Tarnishing the legacy of a Renaissance master

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May 18th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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The Venetian, with their facsimile of the bell tower in Venice's Piazza San Marco. They've also got a version of the Doge's Palace, but I forgot to get a shot of it. For comparison's sake: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-photo/pwong/europe_2006/1154632440/dsc04128.jpg/tpod.html
Geo: 36.0846, -115.172

Up early after yet another crappy sleep ... thinking everyone was still comatose from last night, I wandered over to the Venetian for breakfast. Why the Venetian? Because it's got a reasonable (by Vegas standards) food court, and it's close by - I really don't want to walk too far just for breakfast, in this nasty desert heat.

Browsed through the Peter Lik gallery - some cool surreal photography, with some incredible shots of rock formations that had perhaps been photo-shopped, giving them an array of unnatural-looking colours. Visited the Kenneth Cole shop, which I will probably forever be banned from. I was upstairs browsing, and dropped my almost full and much-needed coffee, spilling it all over the carpet. I felt bad and was going to tell the salesgirl, since she was quite nice to me earlier, but then I saw the carpet soak it up like a sponge. Where's a "Sham Wow" when you need one? It was too late, so I quickly ducked out of the store, trying to hide the slightly crushed and dripping coffee cup in my hand ...

Some more aimless wandering, and back at Tintoretto's for some quick lunch - their pizza looked

A supposedly typical Venetian street - for comparison: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-photo/pwong/europe_2006/1154794500/dsc04165.jpg/tpod.html
pretty good yesterday, and I hoped it would be better than their breakfast offerings. Wrong!

Back to the hotel to find the boys - off to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets. First order of business was lunch, as no one else had eaten yet. The food court offered some fairly typical eateries. After, it was time to brave the heat - hot, hot, hot! This is an outdoor mall, perhaps to encourage you to shop, as the stores are the only places offering some respite from the temperatures. There are a number of misting towers outdoors to cool you down but they don't do that great of a job, as the mist felt quite warm.

None of us are big shoppers but after today, we all ended up very close to the allowable limit imposed by Canada customs. We only planned for about 1.5 hours here, but a few of us could've easily used another hour or two to finish up. Particularly good was a small, secondary branch of the Kenneth Cole store - not so much for the clothing on offer, but for the Mexican salesgirl 😊

We all met at the food court and were off to Fry's,

Piazza San Marco - the Doge's Palace is on the left, and here's the real one: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-photo/pwong/europe_2006/1154632440/dsc04133.jpg/tpod.html
a giant electronics store. Kind of bizarre, as they sold cases of their own brand of bottled water, and even had a coffee shop/cafe inside. In a way, it's not that great of a place for a bunch of guys to visit, because we ended up staying there for FAR too long. But this wasn't a bad thing, as it gave us plenty of time to build up an appetite for another buffet gorge fest!

Le Village buffet at Paris - this morning, Justin ended up going over to one of the ticket brokers to pre-pay for the buffet, as this ends up saving you a few bucks per person. We lined up and got our table, but Justin and I went off in search of Lenotre, a branch of a famous French chain of patisseries, and the only location outside of France. On a couple of occasions in Paris, I have sampled their fine pastries (they make a wicked peach tartelette) at the Rue Cler store (see blog entry entitled "I re-kindled an old romance today ..." http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/europe_2006/1161139080/tpod.html?tweb_UID=pwong )

Being the dutiful husband, Justin immediately thought of Ann when I mentioned Lenotre the other day. Justin felt a bit

Venice is famous for selling intricate masks, and here's the Venetian's stab at it. Here are ones from Venice: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-photo/pwong/europe_2006/1154794500/dsc04161.jpg/tpod.html http://www.travelpod.com/travel-photo/pwong/europe_2006/1154794500/dsc04162.jpg/tpod.html
bad for leaving behind Ann and the newborn to come on this stag, so he wanted to buy some croissants for Ann, something that she loves. The plan was to buy them tomorrow, but we wanted to see tonight if they looked anything like the ones from Paris, otherwise Justin would have to come up with an alternate plan.

Unfortunately, they were completely sold out of croissants and pains au chocolat, as any good French patisserie should be at this hour. No matter, as we decided to come back here tomorrow morning for breakfast. Even if their pastries turned out to be nowhere near as good as ones made in France, they would still very likely be the best ones you could get anywhere in Las Vegas.

Back to the buffet - the interior is modeled after a cobble-stoned French street. Kind of nice in a way, but also kind of tacky and overly Disney-fied. It's supposed to be a gastronomic tour of all that France has to offer, with dishes from every region, but it falls well short. I didn't see how it made sense that a French buffet started with four different Italian pastas and a risotto ...

The Venetian's version of the ceiling in the Doge's Palace. The real version: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-photo/pwong/europe_2006/1154632440/dsc04142.jpg/tpod.html

Tagliatelle with pesto, rigatoni with bolognese sauce, penne alfredo, gnocchi (very powdery), and mushroom risotto (very mushy and bland, more suitable to grout tiles than to eat). Only the rigatoni was any good, of these dishes.

Sushi doesn't seem to fit in either, and I avoided it completely since it looked pretty dodgy. Overall, the buffet was decent and excellent value at $22 USD (with the discount). A much better buffet than Rio's seafood version.

I was really looking forward to the desserts, as you would think the desserts at a French buffet would be the best in all of Vegas. Unfortunately, it wasn't as great as expected - the dessert offerings at Rio might have actually been a bit better.

After stuffing ourselves, we did a bit of aimless wandering - John suggested checking out an adult-style revue like Folies Bergere, Crazyhorse, or Jubilee. Unfortunately, Folies Bergere no longer exists, and it was too late to get tickets for the other two. Instead, Justin, Tri, and I grabbed a drink at a lounge in Paris, while waiting for the rest of the boys to finish up some gambling.

We all met up later, and went off to do some

Breakfast at the Venetian, at a bagel shop. It's dark, but just to the left of centre you can see a sign that says "Order Here" ...
good male-bonding activities - next thing you know, we're getting back to the hotel at 4 in the morning. That's one good thing about Vegas - there's always something to do at all hours of the evening.

Additional photos below
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... but it turns out they'll ignore you, because you're supposed to order on the other end, where there is no sign that says "Order Here". Here's a tip - move the sign where you want people to wait!

This meal was called the "Grab and Go". How is it grab and go when it's a plate full of unassembled items??? I never thought about it when I ordered, but they never asked me what type of bagel I wanted. The bagel was OK, nice and chewy. The lox was great, and the onions sweet. Not enough cream cheese, though, and given that it was more of a bagel joint, they should really have a variety of fresh cream cheeses. The coffee was weak, and I think the carpet at the Kenneth Cole store enjoyed it more than I did.

Pizza at Tintoretto's - an overly doughy crust, soggy, with no flavour. More like a greasy slice of mediocre bread with a bit of melted cheese and pepperoni, than any decent pizza. Tintoretto was an Italian Renaissance master, and I'm guessing this cafe was named after him - poor Tintoretto ... he's probably somewhere spinning in his grave, as his good name has forever been tarnished, now that he's been associated with this crappy excuse for pizza! I probably should have tried the regular pizza - this slice of garbage was supposedly Sicilian pizza, but was a shadow of the incredible stuff I once had when I was actually in Sicily (see blog entry entitled "I spent the night with a cute little doll" http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/europe_2006/1158594120/tpod.html ) The pastries on offer at Tintoretto's did look incredible but I held back, as tonight we are going for the buffet at Paris - I'm saving myself for that!

Rialto bridge. And here's the real thing: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-photo/pwong/europe_2006/1154632440/dsc04125.jpg/tpod.html

Too funny - on the exterior of the Venetian, they've stuck a picture on the wall to lend a sense of realism, and make the canal appear to extend into the horizon. Yes ... very realistic ...

Wish I would have seen this the other day - this could have been another good costume idea for John!

You'd expect there to be a bigger selection of bread at the Le Village French buffet - I only sampled a raisin bun, which was nothing special. The cheese selection was a tad disappointing, which was a bit unexpected, as this IS a French buffet, after all. Bouillabaisse - pretty average, but it's not really a dish that works well at a buffet. The short ribs were probably the best dish at the buffet. A little oily, but very tender and flavourful - still can't beat last night's short rib from Spago, but perhaps if this buffet had a hostess as lovely as last night's, I might've thought differently. The coq au vin was also quite good, with mushrooms that soaked up all of the flavours in the sauce.

Decent ratatouille in the foreground. Dry, but tender pork - crackling was tough and not crisp, but the flesh immediately under the skin was pretty good. Mashed Yukon Gold potatoes - a little too chunky, but buttery and quite tasty. The prime rib was also decent, very tender and flavourful. Definitely better than the beef served at Rio's buffet. The sausage was also good, but there was some kind of cylindrical slice of charcuterie that was pretty bad. I believe there was also some really dry, bad fish on this plate.

At this point, it was mostly about having some more of the good stuff again. Short rib, coq au vin, prime rib, rigatoni ... the duck was terrible, flavourless and tough. The tomato with melted cheese was alright. The mussel was rubber.

The peanut butter cookie on the left was a perfect blend of crunchy and chewy. Some of the cookies were very good and strangely, probably the best desserts on offer. Continuing clockwise - the chocolate cake/brownie was dry and forgettable. The macaron was too hard, and pretty bad. The creme brulee tasted a bit too buttery, and the thin glassy layer of caramelized sugar which is usually the best part, wasn't so great. The problem is that all of the creme brulees are prepared ahead of time, and that glassy layer doesn't hold up well for too long. I imagine that falling through the layer of ice on a frozen lake and drowning would be a horrible way to go, but falling through that glassy layer of caramelized sugar on a kick-ass creme brulee could be quite a divine way to die! Fruit tart - glazed fruit good, but the crust was lacking. Assorted fruit - so-so. That peanut butter shortbread square was very sweet, but ok. In the middle is some kind of cream cheese spice cake - gooey. Peanut butter shortbread - ok.

Raisin cookie - chewy and good. Chocolate chip cookie - good, but a little too much chocolate. Sugar cookie. Macaron with pastry cream. - only OK, but way better than the earlier one.

Kinda too dark to see, but Tri asked if this tree was real. Uh ... given that the base had been grouted into place and there is no natural lighting, it's safe to assume that it's fake!

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