When I was small, number 4 of 5, my parents rarely took us out to eat. Can you imagine, 5 kids under 12 years old at a restaurant? But, my father knew that my mother needed a break so we packed up the car, drove 5 miles, two towns over, to dine at the Smorgasbord. The theme song to the Beverly Hillbillies is running through my head. “This here’s a story about a man named Jed. Poor pharmacist trying to keep his family fed. Then one day they went to Smor-ga-sbord, and up on the table was a bubbling buffet. Turkey that is, brown gravy, Southern biscuits.”  I will let you fill in the rest.


But that was it. That was my dining experience for many of my early years. I think that they had a family price, or that Thursday was family day, or . . .  All I remember we that I could go back and get as much applesauce as I wanted. Funny thing, to this day my heart still skips a beat at the site of a buffet. Now, hold on, let me clarify. At culinary school we had Grand Buffets where we served pates, and pastries, and petit fours. Meats that were glazed and fruits that were jellied. Oftentimes there was an ice sculpture dripping to cool the champagne. I am not talking about one of these. I am talking about yummy looking steam tables filled with stuffing and gravy and applesauce! The kind of place that you find in a shopping center, which is exactly where the Smorgasbord was located. Plenty of parking, serve yourself, no stairs when you exit.


As the years went by we frequented the Smorgasbord fewer times per year until we finally stopped. I never understood why. Perhaps we were uninvited? Perhaps I ate way too much applesauce for the all-you-can-eat price. I blame myself. I can still feel a little flutter inside my chest just thinking of the name . . . Smorgasbord.


Speaking of shopping center surprises, last night I was introduced to the Taj Grill, located at 758 Admiral Callaghan Lane, in the same shopping center as Safeway and In and Out. When I walked in I immediately felt my heart go thump thump. They have a buffet! But alas, only at lunch and we were there for dinner. Just another reason to return. The place is clean and comfortable so we stayed and ordered a Dal, Matar Paneer, and Lamb Korma. Except that they would not serve me lamb korma. It is a funny thing to have a waiter order for you. It takes the same kind of trust as blind falling backwards and having someone catch you. At first I balked when he suggested the Special Lamb instead, but he insisted so I blindly fell backwards. I am here to say that . . . I was caught. The lamb was tender and the sauce divine. Being brave souls we ordered spicy on everything and were not disappointed. Lip smacking good, literally. The rice and Naan kept our mouths from bursting into to flame. The waiter was so pleasant that he even offered us a free dessert. It was not Indian but it was sweet and thoughtful. Another thing that they do, which I really admire, is that they offer an All Vegan Night. The next one is March 30th and they will offer 8 entrees, salads and desserts for only $15. Reservations are required. Dang!


Love me some buffet, miss me some Smorgasbord. Maybe it is time for a trip to the Midwest?

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Until next time,


Eat Well and Smile Often

Tommy Judt







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