The Palms is no longer controlled by the family that built it, the Maloofs, and there are major changes happening in their food ops. I recently mentioned the Earl of Sandwich, the new sandwich joint in their Food Court, and now I am going to describe their buffet, called Bistro Buffet. The room was recently spruced up with pastel colors, the names of the stations changed, and foods themselves changed considerably.
If you read this soon, I advise you to try dining here before August ends, when the prices will go up slightly. You may also wish to stop by the Palms Club and sign up for a Players Card. It’s free, and it gets you up to a $5 discount on breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The hotel’s new Executive Chef, Dewayne Rose, is a veteran of the buffet genre. He comes to the Palms from the M Casino, where he was responsible for their buffet, and he ran the Carnival World Buffet at the Rio for years, called by many the best in the city. The man is aiming to make Bistro Buffet the best in the city. He has quite a mountain to climb.
But for now, let’s simply say that Bistro Buffet is a great value. Rose is originally from Jamaica, and when we spoke and I expressed fondness for Jamaican food, he returned with some jerk chicken, which had a nice, spicy bite. “I always have some around”, said Rose.
The buffet is divided into the usual suspect stations: Mexican, Italian, International, Chinese, Dessert, etc. There are, however, major surprises. Rose has retained those Middle Eastern dishes that the Maloofs, of Lebanese origin, were known for. Tabbouleh salad has moved to the salad bar section, but Lebanese chicken, with lemony, delicious sauce served on the side, meat stuffed grape leaves, and other dishes, are still around, though the gyro meat and fried kibbeh seem not to be.
And the Asian station has a terrific Thai buffet, with several Thai curries, brown egg with stewed pork, and various Thai noodle concoctions, which is worth, in my view, the buffet price alone. (There are also loads of Chinese dishes here, including dim sum.)
It seems that when Rose came to the Palms from the M, he took his Thai sous-chef along with him. Can you think of a single Thai restaurant in town with a buffet like this? You cannot, because this is the only game in town.
In addition, there are original stations such as Southern, (the fried chicken is one of the highlights) and Mongolian, where you pick your meats and veggies to be cooked on the barbie, Mongolian style.
There are a few glitches. The carving station could use a little improvement, for instance. All it had on my visit was roast beef, a huge turkey breast, and something the chef calls bamboo salmon, because the fish is roasted on bamboo staves. This salmon is tasty and nicely spiced, but the other meats are bland.
And a few of the dishes didn’t float my boat, such as one or two of the Italian pastas, the under-spiced Mexican fare, and the leaden biscuits.
I should mention that desserts are handled intelligently and well. Bistro Buffet takes a page from the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmo in that they’re doing tiny portions, cupcakes that you can eat in one bite, and desserts like tiny apple pies and pint-sized brulees, an idea that makes sense after you’ve overindulged on everything else.
Almost everything here is made from scratch, too. Rose took me on a tour of his many kitchens, and it was impressive. Considering the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of items they do here-the buffet changes many items daily-this is an impressive operation.
Bistro Buffet serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Call 942-7777 for meal prices and hours.
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