"B.F.'s" Recollections Of Road Trip Repasts
Chino To Primm: I-15 Dining Report

March 18, 2002 at 17:21:28

Just some observations, no new finds. Mrs. Chino Wayne got one
of her every two month urges to unwind in the land of tinkling slot
machines, so we headed out in Heather (Mrs. Chino Wayne's
chariot) Saturday afternoon.

Chino Wayne had mixed his diet drink before heading out, and
the Mrs. had not had anything to eat all day, since an early
appointment with the hairdresser. So after leaving the heart of
cow country, the Chino Wayne's pulled off the 15 at the Hesperia,
Main Street exit at about 2:00 P.M. for a stop at In-N-Out.

The Mrs. had a cheeseburger, fries and Coke, and Chino Wayne,
apparently not satisfied by his earlier diet drink, fell off the wagon
and consumed a three by three, fries and diet Coke. The three by
three was very tasty and Chino Wayne could just get his mouth
around all of that deliciousness. The fries were good almost to
the last drop, until they cooled off and started getting squishy. The
diet Coke, was just that, a nasty diet Coke. All in all, the usual
excellent In-N-Out burger experience, so Chino Wayne
rationalized no harm/no foul in terms of the "slight" transgression
off the liquid diet.

About and hour and a half later the Chino Wayne's (who never
when possible drive below the speed limit on the I-15) checked in
to the Primm Valley Resort, in Primm after an uneventful drive.
Mrs. Chino Wayne hit the outlet mall, and then the slots
immediately, Chino Wayne cooled out, relaxing in the slightly
smoke infused room with paper thin walls.  Around about 9:00
P.M. after returning from her shopping/slot foray, Mrs. Chino
Wayne made Chino Wayne aware of her need to refuel. The Mrs.
was also very helpful, rationalizing to Chino Wayne that it really
was not necessary for him to mix a diet drink, that he should just
eat regular food while away from home. So, after being sufficiently
incented by the Mrs. (have to blame somebody), Chino Wayne
threw his duds back on and off the Chino Wayne's went to the
Primm Valley's "high end" restaurant, G.P.'s. Leaving the drink
mix and shaker in the room.

At G.P.'s the food and beverages,while not remarkable, were
satisfying. Mr. and Mrs. Chino Wayne are not oenophiles, they
simply drink wine that is not expensive and which tastes good to
their unsophisticated palates. A nice bottle of Berenger White
Zinfandel (I told you they are wine hicks) was brought to the table
by a very personable waiter, who must have been the
reincarnation of Telly Savalas, with an Italian accent.

The Mrs. opted not to have a first course, and ordered a lobster
tail and some garlic mashed potatoes. Chino Wayne ordered the
antipasto salad plate, a Porterhouse steak and a side of
broccolini. While sipping some wine and waiting for the antipasto
plate, Mrs. Chino Wayne scarfed most of the bread and butter
(she always does this, while Chino Wayne sits by silently,
scheming about the portion of the Mrs.'s entree he will get to help
her eat, since she will have filled up on bread).

The salad like choices at G.P.'s were either the house salad,
Ceasar salad, or the antipasto salad plate, all equally priced.
Chino Wayne loves antipasto, so of course he opted for the
antipasto salad plate. This consisted of garbanzo, and kidney
beans, some very nice black olives (not the kind that come out of
a can, so when Mrs. Chino Wayne expressed some interest in
them, Chino Wayne had to inform her that she probably would not
like them), a chunk of nice parmizano reggiano, a chunk of very
fresh mozzarella, a couple of slices of coppaciola, a couple of
slices of salame, some greens and very thinly sliced Bermuda
onion, all accompanied by a little tiny bowl of basalmic vinegar.
This dish was accompanied with a plate full of some very tasty
little slices of garlic cheese toast (another reason why Chino
Wayne did not worry when the Mrs. was scarfing the bread
basket). However, Chino Wayne foolishly let his guard down
when enjoying the antipasto, and by the time he was ready for
some garlic toast, Mrs. Chino Wayne had made almost all of it
disappear.  All and all, the antipasto salad plate was a very nice
start.

The Porterhouse steak was cut thinner than Chino Wayne would
have preferred, maybe 1/2 an inch thick (probably why it was
priced at only $20), but it was correctly grilled to medium rare.
While it was the correct color inside, it was not juicy at all, and a
bit of the gristle had not been removed. But since Chino Wayne
had been used to his liquid diet recently, it was satisfying. The
broccolini was simply steamed and was a nice change from what
one usually finds.

The Mrs. polished off her lobster tail with dispatch. Then after
finishing remembered that she had forgotten to offer Chino
Wayne a sample of the bounty he had provided. The garlic
mashed potatoes, however, were profered to Chino Wayne, who
successfully polished off about half of them. Very good, very nice
consistency, very hot, nice buttery-not-over-powering-garlick-y
tasste. Of course Chino Wayne rationalized that since he did not
order the potatoes, there would be no negative connotation to his
liquid diet.

Although Mr. and Mrs. Chino Wayne coveted the birthday cake that
was served to a party at an adjacent table, and were made to feel
all toasty from all of the flambeing of Bananas Foster at the
booths on either side of them, they did pass on dessert (the siren
call of the slots was calling the Mrs.). While not elaborate, and not
the highest of caliber steak experience, it was a satisfying meal
for both of the Chino Wayne's.

Prior to departure Sunday morning both Chino Wayne and Mrs.
Chino Wayne ordered the Truckers Special in the coffee shop
(two eggs scrambled, hash browns, a ham steak, sourdough
toast for the Mrs., three eggs over easy, hash browns, a ham
steak, sourdough toast for Chino Wayne), and split a stack of
three pancakes.

The eggs were all cooked according to specification and together
with the hash browns, ham and toast were tasty.  Mrs. Chino
Wayne practically inhaled the pancakes, but just like her bread
habits, that meant more ham steak and eggs for Chino Wayne
later. Chino Wayne enjoyed a couple of cups of coffee, Mrs. Chino
Wayne being more of a coffee expert than Mr. Chino Wayne rated
the coffee as really bad. Mrs. Chino Wayne did not provide an
opinion of the OJ. Chino Wayne reported the water was cold.

So after an interlude at the slot machines for Mrs. Chino Wayne,
and after Chino Wayne took another opportunity to turn some
more money over to the casino for some not very winning Keno
numbers, it was back in to Heather and on the road south.

Sunday afternoon traffic meant the trip south would take twice as
long as the trip north. So after enduring about three hours of the
I-15 parking lot, Mr. and Mrs. Chino Wayne pulled off the highway
for their first, and probably last, foray to Peggy Sue's 50's Diner.

Not really wanting to eat, the Chino Wayne's turned left just inside
the door in to the gift shop/soda fountain section, bypassing the
diner section, and apparently pizza area to the right. Mrs. Chino
Wayne could not resist ordering a vintage soda, and asked for a
Bubble Up, Mr. Chino Wayne, trying to recall some semblance of
the liquid diet, ordered a diet Coke. Mrs. Chino Wayne reported
the Bubble Up, contrary to her fond memories of her youth, tasted
like a bi-carbonate of soda. Chino Wayne's diet Coke, was just
that, a nasty diet Coke.

Long time hot dog afficianados, the Chino Wayne's observed
some dogs on one of those roller grills commonly used for tube
steaks. Unfortunately the dogs looked like they had been rolling
around all day, with a not very appetizing looking skin. The
decision not to try a dog was sealed when the young lady behind
the counter was observed preparing one for another customer,
before landing in the bun, it was dropped on the counter, and
there was some business with the mustard and a microwave that
was not clear.

It was noted, however, that any travellers who have a hankering
for a pack of Chiclets gum will find it at Peggy Sue's, along with
Sen-Sen (remember those nasty things) and other various and
sundry sweets.

So much for Peggy Sue's.

Upon return to the lovely manse in odeferous Chino, Chino
Wayne capped off his "diet free" weekend with a mess of
homemade beef burritos (since when he cooks he cleverly
makes sure there are plenty of leftovers on stand-by in the
refrigerator).

Chino Wayne was last seen at the blender this afternoon, back
on the liquid diet regimen.
Copyright © 2005-2006  Wayne E. Frost, all rights reserved.
In-N-Out
13704 Main St.
Hesperia, California
In-N-Out Web Site

Primm Valley Resort
31900 Las Vegas Boulevard South,
Primm, Nevada 89019
Primm Valley Resort Web Site  
Peggy Sue's 50's Diner
35654 E Yermo RD
Yermo, CA 92398
(760) 254-3370
MGM Grand: Some Notes Of Underwhelming
Dining, Including Emeril’s & A Mini-bar Report

September 16, 2005 at 01:19:04

Maybelline, our Detroit iron delivered us under the porte cochère
at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas at about 7:30 P.M. after a very
pleasant, traffic free drive up the I-15 Sunday afternoon. Since I
have been adhering to The Liquid Diet we had not made our
usual stop at In-N-Out in Barstow; the Mrs. made do with a cup of
coffee and a bag of potato chips from the Chevron mini-mart
straddling the onramp to the 60 in Chino, while I resigned myself
to a small package of beef jerky and a bottle of water.

We got situated in our room at about 8:30, desperate for food
and drink. Since I knew our room would be equipped with a wet-
bar I had initially acquired a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka, and 8, 1 liter
bottles of diet tonic water and assorted snacks, which I planned
to pack and bring. Prior to packing and departure, though, I
thought, “You don’t need that much booze, you can make do with
a couple of those mini-bottles of vodka and some tonic from the
mini-bar and then supplement that with free drinks in the casino,
let’s not go overboard.”

On reflection I wished I had “gone overboard”. Here we are
ensconced in our sitting room desperate for libations and I go to
the wet-bar, open the bottom cupboard and sure enough, one of
those mini-bar refrigerators is there. I open that little cube up,
anticipating some chilled beverages and some subsequent
chillin’ for the Mrs. and I, and what do I find? A cold, empty
chasm. Apparently the MGM Grand does not provide mini-bar
service in their luxurious rooms.

It was now desperation time, so a call to room service for an
order of penne with sausage and sun dried tomatoes for the
Mrs., a shrimp Ceasar salad for me, and a 1.0 liter bottle of
Absolut Citron and six 12 ounce bottles of tonic water for our
cocktails.

So in terms of logistics and the economics of the situation for
cocktails Sunday and Tuesday (Monday we drank “out”) we had
to use Plan C.

Plan A (abandoned): 1.75 liters of Smirnoff + 4 liters of diet tonic
= $22.00

Plan B (unavailable): 2 mini-bar bottles of vodka + 1-12 ounce
bottle tonic + 2 free vodka tonics in the casino = $18.50
(including tip).

Plan C (ultimate fallback): 1.0 liter of Absolut Citron + 6-12 ounce
bottles tonic = $89.50 (excluding tip.).

Needless to say, this was a lesson well learned, our luggage
will never travel “dry” again.

The Mrs. enjoyed a cocktail and her pasta, except that she said it
was greasy. I enjoyed a number of cocktails accompanied by
some corn nuts I had packed, the total number of cocktails
escapes me as I was by then in a medicated condition. I did
enjoy my shrimp Ceasar salad, what there was of it. This was a
not overly large bowl of torn Romaine with precisely six cold
boiled medium to large sized shrimp in it. The shrimp were
mixed in the salad, tail-on, which I found kind of strange, after all
this was not a shrimp cocktail, and “handles” were unnecessary.
Regardless, I ate it all, tails and all (I am also not adverse to
eating shrimp shells). A creamy Ceasar dressing (real authentic,
huh) was served on the side as was some grated parmesan.
Oddly there were no croutons, which was fine, because I would
have forgone them. There was also some bread and butter that
the Mrs. scored (I almost never eat grain based foods these
days). The total tab for this in-room dining and imbibing
extravaganza came to $127.61 ($89.50 for the booze, $41.11 for
the food and a $5.00 room service fee) excluding tip. More or
less a typical room service meal, adequate, and the booze had
the desired effect.

After pulling an all-nighter in slot machine Heaven for the Mrs. we
slept in all day and took our one meal in the early evening
Monday with some friends at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House
in the MGM. Of the four diners in our party one is a Chowhound,
one is slowly becoming Chowhound-like and the other two are
definitely civilians. As we were being seated one of the civilians
in our party mentioned that her favorite restaurant is Claim
Jumper, which did not surprise me in the least, what did surprise
me was our server then interjected and advised us that Claim
Jumper was her favorite restaurant also. Horror of horrors, what
did this portend? Of course I advised the server that she was
being blasphemous in Emeril’s house.

I settled on a vodka tonic and the Mrs. asked for a glass of wine
and our two dining companions asked for water. So while the trio
of un-houndly diners perused the menu, I perused the wine list.
Noting that a single glass of wine was going to run about $10.00
a pop, I wisely made the decision to order a bottle of wine. Since
this was not really a ‘houndly gathering I did not make any notes
of my exact wine selection. (DISCLAIMER: The Mrs. and Yours
Truly are admitted and unabashed wine hicks, we make no
pretenses to any knowledge let alone expertise in the art of
producing wine or in the ability to distinguish between and
appreciate fine wines, we are, however, eminently qualified in
judging the wines we consume and determining if they are to our
own personal liking.) I ordered a German Riesling of the Kabinett
style. I do not know the name on the label, but damn, that was
good stuff. The best part of the entire meal. Cool, sweet but not
sugary, crisp but not astringent. Very, very pleasing to our
palates. I ended up ordering two bottles for the table, and I
probably consumed at least 2/3’s if not more of this nectar.

The food, in my opinion, was underwhelming. Of course I had
made the choice to dine at Emeril’s because I wanted fish due to
my own dietary needs and preferences, and I had never
experienced Mr. Legasse’s cuisine. So what did my three dining
companions order in this “fish house”, roasted chicken, roasted
chicken and a pork chop off the fixed menu. I, keeping my eye
one the ball, ordered off the specials an appetizer which
consisted of two diver scallops, pan seared and served on some
sort of flattened flaky pastry (that resembled in shape a fish filet),
and that appears on my receipt as “turnover”, there seemed to be
some melted cheese under this and some vegetable matter that
I could not identify, (and do not remember from the menu
description, fault my lack of note keeping, vodka tonic and two
bottles of wine for the lack of detail) and a bit of a white sauce.
None of it had any stand-out flavor and the two scallops seemed
over-cooked and a bit rubbery. My entrée was a piece of grilled
sea bass, or maybe black sea bass (again, the memory is
impaired) in a bowl on top of a bit of lobster risotto with a watery
sauce. I could not discern much taste from the fish, and I have
had sea bass before that has been truly flavorful and full bodied,
this was neither. The risotto with a few small chunks of lobster
was good, there was very little of it though. I did not “get” the
sauce or “pan juice”, it did not seem to add any flavor, and simply
watered everything down.

Each diner was served one very small mini corn muffin and two
small (about an inch long, and 3/8ths of an inch in diameter) ”
baton” of bread, that might have had some herbs in it. The corn
muffin was a corn muffin, maybe it would have been useful as a
vehicle for some honey. I did use the bread by breaking it,
exposing the inner, “spongy” surface and used that as an
implement to sop up the juice in my bowl of fish (bowl, not dinner
plate, which I found kind of strange, but maybe not so, given the
amount of “juice” in it).

I did score a bit of the Mrs.’ Grilled & Roasted Double Cut
(butterflied) Pork Chop with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, Green
Chile Mole and Tamarind Glaze. Since the Mrs. likes her meat
cooked to hockey puck consistency, this had no taste. The
tamarind glaze seemed to lack any flavor, and if there was some
sort of mole, I was not aware of it. The sweet potatoes were
serviceable, if I were eating that type of food I would have put
them all away, the Mrs. did not care for them as they were not
sufficiently “candied” to her liking.

I also was the recipient of some of the Roasted Half Chicken on
Tasso Ham Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Haricot Vert and Natural
Reduction. The roasted chicken was lovely to look at, but was
dried out, the pan reduction helped, but not that much. I did not
taste the green beans. The mashed potatoes with the added
ham were tasty, and I could tell might be addicting to some.

One of our dining companions opted for dessert, the Bananas
Foster Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Ice Cream & Walnut
Caramel Rum Sauce, which also had a dollop of whipped cream
on it. I had a very small taste of the “bread pudding”, this was not
like any bread pudding I have ever had, it was not pudding-like in
the least, more like a somewhat dry poundcake.

The food was appealing to the eye, I did not discern any aromas,
and I certainly did not experience any “Bam!” moments eating
any of it. I was hungry and it did the job in that respect. I definitely
saw Emeril’s style in the precious breads, the lobster risotto, the
potatoes loaded with ham and the piling on of the ice cream,
sauce, whipped cream and some caramelized banana slices on
a simple bread pudding dish. When we arrived for our early
dinner at 5:30 there were very few diners seated, by the time we
left at 7:30 the place was packed, so I guess on ongoing large
presence on FoodTV does bring in the masses.

Total tab for one cocktail, two bottles of wine, one appetizer and
four entrees was $264.31, exclusive of tip. (Scroll down to see
photos of Emeril's food.)

Tuesday evening found the Mrs. and I in the Studio Café, the 24
hour dining room/coffee shop in the hotel, in preparation for a
long night investing the family fortune in the casino. The Mrs. had
unremarkable bacon and eggs, sourdough toast, coffee and
orange juice. I had as a starter some totally inauthentic Asian
style lettuce wraps. The filling which was some chicken,
peanuts, some indeterminate other vegetable matter, all finely
diced with about four individual leaves of cilantro and about a
tablespoon of alfalfa sprouts accompanied by a dark, thick,
sweetish sauce. The lettuce that was provided was about a half
a head of iceberg lettuce, for crying out loud. Not some pleasing
looking, pliable green leaf, red leaf or butter lettuce, but the
cheap stuff, that breaks before it wraps around anything.

My entrée was roasted halibut. A decent piece of fish, decently
cooked on top of some mashed potatoes, with chunks of about
two medium shrimp, if that much, in the potatoes. No vegetables
accompanied the entrée except for about four little pieces of
warm, diced tomato. No bread was offered (I didn’t ask for it
though, since I am not eating bread.)

The total for this underwhelming repast came to $56.14,
excluding tip.

After another night of the Mrs. pulling a shift at the slots, we
checked out of the hotel on Wednesday at Noon and repaired to
the Studio Café once again for breakfast. The Mrs. had, I believe
it was called, the Studio Special Breakfast, scrambled eggs,
ham, hash browns, toast, pancakes, juice and coffee. I had an
omelet with lox and sautéed diced onions, rye toast and coffee.
This was probably the best meal I had during the three and a half
days (it figures, keep it simple). I did not taste any of the Mrs.’
food, the pancakes did not seem to be buttermilk, not sure what
they were, the ham looked like a piece of cheap, processed,
boneless ham. The total for breakfast came to about $40
something (it was comped and I don’t have a receipt, by my
recollection is that it was $40 something based on the tip I left.

While the rooms are nice at the MGM, on our next and probably
subsequent visits to Las Vegas we will sleep, dine and drink at
the MGM’s sister property, the Mirage. I don’t recall who was
originally behind developing the MGM Grand, it and the Mirage
are now both controlled by Kirk Kirkorian, a very astute financier,
but the Mirage still seems to have some of Steve Wynn’s touch
on it, in terms of the basic, hotel food and service (but don’t get
me started on that sad excuse for a steakhouse, Kokomo’s, I just
know that I like the room service and the 24 hour dining room in
the Mirage better than MmmmmmmGummmmmmmmm.)
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 262-2220
MGM Grand Web Site

Emeril's Fish House Web Site