Royal Fork

*Royal Fork is now closed*

Ah yes, the Royal Fork. You and I go back a long ways don't we? Way back in those elementary years, I would remember my parents taking me across the Peach Arch border crossing into Bellingham for some buffet action. You see, the good ol' American all-u-can-eat never really caught on in the GVRD. Sure, there was the Copper Kettle and Uncle Willy's; but that fad didn't last too long. Only one Uncle Willy's left! So we'd tack on a visit to the Royal Fork with shopping at K-Mart (yah, really, that long ago!) and the sort. Yup, that was pre-Bellis Fair and outlet shopping! Talking about ol' skool! I remember loading up on mashed potatoes, corn and fried chicken. Then upon returning to the table, get a lashing for picking up such stupid fillers... You see, the "Chinese" etiquette for dining at a buffet was ingrained into me at an early age. Well, the Royal Fork in Bellingham is long gone. Besides, Old Country is bigger and better (loose definition of "better"). So today, as we were in Burlington already, a quick jaunt over to the adjacent Mt. Vernon led us to... Royal Fork.

With both kids in tow, it is almost deja vu as I am now taking them to Royal Fork. Unfortunately, there is no way I can ingrain any "Chinese" buffet etiquette into my son since he will not eat anything. Yah, mac 'n cheese all the way. Wait, throw in some croutons and tater tots as well. Oh the shame... Price-wise, it is $10.99 for dinner and 80 cents per year for the kiddies. That doesn't include beverages. From the price alone, I'd hit up Old Country instead. Or better yet, drive 20 minutes south and dine in much more style at the Tulalip Casino buffet. However, that is not the point of this visit. The reason is pure nostalgia and the fact that the kiddies could be kiddies without anyone caring.

After we grabbed a seat, I took a look at the offerings. At the first hot food station, there was mac 'n cheese, corn, carrots, green beans, mixed veggies and tater tots. The green beans were so mushy, I've had better from a can. I've heard of candied yams before; but candied carrots? The boiling liquid had so much sugar in it, the carrots were sweeter than eating Starbursts. The mixed veggies were so pale that it would make Nicole Kidman jealous. Over at the adjacent hot food station were cinnamon buns, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fries, fried fish, sole and gravy. I gotta admit, the fried chicken was pretty good. Still tender and juicy with a nice crispy coating. I swear the mash potatoes had some weird aftertaste. You know, like the one you get from instant butter flavoured potatoes? I only hope this wasn't the case. Viv dared to have the fish and honestly, no buffet can do fish correctly anyways.

The last hot food station consisted of shrimp bow tie pasta, fried shrimp, fried oysters, Spanish rice, roast beef and ham. Surprisingly, the oysters were pretty good, as with the shrimp. The bow tie pasta was okay; but the shrimp were overcooked. Roast beef was tender; but the ham was saltier than a Bukkake Soba (sorry, I just had to slip that in there). As for the salads, they did the job; however, some items didn't look all that fresh, especially the fruit. The honeydew looked to have suffered refrigeration damage of some sort. Surprisingly, the dessert station was quite diverse. That doesn't mean it was necessarily good; but at least there was choice. Fresh waffles, build-your-own strawberry shortcake, peach cobbler, apple crisp, chocolate cake, pistachio cake, cheesecake, sugar-free pudding and soft serve made for a good variety. The one thing I could say about the desserts would be "cafeteria-style". You can make what you want with that.

I know buffets are absolutely the last place you'd normally find great food and I get that. However, the Royal Fork is not very good. Plain and simple. Sure, it'll fill you up and it's great for families; but as Viv put it, "I wanted to eat to fill myself up; yet I really didn't feel like eating any of it". Old County is better if you really wanted to do a buffet. As for nostalgia, I think it's best that Royal Fork remain a memory.

The Good:
- If you wanted to stuff your face
- Good for families
- Well, it isn't exactly expensive I suppose

The Bad:
- Makes fast food look attractive
- Some items were very poorly made
- Some things didn't look that fresh

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