Because nothing is as important as family time during the holidays, the Man O' The Hour and I left my parents' house on Christmas afternoon to drive up to the brand-spanking-new-ish Choctaw Casino Resort in pancake-flat Durant, Oklahoma. Like many folks with family ties in Northeast Texas, I am part (small part, very small part, tiny part) Choctaw Indian and thus wanted to get back to my roots. And since most of my roots probably once sought to oppress and eradicate the Choctaw part of my roots, the least I can do is
gamble at the tribal casino donate to them a small portion of my income.
Oh, hell. I think small-stakes gambling is fun and tacky and Choctaw is nicer than Winstar, so that's where we go sometimes for a weekend off. Also, the hotel soap is shaped like buffalo. It's just an hour or so up the road, and the new Choctaw casino, built in February, is at least as nice as a middling downtown Las Vegas joint. That includes its buffet, Butterfield's. We ate brunch there yesterday morning at 11:50 a.m., which I remember because the 10 minutes we had to wait to order Bloody Marys at the bar was a particularly long 10 minutes. For all its charm and convenience, Choctaw does suffer from having to obey Oklahoma's very non-Vegas-style liquor laws.
What you want to do first is get yourself a Choctaw Player's Club card, which is free, and comes with two of the best things in the world: Mardi Gras beads and discounts. Our endless brunch buffet cost us just $7.99 each, down from $14.99 for the uninitiated. We were seated by Juan, who promptly brought us sweet tea and coffee, and got our first courses while waiting for the clock to turn to legal liquor sales o'clock. At Butterfield's, the cuisine offerings include Italian, Asian, Southern and Mexican along with a salad and dessert bar.
I started with a salad and a load of peel'n'eat shrimp, because I was on vacation, dammit.
The salad bar options are limited and very fresh-off-the-Ben E. Keith truck, featuring romaine lettuce and that bright orange shredded cheddar cheese that looks like plastic toy cheese. But I can eat anything if you put enough ranch on it, and that's what I did. Anyway, the shrimp were my main attraction, and they were as fresh as you could hope to get in Oklahoma. I had quite the time tearing their little legs off and dumping them in the spicy Butterfield cocktail sauce with fresh horseradish. As you'll see in upcoming photos, we had peel'n'eat shrimp with every course except dessert. It was extremely delicious.
The Man O' The Hour started with a traditional southern breakfast--sausage, biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs and the highlight of his brunch experience, French toast sticks. With each bite, the MOTH was transported back to his childhood, when he was a member of the Burger King Kids' Club, which was the last time he's had a French toast stick.
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By this time, it was after 12 p.m., time for boozing to begin again. The MOTH headed to the bar to get us a couple of Bloodies, which turned out to be less than spicy, but somehow not disappointing. Something about a thick, bland Bloody Mary goes perfectly with an endless buffet. The bartender told the MOTH they use Major Peters mix and garnished our beverages with lemon, lime and two fat bar olives. Not bad, really, for $5.25 each. It's like how the coffee at your grandma's house sucks, but it's still the coffee you get at your grandma's house and so you like it that way.
On to the second course: a build-your-own omelet. Is there anything more magical in this world than being able to command someone to make you a delicious egg pile? I think not. Into my omelet went watery, diced ham, jalapenos, cheese, and fresh tomatoes. I watched in awe as my Omelet Artist flipped the egg-mix perfectly and presented me with a big, fat roll of eggs, meat and veggies. I spooned over a healthy helping of the bright red, oniony salsa and loaded up my plate with some more peel'n'eat shrimp. My omelet was ideally cooked and even a little spicy, making up for the bland Bloody Mary, and I think I don't have to tell you how much I really liked those shrimp.
For his second helping, the MOTH had a mirror of my first--salad and shrimp, because man, that was a really good idea. We closed out our giant meal with cones from the soft serve machine, which was out of everything but chocolate. Way to bungle the finish, Butterfield's.
I'll say it again: for casino food, Choctaw's buffet is above par and affordable. There's a diner, a steak house and a Mexican place also within Choctaw walls, but we haven't tried those yet--that'll have to wait until I start seeing a return on my Blackjack investment.