When enough isn’t enough

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This is the last weekend to see the amazing Charlotte’s Web by Asheville Creative Arts at the Magnetic Theater in the River Arts District. We saw it last Friday and are going back to see it again on Sunday afternoon—it’s that good! Get your tickets in advance or pay at the door.

Made from Gourds!

What is it about an “All-You-Can-Eat Buffet” that brings out the worst in people? Wednesday night my dear friends Sheila and Helen took me out for dinner at the Rendezvous Restaurant in Haw Creek, and even though it isn’t a buffet, I still made a pig of myself. The restaurant opened recently in an old church in Haw Creek as a sister to Bouchon in downtown Asheville. If you turn into Haw Creek at the entrance close to 240, you turn left and the restaurant is about half a mile on the right. 

Antique Besarabian Rug

The first mistake I made was to trust my instincts and turn right onto Old Haw Creek Rd. I took a scenic tour of Haw Creek, which looked beautiful, by the way, and I arrived late to meet my friends. Luckily parking is plentiful, and while the dining room is noisy, the place is lovely. Next time I’d like to sit outside, though, because of the noise.

I love mussels, and mid-week the restaurant features All-You-Can Eat Moules et Frites, my favorite. They offer the mussels in several different broths you can choose from. I chose the Mediterranean, and it was delicious. 

Gourd Art by Marsha Reeves

Normally I can’t finish a brimming bowl of anything, but something made me finish all the mussels in no time at all, and Helen remarked, “Wow, Stephanie! Look at you go!” I realized that she had just made a small dent in her order while my bowl was empty. I searched the dining room for our waiter and motioned him over.

“More mussels, Please!” I ordered. To be polite, Helen joined me on a second big order, even though she was still trying to finish her first. We were both disappointed that the All-You-Can-Eat didn’t extend to the crispy French fries, and we would have to make do with just one big cone full of fries each. I had already inhaled all my fries, which I washed down with a glass of cold cider. 

The second order of mussels arrived from the kitchen, and I dug in like I hadn’t eaten in days. This batch disappeared even more quickly than the first. I got up to wash my hands in the rest room, and felt off balance. The whole center of my body had tripled in size and I staggered to the bathroom, feeling sick all of a sudden. The image of mussels swimming around in my gut seemed to my addled brain less like shellfish and more like ABC (Already Been Chewed) gum. Mussels taste good, but they are not very pretty. Had I just had a nice meal or was I competing for the Nathan’s hotdog eating contest? The idea of mussels is much less appealing to me now than it was just a few days ago.

More Gourd Art

As I drove home hoping I wouldn’t be sick, I thought about other All-You-Can-Eat buffets I have   been to, and how I have consistently made myself a pig every time. It’s like a switch goes off in my brain and I feel like a fool if I don’t “get my money’s worth,” even if I regret it immediately afterward. I remember one buffet we stopped at somewhere in Kentucky as we returned from Indiana. There was fresh fried chicken on the buffet, and I ate more than an entire chicken topped off with mac and cheese and soft-serve ice cream. The rest of the drive home was not pleasant.

Table with painted surface

We used to frequent an Asian buffet on Hendersonville Road where I always filled my plate three or four times. The last time we went there, some children were running wild in the restaurant, and when I went up to refill my plate I watched them put their hands into the serving platters to pick out the shrimp. I replaced the empty plate and we left. I felt sicker than ever. We stopped eating at buffet restaurants after that experience.

I’m not the only one who overdoes it at one of these deals. Ron and his son Nick once ate fifty seven King Crab legs at a Michigan buffet before the waiter told them that they were cut off. Another time Ron and some of his military buddies ate so much at a Detroit buffet that the owner asked them to leave and changed the sign from “All you can eat” to “Eat one big plate of food. Maybe even two, but that’s it.”

And it’s not just the buffets. There are those places where you get your picture on the wall if you can finish a giant amount of food in one sitting. I have never succeeded, but there is a burger place in Carmel, Indiana, where Nick Davis’s photo is on the wall for finishing a burger the size of a large pizza. 

Maybe we just can’t resist a challenge.