The Buffet At Bellagio

In Words And Pictures

Some people have life goals. I have food goals.

One of my long term food goals was to eat until I was good and tired at the Bellagio's Buffet. Ever since I'd heard about it, especially the quality of the food, it had lodged itself in my head as Something I Had To Try. And thus it went on the list.

It took three trips to Las Vegas to make this happen. The first trip I was there to attend a wedding and hang out with friends, so there was simply no opportunity to go down there for a meal. The second time happened to coincide just about perfectly with Bellagio's power failure a few years back: the failure happened the day before we arrived and they were fully back on line the day after we left.

Third time was definitely the charm - we arrived in Las Vegas, checked into our hotel, and got our behinds out to Bellagio for an early dinner. We hadn't eaten since breakfast so we were good and starving - just they way you want to be when attacking a buffet.

Before the pictures, my rules for success in working a buffet:

  1. Always arrive hungry. Otherwise, you can pay less for less food elsewhere.
  2. Case the buffet thoroughly before you put anything on your plate. Buffets often put the best stuff at the very back, when your plate is full, so you don't take as much. The stuff at the entryways is often the cheapest/most filling. This is how they make money.
  3. Skip the bread and pastas unless they are something special. Again, they fill you up too fast.
  4. If a dish does not taste good, don't eat a second bite of it. You do not want to waste valuable stomach space on stuff you already KNOW is bad.

A Note About The Pictures: These are pictures of both mine and my husband's plates. Also, as per the above rules, not everything on these plates was consumed. Commentary starts roughly on the left and goes roughly counterclockwise.

Giant shrimp cocktail and cocktail sauce (excellent), sea bass (awful, watery), sweet and sour chicken (terrible, tough), smoked salmon (fantastic), a bit of onion/tarragon jam (yum), potato souffle in flaky pastry (good), behind that a little roulade of salmon with a cilantro cheese filling (good), chicken Wellington (chicken was tough, mousse was good, ate the mousse and left the chicken). In the center a flavored mushroom that was good.

Can't remember what the red stuff was, Chinese greens (gai lan? Wonderful), Buffalo Sirloin (overcooked to leather; buffalo is tricky to start with and does not hold well under any circumstances), more chicken Wellington, chicken curry (amazingly good), more onion jam.

Soft pretzel-like biscuit (with a bite taken out of it) (very good, worth it!), salmon sushi, tuna sushi (both very serviceable), the other fish (terribly overcooked), chicken curry, more shrimp cocktail, slice of BBQ chicken pizza (not bad), tomato/cucumber/mozzarella salad (very good), marinated mushrooms (good), cherry tomato on goat cheese (lovely combination), tuna poke (marinated in something, very nice indeed). Small dish of soy sauce and wasabi in the background.

Another soft pretzel thing, more chicken curry, more gai lan (it was good enough for seconds), more poke, more salad, and a scallop/carrot salad that was more carrot than scallop so I didn't take any (this is one of my husband's plates). We sampled a lot of things on each others' plates for the early rounds, and then went back for more of the things we liked.

Hot and sour soup (had better, but didn't suck), more gai lan (I did mention how good this was?), more marinated cucumber salad (very very good, first serving didn't last long enough to take pictures), more smoked salmon and salmon roulades, and darned near perfect prime rib with horseradish sauce.

Tiramisu (very average), chocolate hazelnut cake (unbelievably good) with candied hazelnuts in it, something that was pretty much ganache on shortbread (died and gone to heaven good), cream puff (not so good, it wasn't a real pate choux on the outside), and cannoli (which I would not let my husband share because I LOVE cannoli).

Top to bottom: my husband's lemon meringue pie bar (he says it was good, I hate lemon meringue pie) with an oatmeal raisin cookie along side (see previous comment), sugar free cheesecake (good, but no better than I can make at home), strawberry tart with some pastry cream, pistachios, and sitting on a cookie-like base, chocolate chocolate chip cookie (very very chocolatey and very good), and a brownie (one of the clunkers of the night, had an off flavor).

More of the brownie above, caramel flan (boring, no flavor in the custard, caramel sauce tasted burned), another of the ganache shortbread things (it was THAT good), and the surprise hit of the night, what looked like it was a red velvet cake but was really molded chocolate mousse over vanilla mousse with a candied nut and cake center. Oh, the flavors of that thing were amazing.

Not shown in the desserts: bananas foster (very good), creme brulee (see comments for the flan, boring at best), key lime something (see comments on the lemon meringue bar).

And as a bonus, the menu from where we didn't eat: Guy Savoy in Caesar's. Click on the above to read the dishes. And the prices. Now you know why.