Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Restaurant Review: Studio B Buffet at the M Resort, Las Vegas, NV

M Resort Studio B Buffet - lunch on April 27, 2014, 4-star rating on yelp, 1291 reviews
I just got back from a short vacation trip to Las Vegas, NV. Took a couple of days off from work plus the weekend to visit my sister. My mom was there for the week and I came for the last few days of her stay. I'm not a big gambler. I used to go to Vegas every 3-4 years for fun and now that my sister lives there, it's once or twice a year. Beyond the family visit, it's not so much about gambling as it is about eating.
If you've ever been to Vegas, you know it caters to pretty much every sin known to man (and woman). Including gluttony. Can't say I took the high road since I indulged in some gluttony myself. Starting with the Studio B Buffet at the M Resort. Everything in Vegas is either on The Strip or "off Strip". The M Resort is off Strip. I'd never been there before but on weekends, they have a seafood buffet. It's fracking expensive though at $40 per person. Normally I don't go to super expensive buffets because I can't eat that much in one sitting so I never feel like I get my money's worth. I'm more of a snacker/grazer than a pig-out for one meal kind of person. And if I'm going to spend $40 or more on a meal, I usually go for a nice entree at a hi-falutin' restaurant owned by a celebrity chef I'd heard about on Food Network.
Crab Legs
But my sister's boyfriend wanted to treat us there and we weren't likely to go any other time so we were lucky to be able to indulge. We went right after church so the place wasn't that crowded when we got there. Although they got busier and it seemed like I was the only one looking sideways at that $40 price tag (how can so many people afford to eat here?).
Waffle fries and sweet potato fries
Buffet experts will tell you the way to maximize the value of your buffet experience and payment is to go for the expensive stuff and skip the filler food. Meaning, forego the pasta, breads, rice and pizza and instead, go for the prime rib, crab, shrimp, etc. So think Atkins instead of carbo-loading. I know all that in my head but I inadvertently started off in the Italian section and that strategy went out the window.
Oh, another buffet tip is it's best to scout all of the offerings first to see what's available before you even pick up a plate and start filling it. Yeah, I didn't listen to myself on that one either.
Shrimp pasta

The Studio B Buffet is organized and sectioned into culinary themes. Besides the standard sections of salads, cut fruits and soups, on one side of the room is Italian cuisine with its requisite pastas, pizzas, and other mass-produced Italian American food. In the center are the proteins (prime rib, chicken, New York steak) and seafood (crab legs, salmon, fish, scallops, shrimp). On the opposite side of the Italian section were the cuisines of Asia: Korean short ribs, pad thai, Chinese orange chicken, sushi, tempura shrimp, chow mein and a whole host of other dishes I can't remember. I'm including most of the pictures I took although I didn't caption them all. I didn't eat them all either but wanted to give a sampling of the plethora of dishes available just so you can see what's offered at the M buffet.
I tried to take a little bit of anything that looked appetizing. Because let's face it - buffets are for people with commitment issues. Don't want too much of any one thing? No problem, just take a spoonful and move on to the next dish. If you really like something, go back for it on your second plate. The first plate is all about spreading out your taste buds to see what's out there.

Although for me, the huge downside of buffets, besides the potential to overeat like you're a squirrel stuffing your cheeks full for a long hard winter, is the amount of waste. I often see people piling their plates high with food then leaving a good portion of it on their plate while they go back for more. It's really very off-putting and I invariably cringe and think of starving children around the world. So I try not to do it myself. I was raised to never waste food so that means I clean my plate before getting more. I've learned to only take a little bit of something to ensure I can finish it because I don't let myself go back for more if I haven't finished what I've already taken. 
I was seduced by the Italian section of the buffet because I'm a carb girl but in hindsight, I should've skipped it. While pizza and spaghetti and meatballs lure me in like a siren song, I thought they were just okay at the M buffet. No standouts and nothing I'm going to remember once I left Vegas.
Orange Chicken and Asian short ribs
Shrimp Tempura
I fared better on the Asian side. They brought out a fresh batch of shrimp tempura while I was there and it was crispy yet light fried goodness. The Korean beef short ribs were amazingly flavorful. The orange chicken was a touch on the too-sweet side and more breaded than I would've wanted. My sister liked the pad thai but I was "meh" on it. Krung Thai's is better.
Noodles, fried rice and spring rolls
Pad Thai and chicken wings
Korean short ribs
I was already hitting the "stop" mark after I sampled the Asian cuisine. My mom advised me to slow down. Not that I was scarfing food but I'm normally a fast eater and get full easily. Which they didn't want me to do because I hadn't eaten $40 worth of food yet. Yeah, we were still trying to get our value for that $40 price tag.
But it was hard going for me because I was full yet trying to save room for dessert. Because I had to have dessert. Dessert was along one section and neatly arranged with a bunch of individual desserts, ending with a counter of gelato that a server scooped out for you. It's customary to tip any server manning any of the counters who had to get you something as opposed to you helping yourself. They leave the tips out so people can understand the norm and hopefully add to the dollar bills on the counter. Totally understandable, especially if you consider they probably don't get paid a lot and don't get the same amount of tips as at a sit-down, full- service restaurant.
Now, I'm normally a lot trifle snobby about desserts at buffets. In my experience, they're never that good. They're often too sweet or dry and usually just a big dessert cut into small pieces. Not so at the M Buffet. In fact, I have to say I was quite impressed with their dessert offerings.
For one thing, they were made in miniature size rather than just cut into small pieces. With only a few exceptions, each dessert was its own work of art. The tiramisu was in small plastic cups, layered and artfully decorated just like a full-size tiramisu. Same with the mini cheesecakes and fruit tarts.
Only the bread pudding was served in a big pan that you helped yourself from. But the molten chocolate cakes were individually baked in little foil tins and the creme brulees were served in miniature size. Cupcakes were also minis. Again, with dessert buffets, you don't want anything full size that requires too much commitment to any one thing. That leaves less room for variety.
Bread pudding
I was honestly full by the time I got to dessert so I had to make my selections carefully. I went with the tiramisu, the molten chocolate cake, the creme brulee, some hazelnut chocolate layered thingie and a mini red velvet cupcake. Oh and vanilla gelato because I wanted to tip the server. Really. Okay, maybe because I wanted to put the vanilla gelato on top of my molten chocolate cake. (But I did tip the server.)
Out of all the desserts that I got, the creme brulee was my favorite. It had the perfect creamy consistency and rich flavor of a great, not just good, creme brulee. The red velvet cupcake (after I pushed aside the frosting) was also good for what it was. The molten chocolate cake with the vanilla gelato was satisfyingly chocolatey and actually did have a molten center, no easy feat when baking something that small. I was less enamored of the tiramisu and the hazelnut chocolate mousse type thing but I think that was a combination of too much mousse/custard/cream and being too full.
How full was I? I had 2 1/2 plates plus a saucer of mini desserts. Although I didn't pile my plate(s) high since I don't double layer or mix flavors, let's just say I very rarely eat that much. As in it hurt to stand and straighten out my stomach when we were done eating. I know, I know, kinda gross. I really did feel like a squirrel storing up for winter or a bear about to go into hibernation long enough to let global warming pass. I was so full from the buffet lunch that I didn't eat for another 20 hours after that and the next morning, I had to go for a run on the treadmill first before I could even face food again. It's not something I do often nor an overindulgence I recommend but sometimes you do have to throw caution to the winds and just enjoy the moment, even though that moment does pass and your waistband gets too tight. Just please don't waste the food :).

1 comment:

  1. I'm sold. Next time my girlfriend and I head to Vegas, one of the first stops will be at M Resort! Loved the descriptions of the pastries!