March 21 – April 4, 2012
Those of us that visit Las Vegas on a frequent basis are frequently considered by family and friends to be frequen’ crazy. The younger generations arrive prepared to party like rock stars while others plan to get married and/or divorced; think Dennis Rodman. There are those who visit for the variety of entertainment offered: GregRio comes to mind, but the majority most likely come to challenge lady luck. Lastly, there are the few and the weighty, like your humble scribe, who possess overly active taste buds and come to eat.
We departed home mid-morning, dropped Max J. Schipperke off at the VCA Cromwell Vet and continued on to Executive Valet Parking. http://www.executivevalet.com/ This remote parking service has recently moved into a new and expanded facility. We were quickly shuttled to the airport and cleared security with a minimum of fan fare.
We used expiring Delta mileage that I had accumulated on Northwest Airlines during my pre-retirement period so this was the first time in ages that we did not fly SWA. The differences noted between the 2 airlines include having the time of our original flight changed, twice having our seat assignments changed and a $25 first checked bag fee. Needless to say, both of our bags traveled in the cabin with us.
With a folder stuffed with restaurant coupons and a copy of the dining guide, Eating Las Vegas: The 50 Essential Restaurants (ELV50) in hand, Westie and his favorite dining partner departed Bradley International Airport at 11:25AM (EST) on March 21, 2012. http://www.shoplva.com/collections/o...las-vegas-2012
We arrived in Las Vegas on time after changing planes in Minneapolis/St. Paul and were ready to start noshing. A waiting shuttle bus took us to the consolidated rental facility where we again were shuttled to the Fox Rent A Car lot located on the south end of the LV Boulevard. Check-in went smoothly though Westie did get a tad bit testy when asked if he, that is me, wanted to take the gas option. “No and I don’t care for any insurance, a GPS or any other extras”.
There were 6 full-size cars available, all of them white with the exception of a blue Nissan Altima. http://www.nissanusa.com/altima?dcp=...cc=0.240189300 Westie went eeny, meeny, miny, mo and then chose blue. As we exited the lot, I glanced at the odometer and it appeared only mileage for Trips A and B were being displayed. After parking at South Point, some 2 miles away, I realized the mileage on the odometer had been 8.5 miles. There were no licenses plates on the vehicle, but a sticker affixed to the rear window indicated a temporary registration had been issued earlier that same day. No wonder we noticed a new car odor.
Check-in at the South Point for our 2-week stay went smoothly and we were soon in room 2284 overlooking the pool and Grandview Resort. After unpacking, we headed to the showroom using funbook coupons for free entry to the Déjà vu show, a complimentary drink (merlot) plus $5 in free play. We did not linger or mingle because both of us were tired and hungry.
Dinner this evening was at David Wong’s Pan Asian restaurant on Durango Drive. Dave’s name may be on the marquee, but it is Mrs. Wong, aka Lisa, who creates magic in the kitchen.
http://davidwongspanasian.eat24hour.com/ Ann and I decided to share orders of Massaman curry with chicken and stir fry linguini with vegetables and shrimp.
The curry included avocado, sweet potatoes, cashews, coconut milk and peppers. All the ingredients were very fresh and delicious. This restaurant is a true mom and pop operation and I hope it succeeds. ($16.51, Yelp deals, 4.5 Forks out of a possible 5)
On our way back to the South Point we stopped at a nearby Walgreens for a case of water and some toiletries before closing the book on day 1 of our trip.
March 22 – I was up and raring to go at 3AM so I made the drive to Fiesta-Henderson http://www.fiestahendersonlasvegas.com/ Over the course of a 4 hour session, I hit my #1 quad deuces of the trip, but ended up breaking even.
On my way back to the hotel, I picked up some OJ and jarred grapefruit which we consumed in the room prior to departing for Ronald’s Donuts where we shared an apple fritter and a glazed buttermilk donut. At home we don’t eat fritters or donuts with the exception of a paczki or two pre lent so visiting Ronald’s is one of our Las Vegas guilty pleasures. ($3.90, 4 Forks)
On exiting, we made the short drive to the KSHP offices on Jones to purchase a few gift certificates for our next trip. http://www.kshp.com/ We also stopped at Fry’s to make some price comparisons before we purchase a new camera. http://www.frys.com/
Our room hadn’t been made up so we requested immediate service and adjourned to the Catalina bar for a Baileys and coffee for Ann and a spicy bloody Mary for yours truly. ($5, 4 Sips)
Ann departed for the VP machines while I entered the senior slot tournament. It was not quite 11AM, yet I noticed a relatively long line had formed for the 2PM Dennis Bono show. One of the slot tournament attendants told me that some of them set up camp as early as 8:30AM each week. Crazy!
I relocated Ann and shared my $1 with tip hot dog with her. We then adjourned to the room where we read the paper and relaxed. I went to the showroom at around 1:30PM, walked right in and secured a pair of prime seats on the main level.
Each week there is a drawing for a variety of gifts including a Dennis Bono CD before the show starts. I joked to local couple sitting next to us that if my name was called I would not turn in the winning ticket. The guy said he had 2 of them at home and would gladly give me one if we planned on being at the show next week. Seconds later his number was called and he re-gifted the CD to me.
This week’s show featured regulars Corrie Sachs (Country Superstars) and the Bob Rosario Ensemble plus guests Pete Barbuti (comedian/jazz musician), Freddie Eckstein (singer), The Letterman, and Kathryn Araianoff (Nunsense). ($0, 3.5 Claps)
In the late afternoon we visited the Grandview Lounge where I used our show ticket stubs for a pair of free merlots. ($2, 2.5 Sips)
Our dining destination was Technique Restaurant at Le Cordon Bleu. http://www.techniquerestaurant.com/l.../lasvegas.html This student run restaurant offers a choice of 3-courses for $10 or 4-courses for $15. Ann chose an excellent butternut squash soup, a mundane Caesar salad, sautéed tilapia and a chocolate mousse.
Westie found culinary bliss by ordering a Nicoise salad with ahi tuna, creamy shrimp risotto, melt in your mouth beef short ribs and a creamy salted caramel pot de crème.
($19.84, Restaurant.com (R.com), 3.5 Forks)
On retuning to the South Point we did our usual 2 laps around the casino floor before calling it a night.
March 23 – Another very early morning session at the Fiesta ended up being break-even, but I did not come back empty handed because of the 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies (caramel delights) that I earned.
A slight detour was made on the return trip in order to purchase a strawberry Danish at the recently opened Bread & Butter. http://www.breadandbutterlv.com/ The owner formerly worked at Bouchon so his take on Danish pastry is a bit different, but nonetheless very good. ($3.50, 3.5 Forks)
After reading the newspaper, we departed for the Las Vegas Premium Outlets off Charleston where I purchased 6 pairs of socks. Ann went all-out by acquiring (2) tank tops, a sweater and a pair of shorts at what she describes as “incredible prices”.
We reconvened after 45 minutes and made the short trip to Mundo, a highly acclaimed Mexican restaurant located in the World Market Center immediately across from the recently opened Smith Center. http://mundolasvegas.com/
We had reservations and were soon munching on the complimentary housemade chips and salsa. We both ordered enchiladas with Ann choosing the chicken with roasted tomatillo sauce, Chihuahua cheese and crema fresca.
I ordered the garden enchiladas with roasted tomato garlic sauce, Chihuahua cheese and crema fresca.
Both dishes were very good though Ann thought hers lacked balance because there was too much chicken. ($19.84, R.com, 3.5 Forks)
It was 2 full laps around the casino floor on our return to the hotel and then we toured the home and patio show being held in the convention area. Entry on this Friday was free for seniors and I noticed the ticket stubs were good for a free drink so I made a quick left out the door and re-entered with 2 more stubs. The show had little appeal for non locals so Ann left to play some VP, winning $10, while I retired to the room to snooze in anticipation of our next meal.
The South Point holds a weekly Friday night happy hour with all, actually most, drinks just $2. We ordered a round of raspberry martinis followed by a pair of cosmos while enjoying Wes Winters in the Grandview Lounge. http://www.weswinters.com/
I was mildly surprised when charged $4 per drink, but the bartender said each was made with 2 shots of liquor. ($20, 4 Sips)
Dinner this evening was at Khoury’s Mediterranean restaurant. This is another small, family-owned restaurant. I had a gift certificate good for 2 glasses of merlot and 2 entrees. We also shared a Greek salad and a complimentary pita with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Ann ordered moussaka while I tried the lamb shawarma.
I have had this dish a total of 3 times and I have come to the realization that I just don’t like it. Ann was pretty happy with her entrée. ($36.21, Groupon, 3 Forks)
In the interest of brevity, I will no longer mention us doing 2 laps around the casino floor each time we returned to the hotel, but that was pretty much our SOP throughout the trip.
March 24 – I earned double points this morning at the Fiesta and managed to hit my 2nd quad deuces, but still returned to the room a few dollars poorer.
For breakfast we made the trek to Sunset Station and were surprised to discover that prices have increased from $4.99 at our last several visits to $7.99.
http://www.sunsetstation.com/ I recharged my batteries by consuming fruit, OJ, corned beef hash, easy over eggs, chilaquilles and breakfast potatoes. ($10.34, LVA, gift card (purchased at 50% off), 2.5 Forks)
We then made the short drive to the Pop Up Art House, aka PUAH, located in a slightly rundown strip mall just east of Sunset Station. http://www.thepopuparthouse.com/press.html We found the gallery owner, Shannon McMackin, preparing for a new show to be held later that same evening, but she graciously led us on an in-depth tour. She also invited us to return later that evening for hor dourves and drinks, but we begged off due to a prior commitment. (2.5 Paint Brushes)
After returning to our hotel, Ann settled in at a VP machine while I settled in under the covers. At around 5PM we managed to regroup at the Grandview Lounge and watched the Syracuse men lose while we enjoyed a pair of merlots.
Dinner this evening was at Austin’s Steakhouse in Texas Station. http://www.texasstation.com/dining/austins/ We took a pass on the bread basket, but ordered a delicious spinach salad that was topped with goat cheese, red and yellow pear tomatoes, and red onions.
Our entrée was their signature pan seared, 22 ounce, bone-in ribeye that our waiter divided for us tableside. The steak was medium rare as requested, tender and delicious while our twice baked potato was tasty though overdone.
($24.74, LVA, gift card, 4.5 Forks)
March 25 – Lots of quads plus the occasional wild royal and 5OAKS kept this morning’s loss manageable.
On my return, I made another slight detour to the Whole Foods in the District where I purchased a lemon blueberry scone and an almond croissant which we shared along with OJ and grapefruit in the room. The scone did not compare favorably with the ones I purchase at our local Whole Foods market. ($3.98, 2 Forks)
We spent the remainder of this Sunday morning reading the newspaper before departing for Slidin’ Thru’s soon-to-be opened restaurant on Fort Apache. http://slidinthru.com/ On this occasion, the Slidin’ Thru food truck plus 5 others were set up in the parking lot and were primarily serving BBQ dishes. We had a discounted gift certificate so we ordered (2) Caprese (vegetarian) sliders plus (1) Pep Pep (Angus beef) slider. The ingredients were excellent, but the rolls appeared to be a little stale.
($5, CrowdSavings, 2.5 Forks)
The afternoon was spent in the room watching the UCONN women beat Penn State followed by the beginning of the Kansas versus UNC men’s game.
Later in the day, we drove to the Casino Royale via Koval where we parked and then hoofed it to First Food & Bar in the Palazzo.
We received complimentary pretzel rolls and ordered the Sammy D Sampler that included lollipop Buffalo wings, walnut shrimp and Philly cheesesteak dumplings plus an order of O-rings (onion).
If ordered individually the MSRP would have been $59, but by requesting the sampler our bill came to a more reasonable, yet overpriced for what you get, $37. Everything was good, but nothing scaled any culinary heights. This is one of the ELV50 restaurants, but it is one and done for us. ($24.40, R.com, 2.5 Forks)
We walked over to the Imperial Palace where I cashed in a $10 TITO (see tomorrow for the explanation) before crossing over to Caesars Palace where we had tickets for the Rod Stewart – The Hits show. The 90 minute show was excellent and it was obvious that most of the audience knew the lyrics to each and every song. ($232.14, 4 Claps)
What could I say about Rod that would not also apply to Westie? We are each over 60, sport a unique hair style, and sing “if you want my body and you think I'm sexy” every morning in the shower. Okay, I may be stretching the comparison a little because I honestly don’t know what Rod sings in the shower.
We were parched after all the singing so we (Ann, Rod, and I) headed to Ellis Island for a hefe weiss. As we were preparing to depart with 4 bottles of water in hand, we bid adieu to Rod who we saw heading for the Karaoke lounge. ($2, LVA, 3 Sips)