We were just in Vegas for the Major League Gaming championships (I first wrote about the professional gamers in Major League gaming a couple months ago.) We've followed 5-game season on behalf of client Dr Pepper -premier sponsor of the league and the top-ranked team, Str8 Rippin (featured here in a recent NY Times article) - so it's exciting to see it all come together. Somebody walked out of there with $100 large.
The finals were in The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, which is where we stayed. I remember the first time I stayed there, the overwhelming feeling that both Vegas and I had reached a new level of freshness. There was finally an oasis of cool in the neon sea, and Peter Morton's rock n roll chic was it.
Oh, how times have changed. HRH, like much of Vegas, has been Ed Hardyized. The too-tight jeans and Euro-psuedo-elegance have been replaced by mixed martial arts bravado and douchiness. Along with it came bonus lameness like Axe body spray in the room (do they think I'm 15?) and lack of sensible amenities like a coffee maker or pens. This place sucks.
Same goes for Body English, which has always been pretty good. The incredible DJ Melo D was spinning to a lame crowd. Down the hall was Carey Hart's new club Wasted Space, which felt, appropriately, like a waste of space. It was great to see the old school homie Jackson holding down the door though.
I have some actual business thoughts I'll share in another post, but for now, here are some of the eating (and drinking) highlights of the trip:
- SushiSamba (Palazzo). Not the best fish in the world, or even the city, but quite serviceable considering the great atmosphere that blends Japan and Brazil with graffiti. Always fun and lively.
- B & B Ristorante (Venetian). One of Mario Batali's three restaurants in the Venetian. This is amazing innovative Italian food at its near-best. Personally, I liked the food down the hall at the more casual Enoteca San Marco better, but just slightly. The lamb, duck, and octopus were standouts, and I heard great things about the steak.
- Fiamma Trattoria (MGM Grand). It's amazing how they cram so many good restaurants into an otherwise crap hotel. I've had seriously good food at Mesa Grill, Shibuya, and now Fiamma, and to get there I always have to pass college-kid drunkards carrying plastic beer yards. This place, like B & B, presents its food in the traditional three-panel menu (according to the waiters), which means they wanted us to order both a pasta and a main course in addition to appetizer. This time we fell for it. Would have been great if there were small portions of each, but not so. This meal was expensive and gluttonous, but also tasty. Not the most memorable meal I've had, but no complaints. Solid.
- Bouchon (Venetian). I wanted to save the best for last, and this one is a no-brainer. Maybe the best breakfast you'll ever have, Bouchon delivers Thomas Keller's reputation for attention to detail in abundance. My third time back for breakfast, and it's hard to imagine a trip to Vegas without stopping in. I went off the path and had chicken and waffles. Bouchon is not Roscoe's, and the waffles were light and elegant in a way that's hard to describe. The chicken was roasted, not fried, and just about perfect. My breakfast partner, Colin Sutton of M-80 (watch for a guest post from him soon) won't stop talking about the white sausage, which he will probably remember for a long time. My only regret is not pairing in a nice white wine, but I was afraid to get started so early.
- That's it for food. We went out Saturday night to Tao, owned by our friends at Strategic Group, to see the hermano DJ Vice get down. Tao never disappoints as a hot spot with Vegas-level indulgence. Girls in cages, girls in bathtubs, girls in lingerie, and tons and tons of guys. We were treated to a guest appearance by Jamie Foxx, who - to the dismay of at least my crew if nobody else - was more than happy to grace us with hours of singing and rambling on the mic, calling out whatever song he wanted Vice to play next. Really, if I ever win an Academy Award, I plan to consider that good enough and not also feel like I need to yell "My name is Jamie Motherfuckin Foxx: First name Jamie, last name Foxx, middle name Motherfuckin" no fewer than 20 times.