Saratoga Casino debuts summer BBQ buffet

Savory, mouth-wateringly tasty, this barbecue platter displays the Summer Barbecue menu. Clockwise from top: Mississippi honey barbecue chicken quarters, home-style smoked brisket, Baby Ray’s spare ribs, roasted sweet corn, smoked pulled pork, mountain-style beer brats, spicy collard greens, campfire smoked sausage and in the center, roasted vegetable and lima beans.

Savory, mouth-wateringly tasty, this barbecue platter displays the Summer Barbecue menu. Clockwise from top: Mississippi honey barbecue chicken quarters, home-style smoked brisket, Baby Ray’s spare ribs, roasted sweet corn, smoked pulled pork, mountain-style beer brats, spicy collard greens, campfire smoked sausage and in the center, roasted vegetable and lima beans.

By Vi Cooper

Saratoga-logoThe Colorado Gambler has a confession: We never met a grand opening we didn’t love.  This time, we ventured to Black Hawk to visit the summer barbecue buffet on-site at Saratoga Casino’s Garden Buffet.

The brainchild of Executive Chef and Director of Food and Beverage Brian Grzyb, the season-long menu offers a host of home-style American favorites, ranging from miner’s slow smoked pulled pork and big home-style smoked brisket to fire-pot baked beans and hot roasted sweet corn and much, much more.

Chef Grzyb believes his spread is the only complete barbecue menu in town, but, he adds, “If anyone else does it, they don’t do it as well as we do.”

The Chicago native was driving to Evanston to enroll at Northwestern University, when, he recalls, he realized he preferred a career as a chef and turned around and headed for culinary school at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. His first job was washing dishes and mopping floors, graduated to cooking at a number of well-known restaurants in Chicago and ultimately, from sous chef to executive chef and director.

He says the secret to the deep, rich flavor of the variety of food on the menu can be traced to the careful attention afforded each dish and the development of the special sauces that accompany them.  For example, the Carolina-style pulled pork is slow roasted eight full hours and served with an accompanying apple cider vinegar, sugar and mustard sauce we found unique.

Executive Chef Brian Grzyb holds up a skewer of melt-in-your-mouth Churrasco Beef and Bacon Explosion, sliced to order at the Garden Buffet.

Executive Chef Brian Grzyb holds up a skewer of melt-in-your-mouth Churrasco Beef and Bacon Explosion, sliced to order at the Garden Buffet.

“We cook it all right here, starting from scratch, every day,” Grzyb said

The buffet’s mountain-style beer brats are served with caramelized onions and a beer glaze that imparts a smoky tang to the dish. The chef spent some time at the holy grail of barbecue, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

A work of art is the blast cap bacon explosion, an Italian sausage and ground beef combination that is then wrapped in lattice-laced bacon and glazed with a smoked barbecue sauce, creating a moist yet meaty hearty entree. The sweet Baby Ray’s barbecued spare ribs are another product of patient, long-term roasting, resulting in meat that literally falls off the bone.

For traditionalists, the menu includes garden-herb grilled chicken breasts, Mississippi honey barbecue chicken quarters, fried chicken, turkey and stuffing, fried catfish, Cajun smoked sausage and skewered beef.

Besides the baked beans and corn, side dishes include cowboy potato casserole (a combination of grilled potatoes and special seasonings), spicy collard greens, baked macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, lima beans and cabbage with bacon.

The winning team behind the summer barbecue buffet at the Saratoga Casino, Black Hawk, are servers on left: Alex Carrillo and Saralee Velasquez; back row left to right: Hugo Ayala, Brian Grzyb, Genaro Garcia and Luis Arellano; front row left to right: Karina Sanchez, Anabel Garcia-Lopez, Anthonita Mier-Ramos, Tabitha Romero and Belinda Tanguma-Quintana; and server on right: Reggie Owens.

The winning team behind the summer barbecue buffet at the Saratoga Casino, Black Hawk, are servers on left: Alex Carrillo and Saralee Velasquez; back row left to right: Hugo Ayala, Brian Grzyb, Genaro Garcia and Luis Arellano; front row left to right: Karina Sanchez, Anabel Garcia-Lopez, Anthonita Mier-Ramos, Tabitha Romero and Belinda Tanguma-Quintana; and server on right: Reggie Owens.

There is a range of salads, including a fully loaded salad bar.  There are special soups daily (with corn bread and rolls) and for dessert, there’s Auntie B’s bread pudding, Sweeties’ strawberry shortcake, Granny’s old-time apple cobbler and a wide selection of slab-mixed ice cream.  Non-alcoholic drinks are included in the $10.99 price (with player’s card, $12.99 without card).  A full bar is also on site.

Saratoga Casino’s Garden Buffet will feature the barbecue menu through Labor Day, although Chef Grzyb could probably be persuaded to extend the season if demand warranted a longer stay. The 124-seat dining room is open Monday through Thursday from noon until 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from noon until 10 p.m.; and Sunday from noon until 8 p.m.  There is a rooftop outdoor dining space that seats 30 people, with reservations recommended to ensure prompt seating.

Saratoga Casino’s Garden Buffet will feature the barbecue menu through Labor Day. Photo courtesy of Saratoga Casino

Saratoga Casino’s Garden Buffet will feature the barbecue menu through Labor Day. Photo courtesy of Saratoga Casino

The carefully hand-latticed, bacon-wrapped Italian sausage and ground beef combination is a tasty entrée, with a medley of spices and glazed with a classic barbecue sauce.

The carefully hand-latticed, bacon-wrapped Italian sausage and ground beef combination is a tasty entrée, with a medley of spices and glazed with a classic barbecue sauce.

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