What is the best thing to happen to a local grandmother who has two grandchildren in Florida? To have them move to California.
That recently happened. Not
both, though, as Kyle, the sixteen-year-old, is still in high school.
But Amanda, beautiful, willowy Amanda, who turned twenty-one in May,
recently arrived to go to college. For now she’s staying with her dad,
my son, and his wonderful new family. Now I have my new grandson, Sean,
eleven, and Amanda. If it were possible for me, a short, matronly
grandmother to do handsprings, I’d be springing down the street.
I love to catch up on all the
latest news over food, which is why I’m so well-padded. Not sure of
Amanda’s preferences, I suggested a buffet, and the place with the
largest selection is a casino. After checking online, San Manuel looked
like the best lunch bargain at $9.95. Armed with my camera and wearing
elastic-waist slacks, off we went.
Taking I-10 W to CA-30W, we
exited on Highland Avenue and turned right. Then left on Victoria to
the casino. Since it was a hot, sunny day, I decided to splurge and go
for valet service, well-worth the $3.00 to pull up to shaded front
doors and have someone else worry about parking.
Once inside, we admired the
amber ceiling fixtures then strolled by the jingling slot machines to
the Serrano Buffet. I paid the cashier, and Amanda and I entered a food
lover’s paradise. Muted amber and yellow lighting combined with shiny
earth-toned tiles created a warm and cozy atmosphere. Tables and booths
stood on each side of the dessert island directly ahead, and a variety
of pies, cakes, and cookies let us know we were in for a treat. Some of
our choices included carrot cake, lemon meringue pie, fruit pies,
cobblers, cookies, and macaroons. They even offered a variety of
sugar-free selections. But the crème de la crème was the tray of
On the far end of the island
soups and salads sat beside fresh fruit. Rolls and muffins accompanied
the two soups of the day. Just the soups, salads, and deserts would
have been worth the trip, but knowing more delights awaited us, we
headed for the food line in back.
Stretching from wall to wall,
the buffet held steaming arrays of Asian, American, Italian, and
Mexican dishes. Plates in hand, Amanda and I strolled from one end to
the other, trying to decide what to sample. From the Italian section,
we had our choice of four pizzas, including Shrimp Alfredo. If that
wasn’t to our taste, we could select tortellini with roasted red
peppers in cream sauce or another pasta dish with garlic bread. From
the Asian section, there was sesame chicken salad, vegetable egg rolls,
orange chicken and Goo Moo Gai Pan. They even had sushi.
As much as I enjoyed
sampling some of the dishes, I went straight for the carving bar and
the BBQ ribs, spicy and delicious with little fat. Also offered was a
top round roast, ham, fried chicken, roast chicken, beef stew, fish,
and vegetables. They even had meatloaf in gravy.
Since the casino requires a
forty-eight-hour notice to snap photos, Amanda and enjoyed our lunch
that day, catching up on her plans for work and school, and I made
arrangements to return two days later. Oh, the sacrifices I make for my
work . . .
Two days later, Gwen Kleist,
Public Relations Specialist, escorted me to the buffet. We were greeted
by Garrett McKeeman, the Food & Beverage Executive Chef, who was
gracious enough to answer questions about the food and its preparation.
I complimented him on the BBQ ribs, and he explained that they’re
smoked on the premise and prepared Memphis-style with a dry rub. I also
loved the fried chicken, which was tender and crisp without a heavy
breading. He said they use a flour base and fresh chickens. All their
soups are homemade and their pizza dough is handformed. Eighty-percent
of their food, he said, is made from scratch.
And the desserts. The carrot
cake was moist and not overly sweet, and even with the multitude of
choices, I loved the cookies with a chocolate drop in the center. I'd
wanted to try them because the dough had that look of freshness, as if
they’d just come from the oven. And I was right—they were flakey and
light. Chocolate Thumb Prints, Chef McKeeman called them. I called them
Left to Right:
Anthony Olivas--Pastry Chef,
Garrett McKeeman, CEC--Food & Beverage Executive Chef, Joe
Craighead--Food & Beverage Sous Chef.
I’ll return soon. With
hamburgers and sandwiches running around five dollars and extra for
drinks, the buffet is a delicious bargain.