Friday, June 29, 2012

Trip photos from March 2012

Night view from the Bellagio bridge

Poster at Caesars.  Too bad the show was not so hot.

Cute to look at, but not impressed overall.

I love my COPS photo so much I have to post it again!
"Bad boys, bad boys..."

Wynn's Jazz Brunch - yummy Cajun food!

I still say this is the - shrimp and grits at  Wynn's Jazz Brunch

Decadent dessert at Wynn's Jazz Brunch - French Toast casserole
We had two!

Happy birthday to my mo-om...

Terrace view from the Wynn Country Club - left

Terrace view from the Wynn Country Club - right (towards the Strip)

The cool jazz sax player with the curly mustache!

Butterfly at Palazzo

Human Nature = Four cute Aussies! <3

After the show

Me and Rick, one of my LV4E friends, meeting at Harrah's

The display at NY/NY in honor of the 9/11 victims still brings tears to my eyes.

Bellagio - between the lobby and conservatory

Bellagio Conservatory - Spring display

More photos of the display below...

I still love this photo!

Easter eggs at Jean Phillipe in Bellagio

A sign welcoming us to the new Margaritaville casino, which is part of Flamingo's casino.

Fun entrance, but not much to the casino itself.

Link to blog entry: Dewey's recent experience with bed bugs (!)

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that my friend Dewey (from the LasVegas4Ever site, and a really nice guy in person, too) travels to Vegas frequently and stays for extended periods of time.

He tends to stay in very affordable hotels, moves quite a bit during his trips, and pays next to nothing for the privilege because he scouts out websites and plans his stays to make the most of his budget on each trip.

Because of this, he sees many, many more hotel rooms than I ever will, and he is especially diligent about checking for bed bugs before he even puts his bags away.  Also because of this, he has FOUND bed bugs at several hotels, and on a recent trip he had an experience at the Four Queens downtown that was actually handled very well.  Here is a link to his blog entry about the experience:


Remember that bed bugs don't care about their surroundings, but YOU should.  Check the bedding at every hotel, even the 5-star kind.  You never know who was there before you and what they might have inadvertently left behind for you to take home as a souvenir.  I don't think your family would be especially pleased with this particular gift.

Here is a link to the main page of Dewey's website (but it's also listed under my favorites on the right-hand side of the page if you lose it):  

Dewey's blog

I always enjoy reading Dewey's entries because I love his writing style...even when the subject is not a happy one.

Link to article (and a form): "Long-hauling" cab drivers should be aware they are being watched

A recent article details the action the Las Vegas Taxicab Authority is taking against cab drivers who try to "long haul" their customers from McCarran Airport to various destinations.  Here is a link to the web article:


I am extremely happy to read this.  After two separate incidents where I was long-hauled (once with my mom, but we let it go, and once by myself, and I made a big stink about it because the whole cab ride/cabbie situation was WAY OUT OF LINE), I'm glad to see the Vegas authorities are going undercover to see for themselves what the "tourists" are putting up with.

I have been to Vegas many times over the past 15 years, so I generally know the most direct routes to take to/from most of the hotels, as well as the names of the surface streets that run along my usual routes and which streets are currently experiencing construction; however, many people do not know this information and don't realize what is happening.    Once they arrive at their destination, they may feel they shouldn't address the situation.  Regardless if they are oblivious to the issue or not, NO ONE should have to pay extra for a cab ride than is absolutely necessary.

Remember, if you know that your cab driver is taking you on an unnecessarily long route, you can report them to the Las Vegas Taxicab Authority using their Long Haul Form.  Here is the link to their new website - just click on "Complaints" in the toolbar and select "Long Route Voluntary Witness Statement" to open the PDF file:

Long Haul Form

I actually have a printout of this form that I keep in my carry-on bag.  I reported the really bad cab driver I mentioned above, but I never heard anything back from the Taxicab Authority.  Hopefully they are changing the way they do business, because I have no problem speaking up for myself now.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Restaurant review: Tropical Breeze Cafe' at Flamingo

Lots o' food
Situated midway between the Flamingo Buffet near the flamingo habitat and the sports book on the casino floor, the Tropical Breeze Café is open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily.

We chose this restaurant because we weren't in the mood for a buffet, and our original lunch choice of Harrah's Cafe' was closed for the switch over from lunch to "Italian Nights" dinner service, which we are very unhappy about (you can read my grumblings about that situation in my trip report posted on the blog in April 2012).

We waited for about 10 minutes to be seated at this restaurant.  It seems that the waiters and waitresses all share the seating duties, and the cashiers do not budge from their seats next to the lineup, even when they have nothing to do.  In fact, they acted as if we were invisible and talked to the other cashiers and various waitstaff while we waited as patiently as we could for someone to notice us.  I was surprised that my mom did not say we were leaving, because she has little patience for such things.

After reviewing the menu and discussing our options when we were finally seated, mom and I shared the Calamari Ringers and Spinach Dip for lunch because we were planning on having a larger dinner later in the evening.  We should’ve just ordered one or the other, because they were both huge appetizers in their own right and we didn’t finish either one of them.  It would've been nice for the waitress to inform us about the size of the appetizer dishes in advance.  

The food was standard cafe' fare and not notable for anything in particular.  There was nothing about either dish that stood out to us, but the food was decent and hit the spot.  The Calamari Ringers were served tempura style with assorted vegetables and two dipping sauces - peanut sauce and hoisin sauce - and it was good but not outstanding.  The Spinach Dip was served in a bread bowl and had a good, creamy flavor, but the chips that were intended for dipping broke off when you tried to dip them.  If I had to pick one of these dishes over the other, I'd pick the calamari because I happen to enjoy my seafood on vacation. 

The waitress disappeared when we wanted to get the bill, and we waited another 10 minutes for her to re-appear from the kitchen.  She actually seemed surprised that we wanted our bill so quickly.  It wasn't that quick at all; she had just been missing and we presumed she had been abducted by aliens.

The appetizers and two teas came to $26.98+tip, which I paid for with my tons of Total Rewards points since Flamingo is under the Caesars property listing and allows their card holders to pay that way.  It's definitely a benefit of being a TR member: being able to pay with points at most of the restaurants, and having the tax removed from the bill when you do so.

I'd give this restaurant a 5 out of 10.  I personally don't think I'll be visiting again, because the restaurant staff apparently doesn't want my business, and the food wasn't exceptional or memorable in any way.  There are far too many other restaurants in Las Vegas to try.

If you'd like to view the menu, follow the link here to open a PDF file in a separate window: Menu

Hash House a Go-Go at Imperial Palace: dinner/snack time!

I really enjoy eating at Hash House a Go-Go in Imperial Palace.  Yes, they have ridiculously large portions.  Yes, they are self-described as serving "twisted farm food".  But they are good.  Even my husband agrees; he had chicken and waffles there during a recent trip and still talks about it with a wistful look in his eyes, and he's much pickier than I am.

If you go looking for the restaurant, remember that they are NOT on the casino floor; rather, they are on the second floor, which you get to via escalator or elevator near the back of the casino, near the restrooms.  I say this specifically because there are other escalators and elevators that service other floors, and you will not be able to access Hash House from any of them.

We discovered that we could eat there without over-eating on this trip.  My first experience with the restaurant had us going for breakfast back in 2010, and the pancakes we had were HUGE.  This time my mom and I tried Hash House after enjoying the Human Nature show and got late night appetizers as dinner entrees, which were much more reasonably sized.  This might be the way to go...

Service was a little slow for them not being busy on a Sunday night, but the food was very good as it was before.  We both ordered iced tea to start while we tried to decide just what we would get from the extensive menu without stuffing ourselves to oblivion.  

Mom ended up choosing the Crispy Cornmeal Tiger Prawns while I chose the Blue Crab Cake with pasta salad.  These "appetizers" were the size of a regular restaurant's meal, and they were perfectly sized for our late night dinner experience.  Mom said the Tiger Prawns were delicious.  They were served with a drizzle of Chipotle mayonnaise and impaled on a huge chunk of watermelon, so it's like dinner AND dessert all wrapped into one.  The prawns were each about 5 inches across - really big and crispy.  
Tiger prawns and watermelon...yum!
 My crab cake and vegetable pasta were both perfectly cooked, had great flavor and plenty of spices, and it was a perfect size for me.  The crab cake was about 6 inches across and over an inch thick, but full of flavor, warm and satisfying.  The Chipotle mayonnaise was also served with my meal, and it was delicious.
A crab cake portion for a normal person...
It took awhile to get the waitress' attention for more tea and our bill, but she was pleasant enough.  Still, when a restaurant isn't crowded and you don't have many tables to wait on, you should be able to check on your customers quickly and efficiently.  If she needed to take a break she should have told us so, but it was not mentioned, and I can only assume she was chatting in the kitchen while we were waiting.

Mom paid, but this time I saw the bill was $27 before tip.  That's the size of an average dinner bill in Vegas, so I don't think it's unreasonable at all.

I give this experience an 8 out of 10.  The food and atmosphere were great, but the service was a little slow and lacking.  I'll be back again to try something new.

To check out their menu or restaurant hours, see their website here: Menu

Show review: Human Nature at Imperial Palace

A view from our seats - not bad!

During our March 2012 trip,  my mom and I FINALLY got the chance to see Human Nature at Imperial Palace.  I had wanted to see them for a couple of years, and I'd been disappointed during my July 2011 trip when they cancelled the show before I even got to Vegas.  Bummer.  At least I got a full refund.

General admission tickets were $44 each through, and well worth the price.   The booths were all reserved for VIP guests, but we did upgrade to center seats in the second tier, as our original ones were in the lower tier and off to the left, away from the stage.  A $10 tip to the maitre' d was not necessary but appreciated.  As with most theater shows with tables, a waitress came around to take drink orders before the show began.  Wine was $6-$8 a glass.  No $150 bottles offered here, which is good, because $150 bottles of anything are stupid to buy.

The show was absolutely fantastic!  From beginning to end it was a great show with lots of energy, and there was lots of audience participation, too.   The four Australian guys give their backgrounds - from singing in their parents' back yard to performing in private meetings for Motown greats - while sharing the songs that helped them get their wonderful harmonies together and make them fan favorites today.

The four Aussies - brothers Michael and Andrew Tierney, along with school friends Toby Allen and Phil Burton - make up the talented and handsome group.  They are easy on the eyes AND the ears, and their show keeps you moving from the very first time they step foot on stage.

Originally signed by Smokey Robinson as the 4Trax, they changed their name and haven't looked back.  The group has performed on many TV specials and tours on occasion, but they currently take up residence in the Imperial Palace Theater on the 5th floor of the hotel and are the only Aussie band to date to headline in a showroom on the Las Vegas Strip.  From covering songs like "My Girl" and "Baby I Need Your Lovin'" to "I'll Be There", the foursome showcases their group harmonies as well as their individual singing talents.  They are truly a show to see in Las Vegas.

 After the show, the group exits the showroom and poses for photos and signs autographs for the audience.  We wanted to get souvenirs or autographs, but it was too crowded to wait around.  You can tell they are well loved, and I hope to see them perform again someday.
It doesn't look that crowded, but I was holding my camera above my head.
This is one of the best Vegas shows I've seen to date, and I give it a perfect 10.  A great lineup, no bad seats in the entire theater and lots of fun and energy make this show a must see.

Check out their Imperial Palace performance schedule and/or book tickets here:  Motown at IP!

Or check out their own website here: Human Nature

Another shopping find for your next Vegas trip!

Yes, I've been out shopping again.  Look what I found this time!
Bright lights, city, gonna set your soul on fire!
No, I didn't buy it, but I wanted to.  Sometimes it's hard to just say no.

This bag is about 20" wide (side to side) and 16" deep (top to bottom).  There are 2 small pockets inside for a cell phone or other useless/useful junk, but it's basically a big, open carry-on type bag with a zippered top.

Available at TJMaxx and Marshalls, it is designed to look like an old-fashioned postcard and sells for $16.99 in the U.S.  I just realized I should've taken a photo of the back, too, because it looks like the back of a postcard - including the area to write your message, write the addressee information, and the "place stamp here" message, too. 

Very cute, but I don't need another carry-on bag.  I keep downsizing all of my carry-on items, anyway, and I really only need space for my iPad and purse these days.  Still...I might have to see if it's still available next time I'm in the store!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Seafood at Wynn - a side you've never seen before

An interesting article was recently posted on the Las Vegas Sun's website regarding Wynn's in-house seafood set up and the marine biologist who makes my Wynn meal dreams come true.  I never would've imagined this sort of thing went on beneath the beautiful, shiny building.

Here's a link to the article:

I absolutely LOVE seafood!  I tend to eat an over-abundance of it in Vegas, too.  My mouth is watering now...