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Bacchanal Buffet

November 15, 2012

Las Vegas is known, the world over, for its gluttony of food choices.  And it’s especially famous for its buffets.  Every single hotel on the Strip offers a buffet restaurant, where for a fee, you can eat until they have to roll you out of the restaurant.  It used to be that buffets in Vegas were known for their affordability.  One could eat for just a few dollars.  However, over the past decade or so, Las Vegas has turned from an affordable food mecca, to a foodies’ delight with gourmet food options that will cost you a pretty penny.  And buffets are no different, nowadays, trying to find a buffet that only costs a few dollars are few and far between.  Instead, most hotels have switched to offering high-end, extravagant buffets full of gourmet food offerings that will cost, well, not a few dollars.

Caesar’s Palace recently decided to revamp its 25,000 square foot buffet and completely reinvent their concept for buffet dining.  In August 2012, Caesar’s debuted its Bacchanal Buffet restaurant to much fanfare and hype.

The idea behind the Bacchanal buffet is to provide guests with an open-concept feel.  The restaurant features 9 open-concept kitchens serving a variety of food options from around the world, with each kitchen staffed by master chefs who prepare dishes for guests in an interactive format with action stations and mini-dishes that allow guests to sample, in small bites, the more than 500 different offerings daily for guests.  When you walk into the restaurant, you feel a sense of airiness and lightness.  The dining room is open and filled with glass, artistic pieces that divide the different sections of the dining room from one another.  It’s this glass concept that is continued through to the 9 different kitchens at Bacchanal Buffet.

There are so many food options that it’s a bit overwhelming at first when you step up to the kitchens and need to try to decide what to fill your plate with.  It’s literally a bombardment to the senses with the visual appeal of the food, the smells and the variety.  In the very back of the restaurant was the Asian section with both a Chinese and Japanese kitchen which served a wide variety of different foods.  There was traditional Chinese dim sum offerings such as char siu bao and har gow.  There was also small pots of blackened chicken soup.  There was Korean bbq, and a whole selection of fresh made Japanese handroll and cut roll sushi and sashimi.  Finally there was a noodle bar where a chef would prepare a few various small bowls of noodles for you.

After the Chinese and Japanese kitchens came the Deli kitchen which offered a wide variety of pre-made small-sized salads as well as a salad bar where you could make your own salad.  The Deli kitchen also offered a cheese station where fresh-cut cheese wedges were laid out for guests to sample.  Cheeses from all over the world, as well as the traditional cheese accompaniments of fresh and dried fruits and nuts.

One unique feature of the Bacchanal Buffet that I have not seen at other buffets is a charcuterie station.  At Bacchanal, they feature a selection of 7 different charcuterie items.  Charcuterie refers to a branch of cooking that is devoted to prepared meat products such as bacon and ham primarily from pork products.  They had some of the most amazing freshly sliced off the leg-bone proscuitto that I’ve ever had.

Adjacent to the Deli kitchen was the Italian and Pizza kitchens.  The Italian kitchen featured chefs preparing fresh pasta and baked lasagna and antipasto.  The pizza kitchen features a variety of pizzas served fresh out of the wood-burning pizza oven.  I had the arugula, prosciutto and goat cheese pizza which I thought was flavorful and fantastic.

Around the corner from the Italian and Pizza kitchens is the Mexican kitchen.  One unique feature of the Mexican kitchen is their fresh-made selection of salsas and guacamoles.  The salsas were made to varying degrees of heat and with a variety of different ingredients.  The Mexican kitchen also features chefs making enchiladas, tortillas and sopapillas.

The next station was the bread station which featured a variety of different breads from sourdough to French to dinner rolls, to artisan breads.  There was also a selection of soups that varied on a daily basis.

Then came the American kitchen.  Many of the mini dishes that were served in unique and cute serving platters were on display at the American kitchen.  In mini-fryer baskets, you could find both regular potato tater tots as well as sweet potato tater tots.  You had mini cast iron skillets filled with baked potato skins.  Mini pails filled with french fries and sweet potato fries.  It was a creative way to serve food, as well as ensure that each person took only a little helping of food so that it allowed you to try a wide variety of items without filling up on any one item.

There was also mini fryer baskets filled with onion rings, and waffle fries, and chicken strips.  There was also mini cast iron skillets filled with truffled potatoes au gratin which my husband just fell in love with.

But my favorite part of the American kitchen was the carving station filled with bbq and grilled meats.  There was all kinds of sausage, grilled skirt steak, bbq ribs and brisket.  What more could a meat and potatoes kind of girl want???  I tried the grilled skirt steak which was flavorful and delicious and the bbq brisket which was amazing!

Finally, there was the Seafood kitchen which was filled with all sorts of fresh and cooked seafood dishes.  There were fresh shucked East coast and West coast oysters, jumbo shrimp, grilled salmon, crab croquettes (which were so good!), mussels and other cooked fish dishes.  It was a seafood lover’s paradise.

Towards the very front of the restaurant there was a breakfast station, or at least that was what was there when we arrived for lunch.  However, we ate lunch so early that perhaps this station is replaced with something else later in the day.  The station had a selection of fresh-cut fruits, yogurts, granola and a wide selection of fresh-squeezed juices served in individual bottles.  I tried the fresh melon juice, which was watermelon, and it was terrific.  Straight, fresh-squeezed juice without the addition of sugar or any other additive.

This was my husband’s first dish back from a trip around the restaurant.  Like I said, there’s so many selections that sometimes it’s overwhelming trying to decide what to have.  My husband obviously hit up the American kitchen first.  As I said, he loved the truffled potatoes au gratin (top of the picture).  He couldn’t pass up a good cheesy mac & cheese.  But what he fell in love with was the sliders.  He took one bite and was blown away by how good the slider was!

Of course, it would be heresy to go to a buffet and not talk about dessert!  And boy did they have a terrific dessert station!  My husband didn’t think it was as good as The Buffet at Wynn, but I think I’d have to dispute that claim as I thought that the Bacchanal Buffet’s dessert kitchen was out of this world!  There were so many mini desserts to choose from, I didn’t even know where to start!  I love desserts, and I’m a big fan of cupcakes, but there was so much other stuff that I didn’t even have any of these mini cupcakes!

I loved the dessert station with the little mini prepared desserts.  They were cute, creative, and tasty.  The baba was terrific with the pipette filled with raspberry sauce that you squeezed into the dessert before eating.  The tiramisu was terrific with a strong hint of espresso.  There was a selection of various cookies of different flavors, cake slices of different varieties and glass jars filled with all sorts of candies!  There was also a hot dessert station with out-of-the-oven desserts such as bread pudding, and out-of-the-skillet bananas foster.

There was a cold display filled with all sorts of gelatos and sorbets.  And while they had your traditional strawberry and vanilla flavors, there were also some very unique flavors that they featured.  My husband tried the blood orange (which was good) and the mango chili lime (which blew him away, it was sweet with the mango, but burned your tongue with the heat of the chili).  Who could resist a scoop of the gelato or sorbet?  Certainly not I!

The dessert kitchen also featured a crepe station where a chef would prepare a fresh crepe for you made-to-order.  Once the crepe was made, they’d put it on a plate and you would be able to make your own creation from all of the options they had for toppings on the crepe.

There was fresh fruit – sliced bananas, sliced strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.  Then accompaniments such as fresh whipped cream, powdered sugar, caramel, chocolate and nutella sauce.  It was everything you could want in a sweet crepe.  It was creative, fun and super tasty!

But, for me, the piece de resistance of the dessert kitchen was the souffles!  Not just any souffle, a made-to-order souffle.  Depending on the day, there were different souffles available.  The day I was there, they had banana and pistachio.  You walk up to a chef and just let them know that you’d like a souffle.  They put some right into the oven for you and in about 10-15 minutes, you have an individual souffle of your choice of flavor.  Of course, I went with the banana souffle.  Dusted with powdered sugar on top, it was perfect.  Cooked just right, nice and airy and fluffy, and the amazing taste of bananas.  One of the best souffles ever!  Perhaps I should have just skipped lunch and gone straight for dessert only?

Bacchanal, according to the dictionary, refers to participating in a riotous celebration.  And the Bacchanal buffet definitely does that.  It’s an explosion of flavors and sensations for your taste buds.  A party in your mouth!  The concept of the restaurant with small mini-plates created in an open kitchen display with fresh made-to-order items is amazing.  You really can sample a wider variety of food.  And you’ll never leave the buffet hungry or wanting for more.  I’d go back to Bacchanal again in a heartbeat!

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