Tag Archives: seafood

MAYA Steaks Seafood

Support Second Helping Atlanta at MAYA Steaks & Seafood

Chef Mimmo Alboumeh of MAYA Steaks & Seafood and Red Pepper Taqueria is not just focused on making delicious food. He’s also passionate about giving back to the local community.

Now through mid-May Chef Mimmo has partnered with Second Helping Atlanta. The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization aims to eliminate hunger in the Metropolitan Atlanta area by taking surplus food and delivering it to those in need.

Chef MimmoDine at MAYA Steaks & Seafood on Wednesdays through May 10th 2017, and 20% of your total bill will be donated to Second Helping Atlanta.

Call ahead to the Sandy Springs restaurant at (404) 705-8880 and reserve the Chef’s Table for Second Helpings. You may also reserve a table for 2 to 8 people through Open Table. If reserving online, include the note that you’d like to be seated at the Chef’s Table to benefit Second Helpings Atlanta.

MAYA, named for Chef Mimmo’s youngest daughter, offers top cuts of steak from Iowa Premium Black Angus and inventive seafood dishes with a signature Spanish flair.

For more information on Second Helpings Atlanta visit www.secondhelpingsatlanta.org.

MAYA Steaks & Seafood, 6152 Roswell Road, Atlanta 30328.
Offering dinner Monday through Saturday, 4 p.m to 11 p.m.
(404) 705-8880, www.mayasteaks.com

Image of Chef Mimmo courtesy Red Clay Public Relations

Related: MAYA: Superior Steak in Sandy Springs

Atlanta Seafood & Craft Beer Festival Debuts in August

Mark your calender for the first ever Atlanta Seafood & Craft Beer Festival, debuting on Saturday, August 9th at Piedmont Park. The event, to be held from 12pm to 8pm, will highlight the best of Atlanta’s restaurants, food trucks and caterers that specialize in serving seafood, plus the city’s most popular craft breweries.

Atlanta Seafood and Craft Beer FestivalAdmission is free and open to the public. Food must be purchased from individual vendors and patrons must buy a wristband to enter the festival’s Beer Garden.

The $10 General Wristband comes with one 16oz beer of your choice and allows you to purchase beer and other beverages available in the Beer Garden. For $35, the VIP Craft Beer tasting experience allows you to enjoy 10 of the local craft beers available in the Beer Garden. Click here to purchase wristbands online.

For more information on the event and to see a list of participants visit atlantaseafoodandcraftbeer.com.

Atlanta Seafood & Craft Beer Festival, Saturday, August 9 from 12pm to 8pm at Piedmont Park. atlantaseafoodandcraftbeer.com

Fry’s St. Cecilia to Open January 13

The newest restaurant from Chef Ford Fry is set to open on January 13th. St. Cecilia, located at the corner of Peachtree and Lenox Roads in Buckhead, will feature a menu inspired by northern Italian coastal flavors.

St CeciliaThe name pays tribute to the patron saint of music (and Fry’s love of music), as well as the sirens of Greek mythology who lured in mariners.

The menu created by Fry and executive chef Brian Horn draws from the cuisine of the southern European coast.

“When we started creating dishes for St. Cecilia, we were inspired by the cooking techniques used in the area of Genoa, Italy, the Ligurian coast, the day to day fishing, home-style pasta making – nothing too fancy, just really simple,” said Fry.

Dishes include salt cod beignets; bucatini with Jonah crab, Serrano chili and garlicky crumbs; fluke crudo with blood orange, pink grapefruit, Castelvetrano olive and EVOO; and veal rib chop with cipollini onions, mushroom, pancetta and Madeira.

The dessert menu created by pastry chef Chrysta Poulos is also inspired by Italy, with treats like the panini di gelato, an ice cream sandwich with pizzelle cookies; bomboloni doughnuts filled with housemade ricotta; and zabaglione gelato.

To complement the food, there are European-inspired aperitifs, craft cocktails and a 200-bottle wine list.

For those looking for a post-work or pre-dinner drink, there is a spacious bar and cocktail lounge.

St. Cecilia is located adjacent to the Pinnacle Building. The restaurant will offer dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5pm to 10pm, Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 11pm. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11:30am to 2:30pm. Valet parking is available.

Ford Fry’s other acclaimed restaurants are JCT. Kitchen & Bar, No. 246, The Optimist and King + Duke.

St. Cecilia, 3455 Peachtree Road, Buckhead. (404) 554-9995. stceciliaatl.com

New Menus at Article 14

Article 14 is the kind of restaurant that makes you wish you worked or lived in Midtown so you could walk there for a drink or a bite to eat.

Wherever you are, now is a great time to check out Article 14. The restaurant recently revamped its menus, adding unique cocktails and dishes inspired by executive chef Chris Blobaum’s style of coast-to-coast American cuisine.

Article 14The new cocktail menu was created by Head Mixologist Arianne Fielder, a familiar face to Atlantans who enjoy high quality, handcrafted drinks (Fielder worked previously at Seven Lamps and Southern Art and Bourbon Bar). The menu offers classic and signature cocktails, house barrel-aged drinks and ‘beertails,’ cocktails with beer as one of the ingredients.

Smoke and Mirrors, Field of Dreams cocktailsTry the Field of Dreams, a mix of Kentucky vintage small batch bourbon, Wild Heaven Ode to Mercy, rosemary-infused sorghum and ginger. The frothy top is garnished with a sprig of rosemary that makes each sip an aromatic experience.

Manhattan fans will want to try the Smoke and Mirrors, a barrel-aged cocktail with Four Roses Bourbon, Dolin Rouge, Cherry Heering and smoky Memphis BBQ bitters.

Article 14The menu offers starters, salads, sides, small plates and entrees. Try one of the seafood dishes and you won’t be disappointed. The Steamed Clams come in a savory broth made with SweetWater ale and chorizo (you may want to ask for extra bread for dipping). The Pan Roasted Sea Scallops are cooked perfectly and maintain their delicate taste and texture.

The Grilled Pork Chop has a wonderfully smoky flavor, and is nicely complimented by the bed of Anson Mills polenta and figs. A popular item on the new menu is the Grilled Cowboy Ribeye, which comes with potato puree and grilled Vidalia onion rings.

If you’re having a drink and want something to snack on, try the Duck Confit Sliders, Salumi or Tacos. Or try the Okra Chips, which will satisfy your craving for salty and crunchy.

In addition to lunch and dinner, Article 14 is open for weekend brunch. Click here to see the menus. Complimentary 2-hour valet parking is available in an adjacent garage.

Article 14 is part of Legacy Restaurant Partners, which includes Olmstead, Stats, Glenn’s Kitchen, Der Biergarten, Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria and Game-X.

Article 14, 1180 Peachtree Street Suite B (on 14th Street), Atlanta 30309. (404) 443-8432, article14.com

A New Era for the Old Vinings Inn

Old is new at the Old Vinings Inn. A longtime landmark on Paces Mill Road, the restaurant is beginning a new era, with new management and a new executive chef.

Old Vinings InnIt’s an evolution, not a revolution, according to new owner Lee Schulman. Since the transition in mid April the Old Vinings Inn hasn’t missed a beat, offering simple yet satisfying upscale southern cuisine.

Though Executive Chef Don Diem has added his touch to the menu, longtime diners will still recognize the Old Vinings Inn. At the same time, it gives new diners a reason to choose it for a special night out.

The Old Vinings Inn is the total package — a charming setting in a historic building, friendly and attentive staff, and delicious southern food. Even the yeast rolls are tasty. Topped with melted honey butter, you’ll have a tough time eating just one.

charcuterie plateIn addition to wines offered by the glass and bottle, Old Vinings Inn has a tempting selection of cocktails. Try the Old Vinings Inn Plantation Punch, made with St. Germain, Campari, champagne and fresh grapefruit juice. Or try the Chattahoochee, made with Jim Beam, St. Germain, ginger beer, lemon juice and bitters.

To start, try the Charcuterie Plate. It comes with a selection of house pickled vegetables, salumi, cheese, flatbread and a generous serving of Chef Diem’s pimento cheese, a real guilty pleasure.

gulf coast oystersNot to be missed are the Blue Corn Crusted Gulf Coast Oysters. Big and juicy, they’re perfectly cooked and bursting with flavor.

For the main course, try the Pecan Mountain Trout. The pecans add a wonderful flavor and texture to the fish. The Pan Seared Lamb Lollipops offer a touch of sweet with savory. They’re served with a wild mushroom and leek farmhouse bread pudding.

If you want to stay more traditional, go for the Buttermilk Fried Chicken or the Shrimp & Grits.

peach pieYou’ll have a hard time choosing among the side dishes, but make sure the Pot Likker Collards are one of them. They just may be some of the best collard greens you’ll find in Atlanta.

If you have room for dessert try the Farmhouse Peach Pie, which comes with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

The night doesn’t have to end when you get the check. Head upstairs to the cozy Attic Bar for a digestif. There’s live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night starting at 9pm.

Old Vinings Inn, 3011 Paces Mill Road, Atlanta, 30339. (770) 438-2282
Dinner Monday through Thursday from 5pm to 9pm; Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 10pm. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30am to 3pm.
The Attic Bar is open beginning at 5pm.

The Varsity

Fly & Dine at ATL: Your Guide to Where to Eat at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport

If your travel plans take you through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, you’ll want to arrive early. With a host of new restaurants, there have never been more delicious dining options for travelers.

The airport offers a true taste of Atlanta, including favorite in-town restaurants like Ecco and landmarks like The Varsity.

Whether you’re leaving town, returning home or just passing through, here are restaurants to check out at the Atlanta airport.

Atrium (Pre-Security)

Atlanta Bread Company
Offering pastries, sandwiches and salads.
Location: Atrium Northeast
Hours: Open 24 hours

Atlanta ChopHouse
Offering fresh cut choice steaks, burgers, drinks and more. Offers meeting rooms for business groups to rent.
Location: Atrium Northeast
Hours: 6am – 10pm

Concourse A

Brioche Dorée
A Parisian-style café bakery specializing in French urban cuisine.
Location: A Centerpoint
Hours: 5:30am – 11pm

Samuel Adams Atlanta Brew House
Get a taste of Samuel Adams’ favorite and seasonal brews, plus a menu that includes burgers, sandwiches and chicken wings.
Location: A 12
Hours: 6am – last flight on A

Concourse B

Cafe Intermezzo
A European-style coffee house offering lunch, dinner, dessert and a variety of coffee beverages.
Location: B Centerpoint
Hours: 6am – 11pm

SweetWater Draft House & Grill
The restaurant from the Atlanta microbrewery offers a range of beers and a menu of American cuisine.
Location: B 11
Hours: 6am – 11pm

Concourse C

Atlanta Bread Company
Offering pastries, sandwiches and salads.
Location: C 30
Hours: 5am – last flight on C

Brews & Blues
Featuring southern style cooking with beef brisket, pork, turkey and chicken sandwiches.
Location: C 6
Hours: 9am – last flight on C

Burgers, BBQ & Brew
A sitdown restaurant offering a spot for a quick bite to eat.
Location: C Centerpoint
Hours: 6am – last flight on C

Chick-fil-AChick-fil-A
Quick-service chicken restaurant featuring sandwiches, salads and nuggets.
Location: C 21
Hours: 5:30am – 11pm

Miller Lite Victory Lane
Offering draft beers and traditional bar food.
Location: C 12
Hours: 6am – last flight on C

Moe’s Southwest Grill
Offering fresh burritos, tacos, fajitas and nachos.
Location: C 14
Hours: 6am – last flight on C

The Varsity
One of two airport locations (with Concourse F) of the famous Atlanta drive-in restaurant, offering chili cheese dogs, burgers and Frosted Oranges.
Location: C 21
Hours: 5:30am – 11pm

D Concourse

Grindhouse Killer Burgers
The local burger restaurant offers fresh ground burgers, fries, onion rings and Boozy Shakes.
Location: D 30
Hours: 7am – 10:30pm

E Concourse

One Flew South
An upscale restaurant featuring spirited global fare and sushi, with an extensive wine and cocktail list.
Location: E Centerpoint
Hours: 12pm – 11pm

F Concourse

Ecco Atlanta airportEcco
The airport location of the European-influenced restaurant located in Midtown Atlanta features fresh, seasonal fare.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 10am – 10pm

French Meadow Bakery Café
Offers upscale sandwiches, desserts and more.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 6am – last flight on F

Jekyll Island Seafood Company
Featuring fresh and fried seafood dishes and southern favorites like shrimp and grits.
Location: F 9
Hours: 9am – 11pm

Lorena Garcia Tapas BarLorena Garcia Tapas Bar
Offering a selection of small bites and sandwiches.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 9am – 10:30pm

Maison Mathis
Offering European-inspired sandwiches, salads, desserts and beverages, as well as Belgian beer.
Location: F 3
Hours: 9am – last flight on F

The Original El TacoThe Original El Taco
A spirited Mexican restaurant featuring fresh food, margaritas and frozen mojitos.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 9am – last flight on F

Pecan BistroThe Pecan
The airport location of the College Park restaurant offers upscale southern cuisine.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 6am – last flight on F

Pei Wei Asian Diner
Offering Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Thai cuisine.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 9am – last flight on F

Pei Wei and The VarsityThe Varsity
One of two airport locations (with Concourse C) of the famous Atlanta drive-in restaurant, offering chili cheese dogs, burgers and Frosted Oranges.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 9am – last flight on F

Bon voyage and bon appetit!

images provided by HMSHost

Lure Now Offering Weekend Brunch

Can’t make it to the coast for fresh seafood this weekend? Make Lure your destination. The contemporary fish house in Midtown is now serving weekend brunch.

Since opening last summer on Crescent Avenue, Lure has quickly established itself as a top spot in Atlanta for seafood with a southern flair. The restored 1920s bungalow feels hip yet casual, with design elements that mix wood and the sea.

Start with a mimosa or a glass of sparkling wine – Lure has Prosecco on tap. Or order one of Lure’s Bottle Shop cocktails, made with house-crafted sodas and infused spirits. Try the Micha Caliente, made with lemon-lime soda, jalapeno-infused vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry and Verdejo. It’s refreshing with a hint of spiciness, great to get your appetite going. (Just remember you can’t order alcohol before 12:30pm on Sundays.)

The Fried North Carolina Catfish Biscuit is one of the standout items on the brunch menu. Order it “Frazie style” (named for former beverage manager Mark Frazie), which comes with a fried egg and coleslaw.

If soup is more your style, try a cup of Lure’s Shrimp and Crab Gumbo, loaded with Andouille sausage and okra.

The Lobster Benedict is decadently delicious, with large chunks of lobster meat and spinach, tomatoes and slow-cooked eggs topped with sauce cardinale (similar to Hollandaise and made with lobster butter).

Shrimp & grits gets an Asian twist in the Rice Porridge. This intensely flavored dish is reminiscent of risotto and comes with warm buttered shrimp, grilled pork belly, egg, ginger, scallions and soy sauce. Drizzle in some chili oil for a little heat.

For dessert try the Citrus Tart. Similar to Key Lime pie but with a local spin, a rich lemon and orange custard is surrounded by crushed Georgia pecans and topped with whipped cream.

Executive Chef David Bradley is committed to freshness so dishes may change based on the season and availability of fish.

Lure is part of Fifth Group Restaurants, which operates South City Kitchen, La Tavola Trattoria, Ecco, Alma Cocina and The Original El Taco.

Lure, 1106 Crescent Avenue NE, Midtown Atlanta. (404) 817-3650
Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm; dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5pm to 10pm, Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 11pm; lunch available daily from 11am to 3pm.
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Surf & Turf Done Right at Aqua Blue

When restaurants try to do it all, the results can be unpredictable. Rather than focusing on a theme or cuisine, too many different ideas may spread a chef — or the customers — thin.

Aqua blue is one of those restaurants that wants to do it all. Luckily for local diners, the results are excellent. There’s sushi, seafood, steak and more, in a spot that’s both a casual neighborhood restaurant and a place to celebrate a special occasion. It’s an ambitious feat and Aqua blue gets it right.

The Roswell restaurant celebrated its 10th anniversary in August and is welcoming its 11th year with new items on the menu and cocktail list. Now is a great time to discover or rediscover Aqua blue.

Bring a big appetite. One look at the menu and you’ll want to taste it all. Owner and Executive Chef John Metz (who also owns Marlow’s Tavern, Sterling Spoon Catering and the new Market Street Café in Buckhead), and Chef de Cuisine Kien Sam have so many mouthwatering options you’ll need some time to make your decision.

Aqua blue offers a variety of sushi rolls and platters, all made with the freshest fish.

If you like crab cakes you should try Aqua blue’s version that, with large chunks of crab, is more crab than cake. It is served on a bed of avocado and mango.

For a seafood entrée, you can’t go wrong with the Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass. This dish has been a hit since it first appeared on the menu. Just a touch crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, the fish is served with a light shitake mushroom broth and baby bok choy.

Another delicious option is the Shrimp & Scallop Grits. The scallops are cooked with a light hand to maintain a tender texture. The stone ground jalapeño corn grits are so good you’ll want to lick your plate.

For those craving something on the turf side, the Australian Lamb Chop is one of the highlights. It’s perfectly cooked and well seasoned; you’ll find yourself forgoing your fork and knife so you can get every piece of meat from the bone. It is served with a crispy potato cake that has the flavor and texture of mashed potatoes covered with crushed potato chips. The slight saltiness of the potato cake goes well with the savory lamb.

Whether its lamb or steak that you order, the meat comes out at just the right temperature.

If you have room for dessert, try the rich and creamy crème brulee. The recipe comes from John Metz’s mother.

To accompany the meal, Aqua blue has a nice selection of wines by the glass and bottle, as well as what it calls “soon to be classic” cocktails. Servers are great at helping you choose a drink, offering advice on food pairings or the sweetness-to-alcohol taste ratio of cocktails.

New drinks include the Ginger Sidecar (Germaine Robin Craft Method Brandy, ginger syrup, fresh lemon juice and candied ginger), Bees Knees (Leopold Brother’s Gin, thyme honey syrup and fresh lemon), and the Vesper (DH Krahn Gin, Kettle One Vodka, Cocchi Americano and peach bitters).

Additionally, Aqua blue’s large bar area provides an inviting spot for a drink or casual meal.

Aqua blue’s location just outside the perimeter and minutes from GA 400 makes it an easy drive from the center of Atlanta. Whether you’re going into or out of the city, or just want a great meal, you’ll find it all at Aqua blue.

Aqua blue, 1564 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell, Georgia (770) 643-8886

Aqua blue is offering food and drink specials now through November 7th as part of its annual Chops event.

image of restaurant exterior from Aqua blue’s Facebook page

Eating Las Vegas

During my long weekend in Las Vegas, everything seemed up.  I won a few hundred dollars playing craps, boosted my tan while relaxing by the pool and managed to put on a few pounds, thanks to the many dining options that Las Vegas has to offer.

I spent most of my restaurant time at Mandalay Bay, where I was staying.  You can’t go wrong there, with more than 20 restaurants including a few by big name chefs.  I did venture off site on Sunday for the Wynn’s incredible Champagne brunch, which I fondly remembered from the year before.

Click here to read about the Champagne brunch at the Wynn from April 2009

My husband and I arrived at the hotel around 9:30pm Friday night, though it felt like well after midnight to us.  We knew we weren’t up for gambling quite yet, but weren’t ready to go to sleep either.  We decided to get a glass of wine at Aureole, Charlie Palmer’s restaurant famous for its four-story wine tower and its “wine angels” who fetch the bottles.

Click here to read “Wine and a Performance at Aureole” from April 2009

We found a comfy table in the lounge and took a look at the wine list.  Had we not been so tired it would have been fun to select a bottle from one of the thousands on the eWinelist and watch a wine angel get it for us, but we instead opted for one glass each.  Both wines were great — a big and earthy Napa Cab for me and a spicy Russian River Valley Zin for him.  We split an order of the sirloin sliders, perfect with both wines.  Juicy, with guacamole and a zesty chipotle sauce, they were some of the best sliders I’ve had.

The reason for our trip was to meet up with my sister, who was traveling to Las Vegas the following day with a group of friends during their week off from their third year of medical school.

Fresh from assisting in surgeries and other doctor-related activities that make my weak stomach turn, my sister was ready for a weekend of fun and relaxation — and of course, good food (it runs in the family).

To ensure the trip kicked off on a high note, we had booked a table for three on Saturday night at Fleur de Lys, Hubert Keller’s restaurant.

Before dinner we decided to try our luck in the casino.  We hit the craps table at just the right time, doubling our money in 20 minutes thanks to a few hot shot rollers (my sister included).

Feeling good after cashing in my extra $50 in chips, I couldn’t wait to put the money towards a nice meal at Fleur de Lys, conveniently located about a 30 second walk from the craps tables.

Though just steps away from the casino floor, Fleur de Lys felt like an entirely different world.  Through the doors that blocked the chiming of slot machines, the restaurant was smaller than I imagined, with 30 foot ceilings that helped keep the noise down.  The room was warm and inviting with its chocolate brown tones and wall of stones and fresh roses.  From our table I could look up into the wine loft at part of the restaurant’s 12,000 bottle collection.

I could have spent hours looking through the wine list, a binder with all sorts of enticing options.  Fortunately for us budget conscious diners, the list had all of its bottles under $100 listed in one section.  I chose a lovely Côtes du Rhône that cost $63.

Since we wanted to get the full experience of Fleur de Lys at our first visit, we all opted for the four course prix fixe menu that cost $89.  I didn’t take photos of the dishes because it didn’t feel appropriate in the restaurant, but suffice it to say that the presentation of all our courses was artful with a purpose.  Everything on the plate was so flavorful and could be enjoyed on its own or together.

For the first course I had the Ahi Tuna Tartare, which was chopped up and served on a bed of shaved fennel slaw with a ginger ponzu sauce.  I’m not normally a fan of fennel but I loved it in this dish.  The fennel soaked up the ponzu sauce and offered a refreshing contrast in taste to the meaty tuna.

Next I ordered the Braised Veal and Yukon Gold Potato Ravioli.  Veal is not something I tend to order at restaurants but I was glad that I did here.  The pasta itself was so light and delicate, with wonderfully flavored meat inside.  It was a toss up who had ordered better, me or my husband and sister who had both opted for sea bass that was wrapped in a thin slice of chorizo and served with barley in a savory sun dried tomato sauce.

For the main course my husband and sister ordered the Prime Filet Mignon, served with a red wine reduction.  I have never seen a steak more perfectly cooked.  Both were medium rare, with a uniform pink color from one side to the other.  The meat itself was delicious and extremely tender.

However, I won the round with the Stout Braised Beef Shortribs.  They were topped with a small bit of whole grain mustard and served with a root vegetable puree.  “Wow” is really the only thing I need to say about this dish.

Besides being by far the best shortribs I’ve ever eaten (I’m a fan so I’ve ordered them often), it was the best dish I’ve had in months, maybe years.

I couldn’t get enough of the sauce, an insanely good Guinness reduction that the waiter poured around the meat.  Beef, lamb, a piece of cardboard — I would eat anything served with this sauce.  My husband and sister agreed, scooping up the sauce on pieces of their filet mignon after I refused to share any more of my shortribs.  And the root vegetable puree!  It was silky and luscious and wonderful with a little of the sauce.

With every dish, Keller demonstrated his exceptional skill at sauces.  Like a great wine, all were loaded with flavor, and yet they were never heavy.

I had already made up my mind that my meal at Fleur de Lys was the best dining experience I’ve had in the last couple of years; dessert made it official.

I ordered the trio of desserts: a warm Valrhona chocolate cake, peanut butter milkshake and caramel corn ice cream, served with a few pieces of caramel corn.  I’ve lost track of how many warm Valrhona chocolate cakes I’ve eaten over the years but this one was the best, with a center of pure heaven.  The ice cream was a sweet palate cleanser between the cake and the milkshake, my favorite on the plate.  Served in a glass resembling a tall shot glass with a short straw, the milkshake tasted like Reese’s peanut butter cups.  Though full after the fabulous meal, I wish I could have gotten several refills!

Top Chef Masters fans, take note: Fleur de Lys offers an early evening menu based on the dishes Keller made on season one of the show.  Yes, even the macaroni and cheese he made in a dorm room shower makes the menu, though I’m assuming he doesn’t actually prepare it in a shower anymore.

During my trip I also ate at Keller’s Burger Bar.  Though I’m kind of over the concept of big name chefs opening up burger joints because they’re ALL doing it, I have to say I was a fan of Keller’s.  From my seat at the bar I could see the assortment of beers on tap and the even larger selection of bottled beer in the fridges.  I ordered an amber from Sin City Brewing Company, a local microbrewery.

As with all these burger restaurants, the meal can cost as little or as much as you’d like it to be, depending on how many toppings (and how exotic) you order.  Burger Bar offers an assortment of patties including Black Angus, Kobe beef, buffalo, salmon, chicken and a veggie burger.  You also choose your bun from five options.  Toppings range from a variety of cheeses, sauces, mushrooms and bacons, to the more expensive foie gras and lobster.  Those who’ve won big may want to skip the customization and go right for the Rossini, a Kobe beef burger with sautéed foie gras and shaved truffles on an onion bun which costs $60.

I opted for the Country Natural burger ($10.25), made from beef which comes from a family-owned sustainable ranch.  I selected a ciabatta bun, then added on cheddar cheese and oyster mushrooms, which bumped up the price by $1.85.  It arrived loaded and juicy, and was great with my amber.

Had I not ordered both the sweet potato fries and the beer battered jalapeño pickles, I might have had room for dessert.  Specifically, the Nutella milkshake.  Thinking back to the yummy peanut butter milkshake, I could imagine how wonderfully rich it would taste.  I planned to return another day just for the milkshake, but unfortunately never made it back.

For diners wanting a burger for dessert, Burger Bar offers a Chocolate Burger.  It has a warm donut for the bun, Nutella mousse for the patty and passion fruit, strawberry and kiwi as the toppings.

On my final evening in Las Vegas I happened to visit another Top Chef Masters star’s restaurant — Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood, a sustainable seafood restaurant in the middle of the desert.

As we were a large group (in addition to my husband, sister and me, four of my sister’s friends joined us), we were seated at a big table just outside the restaurant which took away some of the ambiance, though we still enjoyed our meal.

For my first course I went for turf rather than surf, with the oh so good Steak Tartare ($17), which had pieces of shaved truffles, Parmesan and miso egg yolk mixed in.  For my main course I ordered the Cioppino ($35), a delicious mix of mussels, clams, shrimp, fish and calamari-resembling calamarata pasta in a light and savory tomato broth.  The shellfish was well cooked, not too chewy, and the broth was so good I wish I had more of the sourdough garlic bread to soak it up.

My second favorite dish was the Rainbow Trout ($31), which my sister ordered.  It was served on top of bacon and marble potatoes with a pecan-mustard dressing.  I loved the flavor combination of the fish and the smoky bacon.

Even before we arrived at RM Seafood, we knew we were ordering dessert.  And we knew which dessert we were ordering: Rick’s Tasting Game.  Sixteen different ice creams and sorbets are served blind, with the diner guessing the flavors.  As our waiter informed us, no one has ever gotten all 16 correct.

Armed with my experience tasting wines, I was ready for the challenge.

How did we do?  Click here to find out.

Miami's Best Brunches

You can’t beat brunch.  A great brunch is the most sumptuous meal of the week and it’s the best excuse to have all of your favorite foods at one time.

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, just think how important brunch must be!

Looking to plan your Sunday brunch?  Here are my favorite spots in Miami:

Acqua at Four Seasons Miami
An elegant setting to enjoy brunch favorites with a Mediterranean flair.  With extensive cheese, carving, Asian food stations and more, there’s truly something for any taste.  If you’re not in the mood for a Mimosa or Bloody Mary get a mojito — all are unlimited.  Request a table by the window for nice views of Brickell and the bay.
$70 per person.  Located in the Four Seasons Miami, 1435 Brickell Avenue, Brickell. (305) 381-3190

Area 31
Chef John Critchley’s brunch is a gourmet buffet featuring caviar, paté, cold cuts and cooked dishes like roast chicken breast and steak frites.  While sipping on unlimited Mimosas or Bellinis you can enjoy live music.
$50 per person.  Located in the EPIC Hotel, 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Downtown Miami.  (305) 424-5234

Balans
Whether it’s breakfast or lunch, Balans has it all.  You can’t go wrong with one of the four kinds of eggs benedict or the enormous breakfast burrito, though you may be tempted by the lobster club wrap or the chili beef salad.  The à la carte menu ranges from around $8 to $15.  To get your day started there’s a full menu of cocktails for $11 each.  Just be sure to arrive early otherwise you could have a long wait (especially at the Miami Beach location).
Both Saturday & Sunday.  Two locations: 901 South Miami Avenue, Brickell and 1022 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach.  (305) 534-9191

Biltmore Hotel
It doesn’t get any more lavish than Sunday Champagne brunch at the Biltmore Hotel.  The array of selections include carving, omelet, sushi and tapas stations, plus a wall of desserts.
$75 per person.  Located in Fontana Restaurant at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables.  (305) 913-3202

Bizcaya at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove
The Ritz-Carlton always gets brunch right.  Here you’ll enjoy all the traditional favorites plus made-to-order sushi and sashimi and grilled-to-order fresh fish — all in a gorgeous setting that includes a cascading waterfall.  And of course, you’ll be able to take in the view with free-flowing Champagne.
$52 per person, $25 for kids 4 to 12 years old.  Located in the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove, 3300 Southwest 27th Avenue, Coconut Grove.  (305) 644-4680

Cioppino at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
A buffet so big you’ll be full just looking at it.  Go easy on the pasta, salads and grilled meats so you can save room for caviar (three different types), raw oysters and sushi.  Of course there are unlimited Bloody Marys and Champagne cocktails (Mimosas, Bellinis and a few more), and an entire room just for dessert.
$72 for adults, $36 for children under 12.  Located in the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, 455 Grand Bay Drive, Key Biscayne.  (305) 365-4286

Eos
The à la carte menu features a variety of frittatas and egg dishes that start at $12.  Or try the buttermilk pancakes that are topped with caramelized apples and spiced candied walnuts.  Plus you get to enjoy complimentary Mimosas or Bloody Marys with your meal.  Bonus: brunch gets you free entrance to Club 50’s Sunday Refresher party where you can groove to a live DJ and enjoy light bites until 5pm (it’s normally $30).
Located in the Viceroy Hotel, 485 Brickell Avenue, Brickell. (305) 503-0373

Rusty Pelican
Go for the great view of downtown and Brickell, stay for the enormous fresh seafood spread.  If you’re not in the mood for peel and eat shrimp, raw oysters or steamed crab, there’s always the assortment of cold salads and ham or beef at the carving station.  Enjoy the view with unlimited Champagne, Mimosas or orange juice.
$33.95 per person, $13.95 for kids 5 to 10 years old, under 5 free.  3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne.  (305) 361-3818

The Setai
Craving Asian cuisine?  Check out Sunday brunch at the Setai.  In addition to eggs, pancakes and traditional brunch breads, there’s a wide assortment of Indian, Chinese, Thai and Malaysian dishes.
$67 per person, $34 for kids 5 to 12 years old.  2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach.  (305) 520-6400

Talula
Escape the craziness of South Beach at this cozy brunch.  The buffet is set up on the restaurant’s garden patio and features a carving station, pasta, fresh local fish, breakfast favorites like waffles and pancakes and an elaborate display of homemade desserts.
$29 per person which includes juice and coffee.  210 23rd Street, Miami Beach.  (305) 672-0778

Tre Italian Bistro
A great value and a convenient spot for people who live in downtown.  A la carte items are $12 and come with a complimentary Mimosa, Bloody Mary, sangria, orange juice or cappuccino (each additional drink is $3).
270 East Flagler Street, Downtown Miami.  (305) 373-3303

Tropical Chinese Restaurant
It’s a bit of a drive from downtown and Miami Beach but it’s the best dim sum in the area.  A word of advice: don’t get too much off of the baked and fried items cart so you can load up on delicious steamed dumplings.  Dishes range between $3 and $7 so your bill can be as small or as big as your appetite.
Both Saturday & Sunday.  7991 Southwest 40th Street, Miami.  (305) 262-7576

8 oz Burger Bar
I could eat 8 oz’s juicy burgers any time of the day (my favorite is the Niman Ranch lamb), but they’re even better with Bloody Marys that you can customize at the Bloody Mary bar.  Unlimited Bloody Marys cost $20.
1080 Alton Road, Miami Beach.  (305) 397-8246

Have a favorite brunch spot that’s not on the list?  Send an email to tips@amateurgastronomer.com.