Friday, December 12, 2014

What Happens in Vegas, Doesn't Stay in Vegas

"What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", that is how the saying goes. Las Vegas, as in Sin City, is known for gambling, smoking, partying, getting wasted and doing things that you will regret later. The good thing is that you don't have to tell anyone. In my case, I don't gamble, don't smoke, don't drink alcohol, don't like loud noises and rarely do things unconsciously and regret them later. The only time I was drugged was when I was doing a medical procedure. (It was the best sleep I ever had in my entire life). Did I mention that my husband hates Vegas? Then why Vegas and what I did?

We had the opportunity of leaving our daughter with my in-laws where she loves to spend time. I have never been to Vegas before and every time I mentioned that I was curious to see it, I got major eye rolling action from my husband. He finally succumbed and I got us a great deal to fly there and stay for 3 nights at the Encore Hotel. So you are still wondering why I wanted to go to Vegas despite that what Vegas is notorious for does not interest me? Come with me, shall you!

Las Vegas, in addition to everything mentioned above, attracts many famous chefs such as Batali, Boulud, Giada, Bobby Flay, Emeril, Puck, Thomas Keller. We went to eat, sleep and stay at a beautiful hotel. I am glad to say that we were very faithful to our original plan. Before I go on with my Vegas story, here is my disclaimer. I just want to say that I was not paid or compensated to write about these restaurants or hotels or city. In fact, none know that I am writing a post about my trip, none cares about that and none really know that I exist. I just thought that it would be a good way to tell you what I did and may be when you are in Vegas, you can find this post useful.

Before we traveled, I took some time to read some restaurant reviews and get a bit familiar with what Vegas has to offer: restaurants, shows and deals. I knew 3 things: I want to eat at Bouchon, I want to eat at a Mario Batali's restaurant, I want to see a show, and I was open about the rest of my trip.

We arrived kind of late to Vegas and had little time to think about food and make reservations but the next day, I was very adamant about trying Bouchon for breakfast. One good thing about las Vegas, is that you walk a lot. So we walked to Bouchon and were immediately seated. Did, I mention that we went to Vegas on  Monday of Thanksgiving week? thus we did not have to wait at all at any restaurant. I loved the Bouchon ambiance and the high ceilings. I love high ceilings. They remind me of old houses in Beirut. My husband had a quiche du jour which was Quiche Florentine (spinach and cheese) with a simple side salad. I had a plain croissant. The coffee was very good and I really needed to drink it because for some weird reason, our hotel does not have a coffee maker in the room. Not even tea.  The quiche and the salad were excellent, I had a bite. The croissant was served with homemade jam and butter. It was very good as well, but I wished it was warm. We then shared some beignets which came with apricot jam and nutella. I found them too sweet for my taste, but my husband loved them. I did not appreciate the choice of Nutella. I love Nutella, but I came to Bouchon to experience things that are outside the box, literally. My husband had a cappuccino and he said that it was memorable. 
Beignets at Bouchon
After this big breakfast, we walked to a place that sells same day show tickets at discounted price. there was a line but not a very long one. We waited around half an hour. We ended up getting tickets to Cirque du Soleil Ka at 45% off and the Broadway Musical Jersey Boys at 30%. Not bad at all! We also went to a market to buy water and other things that we forgot to pack. The market was conveniently at the same mall.
The beautiful Bouchon ambiance
We decided to have lunch at Batali's sandwich and burger place in The Venetian. We actually had all our meal at the Venetian because our favorite restaurants were located there. We shared a beautiful Like a Caesar salad, onion rings and french fries, Pastrami Sandwich and a customized burger from the Burger Bar. The portion are on the small size compared to American standards but normal size for us. It was a wonderful lunch and we ate it sitting outside at the porch.
The Menu at B&B
The pastrami Sandwich and the Salad 
The praying waiter
The burger, Salad and a wonderful pickled cauliflower
I made a mental note to try Jean Philippe for dessert. So we decided to walk there and burn the many many calories we just consumed. It was a long confusing walk and we ended up at the location at Aria's hotel. I will try to be kind when I describe my feelings towards this location. I did not like it all. First, the actual design and decor of the shop is very space like, pushing the limits of the word modern to unflattering edges. The level of noise, smoke and pollution was beyond my capacity. We ordered two coffees and a chocolate dessert. The dessert was beautiful and delicious. it is made of layers mousses and the base is somewhat like a shortbread. I also tasted some croquant or praline. It was topped with a pistachio macaron. I love macaron, but this was dry and tasteless. The dessert itself was very good. The coffees were terrible. I was unhappy over there and this is sad because how can you not be happy eating a chocolate dessert? This location was not for me. I do not intend to go back.
Dessert at Jean Philippe
We were so stuffed and tired from walking that we decided to skip dinner and just rest till The cirque du Soleil Show. Again, those hotel lobbies with the casinos, smoke and noise. I was glad to sit in the theater as soon as they opened the doors. While we were sitting there waiting for the show to start, I felt a splash of cold liquid on me, and by splash, I mean a whole glass of red wine on my skirt, jacket and shirt! I was so shocked that it took me 30 seconds to understand what was going on. Luckily, I was wearing an all black outfit that can be washed. The lady who was French was very apologetic. I smelled like bad red wine the whole evening. I don't understand the concept of bring your own drink to a seated show like this one. Do they have to make money in every possible way? Do you really need to drink a beer/juice/wine while watching the show? some even had giant cups with drinks in them. I don't get it.
Just another morning in Vegas
The next day we slept in and were too lazy to figure out where to eat breakfast, so we headed to Bouchon again. Did I mention that the coffee was very good? My husband had Hachis de Boeuf, corned beef hash with eggs) and I had Le Jardin, which is eggs, tomatoes, spinach and toast. They substituted the spinach with Pommes de terre Lyonnaise. Both dishes were superb, especially the hash and the pommes de terre Lyonnaise.
Le Jardin at Bouchon 
Hachis de Boeuf at Bouchon
We walked back to the room. I made a facial appointment at the Encore SPA, which is one of the most beautiful SPAs, I have ever seen in the USA. It was so beautiful, relaxing and smelled great. I was already tired of the smell of cigarettes and having hard time breathing. This was what I needed. You can see pictures here at this link. I am sure you will understand why I just had to try it.

We decided to try the pizza at the other Mario Batali restaurant, Otto. Otto is also located at The Venetian Hotel. In fact, it is located in "San Marco Square" with an artificial blue sky that goes dark instantaneously and skips sunset all together! Watching the sky was a real trip, because it sure felt and looked like a real sky, except for some places where you see drilled marks. I have been to Venice, the actual city. I am still perplexed about what I saw in Vegas.
Fake or real sky?
The ambiance at "San Marco Square"from our table
We tried the Insalata Tricolore, The preserved Tuna, beans and olive Salad, Quattro Fromaggi Pizza and of course a Margherita D.O.C. Pizza. All were delicious. The pizza crust is absolutely perfect. I enjoyed the different cheeses on the pizza. We ended the meal with espressos and went to the Jersey Boys Show in Paris Hotel.
Salad and anti pasti at Otto
Pizza at Otto
The Jersey Boys show was fun, I knew some of the songs and the performers did a wonderful job singing and dancing. After watching the show, I said to my husband that how wonderful they decided to choose those songs and make a band and a story! He thought I was joking and informed me that it was actually the story of a real band and all these songs were actually their songs! Of course, I knew nothing about them because I did not grow up here.
A beautiful Chandelier at the Encore Wynn passage
The next morning it was time to pack and go back to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. We grabbed coffee and breakfast from the take out location of Bouchon, also at the Venetian and ate it outside overlooking the "Venice Tower". I had a Almond Croissant which was very good and my husband had a muffin and a cinnamon roll. He said that he was underwhelmed. We also bought a box of macaron to take home for my daughter who loves macaron.
Bouchon Express
Macaron at Bouchon
Bouchon coffee and "Venice Tower"

Almond Croissant and Muffin at Bouchon Express
Few words about The Encore Hotel where we stayed. It is a beautiful hotel with so many details all around. If you know me by now, you know that I am all about the details. The casino is not in your face because it has really high ceilings and the walk from the Encore to the Wynn is very nice with a lot of flower decorations, Art pieces and gorgeous chandeliers. The suite itself is beautiful and tastefully decorated. However, I really can not understand how they don't provide coffee machines in their room. You can order from room service or go downstairs and buy some from the cafe but still when you are on vacation, you don't want to get dressed and go down and buy coffee and you also don't want to spend a little fortune on room service for coffee. I even spoke to Manager about it who did not strike me to care and just repeated the policy. Anyway, Bouchon coffee was delicious and a delight to have.
Beautiful Flower arrangements by Preston Bailey 
Wonderland walk
Another wonder by Preston Bailey at the Encore Wynn passage
Botero Art at Botero restaurant at the Wynn
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", in my case, whoever came up with this quote must have been talking about the calories! Las Vegas is truly not your usual standard city. It is certainly not a happy place. It is like a girl who has loads of make up on trying to look beautiful but can not hide the sadness and misery in her eyes. You see rows of girls with full make up on, dressed in very short dresses, serving drinks at 8 in the morning to the casino players, with the intention to look sexy and loaded with Vegas Spirit but are wearing clogs and comfortable shoes because being on their feet is not easy. In my opinion they summarize Vegas to me, at the first glance you are impressed but what you see, but when you take a second look, you will find that it is all fake.


Encore Hotel:
Encore Spa:
B&B burgers & Beer:
Jean Phillippe:


  1. love ur post!!! it is exactly what vegas is, but u can not NOT see Vegas... it is a must on ur bucket list :) next time I go there I am for sure going le bouchon and Battali's restaurants :) KARINE

  2. Indeed! it was fun and a great escapade.

  3. Ha ha. I can just see James rolling his eyes. I am supposed to go to Vegas every year for work. All kinds of invitations for dinners and shows and .... from suppliers. Once was too many times. The fakery, the sadness, and the smoke smoke smoke. You said it perfectly. Never again if I can avoid it.