Frugal hound - one who sniffs out the best deals possible without compromising quality.
(Source: Merriam-Westie's Collegiate Dictionary)
Dear Diary - April 14,
Ann, the former Ms. Westie, and I approach the final hours before a Las Vegas trip differently.
Ann is having both her hair and nails done today.
I shaved and bathed.
Ann purchased two new outfits for the trip.
I am so into recycling.
Ann is already packed.
I have moved my luggage from the attic to the bedroom floor.
Ann uses a packing list.
I use Westie's rule of exception: if it is clean and hole fee, it is packed.
Ann's carry on bag is full of oceans of lotions, elixirs and beauty items.
My carry on bag is full of coupons, certificates, restaurant reviews and lucky charms.
Dear Diary - April 15,
We departed Rancho de Westie at 9:30AM and in short order deposited Max J. Schipperke at the VCA Cromwell Vet where he will be staying for the duration of our trip. Since his last visit, the 'corporate office' has eliminated the frequent stay program so he won't be accruing credits towards a future stay. I am pretty certain VCA is an abbreviation for Very Cheap A....s.
We arrive at Executive Valet Parking where I am using frequent parker credits saving us approximately $75. As usual, Ann is flying free courtesy of SWA's benevolent frequent flyer program while I am paying full freight. I initially booked our tickets in December but during the intervening period I rebooked my flight 3 times as airfares declined.
Our nonstop flight arrived on time and we were soon on the shuttle to the rental car facility. I have booked two separate weekly rentals from Alamo in order to extract maximum value from the use of their $25 online coupon. There were no economy cars in the lot so we were "upgraded" to a compact. Shortly after exiting the facility I heard a scraping sound from under the car, but continued on for a few miles when the sound reoccurred. As we continued, the loudness and frequency became alarming, but we were on the highway so I grasped my St. Christopher's medal firmly and kept on truckin'.
On our arrival at the Eastside Cannery's parking lot, I discovered a large piece of molding behind the front bumper was almost touching the pavement.
We held reservations for 12 nights so at check-in I inquired about a "courtesy" upgrade to a deluxe room. We were assigned room 1335, a deluxe room that compared to a standard, has an additional set of floor to ceiling windows, a Jacuzzi and substantially more square footage.
After tossing our bags on the bed and freshening up, we headed to Ellis Island for a merlot (Ann) and Hefe Weiss (me) (2.5 Sips). http://www.ellisislandcasino.com/
McCormick & Schmick's was offering a special menu priced at $10.40 in celebration of the final day for filing the 2008 federal tax income form. After being seated I requested the special menu and was told it was only offered in the bar. We beat a hasty retreat to the bar area where Ann ordered fish & chips. The chips were standard fare, but the fish batter was not crisp and the accompanying coleslaw was pretty mediocre. In contrast, my pecan crusted catfish topped with Cajun remoulade sauce and accompanied by mashed potatoes and crisp green beans was delicious as usual. As a bonus, we received a $10.40 certificate good toward our next meal in the dining room. ($25.42, 4 Forks (mine), 2 Forks (Ann)) http://www.mccormickandschmicks.com/
It was just a short drive back to the rental facility and in only a few minutes we were off in a mid-size vehicle headed for Wal-Mart, located across from Sam's, where we picked up a survival package that included a case each of water and caffeine free diet Pepsi. After returning tot our room, I headed for the casino floor while Ann took advantage of the Jacuzzi.
Dear Diary - April 16,
From this point forward I am going to call you Di, it seems much more personal wouldn't you agree?
I was up very early for my first morning session on the FPDW (full pay deuces wild) machines which turned out to be a loser. On returning to the room I soon fell asleep while Ann began preparing herself for the day.
For breakfast we headed west to the recently opened M Resort. http://www.themresort.com/ Our first impression as we approached was ho hum, but the interior is beautiful with of the restaurants and lounges featuring floor to ceiling windows offering expansive views of the valley.
There were three smiling ladies staffing the slot booth, but no customers at 9AM, so it took little time for us to sign-up for Imagine Rewards cards. We next took a $10 coupon from a locals mailer to the Red Cup Café where we were seated in a booth facing a wall of windows. http://www.themresort.com/redcup.html Service with a smile is what we encountered throughout this trip each time we visited M Resort and this morning was no exception. We each ordered a bagel with cream cheese with Ann also making use of her red cup by ordering coffee. The bagels very likely hadn't been boiled, but they filled the tummy and the price was right. ($3.08, 1.5 Forks)
Our next stop was the Gold Coast where, using match play (MP) coupons from a R-J insert, we netted a $23 profit at the craps table. We then drove across the street to the Palms where team Westie struck again for a $10 profit using MPs from the Las Vegas Advsisor (LVA).
Since we were in the immediate vicinity, we stopped at Bon Jour Euro Bakers where we purchased a Milequille (puff pastry layered with cream) and a Marquis (a vanilla and chocolate mousse concoction). I planned photographing our desserts, but Ann was on them like a swarm of locusts in an Iowa corn field. ($7.25, 4.5 Forks)
The remainder of the afternoon was spent reading and dozing though Ann put in her first VP session. At the stroke of 5 we made the short drive to Sam's for merlots and then attempted to play a pair of MPs at the craps table, but were told it was 1 per roll.
Fuego at the Fiesta-Henderson got the call for dinner this evening.
http://www.fiestahendersonlasvegas.c.../fuegomenu.pdf Over the years we have enjoyed many meals here, but for whatever reason we haven't returned in well over 5 years. Our waiter served us warm Parker House rolls, very different from those served in Boston, but excellent nonetheless. Entrees include a choice of either soup or salad, a starch and a sautéed vegetable of the day. We each chose the 12 ounce prime rib which was supersized, tender and delicious. We finished off this feast with a shared crème brulee. ($34.99, 3.5 Forks)
Note: prices of meals include the cost of any certificates used plus gratuity and taxes. In this case it was a $50 certificate acquired from a local radio station.
Our waiter was very personable and I soon became convinced he had waited on us in the past. Near the conclusion of our meal I asked him how long had he been waiting on tables and had he ever sold perfume? Sure enough it was the same guy who sold Ann a few of bottles of pseudo perfume back in 2003. His current sideline is author of Italian Mothers Never Die, a book about how his deceased mother is responsible for untold miracles and guides his day-to-day activities from the other side. I think if this were true mom would have nagged him until he found a new hair stylist.
On our return to the Eastside we won another $10 at the craps table.
Dear Di - April 17,
This morning's VP session could best be described as financial water boarding. Losing on my first few days of each trip seems to be developing into an unfortunate pattern so I am thinking in the future maybe I should not gamble until the fourth day. My buddy TJ, the slot shift supervisor, stopped by to say hello and offered to comp breakfast when I was ready; but when I was ready I discovered TJ had mysteriously vaporized.
As we exited the Eastside, the temperature was heading for the upper 70's and the skies were beautiful. We decided on the Sunset Station buffet for breakfast where we were delighted to discover the quality has improved since our last visit. Food is now put out in smaller batches and the staff seems diligent in wiping up any spillage. On my first pass I chose fresh grapefruit sections, cantaloupe and ambrosia. http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1843...239195,00.html I replenished with easy over eggs, a small dollop of corned beef hash, wedge of cheese quesadilla, Italian baked potatoes and carved ham. Everything was very fresh and delicious with the exception of the quesadilla which was limp and tasteless though a liberal application of guacamole and salsa helped immensely. ($3, LVA, Comps, 3 Forks)
We made the short drive to Massage Envy on Marks Street to check out the facilities and make an appointment for Ann early next week. Our next stop was the Whitney Library where we made computer reservations, checked out a few books and viewed a historical photo exhibit. The photos included Sammy Davis Jr, Elvis, Madonna, Elton and many others. (2 Claps)
On returning to the Eastside we parted company with me headed for the room and
Ann off to visit the VP machines.
In the late afternoon we drove to the South Point for pre dinner merlots. (2 Sips) followed by dinner at R. E. Tapas. We started with stuffed dates (4.5 Forks) and pequilla rellenos (2.5 Forks). Our second order was crabbie paddies (2.5 Forks) and grilled mahi mahi (2.5 Forks). There were only a few other dining this Friday evening and the food seemed less creative than in the past. ($15.78, Restaurant.com, 2.5 Forks)
We returned to the South Point for the twin bill of Bill Medley and Paul Revere & the Raiders. The latter started off and put in about 60 minutes which we enjoyed more than when we saw the group perform alone. Bill Medley was backed-up by the Raiders plus his own musical director on keyboards. His performance covered a number of Righteous Brothers hits including a few duets with his son Darrin who is a Raider. His daughter, McKenna, also joined on stage as well as performing a few solo numbers. (4.5 Claps)
We were both thirsty on exiting the showroom so we bellied up to the bar and ordered mudslides. (3.5 Sips)
Dear Di - April 18,
I got hammered at this morning's VP session, hitting a number of natural quads, but none walked or talked like a duck. After rousting Ann out of bed and a quick shower and shave for me, we sauntered over to Snaps, the Eastside's coffee shop, for breakfast. After reviewing the menu for a few minutes I narrowed down my choices to $3.49 for a short stack of two pancakes or $3.49 for 3 pancakes, 2 eggs and hash browns. Guess what I ordered - burp! ($7.69, LVA, 3 Forks)
I hitched up our buggy for the drive to Boulder City where the local art guild was running an arts festival. Exhibitors are limited to those from neighboring states and most should find another hobby, but Ann managed to find a very nice polished glass necklace before I escorted her back to the car. http://www.bcfineartsfestival.com/
On our return to the room I napped and then read, napped and read a little more until it was time to depart for pre dinner merlots at Sam's. We heard music so we followed the sound to Roxy's lounge and listened to Skid Rodeo, a country group that we have enjoyed in the past. (3 Claps)
Dinner was at the Greek Bistro, a very casual restaurant on Marks Street in Henderson which we enjoyed in December.
Ann ordered the chicken souvlaki plate while I requested the gyro plate. Each entrée included warm pita, a salad, rice pilaf and tzadsiki. Ann's breast (chicken) was juicy and my gyro meat was both ample and moist, but the side salad and pilaf were disappointing. I tendered a 2/1 coupon from the Entertainment book, but we were told they stopped accepting the coupons in February, but would accept ours. ($23.15, 2.5 Forks)
Our last stop this evening was Boulder Station's Fixx Lounge to listen to Van de Guzman. http://buddyhead.typepad.com/medicat...ed_these_.html He is a pretty talented singer who accompanies himself on keyboards, sax and the karaoke machine. I will forever associate Van with the Macarena which he performed at the old, now defunct, Vacation Village. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlzwuFkn88U
During a break we headed to the FPDW machines where I lost, but Ann hit her first quad deuces of the trip. Our last stop of the evening was Marilyn's Lounge at the Eastside for some old school music courtesy of the group Next Movement. This quartet sings many Motown standards and most frequently may be found performing Downtown at the Plaza's. http://www.thenextmovementshow.com/ (3.5 Claps)
Dear Di - April 19,
I have 4 morning VP sessions under my belt without a single quad deuces and paranoia is beginning to set in. Have I been re-infected by the Benny Binion curse or is the bad karma originating from our room on the 13th floor? I turned to the yellow pages and placed an emergency call to the local affiliate of Exorcists-R-Us.
On departing the Eastside we followed Rita Rudner's recommendation and used Desert Inn to get to the Maple Tree Country Kitchen. http://www.usmenuguide.com/mapletree.htm In September I took a photo of Susan, our server, and on entering presented her with a copy. This led to the owner joining us for a chat and his coming over to tell us she has posted the photo on her Facebook page.
Our orders were the same as in September; strawberry cream cheese stuffed French toast topped with fresh strawberries and real maple syrup for Ann and the New England Benny, a pair of crab cakes served on top of English muffins halves and topped with poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce for me. ($16.39, Entertainment, 4.5 Forks)
Continuing west on Spring Mountain Road we stopped at L'Elysee Bakery where we picked up 4 desserts - purple taro cake, black forest cake, egg custard and cappuccino mousse. It is hard to believe but over the course of the following several days we shared each one and all were unexceptional. ($3.50, KSHP, 1 Fork)
On returning to the Eastside we were disappointed to find our room was ready so we returned to the casino floor and quickly netted a $10 win at the craps table before heading to opposite ends of the casino. Ann played FPDW while I scored a royal on the 10-line, 1 cent, 9/6 JOB machines for a thrilling $40 win.
In the late afternoon we again scored a $10 win on the craps table before heading to the lounge to listen to The GoodFellas. We enjoyed the fella's outfits, but their voices were pretty mediocre. In an example of our visiting Las Vegas too often, I recognized a couple on the dance floor who look like fire plugs and were last seen a few years back at Fiesta-Rancho dancing to the music of the group DooWop.com.
(1 Clap) http://www.myspace.com/objectclassid...e6d11cf96b8444
We drove to the Suncoast Casino and enjoyed a pair of merlots using ticket stubs from the Plaid Tidings show at the Gold Coast back in December, 2006. (1.5 Sips)
Our next stop was the nearby J. W. Marriot for dinner at Shizen, a beautiful, but largely unoccupied Japanese restaurant. http://www.rampartcasino.com/shizen.htm We started with potato croquettes (3 Forks) and soft shell crab (0.5 Forks). The crab was unrecognizable, overcooked, tasteless and overpriced. We ach ordered the misoyaki butterfish, black cod (4.5 Forks) which was accompanied by miso soup (1.5 Forks), salad (dressing congealed - 1 Fork), rice and green tea. ($36.45, R.com, 2.5 Forks)
We returned to the Suncoast for what will likely be the Scintas last performance in Las Vegas for some time. http://www.thescintas.com/ We have seen this family of performers off and on for several years and found them to be entertaining, but very resistant to change. Joey Scinta is now totally inept and, if I understood them correctly, Peter O'Donnell, the drummer and adopted Scinta, will not be performing with them in the future. No reason was provided, but I suspect it has to due with declining revenues. (2 Claps)
Dear Di - April 20,
I chalked up a fifth VP session without quad deuces and I am now becoming desperate. Last night's exorcism failed to remove the curse so my last option appears to be the Ghostbusters.
My breakfast this morning at the Sunset Station buffet included fresh fruit and raspberry yogurt, huevos rancheros and potato pancakes. ($7.53, 2/1 coupon from R-J, 2.5 Forks)
After checking emails at the Whitney Library, we returned to the Eastside where we won $10 on the craps table plus I scored a trinket (fortune cookie) of cash which included a certificate for $5. We played on Ann's card and after waiting in line for close to 30 minutes Ann was told she was 10 points shy. She must have looked so forlorn that the woman took pity and gave her a trinket.
In the late afternoon we fought traffic on our way to Ellis Island for pre dinner libations. Dinner was at Café Ba Ba Reeba in the Fashion Show Mall.
http://www.cafebabareeba.com/vegas/menus/dinner.html This restaurant specializes in both paella and tapas. We started off with a salad of apples, almonds, manchego cheese over organic greens (4), baked goat cheese in a rich tomato sauce (3.5) and dates wrapped in bacon (1.5). We were disappointed by the dates which were overcooked and chewy. I questioned the waiter and he confirmed that this is the way the dish is prepared.
We also ordered paella; mine was mixed seafood with shrimp, scallops, mussels and green beans. Ann ordered the evening's special seafood paella with monkfish, beans and squash. Each was visually unappealing suffering from a heavy hand with the tomato sauce and an absence of saffron. I used a $50 certificate purchased form a radio station. ($38.59, 2 Forks)
We drove to the Las Vegas Hilton to pick up tickets for Friday night's performance of Voices, but first stopped at a craps table where we registered a $10 profit. On passing the Shimmer Cabaret we heard music so I peaked in and saw Earl Turner and Lani Misalucha rehearsing for their opening performance in two days. We quietly sat at a table and enjoyed watching them for over an hour before finally departing.
Dear Di - April 21,
The Ghostbusters were foiled as I once again failed to hit quad deuces. It is not so much the financial loss as the feeling of rejection that I find so depressing.
Sunset Station's buffet received our business this morning with me opting for cranberry juice (waitress error), skim milk, a slice of French toast, potato pancakes and a coconut macaroon or was it two? ($2, points, 2.5 Forks)
I drove Ann to the nearby Massage Envy for her scheduled Swedish massage ($51, 3.5 Hands) and continued on to the nearby Super Cuts for my unscheduled haircut ($15.95, 4 Shears)
On returning to the room I picked up a jersey earned during this morning's session. Later in the afternoon, we played on Ann's card and earned another jersey though the money lost would have outfitted a family of five.
Pre dinner merlots were served at Sam's before it was time to head for Mezzo Bistro Italiano on North Rancho. We first dined at this small southern Italian restaurant in December. http://www.mezzobistro.com/ We started off with a family sized serving of pasta fagioli which was good, but a bit tame to suit my taste buds. Our entrees were eggplant parmesan, a family recipe of the chef, prepared without breading that we found to be both ample and delicious. I used a $25 certificate purchased at a discount from a local radio station. ($29.46, 3 Forks)
I concluded the evening with a short, albeit losing, VP session at the Eastside.
Note to anyone still reading this TR - we have nearly reached the halfway point in this trip so it is may be a good time for you to take a break - maybe stretch your limbs, visit the bathroom and grab a cold one from the refrigerator.
Welcome back, hopefully you all thoroughly washed your hands.
Dear Di - April 22,
Happy Earth Day! As I approached this morning's VP session I remembered a definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. I decided to tack a different course by playing at Boulder Station because it was Senior Day and I would be earning 5 times points. After about an hour of play, I was dealt a pair of deuces and filled in with 2 more - yes, my first quads of the trip! On the downside, the remainder of the session proved to be a financial disaster.
We started off by dropping our laundry off at a wash and fold before proceeding to the 50's Diner on S. Jones. The restaurant is decorated in all things 50 including photos, model cars, album covers and two large murals. We each ordered stuffed French toast - mine with cinnamon apples and Ann with blueberries. The food and service were very good and I look forward to our return. ($8.43, KSHP, 4 Forks)
The next stop was the Palms where we used coupons from a locals mailer to score a $10 win at the craps table and a $11.25 profit from free play.
In a demonstration of self-flagellation I drove us to the South Point where under Benny's watchful eye, we engaged in a short VP session on the slowest machines west of Sam's. Ann played FPDW while I chose 9/6/50 JOB. I broke even while Ann made a nominal profit.
Our next stop was the KSHP road show at La Foccacia on Eastern to redeem a $10 gift certificate earned by making purchases during a recent marathon show.
Ann was exhausted from our running around so I dropped her off and continued on to Walgreens for another case of water, the gas station for a fill-up and finally Boulder Station to pick up a pair of tote bags earned during my morning VP session.
After a few hours rest we headed out again with intermediate stops to pick up our next car rental, the laundry and finally M Resort. We parked on level 5 of the parking garage which is level 3 on the elevator. I asked a guy in the elevator had ever been here before and he responded 'not in this elevator'. It was funny at the time - maybe you had to be there.
The game plan for this evening was Marinelli's for appetizers to be followed by our main courses at Veloce Cibo. Though it was only 5:30PM, we were unable to secure at table at Marinelli's, but ordered off the menu at the bar with us sharing an antipasti (San Daniele prosciutto, salami, mortadella, Reggiano parmersan, assorted olives and grilled vegetables) and an order of lightly breaded calamari accompanied by a fresh tomato sauce. I was able to use a $20 off locals coupon. ($7.23, 3.5 Forks)
It was an hour before our Veloce reservation so we watched the NBA playoff broadcast at the sports book while I enjoyed a Weinhenstephaner Heffeweissbeier, try saying that 3 times or even once, from the 32 Degree Draft Bar. The beer was free with a locals coupon, but I found it to have a curious after taste. (2 Sips) http://www.themresort.com/32draftmenu.html
We took an elevator up to Veloce Cibo located on the 16th floor of the hotel. This restaurant reminds one of the Voodoo Café at the Rio which the Marnell family owned back in the good old days. http://www.themresort.com/veloce.html The restaurant occupies the entire floor with spectacular views of the valley through the floor to ceiling windows running the length of the restaurant. We were seated in a booth providing us with a clear, but distant view of lights from the Strip.
As we began to peruse the menu, 4 couples were seated at a table immediately in front of ours. One individual with spiky blonde hair looked familiar, but it took us a few minutes before realizing it was Jimmy Hopper.
http://www.jimmyhopper.com/introMain2006.html He could have literally dined with us had he turned around. Speaking of the good old days, Jimmy initially gained fame performing in the Rio's lounge before the Marnell family sold the hotel to Harrahs.
Back to the menu, we were not sufficiently hungry to order entrees so we settled on a few small plates. The first was chicken lettuce wraps - spicy chicken, peanuts, scallions and water chestnuts with a black bean sauce. There was not enough black bean sauce to offset the dryness of the chicken. We fared better with our second choice - crab cakes served over cole slaw with papaya sauce. Once again we were able to use a $20 off coupon. ($13.62, 3 Forks)
I still had a few more coupons so we closed out the evening at the Revello Lounge. http://www.themresort.com/ravello.html Ann ordered a Sheer Entertainment - Kahluha and Frangellico topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of Amaretto. I am looking forward to making this liquid dessert in a martini glass at home. (5 Sips) I ordered the M Dazed - Stoli Citros vodka, blue curacao, limonello liquer, fresh lemon and lemon infused sugar rum. (3 Sips) Oh yeah, there was a band performing - the L. A. All Stars. (1 Clap) As I listened to this semi talented group I could not help thinking what a blast it would be if Jimmy Hopper was hired to perform at Revello.
Dear Di - April 23,
The beat goes on with yet another losing VP session this morning. We drove out to Eastern Avenue to Brooklyn Bagel, but discovered it had relocated so I reversed direction and located the Original Sunrise Café. http://www.usmenuguide.com/sunrisecafe.html
We both decided on eggs Benedict served open faced on a bagel with a side of fresh fruit. The eggs were slightly overdone, but the Hollandaise sauce was a winner. ($10.15, KSHP, 3.5 Forks)
After several driver errors, I managed to pull into the parking garage at Bill's Gamblin' Hall in order to visit the spring exhibition in the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. This year's exhibit features a butterfly house plus formal gardens of Italy, England, Japan and France. (4 Claps)
On our return to the Eastside I passed out while reading the newspaper while Ann enjoyed a profitable VP session.
Our pre dinner drinks were merlot and Hefe Weiss at Ellis Island before we departed for McCormick & Schmick's. We shared a delicious beet salad with warm goat cheese and a balsamic reduction. Ann chose the blackened catfish entrée served over spinach, crab and polenta. I requested the steak and shrimp combo - a 6 ounce filet mignon and 3 medium sized baked stuffed shrimp accompanied by green beans and roasted red potatoes. My order included a crème brulee which I shared under threat of dismemberment. We were able to use two certificates - one for $10.40 received earlier on this trip plus one for a free entrée in celebration of Ann's December birthday. ($42.94, 4.5 Forks)
Our last stop was Ovation lounge at Green Valley Ranch where the Lon Bronson All Star Band is holding court on Thursday nights. http://www.lonbronson.com/ The band plays R&B, R&R and funk and features a 6 piece horn section and 3 singers. Band membership is fluid, for example Frank 'Rocco' Prestia from Tower of Power sat in for a few numbers at the beginning of each set. (4.5 Claps)
Dear Di - April 24,
There is no reason to begin our day on a negative note so let's just not discuss this morning's VP session and begin with us heading off for the Green Valley Ranch buffet. Damn, the boys at Station casinos have reduced the quality of this buffet since our last visit by offering less fresh fruit and yogurt, inferior bacon and inadequate staffing. Not surprisingly, there were few patrons though a 2/1 coupon runs most days in the R-J. ($2, points, LVA, 1 Fork)
We returned to the Eastside where we quickly hit the craps table for a $10 profit followed by a breakeven VP session (Ann) and a losing one (me). The remainder of the afternoon was spent reading the newspaper followed by a power nap for me.
In the late afternoon we returned to Ellis Island where we enjoyed twin Nuts and Berries before departing for Origin India.
We were warmly greeted by Raja, the owner/manager, and his excellent wait staff. Raja told us the chef would like to treat us to a sample of their soon to be released new menu. We started off with papadum accompanied by tamarind and mint sauces which are always excellent. This was followed by panipuri, a popular street snack comprised of a round hollow 'puri' fried crisp and filled with bits of meat, potato and greens balanced on a thin shot glass filled with tamarind, spices and sparkling water. This appetizer is designed to increase one's appetite as if Westie's needs stimulation.
Our next surprise was a tandoori sampler of lamb, chicken and shrimp with fresh sprouts. It was an amazing appetizer in terms of beauty, tenderness and flavor. We were asked how spicy would we like our entrees, I prefer spicy and Ann likes medium so we compromised and requested medium. - go figure.
We again were the recipient of Raja's generosity when his bartender presented us with glasses of ginger ale made from fresh ginger and lime mixed with sparkling water. These proved to be an amazing complement to our entrees of chicken makahani (butter chicken) and lamb Rajwari. Our entrees included black lentils, naan, basmati rice and a small salad.
On exiting we went to the bar to complement the bartender and he gave us a small sample of his black cherry martini - wow! Should I ever end up on death row, this will probably be the last meal I request. ($24.95, other, 5 Forks)
We were running well behind schedule so I put the pedal to the medal as we cruised down Paradise Avenue to the Las Vegas Hilton, but upon arrival I could not find an open space in either the lot or garage. On the second trip I found a spot and we quickly, for seniors, dashed to the Shimmer Cabaret. The show had just started and all seats on main floor were occupied so we were banished to the balcony, but Ann located a vacant table in the front row. Earl and Lani were in fine Voices and put on an excellent show that I am sure will continue to evolve as time goes on. ($33, KSHP, 4 Claps)
Immediately after the show we joined several others for a meet and greet with both stars. Lani came out first and was kind enough to stand for a picture with us followed by Earl who I caught on camera with Ann. Ann mentioned to each of them that we had seen their Monday rehearsal and each responded ?Oh, we wondered who you were'?
This evening we were partying like aging rock stars and not prepared to call it a night so on our return to the Eastside we headed for Marilyn's Lounge where the group Perfect Choice was singing some of our favorites including Dancing Queen and Hotel California. (4 Claps) http://www.vegasshowbiz.com/bands/15/band_15.html
Dear Di - April 25,
On the first hand this morning I was dealt a pair of deuces and drew 2 more for my #2 quads deuces of the trip and then spent the remainder of the session vainly looking to parlay. It was still a bit early when I quit so I drove to a nearby 7-11 for a newspaper. As I exited the store and began to sit down, I realized there was someone in the passenger's seat and it wasn't Ann - oops, sorry. To the women's credit she did not scream though it is possible she had fainted, I was too afraid to look.
We again headed for Brooklyn Bagel, this time to the one on Green Valley Ranch Parkway. We chose toasted blueberry bagels with cream cheese. The bagels were okay though I would be surprised if anyone from NY would have been pleased.
($5.37, Entertainment, 2 Forks)
Our next stop was the Health and Fitness Fair at the South Point where we filled our pocket with free pens, but failed to advance our knowledge of either health or fitness. I did
enter into one contest for a free cremation so I am now waiting for the inevitable sales call.
We then drove to the Fiesta-Henderson and played a little FPDW to build up our appetites before lunch at Grimaldi's Coal Fired Pizza on Eastern Avenue. http://www.grimaldis.com/ I signed each of us up for Grimaldi's newsletter so we each receive a free large, one-item pizza for our birthdays. We chose our regular white pie, ricotta and garlic, with fresh tomatoes. The crust was thin and crisp as we like it and the toppings are always delicious. ($5.69, 3.5 Forks)
I spent the afternoon in deep, deep meditation before we departed for drinks at the South Point; Ann ordered a merlot while I sought solace with a Malibu bay breeze, the latter tasting like an overly sweet rum punch, but I registered no complaint.
We next journeyed over to Twin Creeks Steakhouse at the Silverton.
This restaurant has proven to be one of our favorites in terms of quality, price and service. We received a basket of mixed rolls followed by a salad of spring greens lightly dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette. Ann ordered the 6 ounce filet mignon medium rare while I chose the fresh fish of the day, sea trout over a very dense broth with roasted yellow and red pear tomatoes and red peppers. Both entrees included mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus. Ann said she did not have room for a dessert, but I ordered a tiramisu which we both ended up sharing - go figure. I used a $50 certificate purchased from a local radio station. ($34.97, 4.5 Forks)
On our return to the Eastside we sat in on another set by Perfect Choice (4.5 Claps) before calling it a night.
Dear Di - April 26,
I felt a little love this morning from the Eastside after hitting my #3 quad deuces of the trip.
We drove to Ellis this morning but could not get to the parking garage because there were 8 fire trucks parked on the street or in the driveway. I immediately thought grease fire, but on entering everyone was acting normal though I subsequently located a few firemen checking the vent above the player's club booth. We each opted orders of the French toast which were cooked to perfection. ($7.50, ACG, 3 Forks)
On departing we made our way to the Las Vegas Hilton to play a few MPs, but the stickman would not allow us both to play at the same time. We took our action to the roulette table where we bet odd and even, but ended up losing $20 when the ball landed on the 00.
Our last stop before returning to the Eastside was a dog park off of Flamingo that we could see from our room. The only dog who was at all interested in meeting me was a pit bull that immediately rolled over on his back for a tummy rub when I put my hand out to pet him. Up yours Michael Vick.
At 4PM we reconvened at Marilyn's Lounge to see the group M.O.C.C.A. The group has a large following that responded energetically as the group performed songs such as My Girl, Superstition, RESPECT and Dancing in the Street. (5 Claps)
Sam's received the call for pre merlots before we departed for Austin's Steakhouse in Texas Station.
We started off with a basket of artisan bread and then shared a very good Caesar salad. Our entrée was a mammoth sized ribeye plus we ordered a colossal baked potato that our server split for us. The ribeye was both tender and flavorful, but the baked potato was too well done. We used a $50 certificate that I previously purchased from a radio station. ($32.58, 4 Forks)
Dear Di - April 27,
Now I am really beginning to feel some love after registering my #4 quad deuces of the trip. As Ann slept, I made the drive Chef Fleming's Bake Shop on Water Street in Henderson. This is small bake shop is owned and operated by the Chef Fleming Pederson who hales from Denmark and previously served as head pastry chef at the Golden Nugget for over 15 years. There were no other customers this morning, but the display case was full of temptations. I settled on two Danish pastries ($3.77, 3 Forks) plus I picked up a coffee for Ann at Pin-Ups bar.
On entering the elevator a couple approached so I held the door for them as they carried in 4 large boxes. The woman said I see you have a coffee would you care for a few donuts and proceeded to open up a box. Could I refuse her offer, no way. ($0, 2 Forks)
I tried to checkout online, but discovered there was a discrepancy between the rates being charged and those on my confirmation so I proceeded to the front desk. The first 3 nights were as agreed, but the rates for the remaining nights were exorbitant. The desk clerk told me it was because of the upgrade to a deluxe room so I sought the assistance of the manager. After explaining to me that they do not honor 'courtesy upgrade' requests, I convinced her to back off the additional $822.95 in charges.
Prior to departing we sought out our two housekeepers and rewarded them with our fortune cookie trinkets.
We drove to M Resort for our final 2 nights. http://www.themresort.com/ I booked the first night in Ann's name and the last in mine so we could use a pair of $25 off coupons from a locals mailer. We were assigned room 1011 which overlooked the pool area. The room was beautifully appointed though not as large as our deluxe room at the Eastside.
After unpacking, we proceeded to the slot booth so Ann could get credit for $25 in free slot play from the room coupon plus another $5 from a separate coupon. I also received $5 in free play plus we each had $5 MPs, from the same mailer, that we got approved. I think the booth attendant was probably happy to see us depart.
We needed to wet our whistles so we proceeded to the 32 Degree Draft Bar where we redeemed yet 2 more coupons for free drinks - Ann's was a Pyramid Apricot (4.5 Sips) and mine a Warsteiner Konig Ludwig (4 Sips). We took them to the Vig Deli where we redeemed a $5 locals coupon for a pair of quarter pound all beef doggies with sides of onions and sauerkraut. ($0, 2.5 Forks)
In the late afternoon we made the 4 mile drive to the South Point where we enjoyed tasty, but very sweet, Lemon Meringue Martinis (light rum, Limoncello, Grand Marnier and lemon juice). (3.5 Sips)
Dinner this evening was at Studio B, the buffet at M Resort, using yet 2 more coupons from a locals mailer, a savings of $49.40. The quality of this buffet ranks well above other locals buffets we have visited, but a notch down from the ones at Bellagio and Wynn. Wine and beer are included so I chose a cabernet sauvignon (1 Sip) for myself and on a return trip a merlot (3 Sips) for Ann. ($3, 3.5 Forks) See appendix for the sordid details.
On exiting the buffet we played our $5 MPs at the craps table and registered a $5 win for Team Westie. On returning to the room we were pleasantly surprised to find our bed had been turned down in our absence. Later in the evening we went to the Revello Lounge and enjoyed our M Dazed (me) and Sheer Entertainment (Ann) cocktails. Another California group, the Zippers, was performing and represented only a modest improvement over the L. A. All Stars we saw previously. (2 Claps)
Dear Di - April 28,
I came so close so many times this morning that it is unfortunate I wasn't playing horseshoes instead of video poker.
On returning to the room and showering, I completed the video checkout process. We then went downstairs to check-in under my name, but were told our room was scheduled for maintenance today so we would needed to check into another room though none were currently available and we would need to return in a few hours. Not a problem.
We drove to the Fiesta-Henderson to use 2 free buffet coupons that someone had given me earlier in the week. The Fiesta is temporarily operating a breakfast buffet while the former Baja Beach Café is converted to a dreaded Denny's. This proved to be the smallest and worst buffet we have ever experienced. There was nothing that remotely looked appealing so we settled on cooked to order eggs and hash browns. ($2, 0.5 Forks)
We returned to M Resort and were assigned room 10131 with an excellent view of the pool area and proceeded to the slot booth to get our free play and MPs approved.
Lunch was at the Red Cup Café where we shared an uninspired chicken quesadilla and redeemed a $10 locals coupon. ($2, 2.5 Forks)
In the late afternoon we drove to the Spring Valley Library in order to check-in for tomorrow's flight and then returned to the South Point for our pre dinner merlot (Ann) and lemon drop martini (me). (2.5 Sips)
We originally planned on starting off with appetizers at Veloce Cibo followed by a main course at Marinelli's, but we were not overly hungry so we passed on the appetizers.
http://www.themresort.com/marinellismenu.html Our table was not ready at 7:30PM so we had a 5 minute wait before being seated. The room is on the plain side, depending on the scenic views through the floor to ceiling windows and patio for its vibe.
A bread basket and an EVO/balsamic vinegar mix were delivered to the table while we perused the menu. We each ordered the grilled 'sea bass' served over spinach and orange butter sauce. In a service glitch we received a complimentary appetizer (mixed olives, prosciutto, parmesan cheese, and an artichoke hears) seconds prior to our entrees. I enjoyed the sea bass, actually striped bass, while Ann was disappointed. We used a $20 off coupon from locals mailer. ($38.17, 2.5 Forks)
I returned to the room while Ann played a little VP and soon hitting her #2 quad deuces of the trip. We decided to celebrate by going to the Revello Lounge and ordering a Sheer Entertainment (Ann - 5 Sips) and Grand Mariachi (Patron Reposado, Grand Marinier and fresh line juice (me - 3 Sips) while listening to the Zippers.
Dear Di - April 29,
I caught my #5 quad deuces of the trip, but it did little to offset my accumulated losses. We returned to the Red Cup Café with another $10 coupon in hand and ordered a pair of bagels with cream cheese. ($3.08, 2 Forks)
We played a little more VP before checking out with me losing and Ann making a modest profit.
Lunch was at China Mama on Jones Boulevard at Spring Mountain Road.
We were welcomed by our waitress and seated in a booth. I had several notes culled from yelp, the chow hound board and the above review, but solicited the waitress' input. We ended up sharing orders of P28 - green onion pancake, P 23- steamed juicy pork buns, H96 - eggplant in garlic spicy sauce plus rice and tea. The pork buns were a revelation, but everything was delicious. ($15.11, KSHP, 4 Forks)
Our return flight arrived in Connecticut 15 minutes early and we were soon nestled in our bed.
I would be remiss if I did not publicly thank several Las Vegas locals who were generous in providing us with coupons and tickets. You all made this trip a little extra special. I also want to thank everyone who took the time to read this long and meandering TR. Your comments, criticisms and questions are always welcome.
Appendix - items sampled by either Ann or Westie at the Studio B buffet:
Shrimp (tiny) - 2
Sushi - 2
Seaweed salad - 4
Steamed green lip mussels in a butter sauce - 2.5
Black mussels in a tomato sauce - 1.5
Duck breast - 2
Assorted cheeses - 2
Shrimp tempura - 3
Beet salad - 3
Marinated veggies - 3.5
Assorted olives - 3
Sweet potato casserole - 4
Popcorn shrimp - 2.5
Sweet potato tempura - 3
Catfish in a cream based sauce - 3
Kohlba ribs - 3.5
Tomato & mozzarella salad - 2
Macaroni & cheese - 5
Bok choy - 4.5
Baked salmon -4.5
Malala gelato - 4
Creme brulee - 3
Flan - 3
Lemon tart - 3
Fruit and custard - 4.5
Coconut gelato - 2.5
French vanilla cappuccino - 4.5