Yes, Strip Walk is back - July 2009 edition. This time, Mike added a little food critique as well.
The photos are here: http://photo.ratevegas.com/gallery/8741533_RQdWc
An entrance for the Mandarin tower is made obvious through new glass panelling. Still concerned that The Crystals are really bright. What's really surprised me is how messy the sidewalk is in front of CityCenter. I don't think this area has ever been sparkling since I came to Vegas, but since they added shelter and a barrier from the street in front of most of the hotel last year, and the day I walked through it was a mess. A wind kicked up and there was nobody in front of me and so a whole tumbleweed of men's literature usually slapped around this area began rustling up in the air.
Before I get lost on a signage rant, I want to say that the big hall looks a little less barren with some red awnings that have store logos printed on them. I'm not sure if these are New or 'New To Me'.
Though I was on my way to WynnLV for lunch, I decided to haul though The Palazzo and get a look at the First Food that was hinted behind barricades in the last report. Here it is, by the by, and you can see the kitchen through a window. On my way in from the TI bridge, I saw that The Venetian logos had been replaced with signage over the entrance. Just inside the entrance a Palazzo directional sign has been hung from the ceiling with more directions.
As soon as this second photo was uploaded, someone (you know who they are, but I'm just protecting people's privacy) called the sign lousy. I'm not much of a signage design kind of person, though I know some people are. For instance, I sometimes follow the adventures of Joe Clark, a Canadian typographical expert specializing in disability access; who has a website and flickr stream commenting on the fonts and design and readability of many signs, usually related to mass transit. He would probably have a fit if he saw that sign, I tend to already know where I am going and not pay much attention. The sign has several arrows and yet is split into two halves and is very vague (a casino is down? Which one?) I feel it's made more redundant by arches just over it. The arch signs aren't even very accurate, since both The Venetian and The Palazzo are listed as straight ahead (neither are, really.) Heck, EVERYTHING on that sign is listed as straight ahead.
As for the sign inside, it suffers from too much info. Is that a Walgreens Elevator to the right or Walgreens and an Elevator? Hooray for using the universal wheelchair symbol, though, for reasons elaborated below.
If I were an LVS signage person, I would probably have the two arches changed back to large logos, to point people leftwards for The Palazzo and keeping right for The Venetian, just to get people going in the right direction. The sign inside can get more specific for First Food, Palazzo Shoppes, and Walgreens on the left, and the right would have The Venetian (down arrow) and Grand Canal Shoppes (right arrow.) There's no point to having the Meeting Rooms and Expo on there, you're too far away to begin putting that on directional signage, and the elevator is literally right next to the sign. Maybe a little "Elevator" sign over the door is needed.
Speaking of Palazzo signage, disability access, and the like...
Strip Walk, Making a Difference!(?): Time to give credit to a complaint addressed. Perhaps because of it's appearance in this column, or perhaps not, the Palazzo bridge-level entrance elevator is now just an elevator and no longer a "disability elevator" as I pointed out in February. Props to Sands for taking that down, it sounded rather cold.
Cranes 'n' Things
The Hard Rock Cafe at the Showcase Mall is looking closer to being ready with the big guitar installed.
And now it's time for one more new thing:
StripMunch (Very casual opinions from a fussy eater)
Folks, I am not John Curtas and this is not his excellent food blog, but I have considered doing this since the Fountainebleau was FUBAR and put on the shelf with Echelon and St Regis (FUBARbleu?) and has left me with little else to talk about other than CityCenter and the occasional restaurant makeover.
Truth is, I'm very much about two options when eating in resorts: the 24 hour cafe, and the buffet. Okay, room service too, but that's just 24 hour cafe on a cart. Celebrity chefs? Wouldn't know of 'em. "Fusion cuisine" is visiting two different ethnic buffet stations on one trip up the counter. It doesn't help that I'm a very fussy/picky eater with a pretty boring taste palate.
So, I've decided to periodically try a restaurant to branch out my horizons, and write about it. I'm not a pro critic, but I'll at least tell you if I think I got my money's worth (or whether I was comped) and give some opinions.
We'll start off with:
Stratta (Wynn Las Vegas)
I've intended to go here for a while anyway, but the Red Card sent a $50 dining credit for your choice of four restaurants, and we chose Stratta after several people online said it was the best option. Normally open for dinner only, Stratta opens for lunch on Saturday and Sunday and we were the first in for lunch.
Something I would like to point out to people looking at menus in advance is that the Wynn menu PDFs do nothing to distinguish lunch from dinner. You'll see a full menu online, and get to the restaurant and find an item is only served at lunch, or at dinner. Do not be surprised if what you want isn't there, and be ready with a backup.
This location was originally planned as a Ferrari Cafe and then opened with the rest of Wynn as a very red Corsa instead. It did not fare very well in the reviews, and so the place closed while a renovation happened. The biggest changes were that the reds were replaced with a dose of rust brown and a wall blocking the place off from the casino was ripped out, giving the casino a view of the bar and vice versa. For a not-so-busy Sunday lunch, we were seated between the bar and the casino. As the open-view Corsa also didn't do very well, at some point this location was handed to Alex Stratta (get it?) or at least had his identity tagged onto it. Most people feel the menu didn't change.
Honestly, I'm not a fan of eating open to a casino (especially if there's a heavy smoker outside) but the other section appeared closed so there wasn't any good reason to ask for different seats. The dining room does not have any music that I know of, but due to the close proximity to the casino, we were eating to the tisk-bum tisk-bum tisk-bum of the Wynn casino soundtrack, which neither of us like very much. Perhaps a busy, loud room would drown out the soundtrack.
Honestly, I have to say I really enjoyed the food, though we did not get very fancy. I had a lunch-only item, a Crispy Chicken Sandwich ($12), and my dining companion chose the all-hours Rigatoni with Meatballs (could not remember the price - hey, it was comped!) Bread came in the form of regular bread and flat bread and came with a pesto sauce that the waitress chatted up. I'll be honest, I've never tried a pesto sauce before this, but I've heard multiple people say this is good.
The chicken sandwich was great (picture). The bread was perfectly crunchy, a dense layer of cheese that wasn't as greasy as it looked, the basil topping added flavour and the chicken was fine. My other diner didn't really comment on the pasta and meatballs, but didn't complain either.
Total bill was under the credit, so I opted for the Toffee Chocolate Cake for dessert. This cake is great. You basically have a chocolate cake rolled in toffee bits with a coffee sauce poured across the plate, and a tiny portion of edible gold leaf at the top. I almost always go for the cheesecake when I pick a dessert but I would recommend this.
Service was prompt as you'd expect when you're one of the first people to arrive for the day.
Stratta at Wynn. Lunch. Two meals, two soft drinks, and a dessert was around $55 before tip. $50 was comped. I'll get better about tracking the prices of these things as I do this more.