Hello Cheap and Gluttonous Readers,
Randy's letting me write this Vegas Shrimp Cocktail review because he is afraid the world is going to end at the end of December and he is trying hard to be nice to all the people he has been mean to so he won't go to HELL. If you want to score some favors or cash from Randy, hit him up NOW cause after Jan 1, he is going to be one grouchy MoFoRising. So anyway, let me tell you about some cheap shrimp cocktails I chowed on recently.
Jokers Wild Casino, Henderson I have often terrorized the morning and mid-day buffets at this casino and also enjoyed their 99 cent shrimp cocktail when I just wanted to eat lite. Alas, on this visit I was porked because the snack bar had vanished leaving only suspiciously new and clean carpeting marking the spot. I stepped over to the nearby Keno Cage, puffed up my chest and proclaimed to the clerk "Please call security" and was impressed to see her snap to attention at this new development. I then completed my statement "...as it appears the snack bar has been stolen!" She relaxed, grinned and explained to me that there is some renovating going on and the future of the snack bar is uncertain. She then tells me that the shrimp cocktail should be available at the bar bar if the snack bar doesn't survive what I assume is bean counter scrutiny. I shall return.
Skyline Casino, Henderson Foiled by the Joker, I then zip northward for about 1/2 a mile North on Boulder Hwy, almost to Sunset, to the Skyline Casino and plop down at the bar and ask for a $1 shrimp cocktail. A friendly bow-tied bartender gets one of the pre-made cocktails from the chilled case, brings it over and takes my buck. I also get 2 packets of crackers. I head over to a quiet corner of the bar, log the weight of 23.8 oz with my trusty scale (same one that I used on the infamous Three Terrible Buffet Trail)
I pick up my fork and do my duty. The shrimp are firm and tasty and about an inch long. (If I was a real shrimp expert instead of just playing one on the internet, I could tell you exactly what "count" they were. I'll guess they were 100/110 to a pound) While they probably have been frozen, the texture and flavor were still quite good, the sauce quite tangy. I am happy. When I hit the bottom of the glass, back on the scale it goes, 19.0 oz even, the weight of a slightly used old fashion parfait glass. I had just consumed 4.8 oz of shrimp and sauce. One down.
The Gold Spike Next I head downtown and park near Temple Gold Spike, the spiritual home of the Cheapovegan cult. I pause outside, something is different...no way, the SPIKE has BEEN PAINTED!!! The temple of Squalor has been desecrated! Ayie Chihuahua! What Blasphemy is this! I flick a booger on the wall and then step inside and immediately draw the suspicious gaze of some of the other worshippers. I sigh, saddened that my brethren do not recognize a fellow pilgrim, come to pay homage.
In an attempt to regain center, I breath deeply and let the binding life aromas of the Spike permeate me and then head over to the Diner. There I request both a large and a small shrimp cocktail. The counter priestess walks down to the far end of the counter and spoons out 2 holy vessels of shrimp, ladles out the sacramental sauce, walks back, hands em over with a couple of packets of crackers and collects my offering. Total damage $1.50, a buck for the large and 50 cents for the small. Like a good pilgrim, I tithe 50 cents extra. The priestess is surprised and happy. Ah good karma. Ommm Shanti! I carry my bounty to a desolate section and sit down. Just as I am going to weigh the cocktails, a bus priestess comes on by and starts wiping down tables. I fiddle with my crackers until she leaves the vicinity then begin a solemn ritual that goes back to the earliest recorded history of my people.
The small cocktail is served in a clear plastic bowl and weighs 5.8 oz. The large one is served in a charmingly unpretentious foam bowl and weighs in at a mouth-whopping 11.8 oz. The pricing is obviously very linear. Pay 2x, get 2x. I wield my fork into my mounds of shrimpage like a farmer pitching hay and munch like the happy cow that I am.
The shrimp are small, about half an inch long in their curled up fetal positions. I'm going to guess it is +200 shrimp per pound. While they may be small, they are tasty, firm and good. The sauce lacked the fire of the Skyline but at this price who would complain. When I finish, I see that each container weighs less than 1/2 oz each. Ah, such deveined elegance and economy can only signify that THE Creator is near. Two Down.
The Golden Gate Next, I head over to The Golden Gate Casino at the West end of the Fremont Street neon canopy. Well known for their 99 cent cocktail and also the site of the infamous Matt and Stinky Summer Soiree Shrimp eating contests. I have eaten much shrimp here. I step up to the line and order 1 cocktail. I pay $1.06 cause they charge tax and then slink off to the corner. I notice I haven't been given any crackers. Strictly speaking, the GG charges extra for crackers but on my past 2 visits, I got crackers for free. Oh well. The cocktail weighs in at 23.8 oz just like the Skyline. Not surprising as it is also served in a heavy glass parfait glass. Alas, here is where the similarity ends. The shrimp, while about the same size as the Skyline, is much lower in quality, it is mushy and flavorless. While eating it is not unpleasant, it is a mechanical process. Good thing I have been trained to do this job by parts of your government you didn't know existed...I am reduced to my essence - a cold and ruthless, lean, mean eating machine that just won't stop until there is nothing left. Watch your fingers and keep small children far away! You have been warmed!
I know the low quality shrimp is not a fluke as it was the same on 2 previous patrols. I am saddened to think back to the shrimp cocktails served here last summer during the Battle of the Bulge. They appeared to be smaller then, being served in martini glasses but the shrimp seemed to be higher quality. Perhaps they cut the quality when they returned to the parfait glasses as field intel reports the martini style was only a temporary thing. At least the sauce was tangy, but not as much as the Skyline. The high point is the live piano player rendering some delightful vintage pieces. When I am done the glass weighs 19.4 oz or 4.4 oz of shrimp and sauce. Three down.
Fremont Casino, Lanai Snack Bar This is a little slice of Aloha and very, very Hawaiian with all kinds of Hawaiian food items. The Fremont is a Boyd property as is Jokers Wild and the contoured plastic cup is the same. Unlike the JW, the cocktails here are pre-made and evidently it is corporate procedure to first fill the narrow base of the cup with cocktail sauce then add the shrimp. At the Lanai, they then add a layer of minced celery and then the shrimp at then more sauce and a lemon wedge. (At JW, you get a celery stick instead of the celery layer and no lemon.)
Like the Golden Gate, the 99 cent cocktail ends up being $1.06 cause they also collect tax for the man. This shrimp pousse cafe weighted in at 12.6 oz, removing the lemon brought it down to 12.2 oz. After I consumed the 5.8 oz shrimp/sauce layer, it was down to 6.4 oz. A bit more archeology removed the celery layer and the cup and filler sauce now weighed 4.4 oz. Four down and I call it a day.
And the winners are, envelope please:
Best Cocktail - Skyline Casino - largest shrimp and best sauce. Decent machine margaritas for 99 cents too! If you are out near the Sunset Casino or even the Reserve, stop by this place near the corner of Sunset and Boulder Hwy.
Best Value - Temple Gold Spike - while the shrimp wasn't as big as the Skyline's, it was still firm and tasty. You get more than twice the shrimp of any other place and you get the unique ambience that is the Gold Spike. Drinks are 50 cents too!
Best Supporting Cocktail - The Boyd Properties Fremont Casino (and Jokers Wild again hopefully!) Good shrimp, on par with the Gold Spike, maybe even the same supplier. If you are too chicken to go to the Spike, eat here.
"Best Soundtrack" - the cocktail at the Golden Gate is not worthy. Bland, mushy. Might as well go to the Fremont. I sure hope they change this before next summer's shrimp eating contest. The live Piano player salvaged what was otherwise a wasted trip.
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