I could write a book on my experiences eating the ferry buffet. I have so many vivid memories; from the plethora of coin hockey games played on their tables, too the vigorous eating competitions and debauchery staged on high school football trips, the ferry buffet has a place in my heart that no person could ever penetrate. Now that I'm a big shot buffet reviewer who's been interviewed by Monday Magazine, I have to put personal feelings aside and use my valid opinions to dissect this fortress of heart-warming nostalgia.
This buffet has changed for the worst over the past several years. There are no more complimentary cans of juice or boxes of cereal. Long gone are the days of filling up your backpack with 24 cans of juice. I guess it must be a sign of the times. But like the great late Tupac Shakur said, "Life goes on," and I have learned to live with the fact that many of life's simple pleasures, such as stealing cans of juice, are long gone.
I'm sure many of you have popped a blood vessel or two as a result of B.C Ferries. It might have been over the multiple fare increases, constant mechanical malfunctions, or the countless afternoons spent wasting your life waiting for the stupid, ugly, inconvenient, impractical water treading monoliths to come pick you up and send you to the ever so gorgeous, gridlocked, gang violence ridden, polluted lower mainland. But for me, those factors are not so much a problem as B.C Ferries decision to remove the tables with the ridges around them from the Pacific Buffet. Those table ridges used to be the backbone of the underground sport of coin hockey, where the object of the game was to shoot a coin through the opposing players break in the table-ridge. I know I'm not explaining this well, but unless you have played coin hockey, there is no way you will understand what I'm talking about anyways.
So far, no more coin hockey and no more cans of juice, and you know they've raised the prices. It's the B.C Ferry way of life. So, does the food compensate the new flaws?
Maybe a little. Pork and shrimp dumplings are a wonderful addition to this buffet, and go extremely well with the sweet chili Thai sauce they provide. The sausages have also improved immensely as they are no longer greasy and loose; instead they are soft, chewy and just a little crispy on the outside. Butter chicken is also a nice addition, and when laid alongside some jasmine rice, a mini-Indian restaurant setting is created.
I love how the ferry buffet has gone buckwild with prawns. Cooked in a buttery curry sauce, the prawns were peeled and delicious. And like any brunch buffet, there was french toast, scrambled eggs, bacon and ham, all of which were average at best, except for the eggs which had an aftertaste of acid-reflux.
The dessert options have also taken an interesting turn from the days of high school football trips. Gone are the copious amounts of chocolate and vanilla pudding. Instead, there is a small array of higher qualityish baked goods and cheesecake. While I'm not crazy about the baked cookies, the cheesecake is excellent. There is even a strawberry topping and whipped cream option.
To summarize, this buffet has always been expensive and many of it's former qualities have been erased, which makes it very hard for me to give out a good-value rating. However, the Pacific Buffet has a monopoly on ferry buffets, and offers a relaxing view of the ocean, far away from the rat-race of the white-spot cafeteria and sandwich bars on the other side of the boat. When you team those facts up with half decent entrees, all-you-can-drink refreshments and deliscious cheesecake, there is no question: you must dine at Pacific Buffet the next time you take the ferry.
Price for Brunch: $19 plus tax