Monthly Archives: May 2019

Rumor: Cleo Restaurant at SLS to Close and Everything is Ruined

We knew it was on the horizon, but it didn’t seem real until now.

We’ve heard one of our favorite all-time Las Vegas restaurants, Cleo at SLS Las Vegas, will close by Labor Day.

And everything is ruined.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Feeling a little weepy right about now.

This fantastic restaurant has never really gotten the attention it deserves, and it appears Cleo won’t survive the transition from SLS Las Vegas to Grand Sahara Resort.

SLS Las Vegas is in the process of a major overhaul, as anyone who visits the casino can attest.

SLS Las Vegas

The casino at SLS is unrecognizable. Specifically, there are people in it.

Among the changes is a purge of many of the resorts restaurants, specifically legacy restaurants from when SLS was partially owned by SBE Entertainment. (The restaurants are largely SBE brands, and that partnership is costing the new owners of SLS licensing fees better spent elsewhere.)

Katsuya closed in March 2019 to make way for a high limit room.

A new Mexican restaurant, Uno Mas, recently opened in the former Ku Noodle space.

It’s expected Umami Burger’s days are numbered as well. Ditto 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, although few will miss that disappointing offering.

One restaurant will stick around, however, the much-loved Bazaar Meat, which will even get an expansion.

Should the rumor of a Labor Day closing come to pass, we’ll be in mourning about the loss of Cleo.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas laffa

You complete us, laffa.

We have never had a dish like the chicken tagine at Cleo, and don’t get us started about the laffa bread and lebaneh with feta. We don’t even know what those things are, really, or how to pronounce them, and yet we love them so very much.

Here’s more about Cleo Mediterranean restaurant, the best Las Vegas restaurant you haven’t tried yet.

Check out the menus on the official Web site, and get there while you still have the chance.

Oakville Steakhouse at Tropicana is an Underrated Gem

There are so many steakhouses in Las Vegas, it’s easy for even a great one to be overlooked. That seems to be the case with Oakville Steakhouse at Tropicana.

This unassuming restaurant serves up fare worthy of more attention. So, this would be an attempt at that.

Oakville Steakhouse

Let’s meat.

Then menu at Oakville Steakhouse isn’t the most expansive, but all the bases are covered.

You’ll want to start with a shrimp cocktail appetizer, of course. In Las Vegas, it’s the law.

Oakville Steakhouse Tropicana

Few things are as adorable as shrimp spooning.

As you’re choosing your entree, make sure to dive into the specialty cocktail menu. Here’s a look at the cocktail menu.

Oakville Steakhouse Tropicana

Happy libationing. Which, if it isn’t a word, should be.

The Barely There was recommended by our server, and we owe her bigtime for that one. This immediately made its way into our list of favorite fancy cocktails on The Strip.

The Barely There has Patron Silver tequila, peach schnapps, Apple Pucker liqueur and sour mix.

Oakville cocktail Tropicana

We aren’t a tequila person, but the Barely There says otherwise.

Oakville Steakhouse absolutely nailed our filet mignon. It sort of had to. “Steakhouse” is right in the name of the place.

Oakville Steakhouse Tropicana

Perfectly seasoned, just like we are, whatever that might mean.

While a delicious steak was to be expected, we didn’t expect the mac and cheese side to win our heart. It did.

Oakville Steakhouse Las Vegas

We’re pretty sure this mac and cheese is going to ruin you for other mac and cheeses.

More dranks, as the kids say.

Next, we had intimate relations with the Pineapple Express, with Pineapple Ciroc vodka, pineapple juice, orange juice and cranberry juice.

Oakville Tropicana Las Vegas

You can legitimately say, “I’m not drunk, I’m juicing.”

We were foolishly about to call it a night when our server walked by with a dessert on its way to another table.

We ordered one, and when you see it, you’ll know why.

Our server confided, “When I serve one of these, I serve 10.”

We have no idea what it’s called, but it’s a little bit cake, a little bit ice cream, a little bit chocolate cookie in between and a little bit chocolate syrup just to make the whole thing ridiculously decadent.

Oakville Las Vegas

Dessert: Brought to you by gravity and fusion.

Among the other temptations at Oakville Steakhouse are Australian Tajima Wagyu, fresh seafood and a wine list with more than 150 labels.

Check out the full menu at the official Oakville Steakhouse Web site.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Tropicana has free parking.

Oakville Steakhouse Trop Las Vegas

The Web site says the dress code is business casual. Translation: Just put on pants, freak.

Big thanks to Tropicana for hosting our dinner, and we’re happy to highly recommend it.

While you’re there, stop by their new lounge, Trago. Check out our story about it, and not just because there’s a lot of cleavage. Probably.

Entertainment Rumors Abound at SLS Las Vegas

SLS Resort is undergoing a major renovation, and from some of the rumblings we hear, changes won’t just take the form of new restaurants and a revamped casino floor.

We hear the successful male revue, “Magic Mike Live,” currently at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, will be making a move to SLS Las Vegas in 2020.

This is surprising as it’s been reported “Magic Mike Live” would stay on at Hard Rock after the resort transitions to Virgin Hotel.

Magic Mike Live

It’s like we’re looking in a mirror.

Chatter at SLS leads us to believe the resort, expected to rebrand to Grand Sahara Resort at some point, will make a significant investment (rumored to be in the neighborhood of $10 million) to customize a theater space to showcase “Magic Mike Live.”

Another rumor has it longtime Strip fixture Frank Marino will bring his female impersonator show, “Diva’s Las Vegas,” to SLS resort. (It’s unknown if that will still be the name of the show. An earlier version of the production was called “An Evening at La Cage,” which opened at Riviera in 1985.)

Marino’s “Divas Las Vegas” closed under a cloud of controversy at Linq casino after we reported some shady dealings related to solicitation of charitable contributions which never made it to the charity, among other alleged transgressions. Read more.

The ethical questions plaguing Marino have apparently made it tough for him to find a venue for his show on The Strip. Insiders tell us he was turned down by Westgate, Strat, Mirage and others.

Diva

We figured Frank Marino might throw in the towel, but never doubt a diva.

It seems Marino offered up a rent SLS couldn’t refuse, so they bit.

It’s a bit of a risky move for SLS given a gaming license holder is responsible for everything that happens on their property, but apparently Marino has cleaned up his act and made a deal everyone’s comfortable with.

We hear the new “Divas” will run six nights a week.

There are also rumors about two existing shows at SLS, comedians Eddie Griffin and Mo’Nique. We hear both these shows will be shown the door, despite them selling well. Experience tells us this could be an effort to tweak the demographics at SLS, but that’s a really awkward subject, so we’ll just move on.

None of the rumors shared here have been announced or confirmed, but don’t be surprised if official announcements are made soon.

SLS Las Vegas is well worth a visit. You’ll want to check out the casino renovation, and make sure to try Cleo restaurant while you still can.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 97: The TMI Episode

Can you ever have too much information about Las Vegas? Let’s hope not, because in this episode of the Vital Vegas podcast, we have enough scoop to rupture your tympanic cavity, whatever that might be.

To whet your appetite, you’ll get our first-hand take on Urth Caffe at Wynn and Chica at Venetian.

Chica Venetian

You can’t see the food from Chica restaurant on the podcast, so we’re sharing it here. You’re welcome.

We’ll also bring you up to speed on the cost-saving measures being implemented at MGM Resorts, including layoffs and the roll-out of surge pricing. Good times.

You’ll also get the inside scoop about Wynn Resorts being fined $35 million, presumably the final chapter of the Steve Wynn sexual misconduct saga.

There’s more drama surrounding Kaos at Palms, the Hunger Games Exhibition at MGM Grand, Hyde Nightclub at Bellagio, the Drew Las Vegas project, Lucky Dragon (which recently sold for $36 million) and the prematurely terminated Yayoi Kusama exhibit at Bellagio’s Gallery of Fine Art.

Lucky Dragon

Lucky Dragon is expected to re-open as a non-gambling hotel. It’s the yawn of a new era.

Listen in for news about the Hard Rock’s transition to Virgin Hotel, a new show coming to Luxor called “R.U.N.,” the Cosmopolitan being up for sale, a doomed Paula Abdul residency and A Little White Wedding Chapel looking for a buyer.

The “Listicle of the Week” is “10 Moments in Vegas History to Remember in May,” mainly because we were too busy to come up with anything clever. Here’s the listicle now!

1. May 3, 1999: Venetian opened.
2. May 14, 1998: Frank Sinatra died of a heart attack. (Let’s be real. He was sort of a dick.)
3. May 15, 1905: Las Vegas officially was founded as a city.
4. May 16, 2011: The Sahara casino closed.
5. May 18, 1956: Fremont casino opened downtown.
6. May 20, 1964: “Viva Las Vegas,” starring Elvis Presley and Ann Margret, was released.
7. May 21, 2010: Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health opened.
8. May 22, 2012: Construction began on SkyVue, the ill-fated observation wheel.
9. May 23, 1955: The Dunes opened.
10. May 24, 1955: Moulin Rouge, the first racially-integrated hotel in Las Vegas, opened.

It’s all the Vegas you could ever need, in a format you’d have difficulty caring less about.

Just push the “Play” button, already. You’ll be able to tell people you exercised.

The Strat Has a Winner With Blvd. and Main Taphouse

The Strat is in the middle of a $140 million renovation, and that means lots of new offerings, including a new bar and restaurant, Blvd. & Main Taphouse.

We dove headlong into the menu at Blvd. & Main Taphouse and can happily report this new venue serves up hearty bar food (sorry, “pub cuisine”) with lots of satisfying twists.

Strat Blvd. & Main Taphouse

It’s always smart marketing to include your restaurant’s address in the name of the place. The “Blvd.” is Las Vegas Boulevard, of course.

Blvd. & Main Taphouse spans about 6,000-square feet and sits near the resort’s shiny new sports book and a new lounge, View Lounge. Yep, The Strat is pulling out all the stops.

Oh, and The Strat is now The Strat rather than The Stratosphere. Please try and keep up.

Blvd and Main Taphouse

We’d tap that again.

The menu at Blvd. & Main Taphouse was concocted by Executive Chef Johannes Bernau. His name makes him sound like one of those fancy, snoot chefs, but he’s down-to-earth and has a great sense of what guests are looking for, especially given the proximity of the restaurant to the sports book.

Real food for real people, with a little something for everyone.

Hell, we even liked the salad, which is no small feat. This is the Super Food Salad and it was as pretty as it was tasty.

Strat Blvd. & Main

Destination salad, actually.

It didn’t take long for us to notice the cocktail menu, of course, and we made quick time of In the Clouds, with Don Julio Blanco, La Pinta pomegrantate tequila, lime sour and cantaloupe juice.

Strat Blvd & Main

No, we’re not going to make a melons joke. It’s called maturity. Check out those balls, though!

You won’t want to miss the meatball appetizer, half beef and half Nueske’s bacon, which is apparently a thing for bacon lovers.

Strat Blvd & Main

Nueske’s bacon is “smoked 24 hours over smoldering Applewood embers.” We’re so turn on right now.

Another must-try are the Bierocks (pronounced bee-ROKs).

The dish comes with three rolls filled with stout-braised short ribs. There’s also a Pilsner beer cheese dipping sauce for good measure.

Blvd. & Main restaurant

Bierock can also be spelled beerock, berrock, bierox and beerrock, which can be very confusing when a bierock renews its drivers license.

Here’s a peek inside that bad boy.

Blvd & Main Taphouse

Your salivary gland are working just fine.

Next up, some delicious BBQ short rib sliders with chipotle BBQ sauce, a sauce so good they named a restaurant chain after it.

Blvd and Main Stratosphere

How are these not a thing everywhere?

We definitely didn’t have room for the fish and chips, but wouldn’t want to let you down, so we powered on. The fish and chips were great, we’re pleased to report.

Blvd and Main Stratosphere

Kneel before cod.

We felt compelled to try several desserts on your behalf, so we went for the butter toffee cake.

There’s a whole production around the butter toffee cake, as the buttered rum-toffee sauce is poured tableside. There’s creme fraiche ice cream inside.

Blvd & Main dessert

Remember, Vegas calories don’t count.

A fine finish to our visit was the “Fondue for Sharing.” What’s not to love about dipping things into melted chocolate? Our only suggestion for this dish would be to include Rice Krispie Treats as one of the dippable treats.

Strat fondue

Oh, yes, we fondid.

All in all, Blvd. & Main Taphouse delivers a diverse selection of accessible snacks and entrees, all in a welcoming, casual atmosphere.

Yes, there are sports on the TVs, but the volume isn’t intrusive, and during our visit there was live entertainment, a lone singer with a guitar.

The decor features art pieces commissioned by local artists, too, so make sure to explore.

Check out the full menu on the official Stratosphere site.

You’ll also want to pop next door to View Lounge.

Strat View Lounge

View Lounge serves up drinks and small bites. Yep, the bar has video poker.

Here’s a look at the Strat’s William Hill sports book, in case you’re into sportsball.

Strat sports book

There’s a lot of new, with more to come. That’s just how we roll in Vegas.

Blvd. & Main Taphouse is a solid addition to the restaurant line-up at The Strat, and big thanks to the folks at The Strat for hosting our visit.

While you’re at The Strat, one more item of interest: The hotel recently unveiled a statue out front called “Look.”

Strat Look statue

It was originally called “Point,” but they didn’t want to be rude.

Stratosphere’s transformation into The Strat is ongoing, and the marquee is getting an upgrade at this very moment.

Stratosphere Strat

A refresh isn’t official until it makes its way to the marquee. It’s the law.

Let us know what you think of all the changes at The Strat! Especially if you agree with us about the Blvd. & Main Taphouse. We’re a big fan of being agreed with.

Blvd. and Main Taphouse at The Strat

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Hakkasan Nightclub to Get Multi-Million Dollar Light Installation

Hakkasan Nightclub at MGM Grand is about to get some new eye candy in the form of a multi-million dollar light installation dubbed the “Hakkasan Grid.”

The new kinetic display will be made up of 57 triangles that can be manipulated by 169 winches into a virtually unlimited number of shapes and colors.

Hakkasan Grid

Spectacle, with a side of oontz.

The Hakkasan Grid is touted as being the largest kinetic light installation in the country.

The Hakkasan Grid will debut during EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) week. The EDC music festival happens May 17-19, 2019.

Hakkasan Grid

Our top Las Vegas nightclub tip: Be an attractive young woman. It’s not rocket science.

Per a news release, “Each triangle was custom designed and 3-D printed with premium materials from the brand Kinetic Lights located in Berlin, Germany and features pixel mapping and color-mixing technologies, making the grid the only structure of its kind that allows fully-customized images and patterns to flow seamlessly across all of the triangles both individually and collectively.”

We don’t have to understand it to think it sounds awesome.

Here’s a video with a similar light installation that might provide some idea of what’s in store at Hakkasan. But better, because Las Vegas.

While we are not necessarily a nightclub person, we’re fascinated by them and love shiny new things. The Hakkasan Grid certainly qualifies.

We can’t wait to see it in action. Let us know what you think if you get there first.