Café Hollywood—Not Your Average Café

 

General Manager Sebastien Buquoy
and Bob Barnes. Photo by Dick Palcic.

Names can be deceiving. If you are expecting Café Hollywood to be your run-of-the-mill 24-hour casino café you will be grossly mistaken. This new eatery located in the former space of Planet Dailies in the Planet Hollywood casino goes well beyond expectations in its expansive menu, food quality and décor, making anyone who has even an inkling of interest in Hollywood celebrities want to check it out. 

The décor features tributes to all things Hollywood, which are in part a celebration of the 25 years Planet Hollywood has been open. High-energy videos and photographic montages of entertainment moments and the company’s most exciting events are displayed on 35 monitors and nearly every inch of the walls. While normally I would find this to be too busy and sensory overload, in this case it works quite well, making a walk around the dining room quite stimulating. 

Another standout is the variety of the food menu, which includes traditional breakfast items, three types of eggs Benedict, a variety of waffles and French toast, several omelet options and an all-day breakfast menu. The two-page appetizers menu contains Avocado Toast, Poke Nachos and the ultimate choice: the High Roller Sampler with World Famous Chicken Crunch (which happens to be 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. Another large section is devoted to burgers (I recommend The Hollywood topped with pork belly and fried egg), another to pastas (like the unique deep fried L.A. Lasagna: a signature dish in the Planet Hollywood chain), 10 Asian dishes (the Honey Walnut Shrimp is a winner) and Specialties including 12-oz Black & Bleu NY Strip, BBQ Ribs and Blackened Mahi Mahi. My gift to you is a tip to select some of the grilled vegetables, such as eggplant, Portobello mushroom and zucchini, which are nicely charred and just the right balance of firmness and juiciness. Several dessert choices include Banana Pudding Star Jar with layers of banana, vanilla wafers and banana pudding, 5-layer Classic-style Carrot Cake and the Supernova Milkshakes, which are topped with treats such as cotton candy, chocolate brownie or piece of birthday cake.

The aforementioned Asian menu is unique to this Vegas location and well equipped to execute it is Chef Gary Mintner, an Arizona transplant who has studied Asian cuisine and has been with the PH company for six years. 

Also worth noting is the Pastry Shop, located in the center of the restaurant, which offers grab and go pastries, coffee and 7 flavors of gelato.

Hopefully during your visit you’ll encounter General Manager Sebastien Buquoy, a true professional and a host so accommodating you’ll want to return just to chat with him. Speaking of returning, after my stellar visit, it’s something I hope to do again and again. 

Matt’s Big Breakfast Expanding to Southern Nevada

Photo courtesy of Matt’s Big Breakfast

The Arizona-based Food Network featured diner Matt’s Big Breakfast is ready to make its first expansion outside of Arizona and has set its sights on coming to the Las Vegas area. The eatery garnered national attention thanks to appearances on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and features in USA Today and many others. I had the pleasure to speak with Co-owner Matt Pool about his plans to expand to Las Vegas and learn about what has made his breakfast joint so successful. 

Matt describes his restaurants as a mom and pop operation offering a simple menu of breakfast classics and comfort food, which began in 2004 and has since expanded to three more locations. As for the restaurant’s success, he attributes it to “a strong customer base, loyal following, and the use of quality ingredients to the Nth degree. Everything is cooked from scratch, juice is fresh squeezed, local and organic ingredients are used whenever possible and we don’t even own a freezer or a microwave.” 

As to why he decided to expand to Southern Nevada he said, “It’s a similar market to Phoenix and in the last 10 years the Vegas dining scene is no longer solely focused on the Strip. Our goal is measured expansion, and we want to test the water close to home and somewhere we really like. A lot of people from the Vegas area would come in to our restaurants and say ‘I love your place and wish you’d open by us.’” 

Regarding what areas he is looking at, he added, “We are pretty open about where we want to be but really like the Downtown Arts District; it’s similar to where we started, the Roosevelt Row Arts District in Phoenix. We are also looking at Summerlin or Henderson and hope to open in the next 6-12 months.”

Matt is putting together a franchise program and is looking to speak with experienced and passionate operators who share a mutual dislike of freezers and microwaves. For more info on this franchise opportunity, visit MattsBigBreakfastFranchising.com and to view the restaurant’s website, visit mattsbigbreakfast.com.