March 14, 2002
Lets get one thing straight
I hate buffets. As a discriminating, intrepid and inquisitive chowhound, Ive always considered them to be to fine dining what Roller Derbies are to ballroom dancing. You dont so much approach the food at a buffet as attack it
causing quantity to overwhelm quality at every bite. But since the hoi polloi loves themjudging from the Disneyesque lines outside every entrance to all of them all the timeand since I, always looking for an upscale bargain
I thought Id take the plunge and see it the Bellagios new gourmet buffet was worth it.
My plan was to sneak into the Bellagio, eat and skeedaddle before surreptitiousness was quickly dashed. But I was spotted downing Camparis at Circo to steel myself for the food coma to come. These justifiably proud food beverage folks comped my meal, and gave me the grand tour
which kept me talking as much as eating. This was probably a good thing since what they were advertising was some pretty awesome grub
and my waistline was happy that I only got to sample about forty items (not even half the selections).
Those mere tidbits were enough to convince me that you well-heeled chowhounds should dive into such un-buffet-like dishes as real beef Wellington with béarnaisewhich was greatMalaysian beef rendingnot quite sovitello tonnato(thats premium veal with tuna saucenever a best seller with the Nascar crowd), apple wood smoked sturgeon, good shrimp and great sea bass.
That sturgeon was too thickly sliced and the seasonings on almost everything are underplayed, but I quibble. The breads are from La Brea and the desserts are from heaven. Best of all, these chefs are doings some cartwheels in the kitchen that strive for exotic authenticity over visual pizzazz. Dont worry though, theres enough volume per serving to please even Butterbean. But whether youre a eyes-are bigger-than-your-slot-comp type, or amore refined in your dining habits, you should come away equal, but some are more equal than others.
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