Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Planning a Quick Napa Weekend

It's the little things in life that get me the most excited.  My son's first "real" Halloween is this month; The weather in Vegas is finally cooling down; and the first weekend in November Matthew and I are heading to Napa, California!  

Now let me preface the excitement by letting everyone know that I never get to go anywhere.  We have a 3-year-old.  It is not easy to leave him behind for a trip and we've only done it once (Labor Day weekend, 2010 or was it 2009? in Sedona).  Pretty sad if you ask me.  Anyways, Matthew finally gave in to my begging and we are heading to Napa November 3-5.  Only 2 nights but beggars can't be choosers.  I should also note that I am now on Weight Watchers which poses a really big issue.  There is no possible way to cap a day in Napa off at 29 points, not in a place that has the most amazing choices in culinary awesomeness.  And let's not forget about the wine (4pts. per glass?  whatever!).  Yeah, I'm either going to be exercising my ass off or saying "F-it" that weekend to WW.  Oh least I'll enjoy myself!

We fly into Oakland on the 3rd and rent a car.  By estimation, we'll probably arrive around 3pm in Napa and (at least I) will be starving.  I'm thinking quick casual light bite, if there is such a thing, before we check into our hotel at The Milliken Creek Inn.  I'm thinking Oxbow Market for time and variety but not totally sure yet.

Then I suppose we'll check in at the hotel and relax, perhaps walk around and find out where we can get a wine tasting in without an appointment in the late afternoon.  We will most likely eat dinner late since we had that late lunch.  No definite plans yet.

The next day is almost fully planned.  Friday we will wake up, have a quick breakfast at the Inn and drive about an hour + to a Winery in Healdsburg called Chalk Hill Estates.
At Chalk Hill, we are taking a horseback riding tour of the winery (my birthday present) and then after we have reservations at Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena for lunch.  

Now here is where we need activities to fill in...not sure what to do for the rest of the afternoon.  Wine?  Yes, of course we want wine!  But where should we have wine.  I really hate making reservations wineries since I don't know when lunch will be finished...I hope Matthew doesn't want to go rest his old bones back at the hotel at this point.  Boring!  Regardless, dinner is exciting and probably around 7:30 ish.  Mustards Grill?  I haven't made the reservation yet but I think I'm gonna!  

Andrew & Melanie will be joining us for dinner (driving in from San Fran area for the occassion).
Then, the next day, we check out : (  I know, I sad!  Not enough time.  But!  We don't have our flight until 6:30pm in Oakland, so we'll check out and then definitely hit a couple more spots before we drive back to the airport.  I did plan it so we leave on a Saturday evening, and still have Sunday to relax the next day before heading back to work.  I think that was a good idea.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Steak 'n Shake...More Like Wait 'n Second Rate

Are we difficult people?  I didn't think so.  All we want out of life is a decent meal with decent service.  I don't care if you are in a casino hotel or if you are in the burbs.  It shouldn't matter.  And what the hell is wrong with the people of Las Vegas and their taste buds???  I mean it's really getting ridiculous.  I already know that in the annual "Best of..." Olive Garden gets best Italian, so we can all agree that SOMETHING is wrong with these people.

Anyhow, this evening was an odd one.  The kid was at grandma's house until 7pm and Matthew and I wanted to grab a quick bite before we picked him up.  I'm like, "let's go to Steak 'n Shake!  It's Wednesday at 5pm, how much of a line could there possibly be??"  Prior to tonight, we tried going there 2 other times.  Both times the line wrapped around the casino.  We don't do lines.  If there is THAT much of a line it MUST be good!  Oy!

I got there at about 5:35pm I think.  Matthew was already in line with about 20 people in front of him but 2 groups were 5+ people.  He said the line wasn't moving though.  Great.  So, 20 minutes later we were seated.  Our server came over right away to ask if we were ready to order?  Um, just sat down, hello!  I felt very nostalgic so I ordered a cherry coke (she charged me extra for the cherries) and Matthew got water (of course).  I decided on a Classic Patty Melt with Bacon (extra), and Fries.  Matthew got a Triple Burger with onions and mayo.  Please note, from the description, the burgers are very thin, so a Triple isn't as much as you think.

So, we ordered at 6:00pm and then tick tock tick tock.  Did I mention we had to pick the kid up at 7pm??  How the hell long does it take to cook up a burger???  Everything on the menu is burgers!  They should just be constantly cooking!  When we asked our waitress at 6:20pm, she said the kitchen is really backed up (with burgers?  for real?) because it was a shift change for the chef and it happens every night at this time?  What??!!  Now you're just screwing with me, right??  I mean, who has a shift change in the middle of the dinner rush?  Am I really missing something or do these people not know how to manage a restaurant?  At 6:30pm, we asked to see the manager.  Oh, she's cooking?  Well, that's not her job, I don't care if she's cooking.

As the manager came over, the burgers FINALLY arrived.  Oh look, no bacon...but there it is on the check (of course).  The waitress did her job at least.  The manager offered us shakes that we weren't planning on having and we declined.  The shakes cost more than the meals, moron- just take the meals off the check instead.

Nevertheless, we eat...well, sort of.  I'm sorry- we waited an hour for THIS?  The burgers were generic nothings.  The fries were frozen-out-of-a-bag blah.  I could have gone to In 'n Out (and that would have been much better use of the 'n!

Well, then I was mad.  What the hell!  In the end, the manager took off my meal but what a big waste of time!  Never again.  Matthew actually had to stop on the way home to get something else to eat cause his meal was completely unsatisfying.  Once again, trying a new restaurant- FAIL.

If you really want a good waste of time and energy for subpar food:

Steak 'N Shake
9777 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89183


Dining Room:

Monday: 11A - Midnight
Tuesday: 11A - Midnight
Wednesday: 11A - Midnight
Thursday: 11A - Midnight
Friday: 11A - 1A
Saturday: 11A - 1A
Sunday: 11A - Midnight

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Best Quick Bite in Las Vegas at Lindo Michoacan (East Desert Inn)

We usually don't go out on Friday nights.  But, the kid was at grandma's house and didn't need to be picked up until 7pm, so at 5:30, we decided to go for a quickie dinner. 

If you ever need the most delicious quickie dinner, whether it's pre-show or pre-picking up kid from grandma's house– Lindo Michoacan will never let you down.  Please Note:  We are ONLY talking about Lindo Michoacan on East Desert Inn.  I know plenty of people who have tried the one on West Flamingo and did not like it.  They Summerlinized it for the rick folks west of Hualapai.  Doubt it?  At Flamingo, they actually have white waiters and ask you if you want soup or salad!  Wha? Wha?  That's just not right.

No, no, for the best, you have to go to the best.  The original is still the best.  I remember the first time Matthew brought me there (while he was still courting).  He told them it was my birthday, even though it was probably 5 months until my birthday.  Best birthday tradition at a restaurant hands down.  They sing to you, put a sombrero on your head and make you do a tequila shooter.  Yummy!

Anyways, here we are, Friday evening, wrinkle rush and we are the youngest people in the place.  I swear, no matter how packed this place gets (and it is always busy), they still seat you right away and you are ALWAYS in and out in 35 minutes unless YOU prolong the meal. 

The busboys are always delivering perfectly on the mark.  You get your chips, beans, and salsa immediately after sitting down.  Drinks come, water comes.  When you have 2 chips left in your bowl, the busser comes over and replaces the bowl with another filled with warm chips.  Such good service.

It must all be timed there.  When you are halfway done with the 2nd bowl of chips, Matthew always gets up from the table to wash his hands, comes back and the Fideo soup has been delivered to the table.  Amazing consistency in a restaurant is so hard to find.  Matthew got a chicken dish.  He always gets a chicken dish and is always happy.  He's tried them all and they are all good.  They are about $14-$19.  I always order a shrimp dish.  Last night it was Camarones Perepecha,™ which is good, but I like some of their other shrimp dishes a bit more. 

If you really want to be bad, they have a shrimp dish, I think it's Camarones Abuelito Timo.  They take the biggest shrimp you ever saw, wrap them with bacon, smother them with cheese (and if you haven't had a heart attack yet) they pour some yummy sauce over them.  I've only tried this once- and it was enough for me.  Too much guilt.  The shrimp dishes are more on the $17-21 end.

We each had a drink and left 20% so we spent about $60.  They do have a number of lunch specials, though, if you get their earlier for your quick meal.  Definitely perfect for a sit down meal on a 1-hour lunch break.  You can't lose.

Lindo Michoacan is definitely our Go-to for Mexican AND for quick bites.
Lindo- Desert Inn
2655 E Desert Inn Road
Las Vegas, NV 89121

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I need a refund on my Groupon- Ventano Italian Grill & Seafood

Restaurant: Ventano Italian Grill & Seafood
Location: Henderson, Nevada
What Possessed Us?  Groupon.  $20 for $40 worth of food.

What Happened:
Saturday night and the kid is dropped off to the sitter.  Time to eat!  I made 7pm reservations at Ventano on their website through  Matthew made fun of me because he said the restaurant is in the middle of nowhere.  Whatever.  We got there way too early, around 6:35pm and the parking lot was completely full.  Two ladies asked for a table in front of us and were told an hour+ wait.  Ha ha- who's the sucker now, huh Matthew?

We told them we had 7pm reservations but were very early.  They were very friendly and told us it would be just a few minutes...a large wedding party was just ending and they were clearing the tables and the party was still lingering. 

We noticed the chef/owner roaming around very busily, even helping to clear tables.  We liked that. 

Finally at 6:50pm, we were seated.  We sat there and waited and waited and...then finally a busser came over to us and told us water and bread would be right out. about a waitress with some drinks?  Then another busser came over and stood next to the first busser and asked if he could take our drink order?  Ummm, ok.  I ordered mine and M wanted to know what beers were on tap (he always asks and I don't know why because whatever they do have is never good enough for him...he's a beer on tap snob).

The bussers (both of them...they were sharing a brain at this point) had no idea what was on tap besides Bud and so he (they) went to get a beer menu.  Oy...

5 minutes later, the beer menu came.  Nothing good (shocker!).  Finally, a girl that apparently was our waitress came over looking befuddled (not as much as us, sister).  She didn't actually tell us she was our server or tell us her name, but we assumed she was our server nonetheless.  She took our drink order (again) and apologized for the wait and said she would go get our drinks right now. 

Well, in the 15 minutes it took her to get our drinks, she gained like 40 lbs because the gal who brought our drinks to us was a totally different person.  New girl brought M his drink incorrectly and had to go back and make his again with lemon instead of a lime (I knew at this point that would be the fateful turn that would bring this entire meal to a horrific and gruesome conclusion.  I'm pretty forgiving.  M is ruthless.).  This new girl took our order.  My drink was now empty at this point and would remain empty for the remainder of the meal.

Arancine to start- rice balls with peas and beef ($9.50), a chicken parm ($19) main course for M and shrimp scampi ($20) for me.  Meanwhile, the bread had come out and it was super yummy.  It comes all greasy and awesome in a brown paper bag and you dip in a saucer of oil & balsamic.

M excused himself to wash his hands, came back and let me know there was absolutely no paper towels in the bathroom (then he made a joke about how no servers would be cleaning their hands tonight.  Gross!)

The Arancine came out promptly and it was REALLY good.  Halfway through the appetizer, though, and some other guy brings out our main courses.  M and I both looked at each other with the knowing glance that this meal is totally F'd up.  We told him that we did not want our food yet, since we were only half-way done with our appetizer.  He didn't apologize but immediately turned and headed back to the kitchen.  Great- now our meals would be sitting under a heat lamp for 20 minutes.

Well, 20 minutes rolls by and my drink is empty, our table has no food on it and our main dishes are sitting under a heat lamp.  Skinny/befuddled waitress #1 comes over and as M asks for a manager, the food comes back.  We just shook our heads and told him we didn't want it.

The owner came over to our table after we saw him briefly talk to each of our servers.  He said, "Ok, I've gotten 2 different stories from 2 different people.  Now I want the right story.  Tell me what happened."  Yay-finally someone who feels our plight!  He offered to box up our food to go but we told him our hearts were just not in it anymore.  Sigh...  Of course he told us that we didn't have to pay for anything and was very upset that we didn't get the service he expects from his restaurant.  He also said he was going to kill them (but I'm pretty sure he wasn't serious).  I left the groupon on the table anyways and left.  It was now 7:55pm.

Well, we hopped skipped & jumped on over to Green Valley Ranch Part Deux (that's what I call the shopping center across the street from GVR) and walked into Settebello pizza place instead.  Now that place had good service.  We were literally in and out of there in 40 minutes.  I had a Sangria ($8, although described with fresh details in the menu was definitely out of a bottle and had no fruit in it) and a margherita pizza with mushrooms($11.50). M had a plain Margherita ($10)and just water.  M asked for some garlic powder midway through and the waiter explained that they didn't have any, that he would bring us fresh garlic instead.  Ok, no problem.

Well, Settebello couldn't skate by without one screw-up, come on!  When the check came, lo and behold, $0.50 for garlic.  Really?  Come on!  I told the kid (waiter who is much younger than me) that we had just walked out of a restaurant and we were fully prepared to give him the tip that we would have spent at the other place cause he was so darn good and then he had the balls to add that 50 cents.  He was embarrassed and ended up taking it off when he ran our card.  Good boy.  Thank You.  He got 25% : )

Anyway, so for those keeping Track:
Ventano: 0  Settebello: 1

Once again, Matthew ranted about how we always lose when we try new places and to give him at least a month until I make him go to another new restaurant.  Fine.  Fine.  Fine.