"We bring the four corners of the world to your plate."
Many years ago LJ & I ventured across the river into Quebec, Gatineau specifically, to try Buffet des Continents (BDC), a buffet of the continents. It sounded interesting - food from all over the world in one all-you-can-eat extravaganza. It was ... not good. We did not enjoy the food and we did not go back. Well, it had been about 10 years and one evening we were out and could not decide on what to eat. The idea of going back and trying BDC was floated, and we decided, let's give them another chance.
It was a Friday night and we thought it was going to be crazy busy; the last time we were there there was lines out the door to get in. No such lines on this evening.
The place is, well at least 10 years old, but it still looks pretty new inside. It's huge with lots of seating. The place is decorated like different parts of the world: faux buildings from Italy, China, Greece etc. There is seating upstairs overlooking the buffet, on the main floor, and some overfill areas in other rooms off the side. Even when it's not at full capacity, it's loud, but there's lots to look at.
You come in and the hostess seats you. Dinner ranges from $17.99-24.50 depending on the night of the week and your age. Drinks are not included, and if you get a pop like I did, there is only 1 free refill. Then it's all-you-can-eat. Our waiter was good at letting us know what was going on, refilling drinks and clearing our used plates. However I have another service story I'll talk about at the end*
I think you want 3 things in a buffet:
- Lots of Selection
- Everything fresh
- Everything tasty
This place has the selection. You've got Italian food, Asian food, seafood, grilled items, carved meats, pizza's, salad's, North American cuisine and much much more. The menu also changes depending on the meal and the night of the week. The items also seemed to be refilled fairly regularly and with good size crowds, they have to, so the food stays pretty fresh without sitting around forever. So check on #2.
This was my first plate:
- Caesar Salad
- Meat Balls
- Chicken Wings
- Onion Rings
- Montreal Smoked Meat
I really like the variation of food here, in theory at least. Most buffet's around here are Chinese, so having a change of pace is good (even though you can get bastardized Chinese food here). Actually all the food here is bastardized, so don't expect any authenticity.
So how was Plate #1?
- Caesar Salad = not bad; creamy, fresh but nothing fancy
- Sausage = ok, but pretty flavourless.
- Meat Balls = pass. Big pass. Had a sour taste to the sauce & did not enjoy.
- Onion Rings = crispy, hot - really decent onion rings
- Montreal Smoked Meat = really good! Really moist and tender, and tasty!
I'll talk about the wings later on.
Plate # 2
I decided to do some more world traveling:
- Shrimp = Nope. Super fishy and did not enjoy. Was luke warm too.
- General Tao Chicken - Pass. The chicken was kind of mushy & the sauce tasted like no General Tao I've ever had before.
- Egg Roll = Eastern Ontario/Quebec style made with cabbage not bean sprouts. It was ok but any Chinese restaurant does it better.
- Chicken Ball = little chewy batter, chewy chicken. It was meh. The sauce was not red sauce but cherry sauce which wasn't for me.
- Shawarma = they actually carved this from a spit! It was good but nothing like a real Shawarma. Just realized I didn't get a good photo of the actual wrap.
- Pizza = pepperoni. Where is the pep you ask? It's under the cheese. And it's more like salami than pepperoni. I liked the cheese and the floppiness of the slice, but the sauce and crust was a pass.
- Fried Potato = fried nope. Just over cooked and not seasoned enough.
- Montreal Smoked Meat
The smoked meat was so good I went back for more. This time I grabbed a roll, split it, added some mustard and mayo, and filled it with that great meat. Added some fries on the side (crispy but nothing special). This was tasty.
So I've left the wings for last, but you've seen in the photos I've been getting them all along. The wings were found in the "Cuisine NORD-AMERICAINE" or North American Cuisine. This is where you find fries, onion rings, fried potatoes, steamed veggies etc. I found the wings, and that was the most important thing in this particular tray.
Each of the buffet items had a description of the dishes, in both French and then in smaller letters, in English. At this station, this was the 'Ailes de Poulet' description:
Chicken Wings, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, tobasco, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar
This is an interesting recipe. It's almost like someone at home who has never made chicken wings before and mixed these ingredients together. Ketchup and Tobasco, hmmmmm.
Obviously this is AYCE, so there is no specific number in an order, you have as much as you want. It's also equal split of flats and drums. What was great was that they kept it refilled pretty frequently.
The wings were not big - pretty small actually. But, they were relatively meaty. Well the wingette's were not that meaty, but some of the drummette's were. The meat itself was tender and pulled away from the bone.
As for crispiness, I think these wings might be baked in the marinade. I suppose they could be fried and tossed in the sauce, but there isn't a lot of sauce and it seems to have permeated into the wing. So I don't know what the texture is from cooking, only that the wings have a crisp, but also not crisp. They are kind of saucy in that you get sauce on your fingers, but there isn't really visible sauce on the wings.
The flavour on these wings were ... surprisingly good. I was kind of addicted. They are sweet, sour, slightly sour, slightly spicy. It made me feel this nostalgia for this spare ribs recipe my family used to make many years ago that was made with ketchup and brown sugar and a little spice.
I like it, and it's got this generic goodness to it. Wing and spice connoisseurs would not. You might not. But there was something about it that I enjoyed. I didn't love them, but I did like them. You get me?
This buffet is really hit and miss. Some of the items are bland and others are just no. Some items are good. The carving stations are the best; loved my smoked meat. For me, the wings were worth second and third trips for. They are all over the place in flavour while being safe and generic, but they were good.
Now the photos from this review and the story was from our first visit. The service was great. Then *we went back and brought the father-in-law like two weeks after, and it did not go as well. Shawarma was gone, as were some other dishes, but they had others (but nothing special to write about it). Our waitress started out friendly, but then she was gone. Once checked in to refill waters but that was it. Now she was busy looking after a few big groups and other tables. But once it was time to go, she was just gone. We waited and waited. LJ & her dad went to the car and I said I would take care of it. But she was no where to be seen. I eventually asked another waitress and she said ours would be back soon. But she wasn't. Then I saw our waitress who was back helping one of the groups pay out, and the other waitress let her know about us waiting. She said she would be with me shortly, but she disappeared again. LJ came back to get me wondering what was going on. We gave up and went to the front desk to pay out. Our waitress ended up there but ignored us so we had to get someone else to pay our bill. In the end, it was almost 45 minutes AFTER our meal that we finally left. Unbelievable. The wings were ok, but we aren't heading back anytime soon. 7/14
Buffet des Continents
4 Impasse de la Gare Talon, Gatineau, QC