Love them or hate them, Las Vegas just isn’t the same without the buffets. On this trip I went to two – the Bellagio, which I ate at many years ago, and the Wynn, which was still being built when I was last in Vegas.
If you want to maximize your buffet dollars, the key is to show up about 30-45 minutes before the meal changes over and the prices go up. For instance, we arrived at the Bellagio at 10:20 a.m., waited 20 minutes in line, paid the breakfast price, and got to enjoy the tail end of breakfast as well as the beginning of the lunch service which started at 11 a.m. without having to pay the higher lunch fee. We used a similar strategy at the Wynn.
Also, I find that if you balance the amount you want to eat with the size of your stomach, you can comfortably eat enough to fill you up for the whole day and maybe add a snack later in the evening. Just be careful not to over do it.
I highly recommend you be careful of which buffet you choose, however. One couple missed a tour we were on because of food poisoning at a buffet. Just because there’s a deal, doesn’t mean the food is worth it. Generally, the higher quality buffets (which are also the more expensive ones) include the ones at the Bellagio, the Wynn, Planet Hollywood and Paris.
At buffets I tend to grab a tiny bit of items that catch my attention, and go back for seconds if I like them enough.
The Bellagio Buffet
The decor hasn’t changed and, while everything looks like it is in good shape, could probably use a bit of redecorating to freshen up the look. Service is still relatively consistent. Had some orange juice with this meal.
Scottish smoked salmon, cocktail shrimp, African bluenose (a thick fish similar in texture to sea bass, tasted ok, covered with some sort of sweet sauce and slightly overcooked), curried duck with bamboo shoots, scrambled eggs, cheese blintz (soggy probably because it has sat out for a while), bok choy, cheese and walnuts, and miso mushroom soup (too salty, had this dish years ago and it was fantastic then).
Couscous salad with chickpeas and blue cheese and balsamic, the BEST duck confit I have ever tasted (huge pieces, slightly sweet and not gamey at all), St. Louis-style ribs (was mostly fat), chicken wellington (chicken was very moist but otherwise I didn’t see the point of the wellington part and ended up leaving some of the pastry on the plate), slice of roasted lamb (perfectly cooked, tender and not gamey either) and asparagus (big pieces, but weren’t trimmed properly as part of the base was woody).
Cream puffs filled with vanilla custard and a caramel flan, both large portions and tasty. Ended up sharing because I was too full.
The Wynn Buffet
I purposely used small plates during this meal in order to limit myself. Saying that, I still managed to sample quite a bit of food. Everything was washed down with some unsweetened passion fruit iced tea; I liked that they had a couple of iced tea choices to choose from. The decor is French-inspired with some wacky fake floral, fruit and vegetable decorations in urns. Service was okay but I think they were suffering from a shortage (or maybe cutbacks?) in servers as our poor server took care of way too many tables and was run ragged off her feet.
One interesting thing that I noted – they have some dishes marked as containing gluten or gluten-free. It’s nice to see them try this, but really in a buffet seems like a wasted effort as anyone who has issues with gluten would be wary of cross-contamination.
Octopus cheviche, squid cheviche, tuna cheviche, scallop with coconut cheviche (the tuna and scallop ones were interesting on the palate, but the others were just so-so), Scottish smoked salmon, smoked trout, anchovy, spicy tuna roll (wasn’t spicy at all), seabass, baked salmon with artichokes, slider (disappointingly dry), tomato and mozzarella with lemon oil and mixed greens (in the little cup), and snapper. In the top right corner is a dessert I grabbed but didn’t eat until the end of the meal, a chocolate trio (mousse).
Grabbed a little more smoked salmon as well as more tuna and scallop cheviche, Indian flatbread (probably a roti from what I could tell), parmesan eggplant, grilled beef with yogurt and chives (best dish of the meal – huge chunk of beef cooked rare, was tender and flavourful, would have eaten more if I hadn’t been full), pappadrelle pasta, roast lamb, stir fried spicy beef with Chinese long beans, brussel sprouts with bacon, Kansas City ribs and grilled asparagus (charred and limp, boo!). Pink grapefruit with basil was in the little glass at the top of the photo, and a potato and leek soup was in the bowl.
Each item was quite small so sharing wasn’t really necessary but I did share a bit to share the taste. Not pictured here is the chocolate trio that is in the first Wynn photo, a tapioca pearl pudding with mango and lychee, something called creamy exotic (the one with the raspberry on top), chocolate and banana mousse/bar and a slice of key lime pie. Of all the deserts I found the key lime pie probably the one thing that I would want to eat again. The rest were very pretty and tasted fine but there wasn’t anything mind blowing about them.
So which one did I like better? Decor-wise I’d have to say that the Wynn’s dining and kitchen area are more airy and pleasant. Food-wise however, I’d have to say that the Bellagio edged out the Wynn.
The Wynn seemed like it has a lot more variety and interesting looking food, but once you actually tasted it there wasn’t a wow factor and I felt a bit let down because of raised expectations from the looks and names of dishes. The Bellagio, on the other hand, had more dishes where I looked up at my dining companion and said, “Hey this is good. You should try it!” Plus, the Bellagio is a tiny bit cheaper than the Wynn so that put another check mark on the Bellagio’s side.
Really though, you can’t go wrong with either one. I mean, where else are you going to find duck confit or cheviche at a buffet?
Bellagio, Las Vegas
Wynn, Las Vegas