1. Welcome to VegasMessageBoard
    It appears you are visiting our community as a guest.
    In order to view full-size images, participate in discussions, vote in polls, etc, you will need to Log in or Register.

Turbulence in Vegas! 4 Nights Palazzo May 14th-18th. Food reviews, gambling, rambling.

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by TurbulenceToo, May 30, 2021.

  1. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2017
    Messages:
    14
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8

    My Trip Report

    INTRODUCTION
    Greetings VMB. I am a long-time-first-time and I'm here to regale you with rambling from my recent 4-night trip to Las Vegas. I'm not much for shows and attractions, especially on a solo trip, but I make up for it with copious eating, drinking, wandering, and gambling.

    I went to Vegas 7 times over the course of 2018 and 2019, but this is my first trip since fall 2019. I even had a trip booked for March 2020 that got cancelled as everything was shutting down. Flash forward about a year and I'm scheduled to receive my second Pfizer dose on April 22nd and I mark my calendar for the first weekend that occurs two weeks after that vaccination date and... that weekend has Mothers' Day on Sunday May 9th..? Rats. I made what we call in the business a "+EV decision" and booked the trip for this weekend of May 14th instead. This worked out heavily in my favor with the timing of so many covid protocols being lifted right as I got into town, thanks mom!

    [​IMG]
    photo embed test... looks good to me

    Cliff notes itinerary for this trip:
    - Depart MSP at 1pm central time on Friday May 14th
    - Depart LAS at 11:40am pacific time on Tuesday May 18th
    - Four nights in a standard king suite at Palazzo (booked thru AMEX Fine Hotels and Resorts program)
    - Breakfasts at Bouchon, Jardin, and Grand Lux Cafe.
    - Lunches at Tacos el Gordo, 8 East, Tekka handroll
    - Dinners at Sushisamba, Roy Choi's Best Friend, Barry's Downtown Prime, Scarpetta

    Some goals I had written down before the trip:
    - Bring a larger bankroll so as not to get shut out of tables due to crowds + covid capacity + higher table minimums
    - Don't get sunburnt
    - Don't be hungover
    - Play a variety of games
    - tip, tip, tip
    - Find specific cocktail bartenders who I have been a fan of on past trips
    - Concentrate play on a different rewards card each day (Saturday: Cosmo, Sunday: D/GG/Circa, Monday: MGM)

    I've got the Friday May 14th post mostly all written up so it should appear below shortly. Other updates may take a bit of time as boy do I ever like to ramble.

    Hope you enjoy!
     
    VVX
    • Like Like x 17
    • Love Love x 6
    • Agree Agree x 1
  2. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2017
    Messages:
    14
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8
    FRIDAY
    Transportation and Hotel

    I bail out of work at the conclusion of a 10:00am meeting which always seems to take maximum time on the days I'm itching to get out, but today the bureaucracy gods have smiled upon me. The related deities of traffic and construction have similarly bestowed me good fortune and I make it to the airport around 11:00am. I check a bag, TSA pre-check on thru security, and check in to the Delta Lounge all in about 15 minutes. Masks are required unless eating and drinking which de facto seems to mean that masks are optional while seated. Everyone is well-behaved w.r.t. masks when up and walking around. Like a total fish, I come into the lounge that offers free booze and settle on paying $5 for their special du jour which is a strawberry mimosa. My bad play is instantly rewarded as their POS system seizes up and I cant pay via credit card, they don't accept cash, so this one is on the house and I'm only out the $3 that I tip the guy.

    [​IMG]

    On the plane, I'm seated in the Delta Comfort section which is nice for the legroom, but unbeknownst to me is extra nice on this particular plane layout. The main door to the cabin is behind first class on this Boeing something or other, so being near the middle of the Comfort Zone I'm gonna be one of the first off the plane!
    As we start the descent into LAS the air gets a little choppier as it tends to do, enough so that I want to avoid getting motion sick and anxious. I must look like a real head case as I'm leaning forward closing my eyes and putting my head in my hands like the end is nigh, but before I know it we're on the ground.

    I turn on service to my phone to be greeted with some do-not-reply texts indicating that I've been matched with a driver, Walter, and he has been dispatched to the airport and I should meet him at baggage claim. I booked a round-trip sedan from Bell Limousines which is a Kaptyn-branded Tesla. To be honest, I don't really understand what Kaptyn is, or how their sub-contracting with limo services like Bell or Presidential works, but I know that it was easy for me to book on Bell's website. It also was a reasonably cheap option ($150 round trip after taxes and fees), and I get the driver waiting at the baggage claim with my name on an iPad which is the perk that makes it feel like I'm really treating myself. I've never done mode of transport from McCarran other than take a taxi or Uber, and I had heard that Ubers were scarce at the airport these days which prompted this decision.

    After taking the D-gates tram and going down the escalator there are some drivers with iPads with names, but none of those names are mine! I take off for the baggage claim for my suitcase and it is the absolute furthest one from those D-gate tram escalators, number 16 I think. While waiting for my bag I get a non-automated text from the driver himself, he's now here in the baggage claim and I let him know I've already traversed the entirety of it and am awaiting my luggage. I end up meeting him in the very middle near claim 8 or 9 and from there it's just a short jaunt out to the car. Although I think I booked a standard Model S sedan, Model X with the fancy doors. Traffic is not ideal on I-15 and the driver is surprised that there's so many people out at 2:30pm on a Friday. I tell him that having been away for 18 months this is exactly the traffic I'd expect, not having seen any of the pandemic-based visitor slump. Walter is a very knowledgeable driver and is telling me all sorts of tidbits about vegas news, recent property sales, and its all verifiably true which is usually not my experience when hearing vegas news from cabbies or uber drivers. We get to Palazzo right around 3, I tip Walter $20 and I saunter on in to the opulent lobby.

    Ordinarily I wouldn't be mentioning tipping at all, much less bragging about giving tips, but this is the flush-with-cash trip given how long its been since I've been to Vegas, and I'm already treating myself to nicer hotel and nicer transport than I normally would pay for. I'm also bringing more to gamble with than I would normally want to part with. And then it only makes sense to also be more generous with the service industry workers than I would normally be. So please read my tipping not as a brag, but more as an extension of the thesis of the whole trip report: "look at these extravagant experiences I had!"

    [​IMG]

    The switchback line to check in is full, about 3 layers deep across the Palazzo lobby. It is moving reasonably fast and as I stand in line I'm on twitter, learning for the first time that not only are various casinos up to full capacity, but that most every casino is now going masks-optional for those fully vaccinated. As I'm sure many other reports have covered all the mask stuff I'll keep my points brief:
    - It's very refreshing to not have to wear a mask, I returned to Vegas at literally just the right time.
    - I did wear a mask really in any situation where it seemed most important to be polite. In the elevator was a common one, or for instance, when strolling my low-class ass through the high-limit baccarat area at the Bellagio.
    - One thing I was least excited about was prospect of the mask-haters who want to make the casino staff lives as hard as possible, and was also not looking forward to the fabled mask-enforcers who take it upon themselves to come down hard on even the compliant and well-meaning guests. The mandate being lifted got rid of both those concerns.

    [​IMG]

    As I wait in the check-in line, I start to get hungry and am quite pleased with my past self for that I placed an early-for-pacific time 5:30 dinner reservation. Once I get to the front of the line and am talking with a front desk agent we reach the moment of truth with regard to my room reservation. As part of the AMEX FHR program, you're entitled to a bevy of perks, like early check-in + late checkout. The most interesting perk is the "complimentary room upgrade" given that you pick your room type on the website just as you would making a room reservation directly from the Venetian. So it becomes an interesting game of picking a slightly more basic room than you want, and then hoping for the best. I booked the absolutely most basic room Palazzo has to offer which is a luxurious 720sqft king-bed suite. The front desk agent informs me that I've been upgraded to a premium view and I've got a room on the 19th floor. She sets me up with all the various discount cards and other literature that AMEX has provided, plus a large fold-out map of the whole property: Venetian, Palazzo, and Grand Canal Shoppes. I was not interested in trying any sort of $20 trick but she is friendly and expedient and I tip her $10 for her service and for not sticking me with some lame room.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I get room 19710, and boy are the standard rooms here at Palazzo nice.
    [​IMG]
    The bathroom is spacious, the living room area by the window is roomy, and the two steps down to that living area are a nice touch to separate the spaces. I was a bit worried that with 700-some square feet to work with, they might rob Peter to pay Paul by cannibalizing the bedroom zone in order to soup up the living room and give the place a more suite-y feel. No, indeed there is plenty of room around the bed including two nightstands, a bench at the foot of the bed, a chair, and huge dresser.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I start unpacking my things and glance over at the bedside clock and see it's already 3:52!? Time has flown and my hopes of getting to the Dorsey cocktail lounge when it opens have been dashed. A quick aside: I got in the habit of trying to make reservations anywhere that I wanted to go as I know Vegas is in some ways only just recovering from the reservations-only era where there's no bar seating and no walk-up service. When I tried to make such a reservation for The Dorsey, they had no availability whatsoever for any of Friday nor Saturday. This is what inspired me to aim for that 4:00pm opening time as I figure if they do have any large groups or big chunks of reservations, getting in early would be my best bet. While I am briefly flustered and try to decide between actually unpacking, freshening up, and changing out of my airplane clothes versus just going and hitting the floor ASAP, I check my phone and see its actually only 3:31pm. Whew?

    [​IMG]

    Through some skillful sleuthing and willful disregard for the printed rules, I set the clock to the proper time and am able to get myself in order before skirting on over to the Venetian side of the resort for some drinks.
     
    VVX
    • Like Like x 25
    • Love Love x 5
  3. ReTriggerMe

    ReTriggerMe VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2020
    Messages:
    1,981
    Location:
    San Francisco East Bay
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    Great start... and well-written. Looking forward to reading upcoming installments
     
    Return to a favorite
    Because I could book a Skyview Suite in Feb...
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2017
    Messages:
    14
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8
    The Dorsey

    [​IMG]


    I am the third party to arrive at the closed Dorsey cocktail lounge, waiting for the velvet rope to be withdrawn. Two couples are there ahead of me, but other than that, at opening time the place is mostly deserted, and the complete lack of availability for OpenTable reservations even weeks ahead of time is still unexplained.

    [​IMG]

    One thing I realize as I do this write-up is that one of my numerous before-trip goals should've been to take pictures of everything. I've already botched up this review by not taking any photos of the two wonderful cocktails I ordered. Please enjoy in their stead this screenshot of the Turbulence-preferred portion of their extensive drink menu. While many covid protocols were being lifted, The Dorsey was still doing online menus only.

    [​IMG]

    I first ordered the Harajuku which came served mostly at room temperature but was poured over the top of a giant ice cube and so it cooled down and thinned out a bit as I drank it. This was a very good and well-balanced drink in which none of the ingredients stood out or overpowered the others. It was syrupy and bitter and if anything I’d probably mix a bit more whiskey into it (which I learned was the standard Suntory Toki). The only thing I noticed as it got watered down is that it got a bit more of a white wine taste to it.

    I overhear the bartender explaining to the couple a few seats down to my left that The Dorsey doesn't have any tap water, nor anything from "the gun" with regard to mixers. Everything--down to their soft drinks, sodas, tonics, and beers--is bottled. This is the reason he has no free water to offer them, so they decline water altogether. Even as the bartender steps away to prepare their drinks, they can be well overheard to continue their incredulity at this policy: "I thought that was *illegal*, surely they are required to have water available for free!". I make fun of them in my head for this brand of Las Vegas Naïveté, but they are a fun couple and later engage the bartender with some interesting questions.

    [​IMG]

    I ordered second the Haitian Divorce which on the first taste had this super smokey charred blast of flavor which just smashed my taste buds and made me think that it was using some sort of non-standard Mezcal, which piqued my interest. If you've ever had High West's Campfire Rye, this was reminiscent of that fine spirit. On subsequent sips I got way less of the hot-embers taste and more of the rum and sherry. I backtracked my previous analysis: the mezcal was at this point clearly just the staple Del Maguey Vida. If anything this drink could have used more spice or black pepper instead of the standard angostura bitters.

    After a few groups come and go, not before ordering exorbitantly expensive rounds of Coronas, Titos and soda, or similar, I catch the curious couple to my left asking the bartender what the most expensive shot of whiskey they have is. We get to hear some good stories of private parties ordering rounds of various comically-rare and absurdly-priced pours in order to meet a minimum spend they had agreed to when reserving the lounge. This inspires me to ask the bartender what is, in his estimation, the best value pour of whiskey they have, and he points me to a special they're running on the Whistle Pig 12yr Old-World-Cask Rye, which I've had before and can recommend highly.

    In chatting with the bartender, I let him know that this is my first time at this lounge and I'm quite impressed with the cocktail list, and he informs me of the two sister lounges at the Palazzo--Electra and Rosina--that together with The Dorsey make up The Cocktail Collective™. He says they each have their own vibe but all of them have spectacular drinks from their head mixologist Sam Ross. That name sounds super familiar to me but I can't quite place it, but when it hits me, I clarify with the bartender:

    - "Sam Ross? He doesn't happen to be Australian does he?"
    - - "He is indeed from Australia..?"
    - "Ah I have heard of him! He's the guy from New York that made the Penicillin cocktail!"
    - - "Well if you've heard of him then you absolutely have to go check out Electra, they mix their Penicillins with a house-made ginger syrup that is to die for."

    I thank the bartender for his drinks and his wisdom, and do indeed order that Whistle Pig 12yr on the rocks in a to-go cup. The oversized ice cube doesn't really fit in the plastic cup, but it is touching the whiskey so it'll have to do.

    Gambling at Palazzo
    The time is now 5:00pm and I have 30 minutes to kill before dinner at SushiSamba. Now is a good enough time as any to talk about my bankroll for the trip. I've brought $10k to play with and as previously mentioned, this is well more than I'd normally bring but due to a confluence of factors: limits everywhere are higher than I'm used to, I've got more cash handy given that I've not gambled in the last 18 months, and I'm worried about there being too few tables open to play at my usual limits even if those limits are being offered. So in terms of goals for the trip, cross #1 off the list: I did indeed bring a larger bankroll.

    This $2k that is not sequestered away in the hotel safe is burning a hole in my pocket and I buy in at 5:05pm for $1,000 at a Palazzo $25 craps table. I am betting $25 on the line, two $25 come bets, and max odds (3/4/5) behind all three wagers. Ordinarily if I'm forced up to a green-chip table I usually compensate by going single odds or maybe double odds but I am emboldened by the sheer amount of cash I brought with me. If this trip is to be a winning trip, starting out with some big bets with low house edge is gonna be the way to do it.

    I also, for every craps session this whole trip kept a $1 bet up on the pass line for the crew. On my own rolls I'd be more likely to add a dollar to the come bets to make them 2-way or add odds to these bets for the dealers, but for all shooters I wanted to try keeping the crew in the game at all times even though this is a pretty significant leak relative to the low house edge you otherwise enjoy at a craps table.

    Precisely 10 minutes later at 5:15pm we've only had cold shooters. I made one point myself as the shooter, but beyond that specific pass line winner there were no front line winners, no other points made, and zero winning come bets. I have lost $900 of the $1,000 I bought in with and at this point I cut and run to go get some early dinner. In my flurry of placing bets as quickly as you can say "seven out", not only have I neglected my whiskey but I then forgot it on the rail after coloring up and heading to the cage with but a single black chip in hand. Upon returning from the cage, my drink was no where to be found.

    Dinner next.
     
    VVX
    • Like Like x 8
    • Love Love x 4
    • Wow! Wow! x 1
  5. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2017
    Messages:
    14
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8
    SUSHISAMBA

    [​IMG]

    Upon arrival at the restaurant, I was offered my choice of a table or the sushi bar, and I opted for the bar as that seemed like a better choice for a party of one. This restaurant is described as Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian fusion, and ss much as I would have liked to take advantage of their eclectic mix of appetizers, I was dining solo and only ordered sushi. Even though I was eating at the bar, the seats were low enough that you couldn't see even a bit of what the chefs were doing.

    [​IMG]

    I first ordered from the bar the Brisa Caliente which has tequila, ginger liqueur, mango nectar, fresh lime juice, passionfruit juice, orange bitters and fresno chili. When I ordered it the waiter confirmed to me what sort of drink it was the same way that if you ordered a steak rare the server might verify "rare will be a cool red center" to give you a chance to clarify your order or to change your mind. When I ordered this drink the waiter said something to the effect of “that’s essentially a spicy margarita” and then cocked his head and paused for me to give my assent now that this new information had come to light. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    [​IMG]

    This drink was very heavy on mango taste but it didn't skimp out on the spice. The rim is very sweet and sugary, with some peppery heat there as well. I was a huge fan of the spicy rim, reminiscent of one of my favorite Jalepeño-rimmed gimlets from a distillery back home. This cocktail here is certainly too sweet for my liking but otherwise hits the spot and I would expect it to be a popular crowd-pleaser.

    [​IMG]

    For dinner I ordered the Asevichado roll, plus the Chef’s Inspiration of nigiri. The Asevichado is described as "tuna, salmon, yellowtail, white fish, avocado, cucumber, red onion, sweet potato, canche corn, aji amarillo leche de tigre". The chef’s selection of nigiri was rattled off to me by the waiter and certainly includes tuna, salmon, fluke, kanpachi, and some others that did not etch themselves in my memory quick enough. The roll is, perhaps obviously, a smorgasbord of flavor but I didn't really get to taste and enjoy the assortment of fish contained within. The nigiri is really well balanced in terms of the amount of fish and rice, though the rice is a little bit vinegary for my taste. Despite that complaint, that acid does complement the fish quite well. Overall I’d rate the Asevichado roll as 'good-but-not-great', but the selection of nigiri as simply 'great'.

    [​IMG]

    Having not quite had my fill with the two sushi selections, I opted for dessert which is the Chocolate Banana Cake served with maple butter, vanilla rum ice cream, and a large plantain chip. The clock was just about to strike 6pm pacific time, and I was getting too tired too early and opted for an espresso (wake up Turbulence there's gambling to be done!). This dessert was truly delicious–a decadent mix of butter, salt and sugar–and by Vegas price standards was a steal at $12. It also avoided being portioned to be comically large which is a recurring gripe of mine at many Vegas eateries. The espresso is great in my book, its so bitter that the coffee taste of which I’m usually not a fan is muted. It pairs well with the over-the-top combination of rich flavors in the cake and accompaniments. I really liked that between the cake, the ice cream, and the glaze, that you got mix-and-match the flavors that you wanted in any given bite.

    As I leave I notice that the restaurant has filled up considerably in the hour that I was there and am glad I got the early reservation as a line is forming outside.

    I go back up to my room and find this nice fruit plate, plus four bottles of water have been provided, and I can only assume its complimentary (and not another of Vegas's dirty tricks!).

    [​IMG]

    As you can see in the above photo the night is still young, which can only mean one thing: back to the casino!
     
    VVX
    • Like Like x 13
    • Love Love x 6
  6. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2017
    Messages:
    14
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8
    Gambling at Wynn
    I head to Wynn to play some craps as I was not super enthused with the plexiglass setup at the V/P, and well, there aren't that many other casinos around.

    [​IMG]
    even the waste receptacle at Palazzo is Supreme

    I find a $25 table which is the lowest Wynn is offering, I buy in for $2,000 and resume my same strategy of one line bet, two come bets, and stay stubborn maxing out my 3x/4x/5x odds even though this table starts off very cold. The crew and the other players provide a very fun time. The 7:00pm ambiance at the Wynn is a night and day difference from the bland 5:00pm ambiance at Palazzo. The all-male crew has a not-at-all-subtle signal to indicate that some perhaps attractive, but definitely scantily-clad women are walking by. I am at stick-right with my back to the main aisle when the base dealer on my side announces "we got a crap game!" to which the stick man immediately turns his head to ogle the passers-by. He enthusiastically responds in kind: "yep a friday night crap game!", and I pat myself on the back for how quickly I deciphered their enigmatic code.

    Despite the hot atmosphere, the table runs somewhere between cold and cool. On one hand, I'm thankful that I only hemorrhage money during the first few rolls and then it turns into a slow bleed. On the other hand, we never get a shooter hot enough to put a real dent in the losses thus far and the slow bleed eventually depletes not only the $2,000 I initially threw down, but also the $1k in reserves that I added mid-way through the session.

    It's nearing 9:00pm which is certainly past my central-time bedtime, and I head back to Palazzo to lick my wounds. Having lost essentially 40% of my bankroll on what was not even supposed to be one of my big three gambling days has really dented my spirits and I tell myself that I'm swearing off max odds for the remainder of the trip.

    Having boozed it up aggressively before dinner I only had, I think, one beer at the Wynn and otherwise stuck to water. Despite kicking myself for donking off a substantial portion of my roll, I'm going to bed in a timely fashion and with big plans for the coming days.

    [​IMG]

    Tomorrow: Bouchon Bistro, Ellis Island, Tacos el Gordo, Cosmo, Roy Choi's Best Friend
     
    VVX
    • Like Like x 15
    • Love Love x 2
    • Wow! Wow! x 1
  7. tennis

    tennis Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2020
    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    AZ
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    95
    Absolutely love your writing style. Can’t wait for the next installments of the report!
     
    • Agree Agree x 6
  8. ShaneTheMaster

    ShaneTheMaster Tourist

    Joined:
    May 3, 2021
    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Florida
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    5
    Nice write up! I’ll be at Venetian in June..so this detailed write up is very helpful! I play Craps the same way you do.. it’s a feast or famine strategy!
     
    Countdown
  9. smerrian

    smerrian View from Bally's

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2014
    Messages:
    6,281
    Location:
    South Jersey
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    50
    Is that an iPhone you're using for the pics? They're outstanding quality.
     
    6 HOTELS...SIX !!!
    How could I say no?
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Some Canadian

    Some Canadian Tourist

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2019
    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    British Columbia
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8
    This is a fantastic report so far. I very much enjoy the writing style and level of detail in all aspects, plus the pictures. Looking forward to the rest.
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
  11. teacher10

    teacher10 Tourist

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2020
    Messages:
    21
    Location:
    NY
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    10
    Amazing. cant wait for the other days
     
  12. JeJas

    JeJas VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2014
    Messages:
    4,323
    Location:
    NY
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    0
    Great report.
    I was 3 days behind you (we both there 17 & 18) so I can relate most things you observed.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. bshowell

    bshowell VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2004
    Messages:
    3,786
    Location:
    DMV
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    11
    This is great so far. Love how you write.
     
    Back on track!
    Carrying on
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. Retrobabble

    Retrobabble Director of Fun

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2016
    Messages:
    401
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    21
    Enjoyed this very much so far and looking forward to the rest.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2017
    Messages:
    14
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8
    Yes indeed, I splurged for the iPhone 12 Pro when it came out last fall, and I was upgrading from an iPhone 8 so it really made a big difference.

    Thank you to everyone for all the kind words, it makes all the time I'm spending on the couch writing worthwhile, and I should have post(s) that encompass Saturday May 15 up today.
     
    VVX
    • Like Like x 8
    • Informative Informative x 1
  16. VeddaLasVegas

    VeddaLasVegas High-Roller

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2006
    Messages:
    570
    Location:
    Tampa Bay, Florida
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    28
    Enjoying your report so far!!
     
  17. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2017
    Messages:
    14
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8
    SATURDAY
    Strip Stroll

    I wake up feeling good just before 6:00am, and I have two hours to kill before my 8:00am Bouchon Bistro reservation. I decide to traverse the strip, with the goal of reprinting new players club cards for the Caesars, MGM, and Cosmo that either are past the expiration date printed on the card or have been misplaced entirely. I start by crossing the street to the Mirage, briefly wander inside, and note that the MLife booth is not open 24hrs and thus is not open currently at the deadest time of the day. I make a hasty retreat and stay on the west side of the strip, hoofing it down to Caesars Palace. While the Caesars rewards desk is not open, they conveniently have machines that will automatically reprint the card if you insert your drivers license. This works like a charm and soon I am off to Bellagio to try my luck there.

    [​IMG]

    I get to the B casino just before 7:00 and again am greeted with a closed players club.
    [​IMG]

    How I felt after reading this:
    [​IMG]

    I take heed of the instructions to use the cashier cage and they print me up an MLife card with little delay.

    I briefly poke my head in the closed Petrossian caviar bar that was undergoing renovations when last I was here in 2019 and I'm surprised to see that nothing is different? I guess it's not that nothing is different, but rather I just was unfamiliar with the space beforehand. I truly didn't see anything that struck me as new or exciting.

    [​IMG]

    The Bellagio Conservatory is somehow even more floral than normal for their spring setup, and I look forward to seeing the summer display as I hear it has just now changed over. There is still some covid protocol in place in that the path through the conservatory is a one-way street which serves to get people in one side and out the other with minimal contact.

    [​IMG]
    butterfly habitat
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    pride!

    At Cosmopolitan I also get an Identity card from the cashier but it takes forever and I hold up the line big time as there is only one teller, and the technology required to print the card won't cooperate. I always assumed the only people at the cashier that hold up the line are trying to finagle some sort of cash-advance-payday-loan or something; usually I just want to cash chips and get out, but today I am the menace.

    I stop in at the Harmon Corner Walgreens to grab a Gatorade to drink on the way back up the east side of the strip. I pass by Mon Ami Gabi at Paris and boy is it busy for 7:30am. That's one of my favorite breakfast spots because its a great view and its open early, but sadly did not get there on this trip.

    Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bistro

    [​IMG]

    I get back to Venetian in time to go in search of Thomas Keller's Bouchon which is tucked away in the Venezia tower. It is not crowded but there is a decent sized group waiting outside for the 8:00am opening. The guy next to me in line wonders if he'll be able to get a table given that he wasn't able to make a reservation online. I suggest that they probably blocked reservations at some point 12hours, 24hours beforehand, and have not blocked reservations due to being full up. This policy of prohibiting same-day reservations was a thorn in my side later in the trip, because you never really know if you'll be able to be seated.

    [​IMG]

    I start with a Campari and soda but quickly realize that I'm also under-caffeinated for how long I've been awake and so also get a hot black tea.

    After ordering my meal I was immediately treated to complimentary bread, butter and jam. My main gripe here was that the butter was served too cold and the bread didn't retain enough heat to allow spreading the butter easily. My strategy to deal with this was to tear off a section of that ornate loaf, cut it open like a dinner roll, and then put a cold chunk of butter inside and close it up, mush it around a little, and then try and use my knife to redistribute the parts that were still cold.

    The menu (located here for those curious) had way too many things that I wanted to try, but I exercised great restraint by ordering just an entrée. I opted for the Poulet et des Gaufres--pronounced "chicken and waffles"--which the waiter informed me had been on their menu for some 15 years. For those not curious enough to have clicked the prior link, this is described therein as roasted chicken with bacon-chive waffle, Crown maple syrup & sauce Chasseur.

    [​IMG]

    This dish was incredible. The waffle was indeed savory and it cannot be overstated how correctly-done this waffle was cooked, balancing the crispy and soft textures. The bacon and chive embedded within also do a lot of heavy lifting and pair excellently with the maple syrup, giving a nice juxtaposition of flavors before I even tear into the chicken. The roast chicken and its accompanying sauce are also really something. I was served a small half-chicken with a breast-wing piece and tucked under it in this photo is the thigh-leg. The white meat was super juicy, unrealistically juicy for roasted chicken to be frank. The sauce Chasseur was more reminiscent of a broth than a gravy and it had tasty morsels in it like bits of pork belly, mushrooms and onions. I was quite disappointed to have only gotten to order one item from their extensive brunch spread, but this meal did not disappoint in the slightest.

    On Foot to Ellis Island

    [​IMG]
    a scant twelve hours later and the trash can is no longer Supreme...

    I head back to the room and I've already walked 4.60 miles! Part of me wants to relax in the room but there's so much Vegas to see and do! I do lounge around for a while, and perhaps doze off for a bit, but the wanderlust gets the best of me and around 11:30am I exit the Palazzo out the north side towards the Wynn and make a hard right to walk east toward Koval. I haven't yet seen the Front Yard at Ellis Island and I know I can find some cheaper gambling there. I pass by the MSG Sphere which definitely was at one point firmly entrenched in my "yeah that's never gonna happen" list, but it looks like it's progressing quite nicely.

    [​IMG]

    This back route down Koval takes you past a ton of large, nondescript structures associated with the back-of-house for Wynn and for the Sands Expo Center. Another such large structure (though slightly more descript?) is the new Caesars Forum behind the Linq and Harrah's, which is notable for being the rumored future home of the World Series of Poker once Caesars is no longer involved with the operations of Rio. As a tourist who plays one WSOP event a year I'd definitely appreciate a strip-adjacent home for those tournaments, but it's a big bummer for the daily grinders who spend the full 6 weeks out here and would need to drive to the strip each day.

    At the corner of Flamingo and Koval I see two billboards on different corners that catch my eye.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Looks like the Athari family has the ad space for this intersection on lock down, and with a diverse set of skills too!

    I get to Ellis Island just after 12:00pm and this place is popping! I do a lap through the casino and also do a lap through the Front Yard. The Front Yard is so bright and spacious, especially compared to the casino which is more dark and cramped than most. I tried to go upstairs to the mezzanine to get a nice aerial shot of the place but an employee lets me know that the upstairs is closed for a private event but if I want bar or table seating I can see a hostess. A very polite way to tell me that I'm not welcome as a lookie-lou.

    [​IMG]

    The $5 craps table is already full, and since I've last been here, they've added a second table which is at a $10 minimum and is also full! I have no luck at the first two machines I try (which were the automated players card dispensing machines :haha:), so I have the guy at the booth make me a new card. The next stop is vpfree2.com to see where the good machines have been shuffled around to, and I find that they've gutted their inventory of 99%+ quarter games. It looks like the best choice is to play the Spin Poker machines, and I end up playing the $0.10 denomination for 5 lines. I forget what the pay schedule was on this Bonus Deluxe game, but it was not 9/6 which I could have gotten at the $0.25 level.

    I lose my first $100 on this machine but shortly after putting in the second $100 I am rewarded with this fine hand:

    [​IMG]

    That's a $200 hit! After some ups and downs I cash out for $300, so I am up a hundo on the day. That $300 ticket goes straight in a machine at the bar where I play some single-line $0.25 Bonus Deluxe (8/5). I order their house lager and plink away at this machine for a while, slowly losing $1.25 at a time until I get two surprise quads in reasonably quick succession:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    at $0.25 Bonus Deluxe, all 4-of-a-kind hits are worth $100.

    After the second hit, I go to cash out, up another $120, and the machine jams. This requires a slot attendant and a slot technician to find their way to me, which happens before too long. I remark to the technician that the only experience worse than not being able to be paid out was when I had a machine freeze up for not being able to dispense drink tickets. He has never heard of a bar where the drinks are ticketed (and to be fair there aren't many of them), so I then have to try and explain why such a thing would exist in the first place. The tech dislodges the stuck ticket which is mangled, and sends the attendant to go cash it at the cashier while he puts the machine back in order.

    [​IMG]

    With cash in hand, I'm getting hungry and looking forward to lunch, but I've still gotta nurse this tall beer, so I go and put a hundred-dollar bill in a multi-game machine and start in on some 10-play $0.05 Ultimate X. I get basically no hits, lose that hundred and leave Ellis Island up $120 on the day.

    Tacos El Gordo
    I take the same route back north though the sun is much hotter now, and I go all the way past Wynn and Encore and end up across from Resorts World at the Las Vegas Strip location of the famed, small, southwest taco chain Tacos El Gordo.This place gets rave reviews and is generally quite busy. I spend about twenty minutes waiting outside to get in.
    Then inside, there are many lines for the different types of meat, and while I'd ideally get a variety of tacos, I stand in the first line for the Adobada (or El Pastor).

    [​IMG]

    This line does. not. move. I'm like fifth in line, the guy at the front gets like 6 tacos and leaves, but then the cook serves up like 20-25 tacos that are part of some other order not related to the 4 of us in line. At this point the big spit on the rotisserie has to cook again. The cook uses this opportunity to clean up the whole station which is, I guess fun to watch while I wait. Another 20 minutes go by before I am served and a this point I don't have it in me to wait in any of the other lines for different types of meat (I'm later told I could have also ordered other tacos that I wanted [e.g. the carne asada] from the Adobada line?). I order 4 of the Adobada with everything, which is onion, cilantro, and then a green sauce and a white sauce. I snarf down two of them before I remember to take a quick pic.

    [​IMG]

    These tacos did live up to the hype with the meat simultaneously having a crispy crust with the remainder of each slice being juicy and tender. The fresh cilantro and onions also well-complemented the two richer sauces that are added, and no ingredient was overdone nor overpowered the taste of the meat.

    Cosmopolitan Cocktail Bars
    At this point its about 3:00pm and I head back to the room to shower and get ready for the evening. One downside of staying (Palazzo) far from where I want to gamble and dine (Cosmo, Park MGM) is that you really have to be sure you have all your shit together when you exit the hotel, as returning to the room isn't really an option. I believe Ke$ha once said something to this effect.

    I mentioned at the very top that one of my goals was to find some specific knowledgable bartenders that had served me good drinks in the past, and one target I was seeking is a LV native by the name of Cody that worked at Vesper bar. When I saddle up to that bar just off the Cosmopolitan hotel lobby, I peruse their online QR-code-based menu and order a drink from a bartender named Nico. I ask him if a fellow named Cody still works here and he informs me that Cody does still work at the Cosmo, but the bartenders no longer have a home base where they work most all of their shifts, rather they rotate between Vesper, various levels of Chandelier, and working the Wicked Spoon buffet. Much to my chagrin I am informed that he most likely is on the buffet rotation this weekend (and I later confirm this when asking around at Chandelier), so I've struck out on this first attempt.

    [​IMG]

    In keeping with the theme of forgetting to take pictures of the cocktails I enjoyed, you’ll again have to settle for this portion of the menu from Cosmopolitan’s Vesper Bar. I ordered the Paradox of Choice, which was too sweet for my liking, and also not spirituous enough. The latter gripe should have been obvious from the ingredient list that contains no hard alcohol, but I was hoping for a more delicate drink with regard to the high sugar content and general absence of the rhubarb and fig flavors.

    After this beverage, I settle my tab and move on down to the Chandelier bar. This is one of my favorite bars to drink at because the bartenders are (generally) more knowledgeable than you'd find at a normal casino bar or video poker bar, and I've found that the drink ticket system actually rewards players more than it punishes them.

    I peruse the bar and there are no seats open at any of the operational All Star Poker machines. On second look, not even any of the Game Kings are even open and powered on. I would have been willing to settle for the standard Game King even though it doesn't have the particular variation I'm looking to play, but A lot of the machines are out of order for one reason or another, and the ones that are working have their seats occupied. The bartender sees me pacing back and forth, and asks if I can be helped. "There's nowhere to play!" I forlornly exclaim and the bartender says "that machine is open" and points to the bullshit one-off Aristocrat slot machine that sticks out--literally and figuratively--like a sore thumb. I go to scoff and shake my head, but the couple seated right in front of me offers to shift one seat down to a broken machine as they're not playing anyway.

    I thank them profusely and put $500 dollars in the machine and begin to play my favorite Super Times Pay, 3-line, $0.25 denom, Bonus Deluxe 8/5. At $4.50 a spin, this can be a very volatile game, hence the large initial investment. I order a Sidecar which is my go-to call drink if I'm at a bar that serves cocktails but I haven't yet scoped out the specific bartender's repertoire.

    Before I get into the extreme nerdery I engaged in, let me first report on the gambling and ambiance. The couple on the left that made way for me leaves the bar early on in the session, but to my right are two Australian ladies and their male companion who comes and goes, and all three of them make for great conversation. Every time they go to order a round the guy offers to get me a drink as well. As for the gambling, I bleed down to about $200 before going on a tear where my money rebounds all the way up to $650, and at this point one of the women points out my good fortune with a comment to the effect of like "oh you weren't doing so well there for a bit, but now look at all that money, how much are you in for?". I explain that I've got $500 invested as the game can be pretty swingy, and true to that assessment, my balance steadily plummets back down to $250 before I cash out and head to craps around 7:00pm.

    [​IMG]
    IIRC the dealt 'multiplier card' was covering up the 5th card as it was spinning and I'm chanting to myself spade! spade! spade!

    [​IMG]
    the only 40AK+multiplier I hit the whole trip was on a measly 2x

    [​IMG]
    biggest drawing hand of trip was these six chances at seeing the 2 of Diamonds for an $800 hand


    Chandelier Bar Drink Tickets
    Now for a brief Vegas-nerd interlude. As I played, I wanted to be able to report on the pace of the drink ticket system, so I set my phone to act as a stopwatch and hit the "Lap" button each time a new ticket came out.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see the timing was pretty consistent, and if it is not reset by some external factor, you will get the first ticket after 10 minutes, next one 15 minutes after that, and then receive a ticket every 20 minutes thereafter.
    I would have not expected this behavior, in fact I would have thought the very first ticket would take the longest as you already get a free cocktail on the house at minute 0:00 just by sitting down, putting money in, and starting to play. My poor intuition notwithstanding, it is clear that the first tickets come out a little quicker, but as you settle in to play a long session you "only" end up getting three tickets per hour. I'll have info more on what things will reset you back to square one after I sleuth around on Monday.

    The tickets I accumulated go mostly to waste as I only end up getting one other drink beyond my first sidecar while playing here (a negroni, I think). There was only one bartender and one barback on this side of Chandelier level 1, and that was simply not enough staff to meet the demand of the patrons at the bar, the people seated in the lounge, plus the random walkups. At this point, rather than get a drink to bring with me to the crap table, I instead give the rest of the tickets to the Australian folks and bid them adieu.

    Cosmo Dice
    Cosmopolitan is only offering $25 and $50 craps on the main floor, and so I again end up at a $25 table but am determined to be more conservative than before. I buy in for $1500 and am playing the same three-point-molly but with double odds instead of full 3x/4x/5x. I bleed away money with this strategy and am soon reduced to taking single odds on all my bets in the hopes that the table turns around before I'm out of money. And turn around it does! Rather than have one specific shooter that goes on a tear, we instead end up in a spot where most every shooter is either immediately point-seven-out, which isn't too bad when betting the Come instead of placing numbers, or the shooter is going on a long roll where they don't make many points but do roll a ton of other numbers in the interim.

    Dealer Chloe who started on the stick but is now dealing base on my side of the table is an absolute thrill and she goes full-on hustler mode when the table starts heating up. First of all she has really good hands and is super adept at cutting out all the payouts, getting the chips distributed promptly, and pressing up the place numbers with out too much monkeying around. For the players on my side of the table who up to this point have been generally placing various numbers on a whim and then collecting when they hit, she is starting to press their bets and add dealer tokes, and given that the table stays hot she generates a ton of money for these guys. I was most impressed with how quickly, unabashedly, and transparently she took their money and turned it into dealer bets.

    For instance, if the point was 8, and two 5s had been rolled back-to-back, on the second one she'd quick cut out $35, shuffle some money around with some slight-of-hand magic and then tell the player:
    (*taps the top of the two green chips*) "I pressed up your 5,"
    (*points at a nickel in the center of the 5 layout*) "I'm on there with you,"
    (*picks up and sets back down the two chips on the six*) "and now your six is correct at $30"

    She repeated this process pressing every-other winning bet, adding more tokes, and shoveling winnings to these players who were really benefiting from all these box numbers coming in before the line bet was resolved. I made some comment about how impressed I was with her hustling, and she acted shocked! "Hustle? I don't even know what you mean?!" I was spared from these shenanigans by, first and foremost, having the dealers always on the line with me, and second didn't have any place bets for her to take liberties with. While I myself don't really appreciate being hustled for tips, I really do get some satisfaction out of the dealers squeezing some tokes out of players who would otherwise be stiffing, especially when the dealers are skilled, lively, and attentive. In response to this spectacle I definitely stepped up my toke game by adding more two-way come bets and dealer odds.

    Playing the Come, I was also benefiting from all the intervening numbers that came after a point was established: these same repeating numbers that allowed the press-and-go action from Chloe also grew my stack back to a healthy point. Its kind of a bummer to lose big playing double odds and then grind it back while betting single odds but I was gun-shy at this point and knew that the table in no way has to stay hot, so I kept my wagers pared down even as my stack got almost back to even for the session.

    At this point I've had the cocktails from Vesper and Chandelier, a couple Brandy Old Fashioneds at the table, and my 9:00pm dinner reservation is drawing near so I color up for $1400, walk around the table into the pit to get a fist-bump from Chloe. At this point in the night the original "don't be hungover goal" is at-risk, but the new-found goal of gambling more conservatively is going well.

    Gambling results on the day:
    Ellis Island VP +120
    Cosmo VP -250
    Cosmo Craps -100

    A much more reasonable setback compared to yesterday. Dinner at Roy Choi's Best Friend is next!
     
    VVX
    • Like Like x 11
    • Love Love x 6
    • Informative Informative x 1
  18. ShaneTheMaster

    ShaneTheMaster Tourist

    Joined:
    May 3, 2021
    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Florida
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    5
    Nice write up! Glad you had a better Craps session. My experience at chandelier sounds similar to yours.. nice place, but understaffed.
     
    Countdown
    • Informative Informative x 1
  19. Flowers

    Flowers VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2014
    Messages:
    10,139
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    30
    What a simply AWESOME report this is. I love all of the detail, information, your writing style and the pics. That mango drink looks so pretty!! Looking forward to the rest.

    I am very familiar with the Palazzo and Venetian but you reminded me that I need to set aside time to try out all three cocktail bars again. I have visited Dorsey and Rosina but never the third one. Over the course of my upcoming long trip I would love to try a cocktail from each.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2021
    A Trip for the Ages with My Momma in Las Vegas
    • Like Like x 3
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Love Love x 1
  20. vsop

    vsop Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2012
    Messages:
    444
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    70
    Nice descriptive narrative to your TR....those were some "complex" cocktails, the Sidecar is complex enough for my simple taste .....I hope Chloe was a "looker"...:beer:
     
    • Agree Agree x 1