Glendale, Arizona’s Saddle Ranch Chop House, a kitschy, Southwestern-tinged steakhouse, loads its menu with fun food like barbecue-chicken-covered nachos and jalapeño mac and cheese. But one of the biggest surprises from the kitchen is the cotton candy. We know what you’re thinking — cotton candy only works for novel eateries like Saddle Ranch and amusement parks. Well, that’s not exactly the case. As our sweets-loving editors have discovered, even restaurants and lounges catering to the well-heeled are serving the airy, spun-sugar treat.
Everything is done a little differently in Las Vegas. And at the whimsical Simon Restaurant & Lounge at Palms Place, that’s never been more true than at brunch time. Though items like apple crunch pancakes and Philly-style eggs Benedict might entice, it’s the cotton candy, Rice Krispies treats and cookie arrangement that make the dessert bar stand out. Now, if we’re talking presentation, Miami’s Barton G. The Restaurant might take the proverbial cake with its cloudy concoction. Big Top Cotton Candy is a ridiculous mass of sugary bliss reminiscent of Marge Simpson’s hair that’s served atop an array of chocolate-dipped pretzels and popcorn balls. As far as the airy treat served at Arizona Biltmore’s distinguished restaurant Wright’s at the Biltmore goes, it doesn’t quite make the same show-stopping entrance to your table. Still, the way the subtler complimentary sweet contrasts the delightful beef wellington you just ate makes it nearly as memorable.
As more and more inventive bars are showing, the joys of cotton candy can also be enjoyed in liquid form. Take the Magic Mojito at José Andrés’ creative The Bazaar in Miami and Los Angeles. A bartender presents you with a cocktail glass filled with the puffy goodness, then mojito is then poured on top. The treat vanishes into the drink, creating a festive, sweet conversation piece for the table. Now, Encore at Wynn Las Vegas’ newest vodka bar, VDKA, doesn’t do any sleight of hand with its colorful drink Cotton Candy Swirl; somehow though, the results still spark a child-like delight. By shaking Pinnacle cotton candy vodka, St. Germain liqueur and cranberry juice into a martini glass and topping it with a skewer of cotton candy, a vibrant drink is formed that not only mesmerizes the eyes but tickles the tongue in a way it hasn’t been since your first candied apple back at the county fair.
Photos Courtesy of Arizona Biltmore, Jeff Green and Barbara Kraft