My daughter is a chef (Heidi Tunnell Catering Company), which has turned me into a Foodie, or maybe even a food snob. So, when my parents invited us to eat at Spirit Mountain Casino’s Cedar Plank Buffet for my Mother’s birthday celebration, I was not exactly excited. However, they like to go to casinos and eat at the buffets, so I have collected quite a few casino experiences around Oregon and even in Las Vegas, which makes me somewhat of an authority on buffet food. With that in mind, I have to say that if you happen to be heading from Eugene to Lincoln City, a beautiful drive if you go through Corvallis, you should consider eating at the casino.
Spirit Mountain Casino opened in 1995, and is one of the largest casinos in Oregon. I pretty much hate going into casinos. The gambling part feels like flushing money down the toilet, and the smoking allowed policy exacerbates the problem. Even if you feel this way about casinos, just go to the main entrance and cut to the buffet line. Since it was President’s Day, the line to get into the food looked like a Disney ride, with customers snaking back and forth in front of us. At $9.99 per person, the price was incredibly cheap, a factor that makes the buffet one of the biggest attractions at the casino.
The Cedar Plank Buffet was recently remodeled and expanded, and along with this upgrade the food was tremendously improved from the last time I ate there. There are seven stations, including International, carving, pizza, salad, dessert, etc. There was even a chef cooking made to order omelets from your choice of ingredients. The selection of food was comparable to any buffet I have ever been to, including the “famous” buffet at Vegas’ MGM Grand.
No matter how big your appetite, there is no way to even try every food item available. Since I have been working out really hard lately, I did not want to wreck my training regimen, so I I started with the salad bar. I expected craptastic, “Fruit Freshed”, lettuce and veggies, but was pleasantly surprised that I detected none of the dreaded substance. From there I allowed myself a couple of strips of flank steak, which was a little tough, but tasted great, along with some fried potatoes, again, nicely cooked. For dessert, I chose a great berry ice cream from a mound of choices.
Everybody in our group of 12 loved their food and had a good time. Although I could only stand the smoke long enough to lose $10 in a slot machine (about 10 minutes), my Dad stayed and won $500. That was a nice bonus, but even without that, the trip and meal would have been worth it.