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RESTAURANT REPORT

Tropicana’s Fiesta Buffet

By Alyson Boxman Levine

Whether you call them smorgasbords or buffets, the allure of endless displays of delicious food appeals to everyone. Forget the long lines and trays of cold chicken and pizza; the buffets of today are truly gourmet and offer high-end services only a casino dining establishment can offer. From locally-sourced foods, to wine kiosks and award-winning chefs, Atlantic City casino buffets are truly a cut above the rest. So how did the great idea of buffets come about anyway? Well, according to historians, Sweden and France were the first countries to formalize the buffet concept. In Sweden, the smorgasbord originated as a way to feed hungry out-oftown visitors who popped in unexpectedly. Starting with just bread and butter — the term translates as “buttered bread board” — the smorgasbord display grew to include several courses, beginning with salted fish, eggs and boiled vegetables, then moving on to cold cuts, warm entrees and salads, and ending finally with dessert and coffee. With a focus on entertaining rather than cooking, the French offered a more refined model, filling their lavish “buffet” tables as a sign of prominence. When it comes to gaming establishments, the man credited with creating the first all-you-can-eat casino buffet was Canadian-born Herb McDonald. In the 1940s, McDonald worked as a publicist at the El Rancho Vegas, one of the first hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. According to historical accounts, late one night he wandered into the kitchen, brought out some cold cuts, cheese and bread, and spread them out along the bar for hungry customers. The late-night selection was a hit, and McDonald eventually evolved the menu into a 24-hour all-youcan-eat “Buckaroo Buffet.” For just $1, people could choose from a selection of cold cuts, salad, and seafood. Unfortunately, the hotel lost money on its buffet, but gained it back by promoting customer loyalty and enticing new patrons. Soon after, other casinos along the Strip were copying the idea, until nearly every hotel had their own version of the “midnight buffet.” Presently, these allhours establishments are still a big draw throughout Las Vegas, and range from the inexpensive to the incredibly lavish. Offering plenty of food variety at a reasonable price, buffets are still gaining in popularity today. These establishments afford people the opportunity to try new types of food they would not typically order from a menu in a traditional restaurant. For many, buffet eating is a science all its own. Some patrons go straight for their favorites; crab legs and prime rib. Others opt for the traditional meal; first starting with a soup or salad, then their entrée with vegetables, followed by dessert. And I’ve seen others go straight for the dessert area, and begin their meal with a sweet treat. One thing is for certain; there are no rules when dining at a buffet. Simply relax and enjoy the bevy of offerings before you. One of the Atlantic City area’s top buffets is the Waterfront Buffet at Harrah’s Resort. Featuring nine diverse food stations, guests relish in a seeminglyendless selection of delights from across the globe. The Waterfront focuses on fresh ingredients and offers made-to-order dishes such as steaks, custom salads and fried chicken, as well as plenty of dishes with an international flair. From a

The Palace Court Buffet at Caesars

Harrah’s Waterfront Buffet

Borgata Buffet’s chefs Photo courtesy Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa njlifestyleonline.com

LIFESTYLE | Winter 2016

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NJ Lifestyle Magazine Winter 2016  
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