The first thing you see as you approach Raymond's is the warning on the door: something along the lines of "We have the right to remove you after an hour and forty-five minutes". The only way I'm staying in Raymond's longer than forty-five minutes is if I'm getting latered on bargain-basement tequila shots.
Raymond's has a plethora of Western and Chinese menu items — in fact it's one of the few places in the area that you'll find a full Western buffet. Unfortunately for the consumer, Raymond's monopoly on the local Western-style buffet market has resulted in lackadaisical line care.
The chili looked like it had been sitting untouched for close to an hour (we started eating at 6:30), and despite a sign asking you not to carve your own ham, no one was manning the ham station. The macaroni and cheese was overcooked, and the store-bought perogies weren't even Cheemo. If I'm paying $16 dollars for a buffet, I want to at least get premium store-bought, and I don't want radioactive bacon bits. The bacon bits on the perogies seriously looked like strawberry pixie stick dust.
I do have to commend Raymond's for their inventiveness though: nowhere else will you find "Hawaiian Schnitzel". Hawaiian Schnitzel is schnitzel topped with half a pineapple round and melted, processed cheddar. Surprisingly this was one of the more appetizing Western options. There were few stand-outs from the Western side of Raymond's buffet. The maple ribs were worthy of seconds, but most of the other items were lukewarm and uninviting.
On to the Chinese fare then...
The Chinese items were even more neglected than the western items. The "crispy ginger beef" tasted like it had been battered with wet chewing gum, and the beef had a delightful distressed tire consistency.
The honey garlic ribs had been sitting so long that the honey had crystallized. The chow mein was dry, and the battered salmon tasted like dead prostitute flesh.
The rest of the buffet would have been about standard, and some of the items could have even been memorable, but Raymond's just doesn't rotate items effectively.
Raymond's dessert options are slightly better than their main course fare, but they still lack TLC. The ice cream machine is top-notch, the cookies decent, and the Jell-O standard, but man is the cake crusty. You know how you always hear about old ladies being found in their houses weeks after passing away, with dogs nibbling at their feet? Well this cake was almost dry enough to be the cake found on the kitchen table in one of those houses.
Raymond's isn't as bad as a Wing's or as banal as a Chinese Village, but there is a glaring lack of pride on show here. The service is good, and the waitresses pleasant, but the neglected food trays taste like leftovers, and you know these guys could be doing better. There are next to no standout dishes, and the salad bar was almost the only thing that looked fresh at dinner hour.
If Raymond's was a women, she'd be a midnight princess — okay in a pinch, but you'd never introduce her to your mother.
Taylor Martin CHIMES IN!
Raymond's Esquimalt has got selection, but no class, no personality, and lukewarm Frankenstein dishes. Once considered Esquimalt's claim to fame — Raymond's has got potential, but is ultimately hampered by a number of curiosities. I noticed one too many radiant, iridescent colours. Neon pink bacon bits... the blinding glow of the orange-yellow mango mousse... the on my Hawaiian schnitzel. Everything had a bright MSG sheen. Also; I want to help myself to fountain pop. Aside from the clearing of tables, buffets should be self serve. I don't to wait on a meandering waitress. When I need a refill I need it now. Lastly the coconut jello was horrible and tasted like a waterlogged chunk of Styrofoam.
I give Raymond's props for a few things. While the selection is fairly routine, there is a high number of dishes available. I appreciate the Western and Chinese sections. The Hawaiian schnitzel is actually a real treat. At first glance it appears to be a Kraft cheese single atop a slice of baked pork, however, the first bite reveals a tasty surprise, nestled between the pork and cheese is a donut shaped pineapple slice, hence the "Hawaiian." An island splash on what would have otherwise been a dull pairing. This shows me the staff knows how to have a bit of fun and aren't afraid to "mix it up." Found in the western section the Hawaiian is a cleverly original item that manages to remain distinctly western.
Raymond's Esquimalt is a relatively cheap place to get drunk. Domestic beer is $3.95 and tequila shots are an outstanding $3.80. And that proves to be the kicker, I recommend this buffet if you find yourself with a big appetite for a lot of the usual. A few pleasant and not so pleasant surprises await.
$13.95+tax on weekdays