For over 50 years our community enjoyed a classic beach front seafood and steak restaurant known as Millie Riera’s Seafood Grotto. The restaurant was loved by the locals as well as the occasional celebrity.  You never knew who might walk through the piano bar on the way to the ocean view dining room.  I recall one night my wife yelled out, “hi Don King”, and he actually came over to our table and chatted with us for a minute.

During the fever pitched housing boom, Millie Riera’s Seafood Grotto was demolished to make way for 4 or so ocean view condos. 

Their take on Lobster Thermidor was tremendous.  Perhaps Lobster Thermidor sounds fancy and difficult to make, but the Millie Riera’s recipe is straightforward and easy to follow.  This recipe, along with a great story detailing the history of the restaurant, was published in the October 31, 1996 edition of the Los Angeles Times.

This recipe would be the absolute perfect meal for that special occasion. The recipe serves 2, but can be easily multiplied to make more servings.

2 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp minced onion

6 ounces uncooked lobster meat, cut in bite sized pieces (I buy lobster tails, remove the meat, and boil the shells to clean them for later use)

2 mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp diced red pepper

1 cup Sherry

Pinch salt

Pinch white pepper

2 ½ Tbsp floor

1 cup milk

2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Step 1: Melt butter in skillet and saute’ onion until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add lobster meat and cook 2 more minutes.

Step 2: Add mushrooms, red pepper, Sherry, salt and white pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until alcohol is driven off, about 5 minutes.

Step 3: Stir in flour and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.  Add milk slowly, stirring constantly, and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute.

Step 4:  Put the mixture into the cleaned lobster shell(s) or small oven safe casserole dish. Top with cheese.  Broil until cheese melts and browns slightly, about 2 minutes.        


I occasionally enjoy throwing the bones.

When Sue and I first went to Las Vegas, for a post Thanksgiving outing, we stayed at The Sands.  Because we were newbies to gaming we went next door to Casino Royale to learn the various games as that casino had lower minimum bet requirements.  It was early evening so the casino was not too busy.  After looking around, and while nursing a beer, I decided to look into playing craps.  Sue decided to try other games.

I walked up to a craps table where the pit boss and crew were just standing and talking to each other.  I told them I was new to the game, and wondered if one person could play.  They undoubtedly sensed that this would not take long, so they informed me that a person could play the game alone.  They instructed me where to place chips on the table to start, and they provided some very  basics craps concepts and off I went.  Time passed at the table, and I was having fun.

Sue had been spending time playing video poker, when all of a sudden her attention was drawn by a huge cheering crowd surrounding a table.  Sue decided to find out what was going on.  She approached the area of the crowd, and to her surprise, saw me throwing dice at a packed craps table.  I had beginners luck that night, and threw the dice for what seemed like forever.  Unfortunately, those who knew how to place proper bets accumulated a lot more chips than I did using my basic betting knowledge. But, boy was that fun.

Later that night we moved up to The Sands casino, and I was doing ok.  Every now and then Sue would come by, say hi, and take a few chips to hold for me.  At the end of the evening she had a nice little stash of chips which we traded in.  On an hourly basis the winnings were not too impressive, but what fun we had.     

The years passed, and one November we were in the Bellagio Casino (minimum bets were just a tad higher then old Vegas).  As had become our traditon, we were  enjoying drinks in the bar which overlooks the Bellagio Fountains.  While the drinks were expensive, the bang for the buck was huge when you add the value of a great rock band performing live, and every half hour or so a perfect view of the water in the lake outside erupting into huge dancing fountains.   

Well, I decided to play craps, and Sue was off to the video poker games.  Time passed, and I was holding my own. All of a sudden Sue came up to me at the table, obviously in a hurry, and asked how I was doing.  I said, “I am doing ok, but I can quit if you want”.  Sue informed me that we had to go, now! She sounded like a squad leader in a movie telling troops to go, go go! Turned out, Tiffany’s was going to be closing in a few minutes, and the little lady had won some mula on video poker. We walked quickly  through the casino, and down the corridor of shops. In no time we were standing inside Tiffany’s just pror to midnight, each of us holding a Corona.  While sipping my Corona, I watched Sue picking out her ring, and buy it wth Bellagio’s money! (free money, at least until the next night’s gaming payback).  

You just have to love Vegas.  I am guessing that in most Tiffany’s one does not barge into the store toting a Corona without anyone even batting an eye.  Now that was fun.

I think most people will agree that over time, unless you are truly lucky or skilled in gaming you will end up making more deposits than withdrawals at the “casino bank”. But, if you look at gaming as budgeted entertainment, and have the philosophy that we all have to occasionally foot the bill for the eye-popping lights and décor, Vegas is fun, win or lose.     

I bet many of you have a great tale of your big casino win.  Why not share your story while enjoying your Lobster Thermidore meal.          

Good Eating and Table Talk,



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