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Four Restaurants That Give You A Reason To Skip the Buffets in Vegas

July 25, 2014 JustLuxe 0


Las Vegas is generally thought of as the place people go to let loose, forget their inhibitions and to party all night-long in sexy clubs and at glamorous resorts. However, the other side of Sin City that makes it so desirable is its award-winning restaurants and notable dining venues. Owning a handful of eateries in Vegas, Block 16 Hospitality Group knows that quality food, top-notch service and a welcoming atmosphere are the building blocks of a great dining destination. We recently visited four of their restaurants to give you, our dearest readers, some insight on the company’s offerings.

2014-07-25-blindpig1955961.jpg (Photo Courtesy of The Blind Pig)

The Blind Pig
While many of the elements that make the restaurants of Block 16 Hospitality Group so engaging and fun are present at The Blind Pig, it’s the location that makes it far more frequented by locals. It is situated on the ground floor of the Panorama Towers on Dean Martin Drive. Yet that’s not the only facet of this eatery that separates its casual atmosphere from its Block 16 brethren.

Along with the restaurant’s massive breakfasts, craft cocktails, hearty dinners and fresh-squeezed juices, the location doubles as a to-go deli and market. Likewise, the made-to-order lunch offerings are customizable, giving patrons the chance to call in their precise wants and have the food ready to take to work or picnic upon arrival. Market items are varied and are well-suited for those who live in the Panorama Towers, as products range from ice creams and frozen pizzas to Champagne bottles and a selection of beverages.

2014-07-25-blindpig1_1955961.jpg(Photo Courtesy of The Blind Pig)

The restaurant itself has a large selection of universally-loved menu options like pizza, seafood, sandwiches and a fairly standard selection of appetizers. However, as safe and non-experimental as The Blind Pig’s menu is, the meals are very well prepared and come in substantially large portions. The majority of visitors will likely be full long before actually finishing the plate.

2014-07-25-barrymore1955961.jpg(Photo Courtesy of The Barrymore)

The Barrymore
Pulling into the parking lot at the off-strip Royal Resort to visit The Barrymore is misleading as the building’s façade and subsequent entryway leave much to be desired. However, exiting the hotel’s lobby into the restaurant is like taking a dive into an overtly classy rabbit hole. From the moment you enter to the time you leave, visiting The Barrymore offers an exceptionally atmospheric dining and drinking experience.

Inside, the ceiling is adorned with large film reels while dark metallic walls complement rich furnishings to complete the moody atmosphere and makes for a great romantic dinner opportunity. Outside, the lounge provides a markedly livelier venue. Atop a separating wall, small flames frame the Las Vegas skyline. Equipped with couches and ottomans in place of dining chairs and tables, The Barrymore’s outdoor lounge is good for small groups, celebrations and socializing.

2014-07-25-barrymore1_1955961.jpg(Photo Courtesy of The Barrymore)

The dinner menu brings hearty American steaks, seafood and poultry dishes expertly prepared by the restaurant’s talented kitchen staff, but the real stars are the mixologists and sommelier. Creative, refreshing cocktails and the location’s impressive wine list (of vinos specifically chosen to complement the restaurant’s numerous meals and small plates), combined with good food and choice of atmosphere, make The Barrymore well worth visiting if you can find your way off the strip.

2014-07-25-holsteins1955961.jpg(Photo Courtesy of Holstein’s Shakes and Buns)

Holstein’s Shakes and Buns
The first sign that Holstein’s Shakes and Buns inside The Cosmopolitan is going to offer guests a lively and flavorful dining experience is the large pink cow situated at the entrance of the restaurant. Street-inspired, cow-themed artwork covers the windows and walls of Holsteins, which bring a nice casual touch to the hotel and casino steeped in urban elegance.

The fare at Holsteins gives patrons an awesome dose of “freshly made bad-ass burgers,” inventive fusion bites and some (dangerously) delicious Bam-Boozled Shakes (milkshakes with booze). This is the kind of place you’re going to want save room for during the day so that you have an excuse to try as many appetizers as possible before delving face first into a massive burger. Of course you’ll have to wash it all down with a shake or two (who’s counting?).

2014-07-25-holsteins1_1955961.jpg(Photo Courtesy of Holstein’s Shakes and Buns)

However, everything on their menu looks downright scrumptious, so here are some of our favorite dishes:

If you’re a fan of cheesy or fried dishes, give the “Philly” Egg Rolls a shot. On the other hand, if you want something a bit more sharable that won’t fill you up as quickly, go with the Surf ‘N Turf Quesadilla or Shrimp & Grits ‘Hush Puppies.’ After a handful of tasty burgers, there’s only one that pervades nearly every craving since visiting the restaurant, the Big Fat Greek burger. Made with spiced lamb, feta cream and tzatziki sauce stuffed into a bun with fresh produce and olive relish–this is just about all we think about or dream of these days.

Okay, so any of their milkshakes are spectacular no matter what your sweet tooth might desire, but we can’t recommend the Drunken Monkey (Reese’s, Banana, Malt powder and Frangelico) or the Red Velvet Cake Shake (red velvet vodka, red velvet cake and cream cheese mousse) enough. For a casual, fun, inventive and delicious dining experience on the Vegas strip, check out Holstein’s.

2014-07-25-publichouse1955961.jpg(Photo Courtesy of Public House)

Public House
Noticing a surprising lack of beer-centric locations in Sin City, the restaurateurs of Block 16 conceptualized and opened Public House, located at the Grand Canal Shops in the Venetian, to be a true beer connoisseur’s haven. Touting over 300 beers, Cicerone Toshihiro Saito pulls no punches in bringing in any kind of beer imaginable from the wildly exotic to American staples.

The regularly rotated selection of beers on tap offers a chance for some lively experimentation and make Public House a killer destination. The menu reportedly changes based on the freshest available ingredients, and Toshihiro consistently uses his expertise in hoppy libations to make sure there are at least a handful of beers on site to ideally complement the thoughtfully crafted menu by Chef de Cusine Thomas King.

2014-07-25-publichouse1_1955961.jpg(Photo Courtesy of Public House)

And unlike the fare traditionally served in American beer-minded restaurants, King’s menu has forgone dishes like fried mozzarella sticks and jalapeno poppers for items such as grilled octopi, lamb meatball sandwiches and Scottish salmon. Those who have a hard time trying new things though, still have a handful of standard options like the Pub Burger (grass-fed beef, bacon marmalade and gruyere cheese) or chicken wings (with Calabrian chili glaze) to hold them over. Though they’d be missing out on some great flavor combinations, even these dishes are unapologetically unique, and that’s just one of many features (over 300, in my humble beer-loving opinion) that make Public House the best beer joint in Vegas, hands down.

Best of all, you don’t have to be a beer connoisseur to enjoy visiting Public House. If you’re not sure what to order, simply explain your preferences and the knowledgeable (and remarkably personable) servers will help you pinpoint your perfect brew.

By Donald Herrera Fairbairn
(Top Photo Courtesy of The Barrymore)

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Walmart’s Ice Cream Sandwiches Don’t Melt In The Sun

July 25, 2014 Janie Campbell 0

Last we checked, ice cream is supposed to melt if it isn’t kept chilled.

But Walmart’s store-brand ice cream sandwiches don’t even melt in the sun, according to a report from WCPO Cincinnati.

The discovery was made by a local mom, Christie Watson, who noticed that a Great Value ice cream sandwich her son left out on their patio table hadn’t fully melted — even though it had been sitting out for 12 hours on an 80-degree day. Watson left a second ice cream sandwich out overnight with the same results, WCPO reports.

“What am I feeding to my children?” she asked, appalled.

walmart ice cream sandwich

“Ice cream melts based on the ingredients, including cream,” Walmart spokeswoman Danit Marquardt said in an email. “Ice cream with more cream will generally melt at a slower rate, which is the case with our Great Value ice cream sandwiches.”

But as Business Insider reports, the product also contains a number of additives:

According to Wal-Mart’s website, the ice cream sandwiches contain milk, cream, buttermilk, sugar, whey, and corn syrup.

It also contains “1 percent or less of mono-and diglycerides, vanilla extract, guar gum, calcium sulfate, carob bean gum, cellulose gum, carrageenan, artificial flavor, and annatto for color.”

WCPO conducted an experiment of their own, leaving out a third Walmart sandwich alongside a Klondike bar and a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream. The Haagen Dazs ice cream — which contains only cream, milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla, and no gums — melted fastest. The Klondike bar melted, too.

“The Walmart sandwich, though it melted a bit, remained the most solid in appearance, and still looked like a sandwich,” the station reported.

One word: EW.

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Using Food as a Treatment for Mental Illness

July 25, 2014 Food Politic 0

By Tove K. Danovich

Most of us are familiar with food banks and soup kitchens, where donated food goes to feed hungry people in the community. Yet we rarely talk about the connection between mental illness and hunger and how access to food can do more…

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Pope Francis Enjoys Casual Cafeteria Lunch With Surprised Vatican Workers (PHOTOS)

July 25, 2014 Yasmine Hafiz 0

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Do you make the pope pay for lunch?

Pope Francis popped in unannounced at the Vatican workers’ cafeteria Friday and lined up, tray in hand, along with stunned diners.

Cashier Claudia Di Giacomo told Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore…

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Do You Know Which Of These Snacks Are Healthy Enough For School Vending Machines?

July 25, 2014 Rebecca Klein 0

This piece comes to us courtesy of Education Week, where it was originally published.

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Healthy School Lunches Might Not Actually Gross Students Out, Say Surveys

July 25, 2014 Rebecca Klein 0

This piece comes to us courtesy of Education Week, where it was originally published.

While many students weren’t keen on more nutritious school lunches when their districts first began complying with new federal meal standards in the 2012-13 school year, they eventually warmed up to the healthier fare, complaining less and eating as much as they did before the rules went into place, according to two national surveys of school administrators released Monday.

The pair of surveys–one of elementary school administrators and one of middle and high school administrators–was funded by Bridging the Gap, a research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which supports the standards, created through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

“Policymakers at all levels should be encouraged by these findings and should continue to support schools’ efforts to provide students with healthy meals and snacks,” Tina Kauh, a program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a statement.

The research was released as debate continues over the standards, which have been gradually implemented since the fall of 2012 and require schools to serve more fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains and to limit calories, fat, and sodium in their federally subsidized meals. Supporters of the standards, including first lady Michelle Obama, have argued that they are necessary to address childhood obesity and related illnesses.

But the School Nutrition Association and others have argued that the new standards have been too much too fast, driving up costs for many districts and spurring an increase in plate waste from students who find the healthier food unpalatable. They’ve rallied support for a rider in the U.S. House of Representatives’ proposed agriculture appropriations bill that would allow some schools to opt out of the standards for a year if they can prove a net revenue loss over a six-month period since adopting the rules. The Senate’s proposal does not include such waivers. Neither chamber has voted on its plan.

The School Nutrition Association supports “many of the new federal requirments” for meals, SNA President Julia Bauscher said in a statement Monday responding to the release of the surveys.

“However, these reported perceptions about school meals do not reflect reality,” Ms. Bauscher said, citing declining participation nationally. “While many changes have been welcomed by students, there is no denying that some of the new requirements have driven students away from the National School Lunch Program.”

A central point of contention in the nutrition standards’ debate has been whether students are actually willing to eat the healthier foods.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has countered claims of increased discarded food by pointing to a March study by researchers at Harvard University that found that students are now eating more fruit and vegetables, and that, while plate waste is a concern, levels are not any higher than they were before the standards were adopted. Research included in the Bridging the Gap brief shows that respondents, who were either principals or food service providers, have seen fewer complaints since students first began eating meals prepared under the new rules.

Reviewing the Findings

In response to a nationally representative survey of 557 elementary school administrators conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, 56 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that students complained about the new meals at first, and 64 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “few students complain now.” Seventy percent of elementary school administrators surveyed said students “generally like the new lunch.”

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said about the same amount of lunch is consumed under the new rules, and 65 percent said about the same number of students purchase lunches now, according to the study, which was also published in Childhood Obesity on Monday.

“Respondents at elementary schools with more students from lower-income families reported increases in student purchasing, compared with decreases reported from higher-SES schools,” said the Bridging the Gap brief.

In a parallel survey of 640 secondary school leaders, also conducted by the Institute for Social Research, 44 percent of respondents from middle schools said students complained at first “to a great/very great extent,” and 53 percent of respondents from high schools said the same. Eleven percent of middle school respondents said students complain now, compared with 18 percent of high school respondents. Seventy percent of respondents from middle schools agreed with the statement that “students generally like the new lunches” at least to some extent, compared with 63 percent of respondents from high schools.

“Compared with urban or suburban middle schools, rural ones reported more student complaints (at first and at the time of survey) and were more likely to report increases in plate waste,” the research brief said.

Among respondents from middle schools, 15 percent said students were throwing away less lunch, 44 percent said the amount was about the same, 25 percent said it was a “little more,” and 20 percent said it was “much more.”

Among respondents from high schools, 14 percent said students were throwing away less lunch, 41 percent said the amount was about the same, 25 percent said it was a “little more,” and 16 percent said it was “much more.”

Less plate waste was reported at schools where 40 percent or more of students were eligible for free and reduced-price meals than at schools with fewer students from low-income homes, the brief said.

Debate Continues

The survey findings join a clamor of conflicting personal testimonies and official research that are fueling the school meal debate.

For example, advocates for waivers counter positive research findings by citing a February report from the Government Accountability Office that found student participation in the National School Lunch Program declined by 1.2 million students, or 3.7 percent, between 2010-2011 and 2012-2013, after “having increased steadily for many years.”

“This decrease was driven primarily by a decline of 1.6 million students eating school lunch who pay full price for meals, despite increases in students eating school lunch who receive free meals,” the GAO report said.

In a national survey used to complete that report, state and local officials listed winning student acceptance, addressing plate waste, and planning menus as challenges, but said “that they expect many of these areas will become less challenging over time.”

More school nutrition rules have been implemented since administrators completed the surveys detailed in Monday’s research brief. On July 1, rules requiring lower sodium limits and stronger whole-grain requirements went into effect along with new “Smart Snacks in Schools” rules, which apply new standards to foods sold throughout the school day, including those offered in vending machines, on a la carte lines, and in school fundraisers.

Both sides in the debate over waivers from the meal rules appear to be entrenched in their positions.

The USDA has argued that it will help schools implement the rules through regulatory flexibility, which it has already offered for whole-grain pasta and protein requirements. At a “Kids State Dinner” at the White House last week, the first lady encouraged children in attendance to “be ambassadors” for healthier eating and to push back against efforts to change the rules’ implementation.

The School Nutrition Association, meanwhile, remains committed to supporting the waiver plan, a spokesperson said after representatives met with officials from the White House and the USDA earlier this month.