'Merican

Nothin' like a big ol' steak.

Blue Ribbon @ Brooklyn Bowl

I was very excited to enjoy a good time at Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq this past weekend as I went as part of a VIP event and did get to bowl and watch The Legendary Roots Crew kill it on stage, but…. you know why I was really there... the Food!!!

I’ve heard about the legendary Fried Chicken at Blue Ribbon inside of Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn so I was more than thrilled to finally get a chance to try some without a 3,000 mile plane ticket attached! 

Now, there are different areas to dine in at Brooklyn Bowl because the place is absolutely gigantic. Three dining areas, two bowling alleys, a stage, pit area, dance floor, a few bars, and VIP section make up the joint as far as I could roam about. For dining, there is an inside area by itself, an area directly next to one of the bars, and an outside patio area. We sat at the patio that overlooks The Linq’s main walkway.

As recommended by our waitress, we started with the Rock and Roll Fries. I was intrigued by these fries because they just looked crazy enough to work on paper: gravy, Cajun spice, provolone and cheddar cheese. Who wouldn’t want that in their food hole?! The fries arrived on a fairly large plate with a fairly large portion to match. These are definitely fries to share, but you won’t want to! These fries are the perfect amount of cheesy, crispy, flavorful, and messy that you’d want in a fun dish like this. I really enjoyed that all the ingredients were perfectly balanced and no one flavor overrode another, they all shined with each bite and you just can’t stop eating them! There are many other enticing appetizers on the menu, but I am very happy we went with these to start our meal.

Brooklyn Bowl- Rock and Roll Fries

For our main course I obviously had to try the Fried Chicken. I’m a “go big or go home” kind of Foodie, so we went with the 12 Piece Mixed option to get the most out of our meal. But, to be frank, I may have overshot it a little, because the 12 piece order could feed a family of 5… Either way, I attacked our mountain of chicken immediately. The chicken was served piping hot, which I like, because then you have time to enjoy each piece without having cold chicken in the end. The outside crust of the chicken is the best kind of crunchy you could have on something fried; Each bite had crunch and it was a gratifying venture for my senses. The chicken definitely looks spicier than it really is, but does have a hint of kick to it, and the flavors are nicely complex yet subtle in how they impact your taste buds. This is some fried chicken that is hard to put down! So, I had a few pieces and took the other 82lbs to go. Was it as good as I was expecting? Perhaps a little better actually, I’m looking forward to going back and trying their wings and other entrées to see if their up to par with their signature favorite Fried Chicken.

Brooklyn Bowl- Fried Chicken

On the side we order their Collard Greens with Bacon, because bacon. I’m a huge fan of collard greens, I’m a huge fan of bacon, slap them together and you have a damn good side dish. The best part of these greens was that they weren’t greasy like some and the bacon had more of a cameo than a starring role and I think that’s the right combination for this type of collaboration. This greens are absolutely on point!

Brooklyn Bowl- Collard Greens

As a whole, Brooklyn Bowl left a good taste in my mouth, literally and figuratively. The environment is fun, there’s nothing like it in Las Vegas, and the food is damn impressive. I’m glad to see The Linq is bringing this kind of quality and uniqueness to the Strip, as a local, it is much appreciated.

Rating out
of 10
Description
10 Location

I rarely give a 10 for location, but it just is perfect. It's on the Strip but not "on the Strip", it has a lot going on around it, it's unassuming from the outside, and it has the world's largest sky wheel a couple hundred feet away!

9 The Décor

The walls are mostly brick, when indoors you feel somewhere else, and the patio is done well to represent NY to the fullest.

8 The Prices

The prices were actually better than I had anticipated. The quality of the food holds up the prices just fine.

7 The Drinks

With a fully stocked bar, sky's pretty much the limit, but I didn't see any real specialty cocktails.

10 The Food

Everything was great. I can't stop talking about the food.

8.8 Overall

A Sin City Foodie favorite!

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Honey Salt

Honey Salt- Napkin

Within the realm of Boca Park in Summerlin, Honey Salt shines as a beacon of originality whilst being surrounded by chain restaurants that have, over time, turned drab and predictable. Located on the North West section of the shopping Mecca, Honey Salt sits in the corner with a small entrance and a big heart. 

When approaching Honey Salt you immediately feel welcomed by their beautifully simple, detached patio. A wooden fence houses tables and chairs with a string of lights overhead illuminating the quaint area. A very warm feeling arises as you walk inside and see what else Honey Salt has to offer. 

Honey Salt- Patio

Although the entrance is no larger than a normal retail store, the interior space is quite open and large; Housing a full bar to the immediate left, and two sections of dining rooms to the left and right. The tables and chairs all have character to them and seem repurposed, the enormous white brick wall with the words “Honey Salt” scribed across it is subtle yet impressive at the same time, and both sides of the room have cushioned bench seating that rides along each wall that nicely frames the busy dining room.

After we were sat, we began our fast and furious meal with plates coming at us from every angle. We choose to dine “tasting menu” style and shared each plate between the two of us. 

Honey Salt- Table Bread

To start, the Table Bread. Now I know it seems mundane to mention table bread in a review, but I think it’s worth noting and also a big insight into each restaurant’s soul, because what you serve first sets the tone for the rest of your meal; And Honey Salt did not disappoint with their offering. The flat bread was nice and crisp with a slight kick of spice to it with a cheesy vibe overall. I helped myself to several blades of these. The other bread was decently sweet and was a perfect match for the black salted, honey butter that came along for the ride. The richness of the honey and butter was met with the salt well and blended with the slightly sweet bread. I believe we went through two servings of the table bread altogether, it was that good!

Honey Salt- Oyster

To begin the actual meal portion we were met with a palate starter. I’m not 100% I caught the name properly, but I believe it was called their French Kissed Oyster. The oyster was served on a bed of crushed ice and was of a decent size. The shooter was peppery, tangy, and had a nice touch of acidic zest to it. A great way to kick off this meal!

Tomatoes, cheese, and chocolate… Not your typical combination. But this is not your typical salad! The Burrata & Heirloom Tomatoes salad (Kim Style with Shaved Bittersweet Chocolate) is out of control. This salad has so much going on that your tongue doesn’t know where to start celebrating. First, all of the vegetables are super fresh and the tomatoes may be the best I’ve ever had in a restaurant. The burrata cheese that occupied the center was soft and fluffy and just had the perfect consistency to mesh with its surroundings. And the chocolate! Chocolate in a salad?! The bittersweet chocolate rounded out the savory plate in ways your brain can’t comprehend. The entire dish sounds ludicrous, yet it works so well. This is one the best composed dishes I’ve ever had.

Honey Salt- Burrta and Heirloom Tomatoes1
Honey Salt- Grain Power1

The “Grain Power” salad is a perfect example of “Farm to Table” ingredients. Each layer of this salad stands out on its own and really feels like it just came from an organic farm. The quinoa was the real powerhouse of this dish and held it all together nicely.

From the sea, the next dish was the Charred Octopus. I’m very fond of having octopi in my meals, and this one was no exception. The char was perfect and the cook was on point allowing the octopus to have a solid consistency but still be buttery soft. The avocado was a nice addition and the purée was savory with a hint of sweetness that rounded everything out perfectly. And although it looks like the contrary, this is really a very light dish.

Honey Salt- Charred Octopus
Honey Salt- Beef Short Rib

For the entrées, we started with the Braised Beef Short Rib. This short rib was very tender, had a good fattiness to it, and was lightly seasoned allowing the beef to really shine. The bed of polenta it sat on was also nice, but the sauce was the star of the show. It really brought everything together and had a beefy overtone that helped add depth to the simple short rib. I could have done without the shaved carrot salad though, it seemed a little superfluous to me.

Diving back into the sea we had their Mediterranean Sea Bass. I think my fiancée’s exact words were “This is the best piece of fish I’ve ever had.” That statement is pretty warranted. For such a simple dish, this really was a show stopper. The crust on the sea bass was absolutely perfect and the overall cook was as good as it gets. The seasoning was outstanding and the ratatouille underneath breathed some fun into an already amazing sea bass dish. This had the exact amount of saltiness you’d want from such a fish and it was so good we took our time finishing it because we didn’t want it to end!

Honey Salt- Sea Bass

As accompaniment to our entrées, we also had the Caramelized Sea Scallops. The usual menu version comes with more than one scallop, but the one scallop we had was phenomenal! Sitting in a vanilla bean cauliflower purée, this massive scallop was not only seared amazingly, it blended beautifully with the purée and truffle sauce surrounding it. And the charred cauliflower that came with it was almost just as delicious! I’d order a side of those by themselves they were so good!

Honey Salt- Sea Scallops1

Full yet? We still have three desserts to go! 

The aroma of the first dessert was ever so pleasing to my senses. The Warm Bread Pudding was the definition of comfort food. It was light, yet dense. Aromatic and flavorful. Each bite was like a thick cloud of goodness. The flavors were fun and inviting. This is how bread pudding should always be.

Honey Salt- Warm Bread Pudding1

The next dessert was two pairs of desserts that I don’t really know what they were other than delicious. I don’t see them on the menu, and I didn’t catch the names when they brought them out because it’s a little confusing when you get three desserts placed at your table at the same time! We’ll go with Lava Cake and Coconut Brittle Bite, sound good? Ok. The lava cakes were much lighter than they looked and the sprinkling of salt atop each was a smart addition. The chocolate was not overpowering and the salt cut the sweetness nicely. The coconut brittle bites were like dessert granola bars. I know that doesn’t sound appetizing but they were delicious. They had caramelized brittle with coconut flakes and chocolate drizzling on top. They were crunchy and different, but I liked them as well.

Honey Salt- Lava Cakes

And now a seasonal piece to close out our evening, Honey Salt’s Pumpkin Cheesecake. Now this ain’t your grandma’s cheesecake. This bad boy is baked in a water bath. That changes everything you know about cheesecake or pumpkin pie. This was like a whipped pumpkin pie in a jar. The consistency was crazy light and each bite was just heaven. The crumble and ice cream on top added a perfect complexity to an already eyebrow raising dessert. I know they only do this seasonally, but if you can, order this dessert! 

Honey Salt- Pumpkin Cheesecake1

I’ve heard nothing but good things before going to Honey Salt and I can now be one of those fans touting their quality. The prices may be a tad high for some, but the quality is worth it and the creativity is just the cherry on top. If you’re looking for a place that defines “Farm to Table” cuisine, then Honey Salt needs to be your next stop as soon as possible!

Rating out
of 10
Description
7 Location

Decently easy to get to, but can be hidden if you're not familiar with Boca Park.

10 The Décor

Subtleties abound, everything is well thought out and placed.

8 The Prices

Menu item prices may deter some, but the food and experience is well worth it.

N/A The Drinks

I know they have an eclectic cocktail menu, but we didn't try anything on this trip.

10 The Food

One of the best meals I've had, hands down.

8.75 Overall

A Sin City Foodie favorite!

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The Restaurant at Bonnie Springs Ranch

Bonnie Springs Ranch has always been a favorite of mine. I like that it's dated, different, and off the beaten path. Most tourists know not of Bonnie Springs, but the cool locals do! The old west town and zoo are fun for the most part; You can't complain when you can watch a hangin' mid day with a drink in your hand from the tavern and then go chill with llamas and wolves. No matter your age, Bonnie Springs has something for everyone, and if you're hungry…. they got grub too!

The Restaurant at Bonnie Springs Ranch is a small slice of Western Americana. Located in a log cabin next to a turtle and duck pond, it definitely has character. When first entering you are greeted by the bar inside, an enormous fire pit, and hundreds of dollar bills hanging from the ceiling from patrons of yonder years. Most of the light coming in is natural with some lanterns accompanying. The tables are made from slabs of trees with unfinished edges with matching wooden log chairs to boot. Being inside you'd never guess you were only 10 miles away from Sin City. 

Almost every single time I've eaten there I always get the same thing.... The Bison Burger. It's so hard to not get! But I held back and decided to try something different this time 'round. 

We started off with the Appetizer Sampler. The portion size was quite decent, we shared between three of us and still had some to take home! The sampler included chicken fingers, beer battered onion rings, and cheddar bacon potato wedges. The fangers were light, juicy, and held up on their own without any sauce dipping needed. The onion rings were very fresh and crispy. They had the right amount of crunch to them and were very light as well. The wedges though… albeit they looked amazing, actually were pretty bland. The cheese was just boring and not even the bacon helped to add flavor. I tried adding sour cream but it really didn't help. These need a little more love to be flavorful and worthwhile. But hey, 2 outta 3 ain't bad!

Bonnie Springs- Appetizer Sampler

My entrée was the BBQ Chicken Platter: Half a chicken, baked beans, biscuits, and corn. The chicken was very moist and tender with the BBQ sauce letting my tongue know it's there, but not beating it up like most. I really liked the fact that the chicken wasn't sitting in a pool of BBQ sauce, it was cooked properly and sauced to perfection. The sauce had a muted sweetness that allowed the chicken to do its thing while still showing off its BBQ prowess. The biscuits were fluffy in texture but didn't seem super fresh, they were probably made in the morning. Still good though! The baked beans almost stole the show. In fact, next time I'm there, I'll probably be ordering a bowl of baked beans and Bison burger. The beans were sweet, rich and had bits of apple cubes and bacon in it! Those two components really added a great dynamic to typical baked beans! Thumbs up from me! The corn…. not seasoned or buttered at all, thusly pretty bland. It's ok though, the beans made up for the lack of the corn's participation in the flavor category.

Bonnie Springs- BBQ Chicken Platter

The Restaurant at Bonnie Springs Ranch is worth the trip. You get to take a miniature train to the town, watch a gun fight and play, drink, pet animals, and enjoy a hearty meal. What more could you ask for? 

Rating out
of 10
Description
9 Location

Yeah it's a bit of a drive, but it's an amazing drive and you really feel away from it all.

8 The Décor

The interior is warm and inviting. The bathrooms aren't the best, but aside from them everything else is fun and old westerny.

9 The Prices

Prices are pretty good. Three of us ate with, two salads, a sampler platter, two entrées, and a beer for under $80!

8 The Drinks

A Full bar and a few craft beers to enjoy.

9 The Food

Almost perfect. A few things aren't quite up to par, but the main dishes are great and will make you go back again and again.

8.6 Overall

A Sin City Foodie favorite!

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The Peppermill

Of the many reasons I love Las Vegas, one that always stands out to me is it's ability to reinvent itself over time yet still have the feel and ambiance of yesteryear. There are an abundance of Sin City eateries that have been around for ages that I love to frequent and always commend on never really changing. There's something special about a place that has just gotten everything right and knows how to continue it's spirit throughout the years. The Peppermill is none of the above.

In being a Foodie and Reviewer I try many restaurants; The good, the bad, and the ugly. Some surprise me, some I knew were going to be terrible. It's just part of the job. Unfortunately, The Peppermill unleashed it's wrath upon me.

On a crisp January night, my girlfriend and I wanted to go somewhere we hadn't been (to eat) before and were also craving somewhere that had burgers. After bypassing a few of our favorite spots for a new one, we decided on The Peppermill. I've been to The Peppermill for drinks in the past but never to sit down and eat, so I was excited to finally taste what all the "buzz" has been about. 

Peppermill- Tequila Sunset.jpg

When I think of The Peppermill, I think of big stupid drinks, thusly because I've only been to the lounge portion of the establishment. So, while waiting for our food I ordered some tequila and fruit drink. When I ordered it the cocktail waitress immediately said "Do you want orange juice instead of grapefruit juice?" and I asked "Doesn't it come with grapefruit juice?" and she replied "Yes, but people like to switch it for orange juice instead.". I told her to stick with the grapefruit juice because I believe if you have something on your menu a certain way, it should come that way. If it's better a different way, change it. Well I certainly paid for that choice. Out comes my big stupid drink with a slice of orange and lime with a maraschino cherry on top. I take a sip and immediately regretted my decision. I'm pretty sure the ingredients for this drink were 2oz tequila, 8oz of grapefruit juice because that's all I tasted, it was beyond tart and had no reminisce of a cocktail whatsoever. I should have set it back it was so bad, but sometimes I'm just too nice to do so. 

Now to help put the rest of our meal into perspective, I'll let you know we were sitting at the diner counter and The Peppermill has an open kitchen, so we could pretty much watch everything go out and how some dishes were prepared.

For an appetizer I had the French Onion Goop, I mean French Onion Soup. It's hard for me to pass up ordering this anywhere that offers it. When I think of a classic french onion soup, I picture a golden cheesy top crust with a glorious, full bodied, oniony soup underneath with a delicious bread to soak it all up with. What I got served to me was pretty much the exact opposite. Just looking at the picture makes me dry heave. First, let's talk presentation. This is one of the dishes prepared by the servers at the counter in front of where we were sitting. I watched them make twenty of these throughout the night. Place bread, slap a slice of cheese on bread, splash soup into bowl and serve. Not only did it look disgusting but it was all over the rim of the bowl as well. And yes, it did taste how it looks. The soup was watery beyond belief, there was zero flavor, it was like I was spooning brown water into my mouth. I should have sent this back too, but I just didn't want to deal with it. Yuck.

Peppermill- French Onion Soup.jpg
Peppermill- Peppermill Burger.jpg

My girlfriend had the Peppermill Burger because she loves sourdough bread and a good juicy burger. Too bad! This thing was flat-out terrible. The burger had zero seasoning and tasted like thin air, the bread was bland and barely tasted like sourdough and the accompanying fries were like long yellow styrofoam sticks. After a few bites of each we finally did send this one back and got her a salad instead. A 4 year old could have made a better burger. 

 I'm always impressed when a restaurant somehow absolutely vanishes all flavors from a meal. It's pretty hard to make shitty Onion Rings but The Peppermill has achieved that feat. These onion rings threw me for a loop because they looked the part: Golden colored, crispy outside, decent size. But as for taste, it was like they were tossed in gluten free, sugar free, salt free breading. They had no taste. Nothing. I felt like my taste buds had taken a break and I was eating without them. I'd prefer greasy, over cooked onion rings from a bar than these tasteless oddities any day.

Peppermill- Onion Rings.jpg

Pastrami. I love pastrami. A good ol' pastrami on rye is one of my all-time favorites. So I figured pastrami on a burger would be exponentially better, right? Wrong. The Peppermill Pastrami Burger lacked all the pizzaz I thought it was going to have. The pretzel bun was dry and bland, the cheese was instantly lost, the mayo was too scarce to even taste, and the number one offense of all… the pastrami tasted like wet table scraps. Pastrami is supposed to be savory and salty, this was plain and boring. And as my burger had the same meat as my girlfriend's, it had zero taste as well. I didn't send this back because I was pretty much exhausted from dealing with terrible food, I honestly think we shouldn't have paid for anything.

Peppermill- Peppermill Pastrami Burger.jpg

As I said prior, we sat at the diner counter. This is what I noticed: The cook staff had no direction. There was no apparent head chef, there was no expediter, and no one communicating with each other. It seemed like the waitresses did the expediting but focused purely on what was supposed to be on the the dishes and not how they tasted or looked. The back of house was silent the entire time we were there, it seemed like an assembly line instead of a kitchen. And on top of that, the stations where the waitresses prepared the salads, soups, and such was a disaster. The counters were filthy with food everywhere and no cleanliness standards were shown. Look at the pictures, food, plates, sauces, soups, bins, crumbs, utensils, everything was on these counters! It was a horrible sight to see. 

Peppermill- Counter 1.jpg
Peppermill- Counter 2.jpg

I know The Peppermill has been around a long time. I know it used to be the "Bee's Knees". But my experience there with their food and how they handle the kitchen was the worst I've had in quite some time. You couldn't pay me to go back to The Peppermill anytime soon. I believe they need quite the overhaul in the kitchen and maybe the whole place. The way I see it, if the kitchen is that disorganized and dirty, imagine the rest of the place! When was the last time those fake plants sitting next to your booth were cleaned? Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Rating out
of 10
Description
9 Location

On the Strip but not hard to get to.

5 The Décor

Old, dated, probably filthy, and in dire need of an update.

4 The Prices

$11.50 for two slices of bread, onions, tomato, and a beef patty?
C'mon.

3 The Drinks

Selection is great. Execution is horrendous.

1 The Food

Breathtakingly bad. There is no pride in their food.

4.4 Overall

Awful.

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The Bagel Cafe (Buffalo Location)

The Bagel Cafe is awesome for many reasons; It has a full blown deli, bakery, and restaurant. It's slightly off the beaten path so you feel cool knowing about. And the food and staff is consistently amazing. I've been to The Bagel Cafe at least twelve times in the past year, here are my musings from my most recent visit.

Busy, busy, busy. The Bagel Cafe is always busy when we go there. That's always a good sign of a great place. We typically go for breakfast or brunch, but they are open late enough to catch a late lunch or a quick bite before dinner as well. For me though, the breakfast is where it's at!

By now, I've had most of their breakfast and lunch menu and this visit's particular breakfast was a memorable one. I ordered the Two Meat Omelet with Pastrami and Tongue with Pepper Jack Cheese. First off, those Home Fries you see there are epic. They have so much flavor and are cooked on point with the great addition of grilled onions hidden between fork fulls. I've had a lot of Home Fries in my day and these are hands down the best. As for the omelet, it feels home cooked. I pride myself in making a pretty mean omelet and The Bagel Cafe's makes me think of my own, just with better ingredients. The meat is abundant and very flavorful, the slightly salty meats works well with the savory eggs and cheese. And just like I do at home, their cheese was inside the omelet as well as on top, love that! The omelet itself is fluffy and tasty due to being cooked just right and the use of real eggs instead of egg beater. The price may shock some ($11ish) for this plate, but trust me, it is well worth it.

I have to order a bagel at The Bagel Cafe right?! This trip I got the Spinach and Feta Bagel with plain cream cheese. The bagel is toasted to perfection, yet still has a nice, soft, pillowy texture. Without the cream cheese I could get a hint of the spinach while the feta was a more constant flavor. With the cream cheese the feta kind of got lost, but it's still quite good. Of the bagels I've had there, my absolute favorite is the Jalepeño Cheddar. If you go to The Bagel Cafe, get that bagel!

If you haven't been to The Bagel Cafe, the next time you feel like eating out for breakfast or lunch you should take that opportunity to check them out. Their soups, overstuffed sandwiches, bagel pizzas, meat platters, and outstanding deli and bakery gives you reason after reason to go back again and again. I love me some Bagel Cafe!






Rating Description
out of 10
8 Location
There's two locations in Summerlin and they have the Del Mar Deli inside the SouthPoint, no matter where you live, you're within 15 mins of one.
8 The Décor
It's basic, it feels like a good ol' New York Deli. Even with a diner counter!
9 The Prices
Another perk to eating there, you could have a meal for two for under $15 or over $30, just depends on how hungry you are or how fancy you want to get. Our typical breakfast for two bill is around $16.
10 The Drinks
Egg Creams, Italian Sodas, Milk, Fresh Squeezed juices, fountain drinks, and gourmet coffe. Forgetaboutit!
10 The Food
I've never had a bad meal here. Ever. Everything is made with care and quality and it shows.
9
OVERALL
A Sin City Foodie favorite!
(out of 10)

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Ranch House Kitchen (Closed)

Let's start here: Ranch House Kitchen is not to be confused with Bob Taylor's Ranch House. Now that that's out of the way…

During a recent bar hop adventure in Town Square, a few friends and I got hungry and ventured into the Ranch House Kitchen to grab some grub. Ranch House Kitchen is in the location formally filled by the Cadillac Grill. "What did they change?" you may ask… Not much, it looks almost exactly the same, but the menu is different.

It was late night, so we sat at the bar and ordered. The bartender didn't seem too enthused to do anything food related. He took our drink orders fast and made our drinks fast, but once we wanted food he took forever to get back to us to take our order, but I'll get back to that a little later. 

We ordered the Texas Brisket Pizza and Loaded Mac & Cheese. After waiting a significant amount of time, our food finally came. The Texas Brisket Pizza looked fantastic when presented and had a good contrast of colors. The pizza consists of BBQ sauce, brisket, jalepeños, onions, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese. The cheeses work wonderfully with each other and really were the stars of this pie. The brisket was good but really took a back seat to the cheeses and BBQ sauce. The Jalepeños were good, but really just added heat with no real flavor. They almost ruin the pizza, their taste did not blend well with the rest of the ingredients and felt out of place. So, the pizza was pretty good if I forget about the peppers. 

The Loaded Mac & Cheese was a pretty dish as well but it didn't deliver so much on the taste side of things. The Loaded Mac & Cheese is made with grilled chicken, fresh broccoli, diced tomatoes, and apple wood smoked bacon. The bacon is the standout in this meal, the cheese is definitely the loser. The cheese just didn't scream cheesy and creamy. It was like a failed attempt at a forgotten recipe. The broccoli added a good crunch and flavors but other than that and the bacon, there's not much here to love. For $14 I'd expect this mac & cheese to blow my socks off, yet my shoes and socks stayed fully in place during consumption. "Loaded" should stand for loaded with flavor and quality ingredients. In this case, "Loaded" means "We don't know how to make a simple mac & cheese so we threw a bunch of shit in here and hoped it you didn't notice."

So, a decent pizza and a mediocre mac & cheese later, I was half finished with the pizza and we were completely done with the mac & cheese and our plates sat there for 30 minutes until the bartender even asked us if we wanted a "to go" box. That's just unacceptable. Especially for a place that very recently took over a restaurant that didn't cut it. That's a tough and large location to fill seats every day, with overall mediocre food and service, I don't see the Ranch House Kitchen lasting past the year.

Rating Description
out of 10
6 Location
Depends how you look at it; if you're already in Town Square or going to a movie, perfect location. If you're in the mood for some 'Merican Fare, it's a destination and a half.
5 The Décor
They really didn't even try to make it look different than Cadillac Ranch.
7 The Prices
A little high by normal restaurant standards, but on par with Town Square eateries.
5 The Drinks
The selection is definitely better downstairs at Yard House. And the drink I did have, wasn't that great.
7 The Food
The pizza without the peppers would have been great, but their consistency between dishes is apparently not there.
6
OVERALL
I wouldn't make the attempt to go again unless it was for an event or I was invited.
(out of 10)

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Kona Grill

In the bevy of big chain restaurants inside Boca Park lies Kona Grill, serving its purpose as an option of a viable place to eat and/or hang out casually. The latter has always been my reason for going, but this time around I actually went inside the dining room and had a meal. 

I've been to Kona Grill a handful of times, but always to meet friends at the bar, never to eat. I don't know why, it's just how it always ended up. I have always liked my experiences in their bar area; It's always packed with Summerlin's socialites and has a good energy and feel to it each time I go. So, of course, I figured that energy and spunk would carry over to the dining room side….

Not so much. We were seated in a booth towards the back of the restaurant with a view of the entire dining room. There were a few other tables with patrons, but for the most part the place was dead, on a Saturday night too. The bar area was hopping and packed while the dining room felt secluded from the fun and barren. The good parts of the main room are the giant fish tank, open kitchen, high ceiling, and huge HDR pictures on the walls. Visually, very well done.

For the grub, we started with some "Angry" Edamame. The Angry part being that it was spicy and kicked your tastebuds around a bit. The edamame was cooked well and was very tangy. The heat level of this dish is probably in the 7 out of 10 range, so it is not for the faint of heart. If you can't handle that spice level you should ask them for the "Slightly Perturbed" Edamame (Doesn't exist). Overall, they were a nice change from the usual sea salt edamame most places serve.

Our appetizer was the "Avocado Egg Roll". I'm always a little wary when places go and cook avocado in any way, but this dish is done with the proper finesse. The outside was very crispy and the avocados were fresh and still firm but not mushy. Each bite had a good mouth feel with great contrasts of the avocado and crispy, fried, egg noodle wrapper. Also, the honey cilantro dipping sauce it came with was very nice. Sweet, savory and not overpowering at all while adding good flavor depth to thusly dipped portions of the egg roll.

My entree was the "Miso-Saké" Sea Bass. Unfortunately, I think it was a misostake of mine ordering this. Let's examine this train wreck one item at a time. Firstly, you can tell by the picture that it was more a "Fried rice with a side of Sea Bass and veggies" dish, than a Sea Bass dish. As for the fried rice itself, it tasted like it was prepared hours beforehand and then microwaved when I ordered it. I've always said it's pretty hard to screw up fried rice, whelp, Kona Grill managed it. Also, it was shrimp and pork fried rice. Take a look at what they consider shrimp!(See Picture) I've seen bigger shrimp in Ramen Noodle packets! The pork was diced into cubes so small, there were like 50 cubes that totaled no more than an ounce or two of total hog. The fried rice was an absolute catastrophe. The Broccoli and Mushrooms didn't even make the cut, the broccoli was undercooked and I received a total of two mushrooms…two. And now to the "Miso-Saké" Sea Bass. The Sea Bass was cooked well and was very flakey and had a good consistency, but the Miso and Saké marinade was a disaster. It seemed as if once the Sea Bass was done cooking they just drizzled some sauce on the top of it and called it a day. There was neither a real Miso or Saké flavor in the Sea Bass, it was bland and disappointing. 

My girlfriend had a much less tragic meal. She had their Chicken Linguine that they call Basil Pesto Linguine. This dish was better prepared. The plating was a little messy, but the ingredients were spot on. The chicken was very tasty, the cherry tomatoes were sweet and cooked right, and the garlic bread was cheesy and fresh. The linguine was slightly al-dente, which is good, and the basil pesto sauce was good, but nothing to write home about.

For dessert we shared their Red Velvet Cupcake. This thing was huge! Visually, stunning. But the size of the cupcake doesn't always equal to taste. The frosting was good and very creamy, but the cake portion was pretty bland. At least it came with fresh fruit on the side.

I honestly think Kona Grill can create a better meal than what I experienced. The problem is, it wont change. If it were a mom and pop joint it would have to be awesome always, but since it's a major chain, I doubt my experience would be any different in the future. I still like their bar area and patio, but I'll probably stick to ordering fresh sushi and adult beverages in the future.

Rating Description
out of 10
8 Location
Located in Boca Park, there's shopping and other stuff to do other than just eat. Also not too far from the freeway.
8 The Décor
It's nothing over the top, but it is quaint on the inside. Almost undwhelming.
7 The Prices
The prices definitely have a little Boca Park "tax" on them, but it's not too bad. They do have a good Happy Hour at the bar!
N/A The Drinks
I'm going N/A on this trip because I just had water, but their cocktails are normally pretty top notch at the bar.
4 The Food
My meal as a whole, not so great. I don't know if ordering something else would have been any better.
6.75
OVERALL
Unless it was for a friend's birthday or something, I wouldn't go back to eat off the normal menu. I'll stick to their sushi and drinks for now on.
(out of 10)

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