On the second day of our stay in Las Vegas, my boss and I make the drive to The Mandalay Bay Resort. We find a parking spot in the giant parking structure and make our way towards the casino. Upon entering the facility, it is a straight line, and only a couple of minutes’ walk to the entrance of the Bayside Buffet. The façade of the restaurant has a flat screen monitor cycling through the prices and times of the buffet’s various meals as well as an interesting array of semi-animated, three-dimensional pictures that move as you walk past.
A distinctive feature of the Bayside Buffet is a line of automated kiosks at the entrance. This allows guests who choose to use these computer stations the ability to move on to the line for the restaurant without having to wait for a cashier. Due to certain regulations, these kiosks do not accept ATM cards, but credit cards and cash are readily accepted. Although we are unable to take advantage of the kiosks due to the ATM card restriction, we experience a quick moving line due to other guests taking advantage of the automated stations. This allows the cashier line to remain relatively short. We arrive at the cashier line at 10:30 a.m., and are escorted to our table in the restaurant by the host within 15 minutes of our arrival.
In relation to other buffets on The Strip, breakfast at The Bayside Buffet is a bargain at $16.99 for adults and $12.99 for children 12 and younger. Breakfast runs weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Lunch, during the week is from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and costs $20.99 for adults and $13.99 for children 12 and younger. Dinner, which runs from 4:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., is $29.99 for adults Monday through Sunday and $21.99 for children 12 and younger. Weekend Brunch is Saturday and Sunday, and is a bargain at $25.99 for adults and only $20.99 for children 12 and younger. Unlimited Bloody Marys and Champagne are available for an additional $5.00.
The capacity of the Bayside Buffet is 625 people, and the ambience is exceptionally nice for a buffet. There are high ceilings and large windows that look out onto the famous Mandalay Bay swimming pool. This offers the dining room natural lighting during the day. The tropical bungalow theme of the dining room features teak colored wood; metal chairs are styled to look as if they are made of bamboo. Silk plants and trees lend an air of green lush plant life. Scattered about the dining area are washed out and distressed Buddhist statues. The composition of all of these details plays nicely with the natural lighting, and the air of openness makes for a nice dining environment.
As we sit at our table, we order our breakfast beverages. For me, that means black coffee and ice water, and for my boss, decaffeinated tea. His tea options are chamomile and a mint melody. The coffee is served in a black plastic carafe. While it is not the most bold of a roasts, it is nice and hot, and it is still a decent cup of restaurant quality coffee.
I head out on my first round where I load up my plate with an assortment of breakfast dishes. The eggs Benedict are okay, but cold. The eggs on top of the English muffin are overcooked, and the Hollandaise sauce has congealed to an unpleasant texture. The white sausage is tasty, and is slightly sweet with a nice mix of various spices. The bacon is nice and crispy. The triangle of hash browns is crispy and hot, but is clearly a pre-packaged food item. The corned beef hash is decent, but seems to have come out of a can. The Spanish scramble is fresh and loaded with beef, herbs, and spices and is the highlight of this plate.
By now, the line to the omelet bar is short. The friendly omelet cook smiles as he cooks my dish, and compliments me on my choice of a loaded omelet. The omelet with bacon, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and cheddar cheese is good, but the vegetables used are not as fresh as at other buffets. The vegetables are by no means of poor quality, but they have a sense of being left in cold storage for a bit too long. Aside from the omelet, the apple and raisin cheese blintzes are delicious. The blintzes are stuffed with a cinnamon spiced apple mixture, with a few raisins here and there, all in a sweet sauce. The crepe like wrap, which I cover with strawberry compote, ties together this tasty treat. The blueberry pancakes are dry on the outside and a little under cooked towards the center, which is interesting. Perhaps they were undercooked to begin with, and the time spent under the heat lamp dried out the outer portion. To my surprise, flavor wise, they are quite good. The ham steak is thick and clearly grilled, but by the time I have a chance to get to it, it has dried out. Unfortunately, I think the ham steak suffered the same fate as the blueberry pancake. This leaves me with one tough piece of pork. While the ham tastes fine, the texture leaves a bit to be desired. I suspect this has to do with our timing being at the end of breakfast. If we had arrived earlier, perhaps turn over would be better on some dishes, and the drying out under the heat lamps would not be such an issue. Regardless, these dishes did suffer a bit from this shortcoming.
As I head out for another plate, the switch to lunch has occurred, and I have no choice but to switch it up if I wish to continue. My stomach is nearing full, but I decide on a plate of lunch items. Sometimes, you just have to make sacrifices. This is work after all.
My lunch plate includes one of each of the carving stations offerings as well as a sampling of the Mexican fare presented. The fresh carved New York Strip, cooked between medium and medium rare is a fine slice of beef. The fresh horseradish I slather on is some of the strongest I have come across. I have tears in my eyes after a couple of bites, and have to scale back my usual heavy-handed approach to my much-adored condiment. A thick slice of fresh carved turkey breast is superb. The meat is moist and tender and the cranberry sauce is delicious on top. The carnitas are surprisingly good. I am a San Diego native, and if there is one thing I know, it is carnitas. These are certainly passable in my book, and while not the best, far from the worst. The exclusion of corn tortillas is a bit disappointing though. I was only able to find the flour variation, and I’m not about to eat carnitas with a flour tortilla. I end up eating the carnitas with a fork. The tamale on the other hand was of frozen-food-section-of-the-grocery-store quality. Not terrible, but if a restaurant is going to go out of its way to serve tamales, they should come correct.
After two servings of breakfast, and one of lunch, I am nearly bursting at the seams. I am a true professional however, and I push ahead. The dessert station at the Bayside Buffet is too big to ignore. While my boss enjoys a plate full of pastries, I decide to wrap up the meal with a heaping bowl of vanilla and chocolate soft serve custard. I do myself no favor with the quantity of the frozen treat I dish up, and topping the bowl with a sugar cone may not be wise, but I have already thrown caution to the wind. The vanilla is sweet and rich. It is exactly what a vanillaphile such as me looks for in ice cream. The chocolate was like frozen pudding, in a good way. I am also a chocoholic, to use another cliché, but I do prefer vanilla when it comes to ice cream and between these two, the vanilla is the winner. The sugar cone, which I spoon ice cream in and eat as a treat of its own is of high quality as well.
By this point, my composure is clearly compromised. My boss, with a wry smile on his face, asks me how I am doing. I answer with a meek statement about how my stomach is at war with my body. I am not accustomed to over eating, and I am paying the price as we finish off our beverages. I do my best to keep my posture upright as we get up to leave. I have to hand it to the Bayside Buffet at Mandalay Bay. While the selection can be hit or miss, the hits are home runs. To be perfectly honest, I would not find myself in my uncomfortable position if it were not for the sheer volume of dishes I felt the compulsion to try. Taking into consideration the price, atmosphere, and selection, I would recommend the Bayside Buffet at Mandalay Bay to anyone looking to leave a buffet with more than their fill of fine food.