Sinatra: Not Exactly My Way

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I have wanted to dine at the Wynn or Encore since they opened, but whenever I’m there, the line for the buffet is miles long and I suffer sticker shock when I peruse the restaurant menus. But I finally broke down and had dinner at Sinatra on my last trip because I was starving and yes, the buffet line was a mile long again. I’d heard terrific things about the restaurant’s Sinatra Smash, but it wasn’t the cocktails I was going for. I was in the mood for pasta, so an Italian restaurant was just the ticket–or so I thought. It turned out to be not quite the experience I had hoped for.

The Wynn-Encore "complex"

The Wynn-Encore "complex"

Sinatra is a very classy restaurant, no doubt about it. (Way too classy for me to snap photos in, so I’ve got none for you–sorry.) The decor is upscale yet comfortable, and they have piped-in Sinatra standards playing in the background. (That part was very cool. I love Sinatra standards.) There are prints of Ol’ Blue Eyes on the walls around the restaurant. The theme really works. What didn’t work for me was that the staff didn’t seem to know (or care) how to make a solo diner feel comfortable.

I’m a big fan of eating at the bar when there is one and I’m dining alone. There is a (very) small bar area outside Sinatra’s dining room, behind the hostess stand, but the hostess didn’t offer it as an option, and there was no one else there–not even a bartender–when I arrived, so I didn’t ask for it. Who wants to be seen eating alone at the bar outside the restaurant proper by all the other customers walking by, as if you weren’t good enough to get into the restaurant itself?

As I was shown to my seat in the not-quite-full dining room, I spied an open two-top table by the window facing the garden. It was night, so there wouldn’t have been a lot to look at through the window, but something’s better than nothing. Unfortunately, that is not the table I was shown to.

Instead, I was seated at a two-top that was crammed between a server station and a table of four. There were mere inches between my table and the one next to me, and no room on the other side, either. The waiter literally had to pull the table out for me to squeeze into my seat behind the table, facing the room. Awkward. Had the restaurant been a bit noisier or more casual, I might have asked for that window table instead or changed my mind about eating there, but I didn’t want to make a scene in an upscale restaurant like this, so I kept quiet. My mistake.

Encore

Encore

Once I was wedged into my seat–and I do mean wedged; I had a hard time getting out when I was done eating without dragging the tablecloth right off both tables, and I am not a large person–service was what you would expect from a restaurant like this: professional, efficient, none of the chummy, “we’re all pals here” banter that you get at more casual restaurants. (Which is too bad, because as a solo diner, I appreciate that level of friendliness from my servers.)

I ordered my meal fairly quickly and then settled in for the long wait for it to arrive. I had my journal with me, but it didn’t take very long to jot down notes on the restaurant and everything else I’d done since the last time I’d journaled. This wasn’t the kind of restaurant where it seemed appropriate to whip out my cell phone and start texting people. And there was nothing else to do while I waited for my food.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to pretend you’re not eavesdropping on the conversation at the table six inches away from you when you have nothing to occupy your attention except your thoughts and some breadsticks? Or to pretend that you’re perfectly comfortable doing nothing but sitting there staring off into space? It was excruciating. At that point, I just wanted to eat quickly and get out of there.

I tried, believe me. But the lasagna came in a little skillet and it was still piping hot from the oven. I kept burning my mouth on it. So eating quickly was not an option.

I suppose I should describe the food: The lasagna was meat-based and good, pure comfort food. But for that price, it should have been better than good. It should have been the best damn lasagna I’ve ever had. It was fine, but there was nothing about it to justify the price.

For a couple out for a romantic evening, I think this restaurant would be a good choice. The food is decent, but it’s the atmosphere that really makes this place–the Sinatra standards and the classy decor give it a bit of an old-school Vegas feel. It’s quiet enough that you can actually have a conversation without shouting across the table, and it is one of the few restaurants I’ve been to in Las Vegas that wasn’t so dark I needed a headlamp.

But I cannot recommend it to solo diners. The only way I’d go back to Sinatra is if I had company. . .and only then if my companions insisted. I’d rather throw my business to a restaurant that knows how to make its solo diners feel welcome and comfortable.

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15 thoughts on “Sinatra: Not Exactly My Way

  1. Blonde4ever

    That is too bad. I tend to take whatever I am given too. I guess the message is we need to learn to speak up for what we want. I think if you had been at the nice, comfortable table you have felt better about the whole experience.

  2. Gray

    I agree, Bonnie. If I’d had that two-top near the window, more personal space, or even a friendly bar area to dine at, it could have been a whole different experience. I normally do suggest where I want to sit when I go out to eat, but at the classier restaurants, I’m a little too intimidated to speak up. I need to work on that.

  3. Cindy

    It can be tough to speak up, but I have found the classy places are fine with it and even respect you for speaking up. It shows them you’re a customer that knows what she wants. And that if you are doing it in a nice way that’s even better. I also think it’s perfectly fine to text or look at your smartphone in a fancy restaurant. It’s a different story if you’re talking loudly on the phone that can annoy others but it’s fine just to be looking at a screen in tapping away.

  4. Grrrl Traveler

    Sometimes I speak up, sometimes I’m just too tired. But if I’m paying a lot of money for it, I try to get the best spot. ha ha… With Las Vegas, I always feel there’s a method to the madness of placing people. I don’t know how hostesses choose the spots they do because they tend to either be in the busiest corner or the least. Perhaps she was trying to fill a servers quota.

  5. Gray

    Could be that, Christine, or I also wondered if they were holding the window table for a couple who had a reservation, and since I was a walk-in, I had to take whatever they gave me. Could have been a number of reasons, I suppose, but honestly, the table I was sitting at just shouldn’t exist. Give the table for four more room to spread out and have a little personal space.

  6. Jay

    I’ve had a hard time being impressed by the food/service in Vegas lately.

    I’m heading back in January to celebrate my partner’s 40th birthday (don’t tell him I posted that) — and there will be 8 of us on the trip.

    I’m trying hard to come up with dining plans. Ugh .. any suggestions?

    Solo or otherwise, the food/service has been meh lately.

  7. Gray

    LOL, since I don’t know your partner, I think your secret is safe with me, Jay. Dinner for 8, eh? Hmm….How upscale are you looking to go? Maybe you should hedge your bets by going somewhere with an impressive view…that way, even if the food doesn’t quite live up to expectations, you’ll always have the view to remember?

  8. Rob

    That’s too bad you had such a poor experience, and paid plenty for it to boot. How unfortunate. I usually go for a lot more casual dining (to say the least) when in Vegas.

    That the Wynn has a restaurant named after Sinatra reminds me that Steve Wynn got a huge boost early in his Vegas “career” by having Frank do commercials with him for the Golden Nugget back in the 70’s when Wynn owned (or at least ran) that hotel. They were very funny commercials (“more towels”) that boosted both the Nugget and Wynn.

  9. Sarah

    The restaurant and food sounds terrific, and I agree that we shouldn’t in those kinds of places alone. I guess, I already felt that way before which is why I never tried eating alone. Too bad you didn’t get to enjoy the food as you should have.

  10. ikerumbus

    I go to the Wynn Buffet right before 11am usually sometime during the week and pay breakfast prices for Lunch. I rarely see a long line during this time.

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