But then, there are some nights like the one we just had that make me think we reside in the greatest place in the world.
This past Saturday, Brian and I hit the town for a Very Vegas Night Out. The babysitter was in place, Scotty was in a good mood, and I put on my favorite dress (with shabooties!) with eager anticipation. Our first stop? The newly opened Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Now, I'm not a big fan of casinos. It seems like everything in Vegas is bigger and better than the next thing, and that kind of grandiosity can wear on a person after a while. (the first time I ever set foot in a casino - NYNY circa 2001 - my only thought was, "Those bells [from the slot machines] are so annoying!" I totally missed the grand lobby and all the cool stuff.) So when I say the Cosmopolitan is amazing, take it from a Vegas skeptic -- the Cosmopolitan is AMAZING.
I don't know who designed it or who built it, but it was almost like they had watched "The Hangover" and took the coolest, most trendy elements of a great hotel, paired it with an awesome Strip location, and then blinged it out to the high heavens. The main bar in the center of the casino, aptly named the Chandelier Bar, is literally dripping with bling. The bling strings across the escalators and is almost close enough to touch. There is a Bond-themed bar called the Vesper Bar that would be perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail with the one your love, and then there is the Overlook Bar, which is just screaming for a Girls Night Out. Here is an idea of how freaking cool it is:
We had a drink at the main Overlook Bar (there will eventually be three: the main one, an tequila-themed one, and then a rum-based one) and toasted to our good fortune for living in such a pretty city. Vegas, you old gal, you really pulled through.
And then we headed off to the ballet, which was playing across the street at the Paris Hotel. I did have a brief Debbie Downer moment as I commented on the guys trying to shove pictures of naked ladies in our hands ("The smut peddlers make me sad, since it reminds me of the sex trafficking in our city," I said to Brian in a soulful voice. He replied with the Debbie Downer music: "Wha-waaaa"), but other than that, it was fun to walk on a busy street in heels. It made me think of all of the people I currently know on bed rest, and how I want to tell them: it's worth it! It stinks right now, but before you know it, you'll be back on your feet and living life again. So ladies, hold on. Sixteen months ago I was in your shoes. And now I'm in shabooties, trying to avoid creepy men with pamplets of naked chicks. See? It's all cyclical.
The Nutcracker, presented by the Nevada Ballet Theater, was nothing short of amazing. I'm sure Brian would beg to differ since he's not a big fan of pink tutus or tiaras, but I was giddy when the overture began the curtain lifted. (Second Debbie Downer moment of the night? "There's no orchestra," I hissed to Brian as the Sugar Plum fairy was doing her thing. He buried his face in his hands. Sorry. I have a problem with the whole 'unfiltered speech" thing.)
Again, I had to think back to the last time we had seen the Nutcracker, back in 2008. I was frustrated with the trying-to-conceive process, since it felt like almost a year of nothing but negative pregnancy tests (in reality, it was only a few short months.) I was sure that this cycle was yet another failed attempt, so after months of not drinking and cutting back on caffeine, I threw caution to the wind and ordered a cranberry martini with dinner. Of course, imagine my surprise when 10 days later, two pink lines appeared. My only thought was, "Oh sh*t."
But he turned out okay, right?
And then finally, on our last leg of our Very Vegas Night Out, we dined at Le Cirque at the Bellagio.
This is where the story gets a little hairy.
See, I had been studying the menu at Le Cirque all week. Thanks to my avid devotion to "Top Chef," French cuisine has never seemed more accessible. Why yes, I would love some fois gras. Oh, it that our amuse bouche? How lovely. A bordeaux to compliment my filet of boeuf? Charming!
(I took Spanish in high school. It probably shows.)
So yeah, I'm fairly enamoured with our friends who eat frog legs. My week of studying had yielded this result: I was prepared to order the tasting menu. It offered all the right foods with the right portion sizes (just a bite) that appeared to offer a really great gastronomical experience. And, since Brian was driving, the wine pairing seemed like a exceptional idea, too. Num, num, num.
I was so excited about this dinner I literally danced my way through the Bellagio.
We arrived for our 9:45 reservation at 9:40. The lovely hostess took our names and smiled. We hung out by the door for about five minutes, but she didn't seem to be in a rush to seat us. When a table at the bar opened up, she motioned to us to take it. No problem, we said. We again waited about five minutes for a waitress to take a drink order until Brian said, "I don't think anyone is coming." So he walked to the bar and ordered some drinks. Which he carried back to the table himself.
(I'm not trying to sound like a snob here, but when you are paying $30 for a drink, you kind of except some level of service. Sorry, Le Cirque, but you need to hire some bar staff.)
Okay folks, this is getting a little silly.
I think the host overheard our conversation (about the time, not about the zombies) and he announced our table was ready. We were escorted into the dining room to find not one, but about six empty tables.
My mood only darkened when the waiter arrived with menus and talked us through it. "The first page, as you will see, is our tasting menu," he explained. "Unfortunately, it is no longer available since we stop serving it after 10pm. So let me show you -"
And at that point, I kicked Brian under the table and bit my tongue, lest I say something stupid.
Brian, ever the diplomat, held one hand up and stopped the waiter. He started to explain about our reservation time but only got about three words out when the waiter threw his arms up and exclaimed, "This is an issue for the management!" and promptly ran away.
Brian and I just shook our heads and waited another ten minutes. Our terrified waiter finally returned with the news that yes, the tasting menu would be available to us, but all of the items on the tasting menu are also available on the regular menu, so why don't we just order from that?
I'm not going to lie, I glowered a bit. Why would I order six regular-sized appetizers and entrees (for a crazy sum of money, no doubt) when their pint-sized versions were available (with the correct wine!) at a much more reasonable price? And not to mention, anyone who has ever gotten the tasting menu will agree: it's an experience. That's why you order it. It's fun to try so many different things in one dinner. It's not about ordering what you want, it's about letting the chef pick it for you.
(and for those of you who have never gotten the tasting menu: I highly recommend it. At least once in your life.)
I was fairly put-out at this point. So instead, we simply got an appetizer and entree and attempted to put the last twenty minutes out of our brains. Thankfully, we had a great distraction when the soon-to-be-ex-wife of a well-known celebrity came stumbling into the restaurant, held up by her mother and sister, and sat a few tables away from us. She was talking too loudly, slurring her words, and looked all together like a hot mess. Brian and I were entralled in watching the train wreck unfold in front of us when I realized...
...they ordered the tasting menu.
And got it.
Despite the fact she could barely pick her face up from the table.
So hey, Le Cirque? For shame. There are a million great places to eat in this town, and while the food was amazing, the service was not.
Since it was close to 1am at this point, Brian and I called it a night. I have never been so relieved to take off the shabooties and curl up in our nice warm bed. Our Very Vegas Night Out, complete with smut peddlers, a intoxicated celebrity sighting, and more bling than you can imagine, was over. But what a night it was!