Friday, May 08, 2009

LOBSTER BUFFET! - Part 1

Lobster buffet - two words that can bring jubilation and can turn perfectly nice people into... well, I am not quite sure how to describe what they become. There are two types of buffet restaurants where you will find lobster - high end Asian buffet restaurants and very high end, fancy restaurants that offer a "seafood" buffet on certain nights - generally these are hotels or catering halls that supplement their wedding and party business with restaurant service. The Asian buffets that generally serve lobster are usually serving lobster sections cut up in ginger sauce. And in every one that I have been to the lobster tray is brought out, quickly emptied by those nice people that I mentioned in the first sentence who push and shove their way to that serving tray and empty as many of the edible pieces onto their plates as they can, leaving mostly shell to remain for anyone behind them - and then the restaurant waits a half hour or longer to bring out more. People go wild over this food. Mention that lobster is offered at a buffet and you will always have someone quickly ask where?

There is an old joke that whoever ate the first lobster must have been incredibly hungry. After all this sea creature looks more like an insect than any other. Lobster did not always have the popularity that it basks in now. In New England America in the 18th Century prisoners complained and almost rioted because they were fed lobster just about every day. I know a few people today who would not mind serving time in that prison. Lobster is expensive. Lobster off a menu can set you back a considerable amount of money so all you can eat lobster - well, that is like finding gold for the taking.

And I am sure that I got your quick attention by the title of this article. Where is the lobster? Aren't you going to tell us?!?!? All I can eat lobster - I have to know! Well ok - yes I have two restaurants that will serve you all the whole lobsters that you can eat, along with a variety of other seafood and they do not seem (from what I have been told) to be stingy about getting them out on the server when needed. Both restaurants are located in the state of New Jersey - at just about opposite ends of the state from each other. I have not been to either one and I must tell you that what I will tell you about them is second hand information to me. I cannot say that the food is wonderful - but I have had readers tell me that it is.

The first of these lobster buffets is The Manor Restaurant located at111 Prospect Avenue, West Orange, New Jersey (973-731-2360). The main business of this restaurant is carering and it is a major location for weddings, Sweet 16 parties, etc. in this area. This buffet was recommended by a reader and I was also told about it by a relative who was to go there with friends who recommend it. I have also read several customer reviews of the buffet and ther restaurant. The first thing we need to establish before the drooling begins is the price. As I said lobster is not cheap - and any buffet that includes lobster is not going to be inexpensive. Wednesday and Thursday the lobster buffet is $45.95 per person for adults and $19.95 for children from ages 4 to 12. On Saturday and Friday the price is $55.95 per adult and $24.95 per child. These prices may increase on holidays. When you arrive you will find a valet to park your car.

The lobster buffet at the Manor is only served on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturdays for dinner only. There are lunch buffets during the week and a Sunday brunch buffet but there is NO LOBSTER at lunch or on the brunch. A very important thing to know is that there is a dress code at this restaurant and men must wear jackets at dinner. At lunch they require "business casual". From this you know that this is no OCB that you are going to. This is a fine restaurant offering a very special buffet and they expect a certain clientele.

The buffet is served from silver chafing dishes and an ice sculpture surrounds the cold seafood that looks to be the centerpiece of the the serving area. Tables full of chafing dishes surround this with a variety of hot and cold foods. Everyone uses the same word when describing this buffet and that word is abundance. There is a great deal of food elegantly served here. Those who have had the lobster rave about it. Raw shellfish - oysters, clams share a cold server with cold lobster and from the descriptions (though not the photos on the website) there is a hot lobster served as well. But anyone coming to this buffet is there for the main attraction and that is lobster. This is why you would pay five times to twice the amount you would spend at other buffets to eat here. If lobster is what you crave this is a place to travel to.

The only negative review that I read about the Manor referred to menu dining and this person was very unhappy with what they were served (not lobster). This may or may not have anything to do with the buffet - but to be aware that out of ten reviews and recommendation that I have for this restaurant there was one unhappy customer.

You must know this - the buffet requires a reservation - always. The buffet starts Wednesday to Friday at 6:00 pm and on Saturday at 5:00 pm. You can call for reservations or you can use a service that the restaurant provides on their website on which you put in the date and time you wish to make your reservation and the site goes off to find an available table or tell you when an available table will be. I tried this just to see what would happen if I wanted a reservation for the next Saturday night and it came back quickly with a table available a half hour before the time I asked for and a half hour after. Not bad on short notice.

I mentioned at the beginning that a relative was to go to The Manor with several friends. Let me say that this is a relative who can easily afford The Manor and I assume so are the friends. They never did go. When I asked why I was told that it was too expensive. Just a sign of the times. The website for The Manor Restaurant is linked at the side of this page.

To be continued...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Manor's Lobster Buffet is the absolute best. We save it for special occasions. Endless Lobster, shrimp, oysters plus so much more. I can easily eat my share of lobster for the expense of the bill.