There are few edible-adventures in life that compare to the glory of a good buffet.
Now I know to many people, that comment may not resonate...
It seems like many people have had bad experiences, and unjustly conflate their local Golden Corral to represent what a "buffet" is.
However, this couldn't be further from the truth, because there are actually a lot of really high end buffets out there. The sort of buffets where crab legs are served by the boat-load, and the hollandaise sauce flows freely...
However, the problem is, these sorts of buffets can be quite expensive...
And to be fair, they do cost a small fortune.
But to be honest, I pay damn near ritualistic attention to my quad-annual buffet visits... and I rarely describe the experience as anything short of an invaluable edible-induced euphoria.
...I don't just stumble into the event ass-first, and hope that everything works out in my stomach's (and wallet's) favor.
In order to properly exhaust a buffet of all it is worth--if you want to truly buffet like a pro--their must be a certain degree of prior planning and forethought.
I have no time for those people who just show up to the buffet haphazardly, fill their plate with mac and cheese, eat a bunch of bread, wash it all down with a diet soda, and then complain that it wasn't worth 50$.
A buffet is a particularly special sort of dining experience... and must be treated as such.
1. Go for breakfast
It's usually cheaper then lunch or dinner, and has all the best foods anyway!
2. Stay for lunch
Time it so you get some breakfast time, AND some lunch time. The last time I went I put down a plate of half a dozens eggs-benny and then was able to enjoy a follow up plate of ahi tuna and sushi rolls -it was as awesome as it sounds.
3. Do a recon round first
Your first plate should be tiny portions of each and everything that catches your eye. Be sure to start at one end and go to the other. This is critical. This way you can taste a bit of everything and plan your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th assault accordingly.
3. Do not get anything to drink
Only a clown wastes stomach space on liquids.
4. Be selective
Don't get overwhelmed and fill up on the first white flour-based-nonsense that catches your eye. The same masterminds that lay out the casinos--so that you get lost 19 times on the way back from the ATM--are employed to carefully lay out the buffet with your stomach's best interest not in mind. Work the edges, go slowly, and keep your head on a swivel!
5. Go for the good stuff
I feel like this goes with out saying, but the fact of the matter is, so many people go to these buffets and treat them like a continental at Super 8. PUT THE CEREAL AWAY, go for the goodies, it's a buffet in Vegas for goodness sake...let loose! Load up on bacon, go hard on the eggs, get your cheese fix, find the best creamy stuff, and ensure that the adjective "alarming" is the best way to describe your portion of lox salmon.
So many people think that because the chef put the bacon and eggs in different apparatuses that you are meant to eat them separately. Not the case! Buffets are the perfect place to flex your culinary creativity... So go wild! Top your Eggs Benedict with pork belly--then smother it in gravy. Better yet, take advantage of that smoked salmon for more then just a boring cracker stacker--mix it in with eggs, or mix up various sauces/seasonings/flavors from around the buffet to create a unique dipping sauce for it.
Timing is critical, but also very tricky. If you gorge yourself right away you get an upset stomach and have to tap out early... like a loser. However, if you eat to slow your stomach will start sending full signals based on actual nourishment--as opposed to physical capacity. The best advice is to eat slow and steady, keep a strong pace, but take frequent breathers.
This is arguably the most overlooked method to proper gut stuffing. I could bore you with the science of it, but let me put it like this, sending food down into your stomach is like a game of Tetris... and chewing your food really good is like sending down straight line blocks one after another.
9. Lastly... Know your limits
This is terribly tricky. Financially speaking, if you put away an entire stomach's worth of smoked fish and hollandaise sauce, you win. I mean... you ate a higher value of food then what you paid for, the restaurant loses... and your the champion. However, after doing so, I often find myself in a food coma, sprawled out on a park bench--wasting away an entire day wallowing in a stomach stuffed blur--asking myself... who really won?
My Favorite Buffet?
This is a tricky question, but currently the brunch buffet at the Wynn in Las Vegas is one of my top choices. However, the Agua Restaurant & Lounge in Grand Cayman is the best I have ever had the privilege of taking part in.