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Dining

Score summer deals now at MGM resorts in Vegas

Monday, July 9th, 2012
Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort Las Vegas

Dine, dance, play on the beach — it’s all there when you book a special summer room rate at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas!

 

This has been one hot summer!  Instead of complaining, why not spend the time enjoying yourself at the cool pools of ARIA, the sumptuous restaurants of Mandalay Bay or the smoking blackjack tables and thrilling nightclubs of MGM Grand Las Vegas?  Las Vegas room rates plunge as the temperatures rise so now is the time to take advantage of all this fabulous vacation destination has to offer.

New this week:  (Click on the links for more information and to use the promo code!)

ARIA “Food & Beverage Credit – Limited Time Offer” *Reserve your luxurious two night stay at ARIA and receive Up to 20% off rates, and a $100 Food & Beverage Credit during your stay (*See site for additional details and restrictions). Promotion Runs: Jun 28, 2012 – Jan 31, 2013. Promo Code: ARFBLTOA (Exp 7/31/12)

MGM Grand “$75 Food & Beverage Credit” *Take advantage of this exclusive limited time offer – Book now (2nt Min) and get your $75 Dining Credit(*See site for additional details and restrictions). Promotion Runs: Jul 3, 2012 – Jan 31, 2013. Promo Code: ZFBC12 (Exp 7/31/12)

Mandalay Bay “Exclusive Offer” *MGM Resorts International would like to invite you to take advantage of an exclusive offer – Book now (2nt Min)and receive up to $75 Food & Beverage Credit (*See site for additional details). Promotion Runs: Jul 2, 2012 – Jan 31, 2013. Promo Code: ZFBC12 (Exp 7/31/12)

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Get your girls to Vegas — Tips for a ladies-only getaway

Thursday, March 24th, 2011
Louis Vuitton store at Crystals Las Vegas

We love Louis! Even if it is just window-shopping the posh purses at CityCenter Las Vegas and this two-story Louis Vuitton shop, the brand's largest store in North America.

Something we read on VegasChatter today made us get off our blogging butts and write this post we’ve been meaning to do for ages.  While most of our trips to Vegas are geared around couples, we do indulge in the occasional “Girls Getaway” and that agenda is a whole lot different from any we follow when the boys come along.

Here are just a few suggestions – tried and true – of what to do on your next (if you happen to be female) girls trip to Las Vegas.

1.        We love to get our girlie on with a visit to Sephora at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops.  Better yet, book a FREE make-over and you’ll leave there looking like a million bucks.  And yeah, just try not to buy any of the fabuloso stuff they use to create the new you.

2.       Speaking of the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, you’ll definitely want to spend some time traipsing the circular mile-plus path and hitting such fun stores as H&M, Betsey Johnson, BCBG MAXAZRIA, Urban Outfitters, kitchen specialty shop Sur La Tab and our fave shop for cheap Vegas T-shirts, ABC Stores.  (There are actually two of them in the mall.)  Leave time for a stop at Fat Tuesday’s Daiquiri Bar where we highly recommend the Banana Banshee and the Mojito.  (Word to the wise, drink too many of the latter and you won’t be able to movito away from the bar.)

3.       When we travel with the boys, we find ourselves at lots of casino buffets – big fat breakfast and lunch buffets.  While that’s fine for those trips, we really appreciate relaxing with the girls over a more refined meal – one that includes servers who, well, serve us.  With that in mind, check out these girlie favorites:

  • Serendipity 3 in front of Caesars Palace – Just look for the pink and white striped awnings and be sure to order the Cotton Candy Martini.  Need we say more?
  • Payard Bistro inside Caesars – The tiny jewel box of a restaurant serves some of the best breakfasts in town.  The one that gets our morning going in the right direction is the Eggs Benedict on Croissant.  This is the real-thing:  perfect Hollandaise sauce, gently poached eggs, lean salty ham and the BEST croissant on the planet.
  • Society Café at Encore – Yes, we know lots of guys like it but, really, take one look at all the frou-frou and fluff and it just screams gently whispers “Ladies-Who-Lunch” at you.  The classic Tuna Nicoise and the fruit-and-nut laden Grilled Chicken salads are both fresh and, gulp, good for you as well.

4.       No Las Vegas girls weekend is complete without this stop:  Lunch or dinner on the Strip-side patio at Mon Ami Gabi restaurant which fronts Paris Las Vegas.   This  Vegas favorite combines the BEST people-watching opportunities with a menu sure to please the fussiest of groups (you know who you are) along with a front-row seat to the Fountain Show at Bellagio.  Toss in a  thoughtful wines-by-glass list, the must-have profiteroles for dessert AND superb service and you’ve got a spot to make everyone happy, happy.

5.       Last stop, window-shopping at Crystals, the retail area of CityCenter, then onto ARIA Casino Hotel for our one big blow-out dinner of the trip at Sage.  This funky yet sophisticated purple-and-gold outpost of Chef Shawn McClain is the most under-appreciated fine dining spot in Las Vegas.  Really.  The food is phenomenal and the service is excellent.  The Roasted Day Boat Scallops with braised Oxtail/Wild Mushrooms/Salted Caramel Reduction (quoted from the menu) is one of the best scallop preparations we have ever had – anywhere.  Start with the Foie Gras Custard  Brûlée and end with any of the chocolate-centric desserts and you’ll leave a happy camperess.  By the way, Sage now features Absinthe service, something we are definitely going to try during our next visit.


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FIRST it’s hard to find and FIRST it’s worth the effort

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
First Food Bar's cupid's arrow drink

Lindeman's and Guinness Stout combine to make the Cupid's Arrow at First Food & Bar, Las Vegas.

Have we told you how much we *heart* FIRST Food and Bar at The Palazzo?  No?  Then let us count the ways:

  1. FIRST feels like one of those secret out-of-the-way joints that only “insiders” know about.  Really.  To get there, you have to go to the second floor of the retail shopping area connecting the Venetian to the Palazzo; hang a right at Barney’s New York; and then make your way down the corridor to the barely-marked restaurant.  (We had a hard time just getting past the shoe display in Barneys’ windows.)
  2. It’s open late — ’til 1 a.m. during the week and even later on weekends.
  3. The front-of-the-house manager stops by — more than once — to check on your food, drinks, service, etc.  On our last visit, we felt like “regulars” by the end of the meal.
  4. The food:  big yummy portions of amped-up diner food.  Burgers to blackened steak, pasta to pizza: this is comfort food meant to help banish your hangover (or get you poised to work on a new one.)
  5. Brunch sandwich at First Food Bar Las Vegas.

    Hearty breakfast sammie with Tater Tots at First Food Bar at the Palazzo, Vegas.

    Sunday brunch (11 a.m. – 4 p.m.) — A traveling Bloody Mary bar complete with a cute mixologist ready to make it your way.  (Our way?  Extra Tabasco and black pepper plus enough green olives to mimic a salad bar.)  A $10 per person all-you-can-drink champagne deal.  This may not be Krug or Cristal but face it, there’s something abnormally fun and decadent about washing down your corned beef hash or chicken and waffles with a glass or two — or eight — of bubbly.  Try the Breakfast Mini-Burgers with cheese, bacon, Hollandaise sauce and a side of Tater Tots.

  6. The Cupid’s Arrow — Just like drinking an alcoholic dark chocolate truffle.  Take a bottle of Guinness Stout and a bottle of Lindeman’s Framboise Ale then pour them — simultaneously — into an iced schooner.  Drink.  Drink.  Burp.  Drink.
  7. Strip view.  Grab a spot near the windows and gaze out onto Treasure Island and, if the sun has set, the pirate battle show.

First (Palazzo) on Urbanspoon

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More new stuff to do in Vegas for CES 2011

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Part Two of our look at what’s new and different in Las Vegas this year continues:  (That’s why the list starts with #8 just in case you thought we couldn’t count.)

8.  The newest slot game to hit the casino floor is the “community game” based on American Idol and you can play it at any of the MGM Resorts properties.  MGM has a 30-day exclusive on this new IGT game and going by what we saw of it at the gaming expo in November it is going to be a blast to play.  Look for it at Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, NYNY, Luxor, Mirage, Bellagio and ARIA.  (We snagged a photo of it from the gaming expo’s trade show floor.)  Just think, this may be your last chance to see Simon snark his way through the competition – other than in reruns.

New American Idol slot machine game from IGT

The coolest game to hit the casino floors this year -- American Idol -- can be found exclusively at MGM properties this weekend.

9.  We dig the new Munch Bar at Caesars Palace.  It’s located within ear-splitting distance of the Pussycat Dolls blackjack tables but the food is fast, fun and a good nosh when we feel like eating lunch at 3 p.m. or 3 a.m.  Try the Philly Cheesesteak sliders, the sweet potato fries with a wicked garlic dip, the grilled cheese bites with tomato dipping sauce or one of the monstrous burgers.

10.  PBR Rock Bar — the cowboy-themed BBQ spot that opened at Planet Hollywood is another good spot for lunch or dinner.  Two people can easily share the plate-sized pulled pork sammich with the mini-vat of creamy potato salad.  The place heats up at night when the mechanical bull starts bucking drunks patrons onto the floor.  And you definitely don’t want to miss this: Friday, January 7, 10 p.m. — “Party with some of adult entertainment’s finest and get a chance to compete in the mechanical bull riding competition. The most impressive bull rider will win a $500 cash prize. Revelers can get down and dirty with 2-for $8 beers and two-for-one Hoedown-Throwdowns, PBR Rock Bar’s specialty cocktail.”  Honest, they’re calling it the Hoe-Down Pornstar Bull Riding Contest.  (Kinda’ makes that American Idol slot game look a little less exciting, huh?)

11.  Check out the Strip’s first high-end Greek restaurant — ESTIATORIO MILOS — at the new Cosmopolitan.  An NYC/Montreal  import, the restaurant features fresh fish and other menu items done up in creative Mediterranean style.  We can’t wait to try the fried zucchini and eggplant appetizer.  (We heart zucchini done this way.)

12.  While Las Vegas is expecting some chilly weather this weekend, it will be downright freezing if you stop by the Monte Carlo and the newest Minus5 Ice Lounge.  Enjoy Vodka cocktails in this lounge made entirely of Canadian ice.  (Why Canadian ice?  Imported is always better.  We think….)

Here’s that guarantee we talked about:  Not having an enormously exciting time in Vegas?  We’ll be at PBR at Planet Hollywood, sitting at the bar enjoying a giant guitar-sized frozen fruity-thing, at 11 p.m. Saturday night and will ride the bull if our promise to provide you with fun things to do in Vegas has not been met.  No, really, just look for us.

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New year, new CES, new stuff to do in Vegas

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
The restaurant Julian Serrano at ARIA

Tapas at Julian Serrano at the ARIA are perfect for sharing with a crowd and the sangria rocks.

Headed to Las Vegas this week for CES 2011? Here are some new places to see/things to do/food to eat guaranteed – yes, this post comes with a guarantee – to make your CES visit enormously exciting.  (Okay, so we know the electronics are the raison d’etre for this trip but trust us, Hubert Keller’s “Top Chef Masters” competition-winning “In The Shower” Mac & Cheese made with lobster and brunoise vegetables is what you’ll still be talking about come summer.)

1. Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas – You’ve seen the ads now see the real thing (sans kittens, goats, Westies and hopefully, pants-free bellboys.) Drinks at inside The Chandelier bar is a must as is dinner at Jaleo which will no doubt be the toughest table to lay your hands and fork on this weekend.

2. Hash House A Go Go has opened on the Strip. At Imperial Palace to be exact. Lots of great diner food including the famed – for good reason – Farm Benedicts. Open Friday and Saturday until 2 AM, it’s the perfect spot to head for when you need something to soak up that bottle of Grey Goose that kept calling your name at the club.

3. While it may be too cold for swimming, check out the new pool digs at Encore and the renovated space at Caesars Palace. Summer – in Vegas, anyways – is just around the corner.

4. New games to try: Lord of the Rings at Caesars Palace; Sex and the City at ARIA and Planet Hollywood; Triple Spin Poker at ARIA or Ultimate X video poker at the Bellagio.

5. If you didn’t make it over to ARIA last year or if you did but missed dining there, be sure to check out Julian Serrano for tapas (the warm spinach salad and the country bread with tomatoes are both wonderful as is the white sangria.) Sage Restaurant is awesome as well. The boy knows what to do with scallops, foie gras and lamb.

6. Sip some outstanding grape while noshing on small plates at the new La Cave Wine and Food Hideaway located inside Wynn Las Vegas. We’ve heard good things about the space and will also be checking it out for the first time this week. (We’re the two chicks – dressed in East Coast black — huddled over the baked clams with pepperoncini and Parmesan.)

7. That mac and cheese we were talking about? Find it here at Fleur by Hubert Keller, now open at Mandalay Bay and serving, as the press release calls them, “inventive small plates, sweet endings and dramatic cocktails.” (Hey, put enough liquor in and we find any cocktail to be “dramatic.”) We are ginormous fans of Chef Keller and of liquid nitrogen so we’ll be there as well this weekend.  (We’re the two dramatic chicks at the bar no doubt dressed in black.)

Come back tomorrow for more ideas and that guarantee we told you about….

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Eat. Play. Love. Cosmopolitan Las Vegas debuts tomorrow

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
cosmopolitan las vegas exterior

The Cosmopolitan resort, the newest component of CityCenter Las Vegas, opens December 15.

Some news you probably already know – The Cosmopolitan opens tomorrow in Las Vegas. We say “probably” because we assume you’ve either seen the TV commercials (they started in 2005 or maybe it just seems that way) or read the press releases or followed any number of the Yellow Brick blog posts/tweets leading to the opening of the newest Emerald CityCenter component.

We’ll be checking out the new digs come January and here’s what we’ll be looking for:

The Casino at The Cosmopolitan — Although you wouldn’t know it from the ads, they do have one.  Already we know that Blackjack at The Cosmo is nothing to write home about so we’ll be interested in seeing the pay tables for video poker along with which slot games made the cut.  Wanna’ really be avant-garde, Cosmo?  Be one of the few on the Strip to give your guests a fair gamble.

The Cosmopolitan Restaurants —  The biggest coup for the new property no doubt comes from bringing acclaimed Spanish chef José Andrés (protege of famed El Bulli chef Ferran “The Father of Foam” Adrià) to Las Vegas.  Andres will be at the helm of Jaleo, China Poblano and The Henry.  We’ve eaten at Jaleo in Washington, D.C. so we’re most interested in trying out China Poblano which promises diners a spot where “Noodles and tacos come together in a festive, stylish setting designed by SEED.”  Hmm.

Other top toques brought in to run the high-end hash houses of the Cosmo include both Scott Conant (Italian,) and David Myers (who looks like Kerry Simon’s moody younger brother.)  The spot we’re really psyched about is Estiatorio Milos by restaurateur Costas Spiliadis, the Strip’s first 5X$ Greek restaurant.

The Guest Rooms at The Cosmopolitan — Honestly, the balconies over-looking the Strip — with doors-that-open-so-you-can-sit-out-on-them-balconies — are what most piqued our interest.  Because we like to gamble and eat and enjoy the random cocktail — a lot — we don’t spend all that much time in the room.  We are hoping, though, that one of those cute little Westie terriers got lost during the filming of the Cosmopolitan’s TV commercials and we find him/her under the bed.  A hotel that would offer a room complete with cute puppy or kitten — or maybe a duck for the tub? — would be our idea of a really great hotel concept.

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One day only — Save big at top Las Vegas restaurants

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Restaurant.com Weekly Promo Offer 160 X 160Today only, the popular dining discount certificates from restaurant.com are on sale for an all-time low price of $1 for a $25 certificate. Restaurants across the country participate in this terrific marketing program including some of the hottest restaurants in Las Vegas. You’ll find great restaurants at Mandalay Bay, the Venetian, Miracle Mile shops at Planet Hollywood and many more.  Use them to save big on your next dinner out.

Just check out some of the award-winning top Las Vegas restaurants that participate in this money-saving program:

• Fresh fish and creamy chowders at Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood at the posh Mandalay Bay resort

• Succulent steaks at Rare 120 or coffee-shop favs at the famous Mr Lucky’s, both inside the Vegas Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

• Authentic Italian favorites at Valentino Las Vegas inside the elegant Venetian Hotel

• Spicy South-of-the-border specials at the rockin’ Tacos and Tequila at the Luxor

• LV’s only revolving restaurant offering breath-taking views and fine cuisine, the Stratosphere’s Top of the World

Buy several coupons and save on every Las Vegas dinner during your next trip.

Here’s the latest code and link for your path to big dining discounts!

ONE DAY ONLY! Save 90% off Restaurant.com $25 Gift Certificates! Use code WOW at checkout through 9/30/10.

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Posh trip, big savings — Mandalay Bay Las Vegas is the perfect getaway

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort Las Vegas

Stay, dine and see a show at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas for less. This plush resort is offering great deals right now.

Mandalay Bay is one of our favorite Strip hotels in Las Vegas and everything from the rooms to the restaurants to tickets for the award-winning show, The Lion King, are on sale now!

From that first whiff of the pineapple coconut-scented lobby, we know we have arrived at Mandalay Bay, a lush Caribbean-themed resort on the Las Vegas Strip.  There are so many things to enjoy while staying here that there’s really no reason to venture out if a laid-back, relaxing trip is the goal.

Mandalay Bay “More for Less” Rates from $89.99/nt. *Includes: $25 Food and Beverage Credit, $100 Cabana Credit, 25% Off Spa Treatments, Complimentary Access to House of Blues Foundation Room, 50% off mid-week entry into Moorea Beach (Monday-Thursday,) 2-for-1 Original Margaritas at Hussong’s Mexican Cantina, and 2-for-1 Breakfast at House of Blues (Monday – Thursday) – (*See site for additional details and restrictions.) Good for travel select dates March 8 – Sept. 9, 2010. Promo Code: PHSPR10 (Exp 9/9/10).

Pool — Home to one of the best pool complexes in Las Vegas, the Mandalay Bay Beach Club is one of the big attractions drawing visitors from all over the world.  Located on 11 acres, Mandalay Bay Beach offers a wave pool, lazy river, three swimming pools, jogging track and 2,700 tons of real sand.  There’s even a beachside casino located just steps from the pool.

Restaurants — Sushi to steaks, burgers to pasta, Mandalay Bay has a fabulous array of restaurants and we have the promo code to get $25 worth of dining for just $2 right now.  Here are the hotel restaurants participating in this money-saving program:  (Click the name of the restaurant for more info and to purchase the certificates!)

AureoleHome of the famous flying “wine angels,” this beautiful spot features a fabulous seasonal menu from Chef Charlie Palmer.  Be sure to leave room for dessert from the decadent sweets menu.

Mix In Las VegasPerched atop THE Hotel at the resort, MIX is one of the most beautiful dining spots in all of Vegas. Inside hangs the largest chandelier in the world with 15,000 hand-blown Murano glass balls plus a menu originally composed by French Master Chef Alain Ducasse and a balcony that offers the best sunset view of THE Strip.

Shanghai LillyWe’ve heard good things about the eclectic Cantonese cuisine featuring some spicy Szechwan dishes plus the relaxing dining room looks perfect for kicking back and sharing a meal.

Special Online Promotions at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas

Rick Moonen’s RM SeafoodIf you love creamy clam chowder, garlicky steamed mussels and the freshest fish prepared in a variety of mouth-watering ways, then RM Seafood is for you. The casual downstairs bar and grill is our favorite place to order up a couple of ice cold beers and enjoy bowls of clams and mussels swimming in fragrant broth served with lots of crunchy cheese-topped country bread perfect for sopping up all that great liquid.

Raffles Cafe — Mandalay Bay’s 24-hour restaurant offers diners breakfast, lunch or dinner in a relaxed yet beautiful atmosphere.  From waffles to prime rib, this cafe has it all.

NEW to Restaurant.com — Mizuya Sushi and Sake and The Cafe plus The Noodle Shop all at Mandalay Bay!

Special Online Promotions at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas.

Save on The Lion King — The Tony award-winning Broadway favorite, The Lion King, has been wowing audiences in Las Vegas with its soaring musical score, fantastic costumes and make-up and magical storyline since opening at Mandalay Bay.  Visit BestOfVegas.com and receive a Complimentary Upgrade to VIP seating (Your Price: $126.00, Regular Price: $177.25) or a Category 3 Upgrade to Category 2 (Your Price: $93.00, Regular Price: $133.25).

Room deal: For Best Rates at Mandalay Bay, Book Online!
Restaurant discounts: Click here for Restaurant.com Gift Certificates
Show tickets and more!: BestOfVegas.com

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Chocolate creations delight at new Jean-Philippe Patisserie at Aria Las Vegas

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
Chocolate bonsair tree at Jean Pilippe Las Vegas

A bonsai tree constructed from chocolate holds a beautiful cake creation from Jean Philippe Patisserie at Aria Las Vegas.

You know from past posts how much we love desserts and sweets and pastries (oh my!) so we were pretty excited to visit famed pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury’s newest location.  His fabulous new shop is inside ARIA Resort & Casino at CityCenter.   Located in a prime casino-side spot, this new cafe/patisserie features all the yummy desserts we love from the Bellagio pastry shop as well as lots of gourmet sandwich, salad and beverage choices.  A huge gelato case tempts with a number of flavors both traditional and offbeat.  There is plenty of seating available and the cafeteria-style line moves quickly.

In addition to the cafe, the spot features a retail shop selling Jean-Philippe’s exquisite line of custom chocolates, chocolate sauces, handmade marshmallows plus many other goodies perfect to take home as gifts — or as a sweet reminder of your trip!

Not to miss: A number of Chef Maury’s amazing cake creations plus a dazzling array of chocolate flowers in a glass-enclosed display case are highlights of the cafe’s fun decor.

Stay at ARIA for less when you use this link and promo code! ARIA “7 Day Sale” Rates from $103.20/nt. *Receive 20% off our Room and Suite rates, on select dates (*See site for additional details and restrictions). Jul 6 – Sep 30, 2010. Promo Code: ARLO720 (Exp 7/12/10)

Chocolate flowers on display at Aria Las Vegas

Luscious daisies made from dark, milk and white chocolate at Jean-Philippe.

Pastry case at Jean-Philippe Las Vegas

Picture-perfect pastries at Jean-Philippe at ARIA Las Vegas.

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STRIPSTEAK merits prime spot on any “Top Las Vegas Steakhouses” list

Friday, October 9th, 2009
In-house aging is one key to the juicy tender steaks at STRIPSTEAK LV.

In-house aging is one key to the juicy tender steaks at STRIPSTEAK LV.

I recently had lunch with a friend of mine (a professional food writer and guest reviewer here) who made the most spot-on comment I’ve ever heard when it comes to Chef Michael Mina’s food: “The man is a wizard with potatoes!” So, you’re thinking if this is a review on STRIPSTEAK LV, why do I care what the chef does with potatoes? It’s the meat that matters not the sides. Well, in this case, while the steaks are more than worthy, it is definitely the spuds that make for a memorable meal. And, did we mention that said spuds are free? No kidding, these crisp crunchy beauties come courtesy of the chef… au gratis… n/c.

First, the restaurant itself: Located at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas, the space is sleek and edgy with enough hard surfaces to make sound somewhat of an issue if you were hoping for an intimate dinner for two.* But keep in mind, the sound bouncing from walls to ceiling comes from people having fun! This is a great spot for celebrations like bachelor/bachelorette parties, birthday bashes and other group events or for couples looking to dine in a high-energy atmosphere. (We had a terrific time chatting away with the couple at the table next to us who also happened to be from Phoenix. Yeah, it’s that kind of place.)

This trio of spectacular fries is presented au gratis with dinner at STRIPSTEAK.

This trio of spectacular fries is presented au gratis with dinner at the winning STRIPSTEAK LV.

The fries: Okay, back to those marvelous complimentary potatoes. After ordering drinks (wine for P.B., a draft for me) and dinner, the server brought out this very cool serving stand filled with three tubs of perfectly cooked-in-duck-fat fries – herb-flecked, paprika-dusted and saffron garlic – along with three dipping sauces: housemade ketchup, perky BBQ sauce and our hands-down favorite, a luxurious truffle cream sauce I would’ve eaten with a spoon! The serving is so large we couldn’t finish it but, oh, how we tried.

Dinner: For an appetizer, we chose to share the Maine lobster fritters, a dish we unfortunately wouldn’t order again. The batter was too heavy for the delicate seafood flavor to come through and the bacon mentioned in the menu description seemed to be AWOL from our dish. In hindsight, we would have merrily munched on the fries with our drinks and ordered a salad to share with the yummy warm potato focaccia (served in a cast iron skillet) before the main course. For our steaks, we chose the American Kobe beef – the Rib Eye ($64) for P.B. and the Rib Cap ($65) for me. (STRIPSTEAK also offers Japanese A5 Wagyu beef at Market Price.) Chef Mina’s steaks are heralded for their cooking method which entails a long slow-poach in clarified butter and then a quick turn on a high heat (think 1,000 degrees!) grill. The process renders a steak that is meltingly tender inside with a beautifully crusty exterior. As we expected, our steaks were superb. As a side, we shared a de-lish mountain of creamed spinach topped with crumbled bacon bits. (Note to self: next time we eat here, we walk back to our room at the Bellagio.)

Well-marbled and perfectly cooked -- the rib cap American Kobe steak.

Well-marbled and perfectly cooked, the rib cap American Kobe steak is a terrific menu choice.

Dessert: Overkill for sure but the “Beignets with Macallan 18-Year Butterscotch Pudding” were just way too tempting to resist and we’re so glad we didn’t. Plump, fluffy pillows of warm donut dipped in scotch-flavored caramel pudding…uh, what’s not to like? (Do be aware that the liquor really comes through in this decidedly “adult-flavored” dessert.)

Service and other highlights:

Excellent, attentive service even on a busy Saturday night during prime time dining hours of 8 – 10 pm.

Another freebie courtesy of STRIPSTEAK — A bag of gourmet dark-chocolate-drizzled caramel corn made in-house sends you out the door.

I have to say that I knew we were in for a great meal when Las Vegas local, UNLV professor and famed foodie, Patti Shock, highly recommended the place to me via Twitter. (If you are interested in food and Las Vegas you should follow her.  @PattiShock)

The best: We used a $25 certificate purchased for $2 at Restaurant.com (use coupon code “FOUR” and the link below) to pay for part of the meal.  At the restautant, be sure to present it early on so they have time to validate the certificate before the check comes.

STRIPSTEAK
definitely merits a top spot on our list of “Best Las Vegas Steakhouses.”

(*Looking for a romantic spot to dine? Try Fleur De Lys or Mix In Las Vegas, both located at Mandalay Bay and both participate in the Restaurant.com certificate program.)

Save 80% off on every $25 Gift Certificate order. Use code “FOUR” and pay just $2 through 10/12/09 only at Restaurant.com.

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Dishing about Top Chef, Las Vegas and the M Resort

Thursday, September 17th, 2009
The pool complex at the M Resort in Las Vegas figured in a recent episode of Top Chef Las Vegas.

The posh pool complex at the M Resort in Las Vegas was featured in a recent episode of Top Chef Las Vegas.

We’ve always been big fans of the Bravo channel’s popular reality show, Top Chef.  We confess –watching some of the contestants’ huge egos positively wilt under head judge Tom Colicchio’s incredulous stare or sharp-as-a-Wusthof criticism is the high point of our Wednesday nights. (No doubt that particular joy comes from our experiences dealing with the many prima donna chefs we encountered during our decade-plus in the restaurant industry.)

So, take one of our favorite guilty-pleasure TV shows, combine it with our favorite guilty-pleasure city in the world then set it within the walls of a swanky new casino resort and… wait, wait, you know it’s coming… you have a recipe (there, we said it!) for a hugely entertaining waste of an hour every week.

This year, filming takes place at the stunning new Henderson-located M Resort Spa Casino. When I interviewed the M’s Anthony Marnell III back in March for Casino Player magazine, the CEO made it very clear that food and the nine dining outlets of the M were going to be the highlights of the new resort. At the time, Mr. Marnell said “We believe food is one of the most, if not the most important reason why guests will visit the property. The restaurants we have developed will introduce a new kind of dining experience that reflects my family’s reputation for great food and great value.” We think that by agreeing to let the show film at his resort, Mr. Marnell further cements the M’s reputation as a “destination-dining” spot in Las Vegas.

Now, back to the show: Last week’s episode offered viewers the chance to get a glimpse of some of the best chefs working not only in Las Vegas but in the world today. The assembled group of top toques was so impressive that even Chef Colicchio admitted to being humbled in the presence of such cooking masters as Joël Robuchon, the man awarded the title “Chef of the Century” by the venerable dining and travel guide, Gault Millau. Chef Robuchon’s Las Vegas restaurants — L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Joël Robuchon at The Mansion – are located at the MGM Grand. 5 Diamond Award Winner: Joël Robuchon Restaurant at MGM Grand.

Last night’s show found the contestants far from the neon lights of the city and cooking over open firepits in the sizzling 100+-degree stark Nevada desert. Their guests (and critics) were a group of real Southwestern cowboys. As always, some dishes stood out for their taste and originality while others were remarkable for their awfulness. Ceviche for cowboys? I don’t think so. With that, Mattin, the French chef (who reminded me of the character Remy from the movie “Ratatouille“) was told to “pack up his knives and go.”

Tips and More Info:

  • For a taste of the new M, try the resort’s highly-praised 500-seat buffet restaurant, “Studio B,” where a live-action exhibition kitchen features the restaurant’s chefs preparing signature appetizers, entrées and desserts.
  • Check out Top Chef on Bravo TV’s website and you’ll find lots of ideas for hosting viewing parties with a Vegas vibe.  You can also catch up on past shows from this season as well as those from other years.
  • Get a glimpse into the world of renowned chef, Joël Robuchon, with a visit to his website where you’ll see pics of his Las Vegas and other restaurants plus read articles on his accomplishments in the culinary field.

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Friday Finds — news on Las Vegas events, deals and more

Friday, September 4th, 2009
Take in a show this fall then head to the new Pink's at Planet Hollywood for one of their legendary dogs.

Take in a show this fall then head to the new Pink's at Planet Hollywood for one of their legendary dogs.

We’re starting a new feature this week — Friday Finds — featuring news about Las Vegas that we find interesting plus lots of great deals on Las Vegas hotel discounts, travel packages, shows, concerts, restaurants and more.  Take a look at what we’ve seen and heard this week:

We’re really digging some of the shows planned for this fall at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s “The Joint.”  Tickets are on sale now for Van Morrison (September 25,) Creed in concert on September 27, actor/comedian Dane Cook on both October 9th and 10th at 8:30pm plus one of our all-time favorites, Bob Dylan, on Sunday, October 18th at 8 pm.

At Mandalay Bay, Britney Spears is back with her “Circus” tour; this time featuring special guests Jordin Sparks and Kristinia DeBarge.  Special room + ticket deals are available at these properties:

Luxor “Britney Spears” Concert and Room Package. *Package Price of $154.00 plus tax and resort fee on Sunday September 27th includes: One night stay in a Tower Deluxe Room and Two tickets to Britney Spears in concert at the Mandalay Bay Event Center on Sunday, September 27 at 8pm (*See site for additional details and restrictions). Sep 24 – 30, 2009. Promo Code: PBRIT (Exp 9/24/09)

Mandalay Bay “Britney Spears” Rates from $194/nt. *The Final Act of the Circus Tour Starring Britney Spears at Mandalay Bay Sunday, September 27 –Book Mandalay Bay and receive 2 tickets to see Britney Spears Live in Concert on Sunday, September 27 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center (*See site for additional details and restrictions). Sep 22 – 30, 2009. Promo Code: PBRITH (Exp 10/1/09).

Also at the Mandalay Bay Events Center this fall, look for Grammy® -winning superstar Justin Timberlake who’s bringing his “Justin Timberlake and Friends, a Special Evening Benefiting Shriners Hospitals for Children” event to the stage at the Mandalay Bay Events Center Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 8 PM.  Ticket prices for this charity concert range from $100 – $250. Check out tickets here: Justin Timberlake Las Vegas

On the restaurant front, don’t forget that Pink’s in now open at Planet Hollywood. The hot dog haven (which has been in business since 1939)  has a loyal following — and a sometimes hour-long wait — at its original location in the city of Hollywood.

This week’s restaurant.com deal: Take 50% off w/every $25 Gift Certificate order! Use code MENU and pay $5 thru 9/8/09 at Restaurant.com. And just a hint, when you do use these certificates toward your meal, be sure to give it to the server early on so they have time to validate the certificate number before you get your final bill.

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