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DINING: Taking a chance on a casino buffet at Indiana Live!

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Dining - A&E

It seems like only yesterday (actually, it was back in March), that the then about-to-open Indiana Live! Casino was previewing its innovative food court operation. These sneak-peek events are never reviewed, but they provide some guidance when I actually do pop in for an anonymous meal.

At the time, the Indiana Live! Market Buffet (4300 N. Michigan Road, Shelbyville, (877) 386-4463) used a kind of credit card. You ordered what you wanted from a wide range of tasty fare, much of it made to order. Every time you returned for more, your card was swiped and, at the end, you paid your tab.

At that event, my dining companion and I, nearly simultaneously, made variations on the same comment: “Nice, but how long until this turns into a pay-one-price buffet?”

Now we have our answer.

As expected, Indiana Live! recently dispensed with the card system and converted to the traditional all-you-can-eat format. And while the quality didn’t quite measure up to opening day, there are still plenty of solid offerings for a very reasonable $12.95 lunch tab (down to $9.95 for breakfast and up to $15.95 for dinner, which is served until 10 weekdays and 11 on weekends). Higher-end meats and seafood are also available cooked-to-order for an additional cost (i.e. $5.95 for a 6 oz. sirloin, $6.99 for salmon), but we stuck to what was included in the cover charge.

On this visit, the primary pleasures came from the simple. The Asian station’s sushi was fresh and uncomplicated. Gumbo was respectable, with big chunks of sausage throughout. Meatloaf was a bit on the salty side, but comforting nonetheless. And wood-fired pizzas were worthy of their own storefront. Delicious. Had I not been on a review mission, I surely would have made repeat trips to the Mediterranean station.

When breading was involved, the results were more problematic, from mealy pork chops to unappetizing tilapia to a third-rate version of General Tso’s Chicken. Making matters worse, the steam tables didn’t seem to keep anything terribly hot.

Speaking of steam tables, hamburgers should never be served from one—even in a school cafeteria.

Wisely, the dessert creators opted for small portions, minimizing waste and maximizing the chance that you’ll try a variety of treats. Flavorful oatmeal cookies and chocolate mousse cake were both meal-ending winners.

Alas, there were no winners on our trip through the casino back to the parking lot—a journey that added another $5 to our meager lunch expenditure.•

—Lou Harry

__________

Fourth in our month-long series of reviews of eateries with exclamation points in their names.

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  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.

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