Dinner and a movie

Every restaurant needs a hook. If you love the big screen and tasty food, Planet Hollywood is waiting for you to swallow its bait.

When entering this restaurant inside the Harrah’s hotel-casino, you weave through a maze of Hollywood memorabilia. Once seated, two big screens flash movie trailers. Diners are surrounded by pieces of Hollywood’s past: a tuxedo shirt worn by Jerry Lewis in the 1966 film, Way Way Out; Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl cowl and cape used in the Batman TV series; and a Cylon pistol used in the Battlestar Galactica series hang framed on the walls.

When my dining partner, Erin, and I were seated, the restaurant wasn’t very busy. The host seated us in a zebra-patterned booth with busy-patterned tablecloths to match. Normally, this type of table setting would bother me, but considering the surroundings, it fit what Planet Hollywood does. It creates a visual jungle of Hollywood, and the tacky patterns help the eye move to the next piece of Tinsel-Town memorabilia.

Since I had never been here before, it took me a few minutes to settle in and focus on the menu—there are so many distractions. Every time I looked up, an ape figure from Planet of the Apes that sat behind the glass in a glowing red time capsule stared at me.

Planet Hollywood’s menu resembles a food selection typical in themed restaurants—no specific cuisine, just trendy, simple food. The restaurant offers three burgers that they boast as award-winning. A classic cheeseburger ($7.50) along with a bacon cheddar burger ($7.95) and a mushroom Swiss burger ($7.95) are offered for those with light appetites. L.A. Lasagna ($10.95), a California twist to classic lasagna, along with pasta pomodoro ($8.95) are two selections from their pasta and noodles. Grilled specialties include sizzling fajitas ($11.95), maple-grilled salmon ($14.50) and a New York strip steak ($17.95). There’s a wide variety of sandwiches to choose from.

For an appetizer, Erin and I decided on the Texas tostadas ($6.95). Erin chose the bacon cheddar burger for dinner and I finally settled on the Thai chicken sandwich ($8.50).

Although the restaurant has plenty of specialty alcoholic drinks to chose from, we selected soda and coffee for drinks. Alize in Wonderland—a blend of Finlandia Vodka, Alize Red and orange juice—and Meet Jack Black—a mixture of Jack Daniels, Amaretto and Pepsi—are a couple of the specialty drinks on the menu. The price is a bit high ($12.90), but you get to keep the cool glass.

The appetizer was good. Six mini tostadas topped with barbecued chicken, onions, cheddar cheese with guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo filled the plate. The dish also filled our stomachs. It was big and tasty.

Erin’s burger was also good; she didn’t leave a bite. I was pleased with my Thai chicken sandwich. It consisted of grilled lemon grass chicken with cilantro and a spicy sweet chili sauce served on warm flat bread.

One problem with Planet Hollywood is the high prices (although manager Warren Smith says locals get 10 percent off). The food is good, and our server was attentive—he must have poured me five cups of coffee—but charging almost $10 for a sandwich is ridiculous. The specialty drinks they serve look good, but $13 for a margarita, no matter how cool the glass is, just isn’t worth the price.