Part 1: The Plan
Part 2: Baker
Part 3: The Buffet
Part 4: Monday (arrival)
Part 5: Tuesday
Part 6: Wednesday
Part 7: Thursday
Part 8: Friday (departure)
Ok, back to the Vegas trip report.
Since the Tuscany has a refrigerator, we had shopped Monday evening for breakfast items, and just had cereal in the room.
You know it's going to be hot when you go outside at 7:30 a.m. and it's already 95 degrees.
We had called a few babysitters that we had found through Care.com, after shelling out the $35 fee for a month of subscription, but they didn't call us back. We found one on Craigslist who sounded promising, and she invited us to meet her at her house. After talking with her, we were going to hire her, but afterwards we both felt less than 100% comfortable, mainly because she was so far away, and also because she spent most of the time talking to us and spent very little time with the kids. So we called to cancel.
Lunch at St. Tropez Buffet @ Suncoast Casino
Armed with our American Casino Guide 2-for-1 coupon, we stopped at the St. Tropez buffet because we happened to be in the neighborhood. It was perfectly edible. Here is my review, which is also posted on Yelp. (3 stars)
Salad was not extensive, but what was there was fresh. The marinated artichokes are a highlight.
Most of the hot foods appear to be of standard mid-level buffet quality: Generally edible, but rarely exquisite. One standout is the Spicy tofu: normally I don't like tofu, because it is so bland. However this added enough flavor to make it taste good.
Also, they have a gelato bar, which turns an otherwise uninspired dessert station into one worth stopping at. I recommend the blood orange, coconut, chocolate, and pistachio flavors.
I'm not sure which marketing intern came up with the name "St. Tropez Buffet," but the only thing similar that I could find to anything having to do with the French Riviera was the fact that the deli station offers cheese. However, none of the cheeses appear to be French in any way. I believe every restaurant should have at least some vague connection to its namesake. (For example, the Orleans French Market buffet sometimes has crawdads.) I've never been to St. Tropez, France, but I know enough about this buffet to state authoritatively that it bears no resemblance to St. Tropez in any conceivable way. This patent disregard for its inspiration cost the St. Tropez buffet 1/2 star in my rating.
Afternoon at the Desert Breeze Pool
|Nancy & kids luxuriating in the pool|
We finished the buffet around 2:30 pm, and there is only one thing you can do when it is that hot outside: hit the pool. We went to the Desert Breeze pool operated by Clark County. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for kids. We had been there last year and it is a great place with the kids. Entry is There is a zero-entry area for toddlers, a water playground, and most of the pool is shallow.
When we got there, it wasn't very crowded, probably because we got there at almost 3 pm and it was only going to be open until 4pm. We had bought some collapsible lawn chairs from home, but there were some vacant lawn chairs there.
There are also 2 water slides, one of which is pretty fast. Try them to find out which. My daughter was very disappointed that she was 2 inches short of the minimum to go down the slide and had to walk back down the stairs in shame.
When it's 114 degrees, a swim makes it surprisingly bearable. The water was the perfect temperature, in the mid 80s or so, and we brought a cooler of beverages which we had filled with ice at the hotel. We were able to sit at the pool comfortably for an hour, until they closed.
Then went back to the hotel and relaxed.
Jammin' Jerk Hut Review
The location is at the very end of a strip mall circa early 1980s, which is completely vacant, save for the very last three storefronts: the Jammin Jerk Hut; the next-door storefront, which is Flavor Flav's House of Flavor; and the room on the other side, from which we could hear live reggae music being played. I like reggae, but I was a bit concerned because my daughter is very sensitive to loud music and other noises.
We entered the restaurant to find two people inside, one of whom apparently is the proprietor, and the other seemed to be a friend of his. Interestingly, you could barely hear the music once inside.
The atmosphere is pretty nice for a small ethnic restaurant. It had interesting wicker furniture and art, and the room is painted bright colors. There was a documentary movie about Bob Marley and the Wailers playing on the TV.
We chose a booth and sat down. The proprietor came over to ask us if we wanted anything to drink. We ordered water. He asked what type of bottle. I asked for tap water. It was 114 degrees in Las Vegas that day.
"We don't have tap water," was the reply.
I reluctantly ordered a large bottle of Perrier water, not knowing how much it would cost. He touted the homemade Jamaican juices, so I ordered my daughter a pineapple-tamarind juice for a steep $4.99.
After several minutes, he returned with drinks and we ordered. We were interested in the curry shrimp, and my daughter was excited to see dumplings. They were out of both.
I asked what kind of fish the fish was, and he said he had tilapia and butterfish. We settled on jerk chicken and steamed butterfish. My daughter also got a Jamaican beef patty.
Then we waited, and waited. He was cooking himself and was busy with that back in the kitchen, or maybe he was grilling outside.
Meanwhile another woman entered. She asked us at one point if we had ordered, but otherwise appeared busy with other things, and then not so busy, but did not come back to check on us.
After at least 20 minutes, by which time our kids were very cranky, he brought some plantains in tinfoil, some jerk rice in a styrofoam container, and the jamaican meat patty on a ceramic plate, along with four small plastic forks wrapped in paper napkins.
I asked him if he could bring any more plates, pointing to the ceramic plate. He muttered something like "we don't usually do that" and left.
The plantains were very good, although not quite hot. The rice was good. The meat patty ($2.59) was delicious. It is very similar to an empanada, with a slightly spicy ground beef filling, but not too spicy for my daughter. She was very happy with it.
About 10 minutes later, he brought the jerk chicken and fish, on ceramic plates.
My wife thought the jerk chicken (about $11) was ok, but I thought it was excellent, as was the potato salad and rice on the side. The side green salad was fresh and good, although there was no dressing. I don't know if this was by design or by accident, but this dinner was already a big hassle and we didn't want to wait another half hour for dressing.
There was nothing wrong with the way the fish (about $19) was prepared, steamed with onions, carrots, potatoes, and seasonings, and it was definitely fresh, but it wasn't really my thing. However, I'm pretty sure he brought me the tilapia because it didn't taste like butterfish. It also came with excellent potato salad, green salad, and rice. It seemed expensive for what it was.
To summarize, the food was good, but the service was quite possibly the worst service I have ever experienced in a restaurant, anywhere. I don't usually care so much about service, but it really needs to meet a minimum level, which this didn't. Also, as long as I am in a fully developed country and paying first-world prices, I don't appreciate not having the option of ordering tap water.
After a few attempts of ringing us up, the total was about $53, less a $15 coupon, for a net of $38. Even with the coupon, it felt a bit expensive. I'm glad they didn't remember to add the standard 18% tip associated with a http://restaurant.com coupon because they certainly didn't deserve one.
I gave him my credit card and he disapppeared briefly. My wife was outside and she later told me she saw him in Flavor Flav's. Apparently they share a credit card reader.
From reading other reviews, apparently this place previously was a take-out only establishment. It would behoove both the owners and customers to go back to being take-out only. This would relieve them of the burden of service. I would order the jerk chicken and meat patty again, but only by phoning in a take-out order.
Or even better, why not sell the jerk chicken and meat patties at a table at a farmer's market or swap meet, so they could just focus on two items without running out of things. I'm sure they would do very well and have many happy customers.
Time to Gamble
After that uninspired experience, mom & dad had the itch to shed some of their kids' college fund, and the kids also needed something to do. We all headed over to the Orleans, where Nancy dropped the kids off in the Kids' Tyme child care center, which they really think is the cat's pajamas.
I played blackjack for about an hour at a $5 table and had a run of bad luck, losing about $100. However, Nancy bought into a craps game with one of the most fortuitous shooters we have seen in years, and did very well. She (the shooter) rolled for a good 40 minutes, making at least 7 points. I was past my gambling limit for the day, and may be the trip, so Nancy gave me about $20 in chips which I bet all at once with odds on the following shooter, who immediately sevened out.
We were still hungry after having an unsatisfying dinner, so we stopped in the Courtyard Cafe (Orleans' coffee shop) before picking up the kids. I was disappointed to find that they stopped serving Chinese food in the coffee shop. Apparently this happened 4 years ago, but it's still disappointing, because I always enjoyed a bowl of wonton soup around that time of day. I settled for a bowl of soup instead.
We picked up the kids and went back to the Orleans. I stopped in the casino to get a players card, and then use my match play coupons from the American Casino Guide and also the hotel check-in coupon and won! although I got some looks from the staff that suggested people who just come in to play match plays without anything else are not so welcome.
Went to bed.
Went to bed.