isn’t guaranteed so something filling and delicious is what I seek out. Not wanting to wander all the way down to the strip before eating, I took the elevator from my hotel room in the Hard Rock Hotel down to Mr. Lucky’s 24-7, a 24-hour diner-style restaurant that has been recognized as one of Vegas’ “Best Late Night Snack Stops” since 2003 in the Las Vegas Weekly Reader’s Choice Poll.
Okay…so it’s good enough for the drunk…but so is Taco Bell. But, how does Mr. Lucky’s 24-7 measure up for the most sober person in Vegas…bright and early (6 a.m. early – I was still on Eastern Time Zone time, I swear!) on a Wednesday?
We were seated immediately, beside a huge mural of Jim Morrison. Already the ambiance was to my taste. The menu was classic diner-style with a little of everything. Breakfast foods ranging from egg dishes to pancakes to baked goods (muffins, bagels, toast). They also have salads, soups, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, pastas, fajitas, nachos, a variety of appetizers and even some desserts. The menu had a little of everything and a little of something…for anyone…or a group to share. Whatever you preferred.
With my food allergies, eggs are usually a safe gamble for me. So I stuck with that plan and ordered off the breakfast menu. I opted for Veggie Omelet done with egg whites. Since I couldn’t have the toast or English muffin that came with it, the server gladly substituted watermelon for me. I was thrilled because I LOVE my fruit. And…since my roommate is my acting food deputy, she inquired as to whether the hash browns that come with it were gluten-free. Since the server was unsure, he hurried back to the chef to inquire. He returned shortly after with the ingredients to the butter the hash browns were cooked in…the one ingredient in question when it came to the hash browns. Both my roommate and I inspected them and it passed. So, I was totally getting my hash browns! And this made me stupidly happy because I love my breakfast potatoes like no one else!
The food arrived in short order and I wasted no time diving into it. Even after the delicious food the night before, I was ready for some food. The melon was absolutely ripe and delicious! So happy to have a server suggest that as a substitute without me even having to inquire. I can’t do that around where I live. No one understands a gluten intolerance. Out West…they get it and they work with you! The omelet was AWESOME!! The vegetables were perfectly done. Nothing too wilty. Nothing runny. Delicious…especially when topped off with some hot sauce. Nothing goes better with eggs than hot sauce. I swear…it’s one of my favorite things! And the hashbrowns were perfect. Brown and crispy…yet still soft inside. The perfect hash brown.
The portions were HUGE…and not over-priced. So you really get a good deal here. And yes…I ate it all. Like I said, lunch wasn’t guaranteed…and in fact, we didn’t actually have lunch that day. So the big breakfast was just what we needed to get us going and energized for another full day on the Vegas strip.
Not only was this restaurant very careful with my food and mindful of my allergies…they worked with me and even took the extra precaution of sending out the ingredients in something so I could make sure it was safe. That’s not just awesome, that’s rockstar! And once again, after eating here…we decided the following morning we’d return to try something else off the menu.
When it demands a return, then it’s gotta be good. This diner-style restaurant did everything right with its food and service. Yeah…there is a reason it continues to receive accolades in Reader’s polls. It really is that delicious. Even when sober…even when eating breakfast…the food was dine-in delicious!
I just returned from an amazing culinary excursion of the West. If there was good food to eat, I was going to find it. And this trip proved my instincts to be right on par.
My culinary vacation began with a dinner at the world-renowned Nobu restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada. Located in the Hard Rock Hotel, this beautiful restaurant is tucked away in a quiet section and you immediately feel the difference upon entering. My roommate and I had reservations for 7:00 pm. We showed up about 15 minutes early, and were immediately seated. The first thing the waiter did, after unsheathing our chopsticks was to ask what we knew about the restaurant. Since we were Nobu-newbies, he went through the history of the restaurant briefly, then offered suggestions from the menu, including Nobu’s signature dish: Black Cod Miso. We alerted him to my food allergies and he assured me the kitchen had gluten-free soy sauce should I need it, as well as any sushi dish could be done vegetable style. He left us alone as he went to fill our drink order and we pondered the menu for a moment.
Upon his return, we placed our orders. My roommate went with one of the recommended dishes: the Miso Soup followed by the Rock Shrimp Tempura with a Creamy Spicy Sauce. I was craving vegetarian sushi. So I put in for the Mushroom Soup and a cut roll of the Vegetable Sushi and a cut roll of the Oshinko Sushi.
The soup arrived first. And this was going to be it. Our first taste of the much-raved over Nobu food. I picked up my spoon, eyeing the floating bits of mushroom in the broth before taking my first sip. And it was good. Beyond good. While most vegetable-based soups can run bland, this exploded with flavor, without being overpoweringly earthy. It was fantastic. My roommate gave it a try as well, although her favorite soup is still the Miso. We finished our soups and had time to let it digest before our dinners arrived.
The cut rolls were absolutely stunning. The Vegetable Sushi roll was cut in circular slices, stuffed with rice and a variety of vegetables. The Oshinko Sushi roll (pickled vegetables) exploded with flavor. This one was cut into smaller, square pieces and all displayed against a dark green banana leaf with ginger and wasabi on the side. Their ginger, by the way, was awesome. And I normally don’t like ginger. I opted to try the vegetable one first and took one bite and immediately fell in love with it. It was the best vegetarian sushi I had ever tasted. Packed with flavor…not bland or dull. But the real treat was the Oshinko. The pickled vegetables packed a powerful punch that played well against the rice. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever let cross my palate. It alternated between the two throughout the meal and polished off each roll, savoring every bite.
With the appetizer and main course down, we decided that since we were on vacation we’d treat ourselves to dessert. With my gluten intolerance, this can sometimes be a challenge. But, not at Nobu. We ordered the Bento Box, a flourless chocolate cake with a white chocolate sauce, shiso syrup and green tea ice cream. Was that ever worth the splurge. I have never, ever had a cake melt in my mouth before, but this did. Like butter. It was soft, creamy, dreamy, chocolate goodness paired with a green tea ice cream that paired so well with the gooey chocolate cake that it was an unbelievable party in my mouth. My roommate commented upon finishing that if it wouldn’t go against all dining etiquette, that she would lick the box it was served in. I also tried their green tea with my dessert and it was warm and delicious. All proceeds from the tea sold went toward helping Japan. A worthy cause…delicious tea.
Nobu was more than a splurge. It was a dining experience. No one should visit any city one of these restaurants are in without going. The tastes, the food, the ambiance…it all plays into one of the most amazing dining experiences. And the food…well, that’s a culinary vacation all its own. And one so good, that my roommate and I cancelled our Thursday night dinner reservation to return. But that is another blog…
It’s not every day that you run across a company that really, really cares about its clientele. Seriously. I’ve written letters to restaurants regarding their menus (lack of options for a vegetarian with a gluten intolerance…trust me!) and have received defensive letters in return or a form letter.
That was not the case with Celestial Seasonings in Boulder, Colorado. I visited the plant back in April when I ventured away from a convention I was attending in Denver to go see the plant. I am a tea fiend and Celestial Seasonings is my go-to tea…because it’s available EVERYWHERE! Before taking the tour, I had dropped into the café for a small breakfast and fell in love with some gluten-free breads that they had for sale.
As mentioned in my previous blog about my visit to Celestial Seasonings, I had e-mailed them about possibly receiving the recipes for the bread, as buying anything gluten-free out in Indiana is not only expensive, it’s practically impossible. (Seriously, grocery store sections are usually very small and most don’t even carry Udi’s bread!).
I received a message back from their Consumer Relations saying that they stumbled upon my blog and have been trying to locate the recipe for me, but currently haven’t been able to track it down. And they apologized for the time it took to get back to me. Needless to say, I was already impressed. One weeks later, I received another e-mail back from a different person in Consumer Relations, this time telling me that the gluten-free breads are actually brought into the café and not made on site, so recipes are not available to them. The fact that they spent all that time trying to track this down for me spoke volumes of the dedication they have to their customers. If I was impressed before, I was now gobsmacked.
But here is the epitome of customer appreciation. Upon returning home from work yesterday, I went to get the mail from my box and noticed an envelope in there from Celestial Seasonings in Boulder, Colorado. Upon opening it, I found a nice letter from a Jessica, a Consumer Relations Representative. This was no form letter either. It was typed out addressing not only their delay in getting back to me, but voicing their appreciation of my patience. But here is the kicker, folks…also inside were not only coupons for Celestial Seasonings tea and Arrowhead Mills gluten-free baking mixes…they also put in some recipes for a variety of gluten-free breads, muffins, cakes, pancakes, waffles, cookies, etc. This goes beyond customer service. This is ensuring customer satisfaction!
I said it to our tour guide on the tour of Celestial Seasonings, I said it to everyone back at the convention center where I was in Denver, and I’ve said it to people here where I live. I would work for this company!! I would love to work for Celestial Seasonings…even more so now because I have now been given ultimate customer service. When contacting companies these days over things, normally you don’t even know if you’re going to get a person on the other end. Celestial Seasonings is definitely run by real people. Real people who care and who take time to not only find an answer for you, but contact you back and make sure you are satisfied with the response they give.
I’m impressed. I’m beyond impressed. Boulder, Colorado is such a healthy area. The fact that gluten-free products are so readily available make me want to pack up and head out west. Maybe one day. But for now, I’ll remain in Indiana…and give these kindly provided recipes a whirl.
Thank you, Hain Celestial Group, for making me a bigger believer, not just in your company, but in your dedication to your customers. I raise a mug of Sleepytime Tea in your honor. Cheers.
Back in February, I was told that I have a gluten intolerance. This was…heartbreaking. I’m a girl in love with her carbs. Bread, pasta, pancakes, pizza, pretzels, muffins, bagels, donuts…all delicious and, sadly, all very glutenous. It has been a challenge taking on a gluten-free lifestyle. Expensive too. Sometimes I just can’t justify spending money to try out a product that I might not like. Granted, gluten-free products have come a long way over the years, but sometimes the trial-and-error method doesn’t work into my budget. And, not surprisingly, there are times all I crave are things that I can no longer easily have. One such thing was cookies.
That was until I was entered into an online contest during May’s Celiac Awareness Month on Gluten Free Networks. Just for being a member of the site, you were entered into drawings for gluten-free prizes all month. It just so happened that I won.
My prize was a box of gluten-free cookies from Enjoy Life. They had just rolled out their new line of crunchy cookies. I was going to receive one of four flavors: chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, crisp sugar, or vanilla honey graham.
My box arrived in the mail not long after and I received a box of their crunchy chocolate chip cookies.
I knew what dessert was going to be that night so after eating dinner, I broke into my prize and pulled out the cookies. On the box, despite being listed as crunchy, they still look very raised and soft. The cookies are pretty flat when you see them. But…sometimes cookies baked at home are like that. Let’s let the taste buds do the talking.
Now, my roommate does not have to be gluten-free, but she does eat that way sometimes because I’m the chef in this apartment and I refuse to cook things two different ways. So, I handed her a cookie and got my own. I was nervous about the first bite, but after taking it, feeling the crisp cookie break away and dance across my tastebuds…I was sold.
Not only did these taste like homemade cookies, they were really delicious! The crunch was just the right kind that I like with cookies (despite that I much prefer soft-bake…but Enjoy Life makes those too and might be worth a try). The chocolate chips were perfectly sweet and paired with the sweetness of the cookie base. I admit that I even reverted back to being five years old at one point and dunked the cookie into my glass of almond milk. A pre-packaged product that tastes like a homemade cookie isn’t an easy find, but I found it in this box. The rest were devoured throughout the week and I savored every bite.
If a grocery store out this way ever starts carrying these delicious treats from Enjoy Life…I’ll buy them up. I’m now dying to try the other flavors. Gluten-free tastes oh, so good again!