Friday, August 26, 2011

VIrginia City Buffet - Bally's Wild, Wild West Casino, Atlantic City,NJ

I have liked the Virginia City Buffet in Bally's Wild, Wild West Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey for a long time. The last several trips to Atlantic City I wanted to try other buffets and as I went along I have written about them on this site. I still like the Virginia City Buffet the best of all the casino buffets I have tried in Atlantic City. I has been almost three years since I have been there last - perhaps longer and on a recent trip down through New Jersey, I went back again to see if it still holds up.

Every casino in Atlantic City, and there are a number of them, has a buffet. They vary greatly in what they offer. Weekend buffets tend to emphasize seafood and on the weekends the buffets stay open later. The Wild, Wild West Casino is one of the casinos in the Bally's group in Atlantic City. This casino has no hotel. The hotel is at the Bally's casino next door, but this casino has always offered its own buffet. I am sure you can figure out that the theme of this buffet - like the casino - is the cowboy Old West. And while there is a large variety of types of cuisines served at this buffet the emphasis is on meat and potatoes. I will tell you right here, before you read on - if you don't eat meat and potatoes then this is not the buffet for you. I will elaborate why as we go along.

We went to the buffet on a Thursday night. To get to this buffet's entrance you must walk through the casino floor. For many years, no children were able to dine in this buffet because children were not permitted on the casino floor. There has been a change here sometime within the last three years and now children are allowed into this casino accompanied by an adult and you will now find children dining with their parents at the Virginia City Buffet. For families I am sure this is great. Personally, I feel that a casino is not a place for children to be in - and there were children running around in the casino near the buffet entrance not all that well supervised by any adult. The same was true in the buffet, though most were well supervised and under control.

Dinner on weeknights at the Virginia City Buffet is $21.99. On Saturdays they have a seafood feature and the price was higher. Soft drinks are included. Beer and wine is available but is paid by the glass at your table.

When you arrive at the buffet entrance which is on the first floor - the casino floor - there is a rope line to get into a small room where you pay. We waited over an hour on line to get up to the cashier. It always pays to have a casino comp card when you go to a casino buffet because there are often discounts or offers. It costs nothing to get the card in the casino. We had one card with us and while there was no discount on dinner we were given a coupon to gamble $10.00. If my wife had a card we would have received two coupons. More about this at the end. Once we paid we were moved along to another line of people waiting to be taken up the escalator to the second floor where the buffet is located. We waited on that line about ten minutes. They bring groups of people up in spurts to even out the flow of people in the restaurant. This is a good thing because it staggers the crowd and makes it easier for you to get up to the buffet stations with less of a crowd. We were taken up and shown to our table. The dining room is set at one end of the large room and the buffet stations are at the opposite end. Compared to some of the other Atlantic City casino buffets the dining room is on the smaller side. This may account for the long waits to get in.

Once you go to the buffet serving stations you will find that they surround the end of the room with the dessert station in the middle of the room. The first buffet station that you come to on the right is the soup station and there are a variety of soups offered. On this night they had matzo ball soup, sweet and sour cabbage soup, mushroom barley soup, and chicken vegetable soup. The matzo balls are served on the side so you may take chicken soup alone and it has thin noodles in it. Add to this, if you wish, as many or as few matzo balls as you like. It was a good solid broth and the matzo balls were properly light. Pass the soup and you come to breads and rolls. There were biscuits and next to them a hot pot of white biscuit gravy. There were dinner rolls as well.

I have to stop here and talk about the bread because there was something so odd here on this night and it had to do, not with the buffet, but with the people who were dining at the buffet. The bread area had the proper tongs to pick up a roll or biscuit and put it on your plate. There seemed to be a notion to ignore the tongs and just grab rolls with hands - mostly being done, not by children or younger people, but by little old ladies. And some even took rolls with their hands and then put them back into the basket! Really, now! My wife had wanted a roll. She did not take one because of this. Obviously, on this particular night the buffet was overwhelmed with people who have never read our Rules of the Buffet! And again, it was not that the tongs were not plainly and immediately there to use.

Alright, back to the buffet. After the soup and bread area along the same counter you come to the salad bar. Here was a mixed, assorted green lettuce bowl with salad toppings. There was also a similar bowl of mixed, assorted greens that was covered and tossed in some type dressing. At the opposite end of the ice filled server was a bowl of Caesar salad - pre-mixed with the dressing. There was also pasta salad here. Further along there were two large serving trays on ice of peel and eat shrimp. The shrimp were good sized shrimp. With the shrimp you could take cocktail sauce, seafood sauce, lemon, and/or chopped horseradish. The counter ends at the shrimp.

The shrimp was good and the Caesar salad was also good. My wife was not happy that they did not have regular lettuce as she does not care for the mixed, assorted greens. She skipped salad because of that and I know a few others that would as well. She made a point and she was right that there was no sense to have these mixed greens out plain and then again with a dressing, when you could easily add the dressing yourself and then they could have had a bowl of regular lettuce (by regular lettuce she means iceberg or romaine). I agree.

Moving through the serving stations, the next one that you come to is the Italian food station. They had stuffed shells, whole sausages and peppers, meatballs in tomato sauce, a fish of some unknown variety that was small, flat strips that were broiled, and a serving pot of pasta with a tray of tomato sauce next to it. There was also pizza. I tried a sausage and it was real Italian sausage and good. I also tried a stuffed shell - a semi-large macaroni shell stuffed with ricotta cheese and covered in tomato sauce and that was good too. During the meal the sausages were apparently running out, and they mixed what were remaining into the bowl with meatballs. They then replaced the sausage tray with a tray of veal cutlet parmigiana. I tried the veal cutlet. I liked this but I am sure some would not as it was not a peice of veal but rather a breaded, chopped veal patty. This is bery common to use in buffet restaurants and I find that much tastier than regular veal cutlets. It had a nice Italian seasoned taste and was covered in mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. My wife took some of what she thought was and appeared to be plain pasta. When she tasted it she said that it was covered in garlic and oil - so much garlic that it was overwhelming. This surprised me as macaroni like this is usually served plain for you to season and cover with sauce - and the sauce was right there next to the pasta bowl. So my wife skipped the salad, did not eat the pasta, and would not take a roll that others had their hands on. She was not that happy so far. I eat differently than she does and I was doing fine.

The next of the buffet stations is one that varies and I would say that if you come on a Saturday night this is where you will find the seafood. On this Thursday night it was "Deli". On this station there was a cook behind the counter and he was slicing corned beef - a stack of rye bread was next to it to make a sandwich. There were large, steamed or boiled hotdogs. There was a tray with NY style brisket. NY style brisket is very different from BBQ brisket or smoked brisket. It is a stewed meat with vegetables, more solid and sliceable than beef stew. There were also small, cubed fried potatoes. There was also a cold section with macaroni salad, potato salad, and coleslaw. At the side of the meats were mustard, relish, catsup, etc. to top your hotdog. My wife skipped this section entirely. I enjoy hotdogs and I don't often get corned beef. I took one slice of the corned beef to try. It was nicely flavored, though drier than a usual NY deli corned beef which is generally wet when it is sliced. Of course, I took a hotdog - no bun.

Moving around - next there is the Chinese Food station. Here are woks set out as serving trays. There was lo mein noodles, fried rice, General Tso Chicken, shrimp with bean pods, deep fried dumplings, and Spring Rolls. The dumplings eventually ran out and they were replaced with egg rolls.

Now you come to what they call "the Chuck Wagon" and this is where the entrees, grill and side dishes are. The highlight of the charcoal flame grill is steak and they are grilling strip steaks to order. The line up to the steaks can dominate this whole serving area. You may return for steak as often as you like - they no longer limit the steak to one per customer. In the long past the steaks that were served here were sirloin steaks and were excellent. The steak here now is still excellent even though it is a different cut. The steak was juicy and thick. It was cooked perfectly to how I asked for it. I eat rare steak - which means an unaccomplished chef will either hand it to you raw or over the line to medium. Not here. Here rare was correctly red but not raw and not quite pink that is medium rare. I was given a nice sized piece of steak.

There is more than steak here. There was a carver slicing turkey by request. There was fried chicken. There was a tray of BBQ smoked sausage pieces. There was a tray of sweet potato fries. There was mashed potatoes. There was a tray of mixed sauteed mushrooms and onions to top your steak. There were baked potatoes and a potato bar to top your baked potato.

Have you noticed that in all of the stations, other than salad, I have not really mentioned any vegetables? Well, that is because there were not any. Well, there was, on the Chuck Wagon station, a tray of mixed vegetables - the kind that you buy frozen in the supermarket - you know, corn, peas, tiny carrot cubes, and lima beans. This was the one vegetable side dish on the whole buffet. Do you see why now that I say that if you are not a meat and potatoes eater this is not the buffet for you?

If you are a meat and potato eater there is a lot that you will enjoy. I had so much to choose from because I like meat and potatoes that I could have lost my restraint and eaten more than I knew I should eat. Next to hotdogs and steak, I can't resist smoke sausage. It was all here. Now, my poor wife - who would eat vegetables and a small amount of meat was getting by with sliced turkey and cucumber slices from the salad bar. We did not really get our money's worth that night on her meal. I more than got mine.

OK, in the center of the buffet serving area is a large circlular serving counter with desserts. There was a very nice looking chocolate cake. There was cheesecake with a graham cracker bottom, there were cream pies, there were fruit pies, there was bananas foster, there was puddings and a selection of "diet" sugar free deserts. (Please do not believe that "sugar free" means diet - there are just as many carbohydrates in sugar free deserts and sometimes more than there are in regular deserts - plus the sugar substitute often used is a sugar alcohol which is a laxative.) There were two types of ice cream. There was a soft serve machine with vanilla and chocolate and there was hard scooped ice cream that the lady behind the counter will serve you. Near the hard ice cream were sundae toppings including a whipped cream machine. Near the sugar free desserts was a tray of cut up fresh fruit but it was clearly in some type of juice. My wife decided that she would taste this before taking some of the melon that was in the mix and found out that it was in fresh pineapple juice. Fresh pineapple juice is better than what it could have been in, but a number of medications do not mix well with pineapple and that left this out as well for my poor wife who more than struck out on this meal. I took a bit of the soft serve chocolate ice cream. There were small bowls and cones to put it in. The soft ice cream was creamy and custardy. It was very good! Now, wouldn't you know it - I am waiting on line to get some ice cream and the lady ahead of me is an older lady who fills her cone with ice cream. She still stands in front of the machine blocking the way and starts licking and eating down the ice cream on the top of the cone. Don't you know that she stops and lifts her cone to the machine and is about to fill it again - on top of the ice cream that she is eating. I clenched my whole body and if she had pulled that handle I was going to let her have it. She seemed to pause and then she walked away. Perhaps she felt the vibes. Would anyone want to go here just for the desserts? Certainly not. Not at this price and not for the desserts that were offered. These are not the desserts that you were going to get in the "fine" menu restaurants in the other casinos.

Service was fine. If I had not caught her eye we would not have been offered refills on the drinks but our plates were always cleaned away each time that we went up.

I am going to say it again so the meat haters don't come and leave comments about why was there so much meat that I described here. There was predominantly meat here. There were no vegetables. I will emphasize this a last time - If you are not a meat and potatoes eater do not come to this buffet!

If you eat everything, especially meat, then you will enjoy this buffet. I always have and a I still do. I have been to other buffets on the Boardwalk and I still feel that this is better than the others - some of which were terrible as I have written. Some say the buffet at the Borgatta Casino which is off the Boardwalk at the Marina is very good. I have seen mixed reviews about that and it is VERY expensive. I will say that this is the best steak that I have had at any buffet - it has been and it still is.

The Virginia City Buffet is located at the Bally's Wild, Wild West Casino on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey. There is a website link at the side of this page. For phone numbers you are going to have to do a search for Bally's Casinos and Hotels as they are all connected on one website. I was not able to locate a phone number to list here.

Oh yes, that $10 gambling coupon - I am not much of a gambler. I would love to be but I don't have the money to just risk like that. I played the $10 coupon in a poker machine. I won $9.35 in coins which means I lost 65 cents of the $10. So I walked away with dinner costing us $9.35 less. In case you are wondering why I just did not feed the coupon into the machine and then cash out walking away with the whole ten dollars. Well they figured that one out and all that you could cash out was the money that you won aside from the $10 that you put in. Yes, I tried - and kept playing then until the original ten was gone.


Anonymous said...

Great Review. Thanks. We will be going there in a few days.

Anonymous said...

this buffet is now closed and all employees are working at Ceasars temporarlly

Anonymous said...

all employtees temporally working at ceasars since the virginia city buffet is closed

Writer said...

Why is it closed? Can you provide details? Will it reopen?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when the Virginia City Buffet will open up again?

Writer said...

The most recent news that we have is that it will not reopen at all. See our article about this buffet closing.