Vegan Dining at The Wynn, Las Vegas: Snacks, Cocktails and a Failed Brunch

 

 

In addition to eating at fancy-pantsy vegan restaurants all weekend at The Wynn, our wedding party group definitely did some random snacking and drinking throughout the casino.

In no particular order, here we go.

We didn’t spend too much time by the slots, but when we did, I stuck to the nickel slots. One time I was feeling all high roller-y and did the quarter slots. I lost my $5 immediately.

I did win $2 on Friday night, though (before adventures at the Playboy Club and after seeing Jonathan Davis—of Korn fame—spin at a nightclub. Who am I, again?).

Proof: (and proof I rocked some pretty hardcore sparkles)

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When I was at the slots, my go-to drink was a vodka press. For those who have never been to Vegas, cocktail waitresses offer you free drinks while you’re gambling. Just don’t forget to tip!  A vodka press is a shot of vodka, half 7-up and half soda water. With a squeeze of lime, it’s refreshing and easy to drink. 

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Vodka Press. You can see my pretty gold nails and Millie’s pretty pretty wedding dress in the background.

 

On Millie’s wedding night, while everyone played Pai Gow or something at an actual table with an actual dealer, Millie and I took a walk and stopped for a drink at Parasol Up, a beautiful little bar with an intriguing cocktail menu, still in The Wynn.

I really really wanted to to order The Parisian Apricot (Cognac infused with apricots, Tahitian vanilla and star anise) but our server swayed us. She said, “Can I tell you something? Can I be honest with you? That drink is…. TERRIBLE. Do not order it. Order something else. Anything else.”

She was so adamant and we so appreciated her honesty that we both changed our minds. I’m still so intrigued by the description, though….

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Doesn’t that Apricot Sour sound SOOOOO GOOD? Minus the egg whites, of course. Well, we will never know. 

I ended up ordering the Sinatra Smash instead. As a rule, I stay away from whiskey and bourbon (trust me, it’s in the best interest of everyone around me, unless you want me kissing and loving on you all night), but this drink sounded divine. Muddled blackberries?  Crème de Cassis? (Crème de Cassis is a blackcurrant flavored liquor, and I go nuts for blackcurrants.) Yes, please!

 

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Probably the most disappointing experience was had at Brunch on Sunday morning. Hold on, I take it back. DEFINITELY the most disappointing experience was had Brunch on Sunday morning.

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Don’t be fooled by the beautiful displays of fruit, flowers and vegetables.

 

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Brunch at The Buffet is all-you-can-eat, and at about $35 a pop, that’s not too bad, for Vegas standards.

Apparently, though, even though every single other restaurant and café in The Wynn has a separate vegan menu (which I will reiterate: IS AWESOME and was not taken for granted AT ALL all weekend), the brunch buffet does not have a separate vegan menu. And unfortunately, we all had to pay up front to find this out. The offerings were very disappointing (roasted potatoes and cantaloupe for $35? No thanks!) and though the Chef was very nice and very accommodating (thank you, sir!), we just couldn’t stomach paying so much for so little.

We each got refunds and headed out to the pool instead. No big loss, really. Several people ordered the vegan chicken and waffles again from The Terrace Point Café, but I just headed to a little café and ordered a blueberry muffin and an iced coffee. The cost came in at just under $10, which seemed like such a good deal at the time. It’s amazing how quickly I acclimated to shelling out the big bucks all weekend.

 

Before we departed Sunday night, I enjoyed a nice solo cup of coffee at Parasol Down, a café that offers a beautiful view of a waterfall and even includes a periodic light show.

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Ha. Weird. It was a cool light show though. It was a whole bunch of morphing faces set to that song from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (THIS song.)

 

One of my favorite items all weekend—and most affordable—was a little vegan croissant sandwich set at a café (the same one I got my blueberry muffin and iced coffee from). I believe there was a tuna salad and a chicken salad flavor, and you get one of each with your order. At under 10 bucks, it was a good deal and they were actually very very good.

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So cute!

I shared this with a gal in the wedding party. We each had half of one. The tuna was my favorite.

 

Before dinner on Saturday, the bride and groom wanted a little snack, so we stopped at a café (I don’t remember the name). I ordered a drink that was DELCIOUS.

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The Fresca was made with Passion Fruit vodka, muddled mint, passion fruit puree, lime juice, club soda and a splash of Campari.

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YURM. It has my name written all over it.

(My name is Janessa Wynn, didn’t you know?)

 

The peeps I was with HAD TO try the Wynn cheeseburger combo. This was on almost every menu and includes a fast food style burger, fries, and a chocolate shake for $9.

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Cute!!

The Matzo Ball soup was incredibly bland and boring—do not order it if you stumble upon this café and want soup. Seriously. The salad in the background was also fairly bland and not inspiring.

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Oh look, another vodka press!

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Catching up on the other posts?

Part One: Vegan Dining at Switch Steak House

Part Two:Vegan Dining at the Pool and Terrace Point Café

Part Three: Vegan Dining at Sinatra

Part Four: Vegan Dining at Wing Lei

Vegan Dining at The Wynn, Las Vegas: Terrace Point Café

 

All five of the pools at The Wynn do not allow you to bring in outside food. Killjoys. And the Cabana Bar, located at the far end of the pools, by the ‘European-style’ (read: topless) has a small menu but none of the options are vegan.

So what do you do if you’re starving and need to eat while sunbathing? (Tough life.) The Terrace Point Café does take-out.

 

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Hold on. Did you see what I see?

 

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Chick’n and Waffles. Hells yeah. At 20 bucks a pop, this is significantly more expensive than Hungry Tiger Too’s dish, but I couldn’t resist. Neither could several other members of the elopement party I was with.

(For the record, my friend Kerri had the tempeh tuna salad sandwich and thought it was lovely.)

We placed our orders and were told to come check back in 20 minutes.

While waiting, I ordered a WATERMELON MIMOSA.

 

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It was rather lovely, but I thought a splash of citrus would make it even better. Or know what else would make it better?

Drinking my watermelon mimosa in the sun, by the pool.

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Much better.

 

The chicken and waffles were pretty feckin good. The waffles had scallions in them,  but they were still sweet waffles. It was odd, but only in a very very good way. The chick’n was breaded Gardein, and man oh man, I could eat that every day.

It came with sides of Earth Balance and maple syrup. This is a before shot, but I should tell you I most definitely drowned my waffles.

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The waffles were SO GOOD, but I could only eat half. It’s a pretty hefty portion, and if you don’t have a huge appetite, sharing this would be ample for two people.

 

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On the second day, I just snuck in a vegan blueberry muffin I had bought at a café. No picture, as it was a sneaky breakfast and I was trying to eat incognito.

 

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Part One:  Vegan Dining at Switch Steak House

Veggie Grill in LALA Land, Part Two

 

Read Part One here.

 

After lunch at Veggie Grill in Santa Monica and a view of the kale machine (perhaps it’s not so revolutionary as we thought, Karla. But it was still cool!) we headed out with Lonny to the Getty Museum. Fun side note: Just as we left, Alyson Hannigan (Lily from How I Met Your Mother, one of my favorite sitcoms) came in. I didn’t get to see her, but I’m content with an almost celebrity sighting.

Onwards to the Getty!

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I had been to the Getty Museum years ago with my friend Jordan, but that was back in the day when I had a disposable camera and the only pictures that turned out were a few off-center self portraits and a foggy picture of LA. This day was sunny and the museum was crowded and the exhibits I saw were striking.

Look, a bug in the museum.

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I really dug the exhibition called Narrative Interventions in Photography. <– No pictures allowed, but this link will take you to pictures on the Getty’s website. I encourage you to click through—there’s great photos of words/narrative interacting with nature in the most peculiar and striking ways.

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Anyway, since I couldn’t take pictures inside, I focused on being outside in the gardens as much as possible.

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Such a gorgeous day for photos. Lots of pretty flowers, too.

And I can’t help but take pictures of pretty flowers. It’s a ratio; the prettier a flower or more striking a sunset, the more photos I am required to snap—and share with everyone I know (including you guys).

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Pomegranates!

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Remember when I traveled through Turkey just over two years ago and drank fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice on the streets of Istanbul? That was so awesome.

 

See the bee??

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My favorite picture:

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My second favorite picture:

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The most adorable flower in the flower garden:

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<3

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And LA was sort of smoggy—go figure—but still looked cool.

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Jess and I tried for a few cute shots together. I tried on her glasses for fun, but I just looked like her dorky little sister.

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As the sun started to set, I wandered back to to tram. We had walked the 1/2 mile up from the parking garage, but I was certainly feeling the tram ride down would be warmer.

 

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Once we made it back to the car—and Lonny—and regrouped, we drove back into the city, through Rodeo Drive and to the hotel.

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So much bling to make this city go round.

We made it back to the hotel just in time for cocktails at Bazaar with Greg Dollarhyde, CEO of Veggie Grill, and Heather, director at Blaze PR. No time for changing, straight to drinks. Such is the life.

I was woefully unprepared to order and settled on two of my current favorite go-to’s both times I ordered: Gin (Hendricks for me) Martini straight up with a twist and a classic Negroni (not pictured, but served on the rocks at Bazaar).

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Jess branched out to try a crazy deconstructed olive foam martini thingy (Whoa.)

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Michele and Webly tried crazy nitrogen-y drinks.

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The magic!

 

A few requisite group shots:

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(You can spy my beloved Our Hen House bag under the table.)

Note: the couple in these group photos also came down from Portland for the weekend. They jointly write a food blog and spent parts of the weekend with us.

After cocktails, we took a brief respite in our rooms to, you know, breathe. And because with fancy rooms with turndown service, we had to spend a little time in there, using up the q-tips, fantasizing about the martini bar and doodling on the stationary. Well, that’s what I did.

We met in the lobby and waited for the BMW (value: One hundred thousand dollars. I would write that in numerical form, but I don’t even know how. It’s too big.) to pick us up and drive us to dinner. While waiting, Jess and I had a glass of expensive bubbly in the lobby. As we do. Michele and and Webly stuck with water.

Cheers!

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Once our driver picked us up, he regaled us with more stories than I thought possible on a 1.8 mile drive. He had been at Hyde the night before (to my knowledge, Hyde is an uber-Hollywood club with celebrities and expensive people drinks). I sat shotgun, so he showed me a picture on his phone of him downing a bottle of Dom Perignon at the club.

Whoa. LA life is crazy. I love hearing stories, but I think it’d be a bit much for me to actually live. Not the Dom Perignon part though. I could easily chug bottles of champagne at clubs every weekend. Vegan Thug For Life.

I just looked up what kind of BMW SLS Hotel has. Here’s the info:

At SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, guests can experience BMW’s new ActiveHybrid 750Li – the world’s fastest, street-legal hybrid – providing a chic and exhilarating ride underscored by a custom musical playlist curated by SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills.

Yep.

We got to our destination, Mao’s. Cheap Chinese food? Nothing sounded better. Michele used to walk here for dinner back when she lived in LA (I know, she’s glamorous!!).

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We started with a freshmade Ginger Lemonade and complimentary fried wonton chips with dipping sauce.

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Next up: round of appetizers: spring rolls ($1 each. Food for the people, friends, food for the people), green onion pancake thingy and little mushroom veggie pot stickers.

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Fried Rice. Michele knows how to order.

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Green beans and tofu. Webly knows how to order too.

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Chow Mein with soft and chewy noodles. Jess and I shared this and liked it, but still had a lot of leftovers after eating so much all day. This ended up on the inside of my bag after my flight home. Now we know why it’s a bad idea to place an unwrapped takeout container of Chinese food on the plane in your new orange bag. I should have left it with Lonny.

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After dinner my new friend Denny came back in the BMW to pick us up. It was after 10pm by this point and though we had tossed out the ideas of going to a comedy show or back to Bazaar for crazy deconstructed drinks, we were wiped. We all just kind of looked at each other and our eyes said to one another, “Yeah, I’m fine just tucking in for the night.”

One elevator ride up with our fancy and attractive 1-dimensional friends (they didn’t talk much, and never seemed to leave the elevator), I ended up back in my room.

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See, they won’t even make eye contact with us.

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Ha.

 

Anyway, I dorked out over actually having a tv to watch Saturday Night Live on. I climbed into bed, turned on the mirror and fell asleep before the opening monologue was over.

This is how the tv worked—I swear, it felt just like turning the mirror on. Also, I swear I’m wearing pajamas. It’s a weird angle.

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And that sums up Day One! I’ll post the third and final post this week, before I head to Chicago this weekend. Jess, Michele and I are headed there to do location scouting for Vida Vegan Con 2.0 in May 2013. From sundresses to snow shoes, this is a travel-heavy month, and I’m loving it!

Vegan Baileys Whip Cream

 

 

Hi guys! If you read my last post, you saw that though I did indeed celebrate Thanksgiving, I didn’t go into detail about the menu. Mostly, it was because with my head wound (<—- sounds worse than it was, and I’m totally healed now), I lost my desire to take photos. I could barely summon enough energy to drink a champagne cocktail (the doctor in the ER totally said it was okay to have a drink, I asked) and play board games.

The most exciting thing on the menu to me (other than my friend Shana’s totally killer pumpkin bread) was something I thought up that morning while preparing my contributions—vegan baileys cashew whipped cream.

 

Holl-er.

 

Since I first made Tal Ronnen’s recipe for cashew whipped mashed potatoes a few years ago, I get super excited every time I use this ‘secret’ of cashew cream to make super duper creamy mashed potatoes.

I make a double batch of cashew cream each time. Half I use on the glorious glorious rich mashed potatoes, and the other half I use to make whip cream for pumpkin pie.

This year I had a batch of Baileys chillin’ in the fridge. I thought to myself, “Why would I use water when I can use BAILEYS??”

 

vegan baileys

 

Good point, self.

It turned out wonderfully and I ended up eating as much with a spoon as I did on the pie. No joke.

Easy Vegan Baileys Whip Cream

1 cup cashews, soaked for 12 hours or overnight

1/2 cup vegan baileys irish cream

1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste

After soaking the cashews overnight in water, drain and rinse.

Place the cashews in your VitaMix (if you don’t own one, use your regular blender and strain through a cheesecloth to make as smooth as possible.) Add your baileys and vanilla to the cashews. the liquid should measure just up to the top of the cashews. Remember—it’s easier to add more liquid, so start with slightly less than you think you’ll need. Blend for 2-3 minutes, until very very smooth.

The mix will probably be almost warm. Scoop it out, try a large sample to make sure it tastes up to par, try another sample just to make sure, then place in a sealed container until ready to go on pie.

That’s it!

This recipes makes about 1 1/2 cups of whip cream.

 

Here is a picture of cashew whipped cream I found from the internets:

cashew-cream225x181(from Savvy Vegetarian)

 

Optional:

* To make sweeter, add 1-2 Tablespoons maple syrup, agave, or sugar. If you use sugar, I’d recommend brown sugar to keep it consistent with the Baileys recipe. I found the baileys and cashews made it sweet enough for me.

* Try using Kahlua, amaretto or another liqueur in place of the Baileys.

* One could also use this on hot drinks like Spanish Coffee or Irish Coffee. I haven’t done this—YET—but bet it’d be DELICIOUS.