OK so as we all know I’m not really a food blogger. This does not mean that I don’t like food, oh heaven forfend. As you can tell from my magical ever expanding waistline, I really like food. And I like to cook, and I’ve done a lot of it. I’m still doing it: hell, I’m traveling with a cast iron skillet, my mothers carbon steel knives and a blue le creuset Dutch oven from the 70s. I’ve made some great meals in my tiny galley! But I don’t go out to eat much, partly because I do know good food and I don’t like to spend money on the bad stuff and partly because, let’s get real, I can’t afford the good stuff. However. Last night I decided to throw caution and money to the winds and dine at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. I had heard of their restaurant collection and I was all, ok, just do it. I wandered around for a while – this place is awesome, it’s what Vegas should be like, glamorous and huge and elegant and over the top but also sort of tongue in cheek with it. Also, it’s full of art. Anyway, I couldn’t make up my mind on a restaurant so I decided to go with the buffet, Wicked Spoon, and try some of everything.
Yowza. In a few years when I’m desperately chipping away in the art mines or the book mines or the whatever mines trying to earn a few pennies to keep me in ramen, I will look back on my night of excess. Ahhh, I will say, those were the fucking days. So here we go: ONE WOMAN, ONE EVENING, SIX TRIPS TO THE BUFFET AND ONE SLOWLY DIMINISHING GLASS OF QUITE A NICE CHEAP MALBEC.
So, to start, mostly because from where I was seated this was the first area in the VAST buffet that I found: a caesar salad in a mason jar, with a parmesan crisp on top, salmon and crawfish etoufee and shrimp and grits. There was bacon in the shrimp and grits and I don’t usually eat bacon – I don’t as a general rule eat meat – but I decided that for tonight, if they were treating it like a condiment, well, OK: morally, for one night, bacon is ketchup. Look, it’s Las Vegas, you gotta be flexible. Anyway, the salad was kind of a pain to eat, so deduct points for that, but the etouffee? Heaven.
Course Two: In which I find the Asian Section of the buffet. In the little cup is I think grilled tofu in some broth? I wish I’d written all this down. Anyway it was the total winner of the night, it was amazing, smoky, perfect, just spicy enough – I could eat it forever. Then there was one of those shrimp puff things that I adored as a child. It doesn’t show up but it was bright green like candy, nostalgia! Also it was very good. And bok choy and vegetarian dumplings and kung pao cauliflower. Yum everything!
And here is course number three,
from the Italian section. Eggplant with mozzarella in marinara – this wasn’t, actually, all that exciting I am sad to say. But, the chestnut risotto next to it? Made up for it OH. MY. GOD. And behind that is a fig and goat cheese flatbread pizza with a little balsamic reduction drizzle and I am going to make that as soon as I am near an oven again, oh yes indeedy.
Course Four! Sort of downhomey American and also something delicious I overlooked at the Italian section. So, a fancy take on green bean casserole, which is to say haricots verts with a mushroom cream sauce, brussels sprouts with a balsamic and bacon glaze and roast seasonal vegetables in some sauce, which was totally delicious. I couldn’t even identify all the vegetables but oh god they were good. And then there is an amazing maple bourbon pecan glazed sweet potato. And pumpkin ravioli with fennel from the Italian side. I was dithering because there was another vegetarian one only it had more pasta in it and by this point I was sort of, um, I don’t think I can fit pasta in, although I managed the one ravioli. But that’s why I didn’t try the mac and cheese, dammit.
And course number FIVE. This was going to be the cheese course, because I was so full, but I thought, oh yes, cheese – I always think, oh yes, cheese – so I got a tiny bit and then I rounded a corner and found THE CEVICHE BAR and well, ceviche! I love ceviche! But I couldn’t eat all of it. The octopus, which makes me feel guilty because I know I shouldn’t eat them, they’re smarter than I am, was wonderful and the shrimp was wonderful but the mixed seafood tasted exactly like the mixed seafood at one of those salad bars in a Korean bodega in NYC. To me that’s delicious and also functions sort of like a more gritty 20th century madeleine in that I can immediately smell and hear Second Avenue in the 80s, but it might not be to everyone’s taste.
The dessert bar! I did not do the dessert buffet justice, I am sorry to say. I was so damn full by then I thought I might explode, so I was forced to content myself with a tiramisu torte, an almond apricot madeleine and a chocolate raspberry sort of tarte thing. They were of course amazing.
And then I waddled out onto the Strip and I did not, by some miracle, explode.