Fresh Fare at Mogan’s Cafe (Pacific Palisades)

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Mogans Cafe in Pacific Palisades offers fresh fare at reasonable prices.

In any new restaurant owner’s venture, there is the attempt to make a mark, to put your own stamp on an eatery, and to offer the best fare possible, with hopefully reasonable prices. Ryan Newcomb of Mogan’s Cafe in Pacific Palisades is such an owner.

A few months after he and his partner bought the place, he was found at the outside patio of the cafe, which is located in Highlands Plaza at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Palisades Drive, building a wall to separate the dining area from the food serving station. Newcomb said he knew exactly what he wanted and to get it right, he decided to build it himself.

It is such care and concern that make a visit to Mogan’s Cafe a breath of fresh air. This care extends to the extensive menu, which Newcomb said has not changed much since he took ownership in December.
Whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the offerings are extensive. The dinner menu lists breakfast, lunch and dinner items on its own. The variety of almost a dozen sandwiches-from the Cajun chicken breast, with red onion, cilantro pesto and mozzarella cheese on grilled sour dough to the hot brisket sandwich, prepared with slow roasted brisket with onions, apple juice, wine and herbs and served with caramelized onions and roasted garlic mayo-will whet the appetite of any food aficionado.
Oh yes, there are the paninis, too, and the salads, gourmet burgers, stir fry, a large range of appetizers and the specialty main courses, which include a plethora of chicken dishes, from Marsala and Picatta to Flat Grilled Chicken. For a Mexican flair, try the steak or tofu fajitas, or the tostadas of chicken, fish or veggie. There’s even fish and chips that can be downed with beer, or wine if you prefer. A recent daily menu listed fresh halibut served with steamed veggies (cooked perfectly, with some crispness) and freshly whipped potatoes. The daily soup, butternut squash, was creamy, sweet and simply delicious.

Newcomb is definitely not new to the restaurant scene; he’s been the manager of Mogan’s for the past five years, and after much consideration and consultation with his business partner, he decided to make an offer to the previous owner that couldn’t be refused.

Once you’ve made a visit to Mogan’s, which is only about a 15-minute drive from the Malibu Pier, you won’t be able to refuse a second visit, and a third, and ….

Mogan’s Cafe, 548 Palisades Dr., Pacific Palisades, 90272; 310.454.0040; www.moganscafe.com

Hard Rock Rocks Vegas

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The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas offers fine dining, great music and fascinating musical history.

A trip to Las Vegas for many symbolizes casinos and gambling, dinner and shows, lounging by pools and great shopping. For the most part, that’s not far off.

However, if you want to experience fascinating rock and roll history and outstanding live music, as well as some fine dining and drinking, then a visit to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is a must.

The concert venue at the Hard Rock in Vegas hosts performances that range from iconic groups such as ‘80s pop legend Duran Duran, Incubus and The Killers to thumping club music by DJ Tiesto.

Recording the history of rock through memorabilia since the opening of the first Hard Rock Cafe in Los Angeles nearly 30 years ago, is Warwick Stone, Memorabilia Curator and Art & Theme Consultant, whose workshop is located in a former suite in the original tower of Hard Rock Vegas. During a visit a few months ago, a caped Elvis costume was standing in the corner of his workshop, ready for a cleaning. A Britney Spears short, cheerleader costume stood on a table. During a personal tour, Stone talked about how he obtains and negotiates for the memorabilia that fill glass cases and frames throughout the hotel and casino. Stone said first and foremost an item must come with a story–something that verifies the wearer of the costume and where they performed in it. A photo, journal note, letter or something that gives all this is what he looks for. He carefully packages any items that tell the story in frames and cases.

Taking a group through the casino, Stone relayed such details as who made certain costumes, and the back-story behind the costumes before a certain star wore it. The story behind a Michael Jackson white, sequined glove on display in the lobby of the HRH All-Suite Tower that Stone told was of how the singer had gone to a premiere of a movie he made that received poor reaction, except for a man who was a fan and who applauded at the end. Jackson threw the man his glove as he was walking out of the theater. That person was a collector/dealer. Stone also told the story of when he was putting together the display at the hotel’s main entrance of The Killers costumes on skeletons. The band members thought the skeletons were too skinny, so they asked him to pad them. Stone subsequently padded the skeletons several times to the point that the heads look much smaller than the bodies, but the The Killers were happy with the result.

In keeping with the times, most displays have QR codes that visitors can scan to get the whole story on each one. Nirvana and heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold are the two most popular displays based on the number of hits. Make sure to schedule at least a full day to take in all the displays.

After a day of touring, visitors can relax at the Reliquary Spa where a number of treatments are offered. Or, if sun is what

Reliquary Water Sanctuary & Spa inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino offers a variety of treatment options, including the Ancient Cane Ritual.

you want-and music, of course-the Rehab pool may be a relaxing spot for some (if you like super loud, thumping club music while you drink your cocktails). Once a super hot party spot that got in trouble for illegal drugs two years ago, screeners now check all bags for any type of illegal paraphernalia. The party is still going on there, but safe and saner now.

For dining at Hard Rock, 35 Steaks and Martinis, which is its newest gourmet food venue, is a must, no matter where you stay in Vegas. First, you’ve got the most creative mixed martinis around, such as the Spicy Signature Serrano Martini. Fresh sliced serrano peppers float in an icy mix of vodka and a lightly muddled hot pepper mix , giving a nice bite to your evening. Or there’s the 35 Gimlet, a mix of vodka, gin, lime juice and the added freshness of cucumber slices.

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas offers not only great concerts and a fascinating look at rock history, but now with its newly opened 35 Steaks and Martinis, also fine dining.

The food is just as good as the drinks. Appetizers like the delicate Crab Cake, made with the lump blue crab, Thai spice, red curry cream, and served with mango salad, or the charcuterie of thinly sliced salami and house made pickles are a delicious way to start the evening. For entrees, whether you go with seafood, such as the Seared Day Boat Scallops, which were the most perfectly cooked scallops I’ve ever eaten, or meat, of which there is a delightful choice, from Porterhouse, Prime Rib and Filet Mignon to the Tomahawk Chop (Long Bone Ribeye for two), you can’t go wrong. Everything at this restaurant is top-notch.

There is also a Pink Taco, Nobu and Johnny Smalls (which serves a menu from around the world it seems. Get a chili dog, beef sliders, sushi or asada tacos, they seem to have it all).

As for accommodations, the HRH All-Suite Tower rooms are luxurious and super modern–decorated in tones of white, grey and black, with large wall art featuring, what else but icons of rock and roll.

More information on the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, can be obtained at www.hardrockhotel.com.

The HRH All Suites Tower are sleekly modern, offering the ultimate in amenities.