Flashback to February!
On previous trips to Las Vegas, Chris and I have enjoyed the Paris Casino’s Le Village buffet quite a bit. Notably their expansive brunch was high on our lists, but also we have fond memories of good service and very kind waitresses (one of which could not comprehend why someone would drink out of a glass, without a straw!)
On this most recent trip to Las Vegas, we chose Le Village for a dinner to go with our “Buffet of Buffets” pass (which, for $44 gives you unlimited meals at the Harrah’s group buffets for 24-hours – hint, start with a late dinner, get breakfast, lunch, and then an early dinner, thus maximizing your value as dinners can be as much as $30 alone!). It took a little while to wind through the line, but as usual, things do move quickly given the size of the dining area, and we were seated in one of the small “houses” which give the whole buffet a lot of visual appeal. It really does look like you are in a village with the various food stations and dining areas being housed in shop fronts or little buildings. There’s also a nicely painted blue sky on the curved ceiling which adds to the overall effect. It’s quite cute, but there was a problem with the room where we were seated… Because it is small, it got VERY loud when one of the staff members there started putting away cutlery into the serving trays, clanging every single piece they were polishing and dumping into the pile. That was awful.
Speaking of awful – I’m sorry about the tones in this picture! They say that yellow (and red) plates make you feel more hungry, but this one just makes the picture all wonky! On this plate you will see some cold steamed seafood (dungenous crab and snow crab), roasted tomato and zucchini, brussel sprouts, some braised pearl onions, roast beef, and in the front, some “cassoulet” which, given that it was white beans simmered in tomatoes with bacon and duck fat, was the best thing on this plate. Despite all the cutlery clanking, it took our server about 5 minutes to get us the right crackers to open up the crab – and no pick-thing was offered at all. I hated trying to get at the meat but didn’t want to waste anything either. My roast beef, though tender, got cold quickly, as did my roast veggies. I love brussel sprouts, and these ones were overcooked. Sad.
My second plate (usually a salad-heavy one) wasn’t much better. First the Caesar salad was unevenly dressed – it was like they missed out on the oil entirely! The wedge-like thing to the right is a piece of floppy cheese (havarti!?). You’ll recognize the cassoulet, and the roasted zucchini and tomato (these were warmer). The white blob was supposed to be a raviolo, but it just felt like a gloppy mess. The pink thing at 3 o’clock – that was some overcooked salmon.
I really tried to be more careful in my choices as I went up for a better plate – most of the first two were picked at, so I was still looking for a good mouthful. I observed the cooks behind the buffet line – none of them were paying any attention to the customers. I was really sad to see one “chef” sprinkle big handfuls of chopped parsley over every chaffing dish in his area after giving the contents of each a quick stir. I honestly gave up after seeing that, and decided to just focus on deserts. The Paris Buffet had been one of the most prestigious desert-offering buffets back in its heyday – but, like many other things that are notable in Vegas (e.g. duelling pianos, the “party pit” tables), they get copied quickly and often the originators get left in the dust.
The crepe station had been a true highlight in the past at Le Village, but now, pretty much every place has them. Rather than have fresh fruit to encapsulate in a buttery thin crepe, you have cheesecake-topping-like gloop. Also, check out that icing sugar – clumps-o-rama! I was so disappointed with that little macaroon – it tasted of the cherry goop too, and the creme brule was brule’d to the foil crinkly cup and impossible to eat. And you’d think that fruit would be impossible to screw up, right? I found a mouldy grape in my mix. Awful.
And you know that great service that we reminisced about from previous visits, well it too has disappeared. Water glasses ran dry, coffee was never refilled, our plates piled with uneatable food on our table. I never “not tip” in the states given the labour laws and ridiculous minimum wage for food service staff – but this time I was really tempted to leave nothing. I left $1.50. A sad, but deserved recognition for the state of affairs at our once beloved buffet.