For some, nothing says Sunday brunch in Las Vegas more than The Buffet at the Wynn. Some may argue that the Bellagio has the superior brunch buffet, but the two-hour wait for admittance does not seem like a good way to spend a significant chunk of my Sunday morning. After a four and a half hour drive from San Diego to Las Vegas, my boss and I pull into the Wynn around 11:40 a.m. Thanks to some good luck, we are able to score a parking space almost immediately upon entering the parking structure at the Wynn. Making our way through the opulent lobby, find ourselves in line for the buffet by 11:45.
At the entrance to The Buffet at The Wynn, a sign reads, “PROPER ATTIRE REQUIRED. GENTLEMEN: NO SLEEVELESS SHIRTS. LADIES: OPAQUE COVER-UPS.” There is no mistaking the lack of sleeves on many men in Vegas, so I am glad that sleeves are required to dine at the Wynn. The bare arms of random men and buffets do not mix in my book. The request for opaque cover-ups on women makes me wonder about the kind of garments women have tried to pull off dining at The Buffet. Unfortunately for me, I do not have the opportunity to see any women with sheer tops on during our stay.
The line, as it slowly progresses, it snakes around a waiting room with a mirrored obelisk that stands upon a base of white marble tile. Shining brass railing guides guests to the cashier at the front of the restaurant. The walls, an off white, feature light blue accented trim. The design element of the buffet is reminiscent of a plush French maison.
We make our way to the front of the queue in just under an hour. While I am not a fan of waiting this long in line for the first meal of the day, when taking into consideration our time of arrival, the tendency of Vegas guests to be late rising, and the fact that Sunday Brunch draws a big crowd, the wait does not seem overly unreasonable. After paying, we wait in a short line to be seated. Our host leads us past the courtyard seating, with its colorful arrangement of fruit and flowers, to our table.
Brunch at the Wynn offers an array of 365 dishes, including desserts. The price of admission for Brunch, which is available of Saturday and Sunday, is $32.99. Those looking to cut back on the wait can opt for the VIP Package, which places you at the front of the line for an additional $12. Included in the package is a complimentary glass of champagne, mimosa, or sangria. If a guest who opts for the VIP Package chooses to return to The Buffet at the Wynn, a 10% discount is extended to a next day buffet purchase. There is also the option for bottomless champagne, mimosa, or sangria to go with Brunch for another $12.00. Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Breakfast is available for $20.99. Lunch during the week runs from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and costs $25.99. Dinner, from 3:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., is $38.99 Sunday through Thursday, and $39.99 Friday and Saturday.
Our server takes our drink order. I go for a water and coffee, while my boss orders water and decaffeinated tea. The coffee is hot and strong. While the quality of the beans is not anything special, it is a decent cup of joe. Three decaffeinated teas arrive, and include English breakfast, a mint medley, and chamomile. This is the last time we see our server, and while my carafe of coffee never needs a refill, my glass of water remains dry for 90 minutes after I finish it.
Before I grab a plate and begin, I take a quick survey of the restaurant. The long buffet features seafood on one end, and salad on the opposite side. Having established my bearings, I begin loading up my first plate. My first round is a bit of an odd mix of choices, but let us be honest, that is part of the charm of buffet dining. Keeping in mind that Mexican food is my favorite type of cuisine; I take a shot at the chilaquiles. The Mexican breakfast dish is decent, and the sauce provided is good, but the chilaquiles are made with flour tortillas, not corn, which is disappointing. I understand that many of the customers of the Wynn likely prefer flour tortillas to corn; but still, authentic chilaquiles are made with corn. The Enchiladas suffered from the same issue. They were okay, but I feel as if the flour tortillas detracted from the taste and texture somewhat. The Eggs Benedict are good. The hollandaise sauce that tops the dish has a unique twist to it that I cannot quite put my finger on, but it sure is tasty! Both the sausage and the bacon are of good quality, although not spectacular. The fried chicken tastes terribly fishy. Clearly, separate fryers are not used for different dishes. The chicken, obviously cooked in the same oil as some of the fish dishes, has me shy away from any other fried offerings.
For my second plate, I decide on an omelet. I like my omelets loaded with ingredients, so I request ham, bacon, spinach, onion, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, and a little bit of cheddar cheese. The vegetables used are fresh and the eggs are not overcooked. For someone who eats egg dishes on a regular basis, which I do, an omelet that is not overcooked is of paramount importance. I see a thick slab of honey-glazed bacon sitting at the carving station, and with nobody in line, I decide to give it a try. The fresh cut bacon is sweet and juicy, although there is more fat to the slice than meat, which leaves me with a thick piece of fat left on my plate. While at the carving station, I also get a slice of prime rib. The beef, which has a rich flavor and features a nice marbling, is cooked medium. I like my prime rib medium-rare, so this piece is a little more on the well-done side than I generally care for. Regardless of this fact, the slice of beef is of undeniably good quality. The fresh horseradish offered as a side makes up for the flavor detriment of the slightly over-cooked beef with its mighty punch.
My third plate is a simple affair. I want to see how the Wynn does with what I call, “The Batter Trio”, which is my fancy way of saying, waffles, pancakes, and French toast. It may have been my timing, as all of the items sampled seemed to have been sitting out for a while when I get to them, but the trio is not as good as I had hoped. The Belgian waffle is dry, even when covered in maple syrup. The silver-dollar pancake suffers from the same shortcoming as the waffle, and is dry even under the sweet syrup. The French toast is a bit more up to par, but nothing spectacular.
For dessert, after a few laps of surveying the massive dessert station, I decide to try a couple of flavors from the selection of six house made gelatos and sorbets. While topping options include toasted coconut, sprinkles, gram cracker crumbs, crushed Oreos, candy-coated chocolates (M&M’s), and toasted almonds, I choose to keep it simple, and enjoy the frozen treat as is. I choose a scoop of vanilla bean gelato and a scoop of mint chocolate gelato. Vanilla is my favorite flavor of ice cream, and the texture of the vanilla bean is smooth and creamy as a well-prepared gelato should be. The subtle flavor of the vanilla is wonderful in its elegant complexity. The mint chocolate chip, in contrast to the vanilla, has a base gelato that has a sharp and bold mint flavor. The chocolate chips scattered though out the gelato are earthy and not overly bitter, and of premium quality. Other desserts in the massive sweets section include candy apples, warm bread pudding, pecan pie, cream puffs, chocolate parfait, piña colada mousse, blueberry parfait, peach cobbler, pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant), an assortment of cookies and brownies, fresh made lollypops, as well as cheese and fruit Danishes.
Having finished my bowl of gelato, I slowly sip my coffee as I try to make eye contact with someone carrying a water pitcher, but to no avail. Every time I think I have the attention of a server, they turn their back and head in the opposite direction. I chew on ice in a feeble attempt at hydrating myself after three plates of breakfast and one bowl of dessert. A look around reveals that it is quite busy in the dining room, but to go nearly two hours without one refill is not what I consider good customer service. Take into account the cost of entry ($32.99 pretax) and my impression of Sunday Brunch at the Wynn is a bit tarnished. There is no argument to be made against the high quality of ingredients, the wide array of options, and the good service of the kitchen staff working behind the buffet, but the support staff in the dining area leaves a bit to be desired.
As we make our way out of the restaurant, the throngs of people waiting to get in have not abated one bit. Late risers continue to stream in to enjoy the offerings of The Buffet at the Wynn. I stop to pose next to one of the ornate floral arrangements, where my boss is able to coax a smile out of me. I wonder how it is that such a fine establishment can fall short on the service end. If it were not for the lack of attention paid to our table, I would be leaving with a far better impression of the Wynn. The style and substance is there, but with little support from the front lines, small things such as water refills go ignored. My rapidly increasing dehydration, as I head out to face the dry Vegas air, is proof of this. My experience ended up less than positive simply because I could not get a glass of water. Considering the attention to detail presented in other aspects of the Wynn Resort, one might think that the staff would understand that minor details make a big impact. It is unfortunate that I had to walk away with what boils down to a negative impression on what could have been a wonderful meal. While my experience at the Buffet at the Wynn leaves me less than impressed, at least the parts of the hotel I walk through are nice.