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Rumble in the Desert (Part II)

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by westie, Mar 16, 2005.

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  1. westie

    westie VIP Whale

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    My Trip Report

    The Rumble in Part II primarily refers to my stomach although our entertainment experiences are covered as well. I will note whenever
    applicable the source of any discount coupons or certificates used on this trip. Abbreviations: ACG = American Casino Guide , E = Entertainment, POV = Las Vegas Advisor, and R.com = Restaurant.com.

    Most mornings Ms. Piggy & I visited the troughs at the Orleans or Gold Coast buffets (ACG) so I will summarize our breakfast experiences to avoid repetition. These buffets are near carbon
    copies of each other and are regarded by many; my self included, as the best of the mid priced buffets. We particularly enjoy the fresh
    fruit selection that includes grapefruit, grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, oranges, bananas, and honeydew melon. Try as we may and against our best intentions, we seldom fail to over indulge. My downfall is the huevos rancheros I assemble while Ms. Westie has seldom been seen passing without pausing for a "small" wedge of bread pudding. Note: the bread pudding is only offered at the Gold Coast buffet, but she substitutes cheese blintzes as necessary to maintain her strength. Rating: 3.5 forks out of a potential 5.

    The only other breakfast buffet we tried was Main Street Station (POV). Neither of us enjoyed this buffet which is quite small in comparison to those at Coast Casinos. The fresh fruit was limited to dry grapefruit segments and unripened cantaloupe. The Italian section was limited to pizza, the Mexican and dessert sections closed, and the Asian section limited to steamed rice and egg foo yuck. In addition, the chef preparing the omelets was having a bad day with each sticking to
    the pan. I settled for overdone easy over eggs and Ms. Westie attempted to wolf down a tiny portion of cold scrambled eggs. Rating: 1 Fork.

    Sunday mornings found us at Ellis Island (ACG) for the bargain priced ($1.95) vanilla French toast. Rating: 2.5 Forks.

    Day 1 – After stopping off at Wal-Mart for soda, water and a few incidentals, we checked in at Sam's Town for the next 11 nights. I had 4 back-to-back reservations, (2) direct and (2) through
    Hotels.com , that the clerk combined for us. After resting for awhile, we drove over to Bangkok Boom (E), a Thai restaurant, only to discover it had apparently ceased operations. Ever resourceful, we
    drove over to Al Basha (E) on South Maryland Parkway, a small Mediterranean storefront restaurant. I ordered kafta kabob with beef
    in special spices, which was accompanied by grilled eggplant, rice and some additional vegetables. Ms. Westie's mousaka arrived
    accompanied by a salad and rice. We also received a basket of pita bread and complimentary baklavas. Rating: 3.5 Forks.

    Day 2 – After breakfast at the Gold Coast, we drove over to Bellagio in order to view the Chinese New Year exhibit in the Conservatory
    before it closed – the Rooster was particularly impressive. Next stop was Jean Phillipe's Patisserie with a floor-to-ceiling chocolate
    fountain that included a series of melted chocolate cascades. The made-to-order fruit crepes looked oh so tempting and are now on our
    To Do list for the next trip. The remainder of the day was devoted to reading and a long nap.

    Dinner was chicken fajitas (ACG) at Don Miguels in the Orleans. These were a very poor example of this popular Tex-Mex dish, but we enjoyed the excellent taco chips and margaritas. Rating: 1.5
    Forks.

    This evening's entertainment was the James Darren show at the Orleans. Seniors may remember him as Moondoggie in those Grade B Gidget movies of yesteryear or in roles on such TV "classics" as TJ
    Hooker and the more recent Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. If not, how about his hit record "Goodbye Cruel World".
    http://www.webfitz.com/lyrics/Lyrics/1961/591961.html
    This night's performance should have been subtitled "Performs The Sinatra/Bennett Songbook". I felt his act might be more suitable to the lounge at Casa di Amore or, better yet, Battista's should the guy with the accordion finally retire. Rating: 2 Claps out of a
    potential 5.

    We followed this up with one set of classic rock by the Las Vegas-based Smith Brothers at the Orleans' Bourbon Street Cabaret.
    Rating: 3.5 claps.

    Day 3 – I somehow managed to become hungry 4 hours after visiting the Orleans breakfast buffet, so we split an appetizer of lettuce wraps
    at the Baja Café in Fiesta-Henderson using some of my Amigo points. PF Chang's doesn't have to worry about this competitor. Rating: 1
    Fork.

    This evening we drove to the Rampart and dined at the Carmel Room (POV). This is a beautiful, upscale restaurant with service to match. When I ordered a melange salad ($6.95) to share, the waiter informed us of a $5 charge if they divided the salad in the kitchen, but he would gladly deliver a second plate to us for free. Come on
    restaurant management – 5 waiters serving 10 patrons on a Friday night and you want to charge extra for dividing up 16 baby lettuce leaves and a couple of pieces of fruit? Our disappointment continued when Ms.Westie's salmon arrived on a plate unadorned except by a lone lemon segment. The salmon was cooked to perfection, but would have benefited by the addition of either a sauce or glaze. Her twice- baked potato side order was good, but who ran off with the requested chives? My seafood (New Zealand mussels, scallops, 2 shrimp and 2 teeny weenie clams) in some sort of cream sauce over pasta would have benefited by the addition of some seasoning or fresh herbs. I can only conclude this chef is afraid to offend anyone's taste buds. Rating: 2 Forks.

    We then visited the nearby Suncoast to attend the Chuck Mangione show. I was not prepared for how much I would enjoy this Grammy award winner's music. He was quite obviously uncomfortable speaking onstage, but his music made the entire audience "Feels So Good". Rating: 4 claps.

    Our evening concluded with me getting lost after taking a detour off the Summerlin Highway.

    Day 4 – I now know how Pavlov's dog felt as I begin to salivate at the mere mention of the word buffet. Again I defied all gastronomic logic by getting hungry 4 hours after our breakfast. We headed over Hue's Thai Sandwiches, 5115 Spring Mountain Road, for the house special sandwich – three cuts of pork-based cold cuts, pickled
    radish, cucumber and carrot in light vinegar dressing.
    http://www.usmenuguide.com/huethaissandwichesmenu.htm
    We shared the sandwich in our car and thought it was on the dry side and would have benefited by additional dressing. Rating: 2 Forks.

    Our next dining adventure was at the Mayflower Cuisiner (R.com) on West Sahara. http://www.usmenuguide.com/mayflowermenu.html
    This is a beautifully decorated Asian restaurant with service to match. It has been the recipient of a Best of Las Vegas award in the Chinese restaurant category. The restaurant is co-owned by the chef and her brother who served as our waiter. There were many dishes on the menu that looked appealing, but we both settled on the sake-miso crusted seabass accompanied by 4 chicken ravioli and ginger brown rice cake. This was the best dish I have had in recent memory. Rating: 5 Forks.

    After dinner we drove to the Fiesta-Rancho for a Rod Stewart tribute show. Free tickets to these Saturday tribute shows are available at the Amigo (slot) club counter. The key to enjoying this type of show is to forget what is missing (i.e. Rod Stewart, a band etc.) and simply kick back with your favorite beverage, appreciate the company you are with and listen to the many memorable tunes. We had a great time. Rating: 2.5 Claps.

    Day 5 - We drove to the Westin Casuarina to purchase show tickets for Forbidden Vegas with a 2/1 coupon from the Review Journal. A few
    days later another ad appeared in the Review Journal offering $40 in free slot/VP play if you purchased a show ticket for the same price.
    I believe this promotion could be combined with the excellent new sign-up promotion, pay $30 and receive $60 action.

    Lunch today was a freebie sent to each of us for Gardunos Express at the Fiesta-Rancho. Does anyone else remember Gardunos of a few
    years back when there were long lines for both dinner and the Sunday Margarita brunch? Well, you won't need to stand in a line these days. At lunch this is a steam table affair offering fajitas, menudo, cream-based soup, two varieties of enchiladas, tacos, mussels, assorted desserts, taco chips, salsa and a cornbread mix.
    Everything but the cornbread and menudo was on the wrong side of mediocre. Rating: 0.5 Fork.

    In the late afternoon we stopped in at CML for free drinks (ACG) and to enter the free slot tournament. We managed to continue a family tradition by failing to place in the money. We
    were both stuffed from lunch so we decided to get a sandwich at the Gold Rush (ACG). One look at what is jokingly referred to as their restaurant and we made an abrupt U-turn and headed for the Fiesta-Henderson. We ended up spliting a very good club sandwich and fries at the Baja Café using my Amigo points. Rating: 3 Forks.

    Day 6 – Ms. Westie drove over to the Palms for a Swedish massage (POV) while I read and napped. Prior to dinner, we stopped in at CML for a session of VP and (2) free drinks (ACG).
    Dinner was at Cool Place Cuba Café (E) on Tropicana where we both enjoyed the mango salmon entrée serve with an interesting veggie rice
    and delicious cole slaw. http://www.usmenuguide.com/cubacafemenu.html
    Rating: 4 Forks.

    This evening's entertainment was Mama Mia. There has been much deserved praise of this show both in the Review Journal and the various discussion boards. This was one of the best shows we have
    seen in Las Vegas. Kudos to GVRBill for posting a discount code on the LV Talk Board. Rating: westie 4.5 Claps, Ms. Westie 5 Claps.

    Day 7 - After breakfast and several laps around the Gold Coast, we headed to the Green Valley Ranch Library in order to check our junk
    mail. Ms. Westie won this contest with 583 pieces of garbage.

    In the evening we stopped in CML for a little VP and more free drinks (ACG) before driving to Viaggio (R.com) for dinner.
    http://www.viaggiorestaurant.com/html/dinner.shtml
    The restaurant is ideally situated on a hill overlooking the Las Vegas Valley. We split an excellent spinach and beet salad that included goat cheese in a rasberry-cabernet vinagarette. Ms. Westie chose the highly touted fresh snow crab ravioli entrée while I settled on frutti de mare. Service complemented the view and food.
    Rating: 4.5 Forks.

    Day 8 - I can tell the mid-point of our vacation has been reached because the cupboard is bare – time to visit our friendly wash and fold laundromat. After dropping our clothes off, we drove to the Tuscany to purchase tickets to the Performing As Live show. We were advised at the slot booth/box office that a) the box office was
    closed and would not reopen until 4PM, b) there was no longer a 9:30PM show, and c) the complimentary passes I purchased on Ebay may
    no longer be valid – Ooch! Later that night we successfully picked up both our laundry and show tickets.

    Dinner was at an old favorite, the Blue Agave (POV) in the Palms.
    Ms. Westie settled on the king crab pan roast while I decided to try
    the gumbo. She had one Margarita, I had two. Her entree was
    excellent, mine mediocre. She was happy, I was very HAPPY. Rating:
    4 Forks by Ms. Westie, 2.5 Forks by me.

    We rushed over to the Tuscany in order to stake out a place in line for the "Performing as Live: Sinatra/ Streisand" show. Not a problem – the room is basically a lounge and there wasn't much of a line. We ended up seated in the center about 10 feet from the stage. This is a very small, but wonderful show featuring several duets and
    a bit of comedy. The Streisand impersonator was fantastic. Rating: 3.5 Claps.

    After the show we walked over to the Piazzia Lounge in order to listen to the funky Kurtis Maye. Wednesday night is ladies night with free drinks until 10PM so there were several hotties from a nearby nursing home. Rating: 2.5 Claps.

    Day 9 - After breakfast we drove to the Fashion Show Mall to purchase tickets for that evening's Gladys Knight performance. The listing of
    available tickets was posted around 11:25AM and I was first in the VIP line courtesy of an online coupon.

    Lunch was at El Coqui (E), a Puerto Rican restaurant located in a small shopping center at 2210 Paradise Road.
    http://www.usmenuguide.com/elcoquimenu.html
    We each had a cup, more like a bowl, of delicious chicken noodle soup. This wasn't Campbell's, but the real deal with large chunks of chicken still on the bone. Rating: 3.5 Forks.

    A note to anyone who frequents the highly regarded India Oven on Sahara, be advised that the owners have lost their lease and will be
    re-opening in this shopping center in the not too distant future.

    Dinner this evening was at India Palace (E), 505 Twain Avenue.
    http://www.usmenuguide.com/indiapalacemenu.html
    We arrived at about 6PM to find the parking lot almost full due to a birthday celebration by a large group of Red Hats. I became concerned we would be late for our show because of a back up in the kitchen, but we were able to place our orders first. We split orders of chicken tika marsala, chicken korma, naan and basmati rice. The
    chicken was extremely tender and everything was delicious as usual. Rating: 4.5 Forks.

    We then rushed over to the Barbary Coast in order to park and then walked to the Flamingo to attend the Gladys Knight show. This lady has a wondeful stage presence as she skillfully takes the audience on a musical journey through her career. Four talented singers and an excellent band back her up with brother Bubba providing the comedic
    relief. The 1.5 hours flew by and we were left wanting more. Rating 4.5 Claps.

    Still on a high from the show, we walked over to Harrahs to catch the first set of Dueling Pianos. The twins are cute, but I thought the quality of the music improved when the male third of the show
    performed.
    http://www.vegas4locals.com/freeduelingpianos.html Rating: 2 Claps.

    Day 10 - After suffering through another bout of indigestion courtesy of Gardunos' Express, I promised myself I would immediately destroy
    any and all coupons for this meal that I receive in the future. Rating: 0.5 Forks.

    We had a couple of before dinner drinks (ACG) at CML and then drove over to the nearby Mira Lago (R.com) where we had reservations for 7PM. This beautiful restaurant is in the Reflection Bay
    Golf Club, Lake Las Vegas and overlooks the water and golf course. Reservations were hardly required, as there were only 6 other patrons, on this stormy Friday night. We each chose the macadamia-crusted sea bass in lobster sauce entrée that was served over garlic mashed potatoes and accompanied by baby vegetables. The wait staff was quite friendly and competent. Rating: 4.5 Forks

    Day 11 - After breakfast we decided to do a little shopping at the Las Vegas Premium Outlets. Ms. Westie returned home with a new bag and a belt, I arrived with blisters. Dinner this evening was at the Hawaiian Plantation (E), 10940 South Eastern, Henderson. We split an coconut shrimp appetizer and each ordered the kona crab
    filled salmon katsu that shared the plate with a very large salad. Refer to review for a complete description.
    http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2002/Aug-09-Fri-2002/weekly/19280699.html
    Rating; 4 Forks.

    We rolled out of the restaurant and proceeded to the Westin for the Forbidden Vegas Las Vegas show. This is a cabaret show with only four actors and a piano player. We were seated in the fourth row center. Unfortunately for us an understudy assumed the roles played by regular cast member Michael West. The show involves many
    song parodies, frequent costume changes and lots of good-natured fun. I felt the spoofs of Celine, Rita, Sarah Brightman and Cirque du Soleil (can you sing YMCA?) were hilarious. Rating: 4 Claps.

    Day 12 - The end of this trip is in sight and I realized how many items remain on my To Do list (reason to return ASAP). This is our day to move from Sam's to a recently renovated room at the Fiesta-Henderson.

    Dinner this evening was at the Blackjack Lodge (R.com), 6200 South Rainbow Blvd.
    http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2004/Oct-15-Fri-2004/weekly/24970590.html\
    We again allowed Heidi to lead the way as we shared the crab cake appetizer with roasted jalapeno aioli and a full rack of St. Louis
    spare ribs. The meat on these beauties was both bountiful and tender. Rating: 3 Forks.

    After a short drive, we arrived at the Suncoast for the Air Supply show. I barely remembered this 80's Australian soft rock group, but we found their music and show to be thoroughly entertaining, if not a bit too sweet. Rating: Ms. Westie 4 Claps, westie 3.5 Claps.

    Day 13 - We decided to get a little fresh air and exercise after breakfast so we walked the one mile trail in Sunset Park. The town has established runs for both small and large dogs so we took this an opportunity to share some love with a few of the local canine residents.

    We drove Downtown in the late afternoon in order to catch Bobby Ruffin's Tribute to the Drifters (LVA) at Fitzgerald's. The free ticket came with a free drink. I wisely chose a bottled beer. Ms.
    Westie was served a merlot that was a notch down from the wine served at Ellis Island. The show covered most of the Drifters' hits and was quite a bit better than one would reasonably expect
    given the venue and price. Rating: 2.5 Claps.

    Our dinner reservations were at the Great Moments Room (E) in the Vegas Club. This is an old style room with excellent service that is sure to please most people. Entrees include choice of salad or soup, a starch and veggies. Ms. Westie wisely chose the filet mignon. I ordered the New York steak that must have been broiled and was not
    very flavorful. We were not overly impressed by the oriental salad with chicken.
    Rating: Ms. Westie 3.5 Forks, westie 2 Forks.

    Day 14 - One last visit to the library to check our email and a quick circuit of Sunset Park concluded our morning's activities. Late in
    the afternoon we drove over to CML to download our
    accumulated cashback. While walking through the casino, I noticed the Big East Women's Basketball championship game was being telecasted on one of the overhead TV's. I tried unsuccessfully to get Ms. Westie off the machines, but she was displaying her Do Not Disturb sign. About 2 minutes after UCONN finished off Rutgers for the title, Ms. Westie showed up and we celebrated with a couple of Cosmos (ACG) before heading over to Ventano Italian Corner & Oyster Bar (R.com).

    This Henderson restaurant is beautifully situated overlooking the Las Vegas Valley. We split our customary Caesar's salad, an order of eggplant rollatini and a crème brulee.
    http://www.usmenuguide.com/ventanomenu.html
    Rating: 4 Forks.

    Day 15 - I wake up thinking how does a two-week trip go by so fast? After a quick breakfast at the Baja Café, we managed to squeeze in a
    quick VP session before it is time to say sayanora to Las Vegas, the warm weather and our money. On the way to Alamo's remote lot, I
    refill the gas tank for the last time and pick-up a grilled chicken breast sub at Subway for our flight home. This sub looked great as it was being prepared, but it turned nasty 4 hours later when I pulled it out of my backpack. Rating: 2 Forks (appearance 0.5
    Forks).

    Anyone who has stayed with me and read this entire condensed version of War & Peace deserves, at a minimum, a Purple Heart and my gratitude.
     
  2. Skyy

    Skyy High-Roller

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    Nice TR, Westie. I'm so glad you both enjoyed MiraLago!!
     
  3. KathyinNY

    KathyinNY Tourist

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    All I can say is Excellent and very well written.
     
  4. westie

    westie VIP Whale

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    Skyy - we previously corresponded about gift certificates and the brunch, but have you noticed Mira Lago is no longer showing up on the restaurant.com website? I sure hope they continue to honor the gift certificate because I have one I was planning on using in the fall.
     
  5. Skyy

    Skyy High-Roller

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  6. East Coast Shuffle

    East Coast Shuffle Low-Roller

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    A very entertaining and informative read with a fresh style on some places not often frequented. [​IMG]
     
  7. vegasbound

    vegasbound Moderator

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    Well done. [​IMG]

    Wow! You sure did a lot of driving. You also gave me some dining ideas. We get into a rut - by eating at the same places and we tend to stay on "our" (the west) side of town.

    Random thought: Funny, before becoming LV residents, we'd visit and drive all over the valley and not think twice about it. We'd laugh at locals, complaining about traffic and driving ALL the way across town...now, here I am...odd, how a city changes you.
     
  8. westie

    westie VIP Whale

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    Skyy - this happened in the past 2 days so I would suggest calling them ahead. Do you have the email address?
     
  9. Skyy

    Skyy High-Roller

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    Westie,

    Click on the link in my previous post and fill out the form. I asked my question in the comment section and received a reply later that day.

    Edited to add: I just emailed them again, I'll let you know when I have a reply.

    [ March 17, 2005, 02:51 AM: Message edited by: Skyy ]
     
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