Sherman's Food Adventures: April 2024

The Boss Cafe

When we originally set up the visits to some of Buddy Valastro's restaurants in Vegas, it was suggested we try all of them.  Well, that wasn't our original plan, but sure why not?  Glad we did because the stuff from Jersey Eats and PizzaCake were pretty solid and great for a casual meal.  Of course we couldn't forget about the wonderful Sunday brunch at Buddy V's Ristorante in the Venetian.  Now with only one left, we went deep into the Linq Hotel to find the counter service Boss Cafe.  Their specialties include half-pound pizza squares, delicious sandwiches and baked goods.

We went straight for the sammies first that were served on house-made focaccia and fresh hand-stretched mozza.  My absolute favorite was the Jersey Roast Beef that was packed with glistening melt-in-my-mouth herb-crusted roast beef.  This sandwich was so juicy and messy that we could not eat it without getting it all over ourselves.  This came with a choice of hot or sweet peppers and also a tonne of garlic butter.  The peppers added so much tanginess that it somehow cut through the richness of the fatty beef.  We couldn't forget about the creamy and stringy mozza too!  I could eat this everyday, but really shouldn't...

Another solid sammie was the Turkey PLT that consisted of roasted turkey, pancetta, roasted tomato spread, arugula, mozza and herbed mayo.  Not as messy as the roast beef, the turkey was still plenty fulfilling.  The meat was lean, but still tender and moist.  Lots of impact from the salty pancetta as well as the tanginess from the tomato spread.  That thick layer of mozza added so much texture to the sammie that was the perfect compliment to the crispy exterior of the focaccia.  There was some sweet peppers there to cut down on the saltiness of the pancetta.

Our final 2 sammies were Lisa's Caprese and The Soprano.  Both featured a thicc layer of their fresh mozza that was a delight to chomp down on.  The creaminess combined with the extra stringiness (due to the thickness) was texture heaven.  These shared similarities, but ultimately, the Soprano was much more robust due to the addition of meat in the form of prosciutto and peppered salami with smoked pecorino and basil pesto.  To kick it up a few notches, it had some hot and sweet peppers as well.  The Caprese was much more mild with sweet peppers, tomatoes, basil, balsamic, arugula and olive oil.

As for the 1/2lb Pizza Squares, we had a few including Margherita, Peppe and Italiano.  The crust on these was crunchy and fairly firm.  They held onto the toppings very well and didn't fall apart.  Being the most basic of the 3, the Margherita was plenty cheesy from the fresh mozza and tangy from the ample tomato sauce.  Absolutely loved the Peppe with both cup and char pepperoni.  Lots of impact in terms of pepperiness and saltiness as well as crispy cups.  The Italiano was the most zesty with the combination of pepperoni, sausage, sweet and hot peppers and basil.  Lots of saltiness, spice and sweetness.

So we had some sweets to end the meal including the Tiramisu Slice and Lobster Tail Pastry.  Quite large and only semi-sweet, the tiramisu sported light and airy cake, creamy mascarpone and a mild hit of espresso.  The layered lobster tail was supremely crunchy and shattered all-over-the-place.  Inside, the lightly sweet custard was on point.  We also had 2 Pastry Pockets with one being Creme Brulee and the other, Cherry Cheesecake.  These were like turnovers and featured crispy layers of pastry topped with sugar.  The filling was on the sweeter side though, but did not lack flavor.  Sure, the Boss Cafe isn't particularly sexy compared to say, Buffy V's, but for a quick and delicious meal (that won't break the bank), it certainly fits the bill.

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- That Jersey Roast Beef!
- That fresh mozza!
- Reasonably-priced

The Bad:

- It is counter-service, so just a quick meal with no fanfare (if you wanted fanfare that is)
- Drinks are so-so

Sweet Sin Bakery & Cafe

With all of these delicious meals in Vegas, it was about time we hit up something more dessert-focused.  Well, you can't get much more focused than Sweet Sin Bakery & Cafe located within The Linq Promenade.  I have passed by this place on my previous visit to Vegas in 2022 and was wanting to go inside, but alas, we were so full from eating, it didn't happen.  With an invite to try their wares, this was the perfect situation for myself, Jackie, Roanna and Eileen.

So we got started with a couple of Smoothies including the Tropical and Wildberries.  Consisting of rum, pineapple juice, banana, mango puree and coconut gelato, the tropical definitely tasted like its namesake.  It was creamy and smooth with only a mild rum flavor.  Good balance of sweet and tangy.  As for the wildberries, naturally, it had mixed berries, raspberry puree, strawberry sorbet, cranberry juice and vodka.  This one was more on the tangier side with mild sweetness.  Once again, the vodka was not overpowering in this.

The first thing we tried was also one of our favorites in the Crème Brûlée Crêpe.  This was a made-to-order crêpe that was slipped into a cone, filled with custard and topped with sugar.  Then they torched the whole thing.  The result was a pretty convincing crème brûlée.  Lots of smokiness to go with caramelized sweetness but the concoction was not that sweet.  The crepe itself was soft and light with only the slightest amount of chewiness.

Another fan favorite was the Raspberry-filled Croissant.  One might consider this a novelty, but I assure you, this was one legit croissant.  I've recently been to Paris and this was no slouch.  There was defined layers that shattered upon contact.  It was buttery and had all the right textures.  Inside, there was a wealth of raspberry jelly that was fruity and sweet.  Despite the amount of jelly, it did not negatively impact the texture of the croissant.

The hits kept coming with the Chocolate Éclair and Napoleon.  The dark chocolate glaze on the éclair was smooth, slightly bitter and mildly sweet.  The choux pastry was light and had a slight crispy exterior.  Inside, the filling was creamy while purposefully sweet.  As for the Napoleon, the layers of crisp pastry were fairly light and shattered beautifully.  The pastry cream was rich and just sweet enough.  Loved the pistachio on top of the fresh cream.

If you know me, I tend to like fruity drinks and desserts, so the Strawberry Tart was right up my alley.  Crispy and firm, the tart shell was a textural delight.  On top, the strawberries were ripe and sweet while the fresh cream was light and mildly sweet.  At first, I thought the Cinnamon Roll would be super sugary due to the huge layer of cream cheese icing on top.  However, it wasn't and that was fine by me.  The roll underneath was flaky and buttery.

The most whimsical items were the Macream Cakes coated with a colorful fondant shell and topped with icing, candy and a macaron.  We tried Pretty in Pink and the Unicorn.  Although the cupcake hidden within was moist and delicious, the sweet fondant wasn't my favourite.  After I removed the layer, I quite enjoyed the rest of the cupcake.  For me, I liked the Unicorn more since it had chocolate sponge cake.

One of the under-the-radar items was the Ube Cake Jar.  Well first of all, it was striking with the classic purple color.  Secondly, it had the usual nutty aromatics combined with a muted sweetness.  Cake underneath was moist.  The award for the most ludicrous creation was the Birthday Shake.  Just look at it!  Not only was it a shake, we found marshmallows, macaron and a loaded rice krispy square.  I thought this was super sweet and the rest of the things on top made it a heavy dessert.  Great for kids and people who have a sweet tooth.

As you can see in the shake, they also have Macarons.  In fact, there selection is diverse and colorful.  I thought they were on the sweeter side, but the crisp texture was on point while the inside was soft and chewy.  To complete the dessert selection, we also found Chocolates.  They were pretty with striking designs and colors.  I didn't actually get to try them, but by all reports, they were silky and sweet.  Believe it or not, we had more items than this, but I really don't want to write a novel.  With the items I did blog about, it is obvious that the quality and execution is there.  If your sweet tooth is calling you, then pay Sweet Sin a visit while you are in Vegas.

*All desserts and beverages were complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- Quality items including the legit pastries
- So much choice
- Depending on what you order, not crazy sweet

The Bad:
- It is mostly a take-and-go spot as there are not many seats available
- Wasn't a fan of fondant on the cupcakes

Bacchanal Buffet (Dinner)

Okay, you knew this was coming...  How could we not visit a Vegas buffet while we were in town?  To be honest, I'm not that excited about spending that much money on a buffet when I can spend just as much on a delicious composed meal at another restaurant.  But just for research purposes, we hit up the infamous Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar's Palace.  If you remember, I've been here before in 2019, albeit only for lunch.  This time around, it was for dinner with Eileen, Jacqueline and Roanna.  We made a reservation, just to ensure we weren't waiting in line for too long.

Once seated, we made a game plan of hitting all of the food stations and bringing them all to our table at the same time.  For me, I went straight for the Sushi and the selection was pretty average considering the size of the buffet.  Don't get me wrong, this was pretty much in-line with the Wynn, but with that being said, I would've liked to see more items.  For the things I did get, the fish quality was good while the sushi rice was just a tad on the softer side.

So right next to the sushi, we found the Chinese food station where we found some dim sum, roast duck, frog legs, bang bang shrimp, gai lan with beef, XO chicken, black pepper beef and char siu ribs.  This was a decent selection of food that was overall well, decent.  I liked the frog legs because they were almost juicy despite the deep-fry.  Duck was way too salty while the char siu rib was quite good.  Bang bang shrimp was crispy and sweet and the gai lan was not overdone.

Next to the Sushi, we found a small section dedicated to Filipino food.  Nice to see that as it is not something you would normally find at an international buffet.  We found things like Lumpia, Pork Skewers, Sawsawan and Whole Roasted Pig.  The lumpia was crispy with a moist flavorful filling while the skewers were sweet and well-charred, albeit dry.  Roast pig was solid where you could choose fattier portions or lean parts.  The sawsawan was the perfect dip for the heavy meats.

On the topic of meats, we found a large selection at the Carvery.  This included such things as Slab Bacon, Smoke Brisket, Honey Baked Bone-In Ham, Grilled Tri-Tip, Beef Steamship, Prime Rib and Turkey.   Yah, that was a lot of meat and most of it was quite good.  I found the meats to be tender, especially the prime rib, brisket and turkey.  The tri-tip was a bit chewy while the bacon was rather lean (as evidenced in the picture.  That truffle gravy for the chicken was superb.

So what is a Vegas buffet (or any good buffet for all that matters) if there isn't any Seafood?  Well, they had lots of that in the form of Snow Crab, Dungeness Crab, Lobster Claws, Shrimp, Mussels, Kimchi Baked Oysters, Whelks, Clams, Octopus Salad and Seared Scallops.  I would say the crab was pretty spot on with proper textures, but the lobster claws were rubbery and far too overcooked.  I don't have a picture of it here, but the scallops were really good while baked oysters were buttery.

One of the more unexpectedly good stations was the Mexican food. The best item was the Birria Tacos which were presented on a large circular grill.  They were full of tender beef and drenched in broth and fat.  Naturally, this was messy and tasty.  We also found Al Pastor, Surf & Turf Vampiro Tacos, Chicken Tinga Tostadas and Sonoran Street Dogs.  Not pictured was Elote Locos, Achiote Roasted Chicken and Menudo.  All of these were good and hey, who doesn't like a good menudo?  The crunchy Duros and Chicharones were also a nice treat.  Purple and aromatic, the Ube Horchata was also good. 

A few more items included a Bacchanal Slider, Devilled Eggs, Smoked Salmon Mousse and Pizza.  The best thing of the bunch had to be the selection of pizza.   There was Meat Lovers (the square pizza), Prosciutto & Arugula, Chicken Pesto and 2 that aren't pictured here in the Smoked Salmon, Brie & Apple and Margherita.  Crust was thin and crispy while there was a bevy of toppings.  Particularly enjoyed the pesto as it had the most flavour.

There was also a selection of Mezze and some Toasts.  Personally, I wasn't really into this section and it was more filler than anything.  Not that it wasn't good, but if you are paying $89.00, you need to go for the more expensive items!  There was also a noodle station that featured Pho.  It was actually decent with a mild broth, but chewy noodles and tender slices of meat.  Near the Mezze, there was a selection of Charcuterie which looked great, but I really had other things to eat!

Onto Dessert, there was an enormous selection that included Mochi Donuts, Creme Brulee, Berry Cheesecake, Strawberry Shortcake, Vanilla Cupcake, Lemon Tart, Pandan Mousse, Double Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Cone, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Cinnamon Roll, Cookies, Ube Chiffon Cake and Portuguese Tart.  Yes, that is a lot to unpack there and in reality, most of them were quite solid.  I enjoyed the lemon tart because that is one of my favs and this one was tangy with a firm shell.  Upside down cake was sticky and sweet while the cheesecake was creamy.

So we got most of the other desserts (plus a repeat of the ube) including Banana Cream Pie, Mini Donuts, Tiramisu, Vietnamese Coffee Coupe, Vegan Strawberry Cake, Passion Fruit Tapioca and No Sugar Added Blueberry Cheesecake.  I didn't try all of these, but the banana cream pie was quite good, very aromatic and not overly sweet.  The NSA cheesecake could've passed for a regular one.  To end, we got a made-to-order Apple Walnut Crepe.  Oh this was really good.  The crepe was warm, soft and a bit chewy.  All the sweet tanginess on top was a great match and the nuts added crunch.  Okay, that was a ridiculous amount of food and really, we didn't even try all of it!  There was a Korean section with KFC and some American dishes including Mac & Cheese right beside the carvery.  Just like the last time I was here, the selection is incredible and the general food quality is decent with all things considered.  However, for the price, one could have a composed sit-down meal at a nice restaurant.  Would you get the quantity of food at the Bacchanal?  Of course not.  So it really depends on your personal preference.  I do know that it reaffirms my belief that it is better than Wynn at the very least.

The Good:
- Biggest selection of eats in Vegas
- Decent eats
- We had excellent service

The Bad:
- Would've liked a better selection of sushi
- Too bad no King Crab, but I'm sure that would've made the cost over $100
- Lobster claws were not very good

Aqua Seafood & Caviar Restaurant By Chef Shaun Hergatt

Okay, we've had some pretty good eats at 3 of Buddy Valastro's restaurants, but it was time to change it up.  Oh and did we ever...  We went bougie with a visit to Aqua Seafood & Caviar by Chef Shaun Hergatt.  Yes, that is quite the mouthful, but with a Michelin chef in its namesake, Aqua definitely has cachet.  The restaurant is tucked away in the new Resorts World just North of the Venetian (former Stardust location).  It certainly looks the part of a high-end establishment and we were also very excited to dine there.

Without further delay, we got to the main event immediately with a 50g tin of Caspy Osetra Caviar with all the condiments including homemade blinis, crème fraiche, chives, capers, shallots, egg white and egg yolk.  Oh this was such a treat where the caviar was briny without being overly salty or fishy.  The blinis were fluffy and light while the condiments added the necessary textures and complimentary flavors to each bite.  I could've eaten this all-by-myself but sadly, I had to share!

Onto some smaller bites, we had the Beggar's Purse containing shrimp mousse, avocado mousse and caviar.  The whole thing was wrapped in a folded crepe and served atop a lime wheel.  These precious creations were delicious where the shrimp mousse was delicate, sweet and aromatic.  The addition of caviar provided the unmistakable brininess of the fish eggs while adding the necessary saltiness to give the bite impact.  The crepe itself was soft while offering up some texture.

If that wasn't enough caviar already, we were treated to more with the Wagyu Toast.  Served on toasted brioche, the thinly-sliced wagyu was buttery soft and super beefy in flavor.  That in itself was a textural delight, but they had to add some black olive spread to kick it up a notch with salty tanginess.  However, the generous amount of Caspy Golden Osetra Caviar on top was the proverbial icing on the cake.  It added pops of briny goodness. 

From this we moved onto the Hamachi crudo dressed with Satsuma vinaigrette, ninja radishes, citrus segments and rhubarb.  This was a beautiful plate of food that was a feast for the eyes as much as our taste buds.  Supremely fresh being buttery and sweet, the hamachi benefited from the acidity of the vinaigrette as well as the citrus.  This kept things bright as well as making the dish appetizing.  Loved the texture of the rhubarb where it added a textural contrast.

Now I don't usually talk about bread, especially bread that comes with a meal, but this has to be talked about!  The Brioche Buns were super soft, airy and served warm.  Beyond the texture and aromatics of the bread, the accompanying butter was fantastic.  It was creamy and not salty while super spreadable and melted nicely within the steaming warm layers of the brioche.  We really didn't want to fill ourselves with carbs, but it was irresistible.

Onto the mains, we had the gigantic Kataifi Scallops with green coconut curry sauce and kaffir lime oil.  First off, these are the largest scallops that I've ever laid eyes on.  They were literally the size of a roll of scotch tape.  Beyond that, they were prepared perfectly being rare in the middle and buttery soft.  The sweetness was quite apparent and even though the scallops were beautifully seasoned, we could taste the natural flavors.  Loved the texture from the crispy kataifi on top.  Aromatic and mild, the curry helped compliment the scallops without overwhelming them.

The hits kept on coming with the Lobster Potato Gnocchi with shaved black truffles.  Normally, we find only claw meat used in such a dish, but not here.  There was a bevy of tail portions found throughout the dish.  Furthermore, the pieces were beautifully cooked being moist and bouncy.  Again, the natural sweetness came through and accented by the woodsiness of the truffle.  The gnocchi came in fairly large pieces which were pillowy soft yet retaining a minor bite.

All of these dishes were excellent and the Alaskan Black Cod was no exception.  I mean, look at the dish, it was so appetizing by its appearance!  Well, eating it was even better with its buttery texture and caramelized glaze.  This was served with sweet potato & ginger puree, baby bok choy, garbanzo beans and yuzu beurre blanc.  Personally, I would've liked to see a different vegetable other than the bak choy, maybe pea tips perhaps because it would be less clunky in appearance.  Other than that, the ginger and yuzu kept things bright.

For dessert, we shared the Dark Chocolate Cake with edible gold on top.  Sure, this was probably the least IGable item of the meal, but in reality, it was really good!  The cake was super moist and semi-sweet.  It was still rich, but definitely a great way to end off a memorable meal.  Wow.  Really, this was such a treat!  Honestly, if we weren't hosted at Aqua, we would've never even had it on our radar.  I really hope that with more fanfare, this place gets its due.  The food is just plain excellent while made with quality components.  Put this on your list for Vegas if you want eat well!

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this post*

The Good:
- Oh that caviar!
- High quality eats
- Exceptional execution

The Bad:
- A bit farther off the main portion of the strip, worth the trip though

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