Thursday, September 22, 2005

Back to Vegas

Wow, posting quite often this week. Guess it shows that things are slow here at work. The new project is taking over and the program I have been working on is being replaced. Time for me to learn something new. I’ve been going through the C# programming book, learning the latest Microsoft offering. As with cars, they have to change programming languages once in a while to get people to buy new stuff. It doesn’t seem like much of an improvement, but we’ll see.

I originally thought this would be a photo blog, but in reading other blogs I’ve started to put more words in than pictures. One of the reasons is my job – when I started here we had just been in Vegas for a few months, and was taking a lot of photos and wanted to share them. Now that I’m locked inside a windowless office for a major portion of my week I am taking fewer pictures and putting down more words. This bothers me, so I am trying to shoot more. Hopefully I can get more shots of Vegas in. I like it here, and just want to share that.

I started working here at the bank in January. If you’ve been reading this you know how I felt about my last job. After being here a while I talked John into moving from the old place over to here. The bank has an employee referral program, which rewards you if you refer somebody and they get hired. John has now been here for six months, and HR has come up with my referral reward check. It’s not much, being aligned more towards bringing in phone people, which is a high turnover job. But it is something, and I used the money to treat myself to an evening at a fancy restaurant.

Now Vegas is a place for entertainment. One of the things I love to do is to go to a nice restaurant, but can’t afford to go as often as I would like to. The big casinos recently have started competing not only for the fanciest gambling digs but also the best food. What goes along with that, unfortunately, are the highest prices. The MGM Grand has started putting in some really nice places, with French chef Joel Robuchon, Emeril Lagasse, and Wolfgang Puck. And with the famous chef Alan Ducase about to open his first place in Vegas we are getting some pretty good French stuff. Ducas has a three star place in Paris, and his place here is opening this week.

Aside – OMG – I just went to Google to look up Alan Ducase and found that one of my blog posts is the second site listed. OK, that’s because I spelled it wrong, should be Alan Ducasse. Wow, teach me to learn how to spell correctly.

The Bellagio (now part of the MGM Grand family) has the reputation for having the most expensive places in town. Not only the rooms, but the food as well. Our daughter took us to Circo there once, and I have really been wanting to eat at Picasso. But it has a fixed price menu starting at $90. Plus wine (have to have wine with a meal like that) and tip. Haven’t come up with the bucks for that yet.

I can’t list all of the other fine places here in town, with Mandalay Bay having some great places. For our last anniversary I splurged and we went to Fleur de Lys there. It was tremendous. The Wynn is also meeting the competition, as are the rest of the big casinos.

Being locals we try to avoid the strip as much as possible, leave it for the tourists. We don’t always stay away – that is after all our big claim to fame. And it’s too much fun over there. But since we live here we can aim for off periods, when it is not too crowded. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a really slow tourist time, and when we usually try to hit the shows. That is when several of them, trying to keep the crowd, offer two for one deals for locals, or special dine and view discounts. We also try to go out on Tuesday nights, as that seems to be the slowest time (depending on conventions). And we also try to patronize the off Strip places.

There are a lot of places that are not located on the Strip. For steaks we like to go down to the Twin Creeks Steak House at the Silverton Casino down on Blue Diamond. This is several miles south of the airport, well away from downtown and the big Strip casinos. The Silverton is trying to attract people, they recently opened a huge Bass Pro Shop, and you can spend hours just walking around looking at the stuff, and live fish. There is also a really big salt water tank at the end of the casino, full of fish and periodic mermaids. The steaks are about the best in town, and half the cost of the strip places. With food, drinks (not wine) and dessert we can get away for less than fifty dollars for the two of us. Used to be able to just walk in, but now they are getting busier and we need reservations. But when we decide to go we just phone in and make reservations for about an hour after we call, which give us time to get dressed and drive down there. Even at that, still not too often.

But my favorite place in town is Rosemary's Restaurant. This is located in a strip mall on Sahara Boulevard about five miles west of the Strip. They used to have a branch over at the Rio, but that closed last year. The food is great. They’ve got a fixed price menu at $40 for dinner and $20 for lunch. But it’s too far from work for me to do lunch there, much as I would like to. So with John’s referral check I decided to hit Rosemary’s. It was well worth it.

Not a very impressive first image. Located in a strip mall, right next to a SteinMart store, behind the Marie Calendar’s out on the corner.

Inside it’s pretty nice. Low lighting, but enough so you can read the menu. They open at 5:30, and we usually try to eat early, so got there at 6. As you can see, it was a week night and had not filled up yet. But when we left every table was full. There is the main room, and I guess they are doing well and the rented the place next door, cut a hole in the wall and expanded the number of tables they have.

Really great service. After being escorted to our seats the Matre de (is that right?) snapped the white napkin from the place setting and placed it in my wife’s lap. But then he took my napkin and walked away! I thought this was rather not right, and grabbed a napkin off of one of the other place settings (table was set for four). He came back a few seconds later with a black napkin, saying that he didn’t want to get any lint from the white napkin on my dark pants. How detailed is that – a restaurant having black napkins to avoid lint?

My wife had the daily specials – good salad, bacon wrapped halibut and fancy dessert. I felt it was early enough and opted for the five course tasting menu – smaller portions but more stuff. Had the waiter pick a glass of wine for each of us – if we split a bottle I couldn’t drive home. I wanted to take pictures of the food, but

was not fast enough. With that stuff in front of me I just couldn’t stop and pick up the camera. The dessert ended up being their ‘Dessert Storm’ – smaller portions of five of their desserts.

I was stuffed, but of course had to clean my plate (well, plates). It was really really really good. So if you come to Vegas, please don’t stuff all of your money into the machines, leave time and bucks to try a fine dining establishment.

For Clare:
1. Living in a town with so many wonderful places.
2. Looking from my front yard down the hill at night to see the Disneyland of lights called the Strip.
3. The marvelous food at Rosemary's.

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