Bavarian Inn, Black Hills

Rooms
Reception
Breakfast buffet
Pool

***** (5 stars)

Delightful independently run inn with charming touches. Convenient location and friendly staff.

Nice rooms and a great breakfast included. Pancake making machines! And a coffee machine that makes great decaf espresso. Highly recommended.

Bavarian Inn, Black Hills
855 N Fifth St
Custer, SD
57730
(605) 673-2802
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bavarian-inn-black-hills-custer

Helen’s Pancake & Steak House

Buffalo chicken sandwich
Blt
Exterior entrance to bar
Interior

**** (4 stars)

While pancakes and steak might sound like an odd combo, this is indeed a good place for breakfast or dinner.

The dinner menu contains a few entrees, steaked and Italian dishes, and lots of sandwich and burger options. My buffalo chicken sandwich was one of the most succulent and tender pieces of chicken I’ve had, and was perfectly sauced.

Prices are very reasonable, and the service is friendly and enthusiastic. The restaurant is attached to a lounge, so cocktails are also available.

Helen’s Pancake & Steak House
950 W Highway 20
Chadron, NE
69337
(308) 432-9958
https://www.yelp.com/biz/helens-pancake-and-steak-house-chadron

The Grill on the Alley

Exterior
Interior

**** (4 stars)

This location is far from an alley, like the original in Beverly Hills! The building and it’s interior design is exceptional.

The menu is very similar to the original, although the preparations are slightly different.

My favorite item is actually the creamed spinach that comes with the steaks. It has the perfect balance.

Service is friendly and professional.

The Grill on the Alley
120 Promenade Way
Thousand Oaks, CA
91362
(805) 418-1760
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-grill-on-the-alley-thousand-oaks-5

Eiffel Tower

Frozen soufflé

Ocean seafood salad

Cream of onion soup

Torchon

View

Interior

**** (4 stars)

I was expecting this place to be very touristy, so I’m shocked to come away feeling it is one of my favorite restaurants in Vegas. In fact, I enjoyed it more that Jules Verne in the real Eiffel Tower!

The room is beautiful, and the view of the Strip and the Bellagio fountain can’t be beat. The atmosphere is sophisticated without being stuck up.

The lunch menu offers a nice assortment of French-inspired cuisine focusing on the lighter side. I loved the torchon appetizer and my Ocean Seafood Salad (btw, what other kind of seafood is there?)

The frozen souffle was an interesting dessert. Try ordering a glass of Amaro and pouring into the ice cream at the bottom–delicious!

The wine list is decent, and the prices normal for the Strip.

This is one of the few Vegas restaurants I think is worth a return visit, because it is about more than just the novelty of the experience.

Eiffel Tower
3655 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV
89109
(702) 948-6937
https://www.yelp.com/biz/eiffel-tower-las-vegas

Michael’s Gourmet Room

Exterior

Interior

Scampi fra Diavolo

Mixed green salad

Petite filet mignon

Bone in filet mignon

Bananas Foster for one

Fruit and chocolates parting gifts

**** (4.5 stars)

If you are over a certain age, you will remember what fine dining restaurants used to be like, before they were, bright, loud and trendy. Visiting Michael’s is like stepping back into that era. The decor and the menu are exactly what we would have encountered in the 60s or 70s at the finest places in town. Well, except for the prices, anyway.

That said, while the menu prices might seem high, it’s important to note that there is a LOT included that isn’t on the menu. You start a basket of parmesan toast, a basket of lavash, and a generous relish tray with everything from pickled vegetables to quail eggs. And the meal ends with an enormous fruit bowl and an array of hand-dipped chocolate fruit slices. Of course, no one can eat all that, so you end up with a five pound to-go bag–snacks for a week.

In between all that free stuff are some great starters and steaks. Mixed green salad was simple, fresh, and enough for two. Scampi fra Diavolo had perhaps the best marinara sauce I’ve tasted (although it wasn’t spicy at all).

My bone-in filet was a superb piece of meat, and came with a lovely mushroom and red wine reduction. My companion’s petit filet seemed a bit mealy and flavorless in comparison, but the accompanying Bernaise sauces was wonderful.

For dessert we shared Bananas Foster for one (not on the menu, but nice of them to suggest the smaller serving). There was also a very tempting array of pastries on the cart.

I would have finished with an espresso, but at $16 that just seemed over the top, price wise.

The wines list focuses on many well-chosen California selections at reasonable prices.

Service was friendly, but also offered with the high degree of professionalism one would expect in a restaurant that so perfectly recreates the golden age of fine dining.

Michael’s Gourmet Room
9777 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV
89183
(702) 796-7111
https://www.yelp.com/biz/michaels-gourmet-room-las-vegas

The H Cuisine

Classic burger

Interior

Exterior

*** (3 stars)

The highlight of this restaurant is the beautiful interior design, one of the best in all of Orlando, and quite shocking given the rather pedestrian strip mall location.

We went for lunch, and were the only customers throughout lunch hour. I suspect this is because of the pricing, which seems very high for Orlando. The affordable items on the menu were salads and burgers. We tried two of the burgers, the H burger and the classic. Oddly, the classic was the least classic of the two, with a rather strangely seasoned and textured patty. To its credit, the bun stayed firm. Accompanying truffle fries were good.

Whether Orlando is ready for a place where some lunch entrees are over $30 remains to be seen.

The H Cuisine
7512 Dr Phillips Blvd
Ste 80
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 930-3020
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-h-cuisine-orlando

LongHorn Steakhouse

Interior

Exterior

Outlaw Ribeye

***** (5 stars)

I’m still in shock over my visit to this Longhorn Steakhouse. I’d been to another Longhorn, years ago, and it was fine, but I never actually had steak. This time I was in the mood.

Somehow I’d expected the result to be closer to Sizzler than Capital Grille (which Longhorn owned before selling both to concepts Darden).

But I didn’t expect to have the best steak of my life. Better than Capital Grille. better than Mortons, than Flemings, than Ruth’s Chris. Better than I can cook at home. The Outlaw Ribeye was literally the best cooked, most tender, most flavorful and best seasoned steak I’ve ever had anywhere.

The Caesar salad was also right up there with any steakhouse. The bread was okay, but more like Ruby Tuesday’s now gone breadsticks (not a bad thing) rather than genuine steakhouse sourdough.

Of course the wine list is so short it can’t really be called a list, but the choices are fine.

Service was very professional and attentive, and the environment is, frankly, better decorated and cozier than at those high-end places. At about half the price. I’ll be back.

LongHorn Steakhouse
3118 Daniels Rd
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 654-0272
https://www.yelp.com/biz/longhorn-steakhouse-winter-garden

Gibsons Italia

View

Interior

Exterior

Chef’s Crudo Selection

Lettuce and herb salad with Meyer Lemon vinaigrette (off menu item)

New York Strip Bone-In

Grilled Romanesco

Grilled asparagus

Affogato

Good view, rain or shine

***** (5 stars)

The original Gibson’s is a good restaurant, but this one is a great restaurant. Every element of my meal was about as close to perfection as I can expect from a steakhouse. Of the dozens of steakhouses I’ve tried in Chicago, it was clearly the best.

Of course, there is the view, perhaps the best in the city, looking out at the junction of the Chicago River. And the room itself is also gorgeous. It’s on the third floor, with a bar on the floor below.

The service was also impressive. Not only were the waiters professional and friendly, but they were genuine hosts, with several of them stopping by to chat.

The menu includes the full range of Gibson’s branded prime steaks, and they are just as good as you would expect. But it’s the other dishes that impressed me most. The chef’s selection crudo was a wonderful starter: three sashimi preparations of tuna, kanpachi and fluke, with amazing and surprising accompaniments.

An off-menu salad of lettuce and herbs dressed in Meyer Lime vinaigrette was a perfect break before tackling the steak. For sides I couldn’t decide between the grilled romanesco and grilled asparagus, finally ordering the asparagus. To my surprise, my waiter also brought the romanesco so I could try it. Both were excellent.

I finished off with the affogato, which was served deconstructed, so you could add your own coffee to the ice cream. The coffee was laced with Averna, which imparted a delightful bitterness to offset the sweet ice cream. The homemade cookies that came with it were also amazing.

The wine list is also top notch. There’s a great variety, and some reasonable prices. The Morey Saint Denis I had was a gem.

I can’t ask for much more than the meal I had at Gibson’s, and it’s perhaps the first Chicago steakhouse I’ve been to that will keep drawing me back rather than always trying new ones. Highly recommended.

Gibsons Italia
233 N Canal St
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 414-1100
https://www.yelp.com/biz/gibsons-italia-chicago-2

Sealegs Wine Bar

Interior

Chilequilles

Ceviche

***** (5 stars)

This is a pretty darn good place, especially for an airport lounge. There’s a nice selection of wines by the glass and bottle, at fairly reasonable prices for an airport. There’s also a great menu off well thought-out, atypical food. Service was a bit slow, but when you’re trying to kill time during a layover and have a nice bottle of wine, that’s fine.

Sealegs Wine Bar
200 World Way
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(424) 227-8295
https://www.yelp.com/biz/sealegs-wine-bar-los-angeles

The Stinking Rose

Interior

Combo mussels shrimp crab

40 clove chicken

Prime rib

Garlic ice cream with caramel mole sauce

**** (4 stars)

I’ve been wanting to go to a Stinking Rose since I first saw one many, many years ago in San Francisco. I was expecting it to smell of garlic and for every dish to have an overwhelming taste of garlic, but that was far from the case. Garlic was very judiciously used to enhance each dish without being the focus.

By far the best thing we had was the seafood skillet, particularly the mussels. This was the best mussel preparation I’ve ever had.

Prime rib and the 40 clove chicken were good but not remarkable.

Garlic cream is an interesting experience you probably will only want to try once!

The Stinking Rose
55 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 652-7673
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-stinking-rose-beverly-hills-4