March 26 to April 9, 2014
This was a good trip, just not the one I planned. Events beyond my control caused me to initially adapt, subsequently modify and finally discard my detailed itinerary. For example, I had anticipated the UCONN women's basketball team making it to the final four, and, if the truth be known, winning their 9th national championship, but who would have guessed the men would make a deep run into the tournament much less win it all? Had I, I shoulda, coulda, and woulda made a few significant bets at the sports book.
Since our last trip, Max-the-Schipperke has taken up residence on Rainbow Bridge and we have adopted Brody, a rescue dog from Georgia. http://www.petloss.com/rainbowbridge.htm This was Brody's first time away from his forever home, so we packed up his food, bed, favorite toys plus some treats and dropped him off at the Beaver Brook Animal Hospital. There were heart wrenching whimpers as we turned to leave the facility, as much from me as Brody. http://www.beaverbrookah.com/
Ann once again traveled on a SWA rapid reward while I paid full freight. We departed Bradley International Airport almost on time and arrived in Las Vegas almost as scheduled. We found the appropriate carousel, secured our luggage and took the shuttle bus to the remote rental facility. E-Z Car Rental offered the best rates, $305 for a mid-size for 2 weeks, and the hard sell seems to be softening. I was handed the keys to a red, 2014 VW Jetta with just 6,340 miles on the odometer.
The South Point Casino, Hotel and Spa would be our home for the next 14 nights. http://www.southpointcasino.com/ Our request for a king, non smoking room situated as far away from the elevator as possible was accommodated by the front desk clerk and we were assigned room 2307 with an expansive view of - - not much.
After unpacking, we headed to the Box Office where we picked up complimentary, with slot card, tickets to the following afternoon's Dennis Bono show. We also attempted to purchase tickets to the Kingston Trio's performance on Friday, April 4, but there were only single seats available so we opted for Saturday.
We then drove to Sunset Station for the happy hour at Gaudi Bar where martinis are offered at $5. https://sunsetstation.sclv.com/Entertainment
/Lounges-and-Bars.aspx The bartender provided a list of the drinks offered during happy hour and I noticed the non discounted prices ranged from $5 to $6 – what a deal! Ann ordered a Hello Kitty (Absolute vodka, Hiriam Walker white cacao, ˝ and ˝,
OJ and strawberry puree) while I chose an Orange Creamsicle (Ketel One vodka, Hiriam Walker white cacao, ˝ and ˝ plus OJ). ($12, 3 Sips out of a possible 5)
Dinner was in the The Oyster Bar where Ann ordered the crab pan roast. https://sunsetstation.sclv.com/Dinin...yster-Bar.aspx Though the brandy, tomato and cream based pan roast was tasty, it was slightly disappointing because the crab was shredded. I fared better with the bouillabaisse containing generous portions of white fish, clams, small crab legs and mussels in a light tomato and saffron broth.
Wednesday is senior day at Station Casinos so we were only charged half points. ($4, points, 3.5 Forks)
I would normally mention that we crashed early because of the time difference, but crashing early became our modus operandi on this trip.
Early to bed, early to rise was only partially applicable as I hit my #1 quad deuces of the trip at Sam's Town within 10 minutes of arrival, but I unwisely donated it all back over the course of the following 3 hours.
First priority this morning was Bellagio where we parked on the upper level of the garage and took the tram to Aria. The MyLife desk was our immediate destination in order to redeem MyVegas rewards for crepes at Jean Phillippe Patisserie. http://www.aria.com/dining/restauran...ppe-patisserie
We ordered a pair of delicious mixed berry crepes which were topped with a generous variety of berries and whipped cream. These were delicious, but I think they would have been even a notch better if I had ordered them souffle style like we did the last time. ($3, MyVegas, 4.5 Forks)
On our return via tram to Bellagio, we visited the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. This year's Spring Celebration featured a 45 foot cherry blossom tree, a greenhouse with butterflies, floral lady bugs, 8' long caterpillars and a floral interpretation of Polly Thayer’s “My Childhood Trees” with 1,200 mixed flowers. (3.5 Claps)
We also visited the box office where we redeemed MyVegas rewards for tickets to KA and Jabbawockeez – try spelling that 3 times fast. On our drive back to the room Ann glanced at the tickets and discovered the ones for KA were for this evening's 9:30PM performance (12:30AM in Westie time), not the 7PM show that we “thought” had been reserved months prior.
After resting in the room for an hour, we made our way to the showroom for this week's Dennis Bono show. This week's guests included the cast of Hitzville The Show, The Lettermen, Eddie Meka (aka the Big Ragu from Laverne and Shirley), comedian Geechy Guy, and singer Corrie Sachs. ($0, 3 Claps)
In the early evening we drove to Ellis Island for a pair of free merlots courtesy of LVA coupons. Next on the itinerary was dinner at Crazy Pita Rotisserie & Grill in Town Square. http://www.crazypita.com/ This is a casual restaurant where you order at the counter and food is brought to your table. Ann ordered the chicken skewer plate and I ordered the lamb skewer. Each came with vegetable cous cous, a small salad, hummus and pita bread. The food was on the bland side with the meat overdone and dry.
($17.65, Zip Code Magazine, 2 Forks)
We returned to the room for a short time before heading off to the Tropicana where we parked and made our way over the foot bridge to the MGM Grand for this evening's performance of Cirque du Soleil's KA. We have enjoyed this show twice in the past, but not since changes were made in response to a mid-2013 fatal accident. In my opinion, the show is far less dramatic/acrobatic then in the past and, truth be told, it borders on boring. ($0, MyVegas, 2.5 Claps)
The clock read midnight on our return to the room, but my body knew it was really 3AM - yawn.
I broke dead even this morning at the Fiesta thanks to numerous 5 of a kinds and wild royals over the course of a 2.5 hour session.
On my return to the hotel, I took a detour that led me to Friendly Donut House on the Boulder Highway. This is a small mom and pop operation, though I saw neither, with only a couple of tables that were already occupied by the local contingent at 6:30AM. I purchased an old fashioned doughnut and an apple fritter. In comparison to Ronald's, I would have to give this fritter an extra half fork because it was bigger, oil free and contained more apple and cinnamon. ($2.60, 4 Crumbs)
Most of the morning was spent reading the newspaper and catching up on my sleep. We departed shortly before noon and spent the next hour plus on the internet at the Paseo Verde library. On exiting we stopped at the Henderson Farmers Market where we purchased some navel oranges.
Needing a snack to carry us over to dinner, we stopped at the recently (4 days) opened Taco Y Taco location on Eastern Avenue where we each ordered a single al pastor street taco. At the expansive salsa bar, we (mostly I) helped ourselves to warm pinto and black beans, marinated carrots and grilled peppers/onions. \
This location offers alcoholic drinks and is much larger and upscale than their Tropicana location. The tacos were very good, but we agreed there was not as much meat though I have given them a little slack because the staff was probably still in training. ($7.57, 3 Forks)
I spent the remainder of the afternoon napping while Ann played some video poker. As dinner time approached we decided neither of us wanted a full meal so I canceled our reservation at Canal Street Steakhouse in the Orleans.
Instead we stopped at Ellis Island for a pair of merlots which we enjoyed while watching the UCONN men beat Iowa State punching their ticket to the Regional Finals.
After the game we drove to Big Wong's for a light dinner. This restaurant has been on my bucket list for what seems forever. The interior is small and dumpy – not a first date destination unless you are trying to send a message. Staffing appeared to be a husband and wife with one other person in the kitchen. Ann chose the shrimp wonton soup which was salty and pretty much devoid of flavor while I ordered the steamed chicken with mushrooms, Chinese sausage and choy som. We also shared a mango pudding.
Service was good and prices low, but I do not consider our meal a bargain because food quality was below average. ($15.15, 2 Forks)
On our return to the hotel, Ann put in a session on the video poker machines while I spent time on the internet and wrote some trip report notes.
I had an unprofitable video poker session at the Fiesta this morning. On my return we read the newspaper before departing for Tiabi Coffee and Waffle Bar on Maryland Parkway. http://iwanttiabi.com/ This is a small 3 person operation. Ann ordered the bananatella Belgian waffle with a nutella drizzle, slivered almonds and whipped cream topping. I sought nirvana by ordering a hashtag breakfast sandwich – Belgian waffle with turkey sausage, eggs and cheese. I enhanced my sandwich with a generous douse of breakfast syrup. Both entrees were very good as was the strawberry sunrise smoothie that we ordered to go.
($13, Groupon, 3.5 Forks)
Several downtown parking garages have initiated parking fees, so we chose to park at Binion's where we validated our parking stub at the cashier's window. We then hoofed it over to the El Cortez and cashed our federal tax return refund check. At the slot club booth, Ann was credited with the maximum $50 in free play plus we each redeemed an American Casino Guide (ACG) coupon for an additional $10 in free play. Ann played the entire $70 in free play at the 25 cent, 8/5 bonus poker machine at the Parlour Bar netting us (actually her) a total win of $100.
As we were walking back to our car, Ann succumbed to the sales pitch (free sample) of one of the employees at Adore Organic Innovation. The next thing I knew I was sitting in a chair while this guy applied an anti aging, wrinkle reduction, cream under my right eye, as if I needed it. LOL The wrinkles disappeared, but in a few minutes my skin began to feel like plastic and it started to itch like holy hell. I bid the salesmen a fond adieu as I led (dragged) Ann out of the store.
On our return to the South Point, we watched the UCONN women's basketball team beat BYU. After a short nap, we proceeded to Ellis Island where we enjoyed free merlots courtesy of a LVA coupon before heading off to Taiga Modern Japanese and Thai on Sunset Road. http://www.taigamodern.com/
There were only 9 other diners in the restaurant on this Saturday evening which does not bode well for its future. We shared orders of cod delight (fillets steamed with lime juice, Thai chili, garlic, sugar, Thai herbs) and cognac duck (grilled duck with dried pepper, lemon grass, homemade sweet tamarind sauce).
Both dishes were well executed, but the cod was bit on the overdone side. ($28.16, Groupon, 4 Forks)
A small loss was registered during a 2 hour video poker session at the Fiesta. On my return to the hotel I picked up a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and a coffee at the Del Mar Deli. ($5.62, 3 Forks).
We had planned on having lunch at Noir Deli, but could not locate it so Plan B was instituted - Taco Y Taco, round 2. This time we shared 4 tacos, 3 al pastors and a chorizo.
The quantity of meat this time was very good as was the quality. This was the first full weekend for this location so there were 2 customer service representatives helping people plus a DJ. ($12.45, 3.5 Tortillas)
The afternoon was spent in the room watching the UCONN men beat Michigan in the regional finals.
In the late afternoon, we drove to the Clarion for free drinks courtesy of ACG coupons. The bar and casino were devoid of customers and the bartender said we could not have wine because it was too expensive. After mentioning that we were served wine in the past, she relented and served sealed plastic glasses of merlot. On the plus side, she said we could keep the glasses – I think not. Anyone interested trading for ACG Clarion drink coupons?
We discarded plans on dining at Corner Thai Kitchen in favor of lighter meal at Wendy's Noodle House. As we perused the menu, we received complimentary glasses of hot tea plus cups of broth. As an appetizer we ordered sweet potato fries with black sesame seeds, a large order with the fries coated in a light tempura batter.
Our shared entrees were beef chunks with black pepper sauce which came with rice and green beans plus lemongrass curry chicken clay pot. Both dishes were very good.
Service was friendly and on target. This Chinese restaurant has prices nominally higher than Big Wong's but offers better quality food and a much nicer décor. ($28.30, 3 Forks)
Today's video session was highlighted by 2 natural straight flushes and quad deuces #2 and #3. Needless to say, the Westies made a few dollars this morning.
Having worked up an appetite during my video poker session, we chose to dine at the South Point buffet. Prices have increased since our last visit, but the overall quality remains good, unlimited bloody Marys are included, and fresh fruit options currently include fresh strawberries. My first plate included a variety of fresh fruit topped with yogurt.
Second plate attendees included easy over eggs, bacon, corned beef hash and grilled mushrooms.
($8.56, fun book, 3 Forks)
We killed most of the morning reading the Review Journal and on the computers in the Business Office. At around noon we headed downstairs on the elevator and met Donovan Tea of the Letterman. I mentioned we have been on the same schedule because for the past three years they have performed at the South Point on the same week as our vacation. He was thrilled by this piece of trivia.
We then drove out to Eastern Avenue in a second attempt to locate Noir Deli, but on speaking to another tenant learned the business had closed earlier in the week.
Our next stop was the German Bread Bakery on Eastern Avenue. This small store functions as a retail outlet for the original bakery located in Summerlin. Much to our chagrin it has been flying under the Westies' radar for at least 2 years but this oversight has finally been rectified. A large variety of Bavarian breads and pastries are offered with us choosing a slice of Bienenstich, aka bee sting cake. This cake had a crunchy almond topping, vanilla pastry cream center and a yeasty cake bottom. It was interesting, but paled in comparison to the 2 rum balls that we immediately consumed in the car.
These are truffle-like but the rum and chocolate are on steroids. Before departing, I was directed to return to the bakery for 2 more rum balls that we shared over the following 2 days. ($6.71, 5 Forks)
Ann hit her #1 quad deuces during an afternoon video poker session while I digested the rum ball while napping. In the late afternoon we watched the first half of the Notre Dame versus Baylor women's basketball game in the room before setting out for dinner.
My original plan included the happy hour at the Verandah, dinner at Border Grill followed by the show Jabbowockeez. This was scaled back several notches after learning the UCONN women would be playing Texas A&M in the Lincoln regional finals at 6:30PM.
Plan B was dinner at Yanni's Greek Grill located nearby in a small shopping center. http://www.yannisgreekgrilllv.com/ This cozy restaurant is ultra casual with most people placing orders to go though there was seating for around 10. Neither of us were particularly hungry so we each opted for traditional lamb/beef gyros.
The gyro meat, according to the restaurant's website, contains no fillers or MSG and I watched as it was sliced off a revolving spit. The combination of gyro meat, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and fresh pita bread combined with a flavorful tzatsiki sauce made for a delicious light dinner. ($19.19, 3 Forks)
Our next stop was Ellis Island to watch the UCONN women versus Texas A&M game on ESPN. We headed for the lounge only to discover it was packed with diners because half of the main restaurant was closed for remodeling. We beat a hasty retreat to the center bar and, after locating a pair of adjoining stools, asked the bartender to switch the nearest TV to ESPN. He said the switch would have to be made by security and it would take awhile. Since it was time for tip off, we secured seats at the sport book. I periodically checked back at the bar throughout the game and to my knowledge security still has not switched the TV to ESPN. As expected, UCONN easily won.
This morning's video poker session at the Fiesta featured 12 natural quads though none contained a deuce plus 2 natural straight flushes though none was of the royal variety, but I still ended up losing.
Breakfast was at Las Cazuelas, a small restaurant serving authentic Mexican cuisine from the Puebla region. https://www.facebook.com/lascazuelaslv We arrived shortly after 9AM, but the restaurant was not open. After waiting awhile we were just preparing to depart when the owner arrived and asked us to give him 15 minutes. On entry we were provided menus, glasses of water and salsa and chips. We each ordered huevos rancheros which were very high quality and delicious. I mentioned mole to the owner, but declined his offer of a sample as I did not want to wait for it to be reheated.
($15.51, 3.5 Forks)
We spent some time in the afternoon driving around to check out some bars in preparation for the Final Four games before returning to the room where we watched the 1st half of the Maryland versus Louisville women's game before departing for the Florida Cafe. http://www.floridacafecuban.com/ I asked if we could use our restaurant.com certificate for mojitos and was told no though we were allowed to in the past. Not a problem, I pocketed the certificate and ordered a pair of Mojitos.
These drinks suffered from too little mint and an overabundance of club soda. ($18.22, 2 Sips)
Our dinner choice tonight was Lola's – A Lousiana Kitchen on Charleston. http://lolaslasvegas.com/ This small restaurant serves the most authentic Cajun/Creole cuisine in Las Vegas. It always seems to be bustling so forget about having a quiet, intimate dinner. We ordered a specialty of the house, bronzed catfish over gouda grits with Andouille sausage in a mushroom ragout plus a side of low country greens.
The fish fillets were moist and tender, the grits literally melted in my mouth while the mushroom ragout added a desirable degree of spice. This dish proved to be my favorite entree of the entire trip. ($48.85, 4.5 Forks)
On our return to the South Point we headed directly to the showroom for the Magic of Motown review. http://www.southpointcasino.com/ente...ent/weekly.php This Tuesday evening show was formerly performed to overflow crowds in the Grandview Lounge, but moved to the bigger showroom the previous week. A $5 cover charge is imposed, but it includes coupons for a free drink and $5 in free play. We used our coupons from the fun books received at check-in for free entry. The show itself features a nattily attired vocal ensemble of 5 talented performers led by Gregg Austin who sing Motown cover songs. ($0, 3.5 Claps)
Today I experienced the flip side of yesterday's session, no natural quads or straight flushes though the bottom line was similar.
On the return trip, I again made a detour and stopped at Friendly Donut House where I purchased a bear claw that was filled with apples. ($1.75, 3 Forks)
The glass was half full on this trip so we took our clothes to our favorite wash and fold, Val U Laundriaana on Tropicana. Prices remain more than reasonable at $1 per pound, but there is now a $10 minimum.
We then made the short drive to Clark County Library on Flamingo to view an exhibit of historic Las Vegas photos.
Our next stop was the recently relocated Episage Wellness Center where Ann received an excellent massage by Teri using an expired Groupon. http://www.episage.com/ ($54, Groupon, 5 Hands) I then drove to Hair Today (gone tomorrow or at least retreating in my case) on Tropicana where I received another excellent hair cut. ($16, 4.5 Shears)
After retrieving Ann, we drove to NoveCento 900 Pizzaria on Eastern where we shared a small Margherita pizza – marinara, fresh mozzarella, basil, EVO and fresh grated Parmesan. http://www.novecentopizza.com/ NoveCento is one of the many highly acclaimed gourmet pizzerias that have sprouted up all over Las Vegas and beyond, but we found the crust to be mediocre with no discernible flavor or chew. The ingredients were fresh, but would have benefited from more time in the oven.
Overall, this pizza was pretty ordinary. ($6.48, 2.5 Forks)
Our next stop was the Green Turtle Salon on High Ridge Road where Ann had her hair washed and blow dried by Teri. Teri mentioned her S.O. was the chief architect for the recently opened High Roller observaton wheel. Meanwhile, I killed time at the Paseo Verde Library on the internet before returning to pick her (Ann) up.
In the late afternoon we returned to Ellis Island for drinks. Prior to exiting, Ann made a pit stop and while waiting I peered out the door and what to my wondering eyes did I see but Santa Claus. I then asked a woman standing by the door if in fact that was Santa Claus? She replied yes so I asked by chance are you Mrs. Claus and again she replied in the affirmative. Not believing my luck I ran to the car for the camera in order memorialize this special Las Vegas moment.
Once I calmed down we departed for Kinnaree Thai and Vegetarian on West Sahara. We shared orders of herbal salad, pad Thai and basil chicken. We took the suggestion of our server and ordered our entrees medium spiced, but both were too mild.
We over ordered so most of the herbal salad returned with us to the room and was finished a few days later.
($37.20, 3.5 Forks)
I was dealt, no draw thank you, my #4 quad deuces of the trip and departed with a few dollars more than when I arrived. On my return, I once again picked up a bagel and coffee at Del Mar Deli. ($3.89, 3 Forks)
We visited the north branch of the Las Vegas Premium Outlets this morning with Ann heading directly to Chicos and me wandering from store to store. I managed to pick up an almost waterproof jacket at the Columbia outlet while Ann saved us a veritable fortune at the aforementioned Chicos by purchasing a pair of Capri pants and 3 tops.
We then drove to the Delhi Indian Cuisine, but on brandishing my restaurant.com (R.com) certificate, were told they no longer participate. Nonplussed, we exited and soon were strolling through the doors of Taste of India near UNLV. The décor was a large step down from Delhi, but the buffet was larger and our R.com certificate was accepted. We received both garlic and plain naan which could not have been made in house. Service was friendly, but we were two of only 3-4 customers during our stay. I managed to sample most of the standard buffet items offered with none considered a standout and a few stinkers.
The temperature of the food, varying from hot to tepid, was the biggest problem. Overall I felt our meal was just okay and not worthy of a return visit. ($10.46, R.com, 2.5 Forks)
In mid-afternoon we attended this week's Dennis Bono show at the South Point. Guests included Singers Corrie Sachs, Pasquale Elia, Bobby Brooks Wilson (Jackie Wilson impersonator) and Donnie Ray Evans (Nat King Cole impersonator) plus comedian Carla Raye. In addition, one of the current members of the Kingston Trio provided a terrible rendition of Scotch and Soda.
($0, 2.5 Claps)
In the evening we attended Rocktellz & Cocktails starring Meat Loaf at the Planet Hollywood showroom.
Meat has a history of vocal problems, but he was in good voice this evening until the closing number. Most of the show was very good, but a few segments proved to be painful. Those contemplating seeing the show may want to read the following review that I found posted on Jim Steinman's message board, but be aware that both the review and show contain strong language: http://www.jimsteinman.com/messageboard/d.php?id=47594
($75, KSHP, 3 Claps)
Feeling a little hungry after the show, we drove to Taco Tijuana on Tropicana where we shared an order of (4) al pastor street tacos and a soda.
These tacos are a good alternative to either Tacos el Gordo or Taco Y Taco. I was allowed to use a restaurant.com certificate though the restaurant has dropped out of the program. ($6.59, R.com, 3 Forks)
I knew it only a matter of time, just not when, but today's video poker session was by far the worst of the trip.
Kailyn's Diner, named after the owners' daughter, was our breakfast destination. http://www.kailynskitchen.com/ This restaurant will be featured in an upcoming segment of the reality show “Hungry Investor”. As part of the show, the décor underwent a makeover as did the menu and name, formerly the more appealing Kailyn's Kitchen. We went basic by ordering the Basic – 2 easy over eggs, home fries and wheat toast. Everything was very good with the exception of the toast which was way overdone.
Since there were few customers, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while having ample time to talk with the personable owners. ($7, Yelp Deal, 3 Forks)
Our next stop was the Downtown Container park.
This park proved to be worth our time. The large playground set aside for children looked like fun. I was bit taken back by how tiny some of the shops were and wonder about their continuing viability. A few of the restaurants, notably Big Ern's BBQ and Pinches Tacos, seemed to be doing good business. A country band was in rehearsal for this evening's performance associated with American Country Awards and the sound could be heard clearly throughout the entire complex. Ann managed to score a few small gifts at one of the many artsy shops.
On our way back we visited Home Plate Bar and Grill on Blue Diamond to see if it would be a good venue to watch one of the final four games, but the overhead screens were not very clear or bright.
We returned to Ellis Island and one of the bartenders called out Merlots to which I responded “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth”.
Our dinner destination was Forte European Tapas & Bistro on Rainbow Boulevard. http://www.barforte.com/ This is primarily a Bulgarian restaurant though menu items include tapas and entrees from much of eastern Europe. We started off by sharing a Mediterranean salad - tomatoes, cukes, olives, peppers, basil, parsley, mint and a drizzle of Spanish olive oil.
Our first entree was the Thracin Clay Pot - a Bulgarian specialty of tomatoes, peppers, onion, feta cheese, charcuterie and egg. Our second entree was Hungarian Goulash over mashed potatoes. To wash down this feast, we ordered small (who knew?) glasses of Zagorka beer that were flat.
Ann was unable to restrain herself so we closed out the meal with a biscuit cake (similar to tiramisu).
Standouts were the goulash and biscuit cake. ($42.72, 3.5 Forks)
I hit my 5th quad deuces today, but the overall session resulted in a small loss. On my return I went to the Business Office to check my email and found an AMEX business card sitting on a computer. My initial thought was to turn the card in when the Business Center opened, but I decided a better course of action was to hand it over to Security and let the Businss Center know in case someone inquired about a lost card. My good deed of the day and it was only 7:45AM.
We enjoyed OJ and a bagel in the room before setting off for Art Walk in Henderson, but we could not locate Bicentennial Parkway using Mapquest directions. The morning wasn't a complete bust because we stopped in the German Bread Bakery for 2 more rum balls.
Lunch was 75 cent Vienna hot dogs from the cart outside the South Point's sports book. ($3, 3 Buns)
I returned to the room for some rest while Ann put in a short video poker session highlighted by her #2 quad deuces of the trip.
She returned to the room feeling a bit queasy so I let her nap while I returned to the sports book and watched the UCONN men upset Florida.
Dinner was at in-house at Don Vito's. http://www.southpointcasino.com/dining/don-vitos.php
Entrees include a choice of Caesar salad or soup. The Caesar salad here is marginal so we each opted for a cup of minestrone soup which was hearty. We were also served warm rolls plus the always excellent EVO, roasted garlic and tomato dipping sauce.
Our entrees were eggplant Parmesan – lightly breaded eggplant, marinara, ricotta and mozzarella. This meal never fails to fills us up so we once again opted to take our free, with fun book coupons, slices of tiramisu to go.
($7, points, 3.5 Forks)
On exiting, I rushed back to the room to store our desserts in the refrigerator along side our still uneaten rum balls. We had tickets for the Kingston Trio so I met Ann at the showroom door. None of the current performers are originals though one, a Henderson resident, has been with the group for 37 years. They covered many of the trio's biggest hits with the highlight being Bob Shane, an original member, coming on stage with oxygen tank in tow, and singing a very good rendition of Scotch and Soda. We complimented him after the show on his performance during a meet and greet.
($25, LVA, 2.5 Claps)
Since our ticket stubs were good for free drinks, I ordered a Fat Tire at the Grandview Lounge, but the bartender said it was only good for well drinks or domestic beers. I responded that Fat Tire was brewed in Fort Collins, Colorado, but he responded that they had seceded. We ended with Bailey's-like liqueur and cream.
I was dealt a ROYAL FLUSH, a 650,000 to 1 shot, early in this morning's session. This was my 2nd lifetime dealt royal so I won't be holding my breath waiting for #3 to arrive. I also managed to hit my 6th quad deuces later in the session.
A small article appeared in this morning's Review Journal indicating three Downtown Grand restaurants would be offering Smith Center ticket holders half price food on Sundays in April. Since this was a Sunday in April and we were holders of Clint Holmes' tickets, we decided take advantage of this deal - sorry Fat Choy we will catch you next trip.
The Downtown Grand assesses a parking fee so we again parked at Binion's. This was our first visit to the recently reopened casino formerly known as the Lady Luck, an obvious misnomer based on my past experience. The work done on the exterior was impressive, but the interior was a major let down.
We made our way to Stewart + Ogden where I was mildly surprised to discover it was a coffee shop with chandeliers and a bar. http://www.downtowngrand.com/savor/l...staurants.html
Since we had already enjoyed OJ in the room, we only ordered entrees from the breakfast menu plus a coffee for Ann. Her stomach was still queasy, so she requested blueberry pancakes that were loaded with blueberries.
My tummy was doing fine so I chose Hawaiian French toast – coconut and pina colada crusted brioche with berry compote and a fancy, almost maple syrup. The French toast was good, but not nearly as good as the description would imply.
Menu prices struck me as being on the high side, chandeliers or not, for a downtown coffee shop. Service was very professional. ($17.92, 3 Forks)
We then made the short drive to the Smith Center's Cabaret Jazz for Clint Holmes' latest show titled – New York Old Friend. http://www.clintholmes.com/ This month's show, celebrating the relationship people have with New York City, included several original songs by composer/lyricist Ken Laub. The exccellent supporting cast included Fifth Avenue, musical director Bill Fayne and the talented and most beautiful Kirsten Hertzenberg (Million Dollar Quartet). http://www.kristenhertzenberg.com/Kr...berg/Home.html
Our seats were one row from the stage and immediately behind a table occupied by Pia Zadora and Keith Thompson (musical director of the Jersey Boys). At the next table over was singer/dancer Tara Palsha (Vegas The Show), Kelly Clinton-Holmes, Kristen's spouse and daughter. They all sought autographs, but I begged off. ($90, 4.5 Claps)
In a one in a million shot, I stopped in the restroom before departing and found another Santa look-a-like waiting in line. This time I did not pause for a photo.
On our return to the room we watched the first half of the Notre Dame versus Maryland women's game before heading off to Toros Spanish Tapas and Gaming on W Charleston in Summerlin. http://toroslv.com/ We asked the bartender to change the channel on one of the overhead screens to the UCONN versus Stanford women's game and advised our waiter to be prepared for a leisurely dinner.
We started off with a glass of pinot noir and a Fat Tire at happy hour prices plus orders of grilled eggplant (2 slices of grilled eggplant topped with goat cheese and tomatoes) (2.5 Forks), bacon wrapped dates (2 Forks) and pil pil Shrimp (21-25 ct shrimp in a garlic, paprika, white wine and parsley sauce. (3 Forks). The latter was served on a hot plate and proved to be the best of the tapas though the shrimp were nominally overcooked.
On the second round we ordered seared salmon over spinach topped with bechamel sauce (2.5 Forks), ham croquettes (2.5 Forks) and piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese and crab with tomato sauce (2.5 Forks).
We thought portion sizes were rather small given the price and quality. ($54.65, Groupon)
After starting off this morning by hitting a couple of wild royals, I was certain this was going to be an excellent video poker session – wrong.
Not wishing to prolong the agony, I decided to make a long detour on my way back from Sam's and picked up a much anticipated blueberry fritter and less anticipated inverted cinnamon roll at Real Donuts on W Charleston. These were smallish, but at $1 each what could one expect? ($2, 3 Forks)
We decided to walk off a few calories so we made the short drive from the South Point to Silverado Ranch Park for about an hour or so before driving off to Braddah's Island Style for a few more calories.
We were pleasantly surprised by the size (large) and cleanliness of this relatively new restaurant that serves high quality fast food at more than reasonable prices. We were given samples of huli huli chicken, kalua pig and pulehu steak by the friendly counter person. We both agreed the pig was the way to go and ordered a burrito adding black beans, sour cream, cilantro, lettuce, guacamole (extra charge) and cheese along with a tomato with Maui onion sauce.
In addition we ordered a soda and quarter pound box of (delicious) coconut bark.
($9, 4 Forks)
As we prepared to exit, one of the co-owners thanked us and then proceeded to tell us a little (too much?) about his background and future plans which include opening another Braddah's in Centennial Hills on April 15th closely followed by one on Horizon Ridge.
We each took a nap followed by a video poker session (Ann) and time on the computer (me).
In the late afternoon we departed for Ellis where we enjoyed drinks followed by dinner in the karaoke lounge while watching the UCONN men win its the national championship game against Kentucky. Ann ordered a very mediocre chicken salad comprised mostly of iceberg lettuce while I thoroughly enjoyed my grease free order of fish & chips.
($14.09, LVA, 2.5 Forks)
Remodeled dining room at Ellis
I woke up a little later than normal so this morning's video poker session was mercifully short. We enjoyed an OJ and bagel in the room before departing once more for the Silverado Ranch Park. On our walk we enjoyed warm sunny weather and had the good fortune to meet Rico.
Our next stop was Target where we purchased a freezer proof storage container which we filled with 9 rum balls at the German Bread Bakery. These now temporarily reside in our freezer. ($8.91)
Ann's stomach continued to do the Texas 2-step so we decided to scale back the spice level and headed to Cafe Fiesta at the Fiesta-Henderson for lunch. Ann's go to meal when feeling under the weather is scrambled eggs and toast and this rendition was well executed.
My Cobb salad was the worst I have ever experienced.
Each ingredient was chopped into morsels almost too small to recognize. Nutritionally bankrupt iceberg lettuce was the primary ingredient, the chicken was overcooked and the dressing was virtually tasteless. Thankfully it was senior day so I was only charged ˝ points.
($3, points, 2 Forks)
We started off the evening by going downstairs to Zenshin Asian Restaurant for its extended happy hour. http://www.southpointcasino.com/dining/zenshin.php Ann ordered a Blushing Jasmine (Grey Goose L'Orange, pama liqueur, cranberry juice, spritz of jasmine water and an eatable orchid as garnish). I chose the strawberry Bangkok (strawberry colada, Patron silver, Malibu coconut, fresh sweet & sour, muddled strawberries with a Thai hot pepper).
Since time for tip off was approaching, we requested a vegetable pizza to go. ($19.12, 4 Sips)
In a haste we made a mad, for us, dash to the Delmar Lounge to catch the UCONN versus Notre Dame women's championship game. Using fun book coupons, we ordered glasses of wine while consuming the very mediocre pizza with a tasteless crust topped with eggplant, mushrooms, tomato, onion, goat cheese and tomato sauce.
In the meantime, UCONN was never challenged during the game and joined the men as national champions. GO UCONN!
I closed out this trip with an abbreviated, but still painful video poker session at the Fiesta. Our last meal was at South Point's Garden Buffet where I enjoyed OJ, fresh fruit w/yogurt, huevos rancheros, dollop of hash and a few strips of bacon. ($8.56, fun book, 3 Forks)
Ann managed a short video poker session before it was time to close out this trip.
We returned the car with just over 1,000 additional miles on the odometer, caught the shuttle to the airport, breezed through security and were soon seated on our return flight.
The pace of this trip would be best described as leisurely, perhaps a concession to our age. Gambling was better than on recent trips as Ann and I ended up winning small, but much appreciated, amounts. Early on Thursday morning we retrieved Brody who was as happy to see us as we were to reunite with him.
I want to extend thanks to everyone who took the time to read my trip memories. Feel free to ask questions or make any comments.
“If you don't go over the top you can't see what's on the other side.”