Vegas, Baby: Part 1

You may have noticed my excitement last week about going to Vegas. No? You missed that? Well, here’s a peek. This past Thursday, my DH and I left for a much-needed and well-deserved vacation/second wedding and/or honeymoon. And, if that wasn’t enough, a brother meeting-stravaganza.

Sound like a lot? It felt like it by yesterday morning, I can tell you. Many stories short, we had a great vacation, an awesome brother meeting, and a decent second wedding. The vacation turned out so well, my previous dislike of/being freaked out by Vegas has been changed and we’ve decided we want to visit for at least a long weekend every year or so. And we’d like to see the brother more than never, so that’s a plus 🙂

Vegas, Day 1

Up way too early at the crack before dawn to catch the first flight out to Vegas. The flight went fine; we landed and headed over to the huge rental car parking deck. They of course didn’t have the car we reserved available immediately, but everyone there really bent over backward to get the convertible we ordered or upgrade us to a muscle car. If we didn’t need the convertible for the drive-thru wedding we were doing the next day, we would have jumped on a Mustang or Camero. I forgot just how nice customer service people in Vegas are. Like go out of their way nice. Comparatively, Miami sucks in this department.

Got the car, a POS silver Chrysler Sebring, and headed out to scope the layout of the land before picking the long lost brother up. I’d seen the strip before, but not terribly well, and my DH has never been to Vegas. It’s surreal and impressive and has only gotten bigger since the last time I was there.

After swinging back to collect the brother, we hit up our first hotel/casino/shopping complex and meal- ‘Wichcraft at the MGM Grand.

It's 'Wichcraft

I’d heard buzz about this being a great sandwich place and a good way to experience Tom Collichio’s food in a non-threatening, low-key setting, and boy was the buzz dead-on. The sandwiches we got were freakin fantastic.

Steak n Egg Sandwich @ 'Wichcraft

I had the Skirt steak sandwich with a fried egg and oyster mushrooms on a roll.


My DH had the Meatloaf with cheddar, bacon and tomato relish on a roll. It was also excellent.

I don’t remember what Mr. Brother had and I didn’t want to inflict my obsessive food picture taking on him right after meeting him. Suffice it to say, we all enjoyed our meals and left stuffed after our bags of chips and bananas.

It’s always nice to eat a meal at a chef you admires’ restaurant and have it be as good as you imagined. I doubt Collichio is stopping by on even a monthly basis, but I’m sure he would be happy to know the guys at his Vegas sandwich counter are holding down the fort properly.


We explored the MGM a bit, but were mostly happy to finally eat (Southwest no longer feeds you more than really light snacks on flights) and check into our hotels so I could visit the concierge to make dinner reservations and reserve tickets for the surprise show I had been planning on taking my DH to since it opened 5 years ago. For those of you that know me, you will know that it’s almost impossible for me to keep something I’m planning a secret, let alone for 5 long years. I’m quite proud I pulled it off. It took a lot of misdirecting, tongue biting and not thinking about it really hard, but I managed.

After regrouping at our respective hotels, we headed out for dinner at Hubert Keller’s Fleur and to see what Mandalay Bay had to offer.

For some reason, I decided it would be a good idea to wear cute heels. I was wrong and ended up limping and being in pain shortly after leaving the hotel. Pain be damned, we still had a good time.

Jellyfish Attack!

We checked out the Shark Reef, where we marveled at the jellyfish and watched the sharks do laps with the other fish in the sunken reef tank. Pretty cool stuff. I could have watched the jellyfish for hours.

Dinner was fantabulous and my favorite of the whole trip. And, wonder of all wonders, Chef Keller was actually there in the dining room filming some sort of something and greeting customers. Regrettably, I was too shy to go say hi because I was pretty sure I’d do nothing but giggle and drool, so I geeked out from afar.

Fleur’s menu is tapas-style, and we split a variety of dishes between the three of us. I also had the best pear martini I’ve ever had.

What we had:

Tarte Flambee

Tarte Flambee – A thin and delicate crispy flat bread with onion, bacon, truffle, asparagus, creme fraiche and mache salad

"In the Shower" Mac & Cheese

“In the Shower” Mac & Cheese – Possibly my favorite dish of the night and the one must-have on my list. A light cheesy pasta with brunoise vegetables and perfectly-cooked lobster chunks. Why “in the shower”? When Chef Keller was on Top Chef Masters, he made this dish during a challenge–cooking in a dorm–and the only place large enough to drain his macaroni was the shower. Hence the name.

Sliders 2

Angus Sliders – Perfect little burgers with blue cheese, onion, bacon and pear. Surprise of all surprises, my DH actually liked the pear in the sandwich. Open door for experimentation 🙂

Artichoke Barigoule

Artichoke Barigoule – Tender artichoke hearts with slivers of asparagus and baby carrots in a delicate stocky sauce, topped with basil slivers

Creme Brulee Trio – Earl Grey (interesting), honey lavender (my favorite) and cookie dough (the boys’ favorite) dense but not too sweet shots of creamy, custardy goodness

After dinner, none of us were up for much more than sacking out, so we crashed early.

Aria - From the front doors looking out

Aria - The Lobby
Aria - Elvis Show Lobby
Aria - Elvis (& Circ de Soleil) are in the building

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