We were a bit put off on arrival because the place was pretty dead (there are a bunch of lanes regulating entrance, but it’s quite offputting when it’s just you and one other couple sauntering through them. We assumed that this quiet would be a) proof that only we were stupid enough to be offering ourselves to this, and b) not a good indication of either food quantity (surely they wouldn’t lay out the whole shebang) and quality (would it be quietly rotting on the counter from last week?) We were happy to be proved wrong on all counts. Plus, it was only a Tuesday morning, so we couldn't expect it to be bangin'.
The room itself could do with a spruce up, but we majorly approved of the design – the tables are laid out in a huge semi-circle around the room, with a mixture of tables and booths (even two-person booths). Great for privacy, and after all, the last thing you want to do when stuffing your face at a buffet is face the gaze of thinner people with more self contol.
The buffet is laid out across the whole length of the room, with desserts in a separate island in the middle, and a bar breaking up the hot food.
Atmosphere and service:
Atmosphere, as we said before, was pretty dead - it was very empty and because of the layout, you don’t see too many other guests. But that we take as a good thing. Service? Hmm. It was OK. No major issues, no one was rude, but it was very lackadaisical. Nobody took our drinks order until we asked them, and then they got it wrong – they brought water, when we’d asked for water and orange juice. They cleared the plates between courses but took the cutlery and didn’t replace it, coffee took a while to arrive and when we asked for a refill of water to go with our third plate, it was brought literally as we were getting up to leave.
Of the buffet (ie cooking) staff, nobody tried to engage us or get us to try their wares – although again, we’re fine with that cos we like miminum exposure when filling our prego pants. And although we didn’t notice at the time, looking back at the photos, we’re thinking they could have kept things a little tidier and more appetizing around the food.
The notable exception to both of these complaints was the lady on the dessert station called Isidra. She saw us perusing the goodies and talked us through what she had on offer, told us which frozen yoghurt would set off the Bananas Foster perfectly (she was right, by the way) and even pointed out that she had more desserts hiding in her freezer cabinet. And she kept her food absolutely spotless. We loved Isidra.
There really was no need to have worried that the sparse numbers would affect the choice of food – we couldn’t have sampled it all even if we’d done 10 rounds. Plenty of normal US breakfast stuff (including an omelette station), plus Asian and Mexican sections, huge hunks of meat like pork joints, whole quails, 6ft-long giant sausages, and lots of pastries. No dead animals, though, which, after Aria and Bellagio was a turn up for the books.
When we arrived just after 10, the section to the far left with sushi and fish hadn’t opened. By the time we left – just before 11 – it was opening up. So time it right, and it’ll be even more of a brunch.
The quality? It’d be a lie to say it was the best food we’d ever tasted, but it was absolutely fine, and for what we paid, it was pretty superb. It wasn’t a patch on the food at Jasmine, obviously, but equally, Jasmine brunch costs almost 10 times as much, and this definitely wasn’t 10 times worse.
We’d say it wasn’t quite as good as Aria either, but again, considering the prices (Aria cost $38), we’d choose this any day. And also, let’s not forget, this was a proper breakfast, and we only really ate breakfast stuff. To compare it to our lunches elsewhere would be unfair.
Er, once we got it, it was fine. Although they could do with working on presentation. Our coffee pot came without a lid, or rather, with an improvised lid of a napkin. Ok…
For $5.99, this was incredible value, especially because we made it through three platefuls and didn’t need to eat again till the next morning. At its full price of $14.99, it’d be alright, though we wouldn’t be beating a path to the door for it, because we couldn't quite shake off the sad, slightly downtrodden feeling. Having said that, we’d be interested to go back for a lunch or dinner sitting (HINT TO RIO: maybe that’s one to include in your text vouchers) and see how the proper dishes go down.
BUT if you get the $5.99 deal, and especially if you time it late enough to get the lunch stuff coming out at the end (it starts at 11), you’ll be hard pressed to find better value in Vegas. So remember: text “Rio” to 227466 and it should come through over a couple of days. Valid 8-10.30am, Monday to Friday.
We’re feeling seriously peckish now. Time to cash in our free–pastry-with-a-coffee voucher – see you in a bit, Rio.