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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. ReTriggerMe

    ReTriggerMe VIP Whale

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    OK. Great reading. I have to note.... the 6am Saturday hike to Mirage, Caesars, Bellagio, Cosmo, back to Bouchon before 8am opening; Wow - impressive. I'm betting that no timeshare salespeople or showgirl photo-shills get you to stop when you're walking the Strip in a determined manner.
     
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    Because I could book a Skyview Suite in Feb...
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  2. Astribling

    Astribling Alice In Casinoland

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    Loving your report and all the pictures! Everything is so descriptive and makes me feel like I"m there!
     
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  3. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

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    Roy Choi's Best Friend

    [​IMG]

    Dinner time. Another highly-hyped establishment that I had yet to eat at is Best Friend, by L.A. chef Roy Choi. This opened at Park MGM shortly after they completed the Monte Carlo -> Park MGM hotel/casino renovation in 2018. The first thing you notice about this restaurant after you walk through the convenience store + liquor mart facade is that this place is loud. They had a live DJ and a considerable sound system which added to the bustling atmosphere created by the myriad waiters hastily delivering each small plate as soon as it came out of the kitchen. The DJ did a good job mixing each song into the next so there never was a lull.

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    I continued boozing it up, this time going with their frozen Hennessy and Cola, which overall was just too big but otherwise tasted pretty good and it was a novel way to do a slushie that would normally be some sort of tropical drink. I was planning on ordering the Chef Menu as otherwise there were just too many things to choose from, and a $60 prix fixe isn't bad at all by Vegas standards. The waiter initially advised against my doing so saying something to the effect of that’d be a lot of food for one person, but then quickly said he’d go talk to the chef and see what he can do. He came back and said fuck it, they can do the chef menu for one person but there might be some leftovers. As this reservation was for 9:00pm pacific time I was emboldened by the cocktails from Cosmo that had been tiding me over, and hungry having substituted booze for sustenance.

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    The food came out of the kitchen in, I think, the order that it’s listed on the chef menu. For none of the items that I was served could I make out what the waitstaff was saying as the face masks muffled their already-drowned-out attempts to educate me on each dish. All of these pickled things were super tasty and I snacked on them haphazardly throughout the meal. I was warned to save the sweet rolls for the main meat courses as they would make a neat slider.

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    The main flavors that stood out in this lavishly garnished taco were from the cilantro and from the spicy beef itself.

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    I really went wild over this shrimp dish, it had an appreciable amount of heat to it, moreso than any of the spicy pickled accoutrements. I was simply a huge fan of how creamy and fatty this breaded shrimp was combined with the spice level and was remarking to myself on how much shrimp I was served, thinking that at $60 this is gonna be a steal.

    [​IMG]

    When the fried rice dish came out I knew I was in trouble. That is to say, this dish plus the shrimp dish tipped me off that outside of the singular taco I was served, I was just getting plates of food intended for at least two diners. I can see why I was warned from the outset about the quantity of food, but with the waiter talking to the chef to verify they could serve the tasting menu to a solo diner I guess it never occurred to them to halve the portions for some of these larger plates. The fried rice was spicy, but nothing to write home about. It had good taste and enough different flavors but all of them were familiar at this point in the meal.

    [​IMG]

    On the other hand these meats were quite good. The chicken was glazed with a teriyaki-tasting sauce and the beef + lightly cooked onions indeed paired excellently with the sweet and salty rolls that I was served at the beginning of the meal. The beef was cut very thin and tender and was not seasoned/sauced as heavily as the chicken letting the meat flavor speak for itself.

    At this point I had to tell the waiter to skip the dessert course as I was completely stuffed and had left nearly half the food on the table. He kinda gave me an "I-told-you-so" with regard to it being a lot of food, but if I had instead been told “we’re gonna bring you two of everything and there’s nothing we can do about it” I’d be more inclined to say I’d been fairly warned. In any event the room at the Palazzo is nice, but its not in-suite-mini-fridge-for-guest-use nice, so the leftover food did indeed go to waste.

    Despite the portions, this meal was impressive, and Best Friend would be a very fun venue to come back to and dine with a group. Lastly, they didn't charge me double despite my essentially eating for two.

    Bedtime
    I am now drunk, full of food, and exhausted. I check my phone, and not only is it late, but I've walked over twelve and a half miles today! I order an Uber and seeing as the UberX is vacillating between long estimates for order and "No Cars Available", I pony up a couple extra bucks for an Uber Comfort which has a shorter estimated wait time.

    [​IMG]

    Back at the Palazzo at 10:30pm, I am too full of food and booze to sleep soundly, so I wake up regularly throughout the night and use those opportunities to drink more water. By 7:00am I am still tired but I am hydrated enough that I don't feel like a complete sad sack. I head off to take a walk, buy some gatorade and get ready for some breakfast.
     
    VVX
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  4. BobLasVegas

    BobLasVegas Low-Roller

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    Awesome report! Love it!
     
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  5. Jarrod24

    Jarrod24 Tourist

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    I agree with everyone else. This is a great report.
     
  6. HighLimitorBust

    HighLimitorBust Tourist

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    Enjoying your writing style and all your pictures! I look forward to the rest of this report and future ones from you, including photos of cocktails haha.

    That $60 tasting menu at Best Friend is a steal for 2 people. Definitely will have to do that sometime.
     
  7. fenway68

    fenway68 VIP Whale

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    Hmm Chandelier Bar tix research...? just heard someone call into five Hundy about that...coincidence? I think not. ;-). Great info. Thanks for sharing.
     
    Finally Waking from the nightmare!
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  8. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

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    Just to be clear, don't let the fact that I got overserved for $60 fool you, it will still rightfully cost $60 per person for the Chef Menu.

    :hmmm:
     
    VVX
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  9. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

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    SUNDAY

    Jardin

    This is the day to go downtown! I am pretty tired so am gonna definitely get a nap in after breakfast for the second day in a row. In order to get to the best part of the day which is that post-breakfast nap, I first gotta make it to breakfast, for which I have an 8:00am reservation at Jardin at Wynncore. Having grabbed a gatorade at the Walgreens just south of Venetian, I reverse course and head back up north to Wynn and walk through the casino to the Encore side. Jardin is not open yet so I kill time by putting a twenty in a single-line 6/5 Bonus Poker machine on the Encore casino floor. You can't be punished for your decision to play a 6/5 BP machine if you never hit any full houses! Indeed, in time, I lose that $20 and head back over to the walkway between the Wyncore properties and join the longer-than-I-expected line that is waiting for the restaurant to open its doors.

    Once it opens we of course get that one guy who saunters up to the front, assuming that this line can't be for him, he has a reservation! They are not as quick to get people seated as Bouchon was, and even after you get through the hostess's stand, you get put in another staging area to be taken outside. I picked Jardin based on having heard they have excellent hashbrowns; I did not know they had outdoor seating and such a nice view.

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    The scene here soon becomes busy as the lifeguards and pool attendants get to work setting up the lounge chairs and readying the pool area.

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    In addition to this tender little breakfast tea, I ordered the steak and eggs (medium and over medium) which comes with hashbrowns and toast.

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    As you’ll see below the steak was pretty overdone, but I feel personally responsible for this mishap as I would usually order medium-rare. The crust/char on this steak is excellent and the steak itself is very flavorful even if overdone. The toast is cold, and really only half toasted. The hashbrowns are indeed good but did not bring the excitement I was expecting. Still this was a very serviceable breakfast, the price wasn't too high, the portions were not comically large, and the view was excellent. Once I got down to the last large end of the steak, I found that section was cooked perfectly to medium and was a real treat, it was the conical shape of the steak that did me no favors here.

    [​IMG]

    Downtown
    I head back to the room to take that nap I've been waiting for and... I can't? I'm just too ready to carpe this diem and my grogginess has subsided and been replaced with ambition! I quick shower, collect my belongings and call an Uber. This being the second Uber of the trip, I find that its not necessarily that it takes longer to get matched with a driver, but rather that they're generally further away and currently completing a different trip elsewhere. It's a short jaunt up I-15 and traffic is light on this Sunday morning.

    [​IMG]

    I get dropped off at the Garage Mahal and take the skyway pedestrian bridge over to what we've all been waiting for! CIRCA. In some ways, its just a casino, but to see something this new and shiny and grandiose downtown is so great. The main attractions of the sportsbook and the Mega Bar really do sell a specific brand of sports and action. In addition to the atmosphere created by hundreds of TVs the music is really pumping even this early in the morning.

    [​IMG]

    After taking a lap around both floors of the casino taking in the sights, I get cozy at Mega Bar and settle in for some video poker, $0.25 8/6 Bonus Deluxe. As I am sipping on my Campari and soda and hearing Gaga, Kesha, Katy Perry and a handful of one-hit wonder pop songs of that era, I have to ask myself if the years 2010-2015 simply produced the best high-energy casino music or if they're trying to pander to the tastes of 30yr olds (ahem) to whom this represents the party music of their college years.

    It's 11:00am, and I'm happy to find that the bartenders at Mega Bar are the same class of Flair bartender that LongBar is famous for, and the guy in front of me not only puts on a show while preparing my two-ingredient highball, but also spends most of the time practicing different tricks or embellishing on one routine or another. I think the decision to make flair bartenders a trademark for Derek Stevens' casinos is a home-run, these guys consistently have been fun, they *want* to put on a show, and they want to improve. It feels like being an onlooker at a skatepark in terms of being able to see the impressive finished product but then also see the behind-the-scenes attempts and near-misses all in one sitting.

    This probably belongs in the Sunday Night portion of the report, but if the flair bartenders are a home run for the Stevens Group, the go-go dancers are a ground-out to second. I have no issues when they're on the card-dealing side of their shift, but as dancers they are largely in the uncanny valley of entertainers and most of them have big I'm-just-here-so-I-don't-get-fined energy. I think they can be a win for the ambiance in a very busy casino where it just gives you a feeling of more things going on, but if you stop and watch any one given dancer you get this unsettling vague sense of disinterest nine times out of ten.

    One last thing on Circa, a big selling point I've heard is the HVAC system which sends all the air up through the floor and it leaves via the ceiling which is supposed to help with lingering smoke that you find at other casinos. While I can say that the casino is indeed not smokey, the vents in the floor are anything but subtle.

    [​IMG]

    I lose $50 at Mega Bar and head across the street to Golden Gate to do a mini coupon run. I go to the players club to collect a match play from the Las Vegas Advisor member rewards coupon book, a free bet from my mailers, and then I also have a "first natural blackjack pays 2:1" coupon from LVA. I sit down at a $25 BJ table on the main floor with $400 in green, (I believe the small GG high limit room had one table each of $50 BJ and $100 BJ) and start betting. I am, without any rhyme or reason, saving my $25 match play and my $50 free bet for the right moment and indeed both of the hands I play those coupons are losers. I do pretty well at the table except for any hand where:
    - I raise my bet
    - I use a coupon to increase my bet
    - I put a dealer toke out with my bet

    I think 4 red chips found their way back into the dealer's tray before I finally won a toked bet and somehow spending $25 to tip $10 feels worse than regular old losing at blackjack. My chip stack only ever gets as high as $550 or as low as $300 and I keep the session short as my coupons are depleted, cashing out with $410 for an ever-so-slight profit.

    It's now just after 12:00 noon, and I seek out my other favorite bartenders of yore, Eric and Gregory at Oak & Ivy at Downtown Container Park. O&I has greatly expanded their patio seating and went big on sun shades which is certainly alluring, but all the bar seating is full, the bartenders are not people I recognize, and they are being kept busy by a line out the front door about 6 persons deep. I quickly decide to give Oak & Ivy a pass and hoof it on back to the Fremont Street Experience. 0-for-2 on finding my long-lost bartenders.

    At this point I'm start to feel a bit rudderless: just looking for a game to play or a bar that grabs my attention. I head up the outdoor escalator to The D to play some 8/5 BP Progressive at Vue Bar, or find a craps game. Walking through The D, neither of those aforementioned options are calling my name so I head off to another casino that was on my should-play-at list: Plaza. Recall that one of my goals at the start of the trip was to play a variety of games. Thus far you've only seen me play craps and video poker, with one blackjack session mixed in for some easy couponing. Well dear reader, I will get the disappointment out of the way early and let you know that it is still all just VP and craps from here on out.

    Again at Plaza, I'm hungry but none of the food options grab me; I'm in need of a cold one, but all the good VP bar seats are full; I'd like to play a table game, but nothing catches my eye. I ultimately setting on a bank of brand-new-looking multi-game VP machines that seem to have full pay at quarter denomination for every game. I take this opportunity to play some 9/7/5 Double Bonus though I'm perhaps a bit shakier on the intricacies of this game compared to my simpler go-to of BDLX. I lose another $50, getting some decent play time but never hit anything better than a flush.

    8 East
    Now it's 1:00pm and I'm bummed that I'm hungry, sober, and not finding the fun times that I had promised myself. To remedy two of these concerns, I make the wise choice to cross main street back to Circa and grab a small bite at the Asian fusion 8 East. This is definitely a small-plates restaurant so its a bit silly to dine here solo, but I'm really not looking for much food as I'm looking to do an early dinner.

    [​IMG]

    I ordered a Singapore Sling with gin, benedictine, cherry liqueur, pineapple and lime juices, and angostura bitters. On the menu the flavor profile is described as citrus, semisweet, tropical, complex… all adjectives that describe yours truly, but i found this drink to be cloyingly sweet. but it did have a good breadth of flavors where you can notice something different in each sip, and it was decently strong. I ordered just one small plate, the pork belly bao with pickled cabbage slaw, cucumber, soy glaze, sweet 'n' sour white bbq sauce.

    [​IMG]

    I thought these pork buns were awesome, each one got finished in about 3 bites. Maybe 4 bites, but only because I was really trying to savor it. The pork itself had great seasoning and a meaty flavor and that coveted crispy+tender texture. The accompanying vegetables and sauce were very reminiscent of báhn mì. If anything there was too much bun relative to the amount of other ingredients but I tend to think that about most steamed buns that I’ve had. 8 East would be another great place to go with a larger group and just order some of everything, many many things on the menu looked enticing.

    More Gambles
    I really don't have much in the way of notes on the rest of the evening (outside of the dinner review) so things will be a bit hazy here.

    Wanting to take advantage of the fact that Circa has a full table games pit on the second floor--and I love how airy and open it feels compared to, say, the second floor at The D--I belly up to an empty $15 craps game in this second casino space with the goal of trying to get a game going. If no one else shows up and I'm not shooting hot I can always bail. I'm somewhat wary of joining an empty table as I think often dealers would prefer to be left alone than deal to one poor sap, and the father-daughter duo that make up half of the 4-person crew at this craps game are already joking about who's higher up on the EO (early-out) list which cements my concerns. I'm betting pass and two come as usual, with $1 on the line for the dealers, and anywhere between $30 and $50 in odds. I don't hit many numbers nor points, no one else shows up upstairs to play with me, and thus I'm quickly coloring up and getting out. In hand on the way to the cage, I have but one Heineken and $150 of the $500 I bought in with.

    I pour the Heineken into a plastic cup at the exit and take 12 steps go back across Fremont street to Golden Gate looking for a livelier craps game. I lose $455 on a $500 buy-in at a $10 table and then feed an odd assortment of bills totaling two-hundred and forty US Dollars into a bartop VP machine at Bar Prohibition. Based on how hard the cocktails hit me on Saturday I'm sticking with tap Miller Lights at Bar Prohibition, and watching a tight 0-0 hockey game where my Minnesota Wild sneak one past the home team Golden Knights in overtime. At my old standard of $0.25 Bdlx 8/6, I hit maybe one 4OAK but lose slowly and cash out when my balance is at an even one-hundred US dollars. At this point I believe I play an uneventful before-dinner craps session where I get to an empty $15 table just as another couple is about to buy in and the three of us start things off.

    I have almost no notes on the before-dinner or after-dinner craps at Circa but reviewing the edit history of my gambling records, I see that as I headed to dinner I made a quick note that I was in for $1000 at craps, and I don't see any update on that session until I was heading home much later that night and I indicate that I cashed out for $1030. Unclear if any money got lost in the shuffle here or it really was close enough to breakeven that I just combined the two sessions into one.

    Barry's Downtown Prime

    [​IMG]

    I go down the escalator under this magnificent sign and get a seat at the bar. I start with the *BDTP Old Fashioned* which boasts rye, cinnamon spice chocolate syrup, chocolate bitters and cherry vanilla bitters.

    [​IMG]

    Aaaaannd... the only notes I have for this particular drink are that it is a good drink, but not as interesting as the ingredient list suggests. Moving on, I ordered the 14oz dry-aged boneless ribeye, medium rare. I chose this one because at 14oz it is the smallest of the three dry-aged steaks they offer, and it’s from a farm in Olivia MN. With it I also order the grilled asparagus and the mashed potatoes a la carte. Boom! no sooner than I get my order place I am surprised with a nice basket of breads.

    [​IMG]

    The curse of putting cold butter on cold bread has been lifted and I am treated to a wedge of soft salted butter and 3 toasty warm breads to choose from. Focaccia: while generally not my favorite, this one is quite good. Baguette: warm, crusty and flakey, soft and fluffy. Pretzel: there is no loser in this bunch of three, it’s soft, warm, salty, briny, and pairs excellently with the old fashioned.

    [​IMG]

    The steak arrives and it is a monster. It is cooked perfectly to medium rare and minimally seasoned. The main thing I will say about this steak is that the fat on it is wonderfully rendered and melts in your mouth. After the first few bites I am very happy to have been served such a behemoth as this is going to be delicious through and through.

    At this point I order a pour of Angel’s Envy Rye compliments of a friend of mine who Venmo'd me some cocktail money which I found waiting for me when I got off the plane. Their rye has always been highly recommended but I’ve not seen a bottle cheaper than $100 at any liquor store, so I’ve always been reticent to buy it for myself. This rye is hot and spicy whilst being smooth and sugary. The bartender finished off the bottle leaving my pour slightly short and couldn't find another. He offered to give me a splash of whatever struck my fancy to make up for this. This is certainly one of the most smooth and caramel-forward ryes I’ve had for how hot it is.

    [​IMG]

    As for the sides, the asparagus only really tastes like asparagus and chive. This isn't really a complaint as it tastes very fresh and green, but I wish it was a little more charred and grilled. Again, more a personal preference than an issue with the dish. The bottom ends of the stalks are quite thick and care was definitely taken to make sure they were not undercooked relative to the thinner tops. However this left a ‘sweet spot’ about halfway up each stalk where it was a bit undercooked having not been thick enough to get some extra attention but not thin enough to cook all the way through. The mashed potatoes are exactly what you’d want, no real comments beyond that.

    Holy buckets I cannot overstate how tender the fat on that steak is. I’d highly recommend this dry-aged steak to anyone who would usually that stick to fillets or other leaner cuts because they don’t like to chew the fat. The fat here is so so soft and yielding and has incredible flavor. This is probably the #1 steak I’ve had in Vegas with the only other contender being a bone-in new york strip from Bavette's (which was not at all good when I made a return trip for that particular steak).

    [​IMG]

    To finish off the meal, I took the bartender Chris up on his offer to give me a splash of something else and settled on this digestif Amaro dell Etna that I hadn't seen before. It was a nice after-meal libation comparing most to an Amaro Lucano or Amaro Meletti.

    Sunday Night
    I've already spoiled the fact that I go for another long $15 craps session and end having basically broke even, I've already covered my take on the dancing dealers, and I've got nothing too remarkable to report on for this session, though t was a fun session with many ups and downs, hot and cold shooters. On my side of the table I had a first a group of guys from Wisconsin, then a group of girls of whom all but one were gamblers, then lastly a guy who just wanted to learn the game cause it looked fun. In the group of girls, I recall the non-gambler among them was the mama bird who would periodically leave and later return with drinks, and then on the next iteration bring water, and then next time some snacks.

    Once I've had my fill, I cash out, order an Uber and in the 15 minutes it takes to arrive, I donk off almost $100 playing $0.25 Super Times Pay Double Double Bonus 8/5 at Overhang Bar.

    Sunday Gambling Stats:
    Wynn VP -20
    Circa VP -50
    GG BJ +10
    Plaza VP -50
    Circa Craps -350
    GG Craps -455
    GG VP -145
    Circa Craps +30?
    Circa VP -90

    So through those after-lunch sessions I sustained some hefty losses, but otherwise kept things under control.

    By the time I got back to the strip, some 3-4 hours had passed since dinner at Barry's and I was looking for some dessert. I went to the café at the Wynn and ordered this here slice of black forest cake.

    [​IMG]

    The cake was not good. The sponge was dry and most of the various cremes, mousses, or icings were lackluster, only a couple were actually rich enough to carry the flavorless sponge. Good night.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2021
    VVX
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  10. HighLimitorBust

    HighLimitorBust Tourist

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    Got it- sorry I was misinterpreting that! Still enjoying your style of cocktails, tables, and good food.
     
  11. LAdoesVegas

    LAdoesVegas Low-Roller

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    Absolutely love this TR! Great job!
     
    Comp'd Virgin Nights & A's 40th Birthday Surprise (Shhh)
    Eagles vs Raiders - GO BIRDS!
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  12. fenway68

    fenway68 VIP Whale

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    What an awesome ride this TR has been! Is it over? Hope not!
    We share a lot of drink preferences. So that’s been fun too! Bourbon, whisky based cocktails, Campari and Amaros!
     
    Finally Waking from the nightmare!
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  13. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

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    I still gotta write up all of Monday and also Tuesday morning's departure so you haven't heard the last of me. Perhaps I can get the Monday report up tomorrow night.
     
    VVX
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  14. julia

    julia Craps, VP & Microbews

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    Campari and soda is one of my faves! Flavourful but not boozy, refreshing.

    Super bummed at the losses-hoping for a come back.

    And a craps question-why do you make 2 come bets?
     
    Celine!
  15. Grandmaw

    Grandmaw Low-Roller

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    Love, love, love this report. As has been mentioned numerous times, your writing style is wonderful. The details of the food and drinks, gambling, and ambience are making me wish I was in Las Vegas right now! However, I live in Canada and the border is still closed so sad face here. :( Eagerly awaiting the rest of your write up. Thanks for taking the time to do this for all of us Vegas Wannabes'
     
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  16. Horseplayer1

    Horseplayer1 High-Roller

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    What an awesome report, can’t wait to read the rest.
    Ribeyes are my steak, nothing else will do. Have had the filets and they’re fine and usually the size I want; you can keep your New York strip- I like fat marbling and medium rare ribeye makes me happy. I will make a reservation there for my second night, since I planned on spending the afternoon downtown anyway. Thanks for the recommendation!
     
    June trip cant wait!
    June trip cant wait!
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  17. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Great write-up so far! That steak description from Barry's is wonderful. Definitely getting me pumped up for next week!
     
    Vaxxed Up and Ready for a Go Room!
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  18. Flowers

    Flowers VIP Whale

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    Loving Part II of your report and your friend who sent you cocktail $$. Nice friend, with style. :)
     
    A Trip for the Ages with My Momma in Las Vegas
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  19. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

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    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8
    MONDAY
    Grand Lux Cafe

    I didn't have any sort of fancy breakfast planned, so at this point I decided to make use of the free breakfast credit that I have through the Amex FHR booking, which is unfortunately only valid at the two Grand Lux Cafes on the property, or valid for paying for room service. I decide to give the Grand Lux Cafe a go, and upon getting downstairs I find that the Glux Cafe on the Palazzo side is not a 24hr establishment like its sister on the Venetian side, so I amble on through the shops in search of fulfillment. A short few minutes later and I arrive at the restaurant at 7:30am and am quickly seated.

    As part of my pre-trip research I learned that both Grand Lux Cafés are operated by the company that is most well-known for The Cheesecake Factory. I’ve not dined at a Cheesecake Factory, but I knew to expect the same mammoth portions that tend to plague my experience as a Vegas solo diner. All that being said, I ordered the french toast with a side of ham and an iced tea.

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    The french toast exceeded my expectations of being comically large, and I was only able to eat two of the four gargantuan wedges I was served. The outside of the french toast has a nice crust to it and the inside just melts in your mouth but oh man is it over-the-top with the sugar content. Instead of maple syrup this should have been served with some sort of tart compote to take the edge off. The french toast gets high marks for texture, low marks for flavor.

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    plating is a lost art

    The ham was actually very good, it was maybe too salty, but also maybe just the right amount of salty. I ate about three quarters of this ham slice and got another iced tea for the road. I go to charge the meal to my room--which is required of this particular credit, but also generally a good practice--and I am reminded of an idiosyncrasy that I noticed on Friday. When checking in, and when doing room charges at The Dorsey and SushiSamba, the staff all are super careful to say "suite" instead of "room". It's never "And what is the room number Mr. Turbulence?" but rather always "And what is your suite number?". I can't decide if I find this practice charming or annoying, but it is super noticeable.

    Not only did I not have any concrete Monday breakfast plans in my itinerary, but had next to nothing planned for Monaday at all. I had so many things that I knew I wanted to do when I got into town, that I shoehorned all the stuff into the first couple days of the trip and thought "eh when Monday comes I'll figure it out". Now that I'm staring down the barrel of my last full day in town, I'm a bit at a loss for what to do, but I do know that I plan on putting some play on my MLife card, so after freshening up in the room, I set out for Aria.

    Aria Row 802
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    I love the Aria lobby which always has some sort of thematic display, and I similarly love the design of the Aria casino. I think the main thing for me is how it feels bigger and roomier, with higher ceilings than most casinos (this may be entirely false), but then it has these decorative wood overhangs that serve to make the space feel more intimate, and not seem like an exhibition hall or ballroom.

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    As I walk through the slots section towards the MLife booth I'm looking for my favorite famous Row 802 (notable having some of the best low-limit VP you can find at a high-end property), my heart skips a beat as things look out-of-place and I fear they've removed the machines. In actuality they've simply taken what used to be two sets of 3 machines all in a line, and rotated them so there's more space between each machine.

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    Row 802 offers 8/6 Bonus Deluxe at the quarter level at both Super Times Pay and at Double Super Times Pay (Cosmo offers 8/5 and 7/5, respectively). I start with my old standby of 3-line STP, and the session is pretty hot out of the gate. These variants can drain your money pretty quick but if you get consistent quads hits or can get some dealt hands with a multiplier you can stay above water.

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    This hand I threw away an off-suit 8 for the open-ended straight draw in favor of three to the straight-flush. Part of me just wants to get a big hit when the multiplier is active but I also convince myself that I've gotta be correct given that I get 30 credits for a flush on these machines. Going big certainly was reward to the tune of almost $200. I am listening to some podcasts as I play this session and while its nice for kinda zoning out and relaxing, I miss the cocktail server like four different times where I only notice that she had made her rounds when she's already 30 feet away.

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    cropping photos is also, apparently, a lost art

    After a nice string of 4OAKs I'm up $150 and I decide to press my luck and sidle two machines over to the DSTP.

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    I get another quick quad and a dealt flush with a multiplier on both the deal and the draw. Its very satisfying to hold all 5 cards, press draw, and then instead of the expected behavior of being immediately paid out, the multiplier starts spinning again.

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    After these hits I'm up an additional $200 at DSTP and I start to formulate a plan for the rest of the day. Having completely squandered my chances at free water and caffeine, I head to the Aria gift shop and buy the worlds most expensive gatorade.

    The plan at this point is to do Crack Shack outside Park MGM for lunch, but its only 10:00am so I decide I'll go give Park MGM some play to continue with the MLife theme and to reward them for being at the center of the great non-smoking experiment.


    Park MGM Blues
    One thing I've seen start popping up is these "Instagram-ready" little decorations which I think are a great marketing ploy. I obviously love sharing vacation photos and these are gonna be a great excuse for the millenials and younger to give properties some free advertising.

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    Walking around Park MGM, absolutely nothing in the way of gambling is calling to me. Should I play some video poker with poor pay tables? Open up an empty blackjack table? The only open craps table is about half-full but its Crapless Craps which generally sucks and definitely doesn't jive with how I like to play. At this point the last-day-in-vegas blues that I've been fighting off all morning are setting in and I am now a ship without a sail tossed about by the waves of uninteresting gambling. This sort of rudderless feeling, when combined with my lack of concrete plans for lunch and dinner, starts to get to me. I sit down at an empty/closed section of Eataly and and try to plot a scheme to shake off this malaise.

    I try to book a dinner reservation at some places that are either on my list of old favorites (Jaleo) or on my list of want-to-tries (Mizumi), and find that Jaleo is closed Mondays, and Mizumi at Wynn isn't accepting reservations. In fact, when looking at Cosmopolitans restaurants, most of which I've not dined at, none accept same-day reservations. This is somewhat comforting as its certainly not that they're full--as I fear with Mizumi--but rather that they just block the reservations as I mentioned earlier. At this point I decide to return to my happy place: Chandelier Bar, with the goal of getting a small lunch at one of the eateries at Cosmo's Block 16 fancy food court, and then trying to get to Scarpetta at Cosmo when it opens for dinner.

    Having a plan is enough to put a pep in my step and I exit Eataly through the bright east-facing glass frontage, but not before noting some bars and restaurants therein that I want to try.

    Cosmo Chandelier Bar Redux
    Entering Cosmo from the south I see yet another example of an Instagram zone, but don't feel compelled to ask a stranger to snap a pic of me in the bathtub.

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    When I get down to level one of Chandelier Bar I again am met with a lack of places to sit and play. There is one open All Star Poker machine on the far section of the bar, so I sit there and order a sugarfree redbull to start things off. After a couple hands I realize this machine is unplayable, it's really laggy at random intervals and the touch screen goes unresponsive intermittently. The guy next to me corroborates my frustration with that particular machine as I apologize to the bartender for sitting down, copping a drink, and then bouncing. I head back a few steps to the main section of the bar and hover around sipping my redbull as I wait for one of the few operational machines to have an empty seat.

    Shortly after I sit down a woman and her husband show up also somewhat dismayed at the lack of open machines and they take seats at more-or-less opposite ends of the bar so they both can play. The woman who is seated directly to my right is playing quarter DDB at 3 lines, and upon sitting down immediately hits a royal flush... Like it must have been her 3rd or 4th hand and she hit it from three held cards. As someone who's never hit a royal I'm somewhat taken aback by how understated of an event this is for her, but soon it's revealed that she and her husband are locals and gamble pretty regularly. When the person to my left stands up, I shift down a seat so the husband can join us and we get to chatting.

    This session I am also monitoring the drink-ticket-monitoring system and first verify that the 10m-15m-20m timing is as I expect.

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    After seeing the tickets come out right on time I quick order a Mai Tai from the competent bartender whose name escapes me and, leaving my players card and money in the machine, take a trip to the restroom. While the restrooms are located immediately nearby just next to the boulevard tower elevators, when I return and start playing again I get a ticket popping out right on the 10 minute mark indicate that the machine has reset its internal clock. As I make public these antics that I'm up to, the woman next to me laments that she cashed out after receiving the royal and then also cashed out after getting 4OAK and put a new hundred dollar bill in and hasn't yet seen a drink ticket.

    At this point I am intrigued and I hit cash out, remove my player's card (probably unnecessarily) and restart my timer. Sure enough the next ticket comes out right on the 10 minute mark despite no real interruption in my play. The takeaway from all the drink-ticket investigation is thus:
    - Take it all with a grain of salt as the bartenders indicate the algorithm has been known to change
    - If you play consistently (rumored to be min bet of $1/hand) you will get drink tickets
    - First ticket at 10min, next 15min after that, then 20min intervals following that.
    - short breaks reset the timer back to the start
    - running out of money or cashing out resets the timer back to the start
    - So take care not to reset the timer accidentally if you are nearing the time where you're due a ticket.
    - Booze-hungry individuals (or those that wish to upgrade to premium cocktails and spirits) would do well to reset each time they get a ticket so as not to get punished by the diminishing returns that the current algorithm has.

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    The Mai Tai courtesy of our anonymous bartender friend is excellent and I next order this Trinidad Sour. This drink is notable for the main spirit being simply Angostura Bitters. With that it also has a splash of bourbon, lemon and lime juices, and simple syrup. For once the drink is undersweetened for my liking but rather than have the bartender splash some more syrup in, I revel in the sour and bitter flavors that accompany the great presentation of this beautiful beverage. After downing this burnt-blood-red beauty of a cockatil, I remark how quickly some good booze, gambling, and conversion has turned my mood around. You'll notice there aren't any interesting VP pictures here as I absolutely cant hit shit at this machine, but don't really mind. I cash out netting a somewhat surprising minus $800.

    Tekka Handroll
    For lunch I stayed at Cosmo, and wanted a quick bite so went to Tekka Handroll Bar which is at the Block 16 Food Hall, i.e. the bougie food court. The woman taking my order and explaining the menu is super friendly and the service is prompt and excellent. I start with the Nitro Matcha that they have on tap and order the three-roll special that is the Salmon, Yellowtail, and Toro.

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    The cold matcha is super refreshing and delicious.

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    These handrolls really did not embody the things I enjoy about sushi. I appreciated that there was no nonsense going on outside of the seaweed paper, fish, and rice, but did not appreciate how meaty they were? I’ve had handroll sushi before but it was more rolled into a cone and the flavors were perhaps more delicate? It didn’t help that the meat seemed to be chopped into smaller pieces more a la tartare which made it seem mushier than it needed to be. Here it showed me that I am in no way the target market for the fusion restaurants that have started to hawk sushi burritos. I’ll take my sushi and nigiri in nice bite-size pieces please. Overall this gets decent marks for flavor but poor marks for texture.

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    In love with how refreshing the Nitro Matcha was I order this Nitro Sencha for the road and head back to the Chandelier Bar to make good on the pile of drink tickets I've amassed.

    Before leaving the bar for lunch I had given away two of my drink tickets away to the friendly couple I'd been chatting with, but still have three on me that I leverage for a fancy Vieux Carre with top shelf rye and XO cognac. I take this bougie beverage and head straight to the craps table.

    Cosmo Craps
    The $25 table I found myself at had a good cast of characters, and was mostly up and down where I hovered at around $800 on a $1000 buy-in. At one point two of the five main players at the table had stepped away and it was at this point that I had my one hot roll of the trip. At this point it had been rather deflating as you always want to feel like a hero with the dice in your hands, and although its truly all random you want to feel like you're the one making people money, not costing people money. My rolls on this trip were, like I hinted at, pretty bad with very few points and very few numbers being rolled by yours truly.

    On this roll there were few people playing and the dice got passed to me quickly and boy was I hot. I think I established and made five points in relatively quick succession and then when I was up on the sixth, started to hit a bunch of numbers including a ton of repeated nines. Somewhere during that sixth point some of the wayward folks return to the table and get their place bets up which proves to be wise as I proceed to hit absolutely everything except that point of eight. I never do make the eight before sevening out and the base dealer is all "man I wanted to tell these guys how hot of a roll you were on but I didn't want to jinx it!"

    Two other interesting things happened during this session where I ended up cashing out for a profit with $1405 in chips. One, this was the first and only time I got "called out" for not wearing a mask. The stickman who was to my immediate right and was wearing a mask, asked me something to the effect of "So Turbulence, how does it feel to be fully vaccinated?" I, in my ever-flowing enthusiasm, bent his ear with the same lines which which I opened up this TR, but realized halfway through that this was probably a BS-test to see if I'd get sheepish or ashamed for being one of the assuredly many charlatans who are masquerading as vaccinated. Plaza CEO Johnathan Jossel remarked to the same effect on a recent *On the Corner of Main Street* podcast that of course masks are optional for the fully vaccinated, which puts the vaccination rate squarely around 98%.

    The second point of note for this session was the attempted hustle by the base dealer on my side who somewhere during my roll invited me to give him two singles. I asked "what for?" and he indicated I'd need to put them down on the felt to find out. I don't think there's much that will surprise and delight me at a craps table so I respectfully declined. Later during this hot roll when I was handing him odds for the two-way Come bet that had just gone up to the nine, tossed in two greens and two blues: odds for myself and for the crew. At this point he admitted "See that's what the two dollars were gonna be for" and I pointed out that I had suspected as much.

    I only make mention of this because it seems like such an odd practice to ask for the money out of my rack, but when I inquire why, not even be willing to admit that it's "for dealer odds" or some simple answer like that.

    I do cash out shortly after my long roll up $405, and take a brief tour of the bathroom en route back to the chandelier bar. In looking to get a quick one from the bartender and get back to the craps, I hover over my now old friends and not-so-surreptitiously eye their growing pile of drink tickets. As I'm trying to get the bartender's attention the couple generously offers me a ticket to comp the drink I'm gonna order and I settle for a simple Cosmopolitan... when in Rome after all...

    Scarpetta
    This craps session goes less-well and I play until 5:00pm at which point I color up down $375 and head up to Scarpetta. It turns out they don't open until 5:30 so I play a quick round at chandelier at regular old single line 6/5 bonus poker (to the tune of negative $5).

    Upon getting up to the third floor, its abundantly clear that Scarpetta is not booked solid, but rather that they stop accepting reservations online as I had surmised. I grab a seat at the bar and start with a cocktail, the Eternal City, a negroni of sorts, with "piucinque Italian gin, amaro nonino, campari, and contratto rosso vermouth".

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    This is a very fine drink that I would be happy to order again, and proud to recommend to a fellow cocktail enthusiast. As many fine Italian drinks are, it is heavier on the wine taste than a traditional negroni but keeps well to the gin and bitter tastes. I decide to go bold on my last night in town and order both an appetizer and a pasta: the beef carpaccio, and a shrimp scampi. Shortly after placing this order I am again met with some fresh bread and some interesting dips and spreads.

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    The sauces here are a citrus olive oil, an eggplant red sauce, and a marscapone butter. With the olive oil, I don't get a lot of citrus flavor from it but a ton of rosemary. The eggplant red is nothing special, but its got a good tomato-basil taste. There is a je ne sais quoi about the marscapone butter where it has a familiar flavor that I cant place. I end up googling "marscapone" to see if the descriptions there ring any bells but no, there's something beyond the cream-cheese-ish taste that’s oddly familiar. I have to eat my words on the "nothing special", as the dip that wins my affections is the red sauce, and I end up eating it in its entirety.

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    This carpaccio is great. It comes with celery and arugula, capers, and parmesan. Nice salty taste with just a wee bit of vinegar, the greens are very refreshing and a good compliment to the fat and salt that comes not only from the meat but the capers and the cheese. The pepper hack in me says that this could use some black pepper or some dried chiles. It really did grow on me as I ate it: the more I ate, the more I appreciated all the different flavors. I ate about 3/4 of that big ol' plate before allowing the waiter to take it and make room for the main course.

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    I don’t have a good description of what all is in this scampi as I don’t have a picture of the dinner menu, and the online menu doesn't have this entrée listed on it any longer. The first thing I notice is how much it smells of fresh basil, this dish is very aromatic and buttery. In addition to the large prawn on top of the pasta, there are smaller pieces distributed throughout. While the prawns are good and add some needed texture, the big winner for this dish is the buttery sauce and all the different seasonings that have gone into it. My only gripe is that the pasta is tangled up to the extent where it's hard to get pieces out with out ripping and tearing. This doesn't really affect my ability to eat my dinner but does make me feel like a brute as I do so.

    This was a great last dinner for my last night in town despite being an impromptu spot that wasn't on my initial to-do list. I also got a glimpse of the view I would have been afforded had I been in the dining room and it overlooks the Bellagio fountains straight north to Caesars Palace.

    Next post will recap the remainder of my quiet Sunday night, the departure the following morning, and some parting thoughts.

    Sunday gambling recap:
    Aria VP +350
    Chandelier VP -800
    Cosmo Craps +30
    Cosmo VP -5
     
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  20. TurbulenceToo

    TurbulenceToo Tourist

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2017
    Messages:
    14
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8
    I've always been a big math guy when it comes to craps, and while it doesn't make mathematical sense to be adding additional negative-expected-value bets when your odds aren't maxed, adding numbers via come bets is still always going to result in a lower house edge than adding numbers by placing or buying them. I cut my teeth on just being a Pass Line guy and when I learned that the Come bet is the exact same bet as the Pass Line it was easy to step up the excitement by throwing in a couple Come numbers.
     
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