Monday, April 21, 2014
Faking it in Las Vegas
Monte Carlo Casino
3770 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV
I’m probably not the one to write this review.
I’m just not into the Vegas thing.
I don’t get it.
Eighty year old women slouching around casinos on their walkers throwing quarters into slot machines just isn’t that entertaining to me.
Neither is losing money.
Call me crazy. Or cheap. But I kinda like to keep my money. I don’t find losing it to be all that fun.
If you’ve been paying attention to the website, I think you can figure out the kinds of things I like.
Places off the beaten path that reflect the soul of real America – that make travel not only bearable, but memorable or enlightening.
The authentic. The real deal. Mom and pop.
Beer and baseball. Burgers and barbeque.
Regional delicacies in those hidden corners of America that just can’t be found in your suburban strip mall back home.
In other words, I like everything that Las Vegas ISN’T.
It’s probably not a coincidence that after 320 reviews on this site, we’re just now doing the first one in Las Vegas.
I’m not going to insult your intelligence by describing all the ways Las Vegas is the capital of inauthentic American mediocrity.
I mean, in a place with a fake New York City skyline, a fake Eiffel Tower and a fake Venice canal, this city is famous for promoting the fake and inauthentic.
That is obvious.
That is why 40 million people come here every year.
People like fake. And prefer it to the real thing.
Who wants to deal with the expense and hassle of flying to Italy – and those annoying people who don’t bother to speak English -- when you can ride a gondola right here in the good ole U.S. of A?
But surely there has to be some place in this massive metroplex of tourist tripe to get something unique and unusual that I can’t get at home.
As it turns out, Suit757’s parents are the perfect people to ask.
They make half a dozen treks across the continent per year to throw my inheritance into slots and video poker machines.
And I’m fine with that.
Really. I am.
It’s their money. They paid for twelve years of Catholic school tuition and four years of college. They don’t owe me another dime.
Although I really would like them to spend some of it on a rental car and a tank of gas to drive the few hours to the Grand Canyon on at least one of these trips.
Is that asking too much?
I mean, how many dozens of times can you fly to Vegas and refuse to take a day trip to see the single most spectacular natural wonder on Planet Earth???
In other words, my parents are the prototypical Vegas tourists.
Keep it easy, close and familiar. With valet parking, please.
Maybe they’ll go if Steve Wynn will build a fake Grand Canyon on the Strip.
They suggested I go to Todd English’s Pub near the Monte Carlo.
Good beer selection (for Las Vegas) and gourmet pub food created by one of those made-for-TV celebrity chefs all the rage in Sin City these days.
I checked the website. Sure enough, $25 Kobe beef burgers and a beer list that stretches beyond the typical Las Vegas Heineken/Bud Light/Miller Light crap every other bar and casino serves.
The problem is I’m not really a Vegas kind of guy.
I don’t know Todd English from Todd Snider from Todd Palin.
So as I’m riding the hotel shuttle to the strip, I simply plug “Pub Monte Carlo” into my smart phone because I can’t remember the super famous celebrity chef’s name.
Well that was a problem.
You see, there is a beer pub in the Monte Carlo that serves $22 Kobe beef burgers with over 100 microbrews. And it is called “The Pub”.
But it is not Todd English’s Pub.
No. That one is about 200 yards across the Aria lobby.
I’m so confused.
I can locate a back water forgotten fish camp somewhere along a dirt road deep in the bayous of Louisiana, but I can’t find a celebrity’s restaurant in Vegas when I’m two football fields away from it.
Then again, I get lost at the mall too, so maybe this isn’t such a surprise.
The reason I say this is a problem is that the Monte Carlo “Pub” basically stunk.
All I could smell was the putrid stench coming out of the dishwasher under my spot at the bar. Like rotting trash.
I wanted to try the Butcher Burger made with half Angus beef and half ground up bacon for $18.
But when I ordered it medium rare, the bar tender told me it only came well done “for safety reasons”. Apparently bacon needs to be cooked thoroughly.
That’s funny, I’ve eaten my share of floppy greasy half cooked bacon in my life and I’m not dead yet.
Scared off by the prospect of a dry overcooked mound of meat, I opted for the $22 Kobe beef burger which my bartender graciously allowed me to order medium rare.
The first problem with this burger is its name. It is a lie.
Virtually no Kobe beef is sold in the United States. Anywhere. Ever. By government fiat.
You can only get it in Japan.
So I have no idea what I was actually eating. Or how they can get away with labeling it something it is not. Or why it cost $22. Other than the fact that I was eating it in Las Vegas.
The false advertising continued when the “caramelized onions” listed on the menu came out as a slice of raw onion.
That irritated me too.
My fake Kobe burger was cooked to a nice juicy pink but the raw onion and big bulky bun overwhelmed the flavor of the meat.
Even if it was from some fancy Japanese cow, I wouldn’t have noticed the nuance because each bite yielded nothing but a mouthful of bread.
More meat. Less bread. That’s what I want on a $22 burger.
By this point, I was getting a little suspicious that I might be in the wrong place.
I mean, is this the best that a “celebrity” Las Vegas chef can do?
That’s when I started looking around.
What was that dude’s name again?
His name was nowhere to be found.
Isn’t the whole point of opening a celebrity chef Vegas restaurant to plaster your name all over the damn place?
It didn’t take much Google Mapping to figure out I was in the wrong “Pub” selling fake Kobe beef burgers.
Oh well. Too late now.
At least the beer selection was good.
Pilsner Urquel on tap is always an excellent choice. Fresh, unpasteurized crisp beer straight from the city in the Czech Republic that invented pilsner beer.
My second choice was Duhbe Black IPA from Uinta Brewery in Utah. A strong 9% alcohol beer that is illegal to serve on draft in its Mormon home state, I was happy to down one here in Sin City.
Then I got the tab. Fifty bucks.
Fifty bucks! For a fake mediocre burger and two beers.
I thought Las Vegas is where middle class America comes to gorge on cheap beer and all you can eat buffets!
What the hell happened to that Vegas?
On the way back to my hotel I stopped off for an $11 Goose Island Matilda, an $8 Stone Pale Ale and a couple $10 pints of Guinness at the fake Irish Pub featuring a fake Irish band performing fake Irish music in the fake New York New York Casino.
Somehow I managed to blow close to a hundred bucks without playing a single slot machine.
Like I said, I’m not a big fan of losing money in Las Vegas.
Even if it went to a good cause like drinking beer.
Oh well. Those beers may have been obscenely overpriced, but at least I got more in return for my money than my parents ever do.
And at least I’ve actually seen the Grand Canyon.
Rating: Wouldn’t Wear Shirt if You Paid Me.