Sip Trips #208: Vegas Bound

To end March, Mrs. Sip and I entered the U.S. for the first time in over two years, which is a gap I thought I would never experience, unless I moved to another continent. We selected Las Vegas as the perfect place to celebrate our 20th dating anniversary and it was a journey full of good food, drinks and an adventure or two.

All the fun started at the Vancouver Airport, where we had a relaxed breakfast/lunch at the Canucks Bar & Grill. Their All-Dressed Poutine was one of the best poutines I’ve ever enjoyed and went really well with my mid-morning Stanley Park Wheels Up IPA.

Airport Drinking

In Vegas, we stayed at The Palazzo. Mrs. Sip booked us a Prestige Club room, which gave us access to the Prestige Lounge. We arrived just in time for happy hour on our first day, which featured free drinks from 4-7, along with delicious appies starting at 5. The staff at check-in and in the lounge were all fantastic and we would definitely recommend the Prestige experience.

For dinner that night, we had a reservation at Mon Ami Gabi. Mrs. Sip and I have enjoyed many meals over the years there, but our usual order of the Chilled Seafood Platter was sadly no longer on the menu. We adjusted and went with the Small Seafood Platter, along with the Escargot. All paired with a bottle of wine, we were even given a free dessert for our anniversary celebration.

The next day, we made the journey to the off-strip Ellis Island Hotel & Casino, home to Ellis Island Brewing. At The Front Yard restaurant, we enjoyed a couple $3 beers in the Amber Ale for me and Hefeweizen for Mrs. Sip. I also had a Bonfire Rauchbier for $5, while Mrs. Sip did a flight of the Hefeweizen, Wit, Belgian Tripel and Dubbel Trouble. To eat, we had an amazing CBR Flatbread, comprised of citrus garlic sauce, bacon, shredded chicken, pico de gallo and jalapeño cream.

Flatbread

Returning to The Venetian, we hit up happy hour at Trustworthy Brewing, which was my 200th brewery visited! There, I had the A Year in the Making American Amber Ale, while Mrs. Sip switched things up and drank a Southern Peach Smash (bourbon, peach nectar, ginger syrup, mint, ginger ale), as she is getting more into whiskey and bourbon cocktails of late.

Given we could also access The Venetian Prestige Lounge, we had happy hour there, allowing us to compare the two options. After another set of cocktails, we returned to The Palazzo side, where I squeaked in two more beverages for the road, enjoyed as we got ready for another night out.

While at The Paris the night before, Vanderpump à Paris caught Mrs. Sip’s eye, so we made that our destination for dinner. The restaurant had only been open for a couple weeks when we tried it and we had a fantastic experience. We ordered Bouef Wellington Sliders, Mini Monsieurs and Baked Brie En Croute to share, while Mrs. Sip had a glass of wine and I tried the Louvre At First Sight cocktail, which came in its own smoker shaped like the infamous Louvre Museum glass pyramid. The drink is called ‘A Smoked Work of Art’ and includes Gracias a Dios Mezcal, prickly pear, lemon, jalapeño honey, orange bitters, aquafaba and hickory smoke.

Cocktails

Our main event of the evening was supposed to be checking out the Omega Mart immersive art exhibit by Meow Wolf, which had caught the eye of both myself and Mrs. Sip. Sadly, once we got out to the Area 15 location, we learned the facility had been evacuated due to a fire alarm and the Omega Mart had been cancelled for the night. We still checked the Area 15 building out and had overly expensive drinks at its bar – seriously, $15 for an off-strip Spiced Rum and Coke??? – but the air had kind of come out of my sails with the Omega Mart debacle.

For our anniversary day, we did what good couples do best and went our separate ways for the day. While Mrs. Sip enjoyed some rest and relaxation poolside, I had a need to walk the strip and explore, since I hadn’t been to Vegas since March 2018. Along the way, I grabbed a few road beers, had a very good lunch from Dave’s Hot Chicken (which is apparently opening a couple locations in the Lower Mainland soon) and took care of buying some snacks and souvenirs for the family, along with our booze to bring home, in the form of bottles of Jameson Orange Whiskey and Bacardi Dragonberry Rum.

We reconvened to unfortunately have to race out and take care of our COVID antigen tests, which needed to be done as we returned on March 31, and the whole need to get this done in Canada was being eliminated on April 1. While Mrs. Sip inquired about changing our trip to avoid this, Air Canada (after many hours on hold to speak to an agent), said we couldn’t change anything because we had booked a vacation package. #BoycottAirCanada

Air Canada

Following our negative tests, we enjoyed a final Prestige Lounge happy hour at The Palazzo, toasting our 20 years together. We weren’t able to go too crazy on the hors d’oeuvres, though, as we had a big night out planned. That began with dinner at Picasso, my first Michelin Star restaurant experience. In fact, Picasso is ranked at two Michelin Stars and is thought to be one of the best restaurants in the U.S.

So, what did I think of the meal. Overall, I was a little disappointed, to be honest. Nothing really blew my mind and I’ve had $14 burgers make me lose all my bodily functions. The price of this meal was absurd… like, I won’t even print it absurd. I did leave overly stuffed, which Mrs. Sip says is rare for Michelin Star restaurants, since portions are usually doled out to perfection, so eaters get just enough and are comfortably full by the time the feast is finished.

Upon arrival, I ordered the Greyscale cocktail (Earl Grey-infused gin, orange oleo saccharum, fresh lemon juice and a splash of soda). I went with the Menu Dégustation (Tasting Menu), which included four courses plus dessert (Maine Lobster Salad, Pan Seared U-10 Day Boat Scallop, Sautéed Steak of “A” Foie Gras, Prime Petit Filet Mignon). Mrs. Sip did the Prix Fixe Menu (Warm Quail Salad, Sautéed Crispy Gnocchi and Sautéed Medallion of Fallow Deer) with wine pairings. The desserts were fantastic, but Mrs. Sip didn’t even get a wine pairing with hers. Part of the draw of the restaurant is the many Picasso paintings that adorn its walls. Since I’m not an art guy, I preferred to watch the Bellagio fountains from our table, but the music accompanying the fountains was hard to hear, so that detracted a little from the shows. As we left, we were given boxed chocolate, which Mrs. Sip and I still have to eat.

Michelin Restaurant

To end the evening, we attended the Absinthe show at Caesar’s Palace, which was as wild and raunchy as advertised. Going into the performance, Mrs. Sip and I shared an Absinthe Hallucinator cocktail (vodka, pomegranate, blood orange, lemon, absinthe), which helped get us into the spirit.

The next day, with mere hours before we had to checkout and head to the airport, we tried to get to The Chocolate Bar at New York New York, but it was closed when we arrived, despite online sources saying it was supposed to be open. Dejected, we hurried back to The Palazzo to check out and finally enjoy the welcome bubbly we didn’t have at arrival, since happy hour was afoot.

It was amazing being back in Las Vegas, especially after what the world has gone through the last couple years. I will say, though, I was feeling my age a little on this getaway, as I was in bed each night by about 1 a.m. and my feet were done long before that each evening. Maybe I just need to “train” better in advance of the next trip!

Sip Trips #160: Weezer & Wagyu

It’s been a steady few weeks for the Sip Family, full of celebrations and events to attend. Here’s what the crew has been up to since I was last able to put fingers to keyboard:

Mrs. Sip and I celebrated the 17th anniversary of our first date a couple weeks back and boy how times have changed. With Baby Sip now in tow, we like to spend the first portion of the day doing a family activity, leaving our evening to just the two of us. Our day started with checking out the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove. Baby Sip loved seeing all the animals and running around the park. I liked that you could bring your own bike or rollerblades or even rent one of those two-seater carriage bikes to get around the attraction. My only complaint for the place, is unlike our experience at the San Diego Zoo, you couldn’t explore with a beer or other adult libation in hand.

lions-at-zoo

Following the zoo, while Baby Sip napped, we took care of the beverage absence by visiting Old Abbey Ales. Last time we tried to go here, the door was locked following a change in ownership. This time went a lot smoother. We were very impressed by the brewery’s eclectic beer board, deciding we each needed a flight to cover off all the brews we were interested in trying. We sampled the Beets by Steve, Sippy Chai Aye, Call of Ktulu Squid Ink Stout, Gose Cuervo, Jolly Brewer Watermelon Light Lager, Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Quila Grapefruit, and Fizzical Contradiction Brut IPA.

To finish off the busy day, we had a Vancouver Canucks game to attend. To use up the last of our season ticket membership gift cards, I bought a tall serving of Hoyne Dark Matter, which was a nice sipper through the first period. We also tried to go to Devil’s Elbow after the contest, but wouldn’t be able to be seated for about 25 minutes, so elected to return home and relieve our babysitters. We remedied this with a quick stop there a few nights later prior to our last game of the season, each enjoying a serving of the Howe Sound Wee Beastie Scotch Ale.

As an anniversary gift, Mrs. Sip signed us up to be ‘original patrons’ of Another Beer Company (ABC), which should be opening soon in the Sapperton area. Our $250 investment in the brewery is returned to us with a gift card in that amount, as well as other perks such as merchandise and invites to special events. I was already excited for another brewery (no pun intended) to open so close to our home, but now I’m super amped to see this operation take off.

anniversary flaws

This previous weekend, we joined friends to attend the Weezer/Pixies concert at Rogers Arena. Prior to the show, we had dinner at Wildebeest, enjoying their Omakase (Japanese for “trust the chef” or “let us order for you”) menu, which lets diners set a menu price per person and then sit back and enjoy whatever concoctions the kitchen can come up with. Our meal was orgasmic, highlighted by their delicious Bone Marrow (we even did luge shots of sherry out of the used bone), Wagyu Tartare and main event of more Wagyu beef, this time in strip form. As for drinks, I imbibed with their Uppercut cocktail (Calvados, vermouth, Maraschino, orange bitters, peated Scotch), and a pair of Parkside Pale Ales at $5 happy hour pricing.

As for the concert, we had a fantastic time, although we missed the opening act as we wrapped up our meal. The Pixies and Weezer both put on a great show. At the arena, I had a couple Millstreet Tankhouse Ales and when we were invited to join a friend in his private box, a couple more bevvies were enjoyed. All in all, a spectacular way to spend a Sunday night!

Upcoming for the Sip Family is the Iron Assassin’s Demolition Derby in Abbotsford on Saturday and the long-awaited return of Game of Thrones the following day. We are also gearing up for the Easter long weekend, where we’ll be travelling with Ma and Pa Sip to Seattle for what should be a gluttonous holiday!

Sip Trips #151: Winter Resting

It’s been a while since the Sip Advisor provided an update on our adventures and that’s because there hasn’t been a whole lot of them. With the change in seasons and still settling into our new place, we’ve found ourselves sticking closer to home more often than not. Here’s what we’ve been up to lately:

On a recent date night for Mrs. Sip and I, we visited an old favourite in Patron Tacos & Cantina in Downtown Vancouver. There, we ordered our usual Queso Fundido and platter of Tacos, combining the two dishes for one incredible meal. I also downed a pair of Patron Lagers, which were on special for $5.50. The restaurant has always had good food and friendly staff, but on this visit, both of those factors seemed to have been improved even more so.

With a move to staying indoors a little more often, I’ve put together a wish list of winter beers to enjoy this season, working my way through a few of them. This has included: Stanley Park Layer Up Winter Wheat Ale, Whistler Black Tusk Chocolate Milk Ale, Dead Frog Red Rum Spiced Red Ale and Granville Island Tropical Stout. Still to be sampled from my “to do” list is the Old Yale Himalayan Salted Caramel Porter and Vancouver Island Misthorn Winter IPA. They will be mine… oh yes, they will be mine!

Frozen Beer.jpg

Last night, we finally emerged from our event hibernation to attend Craft Beer Market’s Cheers to 5 Years Anniversary Party. We have been frequent guests of the restaurant over our years living in Vancouver, celebrating birthdays and New Year’s Eves, so it was only fitting to join the festivities. Tickets were only $5 (plus tax), with proceeds going to the St. Vincent de Paul charity drive, which provides holiday hampers to 10 families in Vancouver. With entry, you received one ticket for a full-sized beer and access to unlimited beer and wine samples from those in attendance. Beer vendors in included: Moody Ales, Stanley Park, Steel & Oak, Granville Island, Strathcona, Steamworks, Longwood, Torchlight, Spectrum, Collective Arts, and Phantom. There were also appies floating around, but it wasn’t always easy to get your hands on them. With Baby Sip in tow, we took a seat in the restaurant area and ordered Chicken Wings and the Gaucho Chicken Flatbread for eats. The night ended with a tasty birthday cake and scrumptious ice cream sandwiches for dessert. Another fantastic event from the folks at Craft. I can’t wait for the next one!

While we haven’t been at our usual level of busy lately, the Christmas season is upon us and that means the schedule is filling quickly with lots of fun events. Tune in next week for another installment of Sip Trips!

Sip Trips #132: Celebrations Galore

The Sip Family has been super busy the last couple weeks. So busy, that I’m just now getting a chance to document our recent adventures. Here’s what we’ve been up to since I was last able to write:

A couple weekends’ ago, we celebrated Father-in-Law Sip’s birthday, taking our revelry to Backyard Winery, followed by Township 7 Winery, in Langley. While at Backyard, where we enjoyed a couple bottles of Pinot Gris and charcuterie platters, Mrs. Sip rejoined their wine club now that she’s no longer pregnant and breastfeeding. At Township 7, our group did a wine tasting, while I toured the grounds with Baby Sip, who was visiting the fifth winery of her young life.

Later that week, we enjoyed a meal at EXP Restaurant + Bar. There has been some concern the place will be forced out of business, due to Vancouver’s ridiculous rent prices, so we wanted to visit before anything tragic occured. We ordered a round of Harry Potter-themed cocktails that were all pretty tasty. My favourite was the Gryffindor’s Liquid Courage, thanks to the Jack Daniels Whiskey base. To eat, I ordered the Triforce Burger, which is comprised of a crispy chicken breast, beef burger and bacon. It’s quite the meal, but oh so delicious.

Triforce

Heading into Easter weekend, I picked Mrs. Sip up from work and we enjoyed a drink at Steel & Oak Brewing. The brewery has recently completed renovations to allow for more patrons and the space is much-needed, as the place is often packed. We ordered the Encore collaboration with Yellow Dog Brewing and really enjoyed the beer. That’s really no surprise, as the two breweries are among my favourite in the province.

The next day, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our 16th dating anniversary. We began the occasion by using the Groupon I had purchased for Big City Hunt, which offers scavenger hunts in a number of big cities. Even though we’re locals, we learned some neat things about downtown Vancouver, as we embarked on the two-hour tour, featuring trivia and photo challenges.

The main event of our anniversary was dining at the Top of Vancouver rotating restaurant. We split a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, along with a starter of Baked French Brie and mains of Duck Duo for me and Baked Whole Lobster for Mrs. Sip. The dinner was not cheap, but you’re partly paying for the view, which we enjoyed for over two hours and three full rotations of the restaurant.

Lobster Immortal.jpg

We wrapped our evening out by stopping at Nero Belgian Waffle Bar, where the alluring smell of fresh waffles forced us to investigate further. We split their set of seven Mini Liège Waffles, which provided the perfect dessert to our earlier feast.

The following day, we journeyed back to Langley to celebrate Mrs. Sip’s grandpa’s 93rd birthday at one of his favourite restaurants, Andreas. This place has an amazing menu and I can’t remember not liking any item that I have ordered. On this visit, I combined their French Onion Soup (which may have been the best serving I’ve ever had of the delicacy) with Chicken Fingers and Fries. The meal was decadent and the prices were all very reasonable.

On Easter Sunday, we met with friends at Big Ridge Brewing in Surrey. Having eaten recently, Mrs. Sip and I split an order of their Beer Battered Garlic Fries. These paired nicely with our beer selections of Viking Funeral Norwegian Ale for me and Vanilla Bean Porter for Mrs. Sip. Next time we’re out that way, I’d like to try something from their Asian Kitchen menu.

Chows Mane

Afterwards, we were off to Baby Sip’s first drive-in movie experience at Twilight Theatre in Aldergrove. Our films included Ready Player One and Game Night, both of which were enjoyable, despite some inclement weather, including a touch of hail during the shows.

Last, but not least, we also attended three Vancouver Canucks games in the last week, including the emotional final home game for the Sedin twins. This magical night will live long in my memory and Daniel and Henrik deserve every bit of praise they have received since announcing their impending retirements. Thank you to both of them for their 18 years of service, both on and off the ice.

The coming week remains loaded with commitments and activities, which you can read all about in next week’s Sip Trips!

Sip Trips #96: Much to Celebrate

The week that was started with Ma and Pa Sip joining me for dinner at Dunn’s Restaurant in Vancouver. This deli-style restaurant has been a favourite of the family for some time and this visit was no different. I paired my Classic Club with a pint of R&B Brewing’s Raven’s Cream Ale, which made for a solid combination. Ma Sip went with the tasty Fried Chicken Poutine, while Pa Sip enjoyed a Grilled Cheese with Onion Rings. All told, the meal was very good and we will return soon.

On Saturday, we had plans to celebrate Father-in-Law Sip’s birthday, but also met with a friend at the One20 Public House in Delta, for a drink. There, I ordered pints of Red Truck Blackberry Bourbon Ale and Four Winds Apparition West Coast White Ale. I was impressed with the pub’s extensive craft beer selection and look forward to future visits.

One20 Public House

Following that stop, we were off to the nearby Greek Village Restaurant, where souvlaki, saganaki and spanakopita were gorged on by our group. We have never had a bad experience at this eatery and it has become a regular destination for the Sip Advisor’s in-laws, as they renovate their home. The feast made Mrs. Sip and I really look forward to our cruise ports in Greece this May.

On Monday, Mrs. Sip and I hit the VIP Theatre at Marine Gateway, as we had passes that needed to be used. As we watched Logan (an awesome movie, by the way), I scarfed down a Chipotle Chicken Club Wrap and tried their Cherry Collins cocktail. While I’ll always argue that I make better Tom Collins drinks than most bars out there, this was a decent version and I liked the cherry infusion. The food was also very good. I’ve tried something different from the menu every time I’ve been to the VIP Theatre and I’ve never been disappointed yet.

For Tuesday night, Pa Sip was given a pair of Vancouver Canucks tickets and I was the lucky recipient of the extra pass. Prior to the game, we dined at Back Forty, located right across from BC Place’s Terry Fox Plaza. Accompanied by a couple beverages, I tried the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Po’Boy, which was very flavourful and spicy, thanks to the Sriracha and mustard. The service from staff was very quick and attentive, especially with drink orders.

Back Forty

To wrap up the week, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our 15th dating anniversary. I still can’t believe we’ve been together so long and how far we’ve come from the 18-year-olds we were when our journey first started. For the occasion, we picked up a Groupon for Blue Martini Jazz Café, which provided us each with a three-course meal and live entertainment from the Ray Ayotte Impromptu band.

Our meals consisted of meatballs, jambalaya and cheesecake for me, while Mrs. Sip went with a prosciutto and bocconcini bruschetta, salmon topped with shrimp and crab, and crème brulee. For drinks, I tried their Moscow Mule happy hour special and downed a pint of 33 Acres of Ocean with dinner.

I’m was very happy with where we ended up, but we were both amazed at how little there was to do around Vancouver on this Thursday night. While the rest of the week was littered with various events, there didn’t seem to be much going on this particular evening. That did push us to try this new experience, though, so it was all for the best!