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Old 12-23-2012, 11:48 PM
 
3,574 posts, read 4,015,486 times
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So I've been hearing glowing recommendations from many people, (including ScoopLV on these boards), and I finally was able to go to the Sterling Brunch at Bally's which is supposed to be the best (and most expensive) in Las Vegas. This was only possible because there was a Groupon that essentially cut the price in half ($99 for two people) There were some highlights and some VERY VERY low points.

First off, we had 11am reservations and waited an hour to get our table. This is absolutely unacceptable. Why take reservations at all? Many people were very upset, one guy complaining so loudly to the hostess who was so embarrassed, she seated him right away--ahead of other people who were in line. I know this because he said he had been waiting 45 minutes and everybody else's wait was longer. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, I suppose. They apologized and tried to give everybody free bloody marys while they waited, but even THAT line was too long to wait in since they only had one bartender who couldn't make them fast enough. I gave up and was seriously considering cancelling our reservation and seeking a refund from Groupon.

Once finally seated at our table, we attacked the buffet as we were very hungry by that point. Overall impression of the buffet: dark, simple, smaller than you'd expect for the price, not presented nearly as well as others in town, but the food was very good. Most dishes I would give a rating of 8 out of 10 with a few 10's like the lobster tail. Desserts were good, but not all the trays were replenished and some just sat empty even with a manager standing directly behind them like it's okay. The eggs benedict was actually the right temperature and not dry at all which is so common at buffets. The cuts of meat were pretty good. Sushi station was good. I liked the free champagne.

Now the bad:
1) The cook staff were not replenishing the buffet items as quickly as they should. I actually had to tell one that they were completely out of crab legs. He as very nice and quickly went to refill it, but I shouldn't have to do his job for him. My wife said the breaded chicken was not replensihed either. There should never be a lag and no serving tray should ever be 100% empty. I expected more from such a highly respected estabishment.
2) There was no bread! Nothing at all and I found it to be very strange. Not even one of those non-edible displays. Weird.
3) Service was lacking. We couldn't get the attention of our waiter to order a drink for my wife. She literally had to get up and go grab him to order her tea. It still didn't come! We eventually flagged down a different server who brought us tea, kindly apologized, then said he would bring some more hot water for my wife... that never came either.
4) WORST OF ALL: It was DIRTY! Like "I'm-so-disgusted, I-don't-know-if-I-want-to-eat-here" dirty. We were seated by the half-wall between the bar area and the dining tables. The wall DIRECTLY NEXT TO THE TABLES where food is eaten is caked with a very thick layer of dust! Don't believe me? We took a picture of it and I'm willing to send it to anyone who PM's me. Disgusting. I'd post it here, but you can only post links, not picture files here.

I'm going to send a copy of this review to management, but I guarantee you we will never go back. We think it's absolutely obscene that they normally charge $90/head for this kind of experience. We know we were not the only ones dissatisfied today either. I've been to many buffets in town and this wouldn't even hit the top 10.

Last edited by logline; 12-23-2012 at 11:58 PM..
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Old 12-24-2012, 12:34 AM
 
1,681 posts, read 3,045,042 times
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I went last weekend on the Groupon a well (first time for me too). I had a very different experience from yours.

Our reservations were for 9:30am and we were seated right away. It definitely picked up around 10-10:30, so I think getting there early helped.

I noticed the food getting refilled extremely regularly. Pretty much the crab legs were gone in around 5-10 minutes (we were seated right by the meat carving station) every time. They practically had an endless loop of people refilling the crab legs. I noticed too, the big fat crab legs go first (obviously), so being the first person in line helps. The crab legs (which were Alaskan King when I was there) were top notch, warm, but not overcooked, and HUGE.

Contrasting, both my wife and I found the lobster tails to be disgusting. They are decent size (full size), but they were rubbery and tasteless when we were there. I got one, took a couple bites, and gave up on it. No reason to fill up on bad lobster when there were great crab legs available.

I had the lamb chops and they were excellent. Desserts and crepes (had the bananas fosters crepes) were great too. Didn't have caviar or sushi. All the food I had was excellent except the lobster tails.

Service for us was excellent (we had Mario). I told my wife he was like the butler guy from "Mr Deeds", he'd practically sneak up on you and be refilling our champagne and OJ.

I didn't think it was dirty, but I wasn't on the lookout for it.

For me, not being a caviar, champagne, or sushi buff, it's hard for me to get maximum value out of the buffet. I would have a hard time justifying it at regular price. I was happy at Groupon price and will probably go back even at regular price for some special occasion.
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Old 12-24-2012, 04:01 AM
 
13,482 posts, read 9,602,375 times
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A lot of people take time off this week for the holidays. I wonder if short-staffing might have explained the difference in your experiences?
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Old 12-24-2012, 04:40 AM
 
654 posts, read 1,096,555 times
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Another data point:

I went last weekend (the 16th) for the first time. Our reservations were at 9:30 AM & we were seated fairly quickly; at 10:00-10:30 the line started to build, so getting there early was probably helpful. I took my wife, who enjoyed the lobster so much on our honeymoon cruise she wanted it again - otherwise I would've gone with a buddy, since my wife (95 lbs) never gets her money's worth at a buffet.

She got her lobster (as did I) - what a disappointment. We tried 3 different tails at different times, all were a decent size but all were rubbery & lacked flavor. The king crab legs I got were no bigger than other buffets around town; I tried multiple times to look for the larger legs, but never saw any. The flavor, at least, was very good - far better than the lobster. They had grilled/blackened swordfish - IMHO it was the best thing there, a little more dry than I'd like but still the best flavor of any seafood (swordfish is probably my favorite fish, with some varieties of salmon/shark close behind).

The caviar was decent, but you had to ask for it at a specific station & they'd only provide a little at a time. They also had capers at the caviar station - tried them together, talk about salt overload! The sushi was at the same station, I only tried the eel & octopus - reasonable but nothing special. In the midst of all this, the champagne started out excellent & remained that way; my only minor complaint is they didn't fill it as quickly as I'd heard from so many places - my glass emptied a couple times & I wasn't drinking it that quickly.

I tried the lobster bisque, which I found underwhelming compared to past experiences. It was rather bland & had a weird texture. The eggs benedict were better than most other places; while I'm not a huge fan (prefer poached eggs without hollandaise), these were some of the best I've had in a buffet environment. Then it was on to the filet mignon. Their pieces put the PETITE in petite filet mignon - so tiny that it was hard to have any pink in the middle with that ratio of surface area to meat. As a result, the pieces I tried were more done than I'd like, if only because any cooking/browning at all would make it almost impossible to leave the middle medium-rare, let alone medium. It still tasted alright, I was just disappointed that by default they were too done.

For dessert, I had a crepe with bananas foster, which was very good. My wife tried a couple of the pre-made desserts (small cakes) - she enjoyed them but wasn't wowed. Even though she's petite, she LOVES dessert & I wish they would've had something to tickle her fancy.

All in all, I'm glad I went but have to be honest that I can't see going again unless something changes. If I knew the lobster would be better prepared & large King Crab legs would be available, it would help. Better cuts of filet mignon would help. If I knew they'd have swordfish again, that would probably be the biggest draw for me. I'm sure the groupon crowd affected things overall, so I tried to cut them some slack. Then again, when I thought about it why not make lemons into lemonade? Rather than going through the motions merely to survive the groupon crowd, this could've been a great chance to showcase themselves & build a repeat clientele (would've worked for me), but in my opinion they fell far short of hitting the mark.
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