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Restaurant: Waterfall Buffet at the Red Hawk Casino
Address: 1 Red Hawk Parkway, just off Highway 50
Hours: Monday through Thursday, lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 3 to 9 p.m.; Friday, lunch 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, lunch 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner 5 to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, lunch 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 3 to 9 p.m.
There are two types of buffet patrons: those with self control and those without.
I fall into the later category.
For example, those with self control will choose one type of cuisine (Italian, American, Mexican or Chinese, for example) and stick to it.
The other folks (me) will cross pollinate their plates with a little of everything, intermingling pizza with sushi, tri-tip with refried beans and watermelon, spaghetti with cold cuts and Caesar salad, and then sticking a big old piece of cheesecake on top of it all.
I have to admit that after I consume everything on my plate I feel a little guilty and spend the next couple of days eating the sparest amount of food to compensate. But before the guilt comes euphoria, and the knowledge that each and every type of food offered is acknowledged and consumed. Nobody’s feelings get hurt, everyone goes away happy and content.
As far as I know Red Hawk Casino’s Waterfall Buffet is the only full-on buffet in El Dorado County, and it is out to smash any preconceived notions of what a typical, textbook definition of a buffet is by offering some real gourmet choices.
Plus the menu changes all the time. Change is good. Diners at the Waterfall Buffet get different choices.
Some of the items I’ve had the pleasure of consuming are: seared ahi tuna, crab cakes, triple cream brie, delicious and savory home-made soups, an abundance of salad offerings, pizza, tri-tip, hand cut fries, spaghetti and meat balls, ravioli, lasagna and many other wonderful dishes. Since the menu does change, not all of these selections may be available when you dine at the Waterfall Buffet but everything will be fantastic.
The “Winter Harvest” menu starts Monday, Jan. 7. It will consist of everything from chilled snow crab, smoked brisket, dry rubbed tri-tip, honey baked ham, sautéed lemon pepper prawns, roast turkey and grilled salmon.
Of course the buffet will still have its “Around The World” offerings, if you want to take cuisine cruise. Asian, Mexican, Italian, Polish, French and, of course, American comfort foods (such as buttermilk fried chicken, meatloaf) — constant staples of The Waterfall — will still be available.
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a mention of the dessert station, which is impressive to the point of being a tad overwhelming.
New items such as mocha gusto rico cream Napoleon and eggnog pudding with whipped cream (yum!) sit comfortably beside beloved staples like cream pies, cheesecake and seasonal fruit tarts.
So save a little room, and then go join a gym and work off the guilt.
One more point — is the head chef important at a buffet?
You bet and the Red Hawk Casino has a good one by the name of Dan Valdez. He graduated with honors from the prestigious California Culinary Academy. He specializes in Pacific Rim, Mediterranean and Southwest cuisine and enjoys the fusion of old-world flavors and new world artistry.
Red Hawk’s Waterfall Buffet is located at 1 Red Hawk Parkway, just off Highway 50 and the phone number is 530-677-7000.
The hours are: Monday through Thursday, lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 3 to 9 p.m.; Friday, lunch 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, lunch 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner 5 to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, lunch 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 3 to 9 p.m.