It’s been an age-old question for some (okay, mainly just for a chef or two and I): Why isn’t there any ham in a hamburger? Gordon Ramsay BurGR (in Planet Hollywood, 785-5555) attempts to answer that question with its latest meaty offering: the Hog Burger. While it’s not made of ham per se, it is made from the prized Mangalitsa pork, which comes from the curly-coated pig that chefs and eaters love for its intense flavor and rich texture. The meticulously raised breed is a cousin of my other favorite swine, the black-footed, black acorn-eating Spanish Iberico pig, which gives us the coveted jamón Iberico. It eats just as well, grazing on grass and clover, then finishing with barley, which imparts of lots of natural flavor to the pig. When it gets to Gordon Ramsay BurGR, the patty is grilled over alder, oak and apple woods and basted with maple butter. Sharp English cheddar is melted over it, while peppery arugula adds a nice bite and some greenery. Because bacon would really be overkill.
For truly committed eaters, there’s no such thing as overkill when it comes to all-you-can eat, especially at a high quality buffet. And now it’s possible to have the buffet come to you. The Buffet at Bellagio (693-8111, BuffetChefsTable@BellagioResort.com) just announced its Chef’s Table experience, the resort’s answer to how all-you-can-eat can be made to feel like fine dining. Book the chef’s table for dinner and skip to the front of the line, where you are led to your private seats and greeted by your very own private Bellagio Buffet chefs. They’ll go over a specialty menu and your group’s likes and dislikes, then let the feeding frenzy begin. Prime rib and lamb are carved tableside, artisanal cheese and charcuterie descend upon you, live action salad stations roll up to create your customized Caesar. And in between all that, you can still get up and graze through the buffet itself—if anything, just so you can take a walk between servings.
Way on the other side of town, I’d make the trek to the Feast Buffet at Texas Station (631-1000) just for one dish: the tacos al pastor. This is the only of the Feast Buffets to offer the intensely flavored chopped pork that is marinated for 24 hours, prepared by chef Jaime Montes from a recipe that has been in his family for 85 years. The Mexican section is now a live action station, with tacos made to order street style. Just be sure to garnish them with a bit of diced onion and cilantro, then a squeeze of lime, so you get the full effect.
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