I haven't gone to a buffet with the express purpose of flogging over it in quite a while. Unfortunately, one that I DID go to here in Ottawa was leery of having someone taking pictures of their buffet tables. That made me leery of their food quite frankly. My first wonder was "What don't they want advertised?" But, irregardless of that, I couldn't deny their food was wonderful as buffets go. Too bad they didn't want the publicity. But, when I called ahead to Le Buffet, they were more than happy to accommodate my wishes to take shots inside; of the decor AND the food tables if I so wished. Well, now...that was a nice reception...
I had never seen a buffet quite so large; its massiveness rivals even Tucker's in the heart of Byward Market. The 3 of us ate at Tucker's once last month and I chose not to flog them after I became ill from the food. Tucker's lack of air conditioning and the fact there were 3 separate swarms of school kids in there didn't help their case either. I normally avoid buffets because I can't escape the obvious health hazard it is to eat food that has been cooked then SITTING for long periods of time under lights, despite the intervention of ice on the bottom for the "cold" foods. In light of this knowledge, I avoid the "salad bar" section of EVERY buffet I eat at.
When I walked in I set to getting food for the Sprout, then the Mister got his. When they were settled in I went to work checkin out the joint before I bellied up to the food bar. It was really interesting in there. It seemed like there was a different corner of the world represented in every nook and cranny of this place. Here's a bit of the place....
I had seen enough...and based on the guy making fresh pizza, the lady rolling fresh sushi and the dude making tacos and fajitas to order, I was sure I was going to be able to find something that I would enjoy.
There were areas of fried foods like onion rings, french fries and roasted parsley potatoes that obviously represented America and there was a whole section for Asian foods with pad thai, egg rolls, General Tso chicken and sweet & sour chicken. There was one whole area that was pizza; vegetarian, pepperoni, mozzarella with basil, seafood and supreme. There was the carving area that featured roast beef, ham, turkey and something they just called "meat". There was fresh horseradish there to accompany the beef. Really, it LOOKED fabulous. I was MOST excited for the fresh sushi. It was REAL sushi...made right before your eyes.
L-R Sushi, Yellow Curried Shrimp, Mussels, Swedish Meatballs,
Souvlaki Chicken skewer, a Vienna Roll & an Egg Roll
The sushi was magnificent. I chose the spicy seafood rolls and 1 of the salmon with salmon roe rolls. It was wonderful with the wasabi and soy. If I had been thinking clearly, I'd have just eaten the sushi. I was really in the mood for some and she made it wonderfully. The mussels were tender and the tomato based sauce really showcased them well. My curry shrimp were alright. They had been a tad overcooked but they weren't so tough that I wanted to spit them out. The more mild curry didn't over power them, so it was a good pairing. Their Swedish meatballs didn't wow me. I'd had better last week at IKEA. That Souvlaki skewer was pretty darn great. If they'd have had pita and sauce, I'd have been happy. The roll...the jury was still out...
L-R Vienna Roll, Chicken with Mushroom & Pearl Onion in gravy,
Spanish Sole, Onion Ring, a chip with fresh salsa, mashed potatoes w/ gravy &
Meat sauce on Spaghetti
Sad enough, this plate was full of disappointment for me. I'm glad I grabbed a second roll so I had something that was halfway edible. The chicken with pearl onions and mushroom sauce was good, but didn't ring any bells. The Spanish Sole was mush. The meat sauce on the noodles was most likely just that..."meat" but I couldn't pin point from WHENCE it came; scary. The salsa...now...that salsa was great. My mom makes and cans that, so I've been around the block and this salsa had teeth. The mashed potatoes...um...not so much; they tasted like WATER. They didn't even taste like watered down potatoes, just the water and the gravy merely happened to be brown, there was NO flavor to it whatsoever as though it was made to look like it was made from meat drippings. I'm not sure what happened...they had a variety of fresh meat, so they had the ability to make good gravy, they just didn't. The onion ring was an onion ring. Nothing remarkable about it, but I did finish it.
Mozzarella & Basil Pizza
My Mister snagged this slice for me when he went back up for dessert. I had been waiting for this to come out of the oven for quite some time. I asked the chef working the pizzas when it would be out, at the time I asked he'd just shoved this sucker in. He said 5 more minutes but it took longer than that. But! I still got a fresh slice thanks to my Mister who lurked until he got one. It was great! Simple in construction but complex in flavor. I keep coming across foods that perfectly illustrate the concept that "less is more" these days. I'm fine with that. The crust was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The basil wasn't overpowering and there wasn't TOO much cheese. Too much cheese can really kill a slice quickly. I was very pleased to end my night with this.
On the whole it wasn't a TOTAL disaster. Service was prompt and attentive. My glass was never empty and as soon as I found we ran out of napkins...he dashed up with more. Like he was stalking our table. That is fine with me. When you're dining with an 18 month old...there is NO such thing as too many napkins. The Sprout was already in rare form when we showed up. In full height of a growth spurt and getting top molars in, he was a scream fest almost the whole time we were there. How did we keep him from causing an International incident you may ask?? Let me show you...
I could scarcely believe my eyes when I saw this one. I was gone from the table and came back to this scene. Sometimes when you have kids, there's nothing left to do but laugh and catch it on film for evidence later in life. When I asked the Mister WHY in the world he would let the Sprout do this he shrugged and said "It's keeping him busy, he's not screaming anymore; why fight it?" Rightly so...and with that we paid the bill and got on our way.
Would I eat here again...sure, if I was hungry and there was NO place left in Gatineau with an open table. The highlights of the offerings were too few and far between to impress me enough to repeat the venture. While they have improved my opinion slightly on buffets, they didn't secure a place in my heart or food journal as a repeat. Their prices matched the quality of the food though. Our whole bill was about 30 bucks. That's about what I would have paid for that, so it all worked out splendidly. Perhaps if I hear they've hired some new chefs for the Asian section and the Italian section I'd go back. The pizza guy and the sushi lady know their ingredients well and did them justice. So bravo to those two, but boo on the experience as a whole. I won't tell anyone NOT to go here. There weren't any brazen offenses, I just personally wasn't impressed. Maybe you will be. If you decide to go and have a better experience than me, let me know. They had a lot of heart...they try.