Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Du Par's downtown and Silk Road on the Strip are two totally different restaurants. One is ordinary and predictable, the other is hip and refined. What do they have in common? Great pancakes. I don't usually order pancakes when going out for breakfast on account of the carb and sugar content, but I am certainly a fan and have been feasting on them lately because of these restaurants.

Du Par's is a better than average chain diner restaurant at The Golden Gate, a place that prides itself on being the oldest hotel in Vegas (they claim to have had the first telephone number in the city) and 'home to the 99 cent shrimp cocktail' (which is now $1.99). Although Du Par's bakes all its pastries in house daily (you can watch this process on a TV outside) and pays more attention to vegetables than similar places, the only real reason to come here is for the pancakes ($7.75 for a short stack, $2.50 for one). There's nothing fancy about them, but they're f'***ing delicious without any bells or whistles, save for the homemade preserves available in strawberry, peach, or boysenberry. They must use some combination of baking soda, baking powder, and carbonated water because they puff up into a spongy, kind of chewy consistency that is light yet hearty, and absolutely irresistible. Butter is definitely involved because they even manage to get a little crispiness around the edges. Yum!

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Silk Road, a funky place in Vdara that would have found a welcome place at a Ritz Carlton on the Jetson's. They used to be open for dinner but due to heavy competition from their City Center neighbors' restaurants you can now only dine here for breakfast and lunch. Unlike Du Par's there are plenty of reasons besides the pancakes for dining here, but for the purpose of this review we'll concentrate on Silk Road's blueberry ricotta interpretation of this breakfast favorite. These were unusually executed and plated so beautifully that they deserve an award for bringing fine dining elements to the first meal of the day. The pancakes ($14) were more cake-like than those at Du Pars and had been baked in mini pans, giving them a crispy exterior all the way around. It seemed very French. Accompaniments included orange blossom syrup, honeycomb butter, whipped cream, fresh blueberries and, my favorite, candied rose petals. We also ordered a turkey hash that was excellent and ethereal ham and cheese beignets served with an Indian tomato chutney (sounds weird but trust me, they're fantastic). Silk Road does for breakfast what Steve Wynn did for Vegas - making it better by pushing the envelope and inundating it with class. All I have to say is move over Payard's....

Though you pay through the nose at Silk Road (let me mention that I passed on the $10 coffee) the atmosphere and menu undoubtedly make it stand out much more than Du Pars. This is a place to take your friends from out of town, and Du Pars is a place to go on a lazy weekend morning. Bottom line, both have really good pancakes. You get more bang for your buck at Du Pars but Silk Road will offer you the most interesting breakfast you've probably ever had.

Honeycomb Butter and Orange Blossom Syrup

Breakfast Beignets

Interior of Silk Road

Private dining room

Baking TV at Du Pars

Ian by a replica of the first telephone in Vegas

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