Las Vegas has become the one-upmanship capitol of the world. Whether it is building the tallest hotel by one floor, adding the biggest name to your entertainment lineup or creating jaw-dropping interior designs, Vegas is always looking for a way to entice you while outdoing their neighbor. In recent times the buffet has become the battleground, and The Buffet at ARIA recently revamped everything—and what they have created leaves them telling the rest of Las Vegas, “top that.”
If you are going to reboot your version of a buffet that is still in its infancy, you might as well go all out. Executive Chef Shawn Smilie pulled out all the stops as he recreated The Buffet at ARIA, giving his guests the freshness and flavors of a sit-down dining experience while giving you all the choices you would ever want in a buffet.
While you will find all of your favorites here, you will also find in every area that what you get is above and beyond what you have come to expect from a buffet. The pizza station by itself is a masterpiece, beginning with the fact that Chef Shawn, who has an allergy to gluten, made sure to offer an assortment of gluten free pizzas. But then to throw out a New York Style that tastes just like the east coast version, which is truly impressive, as well as a unique and tasty pizza topped with an egg. If you love pizza, you are not going to find a better place to be than The Buffet.
The seafood is always fresh and features all-you-can-eat crab legs. Next, head over to the carving station where there are more things being carved than I have room to mention—but if it is a meat and can be carved, you are likely to find it here. You are also going to find a wide variety of fresh hand-cut sushi, and that’s just the beginning. You are also going to find stations for just about every type of food and from nearly every region of the world. The stations within The Buffet include: the fish market, Asian, Italian, pizza, Mediterranean, Tandoori, Latin, carvery, diner, salad and sweets. And unique to The Buffet is the Tandoor oven that creates baked naan and freshly prepared kabobs.
Salad tends to be the last thing on peoples minds when they go to a buffet, but Shawn has changed that with what might be a little more costly for ARIA but a lot tastier for you: the Aria salad station. Three different types of lettuce and a number of fresh ingredients to go in your salad, all mixed freshly right in front of you, giving you a salad so tasty it will become a mainstay of your buffet experience in the future.
If you happen to run across Chef Shawn at The Buffet and he looks familiar, you are likely remembering him from his recent appearance on “Chopped” on the Food Network. Don’t be afraid to ask for a picture with Shawn as he is as friendly a Chef as you will find and you are likely to find him on television again soon with his personality and culinary skills. Sadly Shawn was chopped, but if you have not seen this episode, keep your eyes open for it as in his episode the chefs were stuck with baskets of leftovers: “ouch!” While Shawn was chopped in the appetizer round, the open faced hero sandwich with matzo cheese sauce was well received by the judges but they seemed to think it was too rich and heavy; clearly they don’t know what visitors to Vegas are looking for! My suggestion would be to add this dish to The Buffet lineup. And just in case you were wondering whether what you see on “Chopped” is what you get, they have no clue until the basket opens what they are getting and they also have their cellphones taken away and are left with nothing but their knives—but that is what makes that show so interesting.
What else could The Buffet at ARIA possibly do to entice you? This is Vegas, so a cocktail or three are a must and for $12.99 you get unlimited mimosas, Bellini’s, bloody mary’s, premium beer, sangria and sparkling wine. If you have ordered a cocktail at most bars on the strip you know that $12.99 is probably going to get you one drink so this is great place to start your night.
“The reopening has been so busy, there were so many different things that went into it and the first month we had to work out all of inefficiencies as we went along, but it really has been amazing,” Sean said. In addition to the undertaking of all the menu items, there was purchasing dishes, creating a more open and inviting setting and other little intricacies such as the spinning ice cream machine. And, the results speak for themselves.
The buffet is as synonymous with Las Vegas as the blackjack table, and while an ace and a face will still give you blackjack, the buffet resembles nothing like the metal pans sitting in hot water with food you had no idea how long it was sitting there. While the prices have gone up, the quality has now increased at an even higher rate, leaving you with The Buffet at ARIA that gives you a gourmet selection of foods in an upscale setting that is longing for a new word as it has clearly outgrown the term “Buffet.”