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Caesar's Bacchanal Buffet revisit, a pricing scheme change, and my original review

Discussion in 'Restaurants & Buffets' started by ah6tyfour, Sep 26, 2012.

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  1. ah6tyfour

    ah6tyfour High-Roller

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    After my excellent initial meal at the Bacchanal Buffet, I was able to revisit it tonight with some friends. I thought I'd just start a new thread and mention any revisions as well as re-post my original review since it has gotten sort of lost in the long thread.

    NEW THOUGHTS:

    The improved:
    -Oyster cleaning and shucking has gotten much better. No more dirt outside or in the oyster liqueur. They also offered two types of fresh-shucked oysters (West Coast and East Coast varieties, with the latter being the better choice that night).

    -They now serve snow crab claws pre-cracked and sitting in a very good cocktail sauce. It was probably better than anything else in the seafood section (including the king crab).

    -The seafood section as a whole looked much fresher with better fish dishes and more flavorful dishes featuring clams and mussels.

    -The sushi section has improved quite a bit. I knocked them before for going too generic. They have started to fix that. While the nigiri still feature only salmon and tuna, then started putting out plated pieces of salmon sashimi and the fish quality was excellent. They also put out monkfish liver! It was very fresh and very flavorful. The sushi chef was very proud of the spread available and said he was expecting to start putting out more surprises in the near future. I still hope they work on this section of the buffet. Put out hamachi or yellowtail or uni. If they must stick with salmon, do a torched/seared salmon. Better yet, leave the skin on the salmon, plate it, torch the skin, and add a very thin slice of lemon on top.


    New discoveries:
    -There were two vegetarians in our group. The pasta section made them two or three custom vegetarian pastas. One of the pastas included some very well-roasted vegetables on a day where roasted vegetables were not offered on the buffet line anywhere. They were actually roasted just for their custom pasta. The pizza guy also made them a vegetarian pizza with a few different combinations of toppings in different areas of the pizza. For the first time at a buffet, they felt special and cared for.

    -The posole was pretty good. I added the sliced radish, diced onion, and cilantro and it was tasty. It is not as good as posole around San Diego and Mexico, but it's decent. I really do wish they would make a menudo instead. The depth of flavor of menudo is so much better and it doesn't end up feeling like you're eating chili.

    -The chef at the pasta station made (from scratch) a few servings of chicken marsala and it was excellent. He cooked two chicken breasts in a pan and built a very nice red wine and mushroom sauce around it. He actually tasted the sauce a few times during cooking, something I've never seen any buffet cook do. It was nicely plated, sauced, and garnished. Around 20 minutes of cooking for eight small portions. Any buffet that lets its chefs cook like this is okay in my book!

    -A giant casserole dish of mac and cheese happened to be placed in front of me while I was waiting for the carving station. It was delicious! The top was super crispy from the panko bread crumbs and the top layer of cheese was golden brown. I enjoyed it more than most mac and cheese side dishes I get at steakhouses. They should consider choosing a different casserole dish for the mac and cheese. The best part of the dish is that crispy golden brown top. But since their casserole dish is tall and round, only the first few people will get to experience that top. Why not choose a flatter rectangular casserole dish? That would greatly increase the surface area and everyone who gets mac and cheese will get a bit of that top.

    -Hot and sour soup in the Asian section is made very authentically. I wish a little shaker of white pepper was made available, as this soup usually needs a bit of white pepper mixed in right before you drink it. I judge all Chinese restaurants by the quality of their hot and sour soup. The one served at Bacchanal is better than any I've ever had at a buffet and also better than many legit Chinese restaurants. If you have never had a hot and sour soup that was actually spicy and sour without being salty and soy-saucey, make sure to try it!

    -The made to order ramen was pretty good. The meat given with it was very thinly sliced and super tender. However, I feel like the chef shortchanged himself on the dish and it could have been so much better. The ramen noodles were cooked well, but he did not stir the big pot of ramen broth before ladling my portion into the bowl. So while the soup was flavorful, it felt a bit dilute and not quite full-bodied. If he had just stirred the pot a few times to get all the stuff that sunk to the bottom back into the soup, it would have been a great bowl of ramen. It would have gotten richer and creamier and saltier (and brought up all those little tiny chunks of fat that give a great ramen soup that intense flavor and mouth feel). They should also chop some green onion to drop into the soup. I was also a bit thrown off because the ramen broth was a chicken base, not a pork base. Yet the meat given on top was still pork.

    -Watermelon mint gelato. Why did I not notice this last time? I guess I saw the aztec chocolate and my mind was made up. It's great as dessert (although I wouldn't recommend it as the flavor you add to the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie). If you're feeling a bit bogged down after eating too much meat from the carving station, the watermelon mint is very refreshing and a perfect palate cleanser.

    The bad:
    -Unfortunately, their pricing scheme has already changed. As of 9/25, there is no longer a weekday dinner price. Every night is charged the same as the old weekend dinner price ($39.99). We also received only $2 off for Total Rewards instead of $3. The Friday night dinner cost me $36.99 last week. The Tuesday dinner tonight cost me $37.99.

    -I didn't have any last time, but the rock crab claws are no longer served as part of the cold seafood section. I was never a fan of those crab claws (Paris' buffet serves them every night) and far prefer snow crab and king crab claws anyway. They made up for this change by serving the individual snow crab claws I mentioned in the first section.

    -The souffles were not cooked as well this time. The person in charge might have a different idea of what the texture of a souffle should be. The ones served today were all a bit tough and overbaked. They needed to come out 5 minutes earlier. I saw the souffles cooking in the oven and it pained me to watch them go over. I wanted to barge my way in there, don a pair of oven mitts, and save those poor souffles.

    -Service was not great today and I heard the same from other diners sitting in other sections. They were very slow to clear plates and pretty bad with drink refills. While all the food prep staff (especially the dessert counter) seemed excited to be there, the servers definitely did not. I changed my drink halfway through my meal and was not offered a new straw to go with my new drink choice.

    Final thoughts
    -The buffet is in great shape and everyone in my party agreed this is the only buffet in Vegas where we felt like we got our money's worth in food and the overall experience. This is the only buffet where I have not disliked anything. A few dishes may just taste "okay" and not stand out in any way, but nothing is bad. Most dishes are at least above average and many are excellent. The lamb chop and the tomahawk chop (ribeye on the bone) remain the standouts, but every dish I tried was solid. I've come to expect nothing less from this buffet. I might go as far as saying that I can think of some sit-down restaurants on the strip that don't please my palate as much as this buffet.

    [edit]
    So I ended up going a third time a few days later...
    See even newer thoughts
    [/edit]



    My original review from their first week in operation:
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012
  2. ValerieJo

    ValerieJo Low-Roller

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    Thank you again for your review. Love that you updated us.

    Bummer about the pricing already :( However, I do plan to go and enjoy either Monday or Tuesday next week.

    :peace:
     
    First time at 4 Queens
  3. chrisn42

    chrisn42 Tourist

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    Thank you for your reviews! That's kind of a bummer about the pricing changes already, but from what I've read about it, it seems worth it. How long was the wait your second time?

    I'm excited to try this next week and see what I think.
     
  4. LAURLUVS2BOWL

    LAURLUVS2BOWL Low-Roller

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    I too will be trying it next week (Tues breakfast/lunch) - am mostly interested at what they don't offer at lunch that they do at dinner (plus i haven't read much about breakfast at all so hopefully i'll get there in time to try those offerings - red velvet pancakes)!
     
    Lucky trip 21!!
  5. Jake&Avery

    Jake&Avery Planning my next vacation!

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    thanks for both of the reviews!! You had me eating there after the 1st review!!

    and our trip will be over a weekend, so we're stuck with the higher priced dinner anyway..but Im willing to pay it!!

    I may not eat all day just to make sure I have the space to try it all!!

    :evillaugh
     
    We're booked - hope we can keep this trip!!!
  6. pikabu

    pikabu Low-Roller

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    Thanks for both reviews; we'll be eating there in December.

    Hopefully the servers will start shining through! A little attentiveness and a smile go far in getting good tips!
     
  7. Garmy

    Garmy Low-Roller

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    I will be heading to Vegas in late Oct. This is on my bucket list. I would be very interested to hear what the breakfast is like and how it works out with the BOB pass. I assume there is a diamond line?
     
  8. ah6tyfour

    ah6tyfour High-Roller

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    Thinking about the food, I think most lunch items will stay the same. I can see them not serving the king crab and maybe not having oysters. I can also see them toning down the carving station a bit. But there's nothing at the other stations that I would consider "too premium to serve for the lower cost lunch time". Lunch should be a great deal and, if you can time it to get in around 2:30-2:45, you can tell us what the difference is since you'll get to eat their dinner offerings starting at 3pm.

    My wait was much shorter. I was paid and seated in 30 minutes. This was at 5pm on a Monday. As I was exiting the buffet around 7:30pm, the line did not seem to have grown any longer.

    The switchbacks that form the line seem to be a pretty accurate time gauge. If you're at the end of the switchbacks, that's around 1 hour. We started halfway through the switchbacks and the wait was around half in hour.


    Yes, there is a diamond line. The BoB pass does not seem a good option if you want to eat at this buffet. The website says it's a $15 upcharge to eat at Bacchanal (and you have to pay that $15 each time you want to eat there). I would just skip the BoB pass and spend the $37.99 on one good dinner. You're not going to want to eat at Paris or Rio after eating here and you definitely won't want to pay the $15 upcharge to have breakfast at Bacchanal. Or skip dinner and just get breakfast here for $17.99. I haven't had the breakfast, but I hear they have quite a large fresh juice selection.
     
  9. RC Fan

    RC Fan Tourist

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    Thanks for your great reviews! Your suggestions should be passed on to Caesar's.
     
  10. GoobSoCold

    GoobSoCold Tourist

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    It was a $10 upcharge for Buffet of Buffets when it opened, didn't take long for that to change.

    I've never done Buffet of Buffets before, this place was the main reason I wanted to try, but with the extra charge you're at $60. Not sure it's worth it.
     
  11. Electroguy563

    Electroguy563 Over-Fried Gambler

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    Great, great review. Thank you for the excellent detailed report. You got me salivating at one point, lol!!

    For the standing price point of $39.99 I happen to think it's a great deal given your review of the dishes offered. I definitely would give this buffet a try on my next trip.

    Back here where I live the buffets at the Waikiki high-end hotels are priced similar to high-end Vegas Buffets but in no way even come close to what the Vegas buffets offer. That's why I don't freak out when I visit the high end buffets in Vegas and pay their prices.

    Again, thanks for the great review. Another thing I can look forward to when I get there in November.
     
    Going to Hawaii's 9th Island!!
    Going to Hawaii's 9th island!!
  12. keno60

    keno60 VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the 2 great reviews and information. I was wondering was the watermelon mint a gelato or granita, since you mentioned it as a palate cleanser? :licklips:I plan on going Oct. 2.
     
  13. Boogaloo

    Boogaloo Low-Roller

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    I have to say I wasn't interested when I first heard about it, but it's your reviews that have made me intrigued enough to really condsider trying it out when I next go to Vegas (probably in early December).

    Thank you for the thorough and evocative reviews.
     
  14. donof

    donof Low-Roller

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    I enjoyed both of ah6tyfour reviews also. He obviously knows good food. I consider myself a buffet expert as I go to a buffet every week. I've tried them all over the 15 years I've lived here. I'm also an Italian guy from New York so I know quality food (sorry to stereotype but it's true- haha). Anyway, I think this buffet is worth trying once.......but I was a little disappointed with a few things.

    Let's start with the best part of this buffet- the seafood.

    The crab legs and shrimp were excellent. No complaints there.......very big and fresh. The clam bucket is pointless (filled with corn and ham?) ..........as well as the cold mussels. I prefer mussels and clams in a garlic/ butter sauce like most buffets serve them. The M Resort does this right.......The Cosmopolitan too. Anway.......the crab cakes were amazing, but they were cold. Which was my problem with all of the "hot dishes". They are served in individual plates/baskets/ buckets. Even if you wait for them to come out- they are not hot in temperature. This is something I'm very picky about. As for the stone crab.........like ah6tyfour said, they are opened and individual now. What a disappointment! The biggest problem is it's in a glass with 1 stone crab and it's touching cocktail sauce. I like cocktail sauce on shrimp.......not crab! I would eat them plain or use melted butter. So.....I couldn't eat any. Even if you like it with cocktail sauce.......they were only putting out like 3 or 4 at a time. Since they are in glasses........it would be difficult and embarrassing to take 10 at a time anyway.

    The lamb chops were amazing but also warm at best. The sliced bone rib eye was good.........but cold. Now I decided to warm them up with some hot mashed potatoes........but amazingly they were not hot at all. Although I didn't try the sliders/fried chicken/ stuff like that...............it was just sitting there in individual trays (not hot plates). So if you like food like that at room temperature........go for it. Stuff like that amazes me.

    I did have the chef make me up shrimp scampi over pasta which was excellent. He gave me 4 jumbo shrimp and added butter, garlic, and wine. It's pretty much the only way to get something hot besides the soup.

    As for dessert, the crapes were great and the gelato had some different flavors which was nice. I tried the sour cherry and sea salt vanilla. I didn't have any room left for more dessert but it looked solid.

    So if you like big shrimp and crab legs.......and don't mind hot food served at room temperature........it's the best out there. I liked my meal and not saying I would never go back..........but for 10 dollars cheaper- I feel like you're better off at Planet Hollywood at Spice Market buffet. Any questions, feel free to ask.
     
  15. ah6tyfour

    ah6tyfour High-Roller

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    Definitely not worth it. The $15 upcharge is for each trip to Bacchanal. If you go for dinner and then breakfast the next day, you have to pay $15 each time. So now your total is $75 for the 24 hours. I'm not quite sure how they came up with the pricing as it seems like you either overpay or you, at best, break even.

    I think a sorbet would be the most accurate description of it. It's refreshing and icy, but not really creamy (which is why I wouldn't put this one on a baked cookie). There's definitely a splash of cream in it so it's not technically a sorbet, but it's not a cream base so it feels more like a sorbet than a gelato. It's definitely too frozen and solid to be considered a granita. It's a dessert, but I could definitely see it as a way to refresh the palate after one too many slices of meat.

    Thanks for your contrasting review! I do agree that the clam bucket is not that effective. The bucket I tried had perfectly cooked clams (which I was surprised to receive at a buffet) and I rather enjoyed the briny seafood "juice" at the bottom, but the potato and corn were indeed without seasoning. My second time there, the dish was not served at all.

    One correction for you. The stone crab claws have been completely removed from the buffet. The cracked claw in cocktail sauce is actually a snow crab claw. I usually add only a squeeze of lemon to my crab, but the claw had a very pleasant sweetness to it that I thought paired pretty well with the cocktail sauce (which had quite a contrasting bite to it). I think it would be perfectly kosher to mention your dislike for cocktail sauce and ask the staff to get you 4-5 of those claws on a plate. They must have hundreds in the back just waiting to be plated on the bed of cocktail sauce.

    As for temperature issues, most things I tried were definitely served appropriately hot. I could definitely see potential temperature problems with things like the fried chicken and fries served in the mini fry baskets. My carving station meats also were not piping hot, but I tend to expect that with buffets. I've never gone from the carving station to my table and had a very hot portion of prime rib. The temperature seems to be similar to tasting portions of meat I receive in multi-course restaurant menus (I guess a small piece of meat can lose quite a bit of heat during plating and traveling to the front of house).

    Sea salt vanilla gelato? Why did I not see that?! That sounds awesome!
     
  16. chef

    chef Resident Buffetologist

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    Hey gang, the reality of the buffet world versus sit-down dining is one must sacrifice hot food in exchange for unlimited choices and amounts. That's just the nature of food being placed in common areas for extended periods of time.
    And, the smaller the serving dish that is, the faster it loses it heat. It's very difficult to retain the heat without drying a food item out.
    Once food is coooked, it is meant to be served. Not so with buffets.
    I know this isn't earth-shattering news to anyone, but what else can be done about it. Not much.
    Frankly, I've come to enjoy a lot of food at warm, instead of hot, temps.
     
  17. sco5123

    sco5123 VIP Whale

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    Great review! This is definitely on my bucket list.
     
  18. ah6tyfour

    ah6tyfour High-Roller

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    So I ended up at the Bacchanal Buffet again tonight. No, I'm not some weird Caesar's Buffet groupie. I just happened to have a string of guests in town who all want to try the new buffet. And since the quality is there, I don't mind one bit!

    Random thoughts:

    -The sushi station is either reading my reviews or my mind. They are really upping their game. Tonight's spread featured very good salmon sashimi, but also hamachi and tako. The hamachi was served as a sashimi or as a briefly-seared piece of fish finished with yuzu and dehydrated garlic shavings. The tako was sliced thin and served on a bed of pickled cucumber slices. The hamachi was VERY good. I appreciated the tako, but it was too thin to really have flavor. The chef also very proudly stated that tomorrow would feature yellowtail sashimi. Aren't these exactly the things I asked for? Thanks for listening!

    -I tried the ramen broth again. I was wrong about it getting better with stirring. It's just not a very full-bodied broth. It's advertised as a tonkatsu ramen and sliced pork is provided, but the broth is a chicken base. It's actually quite jarring to my palate. If it was just served to me as a "chicken soup", it'd be acceptable. But to present it as tonkatsu ramen just throws me off. They really need to rethink this dish and stop using the chicken base. It might be nitpicky, but the dish really needs work. They do all the Asian stuff so well that it's a shame the ramen is pretty far from what I'd consider a ramen.

    -I asked for shrimp scampi at the pasta station today. What I received was something I'd easily pay $28 for at a decent Italian place. Steamer clams were steamed, cherry tomatoes were blanched, and shrimp was cooked in white wine and garlic, with cream added for body. The pasta itself was boiled separately, incorporated into the sauce, and allowed to cook together for a few minutes. As he was building the sauce, he tasted and adjusted seasoning four times. He then got out two forks to correctly plate the pasta and arrange the clams and shrimp around the plate. He garnished with basil and even wiped the edges of the plate. This is real cooking they're doing! With a little more finesse and some mentorship, that plate of pasta could easily be at the pickup window of Scarpetta.

    -I'm sorry to say the pre-cracked snow crab claws with cocktail sauce are no longer served at the buffet. They lasted only a few days! I asked about them and the staff were not sure if the dish was coming back. So they have removed the stone crab claws and also the snow crab claws that replaced it. It's a shame to lose the snow crab claws as they were very good. Maybe that part of the budget was redistributed to the sushi station to purchase nice sashimi-quality fish. If so, I don't mind the change at all!

    -Someone also needs to pay more attention to the chilled mussels. The "beard" needs to be removed from each mussel. I had four mussels today and three of them had the beard intact. Not only is it unslightly, it is like chewing on a pipe cleaner. This was never a problem on my previous two trips. Hopefully the person working on them was new and someone just forgot to train them to remove the beards.

    -A chocolate souffle was added to the dessert menu tonight. They now serve both banana and chocolate souffles. And the person cooking them today was doing a great job. In my initial review, I knocked them for the banana souffle being slightly too sweet for my taste. The chocolate souffle fixes that problem. It's rich and chocolatey and brings with it a slight bitterness. There is just a hint of sweetness that comes through. Want sheer decadence? Get both souffles and scoop a little of each into the same spoon. Chocolate and banana souffle?!? Amazing! The only thing missing is a drizzle of peanut butter sauce.
     
  19. chef

    chef Resident Buffetologist

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    With all the time you're spending at Bacchanal, you might want to consider a part-time position there bussing tables or something.
    Thanks for the multiple reviews. I'm chomping at th bit to eat there.
     
  20. Treawest17

    Treawest17 Tourist

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    Looking forward to giving it a try next month, all these reviews are making me hungry.
     
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