Rare 120 at Hard Rock Discount

I love when unexpected discounts pop up.  I was tweeting about an upcoming trip to the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas to see Alice in Chains when the tweeter from Rare 120 (steakhouse) caught my attention and made me aware of a pretty excellent discount offer they have.

Click here to view full sizeRare 120 seems as if it’s Hard Rock’s take on an expensive steakhouse.  I’m all for a good steak and I’m all for a little savings.  They offer 30% discounts to all show goers at The Joint with a ticket stub.  This is a pretty substantial discount and enough for me consider changing my plans.

I usually spend about $100/person for a good steak dinner with drinks.  A $30 savings is great and better than most offers I see.  I have $100 dinner plans each night I’m in Vegas, so I’m not sure I’ll partake this time.  I’ll let my friend chose this time.  Who am I to say no?

Follow @rare120 if you’re curious to learn more.  They’re part of Dolce Group which has more restaurants and possibly more to offer.

My Vegas Vacation – Eating at the Grand Lux Cafe

I love a good meal, but I like sharing good eats with friends.  As I mentioned last year in a guest blog at Solo Friendly when I travel alone I usually eat more casually.  If I’m hungry, I’ll eat what’s nearby as opposed to planning my meals.

The Palazzo was my home casino so I mostly ate there.  The restaurant with the best variety at the Palazzo/Venetian complex is easily the Grand Lux Cafe.

I had to catch up with a little work when I sat down for my first bite in Las Vegas.  I really just wanted a beer, but I knew I had a full night of drinking ahead of me so I made sure I had something in my stomach.

I was the only person in the bar area and the lone waitress was VERY attentive to me.  She came over about 5 times while I was on a call to take my order.  The fifth time she came over I felt bad for not ordering and just asked for the best burger on the menu because there were so many to choose from.  Of course, no tomatoes please.  Half a beer later this monster came out!

I don’t recall the name and don’t see it on the menu, but it was braised short rib on a bacon cheeseburger.  Whoowee!  This was overload, but it wasn’t bad.  It was very salty and I didn’t finish the whole thing.  Any more I would have gone to my room to nap.

I don’t think I’d ever order anything like this, but it wasn’t bad and I’m happy to have had something different.  Later that evening I started heavy drinking at BNBLV.

For years I’ve told friends that the Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian has the best steak and eggs in Vegas.  I still haven’t found any better.  This is the best breakfast after a night of drinking.

The steak is seasoned pretty heavily with salt and pepper.  Most breakfast steaks are pretty bland.  I think that’s what makes it so good after a night of drinking too much.

After a night of less drinking I tried a more traditional breakfast at Grand Lux of bacon and eggs.  The bacon was nice and crisp and this made for another winner.  4 cups of coffee didn’t hurt.

Sitting “outside” at cafe at the Venetian Grand Lux is a nice place to people watch.  They sit most single diners outside, so it’s not awkward if you’re alone.

Sometimes in Vegas I’ll forget to eat if I don’t have plans.  My last night was a night like that.  I was having a good time at the sportsbook and lost track of time and after a losing session of blackjack I realized that it was late and I was hungry.  I rolled up to the bar at the Grand Lux once again and grabbed another quick bite.

The waiter recommended something that the restaurant was out of so I ended up trying the pot roast.  This was another experiment for me.  I can’t remember the last time I had pot roast.

The pot roast was ready for me in just a few minutes.  It was very pretty to look at and it wasn’t bad at all.  It probably isn’t something I’d order again, but it did the trick and I was back out for some more blackjack in no time.

The food at both the Venetian and the Palazzo Grand Lux Cafe’s were both good.  The breakfast was fantastic.  The service was excellent.  The only “complaint” I had was a waitress trying to serve me while I was on the phone.  That’s not a bad thing.

I ate more meals at the Grand Lux Cafe than anywhere else.  This is a good option to have at a casino in place of the traditional coffee shop.  The Atlantic City casinos could use a restaurant like this.

Burger Bar and Mandalay Bay

I used to stay at Mandalay Bay pretty often when I used to go to House of Blues to see concerts.

I haven’t gone to Las Vegas to see bands in the past few years so I’ve decided to expand my horizons and have been hotel hopping for most trips.  I still like Mandalay Bay and miss the oatmeal soap in the rooms more than most room amenities.

I decided to spend an afternoon at the opposite end of the strip to see how things have changed.  As I expected, some things changed and some things remained the same.

The Burger Bar is one of my favorite burgers in Vegas.  One thing I remember was how the staff had a holier than thou attitude and that attitude still remains.  Chill out, it’s a friggin burger joint.

I laughed at the hostess after she told me it was 20 minutes for a table for one.  When I started to walk away she alerted me that I could sit at the bar if I liked.  I happily took her up on that offer.

Lunch started with a fantastic pint of Blue Moon.  This glass of beer set things right.  It was the perfect temperature and had a substantial orange wedge.  I’d rather have too much orange than too little.  I’m the same with Corona. The beer lasted just long enough for an awesome bacon cheeseburger to arrive.

The burger was packed with one of two types of “Jack” cheese (I told them to surprise me and I don’t remember which I had) and accompanied by a side of skinny fries.  The burger was prepared medium and was nice and juicy.  The bacon was fantastic and although I’m not much of a fry guy, the fries were nice, crisp and tasty.

I’m sure I need to explore other fancy burger places on the strip, but Burger Bar still holds up as a favorite.

After the burger I went out to explore the casino at Mandalay Bay.  It has definitely changed since the last time I was there.  There is a go-go party pit, new bars in the middle of the casino, a tattoo shop and a zillion more slot machines than I remember.

The bar at the sportsbook seemed different too.  I can swear there used to be a top on the bar that impeded views of the TV’s at the sportsbook. I’m not sure about that as I usually had a few too many when watching football.

This time I had a mediocre and overpriced Grey Goose and soda.  I was also sipping on an iced coffee from Starbucks while I watched a couple of games I bet and waited to meet someone IRL that I’d met on twitter.  The drive-by meeting was kind of funny as it lasted all of 30 seconds.

Back to the games.  I won both.  It seemed like the only thing I could win on this trip were sports bets.  I played and lost $300 in 3 card poker and about another $100 in various slots before decided to leave.

After I decided that I’d lost enough I tried to go back to Palazzo to cash my tickets, but the cab line outside of Mandalay Bay was insane so I decided to take the tram to Excalibur where there would certainly be no line for cabs.  This surely wouldn’t save time, but at least I would be moving.

My guess was right.  There were no people in line for cabs at Excalibur.  I haven’t been in Excalibur since one of my first trips to Las Vegas.  I don’t think I’ll be there again any time soon, but it was nice to walk around.

I had a fun time at Mandalay Bay and wouldn’t mind staying their again.  The people are what I expected.  They were the middle class Las Vegas vacationers.  Somewhere between the type of people I’d see at Harrah’s and Palazzo.  Nothing wrong with that at all.  That seems to be the demographic MGM is marketing the hotel to and judging by the crowd they’re doing a good job.

Harrahs Wants To Make You Fat

Harrah’s has decided that the best way to make money from their customers if for them to grow to a size where they can’t get out of the casino.

Harrah’s is introducing an all-day buffet offer for their Las Vegas properties.  Here are the details.

For just $29.99, visit any of the following buffets, as often as you’d like, within a 24-hour period:

* Carnival World Buffet at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino
* Flavors at Harrah’s Las Vegas
* Paradise Garden Buffet at Flamingo Las Vegas
* Emperor’s Buffet at Imperial Palace
* Le Village Buffet at Paris Las Vegas
* Lago Buffet at Caesars Palace
* Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino

I don’t eat buffet’s very often and probably won’t take advantage of this offer, but this seems like a pretty good deal if you enjoy them and plan on eating a buffet for more than once in a day.

Prices range from $15 for breakfast to $27 for dinner.  Lunch is priced in the middle.  So, even if you want to only have two meals you should save a few dollars.  If you have more than two meals you can save a few more bucks.  And if you time your feedings right you can rack up the savings by have 4 meals over 2 days.  Note: You may not be able to get out of the casino.

Top 10 Steakhouses in Las Vegas

The Las Vegas Sun published their Top 10 Steakhouses in Las Vegas + 1 honorable mention.  I’ve been to 6 of the 11.  Not too shabby on my part.  I don’t think I’ll ever go to The Steakhouse at Circus Circus, so I won’t get to every steakhouse on this list.  I was planning to stop by at least one of these places on my next trip and it seems as if my choice is confirmed.

Here’s the Top 10

  1. Carne Vino
  2. Cut
  3. Craftsteak
  4. Delmonico
  5. Stripsteak
  6. Prime
  7. Nero’s
  8. SW
  9. N9ne
  10. The Steakhouse

Honorable mention: Golden Steer

I’ve linked to my reviews of the places I’ve been since I started ECG.  I’ve also been to N9ne and Delmonico.  Both of which are excellent and very different.  After my last visit to Carne Vino I find it hard to have that #1, but it’s in the running.  If I were in charge of order here I would move SW up, Carne Vino down.

I’ve been considering a couple of steakhouses for my next trip.  CUT and Striphouse (at Planet Hollywood) were under consideration and still are.  Everything I’ve read about CUT has been great, so I don’t think anything will bump that from consideration.  The New York Striphouse is one of the better steaks in NYC.  I’m not tied to that, but I love the vibe and I’m curious to check the Las Vegas location.

Carne Vino Take 2

I visited Carne Vino on my spring trip to Las Vegas and had a fantastic steak dinner.  I loved it and spoke so highly of it that my friends wanted a return visit.  I shared this video with people all year around.  Excitement was HIGH.

Our table was in a little room off the main entrance.  The table was a huge square.  The privacy was fantastic, especially when one member of the party gets the giggles.  There was a beautiful chandelier high above the table.

The waiter was fantastic.  He knew the menu very well and was able to answer every question and help guide us on a tour of flavors which was a great tour.

Generally, Carne Vino is an expensive restaurant but I found a way around that this trip.  The table shared an appetizer and  salad.  This worked nicely as we treated the appetizer like the tease it is supposed to be.  The Prosciutto Di Parma and Insalata Romana went very well together.

I was with 5 others and sharing a bottle of wine and appetizers was a great way to start the meal.  The vino may have been the star of the night…but it was time for the main course…

While the wine may have been the star of the meal, but steak should have been the co-star.  Unlike my last time at Carne Vino the steak was not the highlight of the meal.

The steak you see in the video above is the steak that I shared both times I’ve been to Carne Vino – the Dry Aged Bone In Rib Eye.  The steak was cooked a perfect medium and drizzled with sea salt, pepper and olive oil.

Sounds pretty good.  The steak was good.  It just wasn’t great like it was the last time.  The steak was a little dry this time.  When I sit down for a $100/person meal I want perfection.  The rest of the table experimented with non-steak main courses and thoroughly enjoyed everything.  The sides were also very good.

Everyone at the table had enough food and didn’t need or want dessert.  The waiter treated us to some kind of nougat like dessert and an after dinner liquor.  I’m not sure what I was drank, but it was a nice sipping drink and a nice way to cap off a good meal.

Overall, this time a Carne Vino was good – not great.  The service was fantastic and most of dinner was very good, but the main course left a little to be desired.  Having experienced a fantastic meal at Carne Vino before I think I might hold off on a return trip.  There are so many great steakhouses in Las Vegas that there’s no reason to limit myself.  I’d still recommend Carne Vino because the service, atmosphere and most of the food are all fantastic.

Casa Di Amore

On most trips to Las Vegas I like to take in at least one dinner from a locals type restaurant.  This trip I ended up at Casa Di Amore which had great recommendations on both Yelp and the Las Vegas Trip Advisor Forum.

Casa Di Amore is located about 15 minutes from the strip (on Tropicana) and since I didn’t have a car the offer of a free limo ride was enticing and helped seal the deal for this being a dinner selection.  The limo was an older, (very) worn and essentially an extended town car.  The free ride was nice as my group would have needed two cabs, so we saved a few bucks there.

As we drove up into the strip mall I knew this place was going to either be awesome or awful.  The restaurant was next door too a gun shop, so this kind of set the tone.  I don’t think the insides have been updated in about 30 years and I think that was by design.  The restaurant had photographs of the old Las Vegas casinos and performers.

The photo above is where the 2-man band performed holiday and cover songs.  We were treated to a couple of sets by George Bugatti.  Normally I hate live music when I’m trying to eat, but the volume wasn’t too intrusive and the selections were fun enough not too bother me.

If you couldn’t guess by the name Casa Di Amore is an Italian restaurant.  Everything tasted as if it was made by a friends mother.  For my main course I shared a fantastic Chicken Piccata and Gnocci Bolognese.  Sharing is not only fun, but it’s a good way to sample the flavors and not to overeat – something that happens a bit too often.

Casa Di Amore was a very wholesome type dinner.  It’s another nice off the beaten path Italian restaurant in Vegas.  The last time I went a little out of the way for Italian was to Nora’s, which was phenomenal.  Nora’s is pretty popular and crowded since it’s been featured on the Travel Channel.

If you’ve been there and done that and want another local Italian joint Casa Di Amore is another good option.  The food was very good, but not the best ever.  The decor was nothing fancy, but everything was good and fun.  I’d rate this above average but not great.

SW Steakhouse Fantastic!

On my first night of this trip to Las Vegas I had dinner at SW Steakhouse at Wynn.  I went into this dinner with plenty of excitement based on feedback from others, but I had a little apprehension as well.

My only visit to Wynn wasn’t very fun as the casino felt stuffy and boring.  When I called to make reservations I was told that if anyone didn’t show for my reservation I would be charged $50 a person.  I felt somewhat threatened by this, but I understood why that policy might exist.  When I called back to adjust my reservation I was told that policy was never used.  Very nice.

When my friends and I walked in we were greeted with smiles and had a drink at the bar while we waited for a table.  I had a 9:30 reservation because I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to wash up and change after the Thursday night football game (which paid for dinner).  I’ve found that a late reservation can be hit or miss with food preparedness.  Dinner was a hit on this night and was the beginning of a turnaround on my feelings about Wynn.

Dinner started with fantastic bread that is baked fresh daily on the premises.  I don’t like to fill up on bread because I like to try as many different foods that come to the table, but it was difficult to stop eating.  I’m happy to say that I stopped at one piece.  Even though it was highly recommended I didn’t have a bacon cheddar muffin.  The bread was a great sign of what was to come.

The others at table shared a variety of seafood appetizers and they all seemed to like it.  I stuck with a Caesar salad that was excellent.  We each also had a slice of bacon.  I don’t think this is on the menu and it was damn good.  A nice salty way to move the evening forward.

I almost always get a NY strip when I’m at a steakhouse for the first time.  Because of the lack of fat strips are usually pretty easy to compare.

My strip was fantastic.  In fact, it was one of the best I’ve had in a while.  The steak was perfectly cooked.  There was a nice amount of char on the outside of the steak and the inside was soft and pink as I wanted.  I believe the steak was seasoned with just salt and pepper.  The salt stood out, but wasn’t overbearing and the meat tasted fantastic.

I don’t recall all of the sides ordered, but the photo above shows that we had parmesan creamed spinach.  I’m pretty sure that we also had the truffled creamed corn, butter roasted fingerling potatoes, and steamed asparagus.  All of the sides were excellent.

If there was a down part of the meal it was our choice of wine.  It didn’t have the body and full flavor I enjoy with steak.

SW Art(?)

One of the things you’ll read about Wynn is that their service goes above and beyond and the service at SW proved that to be true.  Service was fantastic.  We had two waiters that handled different parts of service and their work blended seamlessly.

Dinner at SW was fantastic and I would definitely go back again.  The food, the service and the vibe were all really good.

If you’re on twitter I recommend following WynnLasVegas for info and tips on dining and everything at Wynn.

Room Service!

Rooming alone and not being able to sleep normal hours leads to a lot of things.  In this case, it lead me to ordering room service a couple of times when I stayed at Palazzo.

I enjoyed both breakfast and lunch in my room.  A couple of general notes about room service.  Both meals were delivered in less than 30 minutes and were both hot.  The servers were both very cordial and set everything up pretty quickly in the dining area.

BREAKFAST


I ordered a very simple breakfast one morning:  Scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast, orange juice and coffee.

As I mentioned in my coffee blog the brew was Starbucks and tasted fine enough for me to finish off the pot.  I don’t drink orange juice very often but I was in the mood for it and it was perfect for the morning.  It wasn’t the best OJ I’ve had, but it was above average.

Scrambled eggs are not always the easiest thing to have prepared for room service since they get cold quickly and can easily be cooked too much or too little.  These eggs were on point and still warm.  I was very happy about this.  The bacon was nice and crisp which made me very happy.  I’m not a big home fry guy and I don’t even remember them.  I had sourdough toast which was luke warm, but tasty.  I find that sourdough is always better out west then back east.

Overall, breakfast was excellent, but unspectacular and I’m fine with that.

LUNCH

I was beat up one morning and afternoon and needed to sit in the room, breathe and eat some greasy food.  I also gave a light hair of the dog beer a chance to fix me and it worked.  My lunch order was simple:

Bacon Cheeseburger (cheddar cheese), french fries and Coors light.  As you see above the burger was accompanied by a handful of onion rings, veggies and condiments.

The food was still warm when it arrived and the beer was on ice so it was obviously cold.  Much like scrambled eggs, it’s easy to over or under cook and mess up a room service burger.  Thankfully my burger was prepared medium as I asked for it.  Much like the breakfast the bacon was crisp and tasty.

I ate pretty slowly and only nibbled on the fries and onion rings.  Both were starting to get cold when I got around to them, but tasted fine.  Again, nothing spectacular but everything was good.

The real winner of my room service lunch was the Coors Light!  All in all lunch was perfect and got me settled and up and out of the room.

Unlike my trip to Caesars in Atlantic City mid last year there was nothing spectacular about my room service orders but everything was good and warm and did the job.  I would not be afraid to order room service at Palazzo again in the future.  That’s good for a lazy guy that likes to drink too much sometimes.

Waking Up In Vegas – Katy Perry Strip Club Mix?

EMI doesn’t allow for embedding of the original “Waking Up In Vegas” video.  I found this remix of Katy Perry’s song on YouTube for this post.  It’s not a great remix, but Katy Perry is still in the video so who can complain?  She’s easy to look at.

I heard this song the other day and thought the subject would make for a fun post.  What do you do when you wake up in Vegas?  I usually do one of a two things…

I’m an early riser no matter what time I go to sleep.  I’m always the first awake no matter who I travel with.

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