May it Please the Palate- What happens in Vegas ...

LAS VEGAS--I am here for a (air quote) seminar (end air quote, make sarcastic face). These two arduous instructional days end at the ungodly hour of 4 p.m., the only thing in the City of Sin that is on a timer.

The Wynn Hotel and Resort is a model of indulgence. Outdoors there are two waterfalls, one complete with imported Northeastern conifers, and an 18-hole golf course. There are two swimming pools, family and "European." Indoors there is a fantasy forest, dozens of upscale shops (no Men's Wearhouse for me), an assortment of shows, theaters, and clubs, and--count 'em--20 restaurants and cafés. (You knew I'd get to the food eventually, right?)

I've heard of the Las Vegas buffets. Not your ordinary Sveden House, they are legendary for their excess. Picture Caesar before he hit the vomitorium. Well, don't.

I typically shy away from these. Don't get me wrong; I love to throw down at the trough. But all-you-can-eat? I'm scared.

But yesterday, something snapped. There I was, in one of those foo-foo bars, having a tuna-avocado-sweet chilé sashimi appetizer, served with "a crispy cracker." The reality was three teaspoons of mush, separated in a three-chamber dishlet the size of a flip phone. And one cracker. Divided. Into. Thirds.

That virtually insignificant nibble, with insufficient substance to get caught between one's teeth like a poppy seed, set me back $18. So I started to think about that buffet. The Wynn's is only $38.99, roughly the same as seven teaspoons of sashimi mush; and another $15 for unlimited beer and wine. And here is what you get:

SEAFOOD AND FISH. Raw shrimp and Alaskan crab leg by the buckets. Mussel stew. Calimari seviche. Salmon, eel, and tuna. (The latter not diced up like baby food.)

MEAT. Whole brisket. Prime rib. Three kind of fat sausage. Waffle batter fried chicken.

ETHNIC. Pasta station. Pizza. Sushi. Chinese buns.

STARTERS. Three soups. Meats, cheeses, peppers. An artisan bread station. And a salad bar, chuckle chuckle.

DESSERT. Essentially a gigantic, stand-alone bakery and ice cream shop. Two gelato displays. Carrot and coconut cakes the size and thickness of Frank Sinatra's wallet.

Yes, all you can eat. Over and over and over until you wave for the golf cart to take you to the casino.

What a deal! That bargain left me plenty of money for the blackjack table, where I parked my stuffed carcass and purchased three buffets worth of chips, or in the work world, one really important phone call.

As they say, some things stay in Vegas. Well, my money did. The buffet is another story: It came back with me and hung out for a while.

Now where's that salad bar?

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for "Current" magazine in Ann Arbor. He occasionally updates his blog at http://mayitpleasethepalate.blogspot.com/.

Published: Mon, Jun 24, 2013

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