Palm Cafe's Saturday Night Prime Rib & Crab - Keeps You Coming Back For More!
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
The Palm Cafe at the Outrigger Guam Resort can claim bragging rights for one night of the week, and that is its Saturday Night Prime Rib & Crab Night! As far back as I can remember, even before it was the Palm Cafe (it was called Tinige Ansianu in its earlier incarnation), Saturday was the night for all-you-can-eat Crab and Prime Rib. The fact the buffet also includes other delicious entrees, appetizers, and desserts, as well as all-you-can-drink Heineken, is great; but the real focus and interest is on the crab legs.
The $26.95 (children 6-12/$14.95) price is quite reasonable for a buffet that includes a salad bar filled with fresh fruits and vegetables of all types as well as pasta salad, kelaguen, pickled cucumbers, seafood, sashimi, and sushi along with corn soup, and clam chowder. The hot buffet items included steamed white rice, fried rice, sauteed mixed vegetables with tofu, fried parrot fish with sweet fish sauce, sweet & sour pork, barbecued chicken in oyster sauce with bell peppers and green onions, savory Australian Spanner Crab with Black Bean Sauce, and succulent Snow Crab Legs.
Just past the crab legs on the hot line is the butter cup station, where you fill a ramekin with hot melted butter, which is an essential for the gustatory enjoyment of the steamed crab. By the way, this crab has been steamed in butter water so there is already a baseline of good flavor in every bite...it's just that extra drawdown in the butter dip that makes this a meal in heaven. For those with dietary restrictions it should be noted that the Palm Cafe's extensive a la carte menu has something for every dietary requirement, so everyone can join their crab-cracking friends for dinner and not feel left out.
For those arriving in the main dining area (there are five dining sections) where the buffet lines are, the first thing you'll see is the carving station, where one of the Palm Cafe's cooks stands and slices Prime Rib on demand. This station has a full complement of toppings, including au jus, creamy horseradish, and finedene. Also at this table are two platters covered with home fries. I mention this particularly because the ones I had with my prime rib towards the end of my meal were among the freshest, crispest, and tastiest I've had on the island. I can't tell you how accustomed I've become to accepting and eating mediocre home fries...these were "the bomb"! Be sure to ask the carver if the fries were just made...they are best hot!
OK, let's cut to the chase about buffets. Everyone has them. Some are loaded with more food than humanly possible to consume or try, even on three visits. Almost all have sashimi, steamed shrimp, oysters, sushi, soups and salads. The main draws of this particular buffet are the two versions of crab and the prime rib. The Spanner Crab with Black Bean Sauce has a fan base of its own - it's a different kind of texture and meat, and the black bean sauce is preferred by many over butter. Be sure to ask for crab cracks to go with this crab..it's thicker than the snow crab pieces, which are mostly sliced down the middle. At one time the crab served at this buffet was King Crab, which are bigger and heartier than the smaller snow crabs. The snow crabs are as tasty, you just have to eat more of them to catch up with their meatier King cousins. I am sure that cost is a big factor. (If King Crab legs were put on the buffet line, the hotel would have to double the price to make it cost effective.) As for the prime rib, it was tender, juicy, and cooked to rare (pink but done perfectly). If you like prime rib and crab, then you'd gladly pay for this buffet and would skip many appetizers and entrees just to concentrate on the main events.
Another thing about the Palm Cafe buffet that should be mentioned is the relaxing pace of the place and the stellar customer service. One customer I know who dines out often told me that he likes the Palm Cafe more than other places because every one of the staff has a great service attitude and, as he says, "have great PR". In the world of hospitality, this comment and observation rates as high as a good food review - for customers, it's a darned good reason to eat there. Our server quickly replaced the plates of discarded crab leg shells with clean ones and never let our iced teas get half-empty. Good job!
I did save a little room for dessert...fortunately, the way the buffet line is built, the desserts are on the back wall facing the bottom of the U-shaped line. Everyone who gets salad fixings and heads for the soups can scope out the spread of confections awaiting consumption. Tonight, they had a really good bread pudding (as noted by Zee, who ate it all without sharing), a host of cakes and pies along with a selection of ice creams. All looked appealing, and I sampled among them, and agreed with Zee's assessment of the bread pudding. I guess to bottom line this, if you are the average dessert person, the selection would be acceptable. If you are a dessert connoisseur, who relishes the hard-wrought creations of pastry chefs, this spread would be so-so. If you aren't a dessert person, get some more crab legs and prime rib.
The Palm Cafe's Saturday Night Prime Rib & Crab Night is successful because they deliver what they promise - plenty of the right stuff at the right price to keep people coming back for more! If you happen to like Heineken, then you'll be even happier. For me, I likened the anticipation of waiting for the next large pan of hot crab legs to be delivered to waiting for the next big wave when body surfing. It's supremely exhilarating when it comes and you are on it! The buffet runs from 6-10pm with reservations recommended. Call 649-9000.