Due to some kind of computer error in which a friend of mine was designated as a high roller, I’ve spent plenty of time in the Venetian’s nicer suites. They are comfortable and well appointed, greatly exceeding what any legitimate visitor to Vegas requires. The tasteful decor makes for a pleasant enough blur as you list toward beds that make for comfortable crash landings. You can take a moment to appreciate the fact that your room has two plasma screens as you rub two and a half hours of sleep from your eyes, put your other shoe back on and dash back to the tables. It’s surprising how few Vegas hotel rooms are designed to completely block the radiation of the enemy sun, but at the Venetian, the a.m./p.m. display on the alarm clock serves an informative purpose. One gripe: Why do Vegas hotels stock their rooms with everything but some fucking aspirin? As stoked as I was to have two sewing kits, I think you’re slightly more likely to wake up in Vegas with a hangover than with urgent trouser mending.
The poker room at the Venetian is excellent. It’s still pretty new, which means a new staff, which means several dealers who have difficulty changing a $5 chip. But the promotions are not even in the general vicinity of a hook or chain. Play at least 50 hours for three consecutive months, and get into a $500,000 free roll. There’s also a bad beat jackpot. I hate jackpots, because the casino filches half of the money that customers put into them, then if you win, the government steals half of what is left. At the Venetian, however, there is no jackpot collection. The house is putting up its own money, which is refreshing. The bad news is that the losing hand must be quad tens or better. So we’ll have a black atheist lesbian president before you ever hit it. Still, it’s another free roll, so how can you complain? Pretty much broke, I played in the smaller no-limit game, which is beautifully structured with $1 and $2 blinds and a $100-$200 buy-in. Skill is rewarded, as you can easily be patient with the small blinds, or take cheap flops against poor opponents. On my last visit, I ran good, but not obscenely so and made a grand in a couple of days. There is also a 2/5 no-limit game and limit from $4/$8 up to $40/$80 with games going at every limit pretty much 24/7. We’ll see how long that lasts once the promotions are dialed down.The games all seemed typical of Vegas; a mix of retired rocks, capable locals and tourist chum. The guy before me in line one night asked if $40/$80 was limit or no limit and how much money he should buy in with before swan diving into the shark tank.
The crowning jewels of the room are some awesome cocktail waitresses.The nearly flawless Latoya spent her entire shift laboring under my shameless, Jeffersonian leer. I was not very disappointed when Latoya was replaced by Tiffany, the ebullient pixie of brimming glasses who would make music by suggesting that she sneak me a beer to go with my “double” gin and bottle of water. We conspired to the bilk the house out of well over a $100 worth of extra booze during her shift. I’ve never been so close to proposing marriage.
So, if you win big, of course you should head straight to Emeril’s high-end steakhouse, Delmonico, right? No. First of all, if you spend $100 on a steak dinner when you could have more sophisticated fare, you are a heaving troglodyte, and fuck off. Yeah, the chops at Delmonico are very nice, but, basically, you could cook the shit yourself if you landed the same cuts. Why pay out the ass for a steak that, while fantastic, is like 21% better than what you could make at home when, for the same price, you could sample the culinary wizardry of a superior French or Japanese chef, who cooks up delights that you could never even imagine? Anyway, here’s what I ate at …
Baguettes with really good butter: Unreasonably good, considering that it was just bread and butter. The butter must have been sprinkled with stem cells or something.
New Orleans BBQ shrimp: This astonishingly mediocre appetizer could easily be the third- or fourth-best thing on the menu at Outback Steakhouse.With some sprousing up.
Caesar salad: Although I wasn’t wild about Delmonico, I’ll concede that this was the fucking shit. I’ll never understand how making a salad at your table is supposed to make it taste better, but this Caesar had a unique and robust flavor that almost made up for the shrimp.
Bone-in strip steak: Yeah, it was a good steak. You could get the same thing at any other expensive steakhouse. It tasted very good, but at the end of the day, it’s still a slab of flesh on a plate. The Chinamen consider such dishes to be primitive and barbaric, with some justification.
Kobe beef flanks with potatoes au gratin and some other shit: I chose this dish because it actually involved some sauces. It seemed like you’d have to attend culinary school to make it. Was it good? Sure. But for $54, you could experience orgasm of the tounge at any good French, continental, California or Japanese restaurant in LA.
Peanut butter mousse with brownie: Woops, we’re at TGI Friday’s. Will this desert find a place among other Friday’s elites like the Birthday Brownie Ball, or the Jack Daniels Grill Blizzard of Berries ‘n Turds?
One particular annoyance: While the service was wonderful, it irritated me that the servers, obviously acting on the decree of management, constantly trumpeted the fact that the bernaise and other sauces and dressings were “homemade,” as though it were some wild novelty for a restaurant to prepare food on the premisies. I guess that the idea is to impress some fucking rube from Nebraska who hit a Caribbean-stud jackpot. But if you’re charging $45 for a steak sans fixins, I’m already assuming that the sauces are prepared in the kitchen rather than squeezed from a tube that was shipped in from a processing plant. If I learned that any part of my meal could have been purchased at Ralphs, I would not be satiated until the maitre d’ drank a glass of my urine.
The head chef has all kinds of pictures of himself with people like the pope. I’m guessing he established that kind of claut when he founded The Olive Garden. “Oh, Giuseppe, you do such-a good job to a-bring-a our Italian cuisine to the Town Oaks Center in Aimes! Let me give to you a medal!” Don’t eat at this place.