I am an unusual customer of Rivers Casino. My lifetime slot machine casino deposits total $10, the "investment" I made at an Atlantic City casino in 1982. I visit Rivers Casino often, but have never put a cent in one of its machines. What causes me to travel to the North Shore from the suburbs and to walk through the smoke-filled gambling floor, past the unhappy-looking walker and cane set that is playing the slot machines? It is the marvelous food that is offered at (smoke-free) Grand View Buffet on the second floor.
Monday through Saturday lunch is $13.95, dinner most days is $19.95, both prices including bottomless non-alcoholic beverage. There is a Saturday anSunday champagne brunch offered at $19.95 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. A 5 percent discount on all meals is provided to those that possess Players Club cards which are available at no charge.
First, the downsides: I assume that the casino does not trust its diners to pay a check when they exit the restaurant, thus payment is taken upon entry. This poor and customer-unfriendly set-up can cause there to be huge line of people waiting to get in. I have waited in line 30 minutes in the past, something which I do not relish and try to avoid. There are times that the buffet is calm and quiet, other times that it is crazed. One of the instances in which it was uncomfortably packed and loud was during my visit of Dec. 14, during which many were obviously there as guests in large holiday parties.
One should be prepared to do some walking when visiting this restaurant. The entrances to the building are a good distance from it.
Grand View Buffet does not lend itself to enabling the guest to request a particular server.
The lunch buffet is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. The best time to visit in order to avoid large crowds and to have a good shot at a desirable window table overlooking the river is near the opening hour of 11 a.m. or late, close to 2 p.m. A meal can be enjoyed in peace, quiet, and comfort at times that are not busy as the buffet tables have a large amount of space around them. It is rare that one must wait in line for anything at any of the many large stations.
The meal begins with what I regard as the finest and most extensive salad bar in the region, providing loads of fresh, delicious and even healthful choices plus unique items. All of the standard items are there: iceberg lettuce and other greens, mushrooms, chopped egg, onion, olives, carrots, cauliflower, radishes, cole slaw, macaroni salad, a fine array of salad dressings, and many, many more. There are unusual items offered on occasion such as Mediterranean salad, squash salad and asparagus salad. Alongside the salad bar is a soup station with more than one choice.
The main courses and side dishes are available at numerous stations: Italian, Mongolian, Asian and American. There are sandwiches, entrees including beef, chicken, pork, and seafood, and fresh fruits and vegetables: numerous choices for every taste, including lots of vegan/vegetarian items. Some of the other items typically offered are numerous pastas, calzone, pizzas, lo mein noodles, egg rolls, fried rice, sushi, sandwiches, including the delicious (corned beef-based) Rachel. I dine at numerous Asian restaurants owned by members of this nationality, and would not expect Asian fare to be top-notch at a casino, but at Grand View Buffet, it is! The restaurant has offered a tofu dish on occasion and an Indian dish (both of which I greatly enjoyed). It is entirely possible to dine well at Grand View Buffet without ingesting large quantities of fat, salt, sugars and calories if one chooses that route, but the temptation to "go off the wagon" may be great.
Desserts are easy to sample. The array is large and the items are cut into small portions which enable the guest to enjoy a number of items. There are multiple flavors of homemade gelato, all of which are delicious. Bread pudding is always available; it is served warm and is mouth-watering.
A casino restaurant has a captive audience of gamblers. It would not have to be as good as Grand View Buffet is. I believe its secret is that it offers so many delicious items that one is not likely to prepare for themslves at home. I have dined at Hollywood Casino in Grantville (just north of Harrisburg), Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes-Barre and Sands Casino in Bethlehem. None of them rivals Grand View Buffet for quality and quantity!