Sunday, January 13, 2013

Buffet Review: Bacchanal Buffet @ Caesars Palace (with photos)

People coming out of the buffet as we're going in.  Thanks for the seats!

This was the buffet experience mom and I had been waiting for:  The Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace.
This is a napkin - proof that I will take a photo of ANYTHING in Vegas!  :)

We decided to try the buffet for breakfast, since we didn't really know what to expect as far as crowds and wait times, and we figured that would be the best time to try it out in order for us to hopefully be able to take our time and allow us to sample both breakfast and lunch items for the same, lower buffet price.  

This is not a new thing for me, going in at an earlier time to get a lower buffet price, and I'm not the only one who does it, either.  Don't judge.

Getting there at 9:30 a.m. meant no line to wait in on a Tuesday morning, and we used our Total Rewards cards to get $1 off the price.  Our buffets came out to $17.99+tax each instead of $18.99+tax each for breakfast.  Another case of the TR cards benefiting the users!
Creative pumpkin carving.

Our hostess was a lovely young lady who pointed out the details and buffet seating "sections" (glass, wood, and steel) a la Vanna White as she walked us to our table in the furthest section: the steel section.  We were seated near the Asian food section at the end, passing the fresh squeezed and bottled juices, desserts, salads, breads, salumis and cheeses, the carving station, pizzas, side dishes and hot selections in turn.  It was hard to know where to begin!  I decided fresh squeezed orange juice was in order, and our sweet, attentive waitress was quick with coffee, water and milk while we got our first selections.
Lovely display behind the salads.  I used the miniature effect on this photo, so the bottom is blurry on purpose.
The breads, cheeses and salumis...

The Asian section, near where we were seated.
Some of the hot breakfast selections.
Looking through the glass seating section to the buffet.
For the most part, the dishes on this buffet are presented in individual, serving-size containers, which seems to help limit people from getting more than what they will be able to eat and hopefully keep them from wasting too much food.  I have seen this at several Las Vegas buffets and I heartily approve of it; nothing bothers me more than seeing people be wasteful and/or rude with food.  I get small samples of things myself, but people aren't always so smart when they go to buffets, are they?
Mom thought the coffee carafe and salt & pepper shakers were cute.
She likes things that match.
Mom's first plate included Kung Pao chicken that lacked the "pow" (not spicy), but had a good flavor.  She also tried a hot cast iron serving dish of skirt steak and an over-easy egg that she described as "heavenly", with a just right steak and a perfectly cooked egg - hard to do for over-easy eggs on a buffet, I think, because of the amount of time a dish could possibly sit out. She also had scrambled eggs and sausage, and a biscuit that she said was a little on the dry side.  I can't remember what other dishes she sampled after that first plate because I became engrossed in my own food choices, so I don't have anything further to report on her meal other than a picture of her dessert plate at the end, sorry.
Mom's first plate.  I forgot about her turkey bacon.  She didn't care for it.
She should have gotten REAL bacon!
I opted to start with a plate that included the bite-sized Croque Madame and Croque Monsieur, as well as Red Velvet pancakes, artisanal sausage, chorizo hash browns, and some saucy shrimp and grits to go with my fresh-squeezed orange juice served in its own little bottle.  Both Madame and Monsieur were magnifique, but the Red Velvet pancakes left something to be desired.  Perhaps I had built them up in my mind too much because I LOVE Red Velvet cake and I was really, REALLY looking forward to trying these pancakes, but mine were a bit dry around the edges and lacked any real Red Velvet flavor, even with the strawberry and whipped cream topping mixed in.  The sausage had a great flavor and was still very warm. The hash browns were just that - hash browns, browned well and a bit crispy around the edges (which I like), not over-done with black edges and/or too much grease.  The shrimp and grits were delicious, as well, though not quite as mind-bending-ly good as the all-time best shrimp and grits I had at the Wynn Jazz Brunch in the Spring. (Seriously, I don't think that dish will ever be topped...ever!)
Off the plate: Croque Monsieur and Red Velvet Pancakes.
Hash browns and artisanal sausage on the left, Croque Madame at the top,
Shrimp & grits on the right.
They look good, but don't have any real flavor.
Shrimp & grits deserves its own picture!
Next I tried the Eggs Benedict, pappas con chorizo, a shirred egg with mushroom, and a spinach and mushroom quiche in it's own little pan.  The Eggs Benedict had good flavor and the egg wasn't over-done at all (which happens to Eggs Benedict on a buffet more often than not), but I wish I'd seen the Southern Eggs Benedict first, because I have no idea what the "Southern" ingredient was and would've liked to have tried it, but when I finally saw that dish I'd run out of space in my stomach.  The shirred egg with mushroom was actually TOO mushroom-y for me because of the small size of the dish, and I generally love mushrooms in any dish, but it was just too rich for me.  The pappas con chorizo (chorizo hash browns, really) were deliciously spicy, which this South Texas girl loves.  I was not a fan of the spinach and mushroom quiche and I can't remember exactly why.  I think it may have been a bit too salty for such a small dish, but I marked down that I was "not a fan" when I was listing my dishes, so that's what I'm sticking with.
Eggs Benedict, pappas con chorizo, and shirred egg with mushroom.
Spinach and mushroom quiche.  Not yummy.  :(
For my final selections after the lunch changeover (which was around 10:30 a.m.), I chose three salumi slices, a bacon, egg and spinach salad, a su Mia dumpling, a leek dumpling, a pork pot sticker, as well as beef and broccoli.  They had a large selection of pre-sliced salumis, including proscuitto, pancetta, coppa, lardo, and culatello, and they were all labeled, but I chose proscuitto, pancetta and the salumi salami for my tasting.  All three were thinly sliced and had very good flavor, fresh and aromatic, and I wish I'd tried more.  I've become a bit of a salumi and cheese buff, and I'm reading up on the different varieties so I won't be afraid to try new things next time I'm faced with choices like this.  The bacon, egg and spinach salad (with onions) was one of my very favorite dishes, with the flavors blending well and just enough light balsalmic vinaigrette dressing mixed in.  I could have eaten a whole plate of that salad by itself.  The su Mia dumpling was another favorite selection from this buffet - absolutely yummy and literally bursting with spices and flavor.  The pork pot sticker had a nice, crispy bottom and was also very flavorful, and the leek dumpling served in a little tin was almost as tasty.  The beef and broccoli was perfectly done; the broccoli was not limp or over-cooked, and the beef was delicious and tender, and it came apart easily when I cut it with my fork.  (Can you tell I tend to lean towards Asian foods?  Asian and Cajun food are my very favorites.  Sorry - back to the review.)
Salumis, su Mia dumpling, leek dumpling (in the tin), pork pot sticker, beef and broccoli
and bacon, egg and spinach salad up front.
I'm glad they don't just supply little, tiny dessert plates for the Bacchanal dessert station.  The plates are just as big as the plates at the other stations, and that makes my mom and I very happy because we both LOVE dessert!  You should always leave room for desserts at a buffet, because you can try unusual stuff in small portions without committing yourself to a new flavor you're not ready for.
Mom's desserts: chocolate mousse (in the glass), pecan pie bar, a chocolate-covered strawberry, and a chocolate muffin topped with peanut butter frosting and a chocolate "coin".
It was the day before Halloween.
 For dessert I tried the custard with angel food cake and raspberry infusion (served in a syringe) which was VERY sweet.  Too sweet, I think.  I also had a delicious miniature pumpkin pie that was probably the best dessert I've ever eaten at a buffet, top to bottom, from the perfectly flaky crust to the yummy, warm pumpkin filling and all the way up to the creamy topping.  I could have eaten a couple of those bite-sized pies without blinking, they were so good.  The chocolate mousse served in a chocolate-dipped mini waffle cone was also deliciously creamy.  It would be a great dessert at any restaurant, I think.  The mini cupcake was very chocolately, but I wasn't wow'ed by the peanut butter frosting.  It was a cute presentation for Halloween, though.
My desserts, clockwise from the top: custard with angel food cake and raspberry sauce (in the glass), pumpkin pie, chocolate mousse in a chocolate waffle cone, and a chocolate muffin with peanut butter frosting.
There were way too many desserts to even begin to sample, including numerous varieties of cookies, gelatos, and cakes and pies presented in individual serving sizes.  I would love to go back and try more things.
Buffet guardian or Halloween decoration?
It was a lot of food, and it was good.  Almost 2 1/2 hours of eating and chatting, sampling items from the breakfast and lunch buffets, and just enjoying a nice Vegas buffet with great wait staff and bussers keeping our table free of clutter and refreshed regularly with coffee, cream and water.

I rank this new buffet right up there with the Wynn and Bellagio buffets for it's great selection. There are a couple of more expensive buffets that I love but can't (won't) afford to eat on a regular visit, but I hope to go back and try this one again someday.  Hopefully they will be able to sustain the quality of their food and the great selection.  Time will tell if they survive Las Vegas.  I hope they do.

The Bacchanal Buffet serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.  Current prices as of this posting are $18.99 for breakfast, $21.99 for lunch, and $24.99 for dinner.  January 19, 2013 - The prices have drastically changed since October.  I'm guessing Caesars decided they could raise them without cutting back on their guests, but I think that remains to be seen.  The Total Rewards website now shows the prices as are follows:

Breakfast: $24.99        
Lunch: $31.99
Dinner Mon-Thurs: $44.99
Dinner Sat-Sun: $49.99
Brunch Sat-Sun: $40.99

Get $1 off for each of those prices with your Total Rewards card.

Given the price changes, I don't think it's one of the best values in tasty Las Vegas buffets anymore.  Breakfast, fine, and lunch, maybe, but they seem like they are about to price themselves right out of a market that's hungry (pun intended) for a good, competitively priced buffet.