Monthly Archives: May 2017

The Trains Are Officially Leaving Palace Station

The off-Strip Palace Station is getting a major facelift, and that includes dumping its train station theme.

The resort recently unveiled its fancy new porte cochere.

Palace Station

Hey, it’s fancy for Palace Station.

Other upgrades have included a remodel of the hotel’s facade and a new bingo room.

Since it opened in 1976 (as The Casino, because naming things is hard), Palace Station has featured several decorative trains—more art than accurate replicas—on its north-facing exterior.

The trains are out of sight thanks to a large construction wall.

Palace Station

Nice attempt at thwarting us there, Palace Station. We are, however, 100% thwartproof.

Construction walls don’t tend to serve as a deterrent to us, so we nabbed a photo of the very first of the train noses to be removed.

Somebody’s got to do it.

Palace Station trains

Thwart this.

While Palace Station claims it’s in talks with the Neon Museum to take the trains, but that’s a symbolic exercise. The trains aren’t of any particular historic value to the Neon Museum, and more significantly, they don’t have any neon.

When donations are made to the Neon Museum, a nonprofit, removal and transportation of the signs is paid for by the donor, often at a cost of thousands of dollars. Donors are also asked to donate additional funds for the restoration of the signs.

So, as we said, an unlikely scenario. The Neon Museum might get one of the trains, but otherwise, it’s farewell to these decorative touches at Palace Station.

It remains to be seen what will happen to the large, classic marquees at the resort, as they’re clearly train-inspired.

Palace Station

The device on the front of a train that deflects objects is called a “cowcatcher.”

Palace Station officials have said the renovations are moving the resort toward a “mid-century modern design.” Translation: “Less interesting.”

A number of Las Vegas casinos have attempted de-theming to modernize and presumably have a broader appeal. We’re looking at you, millennials.

Monte Carlo will soon become Park MGM, and Treasure Island was rebranded as TI, along with removal of many of its swashbuckling elements, including its free “Sirens of TI” show. The Luxor, at least on the inside, is much less Egyptian than when it opened.

Next up, Palace Station will revamp its buffet and add two additional restaurants.

Tone-Deaf Billboard Promotes New York-New York Thrill Ride With 9/11 Phrase

A tone-deaf billboard touting a Las Vegas thrill ride could have unintended consequences given its chilling 9/11 connection.

The new billboard for the roller coaster at New York-New York uses what was once an innocuous phrase, but which on 9/11 became associated with the worst terror attack in American history.

The phrase, “Let’s roll.”

Let's Roll billboard

That’s some serious WTF right there.

Use of “Let’s roll” in an advertisement wouldn’t be as problematic were it not for the fact 9/11 is so closely associated with New York City, the theme of the New York-New York resort.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, New York-New York was even home to an impromptu memorial, a “spontaneous shrine,” to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. The memorial was outside the hotel, near its replica of the Statue of Liberty.

Items from the memorial were moved to UNLV’s Lied Library in 2016.

“Let’s roll,” of course, became inexorably intertwined with 9/11 when United Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer said it to rally other passengers as they attempted to wrest control of the hijacked plane back from terrorists. The plan ended tragically, but the phrase became a symbol of defiance, bravery and patriotism.

The use of “Let’s roll” on a billboard associated with New York-New York is unfortunate, and it’s hard to believe no one who created or produced the ad made the connection to 9/11, or if they did, chose to use the tagline, anyway.

For those who still remember 9/11 vividly, or lost loved ones in the attacks, it’s more than a gaff, it’s a slap.

Update (5/5/17): MGM Resorts and New York-New York have taken the extraordinary step of saying they’ll remove the offending billboard (at no small expense, by the way). The company said in response to this story, “We intended no connection between the tragic events of 9/11 and our billboard. Any perceived association between the two is something we deeply regret. We are already voluntarily removing the billboard in question and apologize to anyone who may have been offended.”

Much respect and thanks to MGM Resorts and New York-New York for their quick and decisive response to the concerns raised by this inadvertent misstep.

Riviera Casino Closed Two Years Ago, Watch Her Fall Again

The iconic Riviera Hotel and Casino closed its doors on May 4, 2015, after 60 years of ups, downs and WTFs.

Toward the end, public indifference toward the aging casino turned to melancholy, with many bemoaning the end of an era in Las Vegas.

Riviera Las Vegas

Spoiler alert: This is the “before” photo.

While we, too, did a fair share of bemoaning when the casino closed, mostly we dove headlong into the task of obsessively chronicling the casino’s months-long demolition, capturing The Riv as it transformed from a run down relic to a paved-over parking lot.

Riviera demolition

It’s like dermabrasion, but with a vintage Vegas hotel.

On the second anniversary of Riviera’s closing, we figured it was a good time to look back, to reflect upon the history of a casino woven into the fabric of Sin City and to shamelessly try and increase the number of views of our Riviera demolition video.

The Riviera was purchased by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for $182.5 million. Demolition of the Riviera cost about $44 million. Yes, that’s a really pricey parking lot.

During her heyday, Riviera was featured in movies like the original “Ocean’s 11,” “Casino,” “The Hangover” and many others.

After closing, the Riv played a key part in the bigtime Hollywood yawner, “Jason Bourne,” which, come to think of it, we also wasted our time obsessively chronicling.

Bourne Riviera crash

In the climactic finale to “Jason Bourne,” this SWAT truck drove into the Riviera’s shuttered casino. Unforgettable moment, utterly forgettable movie.

We miss the Riv from time-to-time. Its “Crazy Girls.” Its future kiddie porn-downloading Jan Rouven. Its pinball machines. Its “An Evening at Le Cage,” wherein Frank Marino (now at the Linq casino) made an eye-popping $20,000 a week for impersonating a woman. Its crappy food court. Its “Splash.” Its Liberace.

Goodbye, again, old girl. We’ll never see your like again.

Impossible Burger at Andrea’s is a Good Burger, But a Spectacular Veggie Burger

There’s been a good amount of buzz about a new menu item at Andrea’s inside Encore, the Impossible Burger, so we wasted no time trying the burger that uses “zero percent cow.”

The Impossible Burger is served three ways. We chose the sliders.

Impossible Burger

Some assembly required.

The Impossible Burger patties are served on a hot plate, with the patties still sizzling, and the fragrance is distinctly meatlike.

Despite their appearance, Impossible Burgers are completely meat-free and vegetarian-friendly.

Impossible Burger

“Improbable Burger” is probably more accurate, but doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

According to the Impossible Burger Web site, “Compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s 100% free of hormones, antibiotics and artificial ingredients.”

We may have removed a couple of Oxford commas from that excerpt, but only because they’re about as necessary as a clever pick-up line at a brothel. Moving on.

Impossible Burger

Yes, they could’ve inserted the meat in the kitchen, but imagine the number of H.R. and health violations.

Impossible Burger meat is a concoction of wheat, coconut oil, potatoes and other all-natural ingredients. We liked it, anyway.

A key ingredient of Impossible Burgers is something called heme. Heme is “an iron-containing compound of the porphyrin class that forms the nonprotein part of hemoglobin and some other biological molecules.” Which, as you can imagine, looks sexy as hell on the menu at Andrea’s.

According to the folks at Impossible Foods, heme “is what makes meat smell, sizzle and bleed.”

Andrea's Encore

Andrea’s is named after Steve Wynn’s wife, Andrea Hissom. (Those are her eyes.) She’s not called Andrea Wynn, mainly because if she were, Wynn’s former wife, Elaine, would rain down hell fire and haunt us all for an eternity.

The three sliders are served with frisee (or endive, a member of the chicory family), kimchee (think vegetables with a personal hygiene problem) and pickles (think cucumber with a personal hygiene problem).

Impossible Burger sliders come with two delicious sauces, kalbi and kochujang aioli.

Yes, we took notes for a change.

The sliders cost $20, and were undeniably delectable. Millennial translation: They’re amazeballs.

Impossible Burger

We’re nominating the Impossible Burger as the best veggie burger in Vegas, emphasis on “nom.”

While Impossible Burgers are, indeed, tasty, we can’t say they’re indistinguishable from beef hamburgers. Veggie burgers still haven’t managed to replicate the mouth feel of their meaty counterparts, but Impossible Burgers are surprisingly close.

The other two dishes using Impossible Burger meat are the Thai Crispy Rice Cups (made with mint, cilantro, chili, onion, ginger and peanuts) and Ma Po Tofu (a take on meatballs, with chili paste, shiitake mushrooms and green onion).

While you’re devouring your Impossible Burgers, make sure to try one of our all-time favorite panty-dropper cocktails, the Asian Pear.

Andrea's Encore Asian Pear

Bonus: The Asian Pear is meat-free.

If you’re visiting Andrea’s solo, have no fear. We had our Impossible Burgers while seated at the bar.

The Impossible Burger is that rare creature, so to speak, that lives up to the hype.

Andrea's Encore

Andrea’s is a little fancy, so, please, no lederhosen.

Die-hard meat eaters may ultimately prefer a traditional burger to the Impossible Burger at Andrea’s, but there’s a lot to be said for having a viable alternative to meat, especially if one is toying with the idea of cutting back on meat, or even going whole hog vegan or vegetarian.

Yes, we see what we did there, although we’re not entirely sure what.

Encore Las Vegas

What, you thought we’d miss an opportunity to share a gratuitous photo of Encore? Do you know this blog at all?

The bottom line is this: Impossible Burgers don’t feel like a compromise or sacrifice. Whether you’d like to save a cow or possibly save the planet, meat-free food is inherently more appealing because it’s also free of guilt.

If you try an Impossible Burger, let us know what you think. Visit Encore’s Web site to learn more.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 49: Ellis Island, Derek Stevens and O’Sheas Memories

Get your Vegas fix with the latest, and possibly longest, installment of the Vital Vegas Podcast.

This week, we chat with Christina Ellis, Director of Marketing at Ellis Island. We’ve got all the scoop you won’t hear anywhere else, including details about the Front Yard construction project, the casino’s recent hotel acquisition and room renovations, changes inside Ellis Island’s casino and more.

Ellis Island casino

For a little casino, Ellis Island has a lot going on.

Also on the show, we’ve got an interview with Derek Stevens, owner of several downtown casinos as well as our heart. Stevens talks about the demolition of the Las Vegas Club, expansion at Golden Gate and how the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center is now, unquestionably, a thing.

But wait, there’s more. Possibly too much more.

Hear our review of the Impossible Burger, a new burger at Andrea’s inside Encore that uses zero percent cow.

Impossible Burger Andrea's

The Impossible Burger at Andrea’s inside Encore is pretty good for a burger, but it’s spectacular for a veggie burger. Some assembly required.

We also provide some buzzed bloviating about the latest Las Vegas news: Palms will lose its Hooters, Gordon Ramsay’s bringing Hell’s Kitchen to Caesars, The Commissary at Downtown Grand has closed, the Raiders paid $77.5 million for a stadium site in Vegas, Giada may take Payard’s space at Caesars, Tao Nightclub offers a VIP “tablesharing” service, Fontainebleau is getting a wrap (see below), Wynn Paradise is approved and much more.

Fontainebleau wrap

There’s been talk of a Fontainebleau wrap for two years. This time it’s different, because rendering.

Don’t miss our “Listicle of the Week,” specifically, “10 Places in Las Vegas Where We’ll Probably Never Go Again.”

We’ll also share a slew of O’Sheas memories (the original O’Sheas Casino closed five years ago) and obviously forged iTunes reviews.

The Vital Vegas Podcast is just the thing to distract you from the nagging sense the universe is empty and meaningless. It is, of course, but let’s not get bogged down in details.

Listen until your ears hemorrhage! Medical science will make you new ones.