The Horseshoe Casino’s Spread Buffet hosted a media event Tuesday morning, featuring an appearance by executive chef Pete Ghione and a chance to sample the culinary creations at Horseshoe’s 400-seat all-you-can-eat location, where gamblers of both money and waistlines can dine ‘til their stomachs runneth over.
Spread is structured in standard buffet fashion, consisting of seven different stations that offer various cuisines: Mexican, Asian, Italian, etc. The Rhineland station is most intriguing for natives and tourists alike, churning out food with a local vibe such as goetta sliders, potato pancakes, Saratoga chips, and mettwurst with kraut. But despite the overwhelming number of options spanning one whole side of the massive upscale cafeteria, Chef Ghione is trying to avoid the quantity-over-quality stigmas that often get attached to buffets.
“We cook in small orders to keep food fresher,” said Ghione. “It’s just like you would find at a sit-down restaurant.”
Ghione, who previously spent a decade-plus in food service out in Las Vegas, is also focused on incorporating local restaurants and businesses into his Vegas-style casino buffet. The different stations boast a collection of Montgomery Inn ribs, Avril-Bleh sausages, Busken Bakery cookies, and Graeter’s ice cream, as well as ready-to-pour taps of select Moerlein and Hudepohl brews. Cincinnati’s gastronomic style has been an obvious interest for Ghione since relocating, and he’s already narrowed down a few of his favorites.
“It’s definitely not the chili,” he said, cracking a smirk. “I think Montgomery Inn does a great job. Outside of the casino, I really like Senate and Bakersfield. And every area has their own unique flavors and dishes, and goetta definitely fits that for this city. I have goetta on the steakhouse menu. We cook it real crispy and put it in the mashed potatoes and potato salad. People love it.”
As for the oft-hyped Graeter’s?
“I had some of that blueberry pie ice cream,” Ghione said, puffing out his cheeks and patting his hand to his stomach. “And I had the blackberry chip at home. [Graeter’s] has its stars, and the stars are fantastic.”
It’s an apt assessment for Spread Buffet, as well. With that many dishes, there’s bound to be a few duds, but overall marks are pretty high. Rhineland’s goetta sliders and mettwursts overshadow the so-so chicken-and-waffles. The wood-fired pizzas and grilled eggplant at the Italian station atone for a bland spinach and mushroom risotto. The Heartland kitchen smokes all its meats in-house, with the Brazilian-style churrasco grill catering smoked brisket, beef “picanha” culottes, and a spicy kielbosa that will bring you back. Marketplace even offers lighter salads and soups—ya know, for the healthier buffet frequenters—as well as fresh shrimp and crab legs. And the dessert bar, which Ghione describes as “the biggest east of Las Vegas,” is stocked with ice cream, cookies, cakes, tortes, and more cupcakes than you could eat in a lifetime, not to mention made-to-order crepes.
Stopping in for a weekday lunch (11 a.m.–3 p.m.) costs $16.99, while weekday dinner (5–10 p.m.) or weekend brunch (10 a.m.–3 p.m.) will run you $23.99. Dinner on Friday or Saturday evening (5–11 p.m.) is $27.99. (When asked if he had plans to extend the hours to 24/7, Ghione’s eyes widened before chuckling, “No.”) All things considered—variety, quantity, quality—it’s a pretty good deal…assuming you don’t blow your life savings at the craps table afterwards.
The good news is that even the pickiest eaters will find plenty to devour at Spread Buffet. The bad news is that you may need a dump truck to haul you out by the time you’re finished.
Click here to view our photo gallery from Spread Buffet.