BLT Steak Opens At Bally’s

BLT Steak At Bally's Las Vegas
BLT Steak Porterhouse

One of my favorite steakhouses in New York City has finally opened in Las VegasBLT Steak just opened its new Vegas location at Bally’s. To coincide with the opening Bally’s announced that they’ve brought back the famous Sterling Brunch, which will now take place at BLT Steak. Sterling Brunch may be as famous for its high end food offerings as it is for its $100 price tag. No thanks.

I’ve been looking forward to BLT Steak opening since it was announced last year. There haven’t been many reasons to be excited for steak like this in a while. Expect a full review (here or elsewhere) when I get my butt to BLT Steak.

Even though I’ve been critical about Bally’s renovations this will make me go back on my words to avoid this area. Here’s the press release with more information on BLT Steak and the Sterling Brunch.

LAS VEGAS (May 22, 2014) – Now open at Bally’s Las Vegas, BLT Steak brings sophisticated design, quality service and classic steakhouse fare to the revitalized hotel and casino. BLT Steak also reinstates the award-winning weekend staple, Sterling Brunch, starting Memorial Day weekend.

Regarded as the premier brunch in Las Vegas, the Bally’s institution of forty years, Sterling Brunch will make its triumphant return on Saturday, May 24 with the same excellence in service and fare but in a more modern and stylish presentation synonymous with BLT Steak. Sterling Brunch will now be offered both Saturdays and Sundays, and will be showcased in a sleek built-in buffet space with roll-top chafers. Guests will once again be able to indulge in the finest fare of caviar, lobster tails, fresh-shucked oysters, Alaskan king crab legs, and never-ending glasses of Perrier Jouët Champagne, mimosas and bloody marys. Gluten-free items will also be available, and a personally guided tour of all offerings will be given upon request.

Located adjacent to Sea Thai, Indigo Lounge and Drai’s After Hours, BLT Steak occupies approximately 7,000 square feet, with nearly 240 seats. A curving bar and accompanying lounge greet guests before entering the main dining room, which seats approximately 170 and can be separated into small, intimate dining rooms that can be utilized for large parties or special events. A separate private dining room seats up to 14 guests. Relaxed yet contemporary elegance is felt throughout the space with art reflecting icons of New York City, synonymous with the flagship BLT Steak. Rich wood finishes with a backdrop of warm neutral tones are accented with touches of polished stainless steel, amber and tangerine.

Since first opening in New York City in 2004, BLT Steak has become one of the most recognized steakhouses in America and abroad with an earned reputation for superior service and classic steakhouse fare in a bistro-like setting. The signature popovers, airy golden Gruyère-laced puffs of dough served warm, start every meal, while weekly blackboard specials highlight the best the season has to offer. BLT Steak staples also include tuna tartare, chopped vegetable salad, Dover sole, peanut butter chocolate mousse and, of course, legendary USDA Prime and Certified Angus® steaks, from the 28 day dry-aged NY strip to the bone-in rib eye. The wine list, which is modeled after other BLT Steak Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence” award-winning lists, will feature more than 300 wines with Old World selections from the regions of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Piedmont, Tuscany, Riojo and many others.

BLT Steak joins Bally’s exciting center-Strip revitalization which includes the addition of VÉRONIC Voices, Indigo Lounge, the 756-room Jubilee Tower, the all-new Jubilee show, and the Grand Bazaar Shops™, opening late 2014.

BLT Steak is open daily, with the bar open at 5 p.m., dinner Sunday – Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Friday – Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sterling Brunch begins May 24 and is offered Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Please call 702-967-7258 to make reservations or for more information.

Stay Away From Heart Attack Grill

When I first saw the news about someone dying from a heart attack at Heart Attack Grill I thought it was ironic and slightly funny in a dark way. Last week another unofficial spokesperson for Heart Attack Grill died from a heart attack and I didn’t even want to mention it. Death isn’t very funny.

“He lived a very full life,” said Basso, who seemed shaken when reached by phone Monday evening. “He will be missed.”

The Pennsylvania native is survived by his only family, his brother Paul. Basso said Alleman had a genetic predisposition for cardiac problems, as both of his parents died of heart attacks in their 50s.

Basso recalled Alleman as a fun-loving man who loved the Heart Attack Grill. The medically themed restaurant is famous for its high-fat menu that includes a record-breaking 9,982-calorie, 3-pound Quadruple Bypass Burger. The grill’s slogan is “Taste worth dying for.”

I’m not a healthy eater but this place sounds disgusting from all reviews I’ve heard. I love steak, burgers, beer and vodka. I’d rather have a good quality steak, a gourmet burger, top shelf vodka and craft beer. That’s far from healthy but I prefer quality over quantity. I’d probably prefer both. Who am I kidding? Heart Attack Grill is not quality. It’s just quantity.

There are so many independently owned bars and restaurants in downtown Vegas to spend your money for a quality experience that it’s sad people go to a chain restaurant just to eat poorly when there are better options available.

Later this week I’ll share some tips to enjoy yourself downtown. In the meantime, if you’re in Las Vegas just stay away from the Heart Attack Grill.

Tweet me @eastcoastgamblr

 

Ruth’s Chris Open At Harrah’s

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse opened last week at Harrah’s Las Vegas to minimal fanfare, which is appropriate. Ruth’s Chris is a chain of steakhouses similar to Morton’s, Smith & Wolenski, Del Frisco’s and The Palm. Chain steakhouses aren’t the most exciting but they do play a role in the world of steak.

Ruth’s Chris is not bad. But it’s also not great. I’ve enjoyed quite a few good steaks at various Ruth’s Chris across the country. Sharing a porterhouse for two and getting a second plate of 1,800 degree butter to finish off the porterhouse is fun.

So what role does a decent high end chain steakhouse play in this world? All of the chains above offer good meals in a lot of locations. They generally aren’t destination steakhouses. Steak eaters will never say “I have to go to Harrah’s for Ruth’s Chris!” like the may say “we have to go to MGM Grand for Craft Steak.”

However, if someone is staying at Harrah’s getting a steak at Ruth’s Chris is a good option if you don’t want to leave the hotel. Notice I’m saying “good” and not “great” or “amazing”. There’s something to be said for the comfort of being familiar with the quality of the food and service at a restaurant.

Ruth’s Chris at Harrah’s will be a fine and convenient choice for people staying at Harrah’s and don’t feel like going elsewhere for dinner or don’t have a reservation elsewhere.

Bottom line: I would eat at Ruth’s Chris if someone else wanted to go or if I was staying at Harrah’s, but wouldn’t wouldn’t go out of my way for it.

Sure, an independently owned and operated steakhouse might be better or interesting but at least I know Ruth’s Chris won’t try to kill me and that’s more than I can say for Gordon Ramsay.

Photo: Ruth’s Chris

There Are So Many Reasons To Love El Cortez…Here are Four

When I wrote about the change of Old Vegas to Downtown Vegas I highlighted my love for El Cortez. El Cortez has a lot of history and great gambling. Throughout the year they do little things to incentivize people to visit. Here are some of my favorite promotions they ran last year.

FREE WHITE CASTLE – The sliders at White Castle are an east coast late night staple but they don’t have any restaurants in Las Vegas. Enter El Cortez who periodically offers free White Castle burgers to guests. I don’t even like White Castle sliders but I flipped out when I saw this. I’ll eat a free burger! Unfortunately they don’t fly the burgers in from an actual restaurant. They just purchased the microwavable sliders you can get an any gas station. This is fun but actually kind of nasty for a midday snack.

El Cortez White Castle

FREE KLONDIKE BARS – It should come as no surprise that the summer in Las Vegas is HOT. What better time to have ice cream than when it’s 120 degrees outside. El Cortez is located just north of the Fremont Street Experience canopy and that means a few minutes in direct sunlight for most tourists. Free ice cream is a perfect midday treat! This summer I saw a sign that wins you a free Klondike Bar from the El Cortez if you hit a jackpot in Video Poker for $25 or more on a Wednesday. I actually saw this promotion two years ago too. I’ll eat free ice cream!

El Cortez Klondike Bar

FREE PIE – A free slice of pie is one of the favorite recurring promotions at El Cortez. Not only will the El Cortez will bring you drinks to the gaming table or machine but a few times a year they will also serve you a slice of pie. The pie changes depending on season. I’ve seen apple, blueberry and pecan pie (below) offered. I’ve never been at the El Cortez when they are serving pie but I’d definitely take them up on the offer for a slice of pie!

El Cortez Free Pie

FREE STEAK – You know I love steak and the prospect of winning a free steak dinner is something that I could normally find myself playing Video Poker for. There are two unfortunate parts of this promotion. 1. I had a pretty bad experience at the steakhouse at El Cortez (See review for The Flame at Vegas Chatter). 2. I don’t like to play the coin-in machines where the sign is located. Call me dainty but I’m over the coin dirt on my hands. This is available all year long. The only way I’d visit The Flame again is if my steak was free.

El Cortez Steak Dinner

These are just some of the fun promotions El Cortez offers their customers. These are all fun promotions and are the kind of independent thinking that attract me to a casino. The cost of most of these items are about $1 but to tell someone that I won a Klondike Bar or was served a slice of pie at the craps table is priceless.

I hope strange and different promotions like this continue at El Cortez and the other Downtown Vegas casinos.

Tweet me @eastcoastgamblr

 

Las Vegas Steakhouse To Do List

BLT Las Vegas Steakhouse At Bally's Las Vegas
BLT Steak Porterhouse

Thanks for all of the Las Vegas steakhouse recommendations here and on twitter. You’ve seen the steakhouses I’ve been to in Vegas and the list below is a combination of your recommendations and my existing list of steak joints to hit up in the near future.

  • Binion’s Steakhouse
  • CraftSteak
  • Ellis Island (not a steakhouse, but I need to try the steak here)
  • Maestros
  • Stack (Update: it was okay, nothing special)
  • Old Homestead (out of alphabetical order because I’m apprehensive)

There are more recommendations that I’m keeping in the back of my mind that I won’t say no too. I used to try to make it to one steakhouse per month but I’ve been less regular lately. Even if I visit a new place every month this list will take me deep into 2013.

If I don’t write a review here I’ll share it on Facebook, Twitter and/ or Tumblr.

Las Vegas Steakhouses I’ve Conquered

Emeril's Knife At Del Frisco At Venetian
Emeril’s Knife At Del Frisco’s

I love steak and eat it pretty often. Last week I listed the top 5 steakhouses that I’ve eaten at this year on Vegas Chatter. I did the same last year. Sure I can have an all-time top 5 steakhouse list but there is only so much steak one can eat in a year and chefs and other restaurant staff change often in Las Vegas that I’m not sure that really makes much sense. I can’t say that an experience I had two years ago at CarneVino will be the same today. That could be unfair to the restaurant and not accurate to you.

Here’s a list of the steakhouses I’ve conquered in my time in Las Vegas. I’ve reviewed most of these on other websites and will share brief thoughts (thumbs up or down) after I’ve completed my hit list of steakhouses. I’ve, obviously, been to some of these more recently than others and some have closed.

  • Anthony’s
  • Bazaar Meat (not really a steakhouse)
  • BLT Steak
  • Botero
  • Brand
  • Carne Vino
  • Charlie Palmer
  • Cut
  • Del Frisco’s
  • Delmonico
  • The Flame
  • Galhager’s
  • Golden Steer
  • Gordon Ramsay Steak
  • Heritage
  • Morels
  • Nero (closed)
  • N9NE
  • Oscar’s
  • Palm
  • Prime
  • Roberts (closed)
  • Smith & Wollensky
  • Stack
  • The Steakhouse (Circus Circus)
  • Strip Steak
  • Strip House
  • SW

As you can see I’ve been to a lot of steakhouses in Las Vegas. The list of steakhouses I want to try is running low and I’m looking for new ideas. Leave a comment with any new placed I should try, and why.

I’ll share the few steakhouses still on my hit list later this week and will add any that you recommend that I’m interested in (I.e. I’m not interested in STK and you won’t change my mind).

Ruth’s Chris Returns To Las Vegas

A couple weeks ago I tweeted about Harrah’s Las Vegas replacing their existing steakhouse, The Range, with Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Yesterday it became official as Caesars Entertainment finally sent Continue reading “Ruth’s Chris Returns To Las Vegas”

Seven Stars Insider – January 2012 Edition

Here’s the latest edition of Seven Stars Insider.  This is an easy read and an excellent resource for Caesars Total Rewards players.  Head over to Seven Stars Insider to sign up for the newsletter.  As always there is a lot of information in this edition. Read on for all the goods.

Harrah’s New Orleans

Heading Santa’s Naughty List
I’m a big fan of Harrah’s New Orleans, and have never experienced anything but first class service and a good time.  I always describe the hotel as being more like a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons – though I wish they had included a spa in their initial plans.  However, based on the volume of e-mails I received during 2011, New Orleans got the most complaints about everything from missing comp dollars, screwed up hotel and dinner reservations, and uncaring and inefficient hosts.  Admittedly, it’s been awhile since I’ve been down there, but I hope they can get their act together.  It may just be a vocal minority that’s having these bad experiences, but word is spreading throughout lots of message boards on the Internet, as well.  There’s often a fine line between perception and reality and, like a woman scorned, an unhappy gambler – especially if he/she is losing – can be your worst nightmare.

Las Vegas

Caesars Palace

See Celine For A Good Cause
If you haven’t seen Celine Dion’s new show in the Colosseum, you can help raise money to fund research for and increase awareness of sickle cell anemia by attending a special performance at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 15.  Ticketholders also get to attend an exclusive reception at PURE Nightclub, sponsored by Southern Wine & Spirits.

Merry Excess-mas
In case you missed it, Christmas Eve/Christmas dinner at Guy Savoy last year was a mere $358 per person (not including beverages, taxes and gratuity).  The menu included:

Oysters in Ice Gelée
Langoustine and Fennel
“Colors of Caviar”
Roasted John Dory in Sage and Tarragon Crust
Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup, Toasted Mushroom Brioche, and Black Truffle Butter
Poussin “en Cocotte” and Albufera Jus
Brie Black Truffle
Champagne Dessert
Chocolate

For further decadence at Caesars – available year-round, go to Casa Fuente and try the “Forbidden Collection” of cigars costing up to $150 each, along with some rare scotch at $1,100 a shot.

Atlantic City

Eyes Wide Shut
I’m not sure whether Caesars employees have a vision problem or just don’t like confrontation.  Why is it, then, that even the most casual visitor to Atlantic City spots vagrants sitting at slot machines sound asleep?  One Saturday evening last month, a man with a large thick beard, wearing several layers of clothing – identity protected by a thick hooded parka, tucked a huge backpack between his legs, and napped for nearly an hour right outside the Diamond Lounge at Caesars.  The same man was spotted in a different section of the second floor casino the day before.  Many players – particularly women – simply refuse to play at the Boardwalk casinos just because they don’t feel safe.  “Sleepers” aren’t exclusive to the Boardwalk, though.  Over at Harrah’s, a woman was sleeping at a table in front of Club Cappuccino as two security guards chatted away in front of her, seemingly oblivious to the situation.  While there’s no reason to believe these nappers are doing anything but catching 40 winks in the warmth of the casino, nevertheless, no other business would be as tolerant.

Easy Revenue Source For AC
If the city police better patrolled Arkansas Avenue between Wild Wild West and Caesars they could write a bunch of tickets for illegally parked cars.  On several occasions during the New Year’s weekend, friends picked me up from the first floor exit of the Centurion Tower at Caesars; I was amazed at the number of cars that were parked there – most of them minus the driver and/or any passengers.  While, theoretically, the three sets of doors to Caesars on Arkansas only can be opened from the inside, folks seem to have no problem prying them open from the outside.  It’s not such a big deal with the two sets of doors leading into the casino, but the fact that individuals are entering the door leading into the first floor of the Centurion Tower makes me a little nervous.

Controversial Decision Paying Off
It didn’t sit well with a lot of Diamond cardholders, but Caesars decision to require a minimum of 25,000 tier points to enter the four Atlantic City Diamond Lounges at no charge is apparently paying off.  While I’ve seen no official statistics, based on conversations with certain casino executives, as well as talking with a number of players, a lot of people went out of their way to reach that 25,000 point threshold by the end of 2011.

Home For The Holidays
Many “regular” players skipped their trips to Atlantic City last month when they learned that the Diamond (and the Seven Stars Lounge at Harrah’s), as well as several buffets, restaurants and other venues were closing for several days – and, in some cases, weeks – at a time.  Others were downright angry – some, just perplexed – when they got to one of the lounges, only to find it was closed.  At least Harrah’s offered the option of a Waterfront Buffet to eligible cardholders.  This year, Caesars management, please decide further in advance if – and when – you are going to close lounges, buffets, restaurants, The Pool at Harrah’s and other venues.  Then, let everyone know!  (I’ll even help you spread the word – plus, I’ll be reminding you in November to start thinking about this.)

Airshow Moves To Friday
The 10th Annual Atlantic City Airshow will be held August 17 – a Friday, rather than the traditional midweek timeframe.  Headlining the show once again will be the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Army Golden Knights.

Bally’s

Seven Stars 101
The VIP Registration staff and Total Rewards crew need a crash course in Seven Stars cardholder benefits – specifically, the Companion card.  My “companion” tried to check in at Bally’s VIP last month, and was condescendingly told to check-in at the “regular” registration desk.  When I stopped in later to find out why, I was told that, “of course, we would extend that courtesy to a Seven Stars Companion cardholder.”  Apparently, Chris who was working there that afternoon didn’t know this.  Furthermore, when I inquired at Total Rewards, the gentleman at the Seven Stars section said he didn’t know and, when he checked with his manager, told me that his manager didn’t know either.  Shouldn’t there be a list of basic benefits handy at each Total Rewards desk and each VIP Registration?

Send Me No Flowers
Apparently, the New Year’s Eve dinner at Bally’s was another outstanding example of the fine work done by the hotel’s food and beverage department.  I heard many wonderful compliments about the food, service, music and ambience – both at dinner and the Sunday brunch.  However, some miscommunication – later apologized for – caused a bit of a scene at the conclusion of the dinner.  When some guests tried to leave with flowers from the centerpieces, many were chased by security guards who told them the flowers couldn’t leave the ballroom because they were needed for the brunch.  Frankly, I always find it appalling how some people walk off with table decorations – many times before the event even concludes.  Sometimes guests even “fight” for the flowers!  [The worst I’ve seen was at Caesars New Year’s Eve when a woman pulled out a pair of manicure scissors and began cutting off the strands of “crystals” from the decorations suspended over some of the tables.]

Caesars

Welcoming 2012 In High Style
Caesars hosted an absolutely flawless New Year’s celebration this year:  simple, but elegant and understated invitations. . .tasteful and creative hors d’oeuvres (steak tartare in mini-parmesan tuille cups, slices of rare ahi tuna on tiny pancakes, grilled baby lamb chops, etc.). . .stunning décor in the Palladium Ballroom that elicited audible gasps as the doors were dramatically opened.  All this was complemented by an imaginative dinner menu featuring a salad with the largest shrimp I’ve ever seen, followed by a dual entrée of roasted mero (a delicious white fish that was so moist it literally cut like butter) and lobster-crusted filet.  Dessert, below, was an edible miniature “snowman” encased in half a “snow globe” (made of sugar), perched atop vanilla sponge cake filled with Meyer lemon mousse and covered in vanilla butter cream, sitting in a pool of light blue “ice”.  It looked beautiful, and tasted even better.  The versatile musicians backing up four equally versatile singers provided continuous entertainment and dance music, breaking only for two professional dance exhibitions right out of those opening numbers on Dancing With The Stars.  Brunch the next day was just as outstanding.  Congratulations – and thank you! – to all involved.

Morton’s Steakhouse Chain Sold
After Landry’s Inc. bought Trump Marina, it had one of its chain restaurants – the Rainforest Café – already ensconced in Trump Plaza, as well as McCormick & Schmick’s at Harrah’s Resort.  Now Morton’s Steakhouse in Caesars is in the same situation.  Last month, Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta bought Morton’s Restaurant Group Inc. in a $117 million deal.

Harrah’s Resort

Breakfast Of Champions
Kudos to the staff at the Diamond Lounge for their excellent breakfast buffets late last month.  Anticipating larger crowds due to the holidays – and with the closing of Reflections to make way for Sammy D’s (see below) – management opened the Diamond Lounge for breakfast on a temporary basis.

Room Maintenance
Hopefully, it was an isolated case, but one of the electrical outlets in my room last month had a cracked coverplate, above, exposing potentially dangerous wiring to a curious child or even a careless adult.  A similar cracked plate partially covered another outlet in the hallway near the elevator.  When I reported this at check-out, the clerk said the room should not even have been assigned.  But, how would anyone know?  Housekeepers don’t seem to report these maintenance issues, and, apparently, housekeeping supervisors don’t notice them either.  It’s up to us, as guests, to notify the front desk when we spot these problems, but no one seems to take the initiative.  Next time there’s a burned out light bulb, a frayed lamp plug, etc., please call it to someone’s attention.

No Parking
The special reserved parking section for Seven Stars cardholders is currently open to anyone.  It appears that perhaps a frustrated driver just plowed through the second card-controlled gate.  I’m not sure why that warranted that the first gate should remain permanently open.

Sammy D’s
Scheduled to open last month, Sammy D’s – located in the area formerly housing Reflections – is now supposed to open this month.  Bill’s Bar & Burger, which has been serving breakfast during the transition, will discontinue that service once Sammy’s opens.  Ironically, breakfast at Bill’s was the best meal of the day.

Red Door: Improvement Still Needed
Not long after it opened, I visited the Red Door and wrote, “This fabled Elizabeth Arden institution is a disappointing experience for men.  The facilities need much stronger supervision, and the front desk personnel need more training.”  I’m happy to report that my experience last month found these problems corrected.  However, several things have not changed:  the men’s “grooming area” still has only two sinks, and the lighting is so bad, it’s like shaving in the dark.  (“Assuming it was a man,” I wrote earlier, “whoever designed the lighting should be forced to shave there for a month.”)  The spa also has the “wimpiest” Jacuzzis (in terms of jet strength), so it’s not the most satisfying way to relax.

Bet $20, Win $1 Million
An unidentified woman won $1 million on a $20 bet last month while playing poker.  The jackpot is the second of its kind for “Three Card Poker 6 Card Bonus” which began play at Caesars Entertainment casinos in September.  The woman said she had played the game only twice before and was at the table for about two hours. The winning hand was a royal flush in diamonds.  In October, an unidentified man won $1 million on a $19 bet in the game and last month a Virginia man won $100,000.

Harrah’s Chester (Pennsylvania)

Happy Fifth Anniversary!
Hard to believe, but January 22 marks the fifth anniversary of the opening of Harrah’s Chester.

There Has To Be An Easier Way. . .
Maybe it’s just me, but Chester’s “Beat the Freeze” is second only in confusion and complication to Bally’s “Beat the Heat” promotion in Atlantic City this past summer.  Here are the official rules – misspellings and missing words included:  “Guests can win free slot play on days in December in which the temperature is forecasted to be below 28 degrees Fahrenheit.  The weekly forecast will be displayed in the casino atrium (the forecast used will be NBC Channel 10) and will update each day at 10am.  When a day is forecasted to be below the 28 degrees threshold we will communicate that day as a ‘Beat the Freeze’ day.  The day prior we will promote the ‘Beat The Freeze Day’ through Facebook, Twitter, e-blasts and outdoor signage (Billboard).  Guests are then invited [to] come to the casino, swipe there [sic] card at the promotional kiosks on the 2nd floor starting at 10am to have a chance to receive 5 dollars slot play for every degree below 28 degrees.  500 guests will randomly receive the slot cash prize!”  December’s unseasonably warm weather probably saved the casino a lot of free slot play, but you have until January 15 to get in on the fun.  Checking the official NBC 10 forecast through January 8, though, only January 2, 3 and 4 are forecast to have temperatures less than 28 degrees.

General

Skating With The Stars
I hope you got to see Caesars Tribute II on NBC January 1.  It was an excellent show and gave Caesars some very positive publicity.  Taped at Boardwalk Hall in early December, the show was a tribute to Peggy Fleming, and featured some of the top female skaters from the United States, Canada, France and Japan.

Regrets, He’s Had A Few
In August 2010 Caesars Chairman Gary Loveman called his decision to reject an opportunity to acquire the Macao gaming subconcession controlled by Wynn Resorts Ltd. a “big mistake”.  “I was wrong.  I was really wrong,” Loveman told Bloomberg Businessweek.  Determined not to be left behind again, Caesars is focusing on U.S. expansion, according to Howard Stutz’s “Inside Gaming” column in the December 4 Las Vegas Review-Journal.  “Through a joint venture, the company will operate two of the four casinos opening [this] year in Ohio.  Caesars is the leading bidder for a downtown Baltimore casino project and is expected to earn the license for a casino in the Boston area.”  Further, Stutz writes, “The company is looking at Miami, the next potential casino expansion market.”

Reminders
Seven Stars cardholders, don’t forget you have only until March 31 to complete your annual celebration dinner and trip, order your gift, and, if applicable, complete your Signature Experience.  Trips require a 30-day advance notice, so make your plans by the end of February.

Tier Levels: It’s Not Just Gold, Platinum, Diamond and Seven Stars Anymore
My guess is that, similar to direct mail promotions and even certain products, Caesars is testing several ways to bridge the gap between Diamond and Seven Stars.  As I’ve written before, several Midwest casinos, as well as the Grand in Biloxi, have General Managers Clubs (some actually have separate physical locations for the clubs; others are just “virtual” and offer special quarterly or monthly benefits); about 15 months ago Rincon (and perhaps others) introduced Diamond Select and Diamond Signature cards, below; and the Atlantic City casinos have their “TR Insider” program which begins its second quarter this month.

Survey Says: New Year’s Resolutions
Among the additions to my list, suggested by readers:
Allow Companion cardholders (who do not qualify through their play) to bring one guest into Diamond and Seven Stars Lounges.

Offer free slot play as an alternative to the annual gift.
Be more sensitive to singles, as well as those widowed or divorced; too many events are so couple-oriented that those traveling by themselves feel uncomfortable or less welcome.
Allow Total Rewards credits (comp dollars) to be used toward airfare, rental cars and other travel – similar to Mohegan Sun’s player’s card program.

Survey: New Year’s Eve
I attended the parties at Caesars in Atlantic City, and I heard lots of nice comments about Bally’s parties in Atlantic City, but what about the rest of the country (and Caesars Windsor in Canada)?  How were those celebrations?  Send me an e-mail (sevenstarsinsider@gmail.com ) and I’ll share your thoughts – anonymously, of course.

Darryl D. McEwen, Publisher
Seven Stars Insider

Photo: Pulse of Las Vegas Blog

Her Name Is Annabelle

I love steak, but don’t eat it as much as I used to (which is probably a good thing). One of my favorite New York (and Atlantic City) steakhouses is coming to Las Vegas soon and I’m stoked. Along with the food Caesars is bringing in the iconic cow that sits atop of the New York OLD HOMESTEAD for the opening at Caesars Palace next week.

I never reprint press releases, but I’m stoked and learned something from this press release – The cow has a name – Annabelle!

Yes, I’m a wee bit excited about Old Homestead opening in Las Vegas. Learn a little below.

Annabelle, the celebrity cow perched two stories above the entrance of the legendary Old Homestead Steakhouse in Manhattan, is moo-ving to Las Vegas. She begins her cross-country trek today and will arrive in Las Vegas on Dec. 20, in time for the grand opening of Old Homestead Steakhouse at Caesars Palace. Annabelle’s admirers are encouraged to follow her journey to Las Vegas at www.twitter.com/oldhomesteadlvand stay tuned for more details upon her arrival.

Fans of Annabelle should not be concerned, as the iconic brown and white cow isn’t being put out to pasture. Dressed in white butcher coats and wearing white gloves, a team of moo-ving men specializing in bovine transport will gently remove Annabelle from the restaurant’s Broadway-like marquee, where she has been perched for the past 60 years as a fixture in the center of New York City’s fashionable Meatpacking District. Before setting her into – or more likely, onto – a super-stretch luxury limousine stocked with plenty of hay, corn feed, moo juice, a slot machine and a blackjack tutorial handbook, the team will groom Annabelle and dress her up in gown, top hat and bow tie. Taking full advantage of the limo, Annabelle plans to ride around Midtown before heading to the airport.

The divine bovine intends to visit several major U.S. landmarks and graze through a few malls for some holiday shopping on her way to Las Vegas. One of the emotional highlights of her trip will be an overnight stay at the Nebraska farm where she was born and raised. Annabelle is no stranger to the spotlight, having been featured in several motion pictures and on hit shows such as “Seinfeld” and “The Sopranos.” She has also been photographed by renowned artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, whose photos are displayed in the restaurant’s Schnabel Room.

Old Homestead Steakhouse is one of New York City’s most historic restaurants, set to open its first location on the west coast at Caesars Palace. With more than 6,000 square-feet, the new restaurant will feature a total of 250 seats with a full dining room, private dining room, lounge and bar. Guests will be introduced to several signature dishes from the classic New York City menu including the popular colossal crab cake, 32-ounce Gotham rib-eye steak and the Old Homestead New York-style cheesecake. Additionally, new menu items will be created exclusive to the Las Vegas location.

See Annabelle at home (NYC Old Homestead)

Vegas Vacation Notes

I used to take notes when I went on trips to Atlantic City and even sometimes in Las Vegas but I haven’t done it in a while. Last week a friend was in town and I took notes and caught much of what I did. As always there are a couple holes in my memory, but that happens. I’ll be writing up most of the trip between AC2LV and Vegas Chatter.

The photo above is the view of CityCenter from my room at Planet Hollywood.

UPDATE: This story was retitled from the original “staycation”, because I hate that word.

Sat
Car broke
Harrahs Check in
Upgrade
Diamond Lounge 1 drink turns to 4
Room old, but nice
Diamond Lounge 1 drink turns to 3. Waiter remembers us.
Craps, down $97. Then $3 hard 6, $5 hard 6, $5 hard 6, $5 hard 6 out. Bets for the boys and shooter.
Cosmo packed.
QOTSA
Henry Sucked. Music Sucked. Biggest buzzkill.
Cab line 20-30 minutes.
Walked to PH, no cab line.

Sun
Coffee
.25 BP VP
Room
Coffee
BJ
Check in to PH
Room fine
Cochon – AWESOME
Chandelier Bar
Caesars Craps Lesson & VP
PH
ZZZZZZ

Mon
Room coffee bad
Drop car to be fixed
Coffee Bean – Hard chairs, slow wifi
Afternoon – something sober
Striphouse – good steak, spicy wine
Peepshow – Almost fell asleep
Drinks/VP @ Sportsbook bar – bad
Hangover slots – mesmerizing, but too much $$$
UPDATE: PH BJ, TX woman, Staying on 12, BAD JUJU, lose
Gigantic Sevens – awesome
Dragons Spinning – awesomer
Heinekin Light
ZZZZZZZZZ

Tues
Early rise
Room coffee still bad
Starbucks diamond line returns
Starbucks now has wifi
Afternoon – something sober
Diamond Lounge – Vegas Bomb, snacks
Caesars – Casa Fuente – cigars & sangria
Caesars – Drinks @ Lobby bar
Cosmo – Pizza, girl burp loud
Cosmo – Girls like shoes
PH – ZZZZZZZZ

Weds
Early rise
Room coffee – put in machine, forgot to make it
Starbucks – Alcove near mall – write
Lunch @ Holsteins – Cereal Bowl Shake, Mike Tyson, Roberto Duran
El Cortez – $3 single deck BJ, $5 Pai Gow, $3 Craps, Dudes on Don’t = jerks
3 bands playing
Four Queens 2-1 buffet
6:5 blackjack
penny 100 play video poker
back to PH
ZZZZZZZ

Thurs
Early rise
Room coffee – still nasty
Starbucks packed – TGFD!
Late Check out
Pack
In and Out
Airport
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