May 11-25, 2011
There is nothing wrong with your computer or internet connection. Do not attempt to adjust your speakers or monitor. The Westies are in control. If we wish to make the sound louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it down to a whisper. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next half hour, sit quietly and we will control all you see, hear and read. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your computer. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to -----------------------Las Vegas.
05/11 We departed home at 11AM making an intermediate stop at the VCA Cromwell Vet where Max-the-Schipperke had a reservation for 14 nights in a suite on Alligator Alley before continuing on to Executive Valet Parking. I used accumulated points to cover the entire bill with the exception of the last night.
As usual, Ann was flying free courtesy of the Southwest
Airlines’ Rapid Rewards program while I paid full freight. Our 6-hour non stop flight was pretty much uneventful
until we encountered turbulence in the mid west that felt like we were attempting
to bust a bucking bronco.
Our matching luggage
was among the first pieces on the carousel.
I booked 2 consecutive one-week car rentals in order to take advantage of an online Alamo Insiders’ $40 coupon. The weekly all-in rate of $77.08, $25 before taxes and fees, for a mid-size car was the best I have seen in many years. Our Toyota Corolla was of recent vintage with only 5,790 miles on the odometer.
The check-in process went smoothly and my request for an upgrade to a room on an upper floor was honored. Our assigned room, # 2254, offered a view of the pool area and included a king-size bed, wide screen TV, in-room safe, coffee maker, couch, table with two chairs, ample closet and drawer space.
After unpacking we headed for the main bar at the Ellis Island Casino and Conservatory. http://www.ellisislandcasino.com/ Using an American Casino Guide (ACG) coupon, Ann ordered her first merlot of the trip while I selected the in-house brewed hard lemonade. This year’s vintage was not as good as in the past so on the second round I joined Ann in ordering a merlot.
We drove to Palace Station for dinner and encountered a long line waiting to be seated at the Oyster Bar.
http://www.palacestation.com/dining/oyster-bar/ In March the line moved rapidly, but this evening we ended up waiting and waiting and waiting. On being seated Ann ordered a bowl of New England clam chowder while I opted for the cioppino, a spicy tomato-based stew that included crab, shrimp, mussels and fish. Both dishes were good, but we were more interested in getting some shuteye than eating after our long flight. ($5, Points, 3 Forks out of a possible 5)
Prior to exiting, we stopped at the Grand Café’s dessert case and purchased a slice of summerberry cake plus a red velvet cupcake for later consumption. The cost of both desserts was $3.68, but I used a Station Casinos $100 gift card that I previously purchased for $50 at http://www.weluvlocals.com/ (WeLuv) reducing the effective cost to only $1.84.
05/12 Sam’s Town offers seniors 5 x points on Thursdays so I made the first of numerous cross town trips at 3AM. This video poker (VP) session was pure misery until about 15 minutes before I planned to quit when I started hitting a succession of wild royals and 5 of a kinds (5OAKS). Immediately prior to ending this session, I was dealt a pair of deuces and caught the remaining pair for my first #1 quad deuces of the trip resulting in a modest profit.
For breakfast we drove to Sunset Station for the buffet. I had my typical Las Vegas breakfast; OJ, fresh fruit, huevos rancheros, ambrosia and corned beef hash. I was able to stack the aforementioned Stations gift card on top of a 2/1 coupon I printed from the WeLuv website that reduced the cost of our breakfast $2.70. (2.5 Forks)
On our return to the South Point we made an intermediate stop at a nearby Wal-Mar for sundry items. The first order of business on entering the room was to take the summerberry dessert out of the refrigerator, realizing too late that it was best consumed at room temperature. (2 Forks) Later in the day Ann attempted to eat the red velvet cupcake, but it was too stale so it ended up in the waste basked.
Note to Westie: in the future, consume all desserts immediately.
We went to the showroom at around 1:30PM and secured excellent seats for the live broadcast of the Dennis Bono show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3OAGFx4etI This week’s music performers were amazing - Corrie Sachs’ Denise Clemente; Las Vegas Tenors; Sylk, Satin and Lace; Tom Wells; Mosaic and the Bob Rosario ensemble. ($0, 4 Claps)
After the show, Ann remained downstairs to play some Not So Ugly Deuces (NSUD) while I spent most of the remaining hours of daylight in the room snoozing. At around 5PM we reconvened at the Grandview Lounge for merlots using our Dennis Bono tickets stubs and listened to Wes Winters. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ7hB0YzrBI Neither his piano playing nor enthusiasm is questioned, but his voice is way beyond mediocre. (1 Clap)
Tonight’s dinner was at the highly regarded Aburiya Raku, considered by many to be one of the top restaurants in Las Vegas. There are a relatively few tables and a small counter with chairs so we secured advance reservations several days prior to our departure for Las Vegas. http://www.raku-grill.com/
We started off with bacon wrapped asparagus ($2.80, 3 Forks)
which was tasty, but too stringy, Kobe beef skirt steak with garlic ($7.50, 4
Forks) and cucumber with 3 types of seaweed salad ($5, 3 Forks).
Our next order included grilled rice balls
which proved to a real yawner ($5, 2Forks), juicy fried chicken ($9, 4.5 Forks)
and a very micro sized piece of yellowtail with soy sauce ($5, 3 Forks).
Although the entire meal was good, nothing stood out as memorable and I felt the price points were too high. ($46.32, 3 Forks)
On returning to the South Point I proceeded to the room while Ann put in another VP session before calling it a night.
05/13 It was Friday the 13th, but my I turned potential disaster into a profit when I hit my 2nd quad deuces of the trip early in this morning’s session.
We enjoyed one of our more typical breakfasts of a shared toasted bagel, OJ and fresh fruit. ($3, 2.5 Forks)
In mid-morning we drove Downtown and parked at the El Cortez in order to cash our IRS refund check; receiving the maximum free play of $50 which was credited to Ann’s account. In addition, we each redeemed a LVA coupon good for an additional $10 in free play. I left our 9/6 JOB strategy sheet in the room so we decided to hold off using our free play until later in the week. http://www.elcortezhotelcasino.com/index.php
Our next stop was Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall where we parked in order to tour Bellagio, our favorite casino. In quick order we covered the hotel lobby, botanical garden, Chihuly shop and Jean-Philippe Patisserie.
We then took the tram to Crystals and hoofed it to The Cosmopolitan where we had lunch reservations at Estiatorio Milos. http://tinyurl.com/3w46l2u This restaurant is considered to be one of the best Greek restaurants in North America and was recently selected as the best new restaurant by the Las Vegas Weekly. A $20.11 3-course lunch is offered which has to be the best dining deal on the Strip since Commanders Palace closed albeit martinis will set you back a lot more than 25 cents.
The restaurant is
large, open and very impressive, but the day was too perfect to sit inside so
we opted for the semi enclosed patio that overlooks the Strip and CityCenter. We received grilled bread along with EVO to
start. We then shared the Xortopita
appetizer (housemade phyllo stuffed with greens, herbs, feta, Greek yogurt and
salumi). Our second appetizer was a
Greek meze plate that was truly “amezing”; four spreads (taramasalata,
tzatziki, htipita and manouri cheese) along with a stuffed grape leaf, olives
and cherry tomatoes. Each spread was delicious, but the spicy hitipitia, made
from roasted red pepper, feta and other tasty delights, was pure joy.
Ann chose the Honjake salmon which was a bit underdone to
suit her taste, but delicious while I opted for the whole lavraki, a farm
raised sea bass known in Italy
as branzini or branzino, which was finished simply with EVO and capers.
The finale of the feast was a slice of walnut cake and a delicious yogurt martini, Greek yogurt topped candied oranges. Service throughout our meal was perfect and one of the chefs stopped by our table a few times to make sure we were enjoying our meal and answer any of our questions. ($50.48, 4.5 Forks)
On our return to the South Pont we were disappointed to discover our room was not made up even though we requested early service. We called housekeeping and then went to the lobby where we read the newspaper until our room was available.
At around 5:30PM we returned to the Grandview Lounge for the Friday night happy hour where all drinks are a mere $2. http://www.southpointcasi...ress/09-tequila-time.php We chose lemon drop martinis with Belvedere vodka on the first round followed by French martinis. ($10, 4 Sips) In the meantime, we discovered Wes Winters sounds considerably better after a martini or two.
We then drove over to the Henderson Events Plaza to listen
to the Nevada Chamber Symphony perform “Out of This World”, a program featuring
music with an outer space connection. Some
of the music performed included `The Empire Strikes Back, Moon River,
Blue Moon and Cielito Lindo. ($0, 4
We were both a little hungry so at the intermission we
headed off to Slidin’ Thru HQ where we ordered a trio of sliders; pulled porky
(slow cooked pork. caramelized jalapeño. bbq sauce), captain’s order (roma
tomato, arugula, crisp bacon, feta cheese, sautéed onion, balsamic reduction)
and caprese (grilled eggplant, roma tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella, balsamic
reduction) plus a soda.
All 3 sliders were good, but we agreed the caprese was the standout. http://www.slidinthru.com/hq/ ($6.08, Groupon, 3 Forks)
05/14 I was floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee during this morning’s VP session; hitting quad deuces #3 and #4.
Breakfast this morning was the buffet at Sunset Station where I consumed my usual OJ, fresh fruit with strawberry yogurt, huevos rancheros and bacon.
($2.70, WeLuv, LVA, 2.5 Forks)
We then proceeded to the Paseo Verde library where we checked our email and purchased 3 hard cover books for Ann. Our next stop was KSHP where we exchanged a pair of gift certificates; receiving similarly denominated ones for Tacos el Gordo and Elite Hair Salon.
On returning to the room, I napped while Ann put in an hour of VP. At the bewitching hour (5PM), we headed for the Miguel’s Tequila bar for the Wed – Sunday happy hour when all tequila drinks are priced at $2 from 5-7PM. http://www.southpointcasi...ress/09-tequila-time.php
Ann ordered a tequila mockingbird followed by a tequila sunrise; both receiving a rating of 4 Sips. I was less than successful when I ordered a paloma (1.5 Sips) and Patron margarita (2 Sips). ($10)
For some now unfathomable reason, I thought it would be a bright idea to dine downtown on a Saturday evening. In addition to the usual weekend crowds, the El Cortez was particularly busy due to the nearby Helldorado Days celebration as well as a food truck convention in its parking lot. We were very fortunate to secure the last remaining spot in the parking garage. http://www.elkshelldorado.com/
Dinner was at the Flame Steakhouse where the room seemed
pretty impressive thanks to subdued lighting. http://www.elcortezhotelc....com/menus/FlameMenu.pdf
We started with a basket of warm bread
that included an Asiago roll, walnut & cranberry bread and a French roll.
We each ordered broiled walleyed pike which turned out to be slightly dry and
shared a baked potato (overdone) and creamed corn. We concluded the meal by sharing a crème
The creamed corn, served in a large casserole dish that was finished under a broiler, was by far the standout of this meal. On the downside, the crème brulee was one of the worst we have had the misfortune to eat. ($34.90, LVA, 2 Forks)
After exiting we walked to the Fremont Street Experience to
catch the light show, the Helldorado Days parade and fireworks.
We continued on to the First Street stage expecting a Motown review by the Jacks and Fives, but a classic rock band was performing this evening so we stood and watched for approximately an hour while enjoying the parade of humanity that passed by. (3 Claps)
We traveled to the Sunshine Café on N Decatur Blvd this morning for breakfast. I ordered a short stack of pretty ordinary pancakes while Ann could not resist the day’s special, apple cinnamon French toast accompanied by an excessively sweet, sticky syrup. ($6.08, KSHP, 2 Forks)
We made an intermediate stop Downtown to redeem LVA play $10; receive $10 in free play coupons at the Four Queens. We then returned to the El Cortez to play off our free play netting a grand total of $77.25
On returning to the room, we read the newspaper and rested for the remainder of the afternoon though Ann put in a profitable session of VP. In the late afternoon we drove to M Resort to listen to Mark O’Toole in the Revello Lounge. Mark was the 1994 Star Search vocalist champion and now sings what I believe may be best described as easy listening music. http://tinyurl.com/3w76szo (3.5 Claps)
On departing we drove to Sunset Station expecting to take advantage of the happy hour at the Capri Lounge, but learned it had been discontinued 2 days prior. Not to be denied, we settled at the 5 cent FPDW machines with the intention of securing complimentary merlots. Now everyone who has ever played for drinks, the most likely outcome is we will end up paying Dom Perignon prices for cheap merlot, but we turned the tables on Stations when I hit a royal flush.
Dinner this evening
was at the upscale Sonoma Cellar Steakhouse.
We started off with a breadbasket and shared a very good Caesar salad. This restaurant,
like most of the Station Casino steakhouses, currently offers a $14.99 prime
rib special that included garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli. The slab of animal protein, weighing in at
over a pound, was cooked medium rare as requested, but the quality was somewhat
south of prime.
Overall the meal was satisfying and represented a good value, but I cranked up the value quotient a notch when I brandished my Station’s gift card to pay our bill.
It is time for you to hold onto your seats because Westie was not through; I made our reservations through Opentable thereby earning 1,000 points worth $10 towards a future dining experience. http://www.opentable.com/las-vegas-restaurants ($20, WeLuv, 2.5 Forks)
Our last stop of this evening was Roxy’s lounge in Sam’s Town to listen to Mark Giovi and Genevieve Drew for one set. They covered a wide variety of music and were very entertaining. (4 Claps)