BANGOR, MAINE — At the Epic Buffet at Hollywood Casino on Thursday evening, aromas from around the world filled the dining space. Employees and their families sat down to a special meal of a variety of foods — crunchy egg rolls, flavorful suckling pig, savory garlic beef skewers and more. Diners got a special sneak peak of the new theme for the buffet Thursday, June 30, before it opened to the public July 1.
Hollywood Casino’s Epic Buffet just received a makeover: The new Epic Buffet World Table features a spread of international options, including choices from Italy, Asia, Mexico and more.
The buffet’s facelift was spearheaded by executive chef Matthew Laman, who moved to Bangor from Pennsylvania last year. Laman wanted to bring a taste of the world to the Queen City and tailored the buffet offerings based on his previous work.
“I trained under a Swiss chef, I worked for a Sicilian restaurant company, I’ve worked with French chefs, south of the border chefs, I’ve worked with chefs out in Arizona and chefs in Florida, chefs from Austria — so [people from] all around the world,” Laman said. “My background is very versatile … so I thought I would bring some of my favorites from around the world and around the country.”
Roasted corn and black bean burritos and mojo and tomato-braised cod from Mexico are featured in one section. Braised pork ribs and meatballs in tomato sauce from Italy occupy another. Mandarin sweet and sour tempura pork and curried-vegetable pad thai can be found in the Asian area of the buffet and even homestyle Cajun and southwestern favorites from the U.S., among many others, make up the new layout, which is separated by region.
“Before it was prime rib and seafood. You came in and got your crab legs and a slice of prime rib, and everything else was mediocre at best. It’s not that they were doing a bad job, they just weren’t using the talents they have, and now they all are,” Laman said. “I think we got to the point where we needed to do something fresh.”
The special employee event acted as a soft opening for the buffet — and a special treat for those who work there.
“We exceeded our overall service scores for how customers perceive us,” J.D. Hill, director of marketing, said. Laman added that his idea for the new theme started with the company’s employees.
“The concept originated by doing an employee of the month lunch we did here every month. Some of the items you see here were some of their favorites,” Laman said.
The Epic Buffet now also features churrasco style grill-prepared meats, which are popular in Brazil. On Thursday evening, the carving station also featured a suckling pig.
In addition to the new theme, dining prices have been lowered from $22.99 to $19.99 for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday brunch remains $15.99. The price includes unlimited helpings, as well as dessert, nonalcoholic drinks and entrees prepared by Laman and his crew.
Laman also said a big change is also in the works for Hollywood Casino’s Celebrity Bar & Grill, but for now he’s hoping the newly themed buffet will offer diners something different.
The Epic Buffet is open for dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for brunch on Sundays. Children under 12 eat for half the price.