Sunday, June 29, 2008

Raymond's Restaurant — C4 100 Aldersmith Place — View Royal — (250) 381-6668

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 processed cheese 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 Schnitzel 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.

Price for dinner: $15.95+tax on weekends and holidays
$13.95+tax on weekdays


Friday, June 13, 2008

Rose Bowl Restaurant, 1221 Cedar Street, Campbell River, B.C - - (250) 287-9534

Off to the races, I managed to find kindred spirits in the land of the Lucky Force 8 Pack. After much speculation and hard thinking, Rose Bowl would be the location to break myself into the Campbell River buffet scene.

I hobbled pass the diagonally positioned salads that screamed to be eaten; creamy caesar, Greek salad w/ chick peas and fruit salad.

At first glance, the busy restaurant appeared to be crammed as the buffet was tucked in the very back left-hand corner, and was not easily accessible; however, the line-ups were not horrid, making the trips to the buffet table quick and easy. In an even busier situation, it would be scary to think of what would happen in the traffic jams filled with overweight, very-hungry people who have been waiting all day to wrap their fat lips around spring rolls.

Thats why I was actually happy they didn't have spring rolls.

WHAT---NO F!%$ING ROLLS? ...shit

No spring rolls will cost this place serious marks, especially since they had plum sauce packets taking up their very own item tray in the line just to tease you with.

The no-spring-roll-fiasco has nothing to do with this buffet's lack of items. Even small buffets put out spring rolls. If anything, adding spring rolls may offset the disappointment garnered from a small selection. Kind of a, "Hey, I'm sorry, but our spring rolls are absolutely fantastic," kinda deal.

There were some "I don't care" items, like boiled carrot slices and chicken wings.

Rose Bowls premier items are it's deep fried battered shrimps, waffle fries, cooked ham and seasoned pork chunks.

The shrimps adhered nicely to the soft, sweet tasting batter, and had their tails removed. This allowed for popping the shrimp into your mouth without having to bite down on the base of the tail, which we all know is almost never cleanly done.

The waffle fries were piping hot and seasoned to perfection, while crunchy yet soft. It's always nice to see something other than onion rings or straight cut fries.

The cooked ham was sliced thick and presented beside a pineapple lemon glaze. I poured this glaze on top of my ham; it was wonderful.

The seasoned pork chunks were hot and malleable. Since they were naked, you could've covered them in sweet and sour, pineapple lemon or any of the many salad dressings they offered, if you dare.

Their satay spicy chicken was not very good. I found it to be soggy and tasteless: kind of like a watered down sweet and sour dish with a hint of black pepper.

The chow mein and rice dishes were below average, but I rarely put these dishes into consideration when I'm deciding what grade to give a buffet... unless its something incredible like ostrich meat fried rice or kangaroo chow mein. Alas, this was not the case, so I was left indifferent in the land of rice and noodles.

When it came to drinks, the seven dollars per pitcher of coke was quite ridiculous, but at least the ice water was abundant. The service was laid back, kind and pleasant. No horror stories here (except for the no spring roll fiasco).

I guess my main concern with Rose Bowls buffet is simply it's lack of selection. When I sat down and looked at my plate, their was almost no color differential between the dishes. When I ate the food, I was not blown away by the taste. Everything pretty much tasted the same; not saying it was a bad taste, in fact nothing wanted to make me hurl. Some of the dishes were very well done, but no spring rolls? Come on.

Price for dinner: $12 plus tax

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Campbell River

So here is my predicament and here is what I’ve done.

I accepted a summer internship at the Eagle 97.3: a radio station that is 3.5 hours north of Victoria in a small city called Campbell River.

I am in Campbell River until the end of summer, and plan on visiting and reporting on all buffet activity taking place here and hopefully in the Comox Valley.

In the meantime, DK, who is already a contributing writer at the buffet blog, as well as his own Victoria Burger Blog, will be continuing to report on some of the buffet activity taking place in Victoria.

I apologize for any inconveniences or if I may have upset you with this move, but I assure you, it is only temporary and I will be back into the full swing of things by September.

For now, please enjoy my extended coverage of Campbell River and the Comox Valley.


Guy Alaimo

CEO of Victoria Buffet Blog

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Chinese Village Buffet Restaurant, 5-7855 East Saanich Road, Saanichton B.C, (250) 652-1382

I was busted and scolded by the manager for taking pictures. Good thing she caught me after I had just snapped off about 15 in 45 seconds.

After my paparazzi session with the buffet line, me and Donald settled in and, at first, were very pleased. However, it did not take much time before the major flaws of this buffet started to come forward.

Fountain drinks, cappucino , slushees, ice cream.

Weird tasting balls, runny meat dishes and smelly spring rolls screamed failing grade, while fountain drinks, chef's special chicken and high quality seafood dishes pleaded for a pass.

Lets start with the sweet and sour pork, which was filled to the brim of the tray and almost spilled over with freshness, but tasted like waterlogged pork and nothing else. I believe this was due to the sweet and sour sauce being extremely runny, and not adhering to the pork like it's supposed too.

The teriyaki meatballs at first glance, look like flavor packed morsels just waiting to slide down the esophagus, when in reality they were extremely salty and over flavored, and did not have the elasticity I was expecting. The balls crumbled with an odd consistency, and their overbearing flavor spilling into my mouth that easily, was not pleasant.

And by far the worst tasting spring rolls I have ever eaten belong to Chinese Village. Those little previously frozen Safeway pack looking motherfuckers did nothing to make my mouth water, and when i realized they tasted like actual fucking garbage, it did not take long to realize there was something seriously wrong. This almost ruined my entire experience, and left a scar that may never go away. Would you like to know how bad it tasted? Think rotten cabbage with celery string texture sandwiched between undercooked pastry.

Donald Kennedy CHIMES IN

Wow is this place mediocre. It's not often that I'll give a bad review to a buffet that has Screamer capabilities, but Chinese Village was beyond underwhelming. The meatballs were like pudding, the egg rolls tasted like fried moldy newspaper strands, and the deep fried scallions tasted like rejects from the Highliner factory.

The ginger beef was spicy, but ultimately blahzay, and none of the vegetable dishes were really worth seconds.

The only dish I really enjoyed here was the Chef's Special Chicken: crunchy skin and flavour akin to what you'd get in a Japanese box meal.

Chinese Village isn't on the horrendous level that Wing's is, but it sure wouldn't be a long fall to get there.

I'm still appalled that this place costs almost $15.

Price for Dinner: $14.60