A better buffet?
All-you-can-eat buffets outside of expensive resorts must always battle the stigma of slinging mass-produced, often subpar grub on the cheap. A quantity-quality game, to be sure.
Fully aware of this truism, Patrick and Sherry Reitmayer took a novel approach to Salt of the Earth (3536 N. Academy Blvd., cateringcoloradosprings.net), the new addition to their two-year-old catering business. As of Jan. 1, they began opening with weekly, themed, smaller-item buffet menus Mondays through Thursdays to supplement their busier weekend catering schedule.
The focused format allows the couple — who combine for 35 years' culinary experience, despite each being in their mid-30s — to test and receive feedback on planned catering menu items, plus keep their work fun and fresh, says Patrick. Limiting items makes it easier to achieve that freshness, in particular.
For example, this week's all-you-can-eat buffet menu ($11.95; $10.95 seniors; $5.95 kids) features only: caramelized onion balsamic or white cheddar chicken, cheddar mashed potatoes, a full salad bar, dinner rolls, "fudge meltaways" and raspberry white chocolate mousse, plus included tea, lemonade or coffee.
Cooking everything from scratch also helps distinguish Salt's buffet (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.), which does offer gluten-free alternatives by request and a fixed à la carte menu ($8.95 to $9.95 for main plus sides) anytime between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.
View the website to see two months' worth of eclectic menu samples.
Don Hagan wants to start by talking about his fries at month-old Casey's Dog House Grill (108 E. Midland Ave., Woodland Park, 687-9649).
"They take two days to make," he says, describing a process of hand-cutting, brining overnight in salt water and vinegar, pre-blanching, then cooking to order. "They're really crispy and golden brown — they taste like a potato, not like grease."
And Hagan, a former Pizza Hut manager-turned-cop-turned-car-salesman, says that attention to detail persists through his small menu of brats, dogs, sliders, wings and a few other items that are available alongside quality Colorado microbrews.
For example, portobello mushrooms for the vegetarian sliders also see a lengthy marinade, house red and green chilies are balanced for heat and flavor, and meats are all charred on a lava rock grill. Triple pork sliders (with chorizo, bacon and ground pork) see a smoky paprika mayo "Doghouse Sauce." The hot dogs are commercial, all-beef, angus quarter-pounders, but Denver's Continental Sausage supplies the brats, which get house-baked Brotchen rolls.