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Brunch is a sight for sore … everything

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Chicken and waffles off the “white trash” section of Simon’s Sunday brunch menu.
Palms Casino Resort

Around Hour 27 of sleepless New Year’s Eve coverage at the Palms, I dragged myself up to the entrance of Simon restaurant at Palms Place and paused.

Just inside the door a trio of pajama-clad hostesses in boxers and too-big sleep shirts kept watch over a sugar high inducing candy buffet and a platter of over-the-counter hangover helpers like Pepto Bismol and Tums.

Behind them, pretty people were sipping cocktails from the make-your-own bloody Mary bar and snacking on honey and cheese paninis. Despite being vaguely aware that I reeked of casino and that most of my New Year’s Eve eye makeup had decided to migrate towards my nose, I wanted to join them just a little bit more than I wanted to collapse into a deep sleep right there on the floor.

Brunch at Simon includes made to order items from the kitchen as well as brunch stations that serve up paninis, fresh fruit and hand-rolled sushi.

Brunch at Simon includes made to order items from the kitchen as well as brunch stations that serve up paninis, fresh fruit and hand-rolled sushi.

A breakfast pizza and a mimosa might be the perfect way to kick a morning hangover. If that doesn't work, the host stand at Simon is stocked with Pepto and Tums.

A breakfast pizza and a mimosa might be the perfect way to kick a morning hangover. If that doesn't work, the host stand at Simon is stocked with Pepto and Tums.

Over the previous day and a half, a crack team of reporters, videographers, photographers and editors, including yours truly, had descended on the casino, fully stocked with notebooks, cameras and caffeinated beverages.

In the process of reporting on my first Vegas New Year’s Eve, I’d climbed above the ceiling of Rain nightclub, interviewed Paul Oakenfold, sampled a salad off chef Kerry Simon’s New Year’s menu, learned about air brush makeup at Primp Salon, photographed Michael Phelps and watched approximately 2,000 party goers from all over the world make their way to Perfecto in time for the midnight countdown.

Sitting in a suite in Palms Tower editing photos on a laptop at Hour 21, I watched the first sunrise of 2009 spread over the valley. My single shot of Patron had long since worn off and the coffee in front of me was powerless to fight the exhaustion beginning to clamp down on my eyelids.

There was, however, a light on the very dim horizon: brunch.

Speaking with Simon a few days earlier about the new Simon Says Sunday brunch he would be launching on New Year’s Day, the chef described a comfortably casual atmosphere where locals and visitors would stave off hangovers and take down dishes like made to order omelets, fruit sushi, corn-flake crusted French toast and of course, Simon’s signature junk-food dessert platter.

While he’d be dressed in his traditional “whites” – actually black in Simon’s case - I could wear my pajamas. It sounded a bit like heaven.

Borderline delirious and still editing around 11 a.m. on New Year’s Day, the crew and I came to a firm decision: No matter how tired we were, no matter how tempted by the idea of bed or just lying on a warm piece of floor, we would make it across the casino to sample heaven. We would eat brunch.

Which is how I arrived, unshowered, in sweatpants and with hair a-frizz outside Simon just after noon.

Undeterred by the attractive guests who looked like they might have washed up for the occasion, the buzz that Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden was there, had been there or might stop by or the presence of local celebrity journalist and Weekly blogger Robin Leach and the R-J’s Norm Clarke – I plopped into a booth reveling in the warm light and the smell of freshly cooked bacon.

Sipping a fruit smoothie and nibbling on a Rice Crispy treat a short while later, I glanced at my watch. Hour 28. We settled up as a food coma began to set in. It was time for me to vacate the Palms and find my way to a different sort of heaven – my bed.

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