photos courtesy Shelley Stepanek 

If you have been to Las Vegas in the last four years, you probably have walked in the area of T-Mobile, Park MGM and the block of restaurants in the The Park. You’ve probably looked at the giant burning man statue of a lady. And hopefully you have sampled some of the great restaurants. One such place is SAKE ROK, which is celebrating its three-year anniversary this week. Sushi, Sake and Spectacle as they like to say, and it has a great menu and sumo wrestling contests, the World’s Large Group Sake Bomb Attempts and more. Everyone raves about the Shishito Peppers and the Garlic Corn, and be sure and try the Rok Shrimp. Stop before any of the concerts or sporting events at T-Mobile and prepare for a rollicking time. The waiters are courteous and very funny. Open daily from noon-10 p.m.

The lovely JW Marriott had a full convention room with the FOLEY FAMILY WINE DINNER. The Foley family is the major stockholder in the Las Vegas Knights, and owns some wonderful vineyards in California, Oregon, Washington and New Zealand. The three superb chefs of the night came up with an incredible menu. Starting with a cocktail reception, passed canapes included Beluga Caviar, Olive Tapenade and Baby Heirloom Tomato Skewers. Up first was Lucien Albrecht Crémant D’Alsace Brut Rose. First course was 2016 Banshee Chardonnay with Salmon Tartare, followed by 2015 Two Sisters Pinot Noir with Crisp Duck Breast. The third course was a 2014 Foley Sonoma Estate Cabernet with Braised Lamb Shank served with potato parsnip emulsion, confit garlic, pearl onion and spring pea sauce. Dessert wine included a 2014 Chalk Hill Estate Botryised Semillon with Wine Poached Pear. The food was tremendous. There was a table filled with lovely chocolates and truffles. Most of the attendees were high rollers from the hotel, so I was honored to find a seat among them. And many thanks to the wonderful Chef Devin Plendeileith along with Hector and Charles. Their pairings and skill were noticed by everyone. 

RI RA has a surprise offering, an afternoon tea experience. Well known for its Irish food and atmosphere, this lovely restaurant located in the Shops at Mandalay Bay can treat you to a very authentic British tradition. I experienced it and what an occasion. RI RA has a great room specially set aside. Have you never done afternoon tea? Start by picking one of many teas and they prepare your own private pot. There is The Dunbrody Afternoon Tea, with a selection of finger sandwiches including Ham & Tomato, Egg & Mayo, Cheddar & Ballmaloe and Cucumber & Crème Fraiche, along with fresh scones and Irish preserves, and a great selection of cakes and fancies. $24 p/p. Or try the MacNean Afternoon Tea, with sandwiches to include Coronation Chicken, Goat Cheese & Peppers, Smoked Salmon and Ham & Caramelized Onions again with scones and desserts for $35. What a way to unwind any time of the week. Served from 11 a.m.-to 4 p.m. Perfect for birthdays or just generally a nice day out with the ladies. The GM, Scott Sherman, was great, and please ask for Martin as your waiter. If you are just wanting to try some good old Irish and pub food, with a pint of brew, this is definitely where you want to be, so stop in. Plenty of great shops in Mandalay Place, so experience a few others after you dine.

Derby Day in Las Vegas? Other than Churchill Downs where else can you see it the best? In Las Vegas, specifically at BEER PARK in the Paris Hotel. Second floor overlooking the Strip this huge outdoor beer extravaganza gives the best view around with plenty of TVs for viewing all sports. The food is outstanding and there are more than 100 beers to pick from. Start with a 7-Layer Dip, Hummus or the Guacamole as an appetizer. Or maybe a huge batch of Nachos with hatch green chilis, Chicken Quesadilla or Sliders. Maybe a Breakfast Burrito, a Granola Parfait, French Toast Sticks or Smoked Brisket Hash if you are out for brunch. Some of the sides are macaroni salad, jalapeno slaw, Caesar pasta salad, mac and cheese or tator tots. The Avocado Toast is layered with a ton of avocado and quartered slices of egg, totally a full meal in itself. The Ahi Tuna Burger is cooked to perfection, along with the Guacamole and Falafel Burgers or the Cajon Turkey Club. The tables get a great breeze with huge overhead fans, to cool you on a hot summer day. Long tables with ice pockets keep beers cool. Great skyline views and fun music, with strolling guitar players. Open 11 a.m.-2 a.m. 702-444-4500 for reservations.