02 August, 2011

Le....Meh.... *yawn*

It was "Civic Holiday" up here in Ottawa yesterday, so my Mister, the Sprout and I went for a little jaunt through Gatineau Park.  It was just beautiful.  Elevation, lakes, TONS of evergreen trees...I was in my own version of Heaven on Earth.  I can't wait for autumn to come knocking so I can properly show off to my family and friends the beauty that Gatineau Park holds in its reserves.  Since we were on the Quebec side of the river, I figured we'd find a place to eat over there as well.  I didn't want to have a big production last night.  The Sprout is in the middle of a growth spurt AND getting more teeth.  This wears me thin on all fronts and I quickly lose my appetite.  Enter Le Buffet Des Continents....

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. 

Le Buffet Des Continents on Urbanspoon


  1. I love buffets so I'm sure I'd find something I'd like there.

    We go to Golden Corral a lot. It's a big buffet. I load up my plate. Twice.

  2. What an honest, and yet very kindly worded, review. No doubt I'd find SOMETHING, but not too motivated to try it...you've encapsulated your experience very well!

    Thank you so much for popping by Twinfatuation today...I hope you will come by often!

  3. @WhisperingWriter - I've still never been to Golden Corral. I don't flog about chains. After a while they get too big for their own breetches and the food quality suffers. The proof is in their ratings. Some of the chains will be out of this world with their food and service but others will have horrible customer opinion. Chains usually aren't consistent enough to impress me. Local chains...sometimes they win me over. But national or INTERNATIONAL (Ahem..McDonalds...) just give up at some point because they've already made a name for themselves.

    @Cheryl No problem! I loved your blog and the concept! I'm sorry if my review would have kept you from going if you were in this area. I didn't mean to do that. Lol...I tried to leave it open at the end...a little bit of hope that perhaps it just wasn't good on my night. But...it is hard to tell. I haven't heard from any regulars yet. Their rating is a strong C+, but...lol...passing isn't good enough for me. I was a straight A student in high school and college/university. Passing isn't always good enough...just like free isn't always good. =)

  4. Honestly I LOVE this buffet! By far the BEST in the Ottawa region.
    I am curious as to how your husband and son enjoyed it, because you don't mention it...
    You also forgot to mention that kids under 12 eat free ( one per adult) WHich is awesome..I neber have to worry about my kids not eating enough, or being picky that day! ( or teething for that matter)
    The only buffet you might find better would be a high end one at $40 a person..
    So you claim that you loved the sushi, mussels and pizza, all for 15$ ( which would be accurate since your bill was $30 and half would be your husbands food right?)
    So tell me where else you would eat unlimited sushi, pizza and mussels for that price?
    I love the meat sauce there, and their general tao. My kids love the chicken balls there, that dish is constantly empty and being refilled..so I guess some people out there are enjoying it.
    My kids also LOVED the selection of desserts, as did I. The brownies were awesome, so was the pudding chameur ( a typical French dessert).
    I would highly recommend this place, especially to families!!

  5. @Amanda - I'm glad you enjoyed it, then your cost was certainly worth what you gained. But I personally don't equate volume or variety of food with "good or great" places to eat. In other words, more isn't always better to me. My Mister ended up leaving most of what he got on his plate and as you can see...my son spent most of his time playing with his garbage truck in his glass of water. I believe the only item he consumed from his plate was mashed potatoes, but he wasn't dedicated to them at all. I wish he HAD been and we could have saved ourselves from the toys in the water portion of the evening. But, hey, whatever floats your boat. I knew there had to be enough people that eat there that find it acceptable or they wouldn't be open. I am just one opinion. Glad to hear yours! =D

  6. @Amanda P.S. I generally don't blog about food that I didn't consume. I usually write that somewhere in my blogs, perhaps I didn't think time, I'll have to look. I never photograph or blog about my Mister's food unless I tried it. He had some of the General Tso's and Pad Thai on his plate (but didn't photograph it), so I tried that off his plate and didn't waste room on MY plate the next go 'round. But, that is truly the only reason I didn't mention what he ate, I usually do not.