It is spring break time! A mini-vacay was on tap, because I have one child is in public school and the other in private school. (Yes, I love one more than the other. I kid. The youngest is in preschool) Kanawha County’s spring break was this week and the Catholic school doesn’t have break until Easter. So the Vegetarian Wife and I decided that a quickie would be fun (that’s what she said) or as we call it a mini-vacay. After hearing many recommendations for the Great Wolf Lodge, we packed the minivan up and pointed it West towards the 1/3 scale replica of the Eiffel Tower at Kings Island. A 3 and 1/2 hour drive through Ohio farm country brings you to the door of the Great Wolf Lodge, behind which you will find a mess of family fun.
Dinning at resorts is a hit-or-miss affair. There is the Greenbrier on one end of the scale and then you have Canaan Valley Resort on the other. One is four stars and one is… not. Even in the magical land of Walt Disney World you are going to find both ends the of the spectrum. We might normally pass on the in house meal and find something cheaper, but we bumped into a coworker of the Vegetarian Wife who recommended “The Loose Moose Cottage” Grand Buffet. It is convenient, offers a lots of choices and you can start eating right away which is a big bonus after spending the day riding water slides. It also kept us close to the story time at the clock tower, which we didn’t want to miss.
The five fork Kanawha City China Buffet and the buffet at the Bellagio are the rulers by which I judge all others. As always the trick to a good buffet experience is turn over. The items have to be consumed faster than they dry out. The Loose Moose wasn’t that busy at 7:30P, but everything was very fresh looking save a couple items (spiral ham and beef with broccoli). I focused in on the peel and eat shrimp and sauteed fresh vegetables, both were excellent. The cocktail sauce was full of horseradish, extra spicy, just the way I like it.
On my second buffet fly by I decided I needed to “take one for the team” and try several items so I could with clear conscience give the Loose Moose a proper “forking”. I grabbed some mirin glazed salmon, a slice of sausage pizza, sweet & spicy chinese chicken, fried clams, grilled portabellas, fried oysters, and a couple of roasted potatoes. Everything, but the salmon had great flavor. The salmon was just bland. The chinese chicken was surprisingly good. The pizza was fresh and would satisfy picky kids and Misty’s husband. The fried calms and oysters were great with the oysters being plump and juicy.
In an effort to get my $19.99 (including beverage, kids are $7.99) worth I filled my plate with more shrimp skipping the snow crab legs this time. I hate to have to work that hard for my food. I finally grabbed a few slivers of various cheese cake, which were not really worth the calories. The real desserts were downstairs in the Bear Claw Cafe. They included ice cream, giant cookies, dark chocolate cake, and fudge to name a few.
The Loose Moose is not the only option in the lodge to nourish yourself after recovering from a chlorine induce coma. Camp Critter Restaurant offers traditional service with a American casual menu with prices that are competitive with most sit down restaurants. The aforementioned Bear Claw Cafe sells Pizza Hut pizza and bread sticks. Inside the water park you can buy hamburgers, hot dogs, and french fries from the snack bar. My personal favorite place to take a break from the wet fun was Grizzly Rob’s. I enjoyed a couple of adult beverages and watched WVU’s last basketball game of the season. Rob’s also had soft pretzels and nachos for the kids.
You can save some bucks by bringing your own breakfast, becuase most rooms have a fridge and microwave. I will bring my family back to the Great Wolf and you should, too. Try the Three Fork Loose Moose Cottage when you come.
General Notes on the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, OH:
The Great Wolf is a great place to escape in the middle of a cold winter. The lodge rooms are large, clean, comfortable and well appointed. You can get a variety of kid themed rooms for a higher rate. Rates vary quite a bit and weekend rate were nearly double the cost of midweek rates. We paid $229 plus tax for a family suite, which includes use of the water park for your entire stay. You can use it the day you arrive prior to check in and the day you depart after you check out.
The water park has more than ten slides including a water coaster, a wave pool, a splash tower, two hot tubs (family and adult), indoor and outdoor pools. The lodge has a large arcade and a virtual role playing game call Magic Quest for the tweens. Little kids can get creative in the Cub Club craft room. Moms and daughters can get pampered in the spa. Various activities take place every night. Our options included watching Kung Fu Panda or story time in the lobby.
The service is exceptional. The staff was all smiles and extremely helpful. I lost my wedding band in the water park and reported it missing after we checked out. A member of the Great Wolf staff called me that day and told me not to give up hope. Sure enough she called the next morning and reported they recovered it from the pool!
We had so much fun!
If you would have told me I would have voluntarily put on a bathing suit and walked around in it all day long, I would have said you were CRAZY! But, that’s what I did. And I’m still not thrilled about that part. BUT- we’re here to talk about the food, aren’t we? So far, the yummiest thing I’ve eaten during our mini-vacay (Dan liked the term I coined), was the fresh pineapple and strawberries that we brought with us. We did have dinner at the Loose Moose last night and I was not impressed. I enjoyed the company more than the food, which is not anything to complain about certainly. Yes, as Dan mentioned, there were lots of choices, but I’ll give you the Vegetarian perspective. First, let me say that there are actually a couple of criteria that I use to determine whether a place is a good Vegetarian option for me and the Offspring. One is whether there is ANYTHING we can choose that does not have meat hiding in it. The other is whether there is anything that has no meat AND also does not contain two days’ worth of weight watcher points. So, as you might imagine, this place fell into the former category- no-meat options were available if you were willing to crush any appearance of healthy eating.
I started with a salad. The flyer advertising the “Grand Buffet” mentions the salad bar “with all the toppings.” All MY toppings were: sliced black olives, craisins, and tomatoes. I think other choices included egg, cheese, banana peppers, croutons, and meats and nuts. Not a lot going on there. Next, I went to the Chinese bar and found fried rice, which the staff said was vegetarian. I had some fresh sauteed vegetables which weren’t bad and some steamed green beans. So far so good- not enough rice to ruin the whole effect. I finished all that and felt I was not getting $19.99 worth. Which, is the problem with buffets for Vegetarians, I think. So then I fell off the wagon as I tried a bite or two each of cheese pizza, mac and cheese, smiley fries, a roll, and several desserts. And, though I was very full, I wasn’t really satisfied. Oh well- as Dan’s father once said, “Every meal does not have to be a gastronomic experience.” The point was that it was convenient, and quick. And the staff was very friendly, even when we asked to switch tables and made them wait while we searched the place to see if our friends had beat us there. So, I say 2 forks and 2 carrots for the Loose Moose.