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Only a hour flight away from Las Vegas we visit frequently, sometimes once a month. I'll be sharing our trip reports, tips on making the most of your stay in Vegas, reviews of restaurants and shows we have seen, along with my thoughts related to our favorite place to get away from it all.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Michael Mina Restaurant Review

This was my third time dining at Michael Mina's restaurant at Bellagio which is located behind the Conservatory and next to Cafe Bellagio. All my dining experiences have been consistently good here so it's time this wonderful restaurant had its own post. 
By my request we were seated in the intimate dining room in the back of the restaurant. Joining me for dinner tonight was my Mother, friend Boots, Teresa and Gwen! Boots is the one taking our photo!
Menu ala carte:
Gwen's favorite the Vegetarian Tasting Menu. The tasting notes and photos from this menu are by Gwen!
My first course was a cold asparagus gazpacho.  It was delicious.  Like lick the bottom of the bowl delicious.  It was topped with a few different herbs and it was very creamy.
 The second course was the beet salad.  The pistachio really stood out, and complemented the beets perfectly.  I never would have thought to pair them but it was genius.
 The third course was the english pea soup.  It was also delicious, but I actually thought the cold asparagus soup was even better.  Which is strange since I usually don't enjoy a cold soup.  But the english pea soup was delicious as well.
The fourth course was pasta - artichoke tortellini.  The mushroom taste overshadowed the artichoke taste but it was still delicious.  The trumpet mushrooms were just really flavorful, in a good way.  
 The fifth course was a repeat of the fifth course the last time I ate at Michael Mina - it's delicious but the tofu just doesn't do it for me.  Like last time, I took a polite bite of that and ate the vegetables around it.  I'm glad that Michael Mina doesn't really rely on fake meat in their vegetarian tasting.  I would much prefer actual vegetables, and that's what makes this meal so special.  They really do highlight the flavors of vegetables.
 Last course was desert - a tasting of the clafoutis that Diana and her Mom had along with a cookie, lemon sorbet, and the rootbeer float.  I can't really eat ice cream but I took a big swig of that float and the rootbeer was so flavorful.  Yum.  Plus I had two glasses of the best wine in the world. 
Gwen's desserts:
Signature Tasting Menu that Teresa enjoyed. The photos of this tasting menu are all by Teresa, thanks T!
The first course was domestic caviar parfait with a crispy potato pancake on the bottom, smoked salmon, creme fraiche and topped with the caviar. 
The second course was a tartare of ahi tuna with Asian pear, Pine nuts, and Scotch bonnet infused Sesame oil. Chopped ahi tuna is molded into a cylindrical shape with a raw egg yolk sitting on top. Server breaks the yolk, then mixes all of the ingredients together. I believe Teresa has had this every time we have eaten at Mina's so I know she loved it.
Third course was miso-glazed Chilean sea bass in a dashi-based broth with Bok Choy!
The fourth course was the famous Mina Lobster Pot Pie. This looks very rich so I'm sure that Teresa was glad it was the tasting version of this yummy entree.
American wagyu beef, three slices of tender beef cooked medium rare, with foie gras and a pinot noir reduction.  
Teresa had a assortment of sweets for dessert. Chocolate whiskey cake as well as a root beer float with a chocolate straw in sassafras ice cream, along with a warm chocolate chip cookie!
Boots, Mom and I ordered from the Sunset Menu:
We also had the wine tasting with our dinner and the first wine was Gwen's favorite Riesling!
Our pea soup was a bit different then Gwen's with a bacon wrapped lobster fritter! I loved this pea soup, when it's on Mina's menu be sure to try it!
I enjoyed the wine pairing it was well matched in my opinion to our dishes.
Every time I eat at Michael Mina's, I have loved the Miso Glazed Sea Bass with bok choy, dashi broth, shrimp tortellini and mushrooms, and this time was no different. The broth is so full of flavor and my sea bass was buttery and melted in my mouth!
I've had this dessert wine before with its honey sweetness and light fruit taste and for me it has just the right amount of sweetness.  
The three of us ordered the same dessert. Blackberry Huckleberry Clafoutis with creme fraiche blackberries of course and a refreshing buttermilk sherbet. It was wonderful, I would love to have this again!
Service was great, food was delicious, all of us said it was one of the best dining experiences we have had in Las Vegas.  We enjoyed the food, ambiance and service so much, that some of us already have a dinner reservation at Michael Mina for Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

August Venetian and Palazzo Shopping Event Trip Report!

For anyone who enjoys slot videos, I've just made a page on Facebook for it and hopefully we'll do some fun things like a contest there in the future. It's also where you can ask questions about Las Vegas and let me know if you want me to try to record more then just slot videos on my Vegas trips. Please "like" it, if interested at this link:

If you are a regular reading of my blog or twitter account you might notice I haven't yet published my July Birthday Trip Report and instead here's my short two night August trip. July will eventually show up but that was six days and I'm in the mood to skip ahead! Okay, I'm just lazy and it was easier for me to skip ahead.
Originally I was NOT going to Las Vegas in August (yeah, I know you have heard that excuse before), my next trip after July was schedule for the end of September for the annual G2e (Global Gaming Expo) convention. However a great offer from Palazzo tempted me along with Bill and his brother Nick encouraging me to go so I thought a two day hit and run trip might result in me returning a winner this summer! So with my wonderful husband's blessing I scheduled my trip.
My flight was on time out of San Jose, the Palazzo limo driver was speedy, and the VIP lounge had me in my room 47-918 a few minutes after my arrival!
After a quick unpack even though I overpacked for a 2 night stay I was down in the casino hitting a bonus on one of my favorite dollar slots Jungle Wild. While it wasn't a big win at $165.00 it hit quickly and I was happy with it.
 Unfortunately I wasn't so happy after I tried the dollar Quick Hit in the Palazzo High Limit Room, the $5 Wheel of Fortune and a few other slots at Palazzo.
I decided to go try my luck in the Venetian High Limit room on Sky Rider and while I got a bonus and one decent hit, I was still losing. Of course it's the first hour or so in Vegas so the losing streak didn't slow me down, instead I decided to lose all of the generous free play on my offer and some of my bankroll too on various high limit slots like dollar Sun and Moon, Diamond Queen and Davinci Diamonds.  Oops!
This streak of losing likely wasn't the best time to decide to enter the Grazie daily tournament but I had a early dinner planned and needed to complete my three sessions soon, so I returned to Palazzo and went to the Grazie player's card desk to redeem my three entries and while there also got the 2nd part of my offer which was a $200.00 Visa Card.
For those of you who haven't heard yet during the week (not the weekend) there is a daily tournament at Palazzo and you can earn one entry per a thousand points earned from 7am to 5:30pm up to a max of three entries. You must play these entries before 5:30pm. I believe these times are correct but if I'm off 30 to 60 minutes sorry about that!
If you have played in the Wynn daily slot tournaments the machines are basically the same type. Each session last three minutes which doesn't seem that long unless you do all three tournament sessions one after another like I did.
The first prize is $1000 free play, second prize is $500 and it goes downward from there with only 50 participants getting prizes and the last 30 or 40 places winning only around $20 free play, but hey it's free as long as you were going to get those points anyway that day with gambling!
In June I won $100 free play in one of my sessions and a couple $20 wins. On my July trip my Mom won $100 free play but I just had a few $20 free play wins. Today my scores were so bad that when I checked after dinner to see if any free play had been added to my account it was zero, not even a twenty for me!
After the tournament sessions I still had a hour before dinner and I had a couple wins before my hopes were dashed with more losses both on dollar and penny slots.
In July I had a bunch of wins on the original Sex and the City slot but not this trip, the bonuses were few and the darn ring bonus that never pays much was the one I kept getting when I did hit a bonus. It was time for a Bellini to cheer myself up! Cheers!
After losing on Sex and the City it was time to go to dinner. Once again the flower ladies at Palazzo had a change of colors and looked beautiful! It was difficult to get a photo without a crowd as both Venetian and Palazzo was very crowded,  at the restaurants, public areas and casino. While there was a convention there, I was still surprised at the amount of people on a Tuesday night.