Gradually but inexorably, signs are stacking up that Las Vegas is returning to its pre-pandemic normal — and none are more affirming than the reopening of the iconic Las Vegas buffet. The latest edition: The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas, which returns at 8 a.m. Thursday.
During an employee-only play day at the Buffet on Wednesday, executive chef Jason Duarte said returning guests will find much that’s new.
“We’ve tried to go with a more eclectic menu,” he said, representing cultures including those of the South Pacific and South Asia, from which many of the resort’s guests hail.
At the same time, Duarte said, he recognizes the role of expected favorites in any local buffet. One of the changes he’s most excited about, and which has received the most positive feedback, is the new pancake station at breakfast and brunch.
“It’s fresh,” he said, “it’s colorful. It’s a comfort thing.”
At the pancake station, guests can watch their flapjacks cook. Along with buttermilk pancakes, the buffet offers red velvet chocolate chip, bananas Foster, strawberry shortcake and blueberry pancakes, which guests can mix and match.
The new eggs Benedict station prepares the traditional dish as well as versions with lox and capers, lobster or a corn fritter. Other breakfast dishes are even more indulgent, such as blintzes, Belgian waffles and a cinnamon-sugar French toast made with white-chocolate brioche and served with creme Anglaise, the orange rind a punchy counterpoint to the sweet richness.
A Latin station dishes up moist, meaty pork tamales along with chicken mole and chorizo and eggs. Another area has make-your-own parfaits and such individual dishes as overnight oats, bloody mary ceviche and house-made juices such as strawberry lemonade.
In the Asian area guests will find Thai chicken wings, congee, sushi and dim sum. A seafood spot has marinated mussels, lox and bagels and cocktail shrimp early in the day, while dishing up the mussels, Jonah crab, oysters on the half shell and hot and cold cracked opilio crab legs later.
There’s a charcuterie counter with everything guests need to make their own plates. Four varieties of pizza. A carving station with strip loin, pork belly, rotisserie chicken, roasted turkey and three types of sausages (including pineapple-chicken) at breakfast and brunch, and even more at dinner.
Along with a new soft-serve station with a rainbow of nine toppings including peanut M&Ms, gummy worms, and mini-Reeses Cups, the desserts keep coming, even during brunch: caramel churros, chocolate lava cake, no-sugar desserts, warm peach and blackberry pudding and — yes — Wynn’s traditional bread pudding.
During dinner service, many of the stations change focus. For example, pancakes flip over to latkes, served with smoked salmon and caviar, creme fraiche and pomegranate, roasted beets with goat cheese and caramelized apples.
The Latin station switches to a Southern Italian focus with such dishes as spaghetti and meatballs, gnocchi with linguica and clams and rock shrimp penne with Alfredo sauce and sun-dried tomatoes. The parfait area becomes a spot for making your own salads. The omelet station becomes a taco bar.
Vegan and vegetarian choices abound at all points.
Duarte said the buffet offers many more individual dishes than it did previously — about 40 percent of the food offered — which he said is more a factor of the prevailing trend than a nod to the pandemic. Provisions for the latter, though, include numerous hand-sanitizer stations and a policy of changing utensils every 15 minutes.
Beginning Thursday, the buffet will be open Thursdays through Mondays for breakfast, brunch and dinner. Prices range from $38.99 to $64.99 and reservations are accepted.
The Buffet at Wynn joins a growing list of buffets that have already reopened, such as the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, the Garden Buffet at the South Point, the Circus Buffet at Circus Circus, and the MGM Grand Buffet. The Buffet at Excalibur also opens Thursday, and The Buffet at Bellagio following suit on July 16.
Duarte said the revitalized Buffet at Wynn is designed to be in line with the resort’s other restaurants. Even the look is updated, making more use of natural light.
“Our goal,” he said, “is to make this as upscale as a fine-dining restaurant.”