Last night I partook in what can only be described as the epitome of American decadence. At least as far as cuisine is concerned. My aunt was in town so instead of preparing the rustic potato soup I took out of the deep freeze a few nights earlier, I was planning a quick meal of spaghetti and meatballs. Not fancy, I know, but there wasn’t enough soup for three and it was the only meal I could throw together without a trip to the grocery store and actual meal preparation.
On the way home I had to fill up. I stopped at Sam’s Club since they have the cheapest gas. While at the pump I couldn’t help but notice a new restaurant had opened right next door. I’d seen the signs announcing its eventual opening before school started back up, but since I no longer get off at the same exit, I’d forgotten about it. The reason I took note of it in the first place was because it claimed to be a seafood, steak and prime rib buffet. I love all three of these things and during the summer was anxious for the grand opening. I’ve been to other buffets like this while on vacation in Florida and while the food was never exactly phenomenal, they did have all-I-could-eat lobster, crab and shrimp, three things I love, even if I can only eat one serving of each. There pricey $25 per person bill isn’t actually that far off from a similar meal at a place like Red Lobster, and since they were in Florida, I figured the seafood was at least fresher.
There were no details other than a big grand opening sign in front of the building so when I got home, I called for details. Sadly there would be no lobster, but the cheaper $17 per person fee intrigued my husband and aunt who are always on the look out for anyone who will let them eat all that they can, so we packed up the baby and headed over. Outside the place doesn’t look like much. Inside, however, it’s actually fairly nice for a buffet place. The wait staff were all dressed in solid black with the long black aprons I’ve seen at trendier upscale places. There were multiple fountains and they had cool circular booths adorning each section. We were seated in a regular booth, but everything looked so fresh and new I didn’t care. We couldn’t see the actual food from our table, but we did pull out the “menu” to see what was in store for us. It must have had close to 200 items on it.
While every person working in the place appeared to be petite and of Asian decent, whoever came up with the idea for this joint had a good eye for his typical customer: obese Midwestern America. This is an overeater’s heaven. To start with the plates are humungous. I’ve never been to any restaurant with larger plates. I’ve been to buffet places before and often have to make a second or third trip to try everything I want. I think I might have actually been able to fit one of everything in the entire place in only two trips. Before I even reached the food I was greeted by a chocolate fountain that was nearly as tall as I was. It was surrounded by bowls of strawberries, bananas, marshmallows and cookies. Suddenly the lack of lobster seemed unimportant. What about the actual food you may be wondering? Well, the best way to describe it is something like Old Country Buffet meets random Super Happy Chinese Buffet meets sushi bar. The place had a definite Chinese influence, even on dishes like shrimp and scallop scampi which were basically shrimp and scallops cooked in butter, without any sort of actual spices to them. The generic fried shrimp and scallops found on most Chinese buffets that have no real taste to them at all were also present. There were several tubs of mysterious orange and red sauces near friend dishes. I assumed they were of the sweet and sour variety so I abstained. The atmosphere of a souped up Chinese buffet did disappoint me since I don’t really like Chinese food. They did, however, have some American favorites like prime rib (ok), strip steak, turkey breast, two kinds of pizza, rigatoni, quesadillas, garlic bread (tasty), mac and cheese (very cheesy and I liked it) and ribs. There salad bar, which was on a counter shaped like a giant mosaic tiled boat had some good salad fixings and lots of fresh fruit which also made me happy. What set this apart from a typical Chinese buffet (which always seems to have some “American food” to appease those like me) was the sushi selection. I have to give them props here. It was not the typical Chinese place sushi. They actually had row upon row of sushi. They had nigiri, rolls and sashimi. There were actually at least a dozen types of each. The rolls had actual flavor and some zip to them. They even had the eel roll things with the brown sauce. All the sushi I ate was tasty and while certainly not Ichi Ban caliber, it was definitely worth eating. And more importantly, there was lots to sample from. They supposedly had tempera there as well, but I think I missed it.
As with all buffets, they had a dessert bar as well. This reminded me of typical Chinese buffet fair. There was a multitude of ice cream already scooped and stacked in a freezer, which meant it all had the freezer burned look to it. There were various puddings, cookies and fruit based dishes. The only stand out was the chocolate fountain and even though I covered tiny macaroons with the contents of the fountain, I was a bit disappointed. It didn’t taste like milk or dark chocolate to me, but more like semi-sweet. I realize semi-sweet is generally cheaper to get, but that’s because it doesn’t taste as good.
Still, when all was said and done, I definitely left the place feeling in the typical fashion of Midwesterners leaving a buffet place: a bit nauseated. This place definitely seemed to understand the American dream, excess and lots of it.