Hs Lordships is an enormous restaurant and banquet facility out on the Berkeley marina, situated happily on a tiny sliver of land next to the Berkeley pier and surrounded by water on three sides with views of the City, the bridges, and Berkeley. Their main deal is a surf and turf sort of situation, but during this visit I didn’t even lay eyes on the menu for one moment. That’s right, we went for the Lunch Buffet.
This place has a lunch buffet to end all lunch buffets. According to my family, the place is usually really quiet on weekdays, despite the amazing spread of food available Monday through Friday for an extremely reasonable price ($17 or so a person). The day we went, however, must have been “work Christmas party” day or something because the place was packed. There must have been hundreds of people in the restaurant, parked in front of their white tablecloths in packs of 4, 6, 10, and 20. It was a bit of a madhouse. And like amateurs, my party of six walks in with no reservations at 12 noon.
I was extremely impressed with how well the staff was handling the immense volume of people – we were seated with a waterfront view in under 15 minutes, as they shuffled us in gracefully between reserved parties. After we were seated, we immediately proceeded to the buffet.
Side note – I love buffets. And not because I like to “get my money’s worth” – which I rarely do. What I like is that: a) I can get whatever I want; b) I can get however much I want of whatever I want; and c) there’s a certain mysteriousness to a buffet. It’s like opening a present – you just don’t know what’s going to be under those shiny silver platter lids! And, like a present, once they’ve been opened some of the excitement is surely lost, but then it’s time to move on to decision making and prioritizing, both of which I love almost as much.
The buffet at Hs is excellent in all respects. And my mom tells me that this day was no special day for the selection; it’s always this grand, even when the population is far more sparse. I’ll give a (sort of) brief rundown:
Hot foods: herbed catfish, rice, mashed potatoes, something chicken-y that I didn’t pay attention to, mixed veggies (they were good), bread rolls, roast beef and turkey at the carving station, and two chef-manned (or womanned) stations that will make omelettes or pasta on-demand (awesome).
Cold foods: green salad with choice of dressings and toppings, other cold salads (shrimp, pasta, potato), fresh cut fruit (cantaloupe, pineapple, watermelon, honeydew), fresh whole cooked shrimps (the kind you have to peel out of the shell), and the reason my family attends: crab legs.
Dessert: I can’t even begin to name all the cakes and tarts available for dessert but it was a beautiful thing. See?
The choices were plentiful to say the least, and I’m sure I didn’t even remember everything. I only had a fraction of what was on offer, but it was really good. Everyone else was mmm-ing and ohh-ing at the freshness of the seafood and the appeasing taste of all the dishes. I did not hear one complaint from any of the six of us. Except from me: I have discovered that crab legs are not my thing. I don’t want to have to (wo)manhandle my food to coax out a tiny bit of meat. I tried it, I washed my hands, I’m not doing it again; it’s gross.
Dessert was also well-received; the plethora of sweets on offer left no one wanting. I had the creme brulee and a slice of chocolate cake (what can I say, I’m a dessert traditionalist) and they were both very fine. I had to make an effort not to gorge myself. Some of my other family members did not make this effort and I commend them for making up for what I didn’t eat.
I would have to say that between the seaside views, expansive and delicious buffet, great service, and perfect location, this place is a real find. Only real complaint? There are a couple of beams in the restaurant that are a bit low – boyfriend got a mighty smack on the forehead for not realizing this (he’s 6′-5″, so I realize it’s partially his fault for being so tall, but still) and wasn’t terribly happy. But for normal sized people, this place is fabulous for a fun mid-week buffet lunch. And, glancing at the typical menu, I bet it’s great for a regular meal as well. Plus they cater to huge banquets – up to 500 people! Surely a real nice place for any occasion.