Monday, July 12, 2010
I'm sure many people share my view that this movie represents an ideal of Vegas (above clip "The Lady Loves Me" from Viva Las Vegas). I still have to catch The Hangover, never have seen Casino, hated Leaving Las Vegas, Ocean's 11, original and remakes are pretty cool, but nothing stacks up against Ann-Margaret and Elvis in a dance off! That's the trouble with growing up on old movies, real life never quite lives up; nevertheless, I just spent four fun nights in Vegas with my sister and her friend to celebrated my sister's big 4-0!
Two things you always hear about Las Vegas, other than the mantra What happens in Vegas... 1) It's hot, but it's a dry heat. As if that means you won't burn to a crisp waiting for the Ace or the Deuce to deliver you to the next themed attraction. (add more trams between casinos, please!) And, 2) You can eat so cheap! Which, I suppose means going to some dive way off the strip; because any and every restaurant and eatery associated with or near a Casino was charging crazy prices. Obviously the intent is to break you at both the gaming tables and the dining tables.
At Treasure Island (where we stayed, BTW Cirque du Soleil: Mystere, is enthralling!) the buffet is $25 without any seafood/raw bar. In Atlantic City, Harrah's has a buffet surprisingly close to eating in a 4 star restaurant, slight exaggeration, but their decor is attractive and each station offers a menu of exciting, top notched entrees. Las Vegas, Harrah's is a poor, poor cousin to it's East coast counterpart - dismal decor, bland, unappetizing fare, scrawny crab legs... just impossible to get satisfied. And realizing we only saved $1.50 by purchasing advance vouchers at the half priced booth, truly caused a bitter taste in our mouths.
Breakfast cafes charge $11.50 for waffles without breakfast meat, Margaritas in plastic glasses are $10.25 and $16 in souvenir mugs. Todd English P.U.B's (CityCenter:Crystal) late night bar menu charged $13 for 6 chicken wings, which should have come with a warning, hotter than the Nevada noon day sun. My sister devoured her chicken parm sliders, but I didn't see where they met their $15 price tag.
We did luck out at Ra Sushi (Fashion Show Mall) by unintentionally arriving 10 minutes before they stopped serving their lunch special, which ranged between $8-$10 for a Bento box, and only had to wait 10 minutes before ordering $5 happy hour cocktails! They offer a sushi roll on the happy hour menu named Viva Las Vegas, a crunchy, deep fried, crab meat, cream cheese and I'm missing an ingredient or two of deliciousness, very filling. If you like to experiment with sushi rolls, this is a must try!
Another dining high note (and high price) was Cafe Society (Encore Casino) just LOVELY, Parisian salon decor, amazing service, Bloody Mary cart made to order at your table. Chef Kim Canteenwalla succeeded in "bringing his elegant comfort food to a dramatic-meets-casual café at Encore".
I had the Gooey Sticky Buns and Mini Quiche Trio - perfect flavors, perfect crust, although perhaps another diameter could be added to the size. My sister's on a slider kick, and ordered the Filet Mignon and Creamed Spinach Sliders, perfectly tender and hearty, she could barely finished the second sandwich.
As an aside, the only way I'd want to do Vegas again would be to stay at Steve Wynn's Boutique Casino, Encore. I can only describe it as Ernest Hemingway, meets, Carla Bruni, meets the King of Siam, but all done very tastefully. It's such a quiet and elegant Casino.
However, the corny, seedy side of me would venture out of the Encore to go see
Donnie and Marie at the Flamingo, and head down to Fremont (Old Casinos) and shoot craps at the $3 tables all night.
Our other late night meal took place at Onda (The Mirage), a classy little wine bar. We just could not decide what we (ok, I) wanted to do that night; by the time "we" decided to go to Onda, we only had 10 minutes to order tapas before the kitchen closed. Steamed Mussels in a wine sauce, two Italian Meatballs, topped with a thin slices of shaved parmesan, Fried Goat Cheese and Cold, Pickled Eggplant, served like a chunky spread, all very nicely done. The Grilled Brussels Sprouts w/ Prosciutto were served practically raw, no seasoning, the prosciutto adding nothing. I sent them back to be further cooked, but they were still not appealing; brussels sprouts need to be caramelized to be tasty.
Speaking of tasty, a trip highlight was a Male Revue show at Hooters in Tropicana - The Men of X! 3 of the 4 guys were perfectly cast, they smoldered with soap opera/romance book cover good looks. Performing one fantasy sequence after another, even giving a nod to Twilight with a Dracula strip tease. I'll admit to being a stingy tipper. I'm trying to be more generous, in an effort to have a better relationship with money... I've figured out my motivation!
More vacation pics can be found on my facebook page.