Vegas Trip – July 2009, Day 1

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some of us might have had a very tasty, yet very strong margarita at Ike’s in the airport before the flight. During the pre-flight spiel, every time they said “flight to Las Vegas,” I wanted to say “Woooooo!!!”

I sat in an aisle seat. Next to me in the middle seat was a guy in his 20s who had never been to Vegas before. Next to him in the aisle seat was a guy in his 50s who had been to Vegas many times, and from what I could hear, those trips were mostly in his dreams. He also seemed very concerned with levels of activity at various casinos. Here are a few words of wisdom I captured before they told us to shut down our electronic devices:

  • “I’ve seen Michael Flaherty group and Stomp.”
  • “I love the Rio, because there’s always something going on. Upstairs at the Rio is party town.”
  • “Oh yeah, Paris is connected to the Venetian. You should walk over there if you have some free time.”
  • “People your age would love the Hard Rock . There’s a lot of activity going on.”
  • “I spent a lot of time at the Palms. That’s a happening place.”
  • “You should take the tram that runs from Mandalay to Bellagio.”

I spent the rest of the flight trying not to laugh or mock him openly. I succeeded.

I took a cab to Wynn. He was about to take the tunnel, but at the last minute I said, “no tunnel” and he took me to Tropicana instead, where traffic was crawling because of the construction. I believe he took this route on purpose and was going to take Tropicana all the way to the Strip, had I not told him to take Koval, which was smooth sailing. The longhaul made me slightly crabby, but my bad mood evaporated once I was at Wynn.

I got my room key at the reservations desk (Tim had already been there for a few days for a convention). As I walked to my room, several staff people said hello and asked how I was doing. A few minutes after I was room 2455, someone knocked on the door. It was another Wynn staffer, asking if everything was okay and if I needed anything. I was a little stunned at the high level of service.

Tim told me later about his service experiences on something as simple as a wake-up call. He would call down to the desk to request a wake-up call. They would ask if he preferred a recording or a live voice. Then they would ask if he wanted a second wake-up call a few minutes later. Then they would ask if there was anything else they could do.

Tim had some more convention duties, so I walked through the Wynn Esplanade in search of some shoes and to see if the Manolo Blahnik sale was indeed for real, and to my joy and amazement, it was!

It really does exist!

I fondled the hell out of some shoes, but didn’t see any cute enough to justify the price. However, I did see a couple pair in their fall collection that I might have to visit in October. We shall see.

I had some amazing fish tacos at sugar and spice. There were three dipping sauces for the chips– two salsa and one guac. One of the salsas had a secret ingredient: crack. I couldn’t stop eating it, and I might have even licked the container.

Fish Tacos at Sugar and Ice

For the first time, I walked to Encore, which was absolutely beautiful and worth the hype. It just felt good to be in there.

I discovered that more restaurants were doing the tasting menus than what had been listed online, including Sinatra and Botero. I suddenly had new options for dinner.

I went back to the room and hung out with Tim for a little while, then I took a short pre-dinner nap.

I decided to go to Botero for dinner, and it did not disappoint. Everything was delicious, and like the other parts of Wynncore, had great service. There were about five people in the restaurant when I arrived, and it was about 1/4 full when I left. It was midweek in July, but still surprising how empty it was. No wonder they had a tasting menu to lure people inside.

The tasting menu was $48 and included three courses. Beverages, tax, and tip were additional.

I ordered a margarita on the rocks for $16. It was delicious.

Bread Basket and Margarita at Botero

They brought out an amuse bouche (pre-appetizer) of a crab cake on a spoon. It was freshly made and very good.

Appetizer at Botero

For my first course, I had the Heirloom Tomato and Melon Salad with Buffalo Cheese. It was so incredible I almost cried. The melons were cut into flowers, and the salad tasted as wonderful as the presentation. It had layers of flavor, enhanced by the tomatoes, cheese, melons, and herbs.

Heirloom Tomato and Melon Salad

My second course was the Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Au Poivre Sauce. It also came with a side of greens, an onion tart, fries, and corn pudding. The steak was cooked to perfection. The corn was the only underwhelming part of the evening, but then I had more room for the other sides. The fries were also perfectly cooked and served with a tangy ketchup, and the tart and greens were a pleasant surprise.

Grilled Flat Iron Steak at Botero

For dessert, I chose the Banana Bread Pudding with Homemade Banana Ice Cream. I had debated getting the vanilla bean milkshake with warm cookies, but the server recommended the bread pudding and I was not disappointed. I love banana bread, and the bread pudding was spectacular.

Banana Bread Pudding at Botero

After my wonderful meal, I wandered around Encore taking photos. I’d heard that the Osbourne family was filming a reality show on the premises, and as I was walking back towards Wynn, I saw Ozzy Osbourne wandering the hallway near Wazuzu. He had someone with him, in case he wandered off, and he looked slightly confused, but he didn’t seem to mind that various people were calling out “Ozzy! You’re awesome!” He looked in their direction, raised his hand slightly, and continued walking in the direction of Society Cafe, which is where I assume he was headed. He was dressed conservatively in a long-sleeved t-shirt, jeans, and his trademark round sunglasses.

Even though he was unassuming, I was so awestruck by him that I almost walked into the men’s room instead of the ladies’. Again, a kind Encore employee pointed me in the right direction.

I walked over to Venetian to check out Sephora and made a couple purchases. I stopped in Barneys and tried on some shoes from their designer clearance rack. That way, I wouldn’t have to bother a salesperson for something I wasn’t likely to buy anyway. The Manolos were surprisingly comfortable for a high heel. The same cannot be said of Christian Louboutin. Ow.

(Note to self for future purchases: I wear a size 40 in Manolos.)

I went back to the room for a bit and waited for Tim to finish work.

We walked through Encore again, stopping at the Southside Bar for a Captain Morgan/Diet Coke. On the way out to the Strip, Tim saw Jack Osbourne, although I missed him because I was looking the other way.

We walked down to Peppermill. I had an oatmeal cookie (my favorite there), and Tim had a chocolate chip cookie, then we each had a cherry vodka/Diet Coke. Wonderful old-school Vegas ambience and great service, as always. The music videos? Not so great. But who cares when the drinks are that good?

We stopped by Stripburger for their late night happy hour. We each had a Pyramid Hefeweizen. Tim ordered sliders, and I had a bite. They were super tasty, as were the fries. We had 2 drinks, 2 sliders, and fries for $12.

It was beautiful outside. There were fans blowing to provide a breeze, and good tunes playing on the sound system. A great way to start the trip.

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