The Spread: Treasures on Westheimer

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Walking through the metal detector at Treasures, I wondered how the buffet would stack up against the gold standard that is Golden Corral. Things got off to a good start when an attractive young woman at the hostess’s stand said I had a nice profile – that kinda thing almost never happens at Golden Corral!

A very personable waitress led me into the main dining area, which was surprisingly sparse, given that it was lunchtime. She asked where I wanted to sit, and I found a nice spot in a plush, high-backed booth by the TV, where I looked forward to catching up on All My Children. I asked for a Lone Star, only to strike out – Treasures doesn’t carry it. So I opted for a Corona, which she brought salted, with a lime. It was cold and delicious. That’s when another member of the friendly waitstaff, a young woman in a rather revealing uniform, asked if I wanted any company. What a novel idea – a restaurant that offers dining companions. That’s another thing that almost hardly ever happens at Golden Corral.

Since I needed to devote all my attention to reviewing the food, I politely declined. And, after a few more sips of cerveza, I strode over to the buffet area, not expecting the bounty I saw before me. There, behind the protective glass, was a mouth-watering assortment of spaghetti, chicken (roasted and fried), mashed potatoes, eggrolls, brisket, cold cuts, salads, and desserts. Happily surprised, I took a plate and asked the smiling chef behind the snot-glass to load me up with some brisket, eggrolls, mozzarella sticks, and shrimp.

Back at the table, I couldn’t wait to dig in and catch up on my stories – would Tad get Krystal to share her feelings about Adam, who had been committed to Oak Haven? And what about Kendall’s concerns about Greenlee’s deepening friendship with Zach?

Unfortunately, I had no way of knowing, because the sound was drowned out by Busta Rhymes and Janet Jackson, and there was no closed-captioning. It was pretty frustrating to have one of my favorite soaps right there in front of me, and all I could do was look.

My disappointment was overcome, however, with my first bite of succulent brisket. It had just the right hint of smoky flavor, which the subtlely sweet sauce seemed to enhance.

Wanting to cleanse the palate before I dove into the eggroll, I took a bite out of the shrimp. While it was not quite chilled enough for my taste, it was fresh and scrumptious, and I found myself adding hardly any cocktail sauce. The eggroll was next, and here I might add that there are few things on this earth as scandalous as a bad eggroll. Prepared correctly, eggrolls can hasten world peace and cure disease. A bad eggroll can destroy nations. I am delighted to say that my eggroll at Treasures fell into the former camp – crispy on the outside, tender and just moist enough on the inside, and warm throughout. It was a wonderful treat.

So far, so good. The fried mozzarella sticks, however, were another matter. They were tepid and chewy, as if the cheese inside was never really heated. Unlike the brisket and eggroll, it tasted like it was frozen.

I was already getting full, but I figured I needed to try at least one of the many desserts on display. I had my choice of at least two cakes and a plethora of pastries. I opted for a slice of gooey goodness that looked like a cross between a cake and a brownie, with a thin layer of vanilla frosting separating two halves of rich dark chocolate. It was absolutely exquisite – in fact, it reminded me of a recipe my grandmother brought over from the old country, which only served to remind me how much of a home-cooked experience this whole outing was. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought I was at Nana Esther’s, spinning the dreidel on the floor with cousins while Uncle Moishe recited rude limericks in Yiddish. On my way out, I wistfully wished I could have only boxed up that old-time feeling to go – along with the brisket. – Craig Malisow

Treasures, 5647 Westheimer, 713-629-6200

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