Post # 192 Weekend Update Updated

November 20, 2013 at 2:12 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Well, back from the long weekend, and can you believe that a modern hotel in Las Vegas like Luxor does not have wifi in the rooms?  They had only the Cat-5 cable, and my Surface tablet doesn’t have a port for ethernet.  So, sorry, no updates during the weekend.  But that just makes this post that much more fun, if not longer.  Also, we were pretty busy.  And, during the trip I got to pondering something that I’ll bring up at the end of the post.  I almost laughed as the check-in clerk was explaining the reason for not having wifi in the rooms.  Never kid a kidder, as the saying goes.  They just wanted people in the casino throwing away their money.

We left on Friday morning, and in an effort to make sure we missed rush hour traffic through Phoenix, we didn’t stop for breakfast before leaving town as we usually do.  We had drinks and snacks along the way.  When we were halfway to Vegas, we stopped in a little Arizona town whose name I don’t remember, but where partner/spouse remembered there was a good little diner.  We stopped at The Country Kitchen, a small chain diner.  He had breakfast; I had a burger.  Everything was . . . unremarkable.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t outstanding.  Just okay.  We weren’t  complaining, just observing.  I did notice that it was part of a regional chain of restaurants.

We arrived and were in our hotel room by 2:30 and since the “Big Dinner” wasn’t until 7, we decided to walk around.  Partner/spouse was so excited to show me his favorite casinos and stores.  But we both got hungry suddenly, so in Excalibur we went to Tacos y Tequila.  Neither of us ordered tacos or tequila.  But I had the first glass of wine of many throughout that weekend.  I got halfway through the order of steak nachos that I ordered, and partner/spouse ate most of the guacamole and chips we ordered.  Then some video poker and wine later, we wandered up to the room to get ready for the Big Dinner.

The Big Dinner was an opportunity to introduce me to the important people from his previous life.  I already knew one couple and their daughter from when they lived near VA.  They’d moved back to Vegas a few years ago.  There was also two other guys, each of them one half of a couple whose other half wasn’t there for different reasons.  And a lady who was new to many of the people at the table.  We ate at an Italian restaurant called Buca di Beppo where everything is served “family style” which translates to lots and lots of food to be shared all over the place.  I was still feeling the nachos so I was careful not to order too much.  I shared a little bit of fried calamari with someone, and had a big glass of wine.  Then I ordered a small order of chicken marsala which tasted mostly just sweet.  I had one piece of chicken and a big scoop of mushrooms and left the rest for the table.  The rest of the group got spaghetti and meatballs, chicken stuffed cannelloni, a bowl of salad, a couple of carafes of sangria, and something else that I don’t remember.  During the meal, partner/spouse leaned over and whispered to me “Your spaghetti tastes a whole lot better.”  I noted that throughout the meal.  We had a blast, a fun rollicking time, but the food was simply “meh”.

One aside:  the funniest thing I’ve ever seen happened.  One of the ladies at our table has a weird, quirky, bizarre sense of humor and in response to someone else’s comment started an odd head twitch.  A young girl around 8 noticed her as the young girl was heading to the bathroom and looked startled.  Well, that unleashed a challenge not to be ignored.  Every time the little girl came in view, the head twitch started.  The final time, the little girl was walking down the hallway from the bathroom smiling and giggling at something, took a glance at our table to see the woman twitching.  All smiles and giggling stopped and the little girl’s face froze in disbelief.  As soon as she rounded the corner, we exploded with laughter (we’d all had at least one glass by then).  Then we noticed more adults were coming by and looking directly at our table.  We never figured out if the little girl told on us, or if people were looking at the pope’s head sculpture on our table.  Poor kid!

The next day, we went to a breakfast buffet which was just standard fare.  The sausages were gummy; the watermelon was good; the croissants were passable.  Overall, a good effort, but still just “meh”.  We wandered up and down the strip for several hours until our leg muscles were screaming.  We were scheduled to go see a show starring one of the people at dinner the night before called the Phat Pack.  Very good show!  So we went back to the hotel with snacks, not sure what the plans were for after the show.  Partner/spouse crashed and slept for about an hour and a half while I read.  I should have worked on my rewrites and edits but figured, what the heck, I’m on vacay.  The show went off extremely well.  It was too short by about 45 minutes as far as I was concerned.  It was their last performance at the Plaza.  They announced at the end that they had been picked up by an independent producer and would start appearing at Bally’s on the strip starting Dec 11!

After the show, we wandered some more, went back to the hotel, ate at one of the hotel’s restaurants, and got an adequate meal.  I ordered filet mignon sliders which turned out not to be filet mignon and not medium well as I’d ordered.  But again, unremarkable.  We got up on Sunday, the day we returned and went to a diner in the hotel and finally got some food with quality and flavor and not expensive.  So we had a good time with friends, took in a good show, did a small amount of gambling, drank plenty of wine, and came home without losing our shirts.  A totally successful Las Vegas vacation.  It was fast, hectic, and fulfilling.

When we got back home, we decided to stop at our favorite fast taco stand and got Mexican food.  And finally felt like we got food that tasted good.  So here’s my observation and question to you all:

When a restaurant is a chain, they must follow their corporate standards in everything from décor to food prep.  It seems to me that unless you’re willing to spend large amounts of money, when you go to a chain you get the least common denominator when it comes to flavor.  There are some chains that have made their names by being different, or just different enough.  For instance, Five Guys Burgers makes its name by using only fresh burger, and making their fries fresh to order.  Nothing is frozen, pre-cooked, or standard.  Plus they have peanuts.  Much better than the standard fast food place, but significantly higher in price.  However, if you go to a locally owned restaurant, you find people who are committed to doing the very best they can to bring their customers back.  Or not.

So what do you think?  Is my assessment correct?  Do you find chains to be a better time, a better value, a better meal than independent places?



1 Comment

  1. You are totally correct, that’s one of the main reasons I avoid chains. Other than the drinks at Friday’s you won’t catch me at any of them. Locally own restaurants have a vibe and spirit and even family atmosphere -sometimes- that will never be beat by the big chains.

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