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Experiencing excellence: Meadows Restaurant Friday night seafood buffet

Mystery Diner • Jul 2, 2019 at 7:00 AM

The work our friend the Dieter does requires her to be a good listener.

There isn’t much she hasn’t heard and remembered in great detail. Her most recent use of this skill involved learning about steamed crab legs at the Meadows Restaurant Friday Night Seafood Buffet. The thought of a big pile of steamed crab legs piqued the Carnivore’s interest.

The Dieter also mentioned shrimp prepared several different ways, which got my dining partner’s attention, and me getting nudged toward the phone to make reservations for the four of us.

Meadowview Conference Resort & Convention Center is one of the most attractive of the Marriott Hotels, and The Meadows Restaurant is one of the best dining venues in the Tri-Cities. Décor is refined, simple and very tastefully done. The wait staff provide a table service that is prompt yet restrained and thoroughly professional.

Our server, Bruce, was very kind and patient with the four of us. The Friday Night Seafood Buffet is located in the restaurant, to the right of the main dining area. Restrooms are found across from the reservations desk out front.

Selections from the seafood buffet: Our waiter brought our drink orders along with a galvanized bucket, the latter being for our dining’s detritus. Next, the Carnivore and my dining partner reported back on their quick reconnaissance of what was where at this particular Friday Night Seafood Buffet.

Around the perimeter of the alcove were the first, second and final courses. The salad course’s fresh field greens had additional prepared vegetables and crudités with a number of fresh-made salad dressings.

Next was broccoli salad followed by pasta salad, and a big serving bowl of cold peel-and-eat shrimp. The dessert selection was between the salad bar and the hot seafood preparation station, the latter devoted to the creation of steamed snow crab legs as well as broiled and steamed shrimp. In the center of the alcove there is the hot dish buffet. Here you’ll find additional hot entrees, side dishes, the always-welcome cheddar biscuits and The Meadows’ bread pudding. As a good omen for our meal, my dining partner arrived at the popcorn shrimp station just as the staff were refilling its chafing dish, and got some for the rest of us to munch on.

Poached salmon in vodka tomato sauce: My choice was poached salmon in a creamy tomato sauce laced with vodka. Now, I’ve never been a fan of the bottled vodka tomato sauce you find at your local supermarket. The Meadows Restaurant’s version is vodka tomato sauce prepared the right way, and their pairing it with medallions of salmon poached with fresh mushrooms is perfection in every forkful. For my side orders, there was a spoonful of orange coconut rice, some of the red bliss potatoes mashed with seasoned sour cream, and some broccoli salad that had replaced the normal bacon bits with a nicely grated and sharp cheddar cheese.

Curry mahi-mahi: The Dieter returned to our table with a serving of the curry mahi-mahi that is baked in a curry redolent of an aromatic curry mixture. The mahi-mahi, or dorado fish, has a nicely firm, white, non-fishy-tasting flesh that works well as a foundation for the mélange of spice notes that the curry provides.

Not at the orchestra level, you understand, the Meadows’ curry is more of a quintet; smooth, gentle but with a lingering spicy aroma that dances across your palate and your nose. For sides, the Dieter chose the pasta salad (good) a vegetable medley (OK, but not remarkable) and some creamed corn with cheese in it that was surprisingly good.

Variations on a shrimp theme: My dining partner loves to eat shrimp, no matter how they are cooked. She was delighted with the several different offerings of shrimp available on the Friday Night Seafood Buffet, and came back with two platefuls of the critters. One plate held spiced peel-and-eat shrimp in the 15-count size (about as big as your little finger) as well as some cold, boiled non-spiced shrimp.

The other plate held more of the deliciously crunchy popcorn shrimp and two shrimp broiled in a balsamic reduction and a dash of hot sauce. Her green salad served as a palate cleanser and a break between her return trips to the Buffet’s shrimp festival.

Steamed snow crab: The Meadows’ snow crab legs are the main event for its Friday Night Seafood Buffet. The crab legs are steamed rather than boiled, retaining the crab’s flavor and attractive color. You choose your own crab leg supper in half-portions off the steam table; there is drawn butter available should you require it.

The Carnivore’s assault on species Chionoecetes opilio, otherwise known as snow crab, was not initially victorious. On his first trip to the Buffet, our friend came back with just a few individual crab legs on his plate. He explained that he got stuck behind a gathering of what looked like the Western Pacific Chapter of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, who as a group had raided the steamed crab legs and cleaned them out.

Ever patient, the Carnivore dug right in and began to fill our table’s bucket with emptied crab shells. His next trip was more rewarding, and he settled back with two snow crab halves that he proceeded to demolish with evident gusto. In all, our friend made four trips to replenish his “no side orders, please” plate, which should get him “Deckhand” status on the “Deadliest Catch” TV show.

And for dessert … When asked by the Dieter if he wanted any dessert, the Carnivore snickered and cracked another crab leg. For the rest of us, my dining partner created a tasting menu of the different desserts offered at the Friday Night Seafood Buffet.

In order of finish, we enjoyed Key Lime Pie, Boston cream pie, double chocolate fudge cake, dark chocolate cheesecake, and the Meadows’ bread pudding. The only sour note was a poppy seed lemon cake that was way too dry. Other than that, the dessert selection was a big hit with the rest of the dine-around bunch.

Heading out the door: If one word describes the Friday Night Seafood Buffet at the Meadows Restaurant, that word is “Excellence.” The Seafood Buffet as a whole was attractively presented, efficiently served, and totally delicious. Star performers were the Curry Mahi Mahi, salmon with vodka tomato sauce, peel-and eat spiced shrimp, broccoli salad, popcorn shrimp and, of course, the steamed snow crab legs. All desserts were also good for the most part.

And yes, the dine-around bunch will be returning very soon. One thing more: Reservations are a must for the Friday Night Seafood Buffet, so be smart and give them a call first. Otherwise, you may have a long wait.

The Meadows Restaurant

Meadowview Conference Resort and Convention Center

1901 Meadowview Parkway

Kingsport, Tennessee

578-6632

Mon-Fri 6:30 a.m.–3 p.m. 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

Sat-Sun 7 a.m.–3 p.m. 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

Available on Facebook

Reservations recommended

Credit cards accepted

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