Sunday, May 20, 2012

Beating the clock at the The Manor's Lobster Buffet

One of several plates of split steamed lobster and claws I had at The Manor.
Seafood salad, smoked salmon and raw oysters from the Lobster Buffet.
Top to bottom: Cooked shrimp, oysters and salmon pastrami.
An ice sculpture at one end of the buffet.
Seafood salad.
The fruit platter was a welcome sight among all the artery clogging desserts.
My dessert, which I just managed to finish.
Our 2-hour seating began at 6 p.m., and a hot napkin at 7:30 told us time was running out.
Have we ever spent this much on dinner for four?


The Manor in West Orange puts no limit on lobster, but limits the time you have to eat the crustacean and the dozens of other dishes in its Lobster Buffet.

When I called to confirm my online reservation for last Thursday, I was told we had a 2-hour seating starting at 6 p.m.

The woman I spoke to said the steamed lobsters are served whole, and there's a photo of whole lobsters on the restaurant's Web site.

O Canada!

But when I opened the double doors of a domed chafing dish, I saw only split lobsters and separate claws. I was told they were from Canada.

I ate the mostly tender tails of the split lobsters, and discarded the rest. The claw meat was the tenderest, but the claws ran out early.

Only one other dish is made with lobster, a strongly flavored, overly thick bisque -- with no lobster pieces. We didn't care for it.

Birthday bash

We indulged in this celebration of excess to mark my son's 15th birthday and Mother's Day, both belatedly.

You can view the Lobster Buffet menu on the Web site:

For carnivores, there are plenty of non-seafood items, including chicken, turkey, leg of lamb, prime rib and ham, plus 15 hot chaffing dishes, including pasta, potato and poached fish.

My son, wife and mother-in-law raved about the meat they sampled, and said they could cut it with their forks.

O lobster!

Lobster is our favorite food, but all-you-can-eat buffets are our least favorite form of dinner.

We occasionally buy live lobsters at ShopRite, but our squeamishness when cooking them usually gets the best of us.

So, we usually content ourselves with the excellent lobster ravioli and lobster bisque we can buy at Costco Wholesale, and eat lots of Black Tiger Shrimp and other seafood.

More lobster dishes?

I would have liked the Lobster Buffet more, if there were other lobster dishes, such as the wonderful squid-ink linguine with big pieces of lobster I order at Sanducci's Trattoria in River Edge. 

We paid $47.95 each for the Lobster Buffet, plus tax and a mandatory 18% gratuity. Water, coffee and tea are included, but not soft drinks, wine or beer.

Service is not what you'd call polished. The waiters and bus boys basically clear all of the dishes that would pile up from frequent visits to the buffet and  fill the water glasses.

One waiter poured me many cups of coffee.

My waiter said he has worked at The Manor for 30 years, and that the Lobster Buffet in the old days cost $24 per person.

But he said far fewer people now come for the buffet, as I could see from the many empty tables in the room. 

Eating too much

I lost count of how many platters of steamed lobster I ate. But I estimate the four of us had a total of 12 to 15 lobsters.

Around 7:30 p.m., I looked around and saw many other customers with the same stunned look on their faces that I imagine was on mine: "I can't believe I ate the whole thing."

Two hours was plenty of time to consume more food than one person should rightfully eat at one sitting.

I was so full when I awoke the next day, I skipped breakfast and lunch.

The Manor Restaurant, 111 Prospect Ave., West Orange; 973-731-2360. No jeans or sneakers allowed.

The Lobster Buffet is served Wednesdays to Fridays for $47.95 per person and on Saturdays for $55.95 per person.


  1. I just read on the Huffington Post that Maine has been declared a disaster area. "There are no lobsters left," a fisherman said. Asked the reason for the depleted stock of lobsters in locaol waters, the fisherman said, "Some blogger went to the lobster buffet. He wiped us out."

  2. Gorging. Excellent work. Excellent example.

  3. Thanks so much.

    I do set an excellent example. It's nice of you to notice.

    I did eat a lot, but skipped breakfast and lunch the next day. That's not "gorging."

    And I ate only heart-healthy seafood and fruit, plus several cups of coffee. What's bad about that?

    I can just imagine what you eat and what you look like.

  4. Aaron:

    You're hilarious. A bright spot in my day, especially with comments from morons like the Anonymous above.


  5. I just looked at the Web site of The Manor, and the Lobster Buffet is now $55.95 Wednesdays to Fridays, and $65.95 on Saturdays.


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