I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Corning, California.
Greetings from Corning, California
N 39° 52.4549’ W 122° 12.1464’ Elev. 289 feet
If you’ve ever been to a crappy Indian Casino you quickly discovered that, for the most part, the staff couldn’t possibly care less whether you were there or not. Indeed, you got the feeling that in a perfect world you would just phone in your money.
That said, Rolling Hills Casino is an unusual place. It’s owned by the Paskenta Band of the Nomiaki Indians. Ever heard of ‘em? Me neither. There are 102 recognized tribes in California so your ignorance is excused.
What makes Rolling Hills unusual is that it’s incredibly friendly: you actually feel welcomed! It ain’t a bit like certain all-the-better-unnamed Native American-owned entities I’ve visited (Sky City in Acoma, New Mexico) where they are hell-bent on making your experience as miserable as Europeans have made theirs. Past genocides aside, the vibe at Rolling Hills is warm and inviting. And the food is great.
I’ve eaten at the buffet here a number of times. Heck, until I looked at their website I didn’t know that they had another restaurant. I guess that ‘splains why I’ve always eaten at the buffet. And while the food is somewhat predictable (not a bad thing), it’s always great and the service is nothing short of impeccable.
I stopped in on a Sunday for lunch ($11.95 minus $1 for being over 50). On Tuesdays and Thursdays the over 50 set get 50% off, and they serve great prime rib every night! ($16.95 … minus 50% … I’ll get back to you). Why can’t I get here on a Tuesday or Thursday? Karma, I suspect.
They had roast beef and baked turkey carving stations for lunch, along with the mostly usual fare. I tended to focus on just a few things because, let’s face it, I’m old and I can’t eat that much. But I’m alway game for the “day’s surprise.”
The unexpected thing they offered was baked Ruby Red Trout. It was quite good, especially considering I’m not a freshwater fish fan. Admittedly, I screwed up with it. I should’ve put a couple of good squeezes of fresh lemon on it. While I’m not sure it would’ve taken the “fishy” away — freshwater fish always tastes fishy to me — I suspect it would’ve enhanced it many-fold.
The roast beef was incredible. The first piece I had was thin-sliced, a little pink, and perfect. Dipped in au jus it was pretty damn close to prime rib. Next time I’ll get some horseradish and really do it up right.
Other interesting, far-above-par things they offered were an awesome broccoli salad, amazing little potato thangies, and the best cornbread this side of … you tell me.
The broccoli salad had a somewhat sweet dressing. Along with the obligatory broccoli, the salad contained the wonderful additions of ripe, sweet red grapes, golden raisins and many, many pieces of quality just-like-I-like-it wilty bacon. This stuff warranted seconds and thirds.
The potato thangies were really interesting. I first thought they were the largest, most misshapen fried okras I’d ever seen. (I wasn’t wearing my glasses. The world is a much different and, often, a much more interesting place when I can’t really see.) I eventually discovered the smushed Tater-Tots’ unique properties. The mini-hockey pucks o’ spuds had jalapeño in them! I suspect that had I been wearing my glasses I could’ve read the little sign — they’ve got them above every dish — and known what the hell I was eating. Alas, no. Then again “The world is a much different and, often, a much more interesting place when I can’t really see.”
And the cornbread? Ah, the cornbread. I am a cornbread aficionado, a cornbread freak. And this cornbread was heavenly. I grabbed corner slices, with the crusty edges. I sliced it in half, added butter, closed it, and waited for the butter to start melting. Then I spread that supernal salted butterfat, took a bite, and swooned. I really did. Really. Really!
They offer a complete line of beverages. They even have chocolate milk! I also grabbed a can of tomato juice leftover from the breakfast buffet just because. Mmm, chocolate milk and tomato juice.
Without a doubt the Rolling Hills Casino Buffet offers more desserts than Carter’s has pills. They’ve got cream pies, pie pies, cakes, cobblers, those weird little puff pastries that always look good until you eat them and quickly discover they suck. That they really, really suck. Unforgivably, they also did not have pumpkin pie replete with gobs of whipped cream. They had soft-serve ice cream but it’s not the same without pumpkin pie.
I don’t know if this means anything but … most of the people working there are palefaces. Could it be that the Tribe let its members eat at the buffet for free and they are all now obese, diabetic, missing feet and, perhaps, reduced to surveying their ancestral homeland from a Hoveround®?
With that in mind, I had a single piece of cheesecake for dessert. It was very, very good.
And so we roll.
Rolling Hills Casino, 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning, California
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.