Here's the latest installment in our 'Strip Walk' series in which our intrepid reporter, Mr. Ch, visited several major Strip casino resorts in the heavy heat of Summer.
The photos are located here:
Continue after the jump for all the juicy details.
I don't know when it was added, but the old backlit sign at the bridge-level escalators has been replaced with a new sign and a red background. I think I prefer the old one aesthetically, but this one was probably drawn up to give them a space to advertise what's upstairs and encourage more people to go up than down.
As reader Phil commented, the Lambo store is gone now. I wondered what they did with the space that was Mainland restaurant and found it obscured by trees but behind them the funky decor and all the furniture and wares are bundled up and waiting for the next use.
I tried to get some better shots of First Food & Bar. Here's the open view of the kitchen and here's the view of Treasure Island through the dining room. I wanted a picture of the dining room itself, but with those huge windows I'd have to come by at night, and my schedule doesn't bring me to The Strip at night much anymore.
Sitting alone in a hallway behind Barney's, First has that kind of secluded feel that can just as bad as it is good. I noticed that they added a greeter/reservations desk at the mall end of the hallway, getting the attention of anyone walking between Palazzo and Venetian on that level. The hallway wall directly across from First has that temporary, expect something here in the future look.
"Hey," said The Mirage. "We have a candy store now."
"WUT" said Mike_Ch.
"Yeah, it's true," said Mirage. "It's called Sugar Factory and they sell high-end Signature Series Couture Lollipops."
Mike paused. After a moment of reflection, he repeated, "Wut."
"Well, you see," said Mirage, elaborating in a forthright way not typically known for, "one of the few remaining profitable ventures in this economy is selling high-priced, 'classy' variants of common throwaway items. At least, we think it is. So we're selling lollipops with bejeweled handles and specially designed candy tops for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Celebrities who have previously been paid to show up and stand around in nightclubs have been seen with them."
"Huh, that's interesting and kinda dumb at the same time," said Mike. "Where should one go for more information on expensive lollipops?"
"Take a look at our web site," said Mirage. "The graphic of a woman in grayscale emphasizing a bright pink candy sucker just an inch away from her lips is in no way meant to be a suggestion of phallic imagery."
And so Mike set off through the desert to find the fabled high-fashion lollipop store at Mirage. Not sure of where to go, he eventually found it between Rhumbar and the new Starbucks, across from BLT Burger. What he found was a fairly ordinary looking sweets store carved into another piece of the former Mirage logo store. He didn't see expensive lollipops, but he did see gummi bears and jelly beans and a cooler of sodas and the usual confectionary selection. If the store was marketing towards the Kardashian fanclub, he wouldn't have been able to tell with the kids running around.
Overall, Mike found nothing absurd nor anything particularly special about the candy store. Though personally if he wanted to buy candy at this juncture he'd take the extra steps to the World's Most Luxurious Walgreens right nearby.
He then hoofed it to Monte Carlo, passing out in the heat only once along the way. The end.
The shuttered restaurants are still shuttered. The ENTIRE Street of Dreams mall is completely sealed off. I haven't been by here in a long time so I don't know if there was still anything left back there other than the significantly crimped Brewpub, but that just seems like an unusually large chunk of the property to completely lock away. A piece of the construction zone was carved out to allow access to the food court restrooms, from what I could tell there the ceiling was gone and there was some exposed walls. Perhaps the whole area is getting a major re-do?
[They are re-doing both 'The Pub' and also the tram station in preparation for City Center. -ed]
New York New York
In the arcade area, in a space formerly occupied by I Don't Know What (in fact, I seem to remember a wall always existing in this space), a new Nathan's has opened, since the old Nathan's up here was removed for meeting space a year or two ago.
A few months ago NYNY introduced a new marketing promotion that was "edgy" and encouraged people to live it up in a low-rolling kind of way, perhaps acknowledging the current state of the economy. Regardless, I really can't help but think that this is not a very good advertising move. Maybe it's that more and more people in the casinos are in a dark period of their lives right now, or maybe it's the ample second floor balcony space looking over the casino in many different parts of this hotel, but something about reminding your customers that they're going to die anyway just doesn't seem smart.
Cranes 'n' Things
The new garage at Monte Carlo is open, though apparently only one floor is for customers, according to the actually quite pleasant bicycle guard who found me trying to angle for better shots on higher floors. Some shots from the garage are here, here, here, and here. You can also get a good look of where the fire damage was repaired.
The elevator is appointed a CityCenter elevator on the TV screen in the wall, even though it bridges to Monte Carlo. It does make me wonder to what extent the CityCenter identity will be advertised once the property is open, compared to the properties' individual logos and branding. Will my complimentary pen nabbed from the Aria coffee shop say Aria or CityCenter? Or Aria at CityCenter?
This Aria/CityCenter marquee that's underway is actually built from the posts of one of those big old Bellagio marquees with the clock and all the little details.
Rs Palace. This would be forgivable a an oddity I just happened to go by on the right day to photograph, but one week later the sign was still like this.
Society Café Encore
I gave glowing reviews to Society when I went there in the first 24 hours of operation, with the catch that the place just opened and everyone was trying to impress. I suggested it's possible the place will change in time. I was right.
Though according to reports a few celebrities here and there drop into the place (Ozzy seems to really love it,) this cafe just isn't as smooth as it was at opening. First of all, the same complaint about the menus applies here as it did at Stratta: The Wynn Resorts people do nada to separate lunch and dinner items on their online PDF menus, meaning you could come here for an item and find it's not being served. That was our situation, we arrived at dinner for a lunch item, so we had to make do with a backup plan.
Secondly, the much-ballyhooed bread that I had with my fish & chip lunch last winter was no longer served. It might be because the both of us ordered burgers, but they're $17 sirloin burgers and at the same price as the cod I had last time I really can't imagine it would cut into their profits too heavily to serve bread.
The room was pretty dead, with 15-20% of tables occupied, and yet service seemed to be the typical "are we being ignored?" thing that I'm used to in casino dining, which seemed odd since my server on day one was incredible.
The room plays a different soundtrack than the Wynn casino. This might sound like a good thing given my frequent complaining of the Wynn soundtrack, but the playlist seems to be of the "but not too hard rock" variety. This means to expect Queen and The Only KISS Song On The Radio (yes fans, I went there) and other rock tunes that are a bit heavy to sit and have a conversation over coffee with, but not so metal as to actively bother everyone. Strangely, a jazzy piece that I couldn't identify (at the time I called it Take Five but it wasn't that) played in between hair metal numbers.
The new bar seems to do an okay amount of business. The burger was alright, but it was a typical casino coffee shop burger. Compared to the fish & chips which seemed to excel past typical coffee shop quality in both presentation and taste, there was not any real attempt to do anything to impress there. Probably doesn't help that people who order a burger are doing so looking for comfort in familiarity, thus not daring them to be creative.
It's still a nice restaurant, but it could be nicer and my reservation is a guarded compared to my "stop reading and go" review from last year.
Society is inside Encore. Total price is not known as my dining companion chose to pay this time.