Thursday, January 10, 2013

Elegant Buffet

Elegant buffet? Huh? That can't exist. Right? Well, turns out it's possible, in Las Vegas of all places.

Buffets have been a part of Vegas history from its initial days. People who went to Vegas didn't care what they ate as long as it was enough to get them through a night of gambling. Thankfully, all of this has changed. Together with the sophistication of the city, the buffet has been revamped. A perfect example of this is the opulence of the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar's Palace.

How many times have you had to wait for 2 hours to get into a buffet? Well, you better be prepared to do that at peak times at Bacchanal. But once you get in, you forget about the wait. The chic modern decor, the subdues lighting, the delicious food scents wafting through the air - they all make you want to dig into some food. But hey, slow down! [Record scratch noise.] You need to wait in another line for seafood! Yes, that's right. That's why my boyfriend (Rusty) and I started with the Asian section that was less busy and got some sushi and dumplings. There was nothing too special about the sushi, but it did fill our starving stomachs a little bit. Then we were ready for the seafood!

Rusty and I were at Bacchanal at a particularly busy time, so the seafood line was winding all the way to the back of the buffet, past most of the other sections. While waiting, we were often tempted with Mexican (Rusty said the tacos were delicious), carved meats, breads, deep-fried baskets, etc. Well, we made it to the seafood without too much damage to our hunger, so we loaded up on seafood. There were all types of clams, mussels, shrimp, fish, steamed and cold oysters and crabs, ceviches, shooters, etc! And yes, we got a little of everything :) The appearance was often deceiving, and the things I thought I would love were a little bland. Overall, the food was liking spice, but I do tend to like more spice than the general population. Still, there was a lot of amazing food to make up for the blander one.

The next stop was the "potatoes and meat" section. I call it that because it had many types of meat and all the typical sides they would go with. Rusty and I tried the lamb chop, ribs and chicken wings. The sides we had were mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, corn on the cob, and cornbread. I absolutely loved the chicken wings! They were spicy and herby (because of added cilantro). The cornbread was also really good. The rib and lamb chop were cooked perfectly, but were a little on the bland side again. The mashed potatoes were really really creamy :) However, the mac and cheese had a weird, grainy texture despite having a ton of cheese in it. I don't like buttery corn on a cob, but I think other people would have enjoyed it. Oh, we also got wagyu beef sliders. They were sooo moist and well-flavored! I wish I wasn't that stuffed because I wanted to eat several of them.

Finally, even though we could barely walk, we had to try the dessert. There must have been about 100 options just on the dessert display. There were soo many things that we wanted to try! We had to settle for a key lime tart, pecan tart, tiramisu, red velvet cheesecake, chocolate peanut butter cupcake, chocolate creme brulee, and vanilla and espresso ice cream. I LOVED the key lime tart. It was tart and just enough sweet :) Also loved both types of ice cream, especially the vanilla one. The vanilla flavor was so rich, but not overwhelming. All the other desserts were also good, but not as amazing. And it says a lot if I enjoyed them after all the savory food before that ;)

There were definitely hits and misses at the buffet, but the overall experience was very good. Most of the time I forgot it was a buffet. Vegas is going in the right direction with its food scene. Another development are the many elegant restaurants, many of them run by celebrity or award-winning chefs. But those will have to wait until my next visit to Vegas :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Wolfgang Puck Cafe

Wolfgang Puck. I always twist my tongue when I try to say his name, but I've wanted to eat in one of his restaurants for a long time. This opportunity finally came up to us when my family and I went to Downtown Disney during our annual Christmas vacation. To keep it on the cheap side, we had lunch at the cafe.

After several large meals around Christmas, I kept my lunch light with the Big Kahuna sushi. My sister (Pumpkin) had the same idea with a Greek Shrimp salad. My mother ordered the Chicken Aioli sandwich, and my dad got Chicken tenders.

My sushi was really great, with fresh seafood and a nice spicy sauce on top.

Pumpkin's salad looked delicious, too. The feta was moist and creamy, resembling a little Bulgarian-style feta. It was definitely not the dry crumbly thing they sell in grocery stores and call feta.

I also really liked the chicken aioli sandwich. The chicken was very tender and moist, and the aioli wasn't overpowering. The fact that the chips were sprinkled with Parmesan on top was a nice touch to transform them to something more special.

I'm not a big fan of chicken tenders, but the side Ceasar salad that my dad good looked really good. It even had bruschetta on top.

This was a satisfying lunch, but I didn't think there was anything special that could have been made by a famous chef. I sure hope the full restaurant is better than this.

Bad Dog Tacos

I love cooking, so I bring my own lunch pretty much every day. I do save a lot of money and eat nutritious meals, but I also miss out on eating at some of the good lunch spots around town. There are several places around Emory that are pretty good. And I didn't even notice that a new one had opened: Bad Dog Taqueria. As with pretty much every new place in Atlanta now, they use local ingredients and claim to prepare everything fresh. Hey, this fad is fine by me.

I went to Bad Dog with a couple of my labmates, and we started by sharing the chips and salsas. This is probably one of the best deals I've seen around. The chips are a mixture of corn tortilla chips, plantain chips, and yucca chips (I love yucca!). And to increase the variety even more, there are three different salsas: salsa fresca, plantain pineapple serrano, and fire-roasted tomato. Oh, and a generous portion of this goodness is only $4!

For lunch, I ordered the We've Got Seoul and Skinny Bitch tacos. By the way, I love restaurants with character like that. The Seoul taco had Korean BBQ pork and kimchee slaw. And the Skinny Bitch was made with grilled mahi mahi. When they arrives, I couldn't wait to dig in. The grilled flour tortillas (corn tortillas available upon request) and overflowing filling made them look very appetizing. Unfortunately, they both tasted ok, but I was expecting a bigger punch of flavor, especially from the Korean BBQ. Instead, I could feel the texture of the slaw and mayo, but not much else.

Still, I like the idea behind these tacos. The quality of the ingredients was obvious. I want to give Bad Dog tacos another chance. Maybe some of the other tacos will live up to the character/flavor that their names suggest.