Café Hollywood—A Draw to Both Locals and Tourists
Locals take note: Planet Hollywood remains one of the few establishments on the Strip where one can obtain free self-parking (there’s a fee for valet). And if while there you happen to stop in at Café Hollywood, you’ll find another reason to make repeat visits. Opened in Nov. 2017, this eatery located in the Planet Hollywood casino is not your average casino café, far from it, as the menu spans Italian, Asian, American, breakfast (part of it is available all day), salads, burgers, steaks, seafood and an array of appetizers, with something for everyone or whatever mood you happen to be in.
Standouts include the High Roller Sampler with World Famous Chicken Crunch (Demi Moore’s recipe), Texas Tostados (topped with BBQ chicken and cheese), Buffalo Wings, Five Cheese Dip and Tempura Jumbo Shrimp arranged on a wheel representative of the Vegas landmark it’s named for. While I was determined to order something I had not had before, I could not resist again enjoying The Hollywood Burger topped with pork belly and fried egg, which weighs in at ½ pound and is so large I could only eat a fourth of it. Another winner worth repeating again and again is the Honey Walnut Shrimp tossed with honey-glazed sauce and candied walnuts. A new experience for us was the Citrus Kale Salad, the restaurant’s top seller, loaded with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, citrus, carrots and feta (you can choose a protein to add to the mix). On the beverage side, the It’s Showtime Mojito made with Bacardi Rum, lime juice, real blueberry syrup and fresh blueberries could prove to be highly addictive. Grand finales worth saving your appetite for are the Supernova Milkshakes, a show in themselves, topped with treats such as cotton candy, chocolate brownie or piece of birthday cake. Many who enjoy the Chriss Angel MINDFREAK show (performed just steps away in the Chriss Angel Theater) stop in to dine afterwards, as does the magician star himself. The Café has a shake made and named just for him: Chriss Angel’s Sweet Addiction with chocolate ice cream, chocolate brownie, chocolate chip cookie and Chriss Angel chocolates. I’m going out on a limb and guessing that Chriss likes chocolate.
Besides the expansive menu, the décor features tributes to all things Hollywood, which are in part a celebration of the 25+ years Planet Hollywood has been open. Videos and photographic montages are displayed on 35 monitors and nearly every inch of the walls. Also available is a private room, which is used by both locals and tourists, suitable for parties, group events and weddings.
During my recent visit I had the pleasure to meet and talk with Senior Manager Kalani Cabral, who has been with the company for 11 years and worked his way up from a server to his current position. Originally from Hawaii, Kalani refers to Vegas as the 9th island and appreciates the lower cost of living in the city he now calls home. He truly appreciates his Café Hollywood team, and says, “Both the front of the house and back of the house work well as a team. Each one knows what is going on and are inspired to do well.” Factors he points to the Café doing well and attracting plenty of repeat customers are the expansive menu, 24/7 hours, great wine list, reasonable price point (especially for breakfast), generous portion sizes, wonderful decor and that Planet Hollywood is one of the few remaining resorts on the Strip that still offers free parking.
Another remarkable team member is Executive Sous Chef Edgar Huerta, who assists Executive Chef Miguel Ochoa in running the kitchen operations. Edgar grew up in L.A. and moved with his family to Las Vegas when he was 17. He grew up in the industry, as his dad was a server and would bring him to work with him, but he always found himself drawn to the back of the house and liked to talk to the cooks. He started as a dishwasher at the age of 15, but knew he wanted to cook and loved the chaos when things got busy. His stint as a dishwasher also has helped him realize the importance of the position and how a kitchen can come to a standstill without the unheralded workers. Edgar opened Café Hollywood after cooking at Bally’s Tequila Taqueria since 2011. Of his current home he says, “This is the first Café Hollywood concept and we have a unique menu from others in the group, so have a lot of leeway to create and tweak menu items.”
Whether you’re a tourist or a local, you’ll do yourself a favor if you make your way to Café Hollywood. For with the aforementioned free self-parking and entrée prices that run mostly below $20, you’ll leave with plenty of cash (unless you get sidetracked gambling while exiting the casino).
Blume—Entertainment Dining and Culinary Art
Any restaurant should do well if it offers outstanding food. But what about one that also will make you feel you’ve entered an art museum, with the plated menu items the actual canvas.
Such is the case with the newly-opened Blume located in the Seven Hills Plaza at 3145 St. Rose Parkway in Henderson. Each plate is a veritable work of art, with a mélange of stimulating color and textures that you will want to send to Instagram after capturing the images with your camera.
While the quality will make you want to call this fine dining, Operator Daniel Hackett Jr. asserts that his restaurant is entertainment dining, in an environment where anyone can feel comfortable. The relaxed, yet elegant, beautiful surroundings are stunning, and include flowered wallpaper, Armani blue tufted booths and chairs, sleek white acrylic tabletops, black marble flooring, two accent walls decorated with over 17,000 handmade gold silk roses and hydrangeas, purple mood lighting and crystal chandeliers. Also to help entertain, there is a unique 8 ft. by 5 ft. high-definition screen that depicts an aquarium with lifelike tropical fish swimming with the Vegas Strip in the background.
Such flowery décor might make one think the restaurant’s name is a misspelling of the word bloom, but the restaurant’s moniker is actually the name of the band of one of the investor’s daughter. The way I see it, the name has a dual meaning, as the sound conjures up images of color and beauty, which is exemplified by the restaurant’s design.
Daniel had a large part in the design and also the menu, which is a collaboration with his chefs: Executive Chef Joseph “JoJo” Saady and Sous Chefs Allesandra Madeira and Jesse Garza. All of his chefs are proficient in the culinary skills, but their 28-year-old leader has an accomplished resume as well. After starting out as a food runner when he was 15, Daniel became an executive chef at the young age of 21 in Phoenix and also worked in Las Vegas at the White Chocolate Grill, where Twin Peaks now sits, just down the road from his current home at Blume.
Each dish is made from scratch using seasonal fruits and vegetables and garnished with colorful microgreens and edible flowers. Everything is made to order and with pride, so if you are looking for a restaurant that spits your food out in 10 minutes, you will need to look elsewhere, and Daniel shared that his typical guest spends 2.5 hours being entertained at Blume. If you really want a front row seat to view the culinary artistry, opt for a seat at the chef’s table (with seating for 12), where chefs make finishing touches on the creations before they are sent out to guests.
Standout masterpieces we enjoyed were crispy tri-color tempura cauliflower served with honey/soy glaze and truffle hot sauce; Vegas grilled cheese (served with tomato bisque) with gruyere and American cheese, topped with gold flake and made with Vegas toast—Daniel’s own invention using squid ink and food coloring—bread that is half gold and half black, sure to make any Vegas Golden Knights fan happy; scallops served with lobster claw and bisque; smoked rib eye—12-oz bone-in filet that is delivered amidst smoke under glass; blue velvet whoop pies (which are actually blue), with a middle of vanilla bean batter and cream cheese; and frozen Chambord custard which is dramatically lit afire when served.
Entertainment also comes in liquid form, with creations such as the Grandmaster, made with Ketel One Oranje vodka, housemade ginger/mandarin syrup, Giffard Peach and diluted squid ink topped with coconut rum foam; and a Manhattan served with caramelized apples and a lit cinnamon stick.
Other amusements are a separate banquet room with gold velvet drapes by Chanel adjacent to the restaurant, available for special events and transformed into a lounge with entertainment three nights a week; a bar with an adjacent big screen TV; and an outdoor patio with lounge seating and heat lamps.
Some exceptional deals are the Board and Wine for $25, which gets you your choice of cheese, pretzel or meat board paired with a bottle of the rotating selection of house wine, which during our visit was Vista Point Cabernet and Tuscany Groppetti Chardonnay; and the daily happy hour from 4-6, offered throughout the restaurant, with half off appetizers and wine glasses and discounts on draft beer.
Described above is an entertaining night out, over-the-top Vegas-style, without having to endure the hassle of the Vegas Strip. Plan to stay a while, and most importantly, don’t forget your camera!