There seemed to be a curious mix of diners on Thanksgiving at Thunder Valley Casino--large families on vacation, lonesome souls with massive appetites but no companions, hardcore gamblers taking a short break to refuel, and laid-back couples (like me and my husband) who chose to have a lazy Thanksgiving without cooking, cleaning or traveling hundreds of miles to join their families. The buffet area, free from dizzying cigarette smoke and vexatious slot ka-chings, welcomed us with its neat array of foods and festooned table runners. Regular brunch items, such as croissants and muffins, took a back seat and let their more festive cousin, the pumpkin cake rings, shine. The "Omelet Expert," rigged with tabletop stoves and little saucepans, stood waiting for eggy requests. Lovely golden-brown turkeys took the center stage where apron-clad men were stationed with their long carving knives. And yes, there were lots and lots of pies.
I'd eaten there a couple times before and thought the foods were, at best, acceptable. Surprisingly, though, all their Thanksgiving items turned out to be quite impressive. My best bite of the day was the tender turkey wing bathed in robust gravy and accompanied by hearty succotash. The mushroom stuffing, rice pilaf and mashed potatoes also had me ravenously cleaning my plate. Although I did loathe the mushy bread pudding and the spice-deprived egg drop soup (from the Chinese food section), it was a satisfying Thanksgiving meal overall. Plus, a little bit of gambling afterwards kind of aided in digestion. I lost some, won some, lost again, won again, and in the end, left with a $12 surplus. No dirty pots, pans or plates waiting to be cleaned at home. Yep, it was a happy Thanksgiving.