|Mangia bene, Las Vegas! The first part of a two-part series|
| Hello! It's been
going on two months since I last posted something on my site. My
apologies! Even worse than realizing my ranking on Urbanspoon has
probably tumbled is the reason why I haven't been updating my blog: No
new food experiences :) Since November 14 - the date of my
last write-up - I've been eating nothing but leftovers, fast food, and
take-out. Wait, I take that back. For Thanksgiving, I put some of my
skills to use and cooked up a fairly decent feast: herb-roasted turkey,
homegrown stuffing, persimmon and cranberries, roasted garlic mashed
potatoes, my-own-recipe carrot cake, almond pear tart, and cardamom ice
cream among the highlights :) This
turned out to be the only bright spot in an otherwise mundane history.
This week in December, I was in Las Vegas, Nevada - America's Playground. I needed to "get outta Dodge" for various reasons and so I decided to spend some time and money eating better in a city where you don't need to empty your bank account for a fine dinner if you're lucky at the gaming table.
I arrived on Monday afternoon and checked into the El Cortez Hotel and Casino in downtown's Fremont East district. Even though the neighborhood and the casino were a bit scuzzy, the Tower Room that I booked in the hotel was decent and waaay cheap ($51 for three nights on Kayak.com!). After I got settled and relaxed a bit in my room, I decided to head to the Fremont Street Experience to sightsee and grab a bite to eat.
I walked all the way to the west end of Fremont and entered the miniscule gaming establishment called the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino. The Golden Gate is known for their Shrimp Cocktail, which they have been serving since the Rat Pack headlined in Vegas. I read about it and wanted to try one for myself.
At $1.99, the Shrimp Cocktail was cheap but was it worth eating? Unfortunately, I'd have to say no. Flavorwise, it wasn't very interesting. It was just your common-variety shrimp cocktail. It seemed as if the shrimp were fabricated in a factory from spare parts instead of caught from the sea. As for presentation, it was totally unappealing. Hey, I didn't even get a lemon wedge! Standards! The Golden Gate ought to revamp their Shrimp Cocktail and really make it a tourist-draw.
After the Shrimp Cocktail, I thought it was about time for dinner and so I changed direction towards the Golden Nugget Buffet. I read an article online about the buffet that included positive remarks about some changes they made, i.e., getting rid of steam tables and using serving plates. I was intrigued as to what the new system looked like and it was on the way back to my hotel so the Golden Nugget it was.
The Golden Nugget Buffet is located on the second floor of the casino. Just follow the signs and ride up the escalator next door to the Rush Lounge and you're there. Like every buffet, you pay up front: After tax, the meal cost me less than 20 bucks (listed price of 17.99 USD).
Overall, I didn't think much of the offerings at the Golden Nugget Buffet. I only enjoyed a few items from this buffet which were the Spanish rice (pictured above), grilled vegetable salad with balsamic vinaigrette (also pictured above), chips and salsa, and parts of the bread pudding with bourbon sauce (a lot of the bread pudding was too much like scrambled egg. Yuck).
What the reviewer online was talking about in regards to the new buffet system is what all decent buffets do at the other hotels in Vegas. In short, the new system at the Golden Nugget Buffet is nothing groundbreaking.
If you decide to dine at the Golden Nugget Buffet, here are a couple of caveats. First, avoid the Asian section of the buffet. It was pretty gross. The flavors of the hot Chinese entrees were totally off even though it seemed like the cook making the food looked like he was Chinese. In particular, the "sushi" was REALLY pathetic. Second, get your drink order in (and you might want to order a couple of glasses at a time) before you go for your first plate. My server didn't do a very good job of keeping my glass full.
My rating for the Golden Nugget Buffet is no star (satisfactory). For Fremont Street, I think the Golden Nugget might be the best bet foodwise (kinda doesn't say much for Fremont Street, does it?). For ten more dollars, you could eat at a better buffet on the Strip like the Spice Market Buffet (at Planet Hollywood, 27.99 USD) or Bellagio (27.95 USD).
After dinner, I admired the neon and lights at the corner where Binion's, the Fremont, Four Queens, and Golden Nugget meet. This dazzling show is THE reason for making a visit to Fremont Street. The spectacle of lights under the electronic canopy was really something else :)