Las Vegas: An Ideal Road-Trip Launchpad
After a three-hour nonstop flight to Las Vegas, landing at the Encore Tower Suites for an overnight stay ended up being the ideal launching pad for our Death-Valley-to-Los-Angeles road trip.
The Steve Wynn creation is a favorite “resting” spot on the Strip and the private entrance makes checking in hassle-free. Go for a room with a Strip-side view, but be sure to get a higher floor if you stay over a weekend. Otherwise, to paraphrase Gloria Estefan, the pulsating rhythm of the Beach Club is gonna get you - not to sleep unless your bedtime coincides with final call.
Still adjusting to the two-hour time difference, we were ready for a snack by 3 p.m. We found just the fix at La Cave in Encore’s connecting sister hotel, the Wynn. Not wanting to completely ruin our appetite before dinner, we ordered two small starters. Stamped in my palate’s memory will be the salty-sweet flavors of bacon-wrapped dates dipped in a mild blue cheese cream sauce. The second dish tucked generous crab chunks mixed with fresh mint, a yogurt-like dressing, and orange and grapefruit sections into butter-leaf lettuce cups.
Steve Wynn talks about Sinatra being the kind of place he thinks his friend Frank would have liked. If it’s his kind of place, he’s my kind of man.
My husband and I had stopped by Sinatra for pre-dinner drinks in the past, but never dined in this eatery that plates classic Italian dishes with a twist. We kicked off the evening with some signature cocktails - a raspberry limoncello martini and the smash, a bright reddish-purple concoction made with muddled blackberries, sweet and sour, vanilla-infused simple syrup, whiskey and creme de cassis. Both drinks get a thumbs up.'
The colorful variety of beets and pistachio-crusted goat cheese balls in our salad combined with an appetizer of meatballs and polenta fries made for a nice start to the dinner. Frank’s “spaghetti and clams,” a tomato-garlic soaked homemade pasta dish topped with clams in their shells, was a nice tribute to its namesake. The veal parmesan covered with a thin layer of cheese made for a nice contrast with the crunchy crust. The sauces in both meat dishes were a perfect balance of sweet and acidity.
On a bustling Saturday night, the Frank Sinatra tunes piped into the dining room complemented the vibe without being over-the-top. It was just the sustenance needed to get us through a performance of Le Reve. While great theatrics, the lesson learned is that even a vibrant spectacle like it is no competition for Mr. Sandman whose clock is set on central time.
Lifting off from Las Vegas was a last-minute, but rewarding road-trip call. If nothing more than a study in contrasts, try it as a festive way to spice up to your next Southwestern road trip.
If you're looking for more things to do in Vegas, check out this list for some added inspiration.