I went down to the States for a shopping trip yesterday, and decided to visit one of Seattle's most famous brunch/seafood buffets despite the steep price of $44.95/person. Salty's is located on Alki Beach with a beautiful waterfront view of downtown Seattle. Their brunch buffet is only available on the weekend. Check out the menu here. I'm glad I made a reservation because the place was packed full and there were people waiting at the front. I quickly scanned the buffet area as I was passing by and it looked very promising on first glance. Right in the centre was a parade of hot entrees, most of which were typical brunch fare such as egg benedicts, bacon, English muffins, hash brown and the like. I didn't try any of them because I felt like stuffing myself with potatoes and bread would be a waste of the price I paid, especially with raw oysters and crab legs calling to me from their tables.
Service was great from the moment we stepped in. As soon as we were seated, we were each given a small bag of warm freshly made mini donuts dusted with cinnamon sugar. I should've saved them for later, but I couldn't help but try one since they smelled so good! Mmmm... It was like biting into a fluffy cloud of happiness.
I started with seafood on my first round. I went straight for the oysters and took quite a few Hood Canal oysters (left). I thought the black plastic cups (right) with lemon wedges were just condiments, but they turned out to be big fat juicy oysters marinated in house-made cocktail sauce. I ended up gorging on them instead of the shucked ones that were small and grainy with sand.
The shrimp and crab were fresh enough, but they didn't have that charming taste of the sea. While they were decent, I wasn't tempted to go back for seconds. The texture of the shrimp was not crunchy, but it was not quite mushy either. It was somewhere in between which didn't taste very appealing to me. The crab was a bit better, but lacked the typical sweet and delicate flavour of crab meat.
The steamed mussels and clams were surprisingly good. I didn't expect them to be so juicy and well-flavoured. They were savoury from the sauce with just a hint of sweetness.
The smoked salmon lox was very different from the kind I'm used to. It was sweeter and almost seemed glazed. The flavour was very mild and not very smoky. The salmon pate, on the other hand, was nice and savoury. There were a variety of cheeses and crackers, as well as salami cubes. I tried a bit of each, but I enjoyed the visual display more than the actual taste.
What struck me most was the presentation of the food. Who would have thought that grilled vegetables could look so good?
There were a number of chef-serviced stations including the prime rib station right here. I didn't try this because I was told the meat was somewhat tough and not very tender.
The crepe station featuring both sweet and savoury crepes also offered Belgian waffles and French toast. I tried the waffle but found the taste too buttery for my liking. I didn't get to try the crepe this time, but I will definitely try it next time. (Too much good food and too little stomach space!)
The chef at the omelet station made fresh-to-order omelets with your choice of toppings. I didn't get to try this, but I must say the metal chickens seemed a bit strange/creepy to me.
The pasta station offered a variety of different pasta including ravioli, tortellini and penne. I tried the crab-stuffed ravioli and it was very rich and satisfying with pesto sauce. It was also extremely filling. It's never a good idea to eat pasta at a buffet, but I just had to try it.
There was a self-serve Bloody Mary bar with drink dispensers and celery stalks for garnishing. It costs an extra $10.99/person to get access to the bar. It's not worth it in my opinion unless you drink at least 3 glasses and if you did, you probably wouldn't be able to eat much food. It's better to just ask for juice which is included in the buffet.
The most impressive part of the buffet for me was the dessert. There were 2 flowing fondue fountains: one of chocolate and one of caramel. The chocolate was very good quality and actually turned solid after letting it settle. I doused a skewer of strawberries in it and by the time I got back to my table, I had chocolate-covered strawberries like the ones Godiva sells for $5 apiece. The caramel had a thinner consistency and stayed liquid, but it was lighter and more subtle in flavour. I loved how the strawberries and pineapple were so fresh and sweet. The rest of the goodies such as rice krispies squares, cinnamon rolls and macaroons were also very appealing, but my personal favourite was the Twinkies. I never knew that cream-filled sponge cake would go so well with chocolate.
The dessert selection was much larger than I had expected. Apart from the fondue fountains, there were 2 long tables of scrumptious sweets including cupcakes of every flavour (even gingerbread!), various cakes, tarts and other pastries.
And while chomping down on all this, we enjoyed a beautiful waterfront view of Elliot Bay and downtown Seattle. Almost every table had a good view because the restaurant was organized in tiers.
The only bad thing about this meal was the price and not being able to try everything because there was so much variety and not enough room for it all.