Indulgence is the name of Wynn’s holiday game, and at two time-honored brunches and one new brunch, just how you indulge is up to you.
Lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry butter, tropical fruits and specially concocted cocktails are among Lakeside's new brunch offerings.
Brunch in Las Vegas is less a meal than it is a cultural phenomenon. We don't just go to brunch here, we commit to it as much as you would with a competitive sporting event. And in a city accustomed to the highest in production values, it had better be spectacular, beautifully orchestrated and surprising in addition to being delicious. The bar having been raised over and over in recent years, it would seem that there is little left to add—and that is where you would be mistaken. Enter a 14-foot boat filled with chilled seafood, holiday dim sum for which reservations begin filling six months prior, and a brunch that rolls right into dinner (if you time it right).
Jazz Brunch, Lakeside “Are you a bruncher or a non-bruncher?” Lakeside Executive Chef David Walzog asks before he starts describing Lakeside’s Jazz Brunch, which opened on Labor Day weekend, relocating from The Country Club and taking on a Hawaiian inflection for its new location. It’s an apt question, since, as an avowed non-bruncher, he researched brunch thoroughly in order to offer something completely different at Lakeside. “It’s not one of those club-slash-brunch experiences,” he says. “We developed this concept to make sure our guests feel completely coddled and taken care of.” A tropical fruit plate and beautiful breakfast breads are delivered the moment guests are seated. “We have hot minicroissants, bagels and malasadas, the delicious Hawaiian doughnuts piped with POG [passion fruit, orange and guava] pastry cream,” he says. “It’s like a buffet, but you don’t have to stand up.” Of course, if you don’t, you’ll miss the brunch’s centerpiece, the “S.S. Lakeside,” a 14-foot canoe piled high with Alaskan king crab legs, jumbo shrimp, oysters and big-eye tuna poke. The David “Mojo” Poe jazz ensemble, brought back from its years at The Country Club, anchors the room, and, Walzog says, “I come out and see people dancing as they’re getting their shrimp off the boat. It’s really playful and fun.” Guests round out their experience by ordering from 10 entrees on the menu, such as a blackened swordfish salad, crab cake Benedict with miso hollandaise and lemon ricotta pancakes with fresh blueberries, as well as substantial dishes like a charred flat-iron steak frites and Lakeside’s signature cheeseburger. This being Las Vegas, there are unlimited mimosas and Bellinis, as well as Veuve Clicquot on offer, as well as a dedicated brunch cocktail menu of tropical-inflected refreshers. Walzog adds a layer to this synchronized production with passed trays of bite-size additions throughout brunch, which might include little acai boosters, two-bite bialys with smoked salmon and cream cheese and individually plated oysters Rockefeller. Walzog says, “We’re in the most beautiful location, right on the Lake of Dreams, and the windows are open in good weather. The biggest key to brunch is that it should bring you slowly to life.”
Some diners book months in advance for the dim sum holiday brunch at Wing Lei, which is served daily between Christmas and New Year's Day, and for a limited time during Chinese New Year.
Dim Sum Brunch, Wing Lei Between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, and then for a limited period of time for Chinese New Year, Wing Lei Executive Chef Ming Yu and dim sum chef Sandy Shi unveil one of the city’s most anticipated culinary events: the spectacular Dim Sum Brunch. Chef Shi and her staff of seven dim sum chefs turn out 3,000 pieces of handcrafted dim sum each day, from pork and dried oyster siu mai (pork dumplings) to har gow (shrimp dumplings) and xiao long bao (Shanghai pork dumplings). Meant to evoke a literal Chinese jewel box, with its ornate jade, gold and white handpainted and carved surfaces, Wing Lei is the first Chinese restaurant in the country to have been awarded a Michelin star, and the only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award-winning Chinese restaurant in America. As such, expect rare treats such as abalone tarts fashioned around whole abalone from Taiwan and a longtime Chef Ming favorite, a basic-crusted barbecue pork bun. In October, Ming begins the planning and tasting for the menu, which includes not only the flavors of Cantonese, Shanghainese and Szechuan cuisine, but also a few Western showstoppers like a tomahawk Angus (his own favorite from the carving station). A sushi chef from Mizumi comes in each day to hand roll specialties in the sushi station, and jumbo prawns, oysters, lobster and king crab legs sit atop piles of ice. “When we first offered the holiday dim sum brunch,” Ming says, “we wanted to offer our Far East and Chinese guests another lunch option. But then it grew and became famous!” And with fame has come a format that changes each year with the Chinese zodiac, additional delicacies such as an ever-evolving pastry station, and a waiting list. “Now we have guests who call to reserve six months in advance for the brunch,” Ming says.
A tempting array of desserts round out the festive offerings at the Buffet at Wynn.
Holiday Brunch, The Buffet at Wynn Consider numbers from The Buffet at Wynn, which feeds nearly 3,500 guests per day: Each year, it serves more than 186,265 pounds of Alaskan Opilio crab legs, 69,000 pounds of shrimp, 1 million pieces of sushi and more than 500,000 handcrafted pot stickers and dumplings. But this kitchen, which cracks 5,000 eggs each day, is less concerned with advertising its volume than topping its own creativity year over year, says Executive Chef Jonathan Bauman. He and his team had already started planning for the holidays in late August. Seasonal favorites like made-to-order pumpkin spice pancakes and lemon soufflé pancakes with whipped butter join 14 other stations manned by 100 cooks, chefs and pastry chefs. In a light-filled, flower-bedecked atrium that gets its own massive gingerbread house each year made by Wynn master cake artist Flora Aghababyan, it’s difficult to gild the lily, Bauman says. “But we hope that the dishes do that for us. Some of the holiday favorites are truffle mashed potatoes, lobster eggs Benedict and both hot and chilled seafood.” The carving station goes into overdrive from Thanksgiving all the way through the holidays, with offerings like slow-roasted prime rib all day, holiday hams, pepper-crusted pork belly and sides like honey-glazed yams with bacon jam. And where every Las Vegan worth his salt has a buffet strategy, Bauman will give away his own favorite secret: “Guests who are lucky enough to be dining with us during the changeover from brunch to dinner, around 3:30 pm, get to experience both meals.” If going for volume is indeed your strategy, you will want to pace yourself to take final advantage of the central patisserie, with its warm pastries, chocolate fountain-dipped specialties and confections. As a point of reference, 101,455 candy apples served each year say happy holidays, indeed.