Las Vegas Trip Report December 2023

I went on a trip to Vegas for vacation in the last week of 2023. I stayed on the Strip this time, in the New York New York hotel.

Day 1


Peppermill

I arrived on a late Tuesday evening flight from San Francisco and headed to Peppermill for a late dinner. They had re-expanded their hours recently and while still not quite 24/7 - except on weekends - they were open at around 1 in the morning.

Peppermill is like a neon Denny’s with a bar. I had a Country Fried Steak ($24.50) with country gravy, hash browns, eggs sunny-side up, and sourdough toast. It hit the spot! I also had a Coronarita ($16), which was a mini bottle of Corona suspended over a sweet Margarita that became less sweet as the Corona emptied into it.

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Day 2


Cipriani

The next day I headed to Cipriani in the Wynn hotel for a late lunch. There are several Cipriani locations around the world, run by the Italian hotel and leisure company of the same name. They also run Hotel Cipriani in Venice and the famous Harry’s Bar.

I had a few Martinis to start, or rather Montgomery’s, named after the British Field Marshal Montgomery because of his purported preference to go into battle with 15:1 odds (the same as the ratio of gin to vermouth in this Martini). The Martinis at Cipriani are prepared the way they do it at Harry’s Bar. They are smaller than a typical Martini and served in small shot glass like tumblers that have been chilled ice cold, mixed very dry. I got them with olives and tried a vodka Martini after starting with a gin one. Quite nice and quite expensive at $19 each!


I also had a Bellini ($20), a mix of peach puree and Prosecco which was invented at Harry’s Bar.

Free bread and breadsticks, which came with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

For food, I started with the Carpaccio “alla Cipriani” ($31). Carpaccio was also invented at Harry’s Bar. This was quite nice - paper thin sliced beef covered with a generous drizzling of mayonnaise.

And then, the Homemade Baked Tagliolini with Ham ($36) which was a thin layer of tagliolini, which is like a thin fettuccine, baked with cheese and some ham. It was kind of like a fancy baked mac and cheese, with a crispy cheese layer on top and pasta with cheesy creamy sauce underneath.

For dessert I had the Vanilla Meringue cake ($16) which was light and creamy.

This was an enjoyable meal but also quite expensive. I’m glad I was able to try the Montgomery Martini.

For dinner I had Raising Cane’s chicken fingers (no pics :joy: ).

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Day 3


Lardo

For lunch the next day, I had a sandwich from the Vegas branch of Portland, Oregon based sandwich shop Lardo in the Cosmopolitan food court.

I had a Bronx Bomber ($17.50) which had shaved steak, house provolone “whiz,” roasted and pickled peppers, vinegar mayo, and shredded lettuce. This was a bit like a cheesesteak with some acidity from the pickled peppers and mayo. It was a pretty good sandwich but not as good as the porchetta sandwich I had from the original Portland Lardo as far as I remember. Maybe I should have ordered something more interesting like the pho French dip.


Kaiseki Yuzu

For dinner I splurged on a kaiseki dinner at Kaiseki Yuzu in Chinatown. There were several set price menus available, and I reserved the December seasonal kaiseki which was $300.

There are two seatings a night. I had a reservation for the second seating. This is the hallway where we waited for the room to be ready.

Inside

Chefs at work preparing the first course. I believe the chef on the right is chef Kaoru Azeuchi, the owner of Yuzu.

First was the zensai / appetizers. Counterclockwise from left - bluefin tuna from Japan topped with yuzu kosho, a Kunamoto oyster with ikura and shoyu, a shrimp, scallop and egg tamagoyaki, sweet shrimp topped with uni, duck breast, and a turban shell which is a type of sea snail. Beautifully presented.

Sashimi. Left to right - winter fatty hamachi, otoro / fattiest tuna, and mirugai / geoduck clam. This was served with a yuzu foam and a bonito infused shoyu. They were all delicious. The fish were quite rich.


Next was a truly luxurious dish. A5 filet mignon on a hot stone with peppers, which was lit on fire. Foie gras and fresh shaved winter truffle from France went on top after the flames died down. There was an egg yolk on the side as well as nori, uni, yuzu kosho, and wasabi. You can dip the beef into the egg yolk and make a hand roll with the nori and condiments.

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A steamed dish of snow crab topped with a lotus chip and Ossetra caviar, in a chrysanthemum flavored sauce with wood ear mushrooms. This was quite good - sweet crab and a nice subtle gelatinous sauce.

And then another luxurious dish - sukiyaki with more A5 beef. The dip was a slightly poached egg with some uni. The beef was rich and delicious.

Next was a deep fried course - tempura of a shrimp and edamame meatball, kabocha squash, and tai / sea bream wrapped in shiso leaf. The tempura sauce was a foam (it’s the cube on the right), so as not to make the tempura soggy. They were all perfectly fried and delicious.

I forget what this was and forgot to write anything about it!

The last savory course was sushi.

Isaki / chicken grunt. The rice was seasoned with white vinegar.

Miso soup

Nodoguro / blackthroat seaperch. The king of white fish. The rice was seasoned with red vinegar.

A delicious roll with otoro and uni on crisp nori. This also had red vinegar seasoned rice.

Finally for dessert - a mille-feuille with Japanese custard, matcha powder, yuzu sorbet, and strawberries. This was a nice, light, and fruity dessert.

This was a very enjoyable dinner and everything was well executed.

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So far, this is a great contrast of high and low dining! :laughing: Very fun read, thanks!

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the Peppermill is a DW “must do” whenever we go. it is so totally retro…
and, the serving sizes . . . well, delicious, definitely over done. the leftovers could feed most of the homeless . . .


.

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Definitely retro, it looks as if it hasn’t changed since the 70’s when it opened. Maybe I should have called it a Disco Denny’s rather than a Neon Denny’s.

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Day 4


Sadelle’s

For lunch, I went to Sadelle’s in the Bellagio, which is the Vegas branch of the NYC restaurant from Major Food Group (Carbone, etc.)

There was a long line to get in on a Friday. I was glad that I’d made a reservation. It’s a pretty space adjacent to the Bellagio conservatory, which was decorated with a Nutcracker theme for the holidays.


I started with a good Bloody Mary ($16)

For food, had the Signature Sadelle’s Breakfast ($38) where you had a bunch of choices:
Salmon Benedict, House or Smoked Scottish Salmon (I had the House Salmon)
Cream Cheese Danish or Sticky Bun (I had the Sticky Bun)
Fresh Fruit & Coffee

Sticky bun. This was a very good sticky bun, with flaky layers and a caramelized sticky glaze.

The fish tower. All of the fish dishes come with tomato, cucumber, red onion, capers, cream cheese, and a choice of bagel: plain, everything, sesame, or cinnamon raisin. I had mine with a plain bagel, which was toasted (gasp). Also pictured is the bowl of fresh blackberries and strawberries, and the carafe of coffee they left me.

I made some open faced smoked salmon bagel sandwiches with the contents of the tower. I think I would have liked to have tried the bagel un-toasted, but this was quite good. The smoked salmon was delicious and fatty.

Not Food




Vetri Cucina

For dinner, I went to Vetri Cucina in the Palms Hotel. Vetri Cucina is an Italian influenced restaurant from Philadelphia based chef Marc Vetri. It’s on the 56th floor of the Palms Hotel - my ears popped on the elevator ride up. It’s a beautiful space with sweeping views of the Las Vegas skyline.

Quite a view!

I had the Classic Six-Course Tasting Menu ($175) rather than ordering a la carte, as I figured it would let me try a few more things. I also added the wine pairing for another $95. YOLO.

Bread and Butter Balls. This was some great bread - a sourdough and a focaccia.

Foie Gras Pastrami with Toasted Brioche and Mostarda
This was so good! There was rich buttery foie with pastrami spice. It was on top of light brioche toast squares and topped with a sweet mostarda, which is fruit preserved in mustard oil.

Sweet Onion Crepe with Truffle and Parmesan Fonduta
This is Vetri’s signature appetizer - 2 day caramelized onions rolled inside a crepe, on top of a fonduta, which is a cheese sauce that had Parmigiano-Reggiano and white truffle.

Spinach Gnocci and Almond Tortellini
A pasta duo. The gnocchi, which was in a in a brown butter sauce, was especially good. They were mostly spinach. The Tortellini were stuffed with an almond filling. Both were delicious.



Chestnut Fettuccine with Wild Boar Ragu and Cocoa
This was quite nice - toothsome pasta in a hearty ragu.

Smoked Baby Goat over House-Milled Soft Polenta
You have a choice of mains - the other option here was a Roasted Hen with Prosciutto, Foie Gras and Maitake Mushrooms. I had the goat as it seemed more unique. The smoked goat was delicious. It was super tender with a hint of gaminess and smokiness, with some crispy salty and fatty bits from the rib piece included. Underneath was some creamy polenta and a broth or light sauce.

Pear Sorbet
Pre-dessert was a pear sorbet, topped with honey with a Gorgonzola cream. This was a nice mix of sweet and salty, a play on the classic pairing of pears and Gorgonzola cheese. The sorbet was very smooth. It was light and refreshing.

Chocolate Tartufo with Luxardo Cherries
This was like Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia in a cake/torte form. Yum.


Mignardises
To finish, a raspberry pate de fruit and a white chocolate ganache in a dark and white chocolate shell.

Great meal!

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Wow! Looks amazing!

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I enjoyed my very abundant crab cakes Benedict, although the mood lighting washed the photo out!

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I’m axxsuming that was in the evening?
indeed the artificial lighting (only) will affect the pix.

we only done breakfast/brunch - left us stuffed for the rest of the day!

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Nope. High noon in the bar in the back where they shot some of Fear and Loathing.

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ack!! yes - I mis-see d the firepit . . .

We didn’t originally intend to eat on that side, but it got us out of an hour+ wait in line on the diner side. And the kitchy fire pits were a delightful bonus!

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Day 2 Redux

I totally forgot that after Raising Cane’s chicken fingers on Wednesday and going to see Absinthe again (great show BTW - like a more vulgar Cirque du Soleil in a circus tent) I had a late night dinner at Toridokoro Raku aka the chicken house, so here’s a brief recap of that.


Toridokoro Raku

I often go to one of the Raku restaurants in Vegas when visiting, and this time it was to Toridokoro Raku, the poultry / yakitori focused Raku. I had a late supper there at around midnight.

Specials Board

Menu and sake list - some dishes were sold out.


I started with the Otsumami Set ($15) which was a plate of several appetizers. Clockwise from top - shrimp in a mayo based sauce, some super tender gizzards, lotus chips that were fried crispy like potato chips, tomato in an apple cider vinegar sauce topped with gold flakes, and in the center - burrata in a balsamic sauce. All were very nice.

Mentaiko ($10)
This was a grilled sac of mentaiko / spicy salted cod roe, sliced up and warm. It was great with sake.

Zucchini ($3.50), Mushrooms ($3), and Kawa / Chicken Skin ($4)
Next, some vegetables and a chicken skin skewer. The zucchini had some shaved katsuobushi on top, and the mushrooms were nice and juicy. The chicken skin was crispy and fatty. All had a touch of smokiness from the binchotan fueled grill.

Momo / Chicken Thigh ($4)
Tsukune / Ground Chicken Meatball ($4.50) with Onsen Tamago (+$2)
Next, some more yakitori - tsukune on top, and a chicken thigh skewer on the bottom. The tsukune was a chicken lollipop that one could dip into the barely cooked onsen egg.

Bonjiri / Chicken Tail ($5)
Bonjiri - fatty, juicy, crispy skewer of chicken butts. It tasted like a fattier thigh.

Ebi / Shrimp ($16)
This was a whole shrimp off the specials board, complete with head. It was nicely grilled but a bit expensive for what it was.

Chicken Liver ($4.50)
This was a chicken liver skewer, perfectly cooked as usual.

Paitan Soup ($4)
Followed by a nice bowl of chicken paitan soup, slightly creamy and rich.

Foie Gras ($20)
The foie was excellent as usual.

Tori Special Curry Rice ($9.50)
To finish, I had the Tori Special Curry Rice off of the specials board. This was a nicely spiced dry curry of minced chicken over rice with a few slices of zucchini.

I didn’t have room for dessert, but there was tea.

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Day 5

This was my last day in Vegas for this trip.


Peter Luger

After checking out of my hotel and dropping my bags off, I headed over to Caesars Palace to have lunch at the Vegas branch of Peter Luger. Peter Luger is a 137+ year old Brooklyn institution (I haven’t been to the original) that is cash only and famously received a zero star review from Pete Wells in the NYT a few years ago. The Peter Luger branch in Vegas does take credit cards and is in the former location of another NYC institution - Rao’s.

I sat at the bar and started with a Williamsburg Fashioned ($24.95) which was an Old Fashioned with WhistlePig 6 Year Rye.

Drink-wise I also had a Martini ($29.95) with Tanqueray 10 and a twist. Boy are these drinks expensive. Both drinks were good and well-made.

Free bread - a Parker House roll like bun, an onion roll, and a roll with I think caraway seeds.

I had the Sliced Tomatoes and Onions, with Luger’s Own Sauce ($17.95) which was exactly the ingredients in the name - just a plate of sliced onion and beefsteak tomato. The tomato was fine. It was winter and not in season, but I wanted to try it because it is kind of a Luger classic. The sauce was good, a sweet and tangy steak sauce. These ended up being a pretty good accompaniment with the beef.

Steak-wise, most of the options are for two or more people. I had a Single Steak ($79.95), which is a dry aged USDA Prime New York strip steak with bone. Even this steak was enough for two people honestly, but I managed to polish it off myself. The steak was served on a slightly angled hot plate in a pool of butter. It was cooked medium rare as requested. It was a very nice piece of beef - very rich and marbled, and it had that slightly minerally aged beef taste, with a nice crust from the broiler. It was cut into thick slices.

To go with the steak, I also had the Luger’s Special German Fried Potatoes ($16.95). This was like hash brown potatoes with crispy bits on the outside and a copious amount of butter. I think the sides are meant to be shared and this was enough for two or three people.

I didn’t have room for dessert. In summary - excellent steak, expensive cocktails, and large portions that are probably best shared with a crowd.

A gold chocolate coin comes with the bill.

The food menu.


Milano

After checking out the very cool Pinball Hall of Fame museum at the southern end of the Strip, I was looking for a place to eat nearby and ended up at Milano, an Italian restaurant in the Town Square shopping center.

Here I had a Tortellini en Brodo ($12), which was the soup of the day and a bit salty.

And also the Spaghetti e Polpette ($22) which was a pretty good spaghetti and meatballs.

And that’s a wrap for this report!

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I always enjoy your reports and this is not meant to be a criticism, but I would’ve been flabbergasted (to put it mildly) to have been served this dish.

:joy: I don’t know if I’d order it again (especially for $18) but I knew what I was getting into. It is a Peter Luger classic dish and I wanted to try it. I have to say it was nice with the steak. It’s probably better in the summer though.

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Thank you for the splendid wrap to a great report! If I had had two potent cocktails and that gorgeous steak for lunch there would have been nothing further to report for that day! As always, envious and impressed by your capacity and perseverance! May you take many more wonderful trips and give us many more fabulous reports!

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Thanks!

IDK, I’ve been to Peter Luger’s in the summer and the tomato looks about the same. I don’t think seasonal vegetables are their thing, but the tomato and onion is a lighter accompaniment to the beef.

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