Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Palette Dining Studio: It's a Buffet

There is much excitement surrounding Detroit's new high-end restaurants that just opened in the new MGM Hotel & Casino--Wolfgang Puck (who has never really impressed me but still carries a certain amount of cache I am happy to see in Detroit) and Michael Mina both have brand-new ventures inside the casino, and judging from an early preview of the menus these places are going to quickly be ranked in the upper echelon of Detroit dining.

On Friday night, we decided to be adventurous and try out one of these new venues, only to be met with a chorus of "Sorry, we are fully committed for the evening."

Well, that's partially a lie. The Wolfgang Puck restaurant told us they stop serving dinner at 10:30. When we got there, it was 10:20. Sweetheart, I shouldn't need to tell you this because this is common industry practice--if your restaurant closes at 10:30, this means you must seat people until then, and serve them their full meals until they are satisfied. This is understood across the board, and BELIEVE YOU ME when I do finally have the chance to enjoy a meal there a mention of such poor customer service on opening weekend WILL be noted in the review. Walking by, there were plenty of open tables we could have been sat at. In a larger city, such behavior from a hostess on opening weekend would have torpedoed the restaurant's credibility. But this is Detroit, where folks don't know better.

But I digress.

At this point, we're just plain hungry, so we decide to check out the still-open and not "fully committed for the evening" new "dining studio," Palette. Now, Palette was described in all preemptive press as being a "tapas" buffet. Tapas makes me presume that an ecelectic selection of "small plates" will be offered, buffet-style, but not in the classic nature of a buffet.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's a buffet, people. A pretty standard, albeit higher quality, meat-seafood-stirfry-salad-and-dessert buffet. There was nothing "tapas" about it. Granted, the offerings far exceed what most buffets have to offer--grilled lamb chops, split crab legs soaked in butter, Oysters Rockefeller, marinated prosciutto, Manchego cheese, chicken parmesan in a stellar parmesan cream sauce, and a dessert station with a chocolate fountain, made-to-order crepes, and an assortment of fresh gelatto along with artfully presented bit-sized pastries all combine to make this buffet something that far exceeds the "Old Country" understanding of the word. Yes, this is a buffet worthy of Vegas (all those stories you hear about the grandeur of the Vegas buffets in the high-end casinos? They're all true.), though not quite so large in scale or diverse in offerings.

But make no mistake--this is a buffet, people. Don't let the promise of tapas make you think you're getting something more than you paid for. And at $26.00 per person, you'd better stay for a few hours and gorge yourself to the point of pain to really get your money's worth.

And they don't even have a bathroom inside. Tsk, tsk.

Palette Dining Studio, inside the new MGM Hotel & Casino