By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
More conscientious eaters can try their luck at the Kitchens' extensive salad station, Martha's Harvest, that brims with healthy deli-quality salads, fresh veggies and dips. The spread also includes a cornucopia of very fresh fruit, as well as more crab legs -- these are cold -- and chilled shrimp.
We close out our whirlwind tour with a few offerings from Pierre's, where the sweet-tooth-boggling array of wonders is another big win for not-quite-full gamblers. Various respectable versions of cheesecake (including one delicious model with a head-spinning, anti-freeze-colored green-apple sauce) deliver the dessert goods, as do a toothy bourbon-pecan pie and a gazillion artfully decorated chocolate nibbles. There's also an orchard's worth of fruit pies, two slices of which fall victim to our next-door diner, who digs deep into pieces of apple and cherry. When she finally heads off into the casino, she leaves behind a few bits of crust -- and half of a third slice.
She's finally had her fill, as have we. "What's wrong?" a table-clearer asks my wife, whose face apparently reflects her difficulty in stomaching her dinner. "You're gambling; you're supposed to be having fun." When informed that we're not really gamblers, she stares at us in disbelief, then asks, "You're not here for the food, are you?"
Thus inspired, we settle in at two of the Hyatt's video-poker machines and enjoy complimentary shots delivered by smiling professionals working the rows of games. Jim Beam pairs nicely with the "ka-ching" of dropping quarters and the stellar rendition of "Luckenbach, Texas" delivered by a quartet playing a few yards away in the Wild Fire Lounge. (The lounge is perfect casino kitsch, an in-the-round stage centered above the bartender island that puts players in closer reach of the spirits than the stage at Denver's Lion's Lair.)
Armed with a pair of ten-dollar quarter rolls and bourbon aperitifs, we feel like stock Vegas tourists. Five bucks later, my wife whispers to herself: "Oh, my gosh!" Six hundred quarters spill into the bottom of her machine, a pay-off from four wild-card deuces.
That $150 payday is all the action we need.