December 11, 2008

Wishing I could rewind

Too bad life wasn't more like a DVR. I wish I could fast forward through the tedious chores and routines, and then rewind to relive special times and moments. Particulary, times like this...

Frank and I spent two wonderful and much needed nights relaxing at the Signature at MGM Grand. Sadly, there was no annual trip for us to Mexico this year, but the Signature did wonders to fill that void. We’ve stayed there a few times before, but this was our first time staying two nights and booking thru Luxury Suites International (they offered suites at $89/night with a two night minimum).

Frank had to work Sunday, I dropped him off; returned home, packed and waited until 3 o’clock neared. I checked in, our suite was located in Tower 3, on the 15th floor.

The room was no different than those we’ve had before, but the view offered a different perspective since previous stays were on higher floors in Tower 2.

From Signature

From Signature

From Signature

From Signature

Service was top-notch, no waiting at valet or check-in, even my bags were delivered in record time. I got situated, and waited for Frank to arrive. He took the monorail over from work; the $5 ride was pricey, albeit quick and convenient.

I greeted him at the door, happy vacation! Let the fun begin. He settled in, we lounged about and napped. Frank dozed a bit longer than me, I had to wake him so we could make our 7:30 reservation at Craftsteak. We got dressed, and headed over to MGM.

Even though, we had a reservation, the hostess tried to seat us in the bar dining area. We mentioned we preferred the main dining room; she took us back to the podium, after a short wait we were led to our table. Service from then on was very good; we never had an empty glass and dishes rolled out without delay. We each selected the fall tasting menu ($75) and we opted to have the wine pairings ($30) which were complimentary for locals (a promotion running through the end of the month).

They started us off with a Chardonnay and six buns in a small pan. The bread was alright, it was topped with salt and a bit dry. The first course was lobster bisque; it was rich, with large chunks of lobster. It was likely the most tender lobster I’ve had, but I still thought it was chewy. It seems I have not acquired a taste for lobster. I always try it when given the opportunity, but I haven’t found a dish I’ve liked yet. Frank had a few more bites than me before we placed it aside to dig into the next sampling – Caesar salad, roasted red pepper and prosciutto. We agreed that the salad was pretty weak, at least the romaine leaves were crisp. The latter two were excellent; we especially enjoyed the prosciutto, it melted in our mouths.

The next wine was Cabernet Sauvignon; it was the first red we enjoyed. The main course included Kobe sirloin, Angus skirt steak, Diver sea scallops, sweet potato puree, Jerusalem artichokes, and sautéed spinach. The scallops and the sweet potato puree were the standout dishes. We were really disappointed by the Kobe sirloin, the flavor was good, but the cuts were tough. The first few pieces I had were tougher than the skirt steak. The skirt steak was better than we expected, tender and we liked the marinade. Frank didn’t care for the Jerusalem artichokes or spinach, I thought they were so-so.

Dessert was the final course, paired with a Moscato wine. The first selection was molten lava cake and espresso gelato. The cake was fair, but I loved the espresso gelato. It was fantastic. The other selection was vanilla ice cream and mixed fruit crisp. It was delicious.

Overall, our second Craftsteak experience was better than the first. We’ve had years in between visits, I noticed the regular menu had been completely redone. Still we failed to see what warrants the praises the restaurant receives. There are too many other steakhouses that offer better tasting quality meats and more creative menus. We don't believe Craftsteak deserves a third chance. We have no intentions to return.

We were desperate to walk around after dinner. We rarely have alcohol with a meal so to leave a restaurant buzzed and stuffed, it was a weird feeling. Frank threw $20 into a quarter slot that caught his eye. He doubled his money, he moved on to the next slot, he doubled it again and this continued until he turned that original $20 into $190. With that dinner was paid for and we went back to the room. No reason to jeopardize his good fortune. We hopped in the tub, relaxed and had a fun filled night. Feeling completely and utterly content, we crashed listening to the jazz channel.

Monday, Frank was up before me. I laid in bed and enjoyed the view while he showered. I started my day with a bubble bath, and watched TV while I soaked. I showered, and then returned to bed to find Frank sleeping. I was flipping channels when Frank muttered something about breakfast; he picked up the phone and placed our order. I answered the door, and told the gentleman there was no need to set up the meal, just leave it and go. We had a nice breakfast overlooking the strip. Frank had a ham & cheese omelet and I had French toast. I wanted banana French toast, but Frank didn’t specify when he placed the order. It was tasty, but not too filling. We lounged in bed the rest of the morning. Sometime, after noon, we dressed and wandered over to MGM.

We stopped at CBS studios and watched a show and gave our opinion. It’s nice to way to kill sometime. We got coupons for their store and other outlets in the food court. After that we made our way to the casino.

We played video poker at the bar. Frank hit 4-of-kind for $100 before I got my money in the machine so we took his winnings and walked away. He played a few slots and he was winning, he decided to try his luck with dollar slots. He kept on winning. He was up to $200 in no time. We sat down at a $5 blackjack table. We both got killed. Back to slots. He won back what we lost at the tables. We gambled more, he won, and I lost, all at the dollar level. We never play dollar slots or video poker so we felt like high rollers. We were even, and hungry so we thought we grab a bite at Diego but the restaurant was closed (it’ll reopen 12/19/08). We ended up grabbing lunch at Delights, the café inside the Signature. We split a turkey sandwich, broccoli cheddar soup and a bag of chips. We spent far too long away from the bed, so we had to correct that. We decided to order a movie. We saw most movies on the list, but we missed Pineapple Express in theaters so we ordered that. There was no sound so we had to call engineering up to the room. We had to get dressed, I was a bit annoyed. Frank apologized. It was a quick and simple fix. We undressed and climbed back into bed. We watched the movie; I dozed off in the middle. What I saw of it, I thought it was terrible. Frank said I missed nothing and it was bad. We relaxed until our dinner reservation at Fiamma neared. Before we headed down, we opened up a bottle of champagne I brought along. We each had a glass; we let the bottle chill on ice, and we left for Fiamma.

We were seated right away. We practically had the restaurant to ourselves. The crowds really thinned out from Sunday to Monday, only handfuls of cowboys remained. Service was prompt and friendly. Again, we opted to have the fall tasting menu ($49) and complimentary wine pairings ($30) for locals.

The first wine was a Prosecco, Frank and I really liked it. I could’ve drunk that all night. We got started with heavily seasoned pita bread soaked in olive oil. It was really tasty. For the first course, Frank selected calamari. It was tender and buttery. It was excellent. I had Carpaccio, it too, was delicious. But I wanted more of Frank’s calamari. It was just too good.

Next, we were given a glass of Chianti. We had it before, but didn’t care for it. This, however, was much better tasting. I liked it, but Frank still wasn’t fond of it. Entrees were Short Rib Ravioli and Linguini with Prawns. Each was delicious, but we really enjoyed the linguini. Frank regretted not ordering it for himself. It was beautifully prepared, a great blend of rich and smoky flavors, and the pasta was cooked to perfection.

Dessert was tiramisu and a selection of sorbets, paired with Moscato wine. The tiramisu was very good, but the sorbets were just awful. Neither of us liked the flavors – blood orange, cranberry and another deep red variety. Little pumpkin tarts were also delivered with the bill. Aside from the sorbets, everything was fantastic. We’re considering returning before the month’s end.

After dinner, we gambled a bit more. I continued to lose; Frank played his winnings so we’d end up even. It was fun playing at the dollar level. It made the thought of winning even more exciting.

We stopped at Haagen Dazs on the way back to our room. That was a tasty treat. I also ran into the CBS store, used my coupon to buy some SpongeBob stuff to send to my nephew for Christmas.

We lounged in bed, drank champagne and enjoyed the lights twinkle outside the window. We talked about how fabulous this stay has been and how we dreaded it ending. Eventually, I dozed off. I think Frank was right behind me. Winds were crazy strong overnight. I woke up a couple times from hearing the wind howl.

By Tuesday morning, the strong winds cleared out the clouds. Finally, there were sunny crisp blue skies out the window.

From Signature

From Signature

From Signature

From Signature

It was wild to look out at all those buildings, most weren’t there, including the one I was standing in, when we first visited in 1997. After staring in awe for a bit, I started my day the same as the day before, with a soak in the tub followed by a shower. Frank woke shortly afterwards, he did the same as I, while I packed our belongings. Sadly, our time at the Signature was nearly up. We ordered room service again, this time we specified banana French toast. When the food arrived we quickly noticed the French toast was no different than the day before. They no longer have the banana French toast; we had an old room service menu. I wish they would’ve mentioned that when the order was placed, I would not have ordered it again. Breakfast was still good, although, I admit, I was a bit disappointed I'm going to miss the banana French toast. As we finished up breakfast there was a knock at the door, it was 11 o’clock and they were ready to turn the room over. We told them to give us a few minutes and we’d be on our way. We headed out for the last time, picked our car up at valet and headed home. It was a fabulous getaway. It was our best stay, yet. I’m not sure when we can get back there, but I know it’s not soon enough.

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