[Note to readers: Consider this culinary high point when life gets back to normal.]
Lobster. Lobster thermidor. Lobster bisque.
Oysters. Oysters Rockefeller. Stone crab. Coconut shrimp. Giant cocktail shrimp.
And that's not even getting into the Filet Mignon Oscar and Steak Diane, which are individually cooked to order.
The Saturday evening Surf and Turf buffet at Port Edward in Algonquin has all the seafood and meat you can imagine. And you can fill your plate with it time and again.
Of course, it comes with a price tag ($55 for adults, $19 for kids ages 5 to 11), but it's also easy to get your money's worth.
My fellow diner and I had glanced at the offerings beforehand, but we didn't come into the meal with a plan apart from our early reservation at 5:30 p.m. The buffet runs from 5 to 10 p.m. each Saturday. As it got later in the evening, there were a few lines in areas, so the earlier the better in my opinion.
We were seated at a table to the back and to the right after entering the expansive restaurant. There's a pond with a sailboat in it when you enter after passing through the valet area, and the food is in the large room to the right.
Against the window, there is a large area with a variety of warm plates and bowls. Then there's the lobster bisque and salad bar, the smoked fish and potato station, and then you hit the expansive ice-covered section, where stone crab, oysters and the giant cocktail shrimp await.
I wanted to try everything I could, so I ended up with some weird combinations on my plate. I started with the lobster bisque, of course, and then some of the jumbo shrimp cocktail before heading to the carving station for a cut of the slow-roasted prime rib.
My fellow diner got some salad, tried out the seafood and chicken Alfredo and selected the carved wagyu beef from the carving station. The beef ended up being his favorite part of the meal, and he went back for seconds.
The shrimp was as good as expected, and the lobster bisque was as excellent as I remembered from a previous trip, when we ate our meal in a different room near the bar area.
For seconds, I went after the big kahuna: the Maine lobster from behind the carving station. I soon, to my embarrassment, figured out I didn't have a great idea on how to break through the shell. I made a mess doing it and, from thereon, the tablecloth in front of me was pretty wet, amateur that I am.
But the lobster started out decently once I was able to break into each claw and get a large chunk of meat. After watching a diner at a neighboring table take down three lobsters, however, I figured out my mistake. I had to use the tool on the table to cut through the bottom of the tail and take the meat out, as it turns out. Beginner's mistake, I guess.
I didn't try it on this trip, but if I had to do it over again, I definitely would have tried the lobster thermidor as well.
Instead, I went to a few of the other stations to try out more. I had some of the breaded coconut shrimp and the filet mignon Wellington, which was an extremely tender cut of beef inside a square puff pastry. Wow, it was good.
Before I left, I had to try the dessert table, where there were several options, including bananas foster and cherry jubilee crepes, prepared while you wait, along with chocolate mousse.
The bananas foster was the perfect way to finish off my meal, while my fellow diner was too full to even try dessert. There were so many good options to choose from, you could go back several times, have a great meal and not eat the same thing.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at the Northwest Herald. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.