Saturday, November 12, 2011

McFadden's Las Vegas at the Rio

Las Vegas Bloggers Hard At Work At McFadden's 
Those of us who write about Las Vegas are very lucky—especially those of us who love to eat out. Since I'm in the "If God wanted me to cook, He wouldn't have invented restaurants" category, I am particularly pleased when I get to visit places I haven't been before.

Late in October, I got invited to a Las Vegas bloggers event at McFadden's at the Rio. Las Vegas has almost as many Irish pubs these days as it does French restaurants (which really seems appropriate, if you think about it—ours is a city with an affinity for drinking and dining). I was pleased to try out McFadden's. I'm always up for beer and comfort food.

I was surprised that on a Wednesday evening, the valet parking at the Rio looked like a used car lot. (I was also running late, which means that "surprised" really means "irked.") "Is there a special event?" I asked the valet attendant, after I waited ten minutes to get someone to take my car keys.

"Just the dinner rush," he said. I thought that was a good sign. If that many people were eating out on a Wednesday night, the food must be pretty darn good throughout the Rio.

To find McFadden's from the main entrance, just bear to the right and once you reach the Masquerade Village—a.k.a, the shopping area—you can't miss McFadden's. It's got a  comfortable ambiance,  a sports bar/pub feeling. You will not feel out of place wearing jeans. There are no items on the menu that will leave you wondering if you should watch the Food Network more often to keep up on culinary trends. All of which, in my opinion, is a good thing.

McFadden's was happy to bring out plate after plate of food to our group of writers, and they were also thoughtful enough to bring out camera-ready plates of food bearing little labels. This food was not for eating… a fact I discovered after eating one of the labelled Mac & Cheese Bites. Oops.

And the food that was for consumption? I think I gained weight. Shepherd's Pie… yummy. Rueben Sandwiches… oh so yummy. Southwest Chicken Wrap… why didn't I get this first? Fabulously yummy. Mini Gourmet Burgers… please stop now. Guinness Battered Deep Fried Twinkie with Guinness Chocolate Sauce? Need I say more than "deep fried twinkie"? Don't even ask why there's no picture of that dish.

I admit that I was too buy eating and socializing to order one of their specialty beers, and instead had the green beer provided to everyone. I believe this means I must return.

Thank you to Wicked Creative and McFadden's, who hosted this event.

Update - January 17, 2012: Sad to say, McFadden's closed on December 5.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Trip to the Buffet

So there I was, writing about buffets.

And I don't mean writing one or two things about buffets. I had an assignment that kept me writing for an entire day about limitless quantities of all kinds of food: Sushi. Barbeque. Beef. Pork. Chicken. International dishes that I couldn't pronounce. Lobster. I'm sure you get the idea. I mean, what's more Vegas than a buffet? Apparently, my editor thought the same thing.

"What would you think about going to a buffet?" I asked my husband.

"I thought you didn't like buffets," he said.

"I'm reformed," I said. "And I have a player's club card. We can get a discount."

Soon we were standing in line at the Red Rock Feast Buffet. Just beyond the cashier, yards and yards of food awaited us.

When our waiter seated us, he said, "Remember you're in the section next to the Asian food. Otherwise, you'll get lost and won't find your table." My husband, son, and I dutifully took note of the big sign that said "Asian," then we set off to explore the vast offerings of the Feast.

My 13-year-old son was so overwhelmed with the food choices that he brought back a plate of salad. Salad. Oh my God, I thought, he's been traumatized.

I was delighted to find the sushi, conveniently located close enough to our table that I was never in danger of getting lost.

My husband brought back everything barbequed and fried that he could find. And my son recovered from the shock of so much food that he set his salad aside and bravely tried new foods.  

When we rolled out of the buffet, we were certain we'd never want to eat again.

As we waddled to the car, I had to stop to take pictures of the pretty waterfall at the front of the hotel. Since I'm a Las Vegas native, I'm rarely impressed with a hotel casino, but I do think the Red Rock is one of the prettiest in town. Had we not pounced on our buffet plates like ravenous beasts, I might have a buffet picture to share with you. Instead, you get to see the waterfall. 

A Rocky Surprise

This rock labyrinth sits just off the path at the Red Rock Overlook. I discovered it one afternoon when I drove to the Overlook for an emergency attitude adjustment.

The first time I stomped past the rocks, I never even saw them.

After I’d spent some time gazing at the Calico Hills and watching the tourists, I felt better. I got a good laugh when a group of teenagers screamed and did a dance when a flying insect buzzed them. (To be fair, it was a big bug.)

With my mental attitude adjusted, I headed down the path.

The light was fading, splintering through the cliffs to the west. This time I saw it: the small swirl of rocks, the spiraling path with a cairn in the middle. How could I have missed that? Talk about a case of blind anger.