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Las Vegas Weekly Announces Their Own Best Of List for 2010

The alternative weekly magazine, Las Vegas Weekly, announced their own Best Of lists for 2010 today. Thankfully, the LVW list is miles beyond the R-J’s joke of a list in terms of accuracy / common decency.  I’ll give LVW props for naming Julian Serrano at Aria as Best New Restaurant and The Palm Restaurant at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace for Best Lunch Specials, both of which would be deemed by many as controversial choices, but I will say good ones.  Certainly one could argue for the sort-of-new $19 prix fixe lunch at Payard Patisserie and Bistro (also at Caesars Palace) and of course the best lunch deal in town (which I would certainly call “special”), the $8.99 Lunch Buffet at Namaste Indian Cuisine.

Las Vegas Weekly 2010 Best Of List (courtesy: lasvegasweekly.com)

Las Vegas Weekly 2010 Best Of List (courtesy: lasvegasweekly.com)

I can live with Shawn McClain of Sage being called Best New Chef, although I would give the title to Shawn Armstrong at MOzen Bistro at the Mandarin Oriental. No one in this town kicks the ass off of so many diverse cuisines like Armstrong.  I’m amazed how he does it.  He’s good.

While I thought most of the nods were justifiable, if not spot on, there were a few in the Land of the Ridiculous.   I was shocked to not see First Food and Bar take the Best Late Night Eats on The Strip category.  No other place is even close to First when it comes to the Late Night Nosh.  Also, whoever put Smashburger and BLT Burger in the same league as Bradley Ogden and Burger Bar for Best Burger needs to have their head examined.  I, myself, can’t make up my mind between Bradley Ogden and Burger Bar for Best Burger in Vegas, but I do know they are both in a league of their own. Smashburger and BLT belong in the burger category that also holds Wendy, Carl, The King and The Clown.

However, the burger debacle wasn’t the only Crime Against Bovinity on this list.  Once again Carnevino gets a nod for Best Steak, and once again I call shenanigans.  Both N9ne Steakhouse at The Palms and Wolfgang Puck’s CUT at the Palazzo know how to roll with things that moo far better than the over-priced, over-hyped Batali attempt.

To check out the picks and see what you agree or disagree with on the 2010 Las Vegas Weekly’s Best of Food List, visit: http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/news/vegas-best/2010/food/

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas.

The Weekly Bad Picture of Good Food: Surf and Turf Burger from First Food and Bar

Brand spanking new on First Food and Bar’s Dinner Menu, the Surf and Turf Burger is a magnificent tower of Certified Angus Beef, a lightly battered and deep fried lobster claw, white cheddar cheese, a nominal amount of plant life and a cocktail sauce that would make Rachael Ray go into a Yum-O Foodgasm like never before.  While I nearly wept at the beauty of this towering tribute to the fanciest meal most of America can possibly conceive of, the iPhone offered no respect at all, thus making the Surf and Turf Burger at First Food and Bar in the Palazzo resort this week’s Weekly Bad Picture of Good Food.

Surf and Turf Burger from First Food and Bar

Surf and Turf Burger from First Food and Bar

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First Food and Bar

The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino
3327 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

(702) 607-3478

http://www.FirstFoodandBar.com

Follow First Food and Bar on Twitter at @FirstFoodandBar

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas.

First Impressions: Bachi Burger - Mike's Review

Unbelievable. Remarkable. Jaw-Dropping. You’ve got to be shitting me!  These were just a few of the terms used at the table last night as Michael, The Dave and myself (The Wife was fast asleep) had our first Bachi Burger experience.

Bachi Pickles from Bachi Burger

Bachi Pickles from Bachi Burger

When seeing on their Facebook page that they are an “Asian Inspired BBQ Burger restaurant,” my mind struggled to make an impression on exactly what the hell that is.  All I can say is, you have to see it to believe it.

The menu is extraordinary, and my knowledge fails to recall anything in Las Vegas that is like it. Burgers made out of your choice of Angus or American Wagyu to twists on Vietnamese Banh-Mi Sandwiches to Pork Belly Steamed Buns to a Grilled Cheese made with Gruyere, Fontina, Camembert and Mezzo Secco cheeses; it is an eclectic mix of comfort foods done at a sophisticated level at hard-to-believe low prices.

American Wagyu Burger from Bachi Burger

American Wagyu Burger from Bachi Burger

I tried the American Wagyu Burger with Cheddar and Bacon ($9 total) and juices from it exploded all over my arm like an eager 16 year old. Fresh quality produce on top, packed with Asian inspired flavors and inside a fresh bun, the burger was quite good and unique among a city packed with tasty burgers.

Truffle Parmesan Fries with Yuzu Citrus Aioli from Bachi Burger

Truffle Parmesan Fries with Yuzu Citrus Aioli from Bachi Burger

The Truffle Parmesan Fries ($3.50)(no, really!) were fantastic.  I don’t care that truffle oil, according to Anthony Bourdain, is “such an easy lay.”  I love truffle oil and would put it on my oatmeal in the morning if I didn’t think The Wife would enter me into rehab.  Real potatoes cooked well served with a mind-blowing Yuzu Citrus Aioli made tears of joy well up in my eye.  I’ve had many a fried potato slathered in truffle oil, but the Yuzu Citrus Aioli catapulted these particular ones above the rest.

Pork Belly Steamed Buns from Bachi Burger

Pork Belly Steamed Buns from Bachi Burger

Pork. Belly. Steamed. Buns.  Need I say more? Hoisin-tinged in flavor, but perfectly complimentary to the pork belly and certainly not to the point of gagging (my hoisin gag reflex tolerance is very low), the Pork Belly Steamed Buns ($8.50) were scrumptious and a must get among a menu full of must get items.  If I were to be a totally picky bastard, which it just so turns out that I am, I think the pork belly could have stood to be braised a bit more to be even more melt in your mouth.  I’m even hesitant to say that, it was really quite good.

As if the savory items weren’t good enough, the desserts may have been even better.

Macadamia Nut Toffee Cake with White Chocolate Yuzu Gelato from Bachi Burger

Macadamia Nut Toffee Cake with White Chocolate Yuzu Gelato from Bachi Burger

Macadamia Nut Toffee Cake with White Chocolate Yuzu Gelato.  Yes.  Say it with me one time; Macadamia Nut Toffee Cake with White Chocolate Yuzu Gelato. $5.00. What?!?  I know! Luscious layers of toffee-tinged cake with a divine lemon buttercream keeping them together, all topped with toffee-candied Macadamia Nuts.  Oh yeah, and lest we forget the accompanying White Chocolate Yuzu Gelato that was exquisite and would rival any non-standard ice cream you can find anywhere, I still can’t believe that it was only 5 bucks.  And that it was in a strip mall on Windmill Lane. And that it is in a place that is open until 2am. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Port Wine Cherry Glazed Pop Tart from Bachi Burger

Port Wine Cherry Glazed Pop Tart from Bachi Burger

Whoever the pastry chef is, is a master.  Only identified in our light prodding of owner Ehren Watada as “a friend,” the desserts had the playful vibe you look for but done at a level of sophistication that makes us food geeks damp in the drawers.  The Port Wine Cherry Glazed Pop Tarts may be the pinnacle of this.  Beautiful, fun, delicious and unique, the Pop Tarts might go down as one of the dishes you hear about the most among the sure to come ravings of Bachi Burger. Oh yeah, they’re only $5, too.

Ehren’s brother, Chef Lorin Watada, formerly corporate chef of many years with Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion restaurants, is heading the kitchen and we are thankful for that.  The level of sophistication in these dishes is unheard of in this area, and may I be so bold as to say that because of it, Bachi Burger has the opportunity to go down as one of the most important locals restaurants in Las Vegas.

Yeah yeah yeah, I know they’ve been open for less than a week and I’ve eaten there only once, but hear me out for a second.  The Watada Brothers have, in my opinion, found the bridge that is needed to educate the more unadventurous food novices of the world (the Applebee’s faithful).  They present familiar comfort foods and offer them with a level of sophistication that would make even the most ardent of T.G.I. Friday’s Happy Hour supporter notice.  They also do it at remarkably reasonable prices.

Bachi Burger is the kind of place where someone is going to go for this beef called Wagyu because they heard Alton Brown on the Food Network talk about it and then go back and say, “let me try this Banh-Mi thing.”

My prediction is that once Bachi Burger finds its sea legs and the word gets out about it (consider this, “the word”), Bachi Burger will be one of the top hangs for people in the culinary industry.  If you do run down there right away due to Michael (his post on Bachi Burger) and I’s gushing, keep in mind that they are still in their first week of being open.  The staff is still learning a unique menu, they’re still getting a feel for inventory orders (which in this crazy economy, so are all the long-established veterans in town), and they’re still working out all the kinks that new restaurateurs will have with a new restaurant.

With that said, get your ass down to Bachi Burger, enjoy some tasty food and be able to say you were there in the beginning.  Oh, and one more note, I never even would have known this place existed if @DittoToo didn’t tell me on Twitter that it looked like it was going to open soon. Thanks, Jerry!

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Bachi Burger

470 E. Windmill Ln. #100
Las Vegas, NV 89123

(702) 242-2244

http://www.BachiBurger.com

Follow Bachi Burger on Twitter at @BachiBurgerLV
Bachi Burger on Urbanspoon

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas.

Chace Crawford Eating A Dobranski Burger Gets Mention in Us Weekly Magazine

The Big Dobranski Burger from First Food and Bar at the Palazzo has hit the Society Pages!  Hot off the mention in Las Vegas Gossip Guru, Robin Leach’s report in his Vegas Deluxe blog of Chef Charlie Trotter munching on the monstrosity of beef to drown his sorrows, comes a highlight in Us Weekly magazine of Chace Crawford (of Gossip Girl fame) also checking out the burger with the namesake of yours truly!

Us Weekly Magazine Cover of Dobranski Burger Mention

Us Weekly Magazine Cover of Dobranski Burger Mention

Above is a picture of the cover of the Us Weekly magazine with the mention in it. It’s the March 29, 2010 issue, and the mention is in the VIP Scene (of course!) section on page 47.  A celebrity burger eaten by celebrities.  Famous!

A special shoutout of thanks to Victoria Alaimo, an old college friend, who gave me the heads up of the mention!

To read the epic tale of the birth of the monstrosity now known as The Big Dobranski Burger, click here.

—–

First Food and Bar

The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino
3327 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

(702) 607-3478

http://www.FirstFoodandBar.com

Follow First Food and Bar on Twitter at @FirstFoodandBar

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeDobranski.

Follow Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas.

Carnevino: The Place I Really Want to Like But Just Can't - Mike's Review

I don’t think there is a restaurant in town that I want to like more than I want to like Carnevino.  I want to like Carnevino because I really dig what Chef Mario Batali is all about.  Not many of the superstar chefs out there come even close to public adamant support of using local ingredients and making sure that everything from the spinach on the plate to the lights in the bathroom are done responsibly.  Carnevino was the recent host of the documentary, The End of the Line, so all of Batali’s battalion could learn about the dangers of over-fishing.  And, Carnevino is a nice space, easy to get to (I heart the Palazzo for access) and has an open kitchen till midnight.  I want to love it.  But then I eat there….and I don’t.

Carnevino

Carnevino

Confessions of a Restaurant Writer / Budding Critic: I’ve never eaten at Carnevino until last week.  There’s good reason why I never ate at Carnevino until last week, the place is just way too damn expensive.  When it first opened a couple years back along with the Palazzo, the pricing put it smack dab in the center of Outrageous Town.  Since then, we’ve been massacred by The Great Recession and while prices have settled at the Batali Meat Joint, it has merely gotten married, knocked up and moved to the ‘Burbs of Outrageous Town where there are better schools and white picket fences.  However, they still commute into Outrageous Town for work, especially with the $70 per person Porterhouse for Two and the Super-Aged “Reserva” (methinks dry-aged in the neighborhood of 6 – 9 months) will cost you around $100 – $150 per steak.

Don’t let me make it seem that this is the only place in town that I won’t go to because of the price.  Bar Masa / Shaboo and Jöel Robuchon ain’t going to see my broke ass anytime soon either.  As many of you know and have seen by the tagline I put on each of my posts, I’m professional musician / amateur blogger, which translates to; I make a decent living, especially when you consider I only have to work 20 hours per week, and I do the Writing / Tweeting / Facebooking thing because I love it (time will only tell what develops professionally down the road, I really do like this a lot).  I only say this because why yes, a $300 – $400 meal for two should be treated as a special event, some places (like the ones mentioned above) cross the line into abusing corporate expense accounts and people with more money than they know what to do with.  There are far too many great restaurants (while these gougers may very well be excellent in their own right) in this town at a fair price for me to piss my money down the drain for the sake of saying, “Yeah, I’ve been there.”

With Carnevino now offering 20% off the entire bill from 10pm-midnight every night, I figured this was the opportunity to seize the chance to eat what dry-aged beef tastes like cooked by a man in Orange Crocs.  We’ve now been twice, with polar opposite experiences in service each time.  The first time we had a server named Michael, who was a personable seasoned pro and brilliantly controlled the meal from the first glass of water until the last bite of a fabulous Devil’s Food Cake dessert was eaten.

The second time out, (last night) was a complete disaster.  Some of the worst service I’ve had since my horrible experience at Sage.  But in this instance, I can’t point my finger solely at the server as most of my finger (and you know which finger that is) is pointed solidly at management, for several reasons.

Unfortunately, Not the Only Statue in the Room

Unfortunately, Not the Only Statue in the Room

Firstly, at some point, someone had to hire this guy.  This server was obviously still wet  behind the ears and had the deer-in-the-headlights look about him the entire evening.  Based on how clueless this guy was about the standard flow of a dinner service found in any restaurant in this country, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is his first gig.  As I can only compare it to the musical realm, I’ll say this; nobody’s first gig is the New York Philharmonic.  Ok, maybe comparing Carnevino to the New York Philharmonic isn’t fair, but nobody’s first gig is with the Los Angeles Philharmonic either.  You spend time learning in youth orchestras and college orchestras.  You play in bottom tier orchestras like the Peoria Symphony for shit pay.  You work your way up the ranks, occasionally subbing in with higher tier places until you finally get your big break into the big time.

Everybody has had their first day at work, and no matter how seasoned you are at your craft, you’ll always have butterflies.  But, it is through the experience of working in the lower ranks that guides you through your first few days on the main stage.  When a restaurant has the balls to charge $51 for a 14oz New York Strip and is billed by some in this town as the Second Coming of Peter Luger, this is not the place for an eager boy to wonder if it’s in yet.

So not only was the server himself a nightmare, but there were a whole bunch of guys in suits standing around watching it happen.  They stood there and witnessed it as it took 25 minutes to get a glass of water, 30 minutes just to place our food order and by Michael’s count, 47 minutes to get bread.  They seemed to huddle together quite a bit to discuss how dreadful it was, but nothing was done about it.  Bad form, men in suits. Bad form.

Blood Orange Cosmo Poured Tableside

Blood Orange Cosmo Poured Tableside

With inconsistency in service, also comes inconsistency at the bar.  The first time The Wife and I came to the Carnevino late night, she ordered the Blood Orange Cosmo, which I went on record saying it was one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had.  The aroma that washes over your face as it is poured tableside, the perfectly sweet citrusy taste, even the beautiful color of it was simply magnificent.

After raving about this drink, it played a role in why The Wife and I were joined with Michael, The Dave, and The Dave’s Mom and her companion.  The Dave’s Mom and her companion flew in from Maine to have a visit with her boys in Las Vegas, and they wanted somewhere special to go.  With them staying at the Palazzo, Carnevino was (at the time) a perfect choice.

Blood Orange Cosmo from Carnevino

Blood Orange Cosmo from Carnevino

But even after my high praises of this beverage, it was only The Wife and I that ordered it.  While the cocktail was one of the most memorably delicious ones I’ve ever had just a week before, this night it tasted like the ass end of a frat house’s Jungle Juice Bucket.  How is it even possible this drink could have been so significantly worse?  Not good, and at $14 a pop…really not good.

The problems at the bar sadly didn’t live and die with the battery acid Blood Orange Cosmo.  The drinks took forever to come out, the server was confused as to which drink was what, there was a drink that was flat out wrong, and The Dave’s second round that he ordered was completely forgotten.   That kind of Mickey Mouse crap is not even tolerable at a place with drinks half that price, let alone here.

Steak and Eggs from Carnevino

Steak and Eggs from Carnevino

The food is also very hit or miss.  The Steak and Eggs ($23) are quite good, and unique in that you get your choice between chicken, duck and quail eggs.  They slice their 60-90 day dry-aged beef and all is well.  The meat is indeed flavorful and tender, and I would call the Steak and Eggs a definite win on the Taverna’s (where this whole 20% off from 10pm-12am thing happens) Menu.

The Burger from Carnevino

The Burger from Carnevino

However, The Burger ($19) was pretty rough.  Good meat is in it, but it is coarsely ground and far too lean for my burger tastes.  If I want a steak, I’ll order a steak (which I did on the 2nd visit), and if I want a burger, I’ll order a burger.  The burger patty itself was also way too salty, especially when paired with the Pancetta and Cheddar Cheese toppings.  I had to use a good deal of the provided Truffle Aioli (very good) to even it out as best I could.

Beef Carpaccio from Carnevino

Beef Carpaccio from Carnevino

The Beef Carpaccio ($16) may very well be the best thing on the menu because it magnificently showcases the excellent grade of beef they use.  Silky and divine, the carpaccio comes with crostini slathered in lardo (cured pork fat infused with garlic and spices) and is a total umamgasm (I’m trying to figure out a way to combine umami and orgasm, patent pending).  I’m going to say that the Beef Carpaccio is a must get.

Bone-In New York Strip Steak from Carnevino

Bone-In New York Strip Steak from Carnevino

If there was ever a time to get a $51 dry-aged 14oz. New York Strip Steak, it would be the time when it is offered at 20% off.  While many will scoff at the New York Strip and deem the Ribeye as the only way to fly, I say nonsense.  The New York Strip to me is the best cut of the cow that can show off the quality of the cow itself, the skill of the aging processes used, and the cooking techniques of the chef.  A monkey with a Zippo can make a fatty ribeye taste good. A well-cared for cow and good kitchen skills are needed to make a New York Strip sing.  The Carnevino New York Strip gets a mixed review.

First the good news. The flavor was great.  Again, a testament to the cow and partially the aging process.  Now for the bad news, it was cooked poorly.  It could have been from a poor butchering process, but the ends of the steak seemed thinner than the middle portion, and the steak was curled a bit.  The end result was an unevenly cooked piece of beef that was overdone (a solid medium-well) on the outer thirds of the steak, leaving only the center third the way I like it.

I’ll take some of the heat for the cooking process as I ordered it medium.  Now I’ll tell you why I order my steaks (sometimes) medium.

I’ve found over the years that in real steakhouses, the steaks are typically cooked at a half a level, if not a full level below what cheapy steakhouses or general food places that also serve steak will cook them at.  The perfect doneness of a steak to me is on the medium-rare side of medium, where in my opinion you still get the full juices and flavor from the steak, yet it is cooked just enough to bring the piece of meat to its maximum tenderness point.

At $51, this would be an insta-send back, but at 20% and a table of tired and weary diners, I powered it down, with me trying to remember how tasty that middle third was, forgetting about the dry outer portions.  And one other quick note, for $51…can’t that buy you a little sprinkle of parsley on the plate or something to add color to the dish?  Of course, steakhouses are rarely known for their exquisite plating efforts, but the poor charred and shriveled up piece of meat looked like an unwanted puppy on the oversized plate.

It is at this point that I come at a crossroads.  For one, you can’t totally let a restaurant live and die by its late night menu.  You get late night food cooked by late night chefs, served by late night servers with drinks mixed by late night bartenders.  The easier way to say that is; people get tired.  But, (and you know there’s a but) if you are going to offer this late night dining experience with this 20% off deal clearly to entice industry people who eat at this odd hour so then they will speak the good fortunes of your establishment, you should do it well, and do it well consistently.

I was also kind of shocked that a late night menu in an Italian Steakhouse only had rabbit stuffed cannelloni on the menu for a pasta selection.  Not looking for anything complicated, just something in any easy pomodoro to twirl around my fork in between bites of beef.  I wound up getting the Tuscan Fries ($6) which were a bunch of Fingerling potatoes cut in half and roasted in a cast iron pan with garlic and parmesan flavors prevalent.  They were good, but initially forgotten by the server and not brought to me until half the steak was gone.

While some deem Carnevino as the best steakhouse on Earth, from these showings, I don’t even think it’s the best steakhouse in the same building, with Wolfgang Puck’s CUT down the hall and Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico just a few steps past that.  Some will argue that Carnevino offers a super-aged steak not found anywhere else on Earth, to which I can’t justify paying that kind of price for a piece of decomposed moo cow.

It almost pains me to say it, because I really want to love Carnevino; but, I just can’t.

—–

Carnevino

Palazzo Hotel Casino Resort
3325 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

(702) 789-4141

http://www.Carnevino.com

Follow Carnevino on Twitter at @Carnevino

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeDobranski.

Follow Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas.

Carnevino (Palazzo) on Urbanspoon

Adventures in Gluttony: "The Dobranski" is Born at First Food and Bar

Some boys look up at a clear night’s sky and imagine how someday they’ll walk on the moon’s surface. Generous philanthropists have hospital wings built in their name in recognition of their efforts to heal the sick and save the lives of thousands.  Monuments have been erected to honor men that have sacrificed all they had to bring peace to the world they loved so much.

Me?

I’ve always wanted a sandwich to be named after me.

"The Dobranski" at First Food and Bar

"The Dobranski" at First Food and Bar

Ever since I first wondered, “Who the hell is Reuben?”, my life’s long goal was to have a sandwich named after me. On February 18, 2010, my main purpose for living was realized as First Food and Bar at the Palazzo resort decreed their massive Double Loaded Bacon Cheeseburger; “The Dobranski.”

It all started one evening when I saw a picture of the beautiful monstrosity posted on First Food and Bar’s Facebook page.  It was love at first sight.  Offered as a late night special, it sang to me like a Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercial; this burger needed a home, and that home was my belly.

This original edition of the Colossal Burger was a single one-pound beef patty with bacon, American cheese, avocado, tomato, lettuce, onion and 1,000 Island on a 12″ sesame seed bun baked at nearby Bouchon Bakery.  Served with some tasty O-Rings, this burger marked what may be a new era in First’s evolution as a restaurant; massive food.

Walnut Shrimp at First Food and Bar

Walnut Shrimp at First Food and Bar

A frequent late night gorge and libation spot for The Wife, my fellow noise-making colleagues and myself, we ventured over to the Palazzo on the night the burger picture was posted with visions of cholesterol dancing in my head.  There are so many reasons to go to First Food and Bar. We have yet to hit a weak spot on the menu.  Everything from the Philly Cheesesteak Dumplings to the Cucumber Gimlets are a win, and will certainly be more formally reviewed (well, as formal as we get) in the near future.

But on this night, it was all about the burger for me. I got the burger, I ate the burger. Ok…so I also enjoyed a few of my favorite Walnut Shrimp, and some Cinnamon Sugar Donuts…but the burger was the star attraction.  Not thinking much of it other than getting to tell the tale of eating such a monstrosity, I headed home happy, fat and satisfied.

The next morning (my version of morning, a.k.a. – The Crack of Noon), I saw a thank you on First’s Facebook page to everyone who tried the late night burger special.  I commented saying how much I enjoyed it and telling the stories that come along with it, to which First then responded to let me know I was the only person at that time to have finished the burger on my own!  I was ecstatic!  Since I was the only, this means I was also the first!  I could only imagine that Neil Armstrong felt the same wave of pride that washed over me as his feet first touched the lunar surface.

But, the congratulations came with an additional challenge; “Now someone will have to try the DOUBLE patty.”

Double patty, you say? DOUBLE patty?!? Well, certainly no other pig is going to steal my thunder and one up me by throwing another patty on the burger!  I need to get down to First right away and defend my glory!  But not right then. I had a whole bunch of ground beef, cheese and bacon in various parts of my digestive system and I needed some serious recovery time, as did the City of Henderson Municipal Sewage System.

A few days after the online challenge, I got home after “one of those days” at work. Battered and bruised, I looked in The Wife’s sparkly blue eyes and said, “Honey, I’m famished. If this double burger is going to happen, then it is going to happen tonight.”  Not being one to ever turn down First’s French Onion Soup, The Wife went down to The Palazzo with me and we arrived at about 11:30pm on February 17, 2010.

After explaining the Facebook challenge to the late night staff and a quick check to see if  they slaughtered enough pigs and cows to construct the beast, they agreed to make the Double Colossal Burger.

"The Dobranski" Cooking on the Griddle

"The Dobranski" Cooking on the Griddle

When the challenge was issued, I interpreted it as an extra one-pound patty would be added to the existing burger.  The kitchen staff however thought otherwise and doubled the patty, the bacon AND the cheese!  If this was going to be done, it was going to be done right.

One Quick Smile Before The Pain

One Quick Smile Before The Pain

As the burger was set down before me, I could see why cardiologists are so wealthy.  I looked at it knowing that my heart would probably stop after consumption, but it was no matter. My reputation was at stake, and I would rather go down a hero than live as a zero.  Behold, the first bite…

Behold! The First Bite!

Behold! The First Bite!

Where with the single burger I was able to eat it in the traditional hand-grabbing style, this double burger was a knife and fork necessity.  Taking the first bite with my hands purely for photo-op purposes, I got down to business by cutting off sections about 1/5 of the total burger’s size and then eating it.  I burned through about 3/5 of the estimated 5-pound after-cooking total and then I hit the wall.

Cutting Away at "The Dobranski"

Cutting Away at "The Dobranski"

And I mean it. I really hit the wall.  From the first glances of awe, love and affection, my glossy-eyed stare turned to regret, betrayal and defeat. There was a lot of food in my gut, and there was still a lot of food on the table before me. Just as I was telling The Wife that I wasn’t going to make it, a hand tapped me on the shoulder and said there was someone that wanted to meet me.

The Face of Imminent Defeat

The Face of Imminent Defeat

It was Chef Sammy D, chef and owner of First Food and Bar!  Off duty and hanging at nearby Smokin’ Hot Aces, someone must have got him and told him that he had to see this idiot attempt a double burger.  Like the unavoidable attraction to a traffic accident, Chef Sammy D took some time to cheer me on in my quest of supreme gluttony.

The Final Bite!

The Final Bite!

With a renewed confidence and some much needed digestion time as we got to chat a bit with the Chef, I tackled the remains all the way to sweet victory!  An estimated five pounds of sandwich, two and a half of which was estimated to be post-cooking weight of the beef and bacon alone, this burger was now a part of me, for better or for worse.  According to the night manager, I ate it in 40 minutes.  In the spirit of full disclosure, there were a few slices of tomato, onion and lettuce left that fell on the table and I only ate about 5 or 6 of the dozen or so onion rings provided.

Me, A Chef that Sammy Knows, Chef Sammy D, The Wife

Me, A Chef that Sammy Knows, Chef Sammy D, The Wife

With flirtations of having the burger named after me and Chef Sammy D generously comping the delicious heartattack in a bun, it wasn’t until the sun rose and I thankfully woke up alive that I found out the burger was officially named “The Dobranski.” This was it!  My life’s journey finally brought me to my personal promised land of a sandwich named after me!

Just as John Hancock has his Tower in Boston, Christopher Columbus has his Circle in New York City and William H. Seward had his Folly in Alaska; Mike Dobranski now has his Burger in Las Vegas!

Come and Get It, Adam Richman!

Come and Get It, Adam Richman!

Now retired from the Five Pound Bacon Cheeseburger Eating Business while I’m on top, “The Dobranski” is the perfect challenge for Adam Richman and his gluttonous showcase on Man vs. Food.  Adam’s verified Twitter account is at @AdamRichman and Man vs. Food Twitter account is at @ManvFood.  Tweet them incessantly and let them know “The Dobranski” is an epic battle waiting to happen!

Mike with Brian, Deliverer of the Dobranski Burger

Mike with Brian, Deliverer of the Dobranski Burger

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First Food and Bar

The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino
3327 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

(702) 607-3478

http://www.FirstFoodandBar.com

Follow First Food and Bar on Twitter at @FirstFoodandBar



First (Palazzo) on Urbanspoon
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Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeDobranski.

Follow Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas.

Dish Spotlight: The 837 Club Burger from The Palm Restaurant

Beloved by the carnivorous, mover and shaker power-lunchers across this great land of ours, The Palm Restaurant has their Las Vegas outpost located in The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.  One of the highlights on The Palm’s lunch menu is The 837 Club Burger.

The 837 Club Burger gets its name from The Palm’s 837 Club, which in turn gets its name from The Palm Restaurant’s first location, 837 2nd Avenue in New York.  Going strong at this location in New York for over 80 years, the 837 number is fabled as lucky, so they created a club. The 837 Club is The Palm’s version of a rewards club, where members (for a one time fee of $25) can accumulate points towards food for every dollar they spend, as well as get exclusive access to other special amenities.  The good news is that you don’t need to be a member to enjoy its namesaked, tasty burger.

The Palm Restaurant’s prime location in The Forum Shops just beyond the entrance to Caesars’ casino floor provides for a premium people-watching spot if you choose to be seated “outside” (which in reality is in the main corridor of The Forum Shops).  Inside they have the trademark caricatures of the celebrities that have dined there.  Somehow my picture is still missing…must be an innocent oversight!  However, for the people watching alone, my suggestion is to sit outside.  (Men: there’s both a Coach and Jimmy Choo store nearby.  It’s like mosquitoes going to the light. Trust me, sit outside!)

The service has always been top-notch, with very attentive servers giving you that extra old-school steakhouse server kind of charm.  As many of you are well aware, the fastest way to my heart is to not let my water glass go empty for too long, and I don’t think I ever saw the bottom of the glass.

The burger itself is mighty tasty.  The 837 Club Burger features; Prosciutto di Parma, Roasted Red Pepper, Pesto Aioli and Fontina Cheese atop a house ground beef patty.  The prosciutto does little more than give you the personal satisfaction that there is pork on your burger as the bold flavors of the Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto Aioli (punctuated with the addition of a full fresh basil leaf) take charge.  The Fontina cheese has a wonderful lush richness that evens out the flavor punch of the Peppers and Pesto.

The beef patty itself is splendidly seasoned and was perfectly prepared.  My sweet spot for beef (for both burger and steak forms) is the Medium-Rare side of Medium.  For me, it gets the meat to be broken down through the cooking process just enough to achieve maximum tenderness, yet is still rare enough to retain that juicy flavor of love. For those that care about your clothing, consider yourself warned; the first bite was a juice explosion!  Beef fat running down your arm (but in a good way), you don’t care who’s watching, you just want to lick it off. Mmm….cholesterol

The only downside to the plate of food were the fries. The hand cut fries were limp and grease soaked.  Methinks the oil wasn’t hot enough, but whatever happened in the kitchen, it made for some French Fries that did the magnificent burger no justice.

Almost piercing the Burger Price Threshold many people have, this particular burger (and crappy fries) is priced at $15. I can tell you that the 837 Club Burger more than delivers and is appropriately priced.  For people that say, I can get a burger at Applebee’s for $9, I say to you: You CAN’T get The 837 Club Burger at Applebee’s! Trust me and go eat this burger, then you can shower me with gifts after you do!

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The Palm Restaurant

The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace
3500 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

(702) 732-7256

http://www.thepalm.com/sitemain.cfm?site_id=15

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Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeDobranski.

Follow Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas.