Royal Fork Buffet
By Paula E. Kirman
It's Saturday afternoon, and I have a monthly organizational meeting. We always head to Royal Fork Buffet - its west end location is close and convenient for most of us, but more importantly, we need a place with tables that can accommodate a large group that needs to sit and meet for an extended period of time.
Looking around, it seems that others have the same idea, although not necessarily because they are in business meetings. The relaxed family atmosphere makes conversation natural and, of course, a buffet-style restaurant is a place meant to linger.
Very large parties can book a separate room - I have often seen children's birthday parties going on there. Otherwise, even the basic tables are quite large, and several of them can be moved together for bigger groups. Bus boys and girls come around on a regular basis to collect used plates, as one must use a clean plate upon returning to the buffet. And there is no lack of clean plates and cutlery.
There is also no lack of food. The first section of the buffet is an array of salads: coleslaw, chunky potato salad, tossed salad, carrots and a variety of other raw vegetables, and fresh spinach. Trimming such as salad dressings (including a couple of law-fat varieties), bacon bits, and croutons.
A few soups and soft, yeasty buns is the dividing point between the salads and hot main courses. The main staple is the fried chicken. Not too greasy and not too spicy, the chicken is almost moist and fresh. For those interested in something lighter, the Alaskan Pollack is poached in a lemon sauce. Sides include baked beans, rice, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, and stuffing.
Other entrees are lasagna and a build-your-own taco station with taco shells, ground beef, and all of the necessary ingredients for a messy feast. Speaking of messy, being as it was Saturday afternoon, one of the weekly specials was barbeque ribs, which I passed on for dietary reasons, but seemed to be a hit with many of the other patrons.
My personal favourite treat is the waffle makers, which are available until 3:00 pm. The batter is ready-made and portioned in paper cups. It only takes two minutes to make, and after you retrieve your hot Belgian waffle from the iron, you can add fruit, syrup, and icing.
Desserts and beverages are included in the price, which varies depending on the time of day - dinner is more expensive than lunch by a couple of dollars, and weekends are slightly more as well. Children eat cheaper. Beverages are the basic soft drinks and coffee or tea, while there is quite an extensive array of desserts: soft ice cream with toppings, warm cobblers and turnovers, squares and cakes of various kinds.
I have never had dinner at Royal Fork, but my understanding is that a few larger main items, such as carved meats, are added to the buffet, thus justifying the higher price. On Friday evenings there is a Seafood Spectacular, with shrimp, baked fish, and chowder. Tuesdays is a weekly pricing special for children, and the dessert area has banana splits.
It is always busy no matter what time of day, and a little on the noisy side. However, this is the kind of place where you go for the food, not the experience. And as far as food goes, there is good value for the dollar.
<b>Royal Fork Buffet</b>
15061 Stony Plain Rd.
Phone: (780) 484-7025