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By Dianne R. Davis
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Photo credit: Dianne R. Davis or Burton Davis unless otherwise noted.


First Food & Bar Offers Late Night & Upscale Dining

First Food & Bar caters to everyone from those who stagger in to feed their late night cravings to tourists to those looking for mid day business lunch.

Think First. That's the thing to do if you are looking for a late night snack (until 2:AM) or even a full meal that is tasty and unique. First Food & Bar on the second floor in the Shoppes at the Palazzo is a great spot for upscale dining – before or after. Enjoy dinner before or after a show or gambling. If you're on your way to a night of clubbing, begin at First first!

For starters, the decor in the 10,000 sq. ft. restaurant is appealing with its high open ceilings and crisp urban design. Huge windows give you an excellent view of the strip. The décor is modern, vintage, and gothic brought together with dark warm colors.

My husband and I visited First at 10 PM while the menu was being transitioned from dinner to late night and. We sampled several items on both the dinner and late night menus.

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We loved the huge freshly-baked pretzels served in lieu of bread or rolls, but accompanied by honey mustard, mustard vinaigrette, and mustard butter sauces. The appetizers called "sharables", were large portions of genuinely unique offerings ranging from $13-$19.

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Walnut Shrimp

We sampled the goat cheese soufflé – outstanding; fried calamari – light and flavorful; Philly cheese steak dumplings- spicy treat, and walnut shrimp- sweet, generous, and tasty.  Each had an appealing presentation and interesting flavor.

The lobster chowder ($15) was flavored with secret spices and contained chunks of lobste, shrimp, crab, and salted pork. The First chopped salad ($13) is strongly and deliciously accented with mid eastern spices, chopped green “stuff”, olives, and falafel bits.

 

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Panko Crusted Barramundi


I had Panko crusted Barramundi (Sea Bass) enhanced with lobster wontons, pea shoots, and lobster Sauterne cream ($28).

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Hubby chowed down on the butcher cut steak and fries($27).  He enjoyed the garlic butter flavoring and heaping stack of shoestring fries.

 

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First's Signature Dessert was light and delightful.

At our waiter Glen’s suggestion, we sampled their signature dessert, freshly made donuts with chocolate, strawberry and butterscotch dipping sauces. This is a tasty must-try.  If you have no room for dessert, take them home for breakfast.

The late night menu features a variety of gourmet burgers and specialty sandwiches. Next time, we plan to sample the Duck Confit Bahn Mi, served with picked veggies, jalapeno, mint, and cilantro.  Sounds intriguing.  The two handed BLTA had me wondering.  BLT I know, had to ask about the A.  It’s avocado and is served with chipotle mayo ($19). The Cuban sandwich sounds like another great option.  It’s ham, roast pork, and Swiss with mustard and pickles. ($17).

First Food and Bar offers a Sunday Brunch that features many of the late night items, a mobile bloody Mary bar, and some untraditional breakfast items such as Pad Thai omelet, turkey sausage corn dogs and eggs, and lemon poppy flapjacks.

Sam DeMarco (known to his friends as Sammy D) is the executive chef of First Food and Bar. (He  also has a restaurant in the East Village of NYC.) First Food and Bar is a hip, yet casual restaurant located at the center of The Strip.  It’s worth visiting. There is a strong following by the industry crowd, but its a great place for tourists as well. Bring a wrap. It's kept cool, even in the middle of summer.

The restaurant is open daily from 11AM until 2AM. Contact 702 347 6478 or www.firstfoodandbar.com for more information and to check for ever-changing happy hour and locals' specials.  And don't forget to say hi to Sam.

 

The Rat Pack is Back. Enjoy them at the Rio!

Frank, Sammy, Dean, and Joey are at the Rio nightly at 8:30 p.m. singing, joking, and bringing us back to the days when The Rat Pack helped shape Vegas into the entertainment capital of the world.  And, as an added bonus, Marilyn might make an appearance!

 

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Photo courtesy of Rat Pack Is Back


The film clips of the Rat Pack members and their friends at the beginning set the direction – back in time. Comedian Mickey Joseph brings his talent to the role of Joey Bishop, warming the audience and serving as the foil for the guys who knew how to party and did, right in front of their audiences.  The music  goes  All The Way. Drew Anthony nails the role of  Dean Martin with the look and the sound that made Dean so popular. Oh yeah, he’s got the glass in his hand as well as he has the audience sing along to Volare. You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You, but you’ll love Dean, especially backed by the wonderful 12 piece Lon Bronson orchestra under the direction of Joey Farina.

 

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Photo courtesy of Rat Pack Is Back

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Photo courtesy of Rat Pack Is Back



Kenny Jones is black and short, but otherwise doesn’t bear much physical resemblance to Sammy Davis, Jr, yet he connects with the audience through his voice, mannerisms, and talent.  He entertains us with That Old Black Magic and Hey There, followed by Something’s Gotta Give and What Kind of Fool Am I. How could we have Sammy without  The Candyman.  He isn’t Sammy, no one is, but does okay with Mr. Bo Jangles.

I saw  Peter Pavone substituting in  the role of Frank and he was fine, bringing that tell-a-story approach along with the accent and inflections to the role of the famed Chairman of the Board.  He did nicely with Fly Me To The Moon and You Make Me Feel So Young.  Sammy & Frank donned white straw hats to serenade us with Me & My Shadow.  And then there was Marilyn played by Jami Edwards singing Happy Birthday as she caressed the bald head of one fortunate smiling audience member.
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Photo courtesy of Rat Pack Is Back

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Photo courtesy of Rat Pack Is Back

The show included some friendly bantering and humorous antics and all of them singing Luck Be A Lady Tonight.  If you enjoyed the music and fun of the Rat Pack, then take a trip to the Crown Theater at the Rio for your nostalgic and enjoyable journey down Memory Lane.

Periodically, other Rat Pack shows come and go.  I agree with what the producer Dick Feeney told me -- this is the one to see -- with the full orchestra. The Rat Pack is Back at the Rio nightly at 8:30 p.m.  Prices begin at $62.10 plus taxes and fees.

 

Smokey Joe’s Café  Comes to Green Valley Ranch

The neon lights may shine bright on Broadway, but RagTag Entertainment is bringing them  to Green Valley Ranch with the smash hit Smokey Joe's Cafe. Performances are Tuesday, September 13th; Sunday, September 18th; and Tuesday, September 27th – all at 8 PM.  

Forty memorable songs from the 1950's and 60's written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller are sure to bring nostalgia to audience members. These are the top songs right out of the early Rock and Roll era that have been immortalized by great talents such as Elvis Presley, Big Mama Thornton, The Coasters and Peggy Lee.

Director Aaron Coulson has pulled together a dynamic cast of five men and four women, each currently performing in various venues in Las Vegas to create this multi-talented cast of Smokey Joe's Cafe.  The cast includes Francesca T. Camus, Skye Dee Miles, Stephanie Sanchez, Sandra Stimmel Huntsman, Bobby Black, Brandon Nix, Lamont Russell, Lance Bryant and Ted Zervoulakos.

Smokey Joe’s Cafe will take you on a trip down memory lane with songs such as "Dance With Me", "Ruby Baby", “Hound Dog", "Why Do Fools Fall in Love", "Stand By Me", "Jailhouse Rock" and many more timeless classics.  Performed in an intimate setting at the Ovation Show Room, these performers will have you clapping, singing and maybe even dancing your way through 90 minutes of non-stop entertainment.

Get your tickets now for one of the only three performances, all benefiting the Olive Crest foundation.(www.olivecrest.org ) Tickets are only $10 dollars so bring your whole family and tell your friends. Performances are Tuesday, September 13th; Sunday, September 18th; and Tuesday, September 27th – all at 8 PM.


Tropicana to host Poker Tournament for Brad Garrett's Maximum Hope Foundation

Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club may be a great place for laughs, but the three-time Emmy-winning comic is also serious about charity.  On Saturday, September 17, Tropicana Las Vegas resort and casino will welcome the second “All-In for All-Good” Hold’em Tournament, benefiting his Maximum Hope Foundation.

Hosted by Brad Garrett, the charity tournament will welcome professional poker players and celebrity guests including Ray Romano, Jason Alexander, Cheryl Hines and poker champion Annie Duke to compete for a $5,000 grand prize. The final round will take place in Tropicana’s new, ultra-plush Poker Room.  Others celebrity Hold'em tourney players scheduled to attend include Teri Hatcher, Kevin Nealon, Susan Yeagley, Hank Azaria, Dennis Phillips, Cyndy Violette, Dany Georges, Larry Johnson and Jerry Tarkanian*.  Special Room Rates, Packages and Player Perks are Available.

The  $500 entry fee for the tournament includes a buffet during the tournament and cash bars.  For players and non-players, there will be a silent auction with rare musical, sports, and entertainment memorabilia. The day before the tournament, registered players may request free tickets to Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club (first 150 requestors only).

Brad Garrett is the founder of Maximum Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers compassionate, practical assistance to families caring for a child with life-limiting illness.  

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