Tag Archives: Great Buffet II

Dining Options [Alton To Portsmouth] For Christmas Day Brunch Or Dinner 2012.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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..by Anura Guruge


Wentworth by the Sea (by Portsmouth). Click …



We used to go out for Christmas dinner quite often. It was easier than cooking at home and gave us a break. We haven’t done it of late preferring to stay home. Last year we did a big traditional dinner with the works. Year prior to that we got Chinese takeout. This year, after 3 dinner parties back-to-back, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we have so much food in the fridge that I don’t even want to think of more, though we have enough stuff in the freezer, including more ham, for another full dinner.

Though we do go out to eat quite often at Thanksgiving, as we did this year, I kind of feel bad about it because I am making folks miss their day at home to provide for me. I try to make up for this. I don’t feel bad about Christmas or Easter because I am fully aware that there are those that do not celebrate those holidays and are more than happy to earn the additional money. But, I tend to gravitate towards Chinese establishments because I know that many Chinese do not observe the Christian holidays. [There are educated Chinese living in this country that have never heard of the pope. True. Read this real story that I relate on my Popes and Papacy blog.]

So if I was looking for a place to go on Christmas Day 2012, I would start by considering Great Buffet II in Portsmouth or Red Apple in Concord, both buffets that we are very conversant with. The kids wouldn’t have a problem with either, though of late I think they prefer, the more extensive, Great Buffet II. Yes, we could go to Manchester too, but it wouldn’t be worth the drive.

Yes, of course, I could consider Indian too, given that Christmas might not be a big deal for many of them. However, I am not sure that having Indian for Christmas meets my ‘kosher’ requirements, though we have had Indian, more than once, on New Year’s Day.

The Sheraton Harbourside at Portsmouth (where we did do Thanksgiving) says that they are having a Christmas ‘brunch’ from 1 pm to 5 pm on Christmas Day though it is not mentioned on their Web. What they do have on their Web is a ‘Santa’ Brunch that took place on Sunday, December 23, 2012. That could be an option for some.

The ‘Wentworth by the Sea‘ does have both a Christmas Buffet and Christmas Dinner, for the same price, $44.95 per person for adults and $18.95 for kids 2 to 12, advertised on their Web — with even the menu for the Dinner. I like the Wentworth, but I am a sucker for any and all ‘Grand Hotels’. We have been to at least one of their buffets, an Easter Buffet. It was very good, but strange. In over 50 years of dinning out, around the world, it was the ONLY time I was asked to pay in advance! No, it wasn’t special treatment just for me, because I don’t look like I was born in New England. Everybody had to pay in advance. Kind of made me feel odd. Haven’t been back for a meal since. Yes, they tend to be on the expensive side. So, even before I look at the wine menu and the kids order their soda, never mind the NH 9% (?) ‘Room & Board’ Tax, we are looking at $127.80. So for us, at a minimum, we would be looking at $170 or thereabouts. The time they charged us in advance, I think it was $155 — albeit with unlimited champagne, soda and coffee included in that price. Yes, I had two glasses of champagne.

Given my recent, very pleasant experience, I would consider the ‘Sea Bird‘ in Wolfeboro as another possible alternative, though the kids and I tend to prefer buffets, given a choice.

Realistically those are about the only options we would consider IF we wanted to go out for dinner Christmas 2012. Many of the restaurants in Portsmouth, quite rightly, are closed on Christmas Day and I am glad. I hate to see folks being forced to work on holidays IF they don’t want to do so or can get by without the additional money.

Well, Merry Christmas. If you do dine out tomorrow, would you be kind enough to share your experience with us. Thanks. All the best. Cheers.

We Did 2012 Thanksgiving Brunch At The Sheraton Harborside Hotel, Portsmouth, NH.


Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Related post:
>> Thanksgiving: Portsmouth, NH, Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel
>>— Nov. 16, 2012.


This was at least the 5th time we have been to the Portsmouth Sheraton for a holiday buffet; Thanksgiving 2010 the previous.
So will we be going again next year or the year after?
Not sure, but I wouldn’t totally rule it out
— and I think that that is a fair summary of our experience yesterday.

The folks were GREAT, though the ‘Director of Operations’, who was delightful,
Mr. Steve Merrill, really should wear a tie.


Click on any of the pictures to ENLARGE them.

One of the unmitigated highlights Stan Bednarz. Dazzling and very kid friendly. He, rather than (the rather insipid) dessert table (compared to 2010), did much to add sorely needed ‘glitter’ to the proceedings. Bravo Stan, you made the day. Thank You.


The tightly packed buffet and the uninspiredly laid out appetizers.

The carving station with the tieless but nevertheless apparently tireless Steve Merrill, with bonhomie a plenty.

The centerpieces were colorful and festive. I met the young lady who did them. She was everywhere. Seemed to be doing a great job. Credit to the Sheraton.

The foyer. The piano, with the superlative Stan is directly behind her with the buffet beyond that. Carving station is at the top left.


To keep this as succinct as possible, lets start with what they did NOT have:

Pecan pie. 

A dress code.

Appropriate space for the buffet.

Necessary, functional serving utensils for the appetizers.

Detectable flavor in the Prime Rib.

Adequate lighting to highlight the wood.

Moisture in the stuffed chicken breasts.

Apple pie with the crust intact.

Horseradish with any kind of kick.

Stuffing better than what I can make from a packet.

Ice to keep the crab claws cold.

Firmness to the New England corn pudding.


What they DID have:

Enthusiastic, motivated staff.

Absolutely divine wild mushroom Ravioli with spinach & a Gorgonzola cream. WOW!

A fresh baby spinach and bosc pear salad that could convince you that you could live just on salad.

Excellent piano accompaniment by Stan Bednarz.

Above average baked haddock.

Decent smoked salmon.

A mouthwatering butternut squash.

Par for the course cheese cake.

Great panoramic views of the river and bridges.

6 PCs with Internet access in a common room next to the dining room.


Well the above should be fairly self explanatory.

Not counting the (rather overpriced) $9 for a glass of Mimosa, the one Sprite, one coffee and the 9% NH ‘meals and rentals’ tax, it costs us $100 for the 4 of us. That is not too bad.

Not sure why they crammed the buffet and the carving station into the foyer of the hotel this year. I went and checked the room in which the food was served in 2010. It was empty; a few stacked chairs and boxes of breakfast cereal. Not sure what prompted them to make the change. I was not impressed. It lacked adequate lighting, inspired layout and utensils to properly get at the appetizers.

For what was supposed to be a semi-formal Harvest Buffet at a fairly posh hotel the attire of the diners was shocking.

Yes, I know that people think that it is cool to wear jeans to restaurants, but in my opinion it doesn’t really work when you are in you are past 65 or less than 5′ 4′ in stature. To be fair I can even put up with faded, grubby blue jeans. It is the T-shirts that irk me, especially one sported by a guy that extolled the supposed virtues of a diner in Maine! That was beyond the pale. All I can say is that the guy was obviously from Maine, and he probably thought that he was dressing up. [It is OK. My wife is from Maine (born and bred) and as such I do have the right to stand my ground when it comes to the amount of Red Neckery I will tolerate from across the border.] That the ‘manager’ didn’t wear a tie set the tone. [I used to work as a manager for ITT in the days we owned Sheraton. This kind of dress would never have been tolerated.]

Lets be fair, for $40 less we could have gone to the ‘Great Buffet II‘ down the road and had as much food — though it would have, overall, been a tad inferior in quality. But, if I have to dine with riff-raff wearing merchandizing T-shirts, sweats and grubby blue jeans I might as well go to a Chinese buffet. Sorry.

So, that is about it.

Anura & Deanna Guruge 10 year anniversary

It was ten years since we met. This picture also allows me to see how I looked compared to Thanksgiving at the same place in 2010 when I had a cracked rib and severe bronchitis. Steve M. very kindly took this picture. Thanks Steve.

Ten In New Hampshire: Chinese Buffet Restaurants

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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..
.by Anura Guruge


A series of personal lists to share MY New Hampshire with any interested browser.
The lists are in no particular order per se, other than those that have particular significance to me are likely to be closer to the top. Annotations at the bottom.


Chinese Buffet Restaurants In NH

.1. Great Buffet II — Portsmouth.

.2. Great Buffet — Manchester.

.3. Red Apple — Concord.

.4. New Hong Kong Buffet — Belmont.

.5. Imperial Buffet & Lounge — Claremont.

.6. Shang Hai Restaurant — Laconia.

.7. Sunrise Buffet — Lebanon.

.8. Grand Buffet — Nashua.

.9. Dynasty Restaurant — Rochester.

10. New Keene Buffet — Keene.



— current favorites. — we still go, but not that often.
— we used to frequent often, but not of late.
— have been there at least once.

The ‘Red Apple’ in Concord used to be our ‘go to buffet’. We used to go there at least once a month, on average. Then we just stopped. Not sure why. There was no particular reason. Now tend to go to ‘Great Buffet II’ in Portsmouth if we really hanker a buffet or happen to be in the area and need food. If we are looking for a buffet in Manchester we go to the ‘Great Buffet’ — which as far as I know, is the only bona fide game in town. Though I have not been for at least two years, I have to say that in terms of sheer quality of the food, the ‘Red Apple’ is probably head and shoulders above the others. The ‘Great Buffet II’ is more expansive but the food is at best average.