iPads Popping Up All Over Vegas

It was inevitable, but we’re finally seeing iPad’s popping up in Las Vegas.  After CES I pointed (on Vegas Chatter) out that tablets would begin their invasion on casinos and gave examples on how they would be used.  As usual, casinos are a little slow to move but they’re starting.  Cosmopolitan is using the iPad little closer to what I imagined at check in for restaurants and such.  Meanwhile,  CUT at Palazzo is now using iPads for their wine lists.

The iPad displays the entire beverage list including wine selections, cocktails and spirits and is delivered to the table when guests arrive.  CUT currently features 10 iPad tablets utilizing the wine application SmartCellar designed by the company Incentient.  The SmartCellar system offers an interactive approach to displaying the wine list and allows sommeliers to modernize their approach to educating and arming their guests with the insight to help guide their selections and maximize enjoyment of their dining experience.

I love to see technology moving my experiences forward and more efficiently and pretty like.  I’m looking forward to seeing them continue to enhance meals and vacations overall.  This is just the beginning.

apple ipad
apple ipad

Vegas Memories Featuring Dido “White Flag”

I was tweeting back and forth with a few people the other night and I was brought back one of my favorite Vegas memories that I’m finally deciding to share.

As I’ve said before a lot of my Vegas memories are tied to music that I hear on a particular trip.  The soundtrack to this day was Dido’s “White Flag“, a song I would normally not listen to, notice or think about.

This trip to Las Vegas was for a friends bachelor party a few years ago.  I wasn’t as experienced as I am now, but I was one of the few people that had been to Las Vegas, so I knew where we needed to be and when and how often.

We decided to get an early start to our first morning in town.  After a 99 cent mimosas over breakfast at Harrah’s we headed over to Bellagio for a little blackjack at 10:something AM.  After a few amazing vodka drinks most of us were buzzed by 11am.  This is when I noticed Dido playing for the first of many times this day.

It wasn’t even noon when we left the Bellagio and headed downtown.  It was my first time downtown.  We did a lot of exploring, but since it was a bachelor party we, initially, decided to skip gambling and went to the world famous Glitter Gulch for some more drinks and entertainment.

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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.

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.

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.

Vegas Report – Fight Night!

I headed over to Mirage just before 5pm to pick up tickets for the closed circuit viewing of the Manny Pacquiao & Ricky Hatton fight.  As I’ve stated numerous times before these are two of my favorite boxers.

There was a few hours before the fight so I played a little 3 card poker.  I had a great table with a few nice drinks.  3 of a kind, again, put me up $200 by the time I walked away.  I haven’t been to the Mirage in a few years and the basic layout hasn’t changed much, but the casino has been updated.  I decided to find out where the fight viewing was and found that it was as far away as humanly possible.  I walked through the mall and most of the ballrooms.  There was some kind of military ball as well as some kind of Miss Vietnam pageant.  I took a pit stop by the Terry Fator theater to get a drink and take a look at the pretty women with their ball gowns.

After finding the fight location I headed back to the casino to gamble for a little while longer.  I had a few more drinks and played 3 play video poker for a while.  I left $24 up, but is it really a win if I still have the ticket?

The ballroom was PACKED for the viewing.  I’d say that the room was filled with about 65% of the people favoring Ricky Hatton.  The fight was a landslide and Manny destroyed Ricky.  The Brits, who we so loud before the fight, whimpered out quietly.  I’m happy to have been in Vegas to see this.


Highlights: Pacquiao/HattonMore amazing videos are a click away

After the fight I headed to Samba the Brazilian steakhouse at the Mirage.

dinner-after-manny

At Samba the Green side of the stump means go – bring me the meats!  I’ve been here before and got sick from over-eating so I selected my food accordingly.  Again, everything was good.  I did a good job selecting my meats and didn’t over-eat this time.

On the way out of the Mirage I noticed how crowded the casino was, but few people were gambling.  There were $5 tables  wide open with few takers.  I was surprised by this, but wasn’t slowed from heading to the Hard Rock Casino.  The cab line was huge and the strip was packed, but that only slowed down progress.

I haven’t been to the HRC in just over a year so a quick walk through was in order.   The casino and bar were both packed.  The casino itself, seemed to be pushed together to make room for slots and a go-go stage.  I hate the changes and hope this changes when the casino finishes expansion.  There were so many douchebags with Ed Hardy gear that I wanted to puke.  I sat down to play 3 card poker at a wide open  $5 table.  I was so indifferent that I barely paid attention to my $100 as it went away.  I was just happy to get out of there without the douchebaggery rubbing off on me.

This was a pretty early night as I headed back to Caesars at about 1:30…

Vegas Report – Prime Time!

…Friday night I got dressed and headed over to Bellagio for dinner at Prime.  It was at this time I realized that 8pm is a perfect time for dinner in Las Vegas.  I order a glass of wine at the bar while waiting for the table.  We’re taken outside to the patio for dinner.  The weather was perfect.  The patio was at the edge of the lake in front of Bellagio and the view was great.

prime-view

I’m not much of a tourist so I didn’t realize that the water show happens every 15 minutes on the nose.  It was pretty cool to be sitting outside about to have steak watching the show.  Dinner probably lasted 2 hours because I think I saw the whole cycle of shows.

dinner-show

Having a winning afternoon and a little too much to drink I decided to splurge on dinner and I ordered a Kobe beef strip.  It was only 6 ounces and cost $150.  The smallish portion was actually perfect to soak up the alcohol and provided a nice base for the evening.  It was also the best piece of steak I’ve ever had.  Mac and cheese and onion rings were the sides and a nice compliment to the steak.  Another GREAT dinner.

After dinner I headed out to the casino for a little gambling.  One of the best things of gambling at Bellagio is that the drinks served are fantastic.  Tonight was no different.  After sitting down at a 3 card poker table I had a few more kettel one and soda’s.  About an hour and a half later I was up another $400 and decided it was time to hang out with some younger people at the Palms.

The Palms was rocking as usual.  Plenty of hot girls.  This is probably where it hit me that half the girls in Vegas have not learned how to walk in heels.  It’s pretty funny to watch girls on the edge of falling over while they try to look hot.

Anyway, I sat down for yet another session of 3 card poker.  I don’t think I’ve ever played this much 3 card poker in one day.  The drinks at the Palms were not awesome and the service was not as fast as the other casinos so I ordered double since the rest of the table was doing so.  I was dealt 3 of a kind after about 20 minutes and that set the tone for the time at Palms.  After couple more hours I walked away up another $300.

It was time to see how the other half lives at the Gold Coast.  The Gold Coast has done some remodeling since I was there last.  I’m not sure if TGIFridays would be considered an upgrade, but it was prefect for a 2am (or 3am) snack.  It was about to close, but that didn’t stop the last order from going in.  It was perfect.

I’m not sure if it was waking up at 7am or the many many drinks I had, but I was pooped.  After losing $100 in Pai Gow I headed back to Caesars Palace.  I had a great cab driver, who offered lots of laughs.  I don’t remember if I gambled at all when I go back to Caesars.  I do know that PURE was emptying and the corral they have for people was being broken down.

Off to bed.  The next day was Manny vs. Ricky…

Vegas Report – Thursday – Let’s Roll!

…after checking out the room it was time to explore Caesars Palace.  After walking around the casino a little bit I decided that I needed a snack before dinner.  I hit up Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill.  It was just opening for dinner so I decided on the baby romaine salad.  This was a fancy name for a Caesar salad with chorizo.  It was damn good and the perfect snack.

I found a strange looking 7 card/3 hand video poker game by Shadow Bar and decided to get my gambling started.  Since I really didn’t know anything about this I played $20 that went away rather quickly.  I then swore this game off because it wasn’t really fun.

I went back up to the room to change for dinner and watch the end of game 6 of Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics.  Of course this game ended up going to overtime.  Since I haven’t been to Palazzo, I got there with plenty of time to walk around.  I signed up for Club Grazi online and went to pick up my card.  I forgot that I received a $50 gaming credit when I signed up.  That would have been awesome if the machines would accept the card.  I decided to have a drink at the bar while I lost another $20 on video poker.  I couldn’t see the TV’s, but the bartender was getting updates and the Bulls and Celtics ended up going to a game 7.

It was time for what I was assuming would be the highlight of the night – Carne Vino.  I sat at the bar waiting for some friends and had a wonderful glass of Valpolicella.

carne-wino

As the glass was emptying my friends arrived and it was off to mangia!  After watching this video about 20 times I could not be more excited for what was in store.  No appetizer, no funny business, just bring me the steak.  Being the polite people we are we decided to wait while the final steak was delivered.

bone

In the meantime, my porterhouse was taken off the bone and drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil.  I’ve eaten a lot of steak, but this piece of meat was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen.  It was hard to wait and 5-10 minutes felt like 30 minutes.

steak

The steak was accompanied with mashed potato zeppole.  I nice creamy and crunchy compliment to the steak.  The delay in the final steak delivery proved to have one upside surprise – Free Dessert!  We were presented with a trio of sorbet for the table: Rhubarb, Banana and Date (I think).  Banana was the clear winner for me, but the table was split.  Overall, this was a great dinner and maybe the best steak I’ve had in Las Vegas!

After dinner we parted ways and it was time to go downtown.  We watched KISS on the Fremont Street Experience.  I’m not a KISS fan, but this was pretty awesome.

kiss-downtown

After the show was over we walked around Fremont Street just so my friend could enjoy the spectacle.

gulch

After walking around for a little while I went on the hunt for Golden Monkey.  This is my favorite penny slot and not located in many casinos.  However, the Golden Nugget has a bank of these machines so I headed in.  After roaming around for a few minute I found it and proceeded to lose another $20.  It seems as if any time I put a $20 in that nothing is coming out, so I decided to stop after the loss.

I moved to a mini Pai Gow table to really get the night moving.  Pai Gow is kind of a fun game, but with all of the pushes it’s great for drinking.  After about 8 drinks and 90 minutes I left the Golden Nugget up $100 dollars.  I was happy with that and after small rolling for the first day I was happy to be up a little heading back to Caesars.

Once back to Caesars I promptly lost $300 sitting at a 3 card poker table.  It was the most expensive Coors Light in my history of gambling.  I may have won 2 hands.  It was an aweful session.  It was just after 3am and I was hitting a wall.  I decided to play $5 9/6 Jacks or Better on my way back to the room.  I lost $300 quicker than I did in 3 card poker.  That was a sign that it was time to call it a night.

All in all my first day in Vegas lasted over 25 hours.  I had a great meal and was buzzed enough to pass out quickly…I only had about 3 hours of sleep and it was off to Friday…