Recently, the folks at Tourism Richmond decided it was time for some new 365 Days of Dining images, so yesterday I went back to The River Rock, and headed up to their buffet restaurant. It’s a vast, brightly-lit space with expansive views of the river and marina, and of course, all kinds of food.
I assumed I’d be placed neatly at a table, with a few well-styled foods laid out before me. I’d be photographed holding a voluptuous croissant, and sipping a warm phantom beverage from an empty mug. I was wrong.
Yesterday’s production involved a heck of a lot more than French pastries.
When I arrived, The River Rock’s Executive chef, Sylvain Cuerrier, was orchestrating our “set.” He had an entire team helping him, first to create levels under a huge black tablecloth, then to bring out endless amounts of food to be arranged upon them; this included two massive bowls of crab legs, several roasts, about ten different salads, and of course, oversized cutlery. We had to boost up my seat just so I could be seen from behind it all.
The spread was one part medieval banquet, one part Babette’s Feast, and two parts ‘1975 best-selling cookbook.’ Had I lounged on my side like a Roman, it could have passed as a scene from Dinner with Trimalchio, or with a few dead pheasants hung rustically in the background, we’d have had ourselves a really nice Dutch still life. Chef Cuerrier and his team are feast-making masters.
Once it was all arranged (which, grape by grape, took awhile), I sat up in my booster seat and got down to smiling. I smiled, and smiled, and smiled some more. I smiled so much my lips started to twitch, and was reminded of all my years of dance and the endless grinning I did on stage. This, mom and dad, was the moment my braces truly became worth it.
Despite having been given a ham hock to gnaw on (for real, I was), my stomach was still growling by the time we finished. So I did what all of America’s Next Top Models do when they’re done a photo-shoot: headed straight for the buffet.
The better news: Lunch costs $18.95 per person, with all-you-can-eat access to an enormous salad bar, a variety of roast meats, several hot entrée stations, and a long spread of sweets.
The best news: The food is AMAZING.
When buffets are done poorly, they’re my worst nightmare. When buffets are done well, they’re my heaven on earth. The colour! The variety! The giant bowls of bacon bits! And of course, the DESSERT.
I helped myself to small amounts of many things. I dished up turkey with cranberry sauce and gravy, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, braised red cabbage with bacon, Israeli cous-cous salad, sautéed mushrooms, roasted cauliflower salad, some sort of crazily good pork in a spiced, creamy sauce, and Brussels sprouts.
Although one of the more modest-looking items on my plate, the braised red cabbage with bacon was my favourite of them all. I can remember having a dish like this many years ago, and fell in love with it, hard. Now I can’t recall who made it for me, and it’s driving me crazy. If you’re reading this and it was you, please show yourself! Help me put my mind at ease! It’s seriously killing me.
Despite my love for the cabbage, everything on the plate was lovely, and I was really, really impressed by the whole spread.
That includes dessert. With my savoury plate finished, I felt my brain moving into food coma territory, so I limited myself to a small slice of carrot cake, a profiterole, and a piece of sticky toffee ginger cake.
The carrot cake was impossibly moist, with a thin layer of chocolate at the bottom, and wonderful icing. The profiterole wasn’t extraordinary, but the ginger cake with caramel sauce was an ideally sweet introduction to the holiday season. I consider this to be one of the nicest winter desserts out there, even if it isn’t the prettiest thing to look at.
If you’re a lover of quality buffets, then you should check out The Buffet. They’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and have various themes throughout the week, including Italian night and Memphis BBQ.
A huge thank you to Chef Cuerrier and his whole team for helping out with the photo shoot, and watch for some of the finished photos to be released next week!
Have a great weekend, everyone.
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian and vegan options available (though not necessarily vegan entrees)
Winter Festive Buffet Nov 23 – Dec 22 / Dec 27 – 30
6:30AM – 10:30AM Breakfast $14.95 Mon-Sat
11:30AM – 2:30PM Lunch $18.95 Mon-Sat
5:00PM – 9:00PM Dinner $24.95 Sun-Thu
5:00PM – 10:00PM Dinner $29.95 Fri-Sat
10:30AM – 2:00PM Brunch $24.95 Sun
Dec 23, 24, 25, 26
$24.95 Brunch 10:30AM – 2:00PM
$29.95 Dinner 5:00 PM – 10:00PM