Access Vegas Insider Vibe – May 10, 2000

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This Issue: Center Stage Restaurant

Curious about a restaurant, event, or other Las Vegas attraction that looks fun? Let us review it for you first! Suggestions are always welcome at:


LAS VEGAS NEWS – of interest to tourists:BYE-BYE BELLAGIO ART – If you have not seen the masterpieces yet, and you want to, do it soon. MGM is going to be selling off most of the infamous art pieces currently on “permanent” display at Bellagio. In it’s place will be exhibitions arranged with private collectors, museums and other art galleries. Full story at

BIRDMAN OF LAS VEGAS – is opening at The Tropicana. Famous trainer Joe Krathwohl’s show features unique and rescued birds from around the world flying through hoops held by audience volunteers, majestic eagles that fly overhead, beautiful parrots and cockatoos that talk and sing, and more. The best part is the price: FREE and open to all ages! Show times are 11:00 AM, 12:30 PM, and 2:00 PM (dark Thursdays) in the Tropics Lounge.

MOTHER’S DAY – A variety of restaurants both on and off the Strip are offering specials for Mother’s Day. Full story at

10TH ANNUAL EPICUREAN AFFAIR 2000 – This dine-around affair at the Rio is billed as the “hospitality event of the year”, held poolside, and is open to the public. 60 Las Vegas restaurants and resorts serve an array of their house specialties. All cuisines are represented in abundance: American, Continental, Cajon, Italian, Asian, Mexican, French plus a variety of spirits and non-alcoholic drinks will be available. Top chefs display their restaurants’ culinary specialties and signature dishes. Plus, there will be a live band, DJ’s with go-go dancers, and a cigar lounge. Tickets are $100 a person if ordered before June 12 ($125 after). The event will commence June 14’th at 7:30 PM at The Rio. We’ll be at this one!

NEW MEXICO – People from New Mexico seem to love Las Vegas, so I imagine we have quite a few readers from that state. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those being impacted by the terrible fires there. I’m especially close to this as personal friend and former Las Vegas radio talk show host Jim Villinucci is the afternoon talk host on the #1 50,000 watt 770 AM KOB, which reaches most of the state including the affected area. During the day, you can listen to the station’s live breaking coverage online by going to

Winners! – Karen Wilcox of Raymond, OH won the T-shirt. Patricia Le Barron from Dunkirk, NY won the Hard Rock keychain.

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Quick Concert and Show Notes:

See which shows are playing during your stay and book reservations EVEN if the tickets aren’t on sale yet. Let ShowVegas takes care of all your needs directly online! Search by dates at

Junefest – This annual classic rock festival is the party of the year for many locals and tourists alike. This year’s lineup: Sammy Hagar, George Thorogood, Pat Benatar, Paul Rodgers, BTO, and Mark Farner plus a “huge fireworks display” after the show. Tickets are only $25.96 and available at (888) 464-2468.

Mandalay Bay – Johnny Winter on May 18, David Sandborn on May 19, Kenny Wayne Shepherd on May 20, Motorhead on May 21,Toto on May 26, Jefferson Starship on May 27, The Young Dubliners on May 28, Cowboy Junkies on Jun. 3, Cheap Trick on July 3, Queensryche on June 16 and 17, and Hall and Oats on July 21. Tickets available at (702) 474-4000 and Mandalay Bay discount rooms are available at (Mandalay Bay link).

MGM – Rodney Dangerfield on July 6-12 and again on Aug. 24-Sept. 6. Tickets are $85 and available at (800) 929-1111 and MGM discount rooms are available at (MGM link).


FEATURE STORY: Center Stage RestaurantA few years ago, I stumbled across what I still consider one of the best kept secrets in town: The Center Stage Restaurant at the Plaza hotel. I had avoided it for the very reasons many people avoid the Plaza all-together — the place is not exactly The Mirage. Low limit games, cheap drinks, older slot machines, a carpet that needed replacing years ago, and some of the worst lounge acts in town all combine to make The Plaza one of the last places you would consider getting a decent meal . Which is a shame …

center-stage.jpg (20547 bytes)If you stand in front of the Golden Gate at the end of Fremont St. and look straight up at the Plaza, you notice a glass dome. Tucked away upstair in a quiet part of the hotel where the carpet hasn’t worn out yet sits the very best view of Fremont St. available to the public. The restaurant is actually pretty nice (they used it for the fine dining scene in the film Casino), and in keeping with owner Jackie Gaughn’s “low roller” tradition, the food is good, the view is great, and the prices are very reasonable.

Appetizers are well portioned, running for compote of fresh fruit ($3.50) to lobster or jumbo shrimp cocktail ($7.50). However, you might want to skip them and save room for the main course as they don’t skimp on the food.

I’m a sucker for their prime rib. Mr. Gaughn is originally from Nebraska and word has it that he gets his beef from that part of the country. The complete prime rib dinner only runs $11.95 and all dinners come with choice of French Onion Soup, Soup ju Jour, or dinner salad, Vegetable du Jour, as well as choice of potato, rice, or Fettucine Alfredo and a wonderfully unique fresh baked loaf of bread.

Dinners start at a very modest price with the Southern Fried Chicken ($7.50) and Chicken Sicilian ($9.50). Meat eaters will enjoy Baby Back Pork Ribs (a full rack, $11.95), New York Steak (regular or Cajun, $11.95), Porterhouse ($13.95), Filet Mignon ($15.95) and Broiled Lamb Chops ($16.95).

From the sea, I love their Idaho Broiled Rainbow Trout ($11.50) but don’t limit yourself: they offer Shrimp, Orange Roughy, Alaskan King Crab Legs, and Scampi Meuniere ranging from $11.95 to $16.95. Another great meal is the Whole Fresh Maine Lobster with Crab stuffing ($19.95). Combos are available: New York Steak & Shrimp is always good ($13.95), as well as New York Steak & King Crab Legs ($16.95), but I like to go all out with the Lobster Tail and New York Steak Combo ($27.95).

Desert selection is limited and runs $3.00 to $4.50. Don’t ask me about them — I’ve always been too stuffed to try one but they look good!

This isn’t Picasso or Delmonico. While it is their “gourmet” room, please remember that you are at the Plaza. However, the value is unmatched. You are paying coffee shop prices for the food, but atmosphere and service are well above coffee shop standards, even when the view isn’t taken into account. Add an unparalleled, splendid view of Fremont St. and you have my #1 best kept secret in Las Vegas. I have taken friends, family, dates, and clients to the Center Stage and never had a bad experience.

The Center Stage Restaurant is upstairs in the Plaza Hotel downtown. They open at 5:00 PM and last seating is at 10:30 PM. Reservations are suggested — smoking needs to be requested in order to be seated in the dome with a view, although the dome’s high ceiling and good ventilation make is a moot point to all but those who are very sensitive to smoke. They generally make every effort to seat people in the dome. However, when busy, a discrete $5 tip to the maitre d’ with a view request will be honored although you may have to spend a few minutes at the bar if dome seating isn’t immediately available.



>I would like to know if any of Vegas hotels offer a behind the scenes
>tour of the building. My husband is in building maintenance and was
>fascinated by a program on Discovery about the Venetian. We are
>visiting in two weeks and will be staying at Harrahs.

There are none that I’m aware of that individuals can take at this time. The closest might be the “behind the scenes” tour of the Secret Garden’s of Siegfried and Roy (info archived at ). Also, if you have a group of 15 or more, EFX at the MGM has a backstage tour available.

I imagine security issues have much to do with this. If there are building tours that we are unaware of, please drop us a note:

Jim and Judy from Peoria wrote:

>I am surprised to hear your glowing report on the Flamingo garden
>buffet.á Three years ago we tried it — It came with a nice little
>bottle of wine.á The food was ok but that’s all.á The price was NOT
>$15 however it was much cheaper and we had a “toofer” It was a nice
>experience however for the price and the wine.á Two years ago we went
>back and the wine was gone and food was truly blah.á Not bad — just
>blah.á This year we did not go even though the setting is quite nice.
>Maybe the price increase made the difference.á They really needed to
>work on that uninspiring buffet.á We will try again on your word but
>if it doesn’t pan out we will let you know.

One of the very reasons we publish this newsletter is because things change so quickly in Las Vegas. Three years ago, you could get a room at The Sands, The Hacienda, or the (old) Aladdin. Three years ago, Enter the Night was the long running show at the Stardust. Three years ago, the Flamingo’s buffet was lousy for the money.

Interestingly enough (and for that very reason), I had no interest in checking the “new” Paradise Garden Buffet out but the requests for info as well as the buzz have been overwhelming. I not only enjoyed it, but I’ll be a regular.

While I’m on the topic and since people ask: I do request and accept media comps for shows, but pay my own way into restaurants. Neither influences a review. The majority of my reviews are pretty positive, but that is to be expected as I give priority to longer running shows that have proven themselves and dining establishments that are known good values.

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Your input is welcome. Write us a “letter to the editor” at Please include your name if you wish to have it published (stating your city is optional). Also, guest article submissions are welcome with full credit to you, your website, etc. if accepted.

Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Scenic Southwest Tours – by plane, bus, or even helicopter! You’ve seen the glossy ads in the tourist brochures. You’ve thought about it. You come all the way to Las Vegas — why not see one of the some of the most famous landmarks in the world! Don’t by tricked by web sites & magazines that offer discount tours. Taxes, park fees, permits can almost double the price. Our prices are inclusive – no hidden charges! Best Las Vegas Tours

FREE CONTESTS:Note: You may enter every contest, but only one entry to each. Please note the expiration date and only enter if you will be in town and can use them. The 20’th entry in each contest will be the winner (unless otherwise noted or link to outside contest). Just sent a blank email to the specified email address — we’ll get your mailing address from you only if you win. Also, please do not enter if you have won within the past month.

Sun Country has brought back its Fly Free For A Year giveaway. To enter, visit and tell, in 50 words or less, what you would do if you could fly free for a year.

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Have a request for a review? Boggled when you come to town and see the hundreds of dining, attraction, and show opportunities? Let us know what you’d like to hear about! Unlike the tourist magazines where all of the “articles” are really paid ads, we give you the honest scoop. If you appreciate this service, please consider booking your rooms and rental cars for ALL destinations with us at You get secure ordering with the convenience and savings of booking online!

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All contents copyright MM Ted Newkirk. All Rights Reserved.
May 10, 2000