Strip teases with cutting-edge attractions

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New York and L.A. might set the trends for the rest of the country, but Las Vegas is in its own cutting-edge league. Pushing the envelope has always been part of this towns raison detre, so its no surprise these dining, shopping and entertainment attractions stretch the boundaries of form, fashion and, of course, taste.

Culinary avant-garde

" LAtelier de Joel Robuchon: Those who thought three-star Michelin cuisine and counter service were mutually exclusive may pull up a stool, as chef Joel Robuchon introduces his signature fare at LAtelier de Joel Robuchon at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Diners at the 23-seat counter are treated to dinner and a show as Robuchons innovative dishes are created before their eyes in the so-close-you-can-feel-the-heat exhibition kitchen.

The chefs concept of informal gourmet dining focuses on complex preparation and exquisite presentation of high-quality provisions in a casual setting. Highlights of Robuchons 10-course Discovery tasting menu ($95) include sauteed foie gras on a citrus gratin and egg cocotte topped with mushroom cream. LAtelier -- meaning the artists studio in French -- is an impressive demonstration of his craftwork.

" Hash House a Go Go: Hipsters nursing particularly bad hangovers head directly from the club to brunch at Hash House a Go Go, a new, off-Strip diner that offers twisted farm food in a funky, semi-industrial setting. Gargantuan portions of comfort food -- hashes, farm scrambles and benedicts -- satisfy lumberjack types, while other menu items appeal to those with more delicate physiques.

The mantra here is to keep the fun in food with farm-fresh ingredients and old recipes -- but revamped for the times. Alternative hashes include one with smoked salmon, cream cheese and scallions and another with corned beef, red onions and Swiss cheese. Note: The mango-coconut pancake, roughly the size and weight of a manhole cover, is big enough for two to share.

" Fleur de Lys: Food junkies who follow celebrity chefs like groupies now have the option of putting a unique, and costly, notch in their belts: the FleurBurger 5000, a $5,000 Kobe beef burger served at Fleur de Lys, in Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

This gastronomic jackpot topped with foie gras and black truffles is garnished with chef Hubert Kellers truffle sauce and served with a bottle of 1990 Chateau Petrus. The decadent few who order it probably would have no qualms about one-upping the chef -- and sending the burger back to the kitchen because its underdone.

Retail revolution

" Champagne Suzy Boutique: Discreetly hidden behind the escalators to Mandalay Place is the Champagne Suzy Boutique, the naughty retail outlet run by Hollywood nightlife icons Ivan Kane and Champagne Suzy. Their burlesque-inspired couture line features corsets, panties and nude mesh bras -- with pasties, of course.

These, and accessories like gloves and boas, fit right in as patrons slide next door to Ivan Kanes Forty Deuce club for an evening of cocktails, music and burlesque.

" ICE: Vegas largest freestanding dance club, ICE, is the latest attempt to unseat the Strip hotels domination of Vegas vibrant club scene. Judging by a recent Saturday night visit, ICE is chilling the competition.

Fitting with the clubs name, the interior is sophisticated and chic, yet simple and crisp. ICE attracts world-famous DJ talent, whose mixes resonate through the nations largest Funktion-One sound system, pumping 100,000 watts of power into the clubs 17,000 square feet. Go-go girls and special-effects systems complement the musical offerings, which include unique DVD video mixing. ICE is a giant, pulsating dance machine -- on steroids.

" The Fashionistas: Headquartered at Krave, the gay nightclub adjacent to the Aladdin Resort and Casino, is The Fashionistas, a gender-blending show pushing Vegas adult entertainment meter to the limit.

Considered by some to be the Strips sexiest show, The Fashionistas is a toned-down version of the pornographic movie of the same name, about a fashion designer who is lured into the world of S&M clubs. Fetish and fantasy share equal billing, as costumes and choreography push the envelope.

Thrilling, then chilling

" Insanity: This thrill ride at the Stratosphere Las Vegas Hotel and Casino exploits the buildings unique design and solidifies the Stratospheres lock on the Vegas thrill-ride market.

After leaving the security of the Stratospheres top floor and settling into Insanitys escape-proof seats, riders are quickly introduced to the Vegas skyline -- and the traffic on Las Vegas Boulevard 900 feet below -- as the rides 40-foot boom pivots over the edge of the building. 

The tranquility of the moment is quickly shattered as riders find themselves spinning at 40 mph while facing the ground, suspended by nothing more than a lap harness and three Gs of force. 

" Moorea Beach Club: There are pools, and then there are Vegas pools, such as Moorea Beach Club, an adults-only respite within Mandalay Bays pool and beach complex catering to those sunning themselves with, or without, bathing suit tops.

The club offers guests in the ultra-private Moorea Pavilion a range of amenities, including opium beds, chilled-towel service, cocktails and the option of a personal host, who provides services not clearly defined.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].

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