The Venetian, Las Vegas

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We were only in Las Vegas for two nights as part of our California road trip last month so time was precious, and after flaking out by 9.30pm from a severe case of jet-lag on night one, night two had some very high hopes to live up to!

Las Vegas Boulevard is literally just that – a long strip road, which holds on one side or the other, everything you can conjure up in your mind which represents the Vegas you have seen on so many films and music videos – be it the front of the Flamingo casino with its blinding 70’s style illuminations, the half size replica of the Eiffel Tower standing proudly out of the Paris hotel, or the giant billboards advertising Cirque de Soleil in as many different themed productions as there are ticket sellers for “naked girl shows”

To say we only had one full day, we covered a lot of ground, and even managed to fit in a lunch at the Paris – what better way to visit Paris whilst in Vegas than moules frittes and a pint of Stella on the outside terrace, watching every American demographic imaginable roam up and down The Strip!

Having epically failed to get into the Vegas spirit on our first night, we made sure we were back to our hotel, The Mirage, early to tart ourselves up good and proper for a night on the tiles of Sin City.

The Rhum bar was our first stop – set off to the side of The Mirage, it was just an elevator ride away… and the Citrus Mojito was the perfect aperitif. As we sat and sipped and watched the sun go down over the Boulevard, we could see the golden letters down the side of The Venetian shimmering, almost beckoning us inside for a glamorous Italian dinner.

As we walked past the canal circling the hotel, and down onto the piazza outside the entrance we were greeted by a carnival parade – masked and medieval dancers, fire throwers and jesters on stilts provided some fantastically colourful pre-dinner entertainment.

Five minutes later and we had wondered through the rows of slot machines, bypassed the roulette tables and were exploring the halls of the hotel, which all ran parallel with the indoor canals, decorated with striped jumpers and gondolas.

Finally we walked out into St. Mark’s Square, or actually what was, dare I say it, better than the real deal itself! Building replicas, a perfect fake dusk sky, designer shops to drool over – with not an inch of scaffolding in sight. We spotted the restaurant hot-spot on the far side and headed over the cobbles to choose our menu for the evening.

We opted for Canaletto, a Venice inspired restaurant with a great open-air dining area which meant we could indulge in some people watching between courses whilst sipping our $40 bottle of red.

Canaletto is one of the fine dining options within The Venetian and is run by Chef Gianpaolo Putzu. The food was very typical of Italy, although not specifically Venice. I guess Venice being so seafood orientated, poses a small problem when you’re in the middle of the desert. However I ordered the slightly more desert friendly, and extremely Venetian, beef Carpaccio, which arrived adorned with capers and rocket – tissue paper thin and even, it was a great choice for a light starter.

We followed up with Cannelloni di Pollo and the Quattro Formaggi gnocchi fatti in Casa. Both equally rich and creamy, piping hot and full of indulgent flavour.

From dining in Venice last year, to dining at The Venetian in Las Vegas, I have to say there is simply no comparison. As much as you might begin to feel like you’re living out your romantic Venetian fantasies, there is something not quite right about the middle aged blonde with puffy lips, frozen eyebrows and a deep southern accent, serving your food, calling you honey and taking every opportunity to remind us that she works for tips.

She was friendly enough though and Canaletto is a great option for dinner in Vegas. I’d certainly go back.

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