When clients hear the words “Las Vegas buffet,” they probably
imagine long lines, heat lamps and a plastic plate piled high with
mediocre American fare. Well, put the mashed potatoes ladle down
and listen up just like everything else in Vegas, the buffet has
been reinvented and undergone a considerable upgrade. Sure there
may be a discreet heat lamp here and there, but these days it’s
much more likely to be warming a barbecue chicken and goat cheese
pizza. Just as Sin City has seen an explosion of gourmet eateries
in recent years, the time-honored all-you-can-eat buffet has
followed the trend.
A key change in the Vegas buffet is that instead of serving food
that is prepared out of sight of diners, these buffets actually
celebrate the sights, sounds and aromas of cooking.
Take the Dishes buffet at Treasure Island, for example. Created
by designer Jeffrey Beers, the eatery is inspired by the “gourmet
restaurants and specialty markets of the world.” Instead of a
cafeteria-style line snaking past hot plates and sneeze guards,
Dishes is made up of six live-action “exhibition stations,” where
diners can see the preparation of everything from sushi and
Japanese noodle soups at one station to seafood at another to prime
rib (yes, they still serve prime rib) at another. In fact, the
“barbecue” station is one of the highlights of the restaurant, with
North Carolina-style roasted pork, Texas brisket and St. Louis
dry-rub ribs cooked over a wood-burning fire.
The advantage? Not only are these stations more comfortable and
better designed, making the food more appetizing, but with a
greater variety there is something for everyone when a family or
group dines together.
Cruise ships have been turning the buffet into an art form for
years, but even the cruise lines could learn a thing or two from
the spacious, airy, highly designed Dishes buffet. The space
incorporates mosaic tiles, decorative apothecary jars and lots of
dark wood trim. Even the flatware and dishes are stylish and of
Most important, the food is better at these new buffets than at
the old-school variety. The sushi rolls clearly were not
pre-packaged hours earlier; the pizza would make Wolfgang proud;
and the Chinese food rivals what any city’s Chinatown has to
The piece de resistance, however, is the dessert station.
Designed to look like the counter of a chic patisserie, the dessert
offerings run from chocolate-dipped strawberries to chocolate
mousse to custom-made sundaes and even spun-while-you-watch cotton
“Everyone loves the desserts,” said Stephanie, our server, who
hails from Hong Kong.
Of course, the buffet’s busiest hours are 6-8 p.m., but if your
clients can avoid the peak hours, they will be pleasantly
It Takes a Village
Dinner is not the only meal that gets this new-and-improved
treatment. The breakfast buffet at Paris Las Vegas, called Le
Village Buffet, has a different take on the food-station concept.
Here, the restaurant is designed to look like a French village,
with cobblestone streets, flower boxes in the windows and a ceiling
painted and lit to mimic the open sky. Diners feel like they are
enjoying an al fresco meal at an outdoor French cafe.
Represented in Le Village Buffet are the five regions of the
French countryside: Alsace, Brittany, Provence, Burgundy and
Normandy. Each region is designed to look like a different French
shop a butcher, a bakery, a creperie. Diners go from “shop to shop”
trying various items, including omelets, a larger-than-normal
selection of breakfast meats, waffles, a variety of French cheeses,
fresh fruit and berries, plenty of baked goods and, of course,
crepes made to order. The design reinvigorates the standard
breakfast buffet concept.
Be sure to tell clients, however, to get in line early on the
weekends when the buffet is incredibly popular. (The dinner buffet
at Le Village is also highly regarded.)
And don’t worry about being too embarrassed to go back for
seconds what happens in the buffet, stays in the buffet.
Dishes, at Treasure Island
Open daily for breakfast, Mon.-Fri., 7-10:45 a.m., and Sat. and
Sun., 7 a.m.-noon ($12); lunch, daily from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. ($15);
and dinner, 4-10:30 p.m. ($20, Sun.-Thurs; $26, Fri.-Sat.).
Le Village Buffet, at Paris
Opened daily for breakfast, 7-11:30 a.m. ($12.95); lunch, 11:30
a.m.-5 p.m. ($17.95); and dinner, Mon.-Thurs., 5-10 p.m., Fri.,
5-11 p.m., Sat., 4:30-11 p.m., and Sun., 4:30-10 p.m. ($24.95).
Brunch is served Sat. and Sun. between 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.