Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Jester Eats Las Vegas: Part I

*taps the microphone* Er... is this thing on? OK, so I've been neglecting the blog in favor of Twitter lately. Then, recently, for no good reason, the visitors here doubled in a week. I'm not questioning it, just appreciative, so I might as well give you something new to read since I just got home from a wonderful trip to Las Vegas.

Things started out down in Tempe with a quick breakfast at the new version of Stan's Metro Deli on Mill, up on the north end of the street on a corner I swear is cursed. I've seen so many things come and go from there that I don't hold much faith anymore for whatever decides to go in on that corner. I think Stan's is going to do pretty well if breakfast is any indication. The kitchen was having some new restaurant teething issues; the food came out slower than we had hoped, but the manager handled the situation well by bringing out some complimentary fresh fruit for us to nibble on. I opted for the #2 "Bob Parks Gallery" omelet, stuffed with Cheddar, bacon, and green chiles. Once it came out, I had no complaints; it was a good solid omelet, with decent potatoes and a little more fruit to round out the plate. With our bellies full, we hopped into the Jestermobile and took off for Vegas.

One of my scheduled pit stops on the way to Vegas was beautiful downtown Wikieup, home of Eat At Joe's Barbecue, some of the finest barbecue this state has to offer. We were feeling only a little peckish, so the plan was to split something small and get back on the road. Alas, our pit stop was cut short by a dark restaurant and a sign in the window saying they were on vacation until well after we would return home. Heads hanging a little low, we hit the road cursing the lack of Mojave Greens on this trip.

Fast forward a few hours, and we were now in the heart of Las Vegas. After a quick run to Gambler's General Store to pick up some pai gow dominoes (a game I've taken quite a fascination with lately), we had gone from a bit peckish to absolutely famished. My usual plan when I hit Vegas is to make a beeline for one of the finest coffee shops in all the land, the Peppermill Restaurant. However, my stomach had other plans. You see, it had been over a year and a half since my previous Vegas vacation, and therefore it had been that long since I had the amazing Frrrozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity 3 at Caesars Palace. After a short wait for a table, we got ourselves a table on the patio overlooking the Strip, giving us the perfect vantage point to play Thong/Not A Thong/Not A Thing with the passersby below. Thanks to a Foursquare check-in, we got a couple of $4 welcome blueberry martinis, which were a tad on the sweet side and tasted more of generic berry than specifically blueberries. I was a bit disappointed that management had trimmed some of the more fun stuff from the menu, such as the Macaroni & Cheese Pizza I had last time (they still serve mac & cheese, how hard would it be to throw it on a pizza crust?) and the infamous Bachelorette Hot Dog. The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate tasted as good as it did last time, but it wasn't blended long enough, and chunks of ice that got stuck in the straw marred the texture of the drink. My friend Scott went for the ABC burger, where the ABC stood for Avocado, Brie, and Caramelized onion, served with sweet potato fries. I had heard good things about their Caesar salad, so we decided to split both the burger and the salad. After a bit more of a wait than I would have liked (apparently the management's efforts to streamline the kitchen didn't go as planned), the food hit the table, and it was good. The burger had some stiff competition from Burger Bar down at Mandalay, and as I figured, Burger Bar is still my champion for Las Vegas burgers. The one here was good, don't get me wrong, but Burger Bar just plain nails it. I think that the brie was somewhat misplaced, here more for its initial than anything else. The Caesar salad was a good textbook Caesar, with plenty of croutons (pity they were the standard boxed ones) and Parmesan shavings to accent the assertive dressing. Part of the allure of the Caesar is that it comes with a giant crouton almost the size of a Rubik's cube. Well, it at least looks like a crouton; it was more of a piece of very thick extra-crispy garlic toast. I think the next time I'm in Vegas, I'll take a look to see if they've brought any of the fun dishes back to the menu before I sit down. If they haven't, I'll take my Frrrozen Hot Chocolate to go.