Rumblings, Ruminations, and Retrospectives

Musings from the mind of the Beast.

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Vegas: Day 3

After a late night overload of gambling, thrill rides at 1000 feet in the air, and lots of great boobs, we’ve slept in a bit on Day 3. I had a horrible sleep, like the pillow was trying to constantly suffocate me (or was that just Steph trying to cash in on the insurance money?), so we took a while to get mobile.

When we did, it was off for morning (late morning) fuel, so we headed over to the Rainforest Cafe. Yeah, I know, it’s a national chain (take THAT, Brent!), but it’s somewhere Stephanie has always wanted to go, and we didn’t get a chance when we were last in Minneapolis.

We split a tiny pizza for an appetizer, and I can’t really remember what else we had, but the food doesn’t matter. You go to the RFC for the environment. Literally. You first enter the RFC through a 10,000 gallon overhead double archway aquarium with all kinds of little fishy-type things in it. The host (who calls himself a Tour Guide) walks you to your table. Once inside, the entire place is like a tropical area or jungle; the walls are covered with vines, trees and plants, and interspersed throughout are various animals – there’s a family of gorillas in one corner, elephants in another, a cheetah in different locations on the wall, and birds, parrots, and butterflies (OH MY!) up in the rafters (where there’s even MORE vegetation).

Our order is taken by our Wildlife Guide (they’re taking this environment thing quite literally, which is cool), and we start looking around at the aforementioned local flora and fauna. Every few minutes, one of the animals in the cafe will start doing something; the gorillas will make a ton of noise, the elephants will as well; the cheetahs roar and swish their tails around.

Every 30 minutes, the cafe puts on a mock thunderstorm, with the lights flashing, simulated lightning flashing throughout the cafe (hey, we ARE in a rainforest, after all) and all the animals in the place just FREAK OUT. The gorillas are all stomping around and “OHH OHH AHH AHH!”-ing, the elephants are screaming, the cheetahs are roaring and swishing their tails like they’re swatting at some imaginary foe, everything just going berserk. Hilarious!

We finish up and Stephanie does some shopping at the RFC merchandise store, and then it’s off outside to head around the corner to the M&Ms store.

Not the meat place. The CANDY.

But on the way, we’re basically accosted by these two guys from Planet Hollywood that want us to come and listen to this 90 minute presentation on the new building they’re… um… building, and sell us on staying there the next time we come to Vegas. We’ll get $100 in chips at PH for our time, and we realize pretty fast that there’s some kind of catch here. Are they going to try and sell us a condo or time share or something? I keep declining and wanting to leave, but the guy just won’t SHUT UP, and keeps trying to sweeten the deal. He’ll give us dinner in a couple places while we’re in town, and give us three free days at Planet Hollywood if we’ll come to the seminar. On TOP of the now $150 in chips he’s offering. Stephanie is now interested, but I’m having nothing to do with it. This is gonna be a con-job of the NTH degree, and I want nothing more than to get OUT of there. I finally just tell the guy “no, thanks” and turn to leave.

Back out onto the Strip, and around the corner, and there it is.

FOUR, GLORIOUS FLOORS of all things M&Ms. This building is MASSIVE! How else can I explain this? I really can’t.

28,000+ square feet of M&M memorabilia.

If you can think of a product and put a M&Ms spin on it, they’ve probably got it here. Clothing, accessories, jewelry, alarm clocks, shower radios, book ends, books, golf club covers, golf balls, mugs, little tiny kid’s stuff, older kid’s stuff, adult stuff, dolls (well, I’ll call ‘em action figures)… I mean, they have a FREAKING STOCK CAR up on the fourth floor, all decked out in a custom M&M paint job, along with NASCAR driving outfits, leather jackets, shirts, everything! It’s CRAZY!

So we spend a good couple hours in there, picking up a couple things for the niece and nephew. Steph got a couple things for herself, and I grabbed a yellow M&M golf club cover and a dog tag necklace. Before leaving, we even got a picture with Green M&M herself!

Back outside, we see the giant Coca-Cola bottle next to the M&M store, which used to house a Coke museum, but now all that’s in there is an elevator to take you to the top – it’s all part of the integrated mall. The thing is taller than the rest of the mall around it – take THAT, Pepsi!

Next door is the Hard Rock Cafe, which has a MASSIVE illuminated guitar sign on the outside of it.

We then realize we’ve killed the better part of a few hours, and we have to get to the Venetian to Emeril’s Delmonico Steak House, which, for me, is a giant object of personal excitement for me. We’ve always watched Emeril Lagasse on FoodTV, and have always wanted to try one of his restaurants, and we’re finally about to do it.

We get to the Venetian, and once inside, we’re immediately taken aback by the architecture and design of the lobby and main hallway that leads down to the casino. The place is done up like OLD SCHOOL Italy, complete with pictures on the domed ceilings and everything.

We’re a little early, so we stop and plunk a few bucks into the slots, but of course, it all disappears, and we head over to Emeril’s.

First off, the place is huge. And very white. It’s kind of plain in there – not a lot of art on the walls, or color, but still, the environment manages to be very inviting and comfortable. The acoustics in the place let you hear EVERYTHING – conversations across the room are heard plain as day, so somehow we try to be a little quiet, but it doesn’t matter.

We’re greeted and sat down, and our waiter introduces himself and lets us know that he – and two others – will be taking care of us tonight. Wow. Where some  restaurants have a full compliment of cutlery and dishes and glasses already out on the table for you, our table is empty, and only what is needed is brought to us – very efficient.

We give our order, and almost instantaneously after, our drinks, along with a tall glass of water are brought to the table, along with small dishes, butter, and a knife for the fresh-from-the-oven bun – delivered by TONG – as it’s placed on our plate.

I *have* to stop here and mention that the service at Emeril’s was absolutely world class. It was phenomenal – the absolute best I’ve ever had. Drank half of your water or pop? The young lady is there to fill it for you post-haste. The glass was never more than half empty. Finish your bun? Another, fresh, warm bun was almost immediately tonged onto your plate, followed by fresh butter. Amazing.

Then the REAL food starts coming out.

For an appetizer, we wanted to compare Emeril’s crab cake to Wolfgang’s crab cake, so we ordered the lump crab cake. Where Wolfgang’s was patty-styled, Emeril’s was hunks of crab meat, fresh, juicy, and tangy. Absolutely wonderful. Both were amazing, but in different ways. I think I’d give the (slight) edge to Emeril here. We polish off the crab cake, and wait for the entrees to arrive.

And… they come.

And they look AMAZING.

Stephanie had the rib eye steak with vegetables and an Idaho baked potato. I had the BBQ salmon, which came with tiny onion rings and chopped veggies. Steph asked for her steak well done, so when they brought it out, they asked her to check it (unheard of here), and it turns out it was a little under-cooked. Profuse apologies abound, and her steak is taken back, AND… my plate is taken to keep my food warm. Refills are immediately brought. Now THAT’s service. We kept our potatoes and started loading them up with bacon, green onions, and sour cream and butter, so it’s not like we were missing anything,

HUGE KUDOS for the Emeril’s team for caring to get it right.

Not 10 minutes later everything is back out to us, and folks, I’m just going to put this bluntly… if it were physically *possible* for taste buds to have orgasms, then Emeril’s would have been the wettest place this side of the mighty Mississippi.

Just close your eyes, let the food literally melt in your mouth, let out a few audible “mmmmmmmmmmms”, and “Oh my God’s”, proclaim how fantastic everything is, and enjoy.

That’s how good it was. You just can’t physically explain it.

With apologies to everyone I know that’s ever cooked for me, THIS was hands down the BEST meal I’ve ever had. That simple. There’s no other way to put it. It’s like sex on a plate.

So, we enjoy the hell out of everything, but leave some of our potatoes as we’re getting pretty full, but dammit, this is EMERIL’S, and we’re GOING to have dessert.

Stephanie chooses Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie, and I go for the Root Beer Float.

As expected, Steph’s dessert was the Best Damned Banana Cream Pie on the Planet, and my root beer float was actually made with a special root beer brewed in New Orleans. TREMENDOUS.

We finish up, thank the staff for an absolutely fantastic experience – and folks, cheaper than places back home like 529 – and take our leave.

If you ever come to Vegas, you’ve GOT to come here. It’s WORTH it.

Steph decides to take a walk around the shops of the Palazzo, which is way too high end and haute-couture for me, so I take a seat on a bench near Emeril’s and wait. Once Stephanie returns, we head back to the casino, and end up playing the greatest slot machine of them all.

The Price Is Right.

Complete with Plinko, The Mountain Climber, the Big Wheel, and Showcase Showdowns, this is a GREAT slots game. You can hit bonuses that let you play Plinko or the Mountain Climber game, try to win showcases, or spin the wheel for big credits. It’s awesome, and not boring like the other slots games we played. Even the game show music is true to the show and mesmerizing.

I had the distinction of watching my mountain climber dude yodel his ass right off the edge of the cliff on several occasions. I forget how long we played for, but it was FUN, and then it was time to head to the Bellagio to see the famous light and fountain shows.

Headed outside and into a cab, and we got a really cool cab driver. He gave us all kinds of info and tips about the places we were driving by, and was fun to talk to, unlike most cab drivers who wouldn’t say a word, or else were too occupied talking on the phone. And, as we were pulling into the Bellagio, he was kind enough to point out the best vantage point to watch the fountain show from. We thanked him, handed him a generous tip, and with camera and video recorder in hand, we headed over to the balcony by the lake to watch the show.

We just missed a show, so there was about 10 minutes before the next one would start. We took the time to look around and see the sights from the other side of the Strip. We saw Paris, with the scaled down Eiffel Tower, the new site of Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina, the Flamingo – complete with a GIANT visage of Donny and Marie Osmond down one side of it. It must have covered 80% of the side of the hotel.

Seeing all the lights was pretty cool, and then we pulled out the equipment to get ready to capture the show – Stephanie with the still camera, and me with the video camera. I was playing around with the video camera, and realized I could zoom in a HELL of a distance. So I pointed the camera at the Flamingo – which was several blocks away, and started zooming in all over the hotel room windows. I soon discovered I was almost able to watch…

Get your head out of gutter, folks.

I could see images moving on the *television*. Couldn’t quite tell what it was, but I thought that was pretty impressive.

So now, the show’s about to start, and it’s also quite impressive. A coordinated display of lights, music, and water eruptions over a 3.5 square kilometer lake. Very cool. Each performance is about five minutes long with a ten minute break in between, and we stayed for three or four shows.

Hard to describe other than what I said above, but I’ve got video to post once I get it all organized. Neat stuff.

I even managed to do a pretty phenomenal job of following one of the shows with the video camera, and I did it all with the video recorder on pause.

Yes, folks, sometimes I manage to amaze even myself.

That ends our night, and we hop a cab back to the MGM Grand, and in checking the camera, we’ve taken 337 pictures so far, and this is only day 3.

Now, it’s back to sleep, in hopes that the pillow (or Steph) isn’t going to try and kill me in my sleep.