Mayfield Dinner Theatre buffet

Double Tree by Hilton West Edmonton

16615 109 Ave.

780.483.4051

www.mayfieldtheatre.ca/tickets/

Graham Hicks

780 707 6379

Graham.hicks@hicksbiz.com

www.hicksbiz.com

@hicksonsix

Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns

Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns

Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns

Dinner and show per person, $70 to $100

Doors at 6 p.m. show at 8 p.m., Wednesday and Sunday brunch

It’s tricky to review the buffet at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre in the Doubletree by Hilton West Edmonton (formerly the Mayfield Inn), given the $70 to $100 price currently includes a spectacular production of Hairspray — The Broadway Musical.

But there’s no question: With the top-to-bottom renovation of the former Mayfield Inn, the new kitchen management has revamped, revitalized and seriously upgraded the long-standing dinner theatre buffet.

A little context is in order, especially given all the moving parts.

The hotel side of the west-end Mayfield Inn shut its doors in late 2012, for a year-long, top-to-bottom $40 million renovation, emerging as the Doubletree by Hilton in February.

The Mayfield Dinner Theatre, however, stayed open during the entire construction period, its cosmetic renovations having been done at an earlier date.

When new executive chef Willie White and his team took over, White quickly turned his attention to the Mayfield Dinner Theatre buffet, which, to be honest, had been neglected for years.

Buffet quality is as dependent on the handling of cooked food as it is in the food itself. Quality can always vary between eight entrees on offer, not to mention the salad bar, cold seafood, cheese and dessert stations.

The “new” Mayfield Dinner buffet, in keeping with the new hotel’s very high food standards, appears to have had as much thought put into food management as selection.

The actual quantity on each serving tray at the buffet stations is smaller than in the past, with more frequent turn-over from the kitchen to ensure the food sits for a minimal length of time.

The stations themselves are smaller and better positioned, allowing optimal flow of diners, plus their repeated returns for different courses.

Buffets can be the discerning diner’s worst enemy. There’s so much available, and at least a third — in this case — is interesting food fare.

But restrained eating at a buffet is an oxymoron. Show me a buffet diner who doesn’t pile his or her plate to the nines, and I’ll show you a fit, disciplined individual who hasn’t gained a pound since high school.

I immediately broke my own rule at the cold seafood station. My appetizer plate magically filled itself with six selections — the thin-sliced, home-cured salmon gravlax, chile-dressed scallops in couscous, seafood penne, shrimp, Thai-marinated mussels and teriyaki-marinated squid. It all looked so good!

The salmon and mussels were tasty (for a buffet), the marinated squid excellent, the pea-sized scallops few and far between in a sea of couscous.

Semi-full already, back to the buffet this reviewer marched, determined to try just one main course, an intriguing and unusual wahoo fish offering. The wahoo’s firm, meaty flesh is not unlike swordfish but with more taste and delicacy. Plus it was cooked in a tangy green curry, orange and tarragon sauce.

I should have stayed with the wahoo — a dish that, in an a la carte restaurant, would cost $25 to $30.

But tasting greed took over. It was a buffet after all and the prime rib looked so juicy, rich and rare. It turned out to be a good but not great cut of meat, with a disappointing gluey gravy.

Time to waddle to the dessert table. The last thing I needed was more food, but the mango panna cotta and the banana/butter bread pudding were waving their arms and saying ‘eat me’!!

Hats off to Chef White and his crew for a much-improved Mayfield Dinner Theatre dining experience. Burp!

The Mayfield’s production of Hairspray is about as much fun as such a show can possibly be — read my review at www.hicksbiz.com.

For such a show, and such a buffet — the Mayfield dinner theatre’s $70 to $100 ticket represents true value.