30 Dec 2008

Ti Amo, Laguna Beach

For the Orange County version of Jessica’s 21st birthday. We had a fun party at Ti Amo’s.
This is one of those fun neighborhoody type Italian restaurants that is particularly nice for both small and large parties. Even though it is top quality, the prices are quite reasonable.
I think it must be an old house and has five different dining rooms on several levels. Because of that there are many tables that have quite a romantic feel because they seemingly away from the others.
It feels like one of those old romantic neighborhood Italian places rather than modern trendy type joint. You have to determine what works for you.

Check them out online at

29 Dec 2008

St. Regis, Monarch Bay and Stonehill Tavern

St. Regis is one of our favorite hotel brands, and their Monarch Bay facility is generally amongst the best. However, for some reason, it seemed like everything went wrong this trip. Either it was the ultimate fluke or they have major management issues.
We checked in and they had the rooms wrong. I went for my massage and they had it for the wrong time. Our room was so hot that it was stifling and we couldn’t cool it. They told me I had to use the TV for Internet access and they had an Ethernet connection in the room. The remote control needed batteries. 30 minutes before checking out, we called for the car. It wasn’t there and they said there was no record of us calling. You get the point. Our three rooms were to be on one check. They weren’t. You get the point.
But the topper was at the end of the evening. Allyn’s daughter Jessica was here too. Some guy walked right in to her room from the adjacent room because the door was not locked and there was not dead bolt. When she spoke to the manager, she was told that she should take it up with housekeeping in the morning.*&^% Oh well.
The reason we were in town was to start a gala week of festivities for Jessica’s 21st birthday. Stonehill Tavern in the hotel was our restaurant of choice for a quiet family meal.
It is a Michael Mina restaurant bearing his normal signatures such as great food, décor, service and many items that can be served three ways, which is always a fun way to go. Our server, Beth, was amazing. I strongly recommend it if you are in the area (even if you are not staying at the hotel).

Visit the hotel here and the restaurnat here

25 Dec 2008

Hanukkah and the Flood

We had a lovely Hanukkah party last night. See the pretty pictures of our wonderful dinner below.

What you don’t see is that ten minutes into it we had a major water hose burst on our third floor. Two minutes later water was pouring into the dining room, two floors down.

We had stress, but we were able to stop it immediately. We would have had an unbelievable catastrophe had we not been home and in the dining room.

I love living in Las Vegas. The landscapes are great (the photos above is the view from our window), the weather is agreeable, the sky is blue, but work product all over is deplorable.
I have lived in houses all over the country, old and new, expensive and cheap. Never have I heard of this type problem even though I used to develop apartments and condos.

How can a hose burst (inside, no freezing issue) in a relatively new home? Only in Las Vegas.

Happy Hanukkah everyone!

24 Dec 2008

Circo, Las Vegas

Historically I have enjoyed eating at Circo in Bellagio. There is something about it that always seems extra scrubbed and immaculate. The setting is lovely, overlooking the Bellagio fountains.
Unfortunately, it has really gone downhill. That isn’t to say the food is terrible; it just is not up to the price tag, or comparable to other great Italian restaurants in Las Vegas.

They used to have a duck pasta to die, but it is no longer on the menu. No problem. But when asked why, the waitress said that it is a heavy dish and they take it off for the summer. I guess she doesn’t know that Christmas is winter. That speaks to her ineptitude though, not the food. The salmon was bad, and the tuna tartar was marginal at best.

The real problem with the dinner was the service. They have lost some fine staff and it really shows. I don’t know the reason, nor it is not my issue. Our server was awful. I guess she thought since she worked in a casino it was OK to bluff.

She did not know the menu well, and was totally unpolished. The service was incredibly slow. I had to ask three times for the check and then she brought the check for the party next to us. Furthermore, they had confirmed a window table for us, but did not honor.

You would think in this economy, and with the restaurant extremely empty, they would at least try to act as if they care. Check them out online here.

23 Dec 2008

Good News in a Bad Economy

My son takes issue with my blogs as I continue to say such nice things about the restaurants that I visit. There is a very good reason for that. Over the last couple months, I have been in cities that I know, and eat at great restaurants that I know and like.

Tonight we picked up Allyn’s daughter Jessica, who is home for the holidays. She had a yearning for Italian. We didn’t want too fancy, but did want a great meal at a quiet place where we could speak.

Remembering the great experience we had just a week ago at Ferraro’s, we decided to visit there again. This time I had salmon. Probably you can tell just by looking at the picture how yummy it was.

What does any of this have to do with the economy? Well, all of us are feeling the economic pinch in one way or another. That probably includes Ferraro’s. They have been giving their patrons coupons good for 40% off on all food and beverage good until January 31.

The truth is that I don’t know for sure if that was the reason I returned so quickly. If the meal sucked, I would have tossed it. But it didn’t. Four of us saved almost $300 tonight. That is strong.

On the other hand the restaurant picked up an incremental $400 to say nothing of the gratuity. That’s pretty good too. People who have money to spend in this economy will find some real good deals out there.