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The Bellagio Buffet

By Hahn Le

Las Vegas, once known for the cheap buffets and the even cheaper prime rib, has gone through a culinary revolution.  Gone are the days where “all-you-can-eats” were the economical way for a casino to reward its players.  Much like the rest of the restaurants in the Bellagio have redefined Vegas dining, the Bellagio Buffet redefines the culinary experience of a buffet. No longer do diners have to suffer the choices at some buffets of whether mushy green beans or soggy mashed potatoes would best accompany their well-done prime rib. Instead, how do you choose and where to begin, were the questions plaguing our party!

Foregoing the usual appetizer fare and giving into my carnivores appetite, I started with the carving station, covering my plate with slices of the leg of lamb, a slab of the venison, a slice of the Beef Wellington and a serving of the Kobe beef, not the Japanese variety, but a must-try nonetheless.  The leg of lamb was savory, tender and cooked to perfection. The Beef Wellington’s crust was perfectly flaky and its tenderloin melted in my mouth. As satisfying as these selections were, I couldn’t resist the seafood fare. The salmon sashimi, Alaskan crab legs and apple-smoked sturgeon were enough to tempt me, but I couldn’t go without sampling the giant shrimp cocktail, the mix seafood ceviche and the Shrimp Louis. The crab legs were halved and the shrimp peeled, which made consumption no muss and no fuss, and the smoked sturgeon exploded with flavor.  Other fare I tried before giving in to dessert was the Mongolian chicken, the grilled Mako shark in a delicious winter citrus compote, the make-your-own-pasta and sides of Caesar salad, polenta and au gratin potatoes.

Although all my entrees were excellent, the call of the dessert island was unmistakable . . . like a siren it called to me, and like Odysseus,I answered. Being an equal opportunity sugar fiend, I thought it best to try the entire array. My favorite and what almost spoiled me for the rest of the desserts was the [conglaise], a sophisticated version of a macaroon about which I have not been able to stop talking.  It was larger than your usual macaroon, with a velvety consistency that comes from whipping the ingredients.  The floating island was a creamy-dreamy sensation and the mango soup with the hint of the exotic enlivened my taste buds with the contrast between its sweetness and tartness.  And if you want to know how good the bread pudding was, ask one of the gentlemen in my party who consumed my entire serving before I even had a chance to take a taste!

If you go to buffets because you want really cheap eats, the Bellagio Buffet is not for you. On Fridays and Saturdays, the days on which their special gourmet menu is offered, the cost of such pleasurable dining is $31.95 per person. Or, if you expect a five-star food and ambiance, skip the buffet and go down stairs to Picasso. But if you’re looking for a gourmet dining experience on a beer budget, the Bellagio buffet is not a bad alternative.  For the price of two glasses of champagne at any of the Bellagio’s other fine dining establishments, you can experience a gourmet buffet in a city once known for its $4.99 prime rib.

Editor’s note: If you want to know good places to eat, follow attorneys!

Ms. Le is a local attorney specializing in corporate law
 


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