JK Grence the Cosmic Jester's Profile

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Surprising Bad Service at Bouchon

As an industry veteran: I would MUCH rather you tell me while you're still at the restaurant than complaining on Twitter the next day. This passive-aggressive BS has got to stop.

Mar 28, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Las Vegas

Surprising Bad Service at Bouchon

Tell people at restaurants when something is wrong. If you sit there all glib acting like everything is OK, they'll think you're happy. Tell the management that you had an awful time, and they'll likely bend over backwards to fix things. But they can't fix it if you don't TELL THEM.

Mar 28, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Las Vegas
1

Surprising Bad Service at Bouchon

Just curious, did you let anyone at the restaurant know you were displeased with the service? It's very hard for them to fix things after you've left.

Worrying about leaving your credit card is, in a word, dumb. Credit card slips come with a second copy for a reason. A quick call to the restaurant will adjust the total to the correct amount (and usually get the waiter justifiably sacked in the process).

Mar 28, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Las Vegas

90s food!

If my memory serves me correctly, molten chocolate cake hit the big time in the early 1990s.

Oh, another one that was HUGE and is still around... hot spinach artichoke dip. Piece of cake to make your own.

Oh oh oh how could I forget... California-style pizza! BBQ chicken pizza (BBQ sauce, gouda, chicken, red onion, cilantro) is the standard bearer, but Thai chicken pizza (peanut sauce, mozzarella cheese, chicken, shredded carrots, bean sprouts, peanuts, cilantro, scallions) best embodies the "Why the hell are we putting that on pizza? Why not?" mindset of California pizza.

Mar 15, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in General Topics

Falernum et al.

I'm looking at them now, and the two are indeed suspiciously similar.

Jet Pilot
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz grapefruit juice
1/2 oz cinnamon syrup
1/2 oz falernum
1 oz dark rum
3/4 oz gold rum
3/4 oz 151-proof Demerara rum
1 dash Angostura bitters
1/8 tsp pernod

Blend with 1/2 cup crushed ice for 5 seconds. Pour into a double rocks glass.

Zombie
3/4 oz lime juice
1/2 oz zombie mix (2 parts grapefruit juice to 1 part cinnamon syrup)
1/2 oz falernum
1 1/2 oz gold rum
1 1/2 oz dark rum
1 oz 151-proof Demerara rum
1 dash Angostura bitters
1/8 tsp Pernod
1 tsp grenadine

Blend on high with 3/4 cup crushed ice. Pour into a tall glass, adding ice to fill.

Mar 15, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Spirits

Falernum et al.

And a great deal of Falernum drinks involve scads of ingredients already.

Aha, found one in Beachbum Berry's volumes that uses common ingredients.

Golden Wave
3/4 oz lemon juice
1 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz triple sec
1/2 oz falernum
1 oz light rum
3/4 c crushed ice

Blend on high for 5 seconds. Pour into a champagne glass.

Mar 15, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Spirits

Tactical Question re Dining in Vegas

The closest Monorail stop is behind the shell of the old Sahara. It goes behind the east side of the strip, stopping at Sahara, LVH (formerly the Hilton), the Las Vegas Convention Center, Harrah's and The Quad, Flamingo, Bally's and Paris, and finally MGM Grand. Note that it stops in the very back of each hotel property.

Mar 14, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Las Vegas

Places for Kitschy Wedding Brunch in Las Vegas

It's an old-school drugstore lunch counter that has since had the surrounding drugstore close... Does the counter even have 14 seats?

Mar 14, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Las Vegas

Tactical Question re Dining in Vegas

For the buffet or not question: It depends. I feel like going to a buffet in Vegas is like going up the Eiffel Tower on a trip to Paris; you could skip it, but why? The buffet is as much a part of the Vegas experience as showgirls and slot machines.

Worth it for quality: Depends entirely on the hotel. Higher end hotel, higher end buffet. I'd rather pay a few bucks extra for Wicked Spoon, Bellagio, Wynn, or Spice Market than endure the sub-Golden Corral slop at the low end buffets like Excalibur, Circus Circus, or Stratosphere.

High end items: Those are at dinner. My usual buffet meal is lunch. It's not AS fancy as dinner, but the good buffets still have a very nice selection. By the time I'm done, I'm full enough that dinner is a very late meal.

Kids' buffet pricing: As far as I can tell, it depends on the hotel. Call the ones that don't have pricing online and you'll find out. It looks like the usual kid/adult split is either 8 or 10 years old; your 7 will pretty much always get it, the 11 year old almost never will.

Celebrity chef restaurants, for the most part, won't bat an eye at your kids as long as they're reasonably well-behaved. Good deals and celebrity chef restaurants are, for the most part, mutually exclusive. One of the few steals in this realm is the Cut of the Week prix fixe menu at Charlie Palmer Steak down at the Four Seasons in Mandalay Bay. Three courses including wine, $48 per person. Problem is, it's definitely a grown-up restaurant; I'd call ahead to see how they prefer to handle kids. You may also be interested in the $20.13 lunch special at Estiatorio Milos inside The Cosmopolitan While it's not a celebrity chef restaurant per se, it's an outstanding restaurant.

A couple of blocks north of Stratosphere is a phenomenal little place, Viva Las Arepas. It's quickly vaulted to my must-have list every time I'm in Vegas. Bonus: Luv-It Frozen Custard is practically across the street from it.

Bad news: Stratosphere is pedestrian no-man's land. The closest Strip hotels, Circus Circus and Riviera, are 3/4 mile south. The next closest, Wynn and Treasure Island, are another mile past that.

As for the Sirens of TI show: It is not appropriate for anyone. The most I've seen of it was when I was walking from Mirage to Wynn, and even THAT felt like two minutes of my life I'd never get back. I couldn't imagine staying for the whole show.

Mar 14, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Las Vegas
1

Places for Kitschy Wedding Brunch in Las Vegas

I've been to Serendipity 3 in Vegas. My best recommendation is to grab a frozen hot chocolate from the take-out window, and mosey along.

You want kitschy, Peppermill is *definitely* the answer. The enormous fruit salad Dave mentioned is the Fresh Fruit on the dinner menu. It looks like they bring out Carmen Miranda's hat. I've split it three ways for breakfast and haven't come close to finishing it.

Mar 14, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Las Vegas

Where to eat

Oh man, I don't know how it didn't occur to me sooner: You're in easy striking distance of Chino Bandido. There truly isn't anything like it anywhere else. Search the board, there is already much waxing poetic about the place. Jade Red Chicken (their version of General Tso's) in a quesadilla is way better than it has any right to be.

Mar 14, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Phoenix

Suggestions for light appetizers to enjoy in the hotel suite

If I may suggest something a little silly for part of it if people are from anywhere back east: Shortly before the shower, swing by In-N-Out Burger, order a mess of Double-Doubles Animal Style, then cut them into hors d'oeuvre-sized portions, secured with frilly picks purchased from a regular grocery store.

Mar 12, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Las Vegas

Sugar Bowl or Sweet Republic

I have eaten at a LOT of gelato places in town, and have found Gelato Spot to be consistently the bottom of the barrel. There's no excuse for pellets of ice that come from refreezing product. Much, MUCH better in the vicinity is Cool Gelato, right next to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Indeed, they're some of the best gelato in town.

Mar 12, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Phoenix

Unopened bottle of St Germain

For the most part, liqueurs don't spoil in the sense that you're thinking; it should still be safe to drink. However, over time, fruits and aromatics can oxidize and taste less good than they used to. If you've taken good care of the bottle, it may well still be as good as new. The first indicator is color; St. Germain should be pale gold. If it's a darker hue, it's obviously past its prime.

Mar 09, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Spirits

Best Oysters Rockefeller

Just on first instinct, I'm pretty sure the places that serve it will be few and far between. I looked through a bunch of old-school steakhouse menus, and the one that has it is Golden Steer. Lakeside at Wynn also serves it, or at least a knock-off, as I'm pretty sure bacon and hollandaise don't belong anywhere near oysters Rockefeller.

Between the two (again, on instinct alone), I'd go Golden Steer. They're extra old-school. Lakeside's version includes bacon and hollandaise, two things I'm pretty sure aren't normally included in a Rockefeller preparation. And I've been less impressed with the WynnCore complex as a whole ever since they went for the lucrative (and annoying) nightclub market.

Mar 07, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Las Vegas

OTR microwave & hood died and I need advice

Kenmore manufactures absolutely nothing. They have someone else make the product, slap the Kenmore label on it, and then stick you with the awful Sears service department instead of the manufacturer's. It's not worth the minimal amount you save over the equivalent name-brand product.

Speaking of equivalent name-brands: KitchenAid is one of the many brands made by Whirlpool. They make, in rough order low to high end: Amana, Maytag, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, and JennAir. The products across brands are almost completely identical, except the higher end products have nicer trim and cost a hell of a lot more. For example, here's the KitchenAid:
http://www.kitchenaid.com/flash.cmd?/...

And here's the matching Whirlpool that goes for half the price: http://www.kitchenaid.com/flash.cmd?/...

Venting shouldn't be TOO difficult. A vent hood should lead outside anyway, otherwise you're just blasting the vented air right back at the cook.

Mar 06, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Cookware

Kitchen Tour offers?

I should have been more clear. The people with drinks in hand are the ones who got the table that Carlylecat had recently vacated for the kitchen tour. As Carlylecat said: "By the time we left the kitchen there was allready another group at our table - menus and drinks in hand"

Mar 05, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Not About Food

Quick Ice-Water from the Bar -- Tip?

My qualification to answer: I'm a bartender.

I never expect a tip on ice water. It's free, takes only a couple of seconds, and doesn't exactly test my abilities as a skilled maker of libations.

That said, I do appreciate it when someone drops a buck or two my way. I do put up a bit of a fuss because you're giving me something for a lagniappe, but I don't complain *that* much.

All this goes out the window if a cocktail server is involved; since they have to go get the water, and it took up space on a cocktail tray where a paid drink could have been, they get a buck or two.

Mar 04, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Not About Food

Kitchen Tour offers?

The few times I've been invited back to the kitchen, it's because I showed great enthusiasm for the restaurant. I've only had it happen to me before the check drops, and when it's fairly slow, usually close to the end of the shift. Let me tell you, the dedicated pastry room at Bouchon is about the most divine thing I've ever smelled. I may have gained a pound just breathing that buttery air.

Offering a kitchen tour during a busy period to get you off the table is a clever ruse. Considering they already had drinks in hand, it sounds like they were running behind on the reservation sheet. I hope the manager did the tour, because about the last thing i'd want to do as a waiter in the middle of the dinner rush is take a few minutes to show now-former campers around the kitchen. I still think the old "May I treat you to coffee or after-dinner drinks in the lounge?" is a better choice.

Mar 04, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Not About Food

lunch ressies?

reservations for lunch are rarely necessary. I know that in the case of Mon Ami Gabi, the highly desirable patio seating is only available on a first come, first served basis.

Mar 02, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Las Vegas

Chocolate-covered Katie

Actual healthy dessert: A piece of fruit.

Feb 25, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Home Cooking

Chocolate-covered Katie

Stupid question, but what the hell is the fun of dessert if it's healthy? That's why fruit exists. Literally every single health-conscious dessert recipe I've tried has left me completely unsatisfied. I'd rather have just a couple bites of something indecently rich. Just looking at those recipes makes me want to go split a hot fudge brownie sundae with someone. Extra hot fudge, please.

Feb 23, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Home Cooking

Raku Kaiseki No More

Just a guess, but... You'll probably be just as happy with the omakase as you would have been with the kaiseki. Few places only do omakase items directly from the menu. There's likely to be a couple of menu highlights here and there, but the better portion of it will be original items based on what looks best to the chef that day. And at a place like Raku, renowned for their kaiseki, I think odds are pretty good that the omakase will bear quite a few similarities to the kaiseki you wanted.

From what I know of Japanese cuisine, I think this is something like a French fine dining restaurant switching from a traditional (read: very old-school) 14-course service à la russe to a dégustation menu à la Joël Robuchon or Guy Savoy.

Another thought: Keep the reservation. Call back a week or two before you arrive. They may have had enough of an outcry by then that they will offer the kaiseki again.

Feb 23, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Las Vegas

Sugar Bowl or Sweet Republic

If you want an old-school over-the-top sundae with all the trimmings: Sugar Bowl. (Actually, on this one, you want Mary Coyle, but you asked specifically about Sugar Bowl or Sweet Republic. Never mind that Mary Coyle is but five minutes farther from Sugar Bowl than Sweet Republic.)

If you want really good ice cream with inventive flavors and/or toppings: Sweet Republic.

If you love the comic strip The Family Circus: You've already decided on Sugar Bowl.

Feb 23, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Phoenix

The Ultimate (in my opinion of course) Martini garnish.......

I was thinking... If you prefer a more traditional garnish, a lemon twist would be more than welcome. The two flavors pair brilliantly, as anyone who's had a chocolate cake shot (citrus vodka and Frangelico, served with a sugared lemon slice to bite) can tell you.

Feb 22, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Spirits

The Ultimate (in my opinion of course) Martini garnish.......

This may sound kind of silly but... Have you considered dropping in a hazelnut or two?

Feb 22, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Spirits

Falernum et al.

Get into Tiki drinks. Falernum and orgeat are all over the place.

Feb 12, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Spirits

Where can I buy an older Kitchenaid mixer?

It's pretty easy to tell the vintage ones, as the metal band with the KitchenAid mark has a Hobart logo somewhere on it, usually toward the back of the machine. I have a K5SS in my kitchen, the same kind my grandmother had, and it still purrs like a kitten.

Feb 07, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Cookware

How to clean caramel from pizza stone?

I would imagine that putting the stone in a low and slow oven overnight should dry it with a minimal risk of cracking.

Jan 31, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Cookware

Last minute trip, help please

The fry bread at Fry Bread House on 7th Ave north of Indian School is outstanding, but lately I've been enamored with The Stand on Alma School a hair south of Indian School out on the Pima-Maricopa reservation. It's a very rustic roadside stand. How rustic, you ask? The structure is made of mesquite branches with saguaro rib walls, and a chicken wire/palm thatch roof. The menu has on it red or green chili, beans and cheese, or Indian tacos with ground beef or chili, all on your choice of either their excellent frybread or one of the best tortillas in the state. There's also red or white menudo, and two kinds of cake for dessert. Tricky parts are that they're only open for weekday lunch, and are cash only. Official hours are 11am-4pm, but sometimes they get a late start and don't open until some time past noon, and if they run out of food, they pack up and head home early.

Jan 31, 2013
JK Grence the Cosmic Jester in Phoenix