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Thanksgiving Week Part 1: Vegas

Last year Claire and I missed our chance to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert. It would have been our third time. We made a promise to try to see it this year and when the LA date and location were announced that didn’t work out so we decided to make a trip of it. I took Monday through Wednesday off of work which gave me a full week to relax. While this is a TSO trip, the focus of this week, at least for me, was definitely on food so I’ll tell the story of my amazing week with that in mind.

Friday 11.16 (Dinner): Haru Ulala

I sat through nearly 3 hours of traffic before arriving at Steph’s. We were both starving and we quickly headed to 2nd street to one of my favorite Japanese tapas locations.

Friday 11.16 (Snack): Pinkberry

After dinner, we walked over to Pinkberry where I got my classic strawberry, banana, and granola. Steph went with fruity pebbles again! This would not be the last I would hear about this flavor combination.

Saturday 11.17 (Lunch): Dragon Noodle

Claire and I arrived in Vegas on time and after waiting a short while, Ted came to pick us up. Off to Paris we went to check in and drop off our bags, then we headed to Monte Carlo for lunch. I tried this for the first time with Prakash and his friends and have been hearing people (mostly Prakash) rave about it since. Admittedly it’s great Chinese food. We were all surprised at the price. Way overpriced but again, great food. Funny thing happened: I ordered what was labeled genmai cha tea and started arguing with the waitress that she brought me out Chinese tea instead. I looked at the menu again and noticed that while the name is identical to the popular Japanese tea, the description described a Chinese one. How confusing and frustrating!

After lunch, we went to check out Planet Hollywood and the Miracle Mile shops next door to Paris. It was the red carpet grand opening that night and we were excited to see celebrities. Unfortunately, the starting time would conflict with our special dinner. Ted bought a new shirt at H&M which we would see later on that night.

Saturday 11.17 (Dinner): L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

I was really worried we’d be late but we made it with 10 minutes to spare. We were seated immediately in a perfect spot at the bar. To be honest, I didn’t even bother looking at the menu. We both ordered tasting menus (10 courses) which was the original plan. Everything was wonderful but if I had to choose standout hits they’d be:

Langoustine carpaccio with roasted poppy seed dressing

Free-range quail stuffed with foie gras

Frosted fresh papaya juice, banana sorbet

The veal was a real miss for me. I felt there was way too much acid. I actually think burned my tastebuds!

After dinner, we lined up at Studio 54 where Ted me us. He made it in the nick of time. We left briefly so Ted could have dinner then we went back to the club and left for ta second and final time after Ted and Claire decided that the club was dead. We went back to Paris and checked out Risque (sucked), then sat at the lounge at Paris to finish our drinks. We were there just for a little bit before calling it a night.

11.18 (Brunch): Bouchon

I couldn’t get reservations for this place but everyone told me you could just walk right in and they were right! You have to take a special elevator up here. It’s on the 10th or 11th floor of the Venetian and shares the floor with the a secondary lobby/check-in counter. I don’t know who would come up here to register. Perhaps VIP’s? Anyway, Thomas Keller’s bistro is everything I was hoping, and more. We had seared pork belly appetizer and of course I had to order the famous fries, which were great, though a bit oversalted.

After lunch, I had to stop by the Bouchon bakery. I picked up a bouchon, macarons, and a chocolate croissant. Then we went to the Pinball Museum. Last time I took my friends to the Atomic Museum and they thought I was crazy. I think now they will put more faith in my trip planning. It was so much fun and definitely a throwback to our youth.

Ted had been wanting to go to the outlets to buy new clothes (jeans) so that’s where we headed. We all left empty handed. For someone who wanted to shop, Ted was very unenthusiastic!

11.18 (Dinner): Red Square

Again, we were rushing to dinner. Our plan was to eat at Burger bar but we spent about an hour waiting for Ted to make up his mind about staying an extra day then figuring out how to deal with his car rental and flight plans. Then he wanted to watch a topless show at the hotel (by himself) and I had to go pickup the tickets downstairs.

When we got to Mandalay Bay, the wait for Burger Bar was 45 minutes and that meant we didn’t have enough time to wait, eat, and see the show. We walked around for a bit and opted for Red Square, a Russian themed restaurant with a focus on vodka. They even have bar made out of ice and lots of tasting choices called vodka “flights.” We both ordered a glass of wine (red for her, white for me) and fettuccine with marscapone cheese, lobster, and black truffle. It was delicious and the waiter was very accommodating with our schedule.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

We took a short walk to the events center where we joined a huge mob as it pushed its way forward. We thought we made it to the front but it was actually just where they collected the tickets. We finally got in and were seated promptly. Claire got great seats, right in the center. We were in the front of the section though and lots of people walked back and forth. It didn’t bother us one bit though. The show was amazing with great pyrotechnics and just amazing music.

After the show, we met Ted. I asked him how the show was and where he ended up eating. He answered, “Burger Bar.” Thanks Ted. We headed to Forty Deuce, a small burlesque club from LA. It’s a very weird club with just a small bar and a tiny dance floor. Over half of the club is sectioned off as the “VIP” section which is funny since it was just two steps above the dance floor and all the VIP’s just sat there at tables, looking over at us commoners by the bar.

Here’s how my favorite scene of the night played out:

David: Hey guys, look over my shoulder. IT’S WAYNE BRADY!

Ted: No it’s not man, it’s just some black guy

Claire: Yeah, it doesn’t even look like him David

Wayne Brady: Yes it is. I AM Wayne Brady. I overheard you.

David: I told you so!

Ted and Claire: OMG!

11.19 (Lunch): ‘Wichcraft

For lunch we headed over to MGM Grand and had sandwhiches at ‘Wichcraft which is a Tom Colichio restaurant. You can tell by the “Craft” in the name.

Ted ordered: Fried egg, bacon, blue cheese and greens on a roll. He said the blue cheese was over powering.

Claire ordered: Roasted pork, coppa, pepper relish and fontina cheese on country bread. She said she always orders paninis and regrets it afterward. She’s not a fan of the crunchiness. She mentioned it reminded her of a cuban sandwhich. I can see that.

I ordered: Roasted turkey, avocado, bacon, and balsamic onions on a roll. Mine was amazing. Sorry guys!

After lunch, we walked over to Game Works to get a half-priced show. We decided on Mystere, playing at Treasure Island. Then we went to the Forum Shops at Caesar where I picked up some cigars and Claire and I had a drink at Casa Fuente. Then we went to Vosges Haut-Chocolate where the helpful sales clerk let us sample anything and everything. Claire and I both left with bags of sweets.

11.19 (Dinner): Lotus of Siam

That night we went to the number one Thai restaurant in the country. And it’s in a strip mall! We didn’t make reservations because I thought we didn’t need them. I aws wrong. We waited about 20 minutes, which was not too bad. We ordered: Beef jerkey Issan style, Crispy catfish pieces salad, Tom Kah Kai soup, Issan sausage, fried banana roll with coconut ice cream, and thai iced teas. The beef jerky and catfish salad were great. The sausage was good but dry. We all agreed we couldn’t eat too much of it in one sitting. The soup was good but too salty. And I didn’t like the shell around the banana.

After dinner, we rushed back to the hotel to change. Claire and I had to pick up the tickets by 7:30 or we’d lose them. We made it with just two minutes to spare. Ted drove to the airport and went back home.

11.20 (Breakfast): Le Creperie

The next morning, I tried to get a late checkout but they wouldn’t allow it. So we got dressed and went downstairs to get some breakfast. We checked out the pool then took a taxi to Mandalay Bay. We checked in our bags and walked around, people watching for at least 20 minutes. We then went to Burger Bar. We both had burgers (she had foie gras on hers), a beer sampler (yummy) and sweet potato fries. Everything, except the beer, was ok. Not worth the wait or anticipation.

We then took the cab to the airport, checked in our bags, and waited to fly back. The flight was a quick one, ahead of schedule by 10 minutes. My mom picked us up and we sat through what seemed like over an hour of traffic before getting home.

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