Black Belt in Buffet

You know a dining experience has been a decadent success when your seven-year old is ranking his top SEVEN desserts from the evening on the drive home from the meal. 

Yup, we conquered the Seafood Buffet. We came, we saw, we ate. Everything.

Big Guy made a point of thanking me for suggesting he try the Maple Glazed Sablefish. For those of you who have not yet gotten the memo, Sablefish is the actual name of the mysteriously chic Black Cod. And NOBODY does it like Deer Valley. 

We were fortunate to have an evening with some dear friends who are part-time Park City residents. This is a family with whom we bonded four years ago in Snow Park Lodge—we were experiencing the same level of kid-mayhem, which, upon reflection, seems a little strange. At that time, they had our kid-count bested by two, and yet…

 Anyway, it was one of those instant bonds that had us inviting them for dinner at our house that same week, and we (and all the kids) have been inseparable ever since. Little Guy was born later that spring, and as soon as the other family arrived for the summer, their daughter had him in her arms—and that, as they say, was that.

 

So we decided to hit the buffet together—but not without some strategic planning (après ski naps and snacks to compensate for a seating at the risky-with-kids hour of 7pm ) and warning: “Kids, this is a special restaurant and we expect best behavior.” Which is one of those lies parents tell. We expected poor behavior (the naps didn’t happen) but hoped for better. Sometimes those hopes get answered. This was one of those times. The kids reveled in the relative freedom to  visit the buffet stations with minimal adult involvement. Bigger ones offering to help smaller, and buddies pairing off. Little Guy’s Guardian Girl saw to it that he had an ample selection of berries, and the adults took turns competing to see who could make the most trips down the stairs. 

I just loved watching my kids explore, and consider their next moves. Little Guy started the evening expecting his usual Snow Park Penne, then insisting on a plate of rice from the carving station plus some sushi rolls to start his meal. His brother offered him some sablefish, and he was game to wait in line for his own portion. A dad in front of me was a bit wide-eyed noting the three year-old’s seemingly adventurous palate. Then the fish was plated, and a mini-tantrum ensued. I just did what any reasonable person would do: I offered dessert. It worked.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss the brilliance of the chocolate bread pudding. Unanimously adored by all in attendance at our table. I know this because we discussed it as a group for about 15 minutes.

I can’t say enough about the cheerful and impeccable service—or the fabulous table we had in the balcony on the second floor. The kids, as a group, are pretty well-behaved. But it’s still a table with five kids under 10. So having a little remove from the main dining room was a plus. And, as I joked with Bonnie at the bar, a person could burn off calories by stair-climbing between courses. (Reality check: after a bit of skiing on Wide West—a workout when you count all the lifting of a thirty-pound three year-old with a predeliction for falling, and the perma-wedge required for skiing with a tot—I logged an hour of cardio and strength workouts at home in preparation for the feast.)

The true test of a successful restaurant visit? The kids managed to forget about their electronics until after the fifth trip to the dessert station, and only then clustering around iPod Touch games as the adults lingered over conversation and coffee.