Friday, September 24, 2010

FESTIVAL BUFFET at FOXWOODS CASINO, Connecticut - PART 1

I have been hoping to eat at a buffet that I can really rave about, and finally I did! The Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, CT is a large complex of four casinos, two hotels, and what amounts to an amusement park for adults. This is a casino that is owned and operated by a Native American tribe. There is a Native American museum as part of the complex. The entire complex has many, many restaurants but just one buffet - the Festival Buffet.

I had been to the Festival Buffet many years ago - before I had started writing this site - and I was not very impressed. In all this time I had not gone back when in this area and that is too bad because over time there has been a great improvement and I was missing a wonderful buffet experience.

We went on a Friday night and Friday's feature is seafood (what else?). The cost on Friday and Saturday nights is three dollars more than Sunday through Thursday nights when the price is $16.95 per person which includes your soft drinks. On Friday and Saturday the price for dinner is $19.95. Lunch prices all of the time are $16.95. If you have a casino "comp" card - easily obtained for several booths around the complex for free (though you may encounter long lines to get one) the price is $1.00 less at all meal times.

There was a long line to get into the buffet. We waited over forty-five minutes on the line. The system to get people in and out when it is busy is not the best. First you wait on line to pay and once you pay, you are held to the side of the front of that same line to be let in to go and wait on another line from which you will be seated. Once on that second line there is a host/hostess with a walkie-talkie announcing what the size of the parties are that need to be seated and answers come in from around the dining room to send the party of 2, 3 or whatever over to a particular area to be met by someone who seats you.

The buffet is located along a very long wall that extends from where the cashiers end into the dining room and even around into another dining room. In the center of the dining room is a large salad/cold buffet server. The decor is very nice with walnut color partitions along the tables and sections of tables. Around the dining room is a "patio" dining room that is actually on the floor of the concourse leading to the casinos and entertainment. The outside was very noisy and smokey from cigarettes. Sitting in that patio area - and it is extensive exposes you to all of the noise and the smoke. Part of the noise is a night club that is located just opposite the buffet and if you like loud music you can enjoy the buffet and be entertained at the same time. I was happy to get a table in the main dining room, away from the noise and the cigarettes (the smoke would have spoiled this great meal for me).

We were seated by a very pleasant woman who directed to go up and start to get out meal while she finished setting the table. We went up first for soup - as we always do. The soup is located on the end of the salad server and there were two soups. One was New England Clam Chowder and the other Tuscan Soup. Both were white cream soups. I took a cup of the New England Clam Chowder first. It was thick and rich, full of potatoes and clams. It was very good. When I finished that I went back for the Tuscan soup to see just what Tuscan soup is. It was a thin white cream soup with pieces of sausage, a green leaf vegetable of some variety cut up into the soup, and sliced potatoes. The soup was mildly spicy and very good. Two winning soups, though I would have paired a cream soup with a broth soup for more variety. Since my wife does not eat cream soups she was off right away to the salad bar.

I headed to the salad bar next. When I looked up the buffet before my visit I read about the special "grilled" Caesar Salad. I went right over to see what that was. There were two bowls of Caesar salad - one that was labeled Caesar Salad and the other labeled Chicken Caesar Salad. I had read about grilled shrimp Caesar salad but that was not there. So the "grilled" part was whatever they added in - of course. I took the regular and skipped the chicken figuring there would be enough meats later on in the meal. The Caesar salad was excellent. There was additional cheese to add in, if you like. It was thick and creamy. There were a large variety of prepared salads, many that were unusual or perhaps I should say "gourmet". Along the other side there were the standards - potato salad, cole slaw, pasta salads, etc. And there was a large assortment of greens and toppings to make just about any salad that you like. Everything was very fresh.

END OF PART 1 - PART 2 NEXT WEEK!

This article got so long that I have split it in two - if I am tired of writing, then you must be tired of reading. So come back next week for the rest! See ya then!

5 comments:

brian said...

Your blog is one of the best I have read as I share your passion of buffets !

I have been to the Festival Buffet a few times and found it to be one of the better buffets I would go to again. Agree that the wait can take awhile at times but they have a good variety of food.

One buffet that you may want to check out is Harvest Buffet on Northern Blvd in Great Neck. I have been there many times over the years and I find that it is one of the more decent-better buffets. Depending on when you go it can be pricey. It offers a large variety of Asian food with some American. It has sushi, a few soups. dim sum, various seafood, meats, etc. On weekend nights the wait can be long so you may want to go just before prime dinner time but it sounds like you and your wife don't mind the waits. They do not have a good waiting area and it gets cramped if you want to wait inside. Some people wait outside. Depending on your table, it may get cramped also.

Looking forward to more of your articles and sharing some good buffet info !

Robert A said...

Thank you for your comment, Brian and your suggestion of Harvest Buffet. I have considered Harvest Buffet several times, however, when I called the price was high compared to other Asian/International buffets on Long Island and also I have come across a number of negative customer reviews - your recommendation has me reconsidering it. Thanks.

brian said...

I've been to quite a few Asian buffets in the area and find Harvest to be one of the better ones(probably the best overall IMO), although at a higher price ( they do offer more food at dinner, so that would be the time to go). They have a good variety of dishes, such as scallops, shrimp with coconut sauce, lots of other shrimp dishes, hot and sour soup, wonton soup, singapore noodles, lo-mein, fried rice, bok choy, string beans, spinach, mushrooms, frog legs, a small carvery, good fruit selection with watermelon(when in season), etc. Dishes are replenished on a regular basis and workers there keep the buffet area clean). If you and your wife like Asian then its worth a try.

FWI - went to Family Cupboard during the summer and it was OK. They didn't have a large selection as I would've imagined but it was good to see other Amish people eating there. It's been several years since I went to Bird in Hand but may try it again soon. Have you been there recently ?

Robert A said...

It has been about a year since I was at Family Cupboard, but have eaten there many times before. It is always the same - not a large selection but what there is on the buffet is always consistent and good. This is a real family operation and the owner in on premises and is very attentive to his business, his customers, and his staff.

Paul Mac said...

I absolutly love the Foxwoods buffet. I live in Connecticut and I go to both Foxwoods and Mohegan casinos all the time (few times a month roughly) And I have to say the Foxwoods buffet is my favorite buffet that ive had thus far and surpasses Mohegans dinner buffet by a 1000% Mohegans is also closer to 30 dollars a meal and quite disgusting if you ask me. Foxwoods on the other hand, all i can say is your article is exactly what i would have said and more. For 20 dollars you can not go wrong here