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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

02 October 2007

The Beau Rivage

Q: You know what the cause of obesity in America is?
A: The buffet at the Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Let me back up.

The Boss needed to go to a jobsite in Gulfport, Mississippi this morning. We took off at nine a.m., and got there at ten. Since the helicopter could stay on location but not the pilot (unless I wanted to stay in the ship - which I did not), I was assigned a pickup truck and given directions to a company-owned gulfront condo in a new high-rise that has been built post-Katrina. (Believe it or not, two years after that devastating hurricane, much of the Mississippi gulf coast is still flat and devoid of *any* structures. It's really rather bizarre, as if people are afraid to rebuild.)

The Boss says that we'll be leaving around four in the afternoon. He also mentions that the remodeled and reopened
Beau Rivage casino is just up the road from the condo, and suggests I go there for lunch - on the company, of course - since they have a "pretty good" buffet. In my head I'm thinking, "Hmm, Burger King/KFC/fast food or a sumptuous lunch at the Beau Rivage? Ah, decisions, decisions..." Even a simpleton such as I could figure that one out.

The Beau Rivage is Mississippi's version of Las Vegas at its worst. It is ostentatiously ornate and frilly. To call it tacky and gaudy would be a horrible understatement. "The Beau" takes tackiness and gaudiness to a whole 'nother level. It must be what casino designers think we Americans perceive as "high class." To me, it looks like a Hollywood set: Faux luxury. A false-front, like the fake town in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles" movie. But hey- there is never a shortage of customers at such places, so who am I to criticize? It works, I guess. Sadly.

I wish I had brought my camera. Seriously. What an oversight. There are male staffers running around, dressed stylishly in maroon blazers and t-shirts. Very Miami-Vice (or Ed Norton, if you're from that generation). Only one problem: Such a look would "work" on a slim, twenty-something male. But the only guys I saw wearing that uniform were majorly overweight and about my age. They looked awful. Man, I was laughing. Hooo, I wish I'd brought the camera! Next time, I promise you.

But oh Lordy, the buffet is astounding. (Right-click on the link and select "Open In New Window" for a picture of just one little section of the buffet area.) It is unreal. Their motto is "All-you-can-eat, taken to a higher level." What?! What higher level is there than "all you can eat?" Talk about gluttony!

The price may seem steep at $12.83 but let me tell you, it is worth every penny. You pick up a huge, square plate and fill it with as much as you dare, as many times as you like. If you can imagine it, the Beau Rivage serves it.

I sampled as much as I could - tiny portions of: barbecue sausage, alligator etouffe, seafood gumbo, broiled tilapia, broiled chicken, roasted potatoes and some green bean vegetable thing. I (somehow) bypassed the steaks and turkeys and hams and pizzas and...the mind reels. I was getting dizzy looking at all that food. It was awesome. The dessert array was unbelievable. If you haven't been to one of these places, the sheer size of it is simply incredible. It's almost shameful in its excess.

As for the food itself...now, let's be honest, it was a buffet, not a gourmet restaurant. Still, the food was actually pretty good - at least as good as some "regular" restaurants at which I've eaten. But remember, I am not a food critic, I just love to eat. I have to say though, that the etouffe and gumbo were really good - spicy like I used to get offshore from the real Cajun cooks. Seriously, the gumbo would've passed muster with the roustabouts on a drilling rig. My forehead was sweating and I was sniffling like crazy. And I hadn't seasoned the food at all. Not bad! (And they serve this stuff to Mr. and Mrs. Middle America?? Wow.) The other dishes were done well too.

It was all washed down with copious quantities of sweet tea. Here in the south, we drink ice tea year-round. They give it to you in a huge tumbler, then keep coming around and refilling it.

Okay, so I overdid it. I got my money's worth. I gorged myself. And yes, I feel terrible and guilty. To make up for it, I had no supper tonight. I may not eat at all tomorrow, either.

Buffets are all about the best and the worst of America. They are a symbol of our affluence and prosperity as a nation. We have so much food in this country that we can afford to waste it. You don't want this crap? We'll throw it out! Mind you, the all-you-can-eat buffet-style restaurant is a uniquely American invention, dating back to...you guessed it...Las Vegas in the mid-1940's. We love them. Many Americans look at that all-you-can-eat thing as a challenge. "Oh yeah? We'll see about that!"

I'm not quite that bad. But I will admit that such an enormous selection of dishes is just too tempting, even for me. I'll tell you one thing though - if I keep eating like I did today we're gonna need a bigger helicopter. And soon!


Anonymous said...

I'm guessing the majorly overweight guys are there by design to encourage the gorging.

I can only imagine what the chefs look like! :)


Guanaja Sharon said...

Oh, Bob, Bob, Bob:
How dare you publish this blog knowing that "little old me" is sitting on an island where the only choices are fish or chicken, chicken or fish with cloeslaw, plantains and rice!
And, deserts are my favorite pasttime - you ought to be ashamed. Didn't your Mother ever tell you about the starving children in Asia?
Hope you don't do this often, cause you were doing so good with keeping "fit and trim". HA

Bob Barbanes said...

kman, I should have made it more clear, the guys in the t-shirts and blazers were greeters or CSRs of some sort working the hotel/casino not the restaurant. They looked really, really silly.

And Sharon I am sorry. In America we loves us some buffet! The more the better. And in the case of the Beau Rivage I felt like I was at some Roman orgy. Without the sex. Shameful excess, thy name is Beau Rivage!

I do remember the limited choices in Guanaja and how simple that made things for the most part. But heh- I didn't eat at Graham's simply because it was so close; he has the most extensive menu (with real steaks!) down there. And Reggie's desserts were pretty decent too (if not-quite-chocolate-y enough for me).

We make that trip to Gulfport at least once a week. Now my struggle will be to keep from going back to the "Beau." We'll see...

Anonymous said...

I hear ya, Bob. Workin' a
"Miami Vice" look onto blubber is just SILLY! :)

And to think my associate and I spent $14 between us today for a mixed salad and a tuna sandwich on a dry hero while for $12.83 you got to glom on sausage, gator, gumbo, tilapia, chicken, etc., etc. + dessert! How long before everyone at Beau Rivage knows you by first name?


zooms said...

someone has to do this, why not you? Just please keep posting the experience so that we can imagine.
feeling a bit nibblish,