Friday, October 07, 2011

Captain George's Seafood Buffet (Revisited) - Williamsburg, VA

In my last article I wrote about a very disappointing return to a seafood buffet. In this article I want to tell you about an excellent return to Captain George's Seafood Buffet. I can't believe that my last (and first) article on this buffet was in 2005, as I certainly have been there since, but it has been at least three years since my last visit. There has been a change to the decor, but the buffet and its abundance pretty much remains as it was - and the price in all of this time has not increased too much.

Captain George's has several locations in Virginia and North and South Carolina. I have only been to the one in Williamsburg, Virginia, but I have been told that the rest are very similar. Captain George's is primarily a buffet restaurant but there is a menu also, though I have rarely seen anyone order from it rather than ordering the buffet, but I am sure some do. If you are set on having lobster, then you are ordering from the menu, as there is no lobster on the buffet. There is so much other than lobster that unless you are really set on having lobster, you will not be unhappy with the buffet.

This location is a few miles outside of the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg toward the direction of the several outlet malls. There is a large parking lot just for this restaurant. The restaurant is large and there are several dining rooms. This buffet also has a dinner theater type production murder mystery that takes place in a dining room well separated from the dining room in which the general public is seated, though the diners from the dinner theater do come in at intervals to the same buffet serving area. There are also private dining rooms for parties.

The decor in the main dining room has been changed since we were last there about three years ago. The walls in the past were made to look like a little village of shops. Now those facades were gone and the room has been decorated to look more elegant with chandeliers and a more colonial ballroom appearance. It is very nice, though my wife missed the quaint village look of the past. The buffet is set into a facade of a clipper ship complete with masts with sail rigging.

Price for the buffet is now $31 per adult. Children from 5 to 12 are half price and children four and under are free. There is an early bird special on Sundays from Noon to 4 pm at $27.00 per adult. They are open every day except Christmas. Soft drinks are charged separately and you get free refills. With soft drinks, tax, and tip the meal, for me, was expensive at over $70 for two. For many others, it would be considered an average dinner out. For the money spent, there is value here in what you are offered and what you get, especailly compared to other restaurants in this area.

I started my meal with one of the two soups that are always found on the buffet. There is She Crab Soup and there is New England Clam Chowder. I have had both. Both are very good. I have always enjoyed the She Crab Soup and that is what I choose again on this trip. This is a thick, white cream soup with pieces of crab and tiny pieces of potatoes, peppers, and vegetables. It has a velvety texture and tastes great. They say it is a secret recipe. This is not like the red, thin Maryland crab soup. It is more like a bisque than a chowder. The New England Clam Chowder is a thick white cream chowder full of clams and potatoes.

There is a salad bar that is a mix of lettuce and salad fixings with a variety of salad vegetables to add to the lettuce and then top your salad with a variety of dressings. There are also seafood salads to enjoy like crab salad and shrimp salad.

I am not sure if one would consider crab legs and steamed shrimp as appetizers or entrees, but they are in abundance. There are both hot and cold steamed crab legs and shrimp. Since hot tends to be what is preferred I will focus on those. Large snow crab clusters are continually brought out to the buffet server replenishing what is being taken. These are whole clusters that are of significant size. There is butter sauce and there is cocktail sauce. There is also hot steamed shrimp. There are also steamed crayfish and there are steamed hard shell blue crabs. All of this is found on a second clipper ship buffet server off to the side of the main server. There are also oysters Rockefeller - baked oysters stuffed with spinach and cheese. The crab legs and shrimp are good. I find the crayfish - everywhere that I have had them - not just here - to be very fishy in flavor and I now tend to pass them by. Others love them! I took one of the blue crabs but I have never mastered the art of getting the meat out of them and there was little to be found after I got through with opening the shell that I was sad that the poor crab gave his life for so little. I would much rather pick the loads of meat out of the snow crab legs and joints. If you like mussels you will also find steamed mussels and you will also find small steamed clams.

There is a lot more here than just shellfish - in fact there is more here than just seafood. After the soup, and the salad, and then the shellfish, I moved on to the main buffet server where the entrees and the side dishes are. Now, note that I said, "I", my wife who does not eat seafood other than shrimp had moved on before me. The entrees vary from pre-sliced prime rib of beef to local seafood specialties. Just about all that I remember from past meals were here still. Of special note is the Norfolk Special which is a mixture of crab, shrimp, and scallops in a lightly seasoned butter sauce. You get all the goodness of the crab and other shellfish without the work of getting it out of the shell. Another local dish is Crab Imperial which is a casserole full of crab meat. There is no skimping on the crab here - and it is the real thing - no sea legs are used here when it is supposed to be crab. I also enjoyed the fried scallops and the fried clams. The clams were nicely and naturally sweet.

There is much more seafood. There is broiled salmon, mahi mahi, fried pollack, fried shrimp, a changing broiled catch of the day, baked clams, stuffed mushrooms, and more. If you want other than seafood there is fried chicken, slices of prime rib, Italian manicotti, fall off the bone barbecue ribs in sauce, and broiled chicken. Of course, there has to be side dishes (well, in most places there have to be side dishes - see last week's article). There is corn on the cob, string beans, steamed rice, sauteed mushrooms, broccoli, potato salad and cole slaw. You will find baked rolls, fried hushpuppies (fried cornmeal dumplings), and cornbread muffins. It is all good. And there is far more than anyone can eat at one meal, so if you want to try it all, take a little taste.

I know my readers want to hear about desserts and there is a nice assortment of desserts at Captain George's. Several of the desserts are Greek and they are famous for their rice pudding and their honey oozing Baklava. There is also Chocolate cake, Strawberry shortcake, carrot cake, and cookies - all fine bakery quality. There are also hot fruit cobblers (apple, cherry, and peach), flan, and seasonal fresh fruits. These desserts are worth saving room for, so keep the dessert area in mind as you go back for just one more plate full of seafood.

Our service was very good. Our server took our soft drink orders when we sat down. I asked for an unsweetened ice tea. The ice tea that I was brought was sweet. When I called her over and told her I expected an automatic, of course, let me bring you another - but she was so certain that she had it right. She went off to get another and had to ask if this one was the same as the other - it wasn't. She was still surprised, but that was the only glitch in the entire meal with service. She was very pleasant the whole time and she was prompt at clearing away plates, bringing refills on drinks, and leaving a plate to pile empty crab shells on.

Is it good? Yes. Will it cost you more than the usual OCB meal? Yes, a lot more (3 times more). Is it worth it? Yes. Will I go back? Absolutely. I have been back many times before.

As I said when I started this article, there are three locations of Captain George's in several places besides Williamsburg, Va in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. These are all popular vacation spots and you can be sure that the other locations are in vacation areas as this one is Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, and Outer Banks. (There are actually fewer locations now than there were six years ago.)

I very much recommend that you try Captain George's. If you go to one of the other locations, let me know how it is.

This Captain George's is located at 5363 Richmond Road, Williamsburg, VA 23188. The phone number is 757-565-2323. Large parties should make reservations in advance during the summer. There is a link to the main webpage for all locations at the side of this page.


brian said...

Excellent review of Captain George's. We went to the one in Nags Head this past summer and it was very good. Way better quality food than the Golden Corral. It is pricey but to get ayce snow crabs and other quality food, it is a bargain. Snow crab is very expensive and it was very tasty. The service was excellent too.

This is definitely one of our favorite buffets.

Anonymous said...

We visited the Captain George's in Virginia Beach last weekend. The previous reviews are spot-on. We arrived at 12:00 Noon on a Sunday, and the restaurant was absolutely spotless. After we left, my wife and I both remarked about the bathrooms, which were very nicely decorated and as clean as we have ever seen.

Our server said she had been there for 13 years and she was great.

Everything on the buffet was fresh and tasty. I focused on the crab and shrimp dishes, while my wife enjoyed the fish and mussels. Neither of us really sampled the non-seafood items, but I did have one small piece of fried chicken, which was spicy and very tasty.

The dessert section was truly impressive and far better than the usual buffet fare. The strawberry shortcake was outstanding, as was a small square of pecan pie. The carrot cake and cobblers looked excellent, but alas, I had had reached my limit and could not sample them.

We were on a weekend getaway to Virginia Beach, and my wife looked askance when I told her we were having a romantic dinner at a buffet. She does not care for buffets. After 10 minutes she said - "I take it back, this was a GREAT idea". A memorable meal and we will certainly be back. Thanks for your review of this great place!!!

KG said...

Captain George's Was Our Anniversary Dinner With A Twist
I was looking through the "Colonial Williamsburg" magazine they have in your condo and there was an ad for a Mystery Dinner Theater that takes place at Captain George's! One price and you get to see the show, try to solve the murder AND go crazy at Captain George's buffet paradise!

We had a blast -- and even though this time (we were there two years ago) they didn't have crab cakes, the crab imperial MORE than made up for it!

Any of you who visit Willamsburg, you HAVE to go to Captain George's!

KG said...

Oh yes and I had 3 desserts during the last intermission of the murder mystery. Peach cobbler, apple cobbler (both YUM) and cherry cheese cake TO DIE FOR! Oh did I make a pig of myself and tank up!