Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A night at the opera

This one?

no, not that one, this one

On Saturday night B and I attended a performance of the Phantom of the Opera, at what I used to call the big hotel next door but now is properly title the big Resort, Hotel, Casino next door. (I better get it right.) As a reward for all of the lost weekends working on the big boss’ birthday web site my boss gave me two tickets for the Phantom. And very good tickets too – row five right in the middle. To compensate for the free tickets we figured we’d have dinner somewhere in the big RHC.

We started the evening in the new parking garage underneath the new tower of the big RHC next door (from here on referred to as tbRHCnd). This is a first for Vegas – five stories of parking underground, beneath the casino itself. Up until now most facilities have put up a big parking garage at the back of the casino, but since land prices are now up to $35,000,000 per acre they figured it would be more advantageous to put a big hole in the ground and then build everything on top of it instead of spreading things out. I think they have about 4,000 parking spots down there, with plenty of room for driving and turning into them. Our original parking garage is rated rather poorly, both for the small spaces and the narrow lanes between, making it really hard to park. (sorry, no pictures of the parking garage).

The escalators up from the parking garage take you right to the middle of the casino floor. From here it’s just a few steps to your favorite slot machine or table game, saving you valuable gambling time.

We got there a little early and decided to walk around a bit. The central atrium is still looking nice.

And I thought we would see if we could beat the fancy shoes RSG saw while in SF. We hit the Jimmy Choo store and only looked at stuff in the front half; there were too many people in the back trying on shoes. Most of them were similarly priced, but I liked this pair

Only $ 995. B declined the offer to try them on as she feels a little unstable when the heels are over an inch. We wandered back to the Palazzo lobby

Just to the right of the Strip entrance and next to the check in desk was Morel’s Steak House, our destination.

Morel’s is a steak-seafood restaurant. We’ve been looking at the menus and viewing the dining rooms (most do not serve lunch) of all the restaurants at tbRHCnd during our lunchtime walks and I liked this one. It’s right on the lobby, and has big windows that open out onto the Strip. There are some outdoor tables, but it is a little warm right now to use them, but it is probably a very nice place to sit the rest of the year. Right across the street is the TI and the Siren show, so besides all of the people walking you can watch a pirate battle while you dine.

The bar is right up front, with a display of oysters and seafood on ice.

The dining room is just behind the bar, high ceilings, white tablecloths and lots of staff.

We went there also because B was in the mood for meat. When I asked her last week where she wanted to eat she said she didn’t care, as long as there was beef available; so naturally we ordered some. We got the rib eye for two, and at her request it was rather rare. A very fine cut of meat (at those prices it better be). It was carved at the table, and for some reason seemed to take a few people to work on it.

It did taste marvelous, and B felt the degree of done was just right. I would rather have it medium well, but it was her night too. As we dined the sun set behind the TI and they were able to open the curtains.

We took our time, salads and soups and wine and all, but found it was time to be off for the play before we got to try the desserts, or the tremendous cheese assortment for afters. The Phantom theater is waaayyy on the other side, under the escalators over in the older hotel casino, about a fifteen minute walk away. I get to see the daytime crowds there, and we usually don’t go back at night, so I was surprised at how many people were out and about, wandering into restaurants and playing at the slots and table games.

I was able to take a shot of the stage, but then one of the staff came over and loudly said ‘no photographs’ so I had to put the camera away. But this is what it looked like at first.

That’s the center part of the million dollar chandelier, the theater and stage supposedly cost over $10,000,000 to set up a few years ago when they moved in. We really enjoyed the show, it was 95 minutes of constant music and movement, with a cast of 33 plus live orchestra. The Vegas production differs from the NY and London versions in that there is no intermission, and about 25 minutes were cut out. We hadn’t seen the Phantom elsewhere, so it was all new to us. I’ve seen several movie versions of the play, remembering the Claude Rains (1943) one mostly. If I hadn’t seen it before it would have been rather confusing, the music was nice, but B said she had a hard time understanding the words. But all in all a very pleasant experience. (but B says the Cirque show Ka at the MGM is the best show in town, my favorite is O over at the Bellagio).

As we left it was very noticeable that the size of the crowd in the casino was even larger. There were quite a few young ladies in very short dresses headed for the clubs, and lots of loud screams coming from assorted craps tables; it sounded like somebody was winning.

So – the cost of the evening? You have to remember that room rates at tbRHCnd for Saturday were $359 and up. The Phantom tickets (if we bought them) would have been $158 each, there are lower priced seats further back. Dinner at Morel’s – (not the most expensive place among the two dozen restaurants) was $214. Drinks later - $14 each. It was a most enjoyable evening. But that's also why locals don't go down to the Strip that often. We could have had a very similar meal at Flemming's, about six miles west, in an equally fancy setting for about half the price. Or had a good steak down at the Silverton for a third of the price. But that just would not have been the same overall experience.

No comments: