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Wedding venue reviews: Wynn Buffet (Rehearsal Dinner) and Sage (Reception Dinner)

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I got married in Las Vegas in April and thought it appropriate to post some restaurant-related reviews given we had our rehearsal dinner at Wynn Buffet and wedding reception dinner at Sage.

WYNN BUFFET (WYNN) – REHEARSAL DINNER

OVERVIEW

Overall I was happy with the Wynn Buffet as a rehearsal dinner venue. The fact that it was a buffet meant that it was simple to cater for everyone’s tastes and we were given sufficient wait staff to ensure service wasn’t a problem. I would happily recommend the Wynn Buffet for simple group events in the future.

HOW MANY PEOPLE?

27 people including two children.

ORGANISING THE EVENT

The booking process was relatively painless with a quick phone call to Wynn’s events department resulting in them immediately sending me an email confirming that the Buffet’s semi-private room was available for the required date and time and attaching a booking form that set out all the relevant information. Once the booking form was sent, a confirmation email was quickly received and my credit card charged for the full amount for the event for the guests initially confirmed. One week out from the event, I updated the guest numbers (adding more guests), and this was painless with a further charge added to my credit card for the additional guests.

VENUE

The semi-private room is just off to the side of the seating area as you walk just past the entrance to the Buffet. It is quite spacious and had a nice, simple décor for what it was. The room was set up in two long tables to accommodate our guests, although our servers indicated they could change the seating arrangements if we wanted (we didn’t). There is no door for the room, hence its semi-private nature, but there were curtains over the doorways that meant you felt as if you had your own private area anyway.

FOOD

Standard buffet-fare although the Wynn Buffet appears to continue to be one of the best buffets on the Strip featuring good seafood, dumpling and dessert stations.

SERVICE

Our group was provided with two dedicated servers, one for each table, who ensured our dishes were taken away and drink orders taken promptly. We and our guests were happy with the service.

COST

It worked out to be about $45 per person including tax and an automatic 20% service charge. This was a bit more than what the Buffet normally costs but given we were provided with a semi-private room and dedicated wait staff, noting that service has been an issue on my previous visits, the premium was worth it.

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  1. SAGE (ARIA) – WEDDING RECEPTION DINNER

    OVERVIEW

    We used Sage’s semi-private dining room as the venue for my now-wife’s and my wedding reception venue. The evening began with pre-dinner drinks for an hour in Sage’s bar/lounge area before moving to the semi-private dining room where for three hours we indulged in a five-course (plus amuse bouche) tasting menu, excellent beer and wine and amazing service.

    HOW MANY PEOPLE?

    27 people (all adults although we were told children would not be a problem and could be accommodated through an individualised menu).

    ORGANISING THE EVENT

    I initially had booked another well-known restaurant as our reception venue but following some very average reviews and a change in the restaurant’s menu format, my now-wife and I decided to take a risk by trusting the glowing reviews Sage was receiving (and my sincere thanks to UHockey for his extensive review on the restaurant that I put a lot of faith in).

    I put in a call to Aria’s events department and was advised by the Events Manager (Cristina Baumann), who I dealt with throughout the booking process, that Sage did have a semi-private dining room that was available for the day of our wedding. Shortly thereafter I received an email from Cristina providing a PDF booklet setting out more than adequate details of Sage generally, the semi-private room and the menu options.

    Once my now-wife and I had decided we wanted to go ahead with Sage as our reception venue, organising the event was easy and was mostly done via email (and the rare phone call) to Cristina who handled the booking process and the majority of the necessary discussions with the restaurant. The booking process essentially consisted of choosing one of the three available menu plans, discussing a few possible menu changes, emailing Cristina a signed contract and paying a $2,000 refundable deposit. This was a very painless process and was done about six months out from our wedding.

    Approximately three months out from our wedding we contacted the sommelier at Sage to discuss the beverage options for the evening. We had already decided to initially go with an a la carte beverage service in the bar/lounge at Sage for an hour before dinner to keep our guests entertained while the wedding party were out having photos taken after the ceremony. In relation to the beverage options for the actual dinner, we were given options of fixed beer and wine pairings or a la carte wine service. After considering the varied types of drinkers in our wedding party, it was ultimately decided that we would go with a hybrid service under which the wine service would be a la carte (i.e. we paid for the wine by the bottle) but guests would be encouraged to progress through a series of wine, with champagne at the beginning followed by white, red and then dessert wines, thereby creating an effective wine pairing. Guests could also opt for the beer pairing service if they so chose. Again, this was agreed via a few simple emails back and forth between myself and the sommelier.

    About two weeks out from the event I advised Cristina of the final guest count for our event and the potential allergy issues, neither of which I was told would pose any problems.

    About four days out, my now-wife decided that one of the menu options wasn’t right and a quick phone call to Cristina easily resulted in a change to the menu.

    Overall the booking process was straightforward, painless and very professional. Cristina was an absolute pleasure to work with and was always very friendly and helpful. I especially appreciated that she came to visit us in the restaurant on the night of our reception dinner to say hello face-to-face and check we were happy with everything.

    VENUE

    The Sage restaurant is itself dark but very elegant. You can no doubt find photos online but feel free to PM me if you want to see some professional photos of the bar/lounge and semi-private room from our photographer.

    The bar/lounge area is quite spacious with plenty of seats and tables and a long bar.

    The semi-private dining room matches the look of Sage’s main dining room and could have easily accommodated twice our party. Tables were allocated into four tables of 6 and 7 people after we were advised the tables could be arranged however we wished. Despite the smallish size of our wedding party and the four tables being spread out, we never felt during the evening that the room was too big and the room looks very cosy in our photos.

    I will admit that before the evening, a few reviews had left me concerned that the semi-private dining room would be too dark, and could affect the quality of our photos. However, this was certainly not a problem on the night for us or our guests and having now seen our professional photographer’s photographs I can happily say that the photos turned out, and the venue looks, great.

    FOOD

    We ultimately selected the largest of the three tasting menus subject to one change.

    Our menu was as follows:

    Amuse Bouche
    Unfortunately I don’t have a proper description for this dish but it was a crumbed and fried duck dish in the shape of a ball and served on a little spoon. In any event, it was delicious.

    First Course
    Pacific Yellowtail Crudo (Shaved trumpet mushrooms; black truffles; toasted pine nuts) OR Wild Mixed Greens (Bergamot Vinaigrette, Oro Blanco Grapefruit, Toasted almonds)

    Second course
    Charred Baby Octopus (Grilled Shishito Peppers; Oven-Dried Tomatoes; Basil Aioli) OR Foie Gras Custard ‘Brulee’ (Blood Orange; Toasted Cocoa Nibs; Salted Brioche)

    Third Course
    Maine Lobster Ravioli (Lemon-Olive Oil Puree; Sweet Corn; Mascarpone; Fresh Mint) OR
    Roasted Day Boat Scallops (Braised Oxtail; Wild Mushrooms; Salted Caramel Reduction)

    Fourth Course
    Liberty Farms Duck (Root Vegetable Salad; Duck Leg Terrine; Cardamom Infused Honey) OR
    Snake River Farms Prime NY Strip (Beef Marrow; La Ratte Potatoes; Glazed Maitake Mushrooms)

    Fifth Course
    Chocolate and Espresso Cream Cake (caramel sauce; smoked white chocolate ice cream) OR Roasted apple baklava (phyllo crisp; crème fraiche ice cream) OR Artisanal cheese (seasonable accompaniments; house-made bread)

    After everyone had a chance to read the menus the servers came around and took everyone’s orders. Those guests with dietary issues were, as I have been told, easily accommodated and I understand they greatly enjoyed their substituted dishes (which included, for example, the fish of the day in the case of a person with a shellfish allergy for the third course and a risotto for the person not interested in the fourth course options).

    I should also note that when my order was taken I asked for a side order of the veal sweet breads that I had read so much about and this was accommodated without hesitation. I am glad because it was absolutely delicious.

    We also had the traditional bread service offered at the restaurant, consisting of a divine bacon brioche and also-excellent crunchy baguette served with butter and sea salt. I was pleased to note that despite our large group the servers encouraged all of our guests to try both types of bread and indeed they even offered more bread at least two other times throughout the evening.

    Overall the food was excellent, as indeed all of the reviews on sites such as Chowhound have indicated. The Foie Gras Custard Brulee was definitely the “wow” dish of the evening for us and our guests and is still being talked about by my friends. Overall, my wife and I liked the food so much we tried to go back again a few days later on our own for dinner only to find the restaurant closed on Sundays much to our disappointment.

    BEVERAGES

    In the bar/lounge area, our guests were allowed anything off the usual Sage bar beverage menu, although most of our guests stuck to wine, cocktails or beer. I personally very much enjoyed the Chimay Cinq Cents Trappist Ale from Belgium.

    In the semi-private dining room, the beverages complementing our meal consisted of sparkling water table service (noting we had the option of both sparkling and still water if we wanted, although we went with just sparkling for simplicity) together with an option of beer or wine pairing.

    The wine pairings chosen by the sommelier, after taking into account my and my wife’s personal preferences, were all excellent and no one seemed to have a bad word to say about the choices. The two guests who had the beer pairing raved about the beers that were offered, leading me to wish I could go back to the restaurant (I live in Australia so it won’t be for awhile) and try a tasting menu with the beer pairing.

    SERVICE

    I will admit my greatest fear with the reception dinner, regardless of the venue, was that despite paying good money for a premium restaurant and venue, the inherent difficulties in serving a large group of people at once could result in subpar service compared to what one could normally expect from the restaurant.

    However, I needn’t have worried. Our group was provided with an ample number of servers who ensured throughout the night that orders were taken properly; dietary issues were addressed; water provided and constantly replenished; bread provided and replenished; drinks provided; wine glasses kept full; and dishes served and taken away efficiently. Although admittedly somewhat intoxicated towards the end of the night, I honestly cannot find any fault in the service we received and I have not heard any criticism from our guests about the service either (even from one or two guests who normally find fault in anything and everything). I must admit that I especially appreciated that my now-wife and I being the first ones served on every occasion.

    COST

    I think anything reading this review will quickly appreciate that this was not a cheap reception, and it wasn’t. However, I was impressed that despite my concerns that my friends would destroy my bank balance through the a la carte wine service, the final price came in well under my, admittedly conservative, budget for the evening. Further, the quality of the food and impeccable service we received, which more than justified the automatic 20% gratuity, left me feeling, as I walked out of the restaurant and even now some weeks later, that despite the expense I had received extremely good value in having Sage as my wedding reception venue. If you are considering getting married in Las Vegas and can afford it, I have no hesitation in wholeheartedly recommending Sage as a reception venue.

    7 Replies
    1. re: namor

      Thanks for the fabulous report, one that will help many people in the future. It's nice to see a restaurant pull off a private dinner with such grace.

      1. re: namor

        Thanks for the report. So many ask about wedding venues, its great to hear feedback.

        1. re: namor

          Sage:

          awesome, glad to hear everything went off without a flaw

          few more weeks until our reception there, we are still trying to figure out the best table set up

          would there be any thing you would recommend as far as the seating goes that would have improved the seating arangement they had set up? - we have 29 people

          i agree that christina is awesome to work with - so is nick the sommelier

          Will post my review mid June :)

          Congrats Namor

          1. re: Dapuma

            Dapuma, we went with four tables of 6 and 7 based purely off what worked out best in terms of allocating groups to tables to ensure each table would work from a conversation perspective. Four equally sized-tables obviously works well because it creates an even look in the room. I suggest looking at your guest list and seeing if you can create a suitable table list out of even numbers like 3x7 and 1x8 or 4x6 and 1x5 etc...

          2. re: namor

            I'm not sure how to private message you on this site, but I would love to see some pictures of hte private dining room. We were at the Aria this last Sunday, but they were closed so we were not able to check out the facility.

            1. re: namor

              My fiance and I are about to start planning our wedding for August 2012 and your review of Sage is amazing! We are planning a reception for 70-80 people- do you think that Sage can accommodate? You mentioned you could email some pictures- my email is amberwick@gmail.com- I would love to see the pictures if you wouldn't mind emailing them across. cheers!

              1. re: namor

                if you don't mind me asking how much was the per person charge for the menu excluding the beverage? I'm considering using Sage for our reception too. But wasn't sure how the food would turn out........... we have around 50 pp.

              2. Thanks for the awesome review. I Have my wedding booked later this year in October. Been trying to decide between two restaurants. After reading your review, I think I am gonna go with Sage.