Stuff we like: Black Bear’s seafood buffet is a king’s catchMy coworker, Christa Lawler, is always trying to hit me up to write a “Stuff We Like” column for the News Tribune.
By: Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune
My coworker, Christa Lawler, is always trying to hit me up to write a “Stuff We Like” column for the News Tribune.
“Different perspective,” she says.
Normally a sports reporter, I occasionally like to moonlight in the culinary world. A meal on the company? Who wouldn’t?
“No burgers,” Lawler added. “We just had that.”
“Doh!” There go three-quarters of my options.
I got to thinking … Where in the Northland could I eat like a king for under 20 bucks?
Well, I immediately thought buffet, for a king should eat in the tradition of King Henry VIII — you know, the big, bearded English dude one can picture holding a turkey drumstick. And a meal fit for a king should have a variety of the finest foods, namely quality beef and seafood, not bland staple goods like rice and beans.
I immediately thought of the seafood buffet at Black Bear Casino Resort.
I had heard about it. Now I was about to discover it.
While there were countless selections to choose from, I had one thing on my mind: crab legs.
I’ve longed for the days of all-you-can-eat crab legs, specials that have gone the way of the dinosaurs. I have fond memories of sitting with my buddies in Brownsville, Texas, sipping on Coronas, listening to Jimmy Buffet and gorging ourselves silly on crab legs. For those who like them, crab legs aren’t food. They’re a way of life.
I call crab the poor man’s lobster, but even at the grocery store, you’re lucky to find them for $7 a pound, and when you do, they’re often more like crab fingers than crab legs. Cracking those small shells is just more work than many folks are willing to invest.
And for those of you who have girlfriends who go into shock at the smell of seafood, you better warn them, because cook those puppies up and your kitchen will smell like Joe’s Crab Shack for days.
I have a solution: the seafood buffet at Black Bear.
I sat down and could see crab staring at me from across the room: Two mountains of the monsters, accompanied by enough drawn butter to grease a pig. I walked past tables of poor people enjoying salads and bread rolls, scoffing at those who would dare eat such things when heaven was so close at hand.
I loaded up my plate and returned to my table. I dug in. Each bite brought me back to Brownsville, minus the Coronas. (This was, after all, a work assignment. But they do have it available).
The snow crab legs weren’t just big, they were borderline king, and cooked better than my last trip to Red Lobster. The $16.99 asking price might rattle some folks, but if you like seafood, as I do, it’s a steal.
Tin buckets were laid out on each table awaiting the impending madness. I filled it to the rim with crab shells before moving on to other selections.
I went from Jon Nowacki to John Candy in 45 minutes. My “Stuffed We Like” was complete.
“Do you ever have to kick anyone out of here?” I asked my server, Lawrence.
“No, not yet,” he said, laughing. “Need a wheelchair, huh?”
I tapped out at six giant crab clusters, at least 10 shrimp, a crab-stuffed walleye fillet and three glasses of chocolate milk.
Truly a meal fit for a king.
Black Bear seafood buffet
Where: Black Bear Casino Resort, 1785 Highway 210, Carlton
When: 3-10 p.m. Thursdays
Price: $16.99 for adults, $10.99 for children
Items: Heaping piles of crab legs are the big draw, but the buffet includes shrimp, walleye, salmon and scallop selections, as well as prime rib and other meat and vegetable dishes for those who don’t like seafood.
Contact: (218) 878-BEAR or go to www.blackbearcasinoresort.com