Lego Reveals Tweaked Las Vegas Set

Lego has unveiled its revamped Las Vegas set, including the replacement of Mandalay Bay following the shooting of Oct. 1, 2017.

A previous version of the Las Vegas Skyline Lego set (referred to as “Lego Architecture 21047 Las Vegas” by Lego aficionados) featured the Mandalay Bay as part of the skyline, but the set was redesigned to avoid sensitivities around the shooting.

Mandalay Bay has been replaced by Bellagio.

Lego Las Vegas set

If you thought stepping on a Lego was painful before, try stepping on the Stratosphere.

It’s worth noting the Bellagio is assembled using something Lego nerds call the SNOT technique. You might think that’s something we made up, but it’s SNOT.

We’ll wait.

SNOT stands for “Studs Not On Top.” And we are, apparently, 12.

The Las Vegas Lego set is expected to sell for about $40, with nearly 500 pieces.

The Las Vegas Lego set features the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, Luxor, Wynn, Stratosphere and Fremont Street Experience.

Lego Architecture Las Vegas

In our day job, we work at Fremont Street Experience, and we personally helped write a portion of the booklet that accompanies the set. Please, no autographs.

Images of the new Las Vegas Lego were shared by Brothers-Brick.com. Find a review of the new set at BrickArchitect.com. It got a “good” rating (three out of five). Ouch.

The set definitely would be better received if it included a miniature strip club. Just saying.

Here’s a look at the initial version of the set.

Lego Las Vegas architecture

Mandalay Bay and Bellagio are owned by the same company, MGM Resorts, so it’s a wash.

The replacement of Mandalay Bay for Bellagio is understandable, but the set feels out of whack. Presumably, rejiggering the design to put the hotels in their real-life order would’ve been too troublesome or expensive.

You can bet there was a heated debate at Lego about whether to replace Wynn Las Vegas following revelations about its former CEO, Steve Wynn. Making toys is a lot more complicated than you’d think.

The Las Vegas Skyline Lego set will be available in the U.S. on Sep. 1, 2018, and we’ll probably be among the first to buy it.

Because Las Vegas.

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Shinya Maru Ramen & Izakaya Opens on Fremont East

A new Asian restaurant has opened on Fremont East, Shinya Maru Ramen & Izakaya, and we fully know what one of those words means.

Ramen.

Because we went to college. Not that you’d know it from our writing, of course.

Shinya Las Vegas

Hard seats, one demerit. Bar seating for solo diners, bonus points.

Shinya is located in the Emergency Arts Building, just around the corner from another new dining option, Eureka.

Shinya is just off Fremont Street, facing El Cortez.

Shinya Las Vegas

This location is easy to miss. The murals, not so much.

“Shinya,” it seems, can mean either “truthful one” or “late at night.”

We would’ve asked the owners which definition applies, but we were too busy stuffing our face with the amazing potstickers.

Shinya Las Vegas

It’s possible these are named “I’ve Been Waiting for a Gyoza Like You.” We were drinking.

Yes, we know potstickers are Chinese and gyoza are Japanese. We were not born yesterday. We also have the Internet.

Shinya’s menu is teeming with cleverly-named appetizers (“Izakaya”) inspired by song titles and bands, from “I Slaw Her Standing There” and “Sgt. Shishito Peppers” to “Belly Jean Slider” and “Poutine on a Show.”

There’s also a Yakitori menu if you like your food simple and served on sticks.

Shinya menu

While we strive to avoid learning things, we now know what Izakaya means.

While ramen is a bit of a tough sell on a 110-degree day, we weren’t going to visit a ramen restaurant without trying it, despite the fact we aren’t particularly a hot liquid person.

We’re pleased to report that the ramen is top-notch, and the fried chicken in our “Let’s Get Physical” fried chicken ramen could could go toe-to-toe with some of the best fried chicken in town.

Shinya Las Vegas ramen

One test of a good restaurant is whether they make you like things you don’t usually eat. Shinya qualifies.

Here’s the rest of the Shinya ramen menu.

Shinya Las Vegas ramen menu

“Ramen” is a Japanese word that comes from two Chinese words meaning “to pull” and “noodles.” Which reminds us to make an appointment for a massage.

Shinya has a full bar, of course, because in Las Vegas it’s the law.

Shinya Las Vegas bar

“Maru” means “circle” in Japanese. Which is what we do when we enter a restaurant with a bar.

The signature cocktail menu only has five options, but they cover a lot of ground. Cocktails include berry sangria, Caribbean sangria, mojito (strawberry, peach and mango), Mai Tai and
margarita.

Shinya cocktail menu

Bonus: All the signature cocktails are less than six bucks.

There are also non-alcoholic beverages, although if you order something on this side of the menu, you’re doing Vegas wrong.

Shinya cocktail menu

You’re not boring, you’re just alternatively interesting.

Desserts come in the form of macaron ice cream. They’re kept in a freezer just inside the entrance so they’ll be on your mind the whole time you’re dining. At just $3.50 a pop, we’ll be back to try all five flavors.

Shinya macaron ice cream

This may require some late night raiding.

The hours at Shinya are all over the place, so keep this blog post handy at all times if you expect to crave Ramen for some reason.

Shinya is open from 11:00 a.m. to midnight, Sunday through Wednesday, and open until 2:00 a.m. Thursday and Friday. Saturdays, it’s 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. There will be a quiz.

Shinya Fremont Street

Just to keep you on your toes.

We love new things, and Shinya Maru Ramen & Izakaya is a new downtown Las Vegas dining option well worth a “maru.”

If you hadn’t skimmed, you’d know what “maru” means. It wouldn’t make sense in that sentence, but you’d know what it means. Let that be a lesson to you.

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Venetian Installs Crane for Pool Renovation

A massive crane has been installed at the Venetian resort, and we’ve got the skinny on what’s up.

Venetian crane

The crane isn’t exactly at Venetian, but it’s not at Palazzo, either. It’s sort of in between. Let’s not get bogged down in details.

The crane will be used for the Venetian’s upcoming pool renovation.

Work on the pool deck will begin in September 2018, according to the Venetian.

Venetian crane

Coincidentally, this is the same type of crane we tend to need after visiting a Las Vegas buffet. Don’t judge.

From what we understand, Venetian guests will be able to use Palazzo’s pool during the overhaul.

When we saw the crane going up, we thought for a moment it might be a sign the Venetian would finish building its stalled St. Regis Residences tower.

That’s the one with the million-dollar wrap most Vegas visitors don’t even realize is a wrap.

You can see it in this photo of the crane.

Venetian crane

The St. Regis tower wrap is one of the best magic tricks in Las Vegas.

Read more about the St. Regis tower at Venetian.

No such luck, though.

While Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson has said the company will complete the St. Regis tower at some point, no timeline has been shared.

In the meantime, guests of Venetian will get a revamped pool complex with the help of a giant stuff lifter thingy.

Look, we’re a blog, not a lattice sectionalized tower crane expert. Although, ask us about luffing jibs sometime. We’re all over those.

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Rumor: Jimmy Kimmel Comedy Club in the Works for Linq

We live to scoop, and this is a juicy one if it comes to fruition.

Word is Caesars Entertainment is working on a deal to bring a Jimmy Kimmel comedy club to the Las Vegas Strip.

A reliable source says the deal hasn’t been finalized yet, but the comedy club would be at the Linq resort.

Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy Kimmel is narcoleptic, an excuse he’s sure to use when he attends meetings with Caesars Entertainment executives.

Jimmy Kimmel, of course, is the affable host of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Kimmel is a Las Vegas native who got his start in the entertainment business during high school by hosting a show on UNLV’s college station, KUNV.

The Linq has a vacancy in its showroom due to the recent, and abrupt, departure of its “Divas Las Vegas” show amidst some glorious drama. Mat Franco’s magic show is currently the only show in the Linq’s theater.

We’ll keep an eye on this one, but don’t be surprised if there’s some comedy in the future of the Linq resort, along with its new zipline and the upcoming Kind Heaven attraction.

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Spago at Bellagio is Reliably Unremarkable

Spago has opened at Bellagio and we can confidently report the longtime Strip fixture is still sort of just okay.

Spago Bellagio

Spago has a new home at Bellagio. Water Grill will move into its former space at Forum Shops in 2019. Please keep up, there will be a quiz.

It was big news when Wolfgang Puck’s Spago announced it would relocate from the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace to Bellagio after a quarter century in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas media outlets reported the news with little interest in, or perhaps knowledge of, the backstory.

Specifically, business had flagged for several years at the Forum Shops location, and when the Forum Shops threatened to raise the restaurant’s rent, it was time to go.

During Spago’s heyday at Forum Shops, it was raking in an eye-popping $18 million a year, despite the fact only a handful of restaurants in Las Vegas make $10 million or more.

Spago set its sights on the Olives space in Bellagio. The space was freed up by another turn of events largely unreported, the decision by MGM Resorts to cut ties with the chef behind Olives, Todd English, following sexual harassment allegations. That’s also why the Todd English P.U.B. at Aria is now just The Pub. Props to MGM Resorts for taking a stand.

The glorious drama!

Spago opened at Bellagio on June 7, 2018, and we had to check it out, of course.

Spago Bellagio

Of course, we stopped by the bar first. Do you know this blog at all?

A news release about the restaurant opening said, “Spago is inspired by California living with its casual elegance and farm-to-table ethos. Wolfgang hand selects seasonal ingredients to create the restaurant’s market-driven menu, featuring the chef’s signature fare paired with modern technique and creative elements.”

Ah, news releases.

While the Spago menu offers many of the dishes created by Wolfgang Puck, what the release and news reports haven’t shared is Wolfgang Puck isn’t really involved in Spago restaurant at Bellagio anymore.

As has become the norm in Las Vegas with celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Giada de Laurentiis and Guy Fieri, the restaurants boasting their names are operated by the host resort, with licensing fees being the only real connection to the chefs. Ditto Spago.

That means employees of Spago at Bellagio are on the payroll of MGM Resorts. Does it matter? Maybe not, but it’s something to keep in mind when deciding whether to dine there or not.

As was the case at the Forum Shops location, Spago serves up reasonably good, but far from great, fare.

One of the restaurant’s claims to fame is the smoked salmon and caviar pizza. The basic version is $36, the kaluga sturgeon caviar version is (wait for it) $75.

Spago Bellagio

We’re all for indulging in Las Vegas, and this pizza might make a fine photo op, but if you think it’s worth $75, you’re Pucking nuts.

Other dishes are equally forgettable, including the $21 micro portion of spaghettini.

Spago Bellagio

Mama mia, that’s adequate!

There’s also the grilled chicken sandwich ($22). You know you’re in “meh” territory when the best thing about a dish is the fries.

Spago Bellagio

Well, it’s certainly food! Feel free to use that in your advertising, Spago.

Here’s the menu for Spago at Bellagio. While we found a menu for the restaurant online, it didn’t have prices. Which we’re sure is just an unintentional oversight.

Spago Bellagio menu prices

Fun fact: Sometimes Las Vegas restaurants share menus without prices so they can increase prices when business is heaviest. Like rideshare’s surge pricing, but with pasta.

Here’s a larger version of the Spago menu to reward you for reading this far.

We were convinced the signature cocktails would be a highlight of the otherwise humdrum offerings at Spago, and if you can get past the sticker shock, the drinks are plenty tasty.

It seems $22 cocktails are the new $18 cocktails. To be honest, we were just starting to adjust to $12 cocktails.

Spago Bellagio

Remember, you’re not paying for a cocktail, you’re paying for an experience. The experience of paying for an expensive cocktail.

Here’s the signature Out on the Tiles cocktail, with Chamucos Silver tequila, Aperol Aperitivo liqueur (made with gentian, cinchona and other words we don’t recognize), hibiscus, grapefruit juice and lime juice. A worthy addition to our collection of panty-dropper cocktails.

Bellagio Spago cocktail

The $22 price tag wouldn’t have been nearly as painful were it not for the fact Out on the Tiles is served in what amounts to a glass thimble.

An undeniably spectacular aspect of Spago is its view of the Bellagio fountains.

An outdoor patio makes it feel as though you’re part of the iconic show.

Spago Bellagio

This is about as Vegas as it gets.

A big plus for Spago is its excellent service and friendly, knowledgeable waitstaff.

It was refreshing when our waiter rolled his eyes at the fact straws are no longer provided at Spago, except upon request. When they were requested, this was the presentation. Note: We are not making this up.

Spago Bellagio straws

“Straws by request only” is easily our “Most Annoying Thing About Las Vegas” for 2018.

Also classy is the option for guests to choose either black or white napkins.

As is the law, the place is a tad loud, but that’s a good sign as it means the Spago name still pulls in a decent crowd. Spago, by the way, translates as “string” in Italian.

Designer Gelila Puck (Wolfgang’s wife) collaborated with architects Massimiliano Locatelli and Annamaria Scevola of CLS Architetti to create a bland space you and your kids probably could’ve decorated better.

Spago Bellagio

Then again, who are we to say this is boring? We are not an interior designer, we are a blog. And barely that, come to think of it.

If you decide to try Spago (we’d strongly suggest the nearby Lago restaurant instead, but you know how strong-headed you can be), expect to work up an appetite first.

Spago is in Bellagio’s shopping promenade, nearly a quarter mile (about 1,100 feet) from the main hotel entrance. No joke. It’s across from Tiffany & Co. and near Bottega Veneta, whatever that might be.

While Spago didn’t knock our socks off, it’s certainly not bad, and may just be what you’re looking for when you’re visiting the Bellagio Conservatory or the world’s largest chocolate fountain at Bellagio Patisserie, formerly Jean Philippe Patisserie.

Let us know what you think of Spago at Bellagio, and “Bon apetite!” or some other cliche people use in the last sentence of articles.

Spago at Bellagio

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Swarovski Shop Closes at Bally’s Grand Bazaar Shops and It’s Awkward

One of the most highly-touted shops in Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s Las Vegas, the Swarovski boutique store, has closed.

Venues close all the time at Grand Bazaar Shops, but this one’s particularly awkward because its namesake “Swarovski Crystal Starburst” has been a centerpiece of the marketing for the
outdoor mall since it opened in early 2015.

Swarovski Grand Bazaar Shops

Without its Swarovski signs, this structure looks like a mutant offspring of the Lou Ruvo Center.

Grand Bazaar Shops has said the Swarovski “starburst light spectacular” will continue despite the closure of the Swarovski retail store.

The light “show” features a 14-foot diameter ball made of 924 “custom cut Swarovski crystal spheres” and 1,800 multi-colored LEDs.

It sounds much, much better than it actually is. Take a look if you don’t particularly value your time.

Grand Bazaar Shops has actually called that a “light and sound extravaganza,” and we’re almost certain they weren’t being ironic.

The light show has been dubbed one of the biggest disappointments in Las Vegas, in fact, it’s even more disappointing than sex with this blog, and that’s really saying something.

By all accounts, except those of Grand Bazaar Shops, Grand Bazaar Shops has struggled since it opened. The mall was developed by Larry Siegel’s Juno Property Group. The project was the result of Siegel’s friendship with former Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman.

Siegel has a long and colorful history of WTF, virtually all of which has gone unreported by Las Vegas media, because, well, Las Vegas media.

Let’s just say Siegel “ran one of the most successful mall empires in America before a series of operational and accounting blunders cost his investors billions of dollars.”

Swarovski Grand Bazaar Shops

While the Swarovski store at Grand Bazaar Shops may be closed, the light show is likely to underwhelm unsuspecting visitors for some time to come.

Grand Bazaar Shops cost dozens of dollars to build, and Caesars Entertainment was promised high-profile tenants, including Apple, would fill the Bally’s forecourt. Those tenants never materialized.

The Swarovski boutique joins venues like Redneck Riviera and Giordano’s as failed efforts at the floundering outdoor mall that, arguably, has one of the best locations in Las Vegas.

It should be noted Giordano’s is still open, but it’s just a fail.

It’s unknown what will replace the Swarovski boutique, but expect it to be an extravaganza.

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