Breakfast, Sandwiches

Okay, sandwich fans, pencils down, hand in your papers, and pay attention. I’m about to break two cardinal “Enjoy Every Sandwich” rules. First, I’m going to blog about a corporately-owned food spot (translation: “chain”), which prior to now, I never have. A primary goal of mine in starting this whole shebang was to chat up the delicious and attention-deserving culinary efforts of locally owned and operated establishments.

Second, I’m about to give in to a bit of hyperbole. I NEVER make pronouncements like “that was the best (BLANK) I ever had, or “that was my favorite (BLANK) EVER!” It’s not my way. Enjoy Every Sandwich is about seeing the merit in everything. But I’m about to put a ding in the EES universe (nice Steve Jobs reference, huh?) in the wake of a fantastic lunch I just experienced, hence I’m typing away with designs on pegging my blogging baselines down a scoche.

I’m working this week in Lost Wages (what better place to see my resolve weakened and mission statement muddied?). The pandora’s box of a lunch was served up at the Crossroads at the House of Blues (again, appropriate given the moral quandary I just laid out for you) in the Mandalay Bay casino, and man, am I grinning from ear to ear with sandwich love.

Vegas is such a playground when it comes to the restaurant biz. Everything from the décor, the design of the menus, and the overwhelming number of stylistic and culinary options makes it a food lover’s amusement park. Massive budgets and fertile imaginations foster wildly impressive results not merely at the upscale spots but often in the more casual venues, and the Crossroads at the HOB is no exception. The outside looks like some sort of voodoo cavern,

and inside, one is immediately hit with a rustic Southern feel, with fading painted wood,

aged tin roof overhangs, and even a giant artificial oak tree virtually front and center with decorative tin lanterns hanging from the branches. Live blues music was performed during lunch:

And check out this back room bar, with plaster ceiling panels honoring blues and rock greats past and present:

The imaginative creativity of the decor carries right over into the menu. Designed by Food Network star chef Aaron Sanchez, it’s intended to be “bold and classy, yet contemporary”. To my humble powers of observation, it’s a southern influenced upscale bar menu, with nods to current culinary conventions and quality ingredients. My longtime colleague and business travel compadre John and I ordered up a lunch partnership: One Juicy Lucy burger with french fries accompanied by a trio of dipping sauces (mango mustard, chipotle ketchup, and aoli mayo), and one Southwestern Chicken Sandwich with sweet potato fries.

I liked that the sandwiches were generous on the ingredients but not overly large in size or scope, enabling us to enjoy enough of each to sate our pallets and hunger without walking away from the table with that post-Thanksgiving dinner “I need a couch and a nap” syndrome. I also appreciated the presentation, with the sandwiches served open faced to display their ingredients prior to dining, and the fries served up bouquet style in a silver cup sidecarred by the trio of dipping sauces in their own piece of china.

Let’s dish about the burger first. The menu describes the Juicy Lucy as a “certified Angus beef and applewood smoked bacon patty stuffed with cheese, topped with crispy pickled jalapenos and chipotle mayo on a potato bun”.

I think the place when a bit off menu here – I read the description as having cheese and bacon in the patty, and the roll seemed more ciabatta than potato, but no matter. It was delicious all the same. The burger was thick and expertly cooked to a medium rare effect, making each bite juicy and filled with meaty flavor.

The presence of the fried pickled chipotles gave the mix a crunchy, briny heat, and the creamy melted cheese worked nicely in conjunction with the fresh, dense, lightly grilled roll to lend the proceedings a buttery crunch. I also enjoyed the roasted tomato, which I think was only supposed to be present in the Southwestern chicken sandwich, but again, no matter. I love the flavor of a roasted tomato, so its presence contributed some nice flavor and juiciness to the mix. Bottom line, a lot going on in this burger, but the basics (meat perfectly cooked, generous amount of cheese melted and slightly browned on top) combined with the unusual (crispy pickled chiles, chipotle mayo, etc.) made for a unique delicious experience.

The sweet potato fries were an indulgent treat when introduced to the smoky flavor of the chipotle ketchup, the sweet tang of the mango mustard, and the European styling of dipping fries in the aioli, essentially mayo with chives. They were perfectly prepared like the burger, crispy on the outside and soft and sweet within.

Now let’s parcel up the poultry. The menu’s description says “grilled citrus marinated chicken breast topped with pepper jack cheese, oven roasted tomatoes, diced green chiles, avocado slices and chipotle mayo on a potato bun”.

Aside from the potato/ciabatta query I raised earlier, this sandwiches’ construction was on point. The grilled butter roll and melted cheese laid down a nice foundation for the citrus marinated chicken perfectly grilled and seasoned with salt and pepper to a moist and tender flavorful effect. The roasted tomatoes were once again a juicy and delicious presence. Did I mention the beautifully fanned avocado slices? Love the creamy flavor and texture of sliced avocado in a sandwich, and matched with the citrus marinated chicken was a deft touch. The fries were also perfectly prepared, with the presence of the potato skins on their outsides working to maximum flavor effect by being crisped.

Both dishes were eye-rollingly delicious down to the last bite, so much so that I stopped back for breakfast the next morning, to enjoy the breakfast burrito. Egg whites scrambled with pepper jack cheese, chorizo sausage, and potatoes wrapped with a white flour tortilla grilled on an open flame and served with sides of sour cream, diced green chiles, and fresh salsa.

Savory, hearty, and spicy, this delicious breakfast treat kicked off my day and topped off what may end up to be one of my favorite dining experiences of the year! Oh, I would be doing the place a disservice if I failed to mention the attentive and friendly nature of both our servers. Can’t wait to go back!

http://www.houseofblues.com/venues/clubvenues/lasvegas/dining.php

Posted in Breakfast, Sandwiches

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